FRIDAY, March 31st, 2017, AT 11:15 AM/ PST
A couple months back, I received a phone call informing me that our friend Lee Barden was diagnosed with end Stage Liver Cancer on Friday, February 3rd, 2017. Making matters worse, his doctor informed him that he was no longer a candidate for a liver transplant. But even that wasn't the most shocking part of the call...
The shocking part was what the doctor told Lee when he asked him how serious it was. The doctor didn't give him any timeframe for a cure, the doctor said some words none of hope to ever hear...
"You need to get everything in your life in order..."
A couple weeks after the initial announcement I called and spoke to Lee, sharing of course some memories and final thoughts. However, what I had to ask him was the nagging question I kept pondering ever since hearing the news...
"Lee, I just have to ask because I have no idea of what the answer would be, but how are you living each moment knowing the end is just moments away?"
Lee didn't hesitate a bit in the answer. He said he had both happiness and sorrow in his feelings. The happiness was seeing all the outpouring of affection from both his close friends he saw in his life now and those he hadn't heard from in years. He said it was great having a chance to see those around him for what could be the last time, a chance to say good-bye per say he said.
As for the sorrow, he said the obvious is clear, his love of his wife Connie, and then he closed it with the reality of his daughters... That he would not be able to see them grow up, walk them down the aisle, have families of their own... The future of his life he thought he would see someday was instead, not stolen away... And that would be the only sorrow in his heart...
Within a few weeks after our call, Lee was gone... None of us expected Lee to pass so quickly. We all thought he had at the very least several months, but no... His calling came quick, and in the blink of an eye he was gone...
However, what Lee left all of us will stay with us for eternity. His countless hours of instruction to the many lives he touched as a Martial Arts instructor and of course, teaching his love, the nunchaku.
Lee's love for Martial Arts started like it did for a lot of us. In 1973 at the age of 13 he saw the Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon. After he saw the movie he built a homemade set of nunchaku out of a broomstick and a dog chain and the rest is.. well, Lee's history....
As Lee himself put it:
"I went everywhere looking for the Nunchaku Master. 2 years later I left home at 15 in search of "the best". I hitchhiked to Canada, the International Peace Gardens, looked there, went to California, Anaheim, looked there. I looked everywhere in between. I slept under bridges, ate candy bars from concerned people to stay alive, basically I was one of those homeless guys you see around and still couldn't find the Great Master. 1979 I went to visit my Mom, I was then 19 at that time and I saw a commercial on TV, its not a job, "its an adventure", the Navy. I had been everywhere my thumb could take me and thought I will try the World. So I joined the Navy. I traveled to Europe, no help, Middle East, no help the "Great Master" still eluded me. So, I gave up. When I least expected it, I met a old man playing pool in a bar one day and he said, I know this Karate guy that lives behind this bar, come with me and I'll introduce you. He said, you will like this guy, he is a Martial Arts Master."
Lee had served 4 years in the United States Navy and on that day in in 1979 he met Roy Williams, the founder of a weapons system called Lissajous-do. The system was based on physics, logic and mathematics. Lee spent the next 28 years mastering Lissajous-do, and incorporating it into his own style. Along with his training in the Lissajous-do Weapons System, Lee has trained in Wing Chun, Chinese Kenpo, American Karate, Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali.
After many years of successful competition he opened his first martial arts school in 1983. Karate Arts, a martial arts school located in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1984, Lee married Connie who is also a Martial Artist and instructor at the school. Together they had two daughters, Cassidy and Kailee and not long after that, he started Black and Blue Productions, a sports martial arts video company, with partner (And IKF World Classic Videographer) Wally Faulkner.
Back in the early to mid 2000's Lee was also an IKF Kickboxing Promoter. After he stopped promoting events he became an IKF & ISCF (MMA) Official. Due to his busy schedule, he later handed off his role as IKF Florida State Representative to his wife Connie who's been doing an excellent job ever since, overseeing the State with safety and fairness for both the IKF and ISCF MMA.
In 2008, Lee formed a partnership with Jack Hodges and Tim Rockliffe to manufacture ProChux, replacing Black and Blue Productions in this duty. The ProChux stlye was originally invented by Master Roy Williams.
He held a seventh degree Black Belt, which earned him the title of "Master". He was a member of the Florida Black Belt hall of fame and won numerous awards and honors including Instructor of the Year, Master Instructor of the Year and Best Showman of the Year.
By the time of his passing Lee was known worldwide for his activity with the nunchaku, which consists of freestyle nunchaku, fire nunchaku, and ultraviolet nunchaku. He was the first nunchaku practitioner to light his nunchaku on fire, a practice that has become popular among freestyle nunchaku performers now and he also pioneered many moves that have became staples in the nunchaku community.
He and Walter Faulkner's video production company Black and Blue Productions has one of the largest martial arts catalogs in the world.
Although Lee is no longer with us, one thing is for sure. What he accomplished and created while here will indeed,
"Echo in Eternity."
MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR
Saturday, April 1st at noon at
Parkwood Baptist Church