Janelle: You're listening to "Staying in the Game, A Plum Dragon Herbs Podcast" where we have conversations about mindset and techniques for staying at the top of your game. I'm your host Janelle Leatherwood. Leo Rodriguez, welcome to the show today. We're excited to have you on.
Leo: Yes, thank you for having me.
Janelle: Thank you for coming on. And for our listeners, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Leo: Well, I'm 32 years old. I live in New York. And I have always been a martial arts enthusiast. I remember being...like as a kid, I was always really, really skinny. And as we all know, most skinny people just naturally have abs. So my dad, he'd be like, "Oh, you look like Bruce Lee, you like a little Bruce Lee." And, you know, I remember my dad, he was always into boxing, always, always, just watching it, studying it, explaining it to me like, "Oh, look at this guy, look at that guy." He used to love Julio César Chávez, who actually got a picture with like 10 years ago, so that's pretty cool. And signed my gloves as well so that's even better.
Janelle: That's so cool.
Leo: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, my dad, he was always just focused on training and discipline. He was always well-read, he will always just read books. Books on philosophy and, you know, that kind of affected me and my brothers. My older brother, he's been a personal trainer for like, I don't know, maybe like 20 or more years now. And he's six years older than me. So I always learned from my dad, my brother.
And, yes, so boxing was my first like sport. So my dad always taught us how to defend ourselves, you know, from all the little bullies around in schools. He was just like, "Okay, I'm gonna teach you how to punch, you know, how to move, how to defend yourself." But he never wanted to like really train me. He always wanted me to study, he's like, "Yes, study." I would ask my dad, "Hey, can you teach me how to, you know, box and do this?" He'd be like, "Yeah, just punch the punching bag again. Yeah, just work on jab cross." He didn't wanna go further.
Janelle: When you say he wanted you to study, like academics or he wanted you to just...
Leo: Yes, sorry. Yeah, like book-wise, he wanted me to be like a nerd. His goal, not my goal, his goal was, "Yeah, get a college degree and, you know, you'll be great. You'll have an office job and, you know, have your benefits and you could be at a desk with the AC on, dressed nicely." And I'm like, "Sounds boring. I don't like sitting down anyway." So, you know, I've always been the Tasmanian devil of the family, like, always jumping around, always a lot of energy.
Janelle: Yeah. You needed to keep moving.
Leo: Yeah, this is a funny story. I know a lot of people probably won't...maybe nowadays won't like it, but it was...you know, it doesn't bother me. I think it's kind of funny. When I was a child, like, maybe two or three years old, my parents basically had to tie me to the couch. Because I was just so like energetic, always climbing things, breaking things, and they just didn't know how to handle me. They're like, "Okay, yeah just tie him." But yeah, so boxing was always my thing, and it was...
Janelle: You needed it. It sounds like you needed an outlet.
Leo: Yeah, exactly. That was my... Just like Mike Tyson would say that, "The training was what tamed him," that's what kept him from doing bad things was just train for hours, and hours, and hours. And I remember when I was like 15 or so, so from the age of 15 through 18, I lived in Dominican Republic with my parents for those three years, and I just kept bugging my dad. I'm like, "Dad, please, please just teach me how to box?" And he was like, "All right, I'll show you some stuff."
Janelle: So was he trained in it then?
Leo: Oh, yeah. He trained for many, many years. He just had really, really bad like managers, trainers, promoters, I mean. So he never really got to fight like big fights, but I know my uncle, his brother, fought in Madison Square Garden in the Golden Gloves.
Janelle: Oh, wow.
Leo: Yeah, and I think he got a second place. And again, like, since I was a child, I was always surrounded by fighting, like watching it, hearing it, seeing my uncle's in New York City, in a small tiny apartment, moved the couch, moved the TV, move everything, just started sparring in the living room. And I was seeing dad, my uncle with black eyes, busted lips. So I'm a kid, and I'm like, "Oh, this is awesome, you know." But it was normal to me, fighting was normal. It wasn't seen as something extraordinary or, "Hey, let me go to my one-hour little boxing coach and just hit the pads for a little bit."
Janelle: And have you done any of that up till that point?
Leo: No, as a child, no. But my dad, there's pictures of me like...there's actually a video. I don't know if it's still around, maybe it got destroyed, but there's a video where I'm in diapers. My younger brother is also in diapers, he's two years younger than me. And we're just fighting. We like sparring with actual like 16 ounce gloves. My dad, he's like, "Easy, easy," you know, to me, he said to me to go easy on my brother. He said, "Easy, easy." I was just like swinging at him. And my brother would just start crying if I hit him so hard.
Janelle: That's funny. Well, so finally then when you were 15, did he relent?
Leo: A bit. Yeah, so what happened was I just begged him, "Dad, please," like I was like suffering mentally. I'm like, "Please, you have all this knowledge, just teach me something." So he said, "All right, start off with the jab. Let me see your jab." And I just started jabbing and we worked on that that day. He was like, "Wow," he was like, "Okay. Now I see that you really want to learn." So from that day forward, he started teaching me a bit more than, you know, if I could put it in any other term, I went from like a white belt to like a blue belt in his eyes, you know. He said, "Okay. Now I could show you more stuff." And, you know, it went like that for the next few years. At 18, I decided to come back to New York City. And I didn't really train much for...you know, in the fighting. I started lifting weights with my older brother.
Janelle: And what year was that about?
Leo: So 18. Let me see, that was 2005.
Leo: Yeah, so 2005, I'm back in New York, and started weightlifting with my older brother. So from there, I remember searching and looking for a gym in New York. And I remember seeing Renzo Gracie Academy. "Huh, this looks interesting. Jujitsu, okay." And I remember, I think someone rated, I don't know, two stars, three stars. And the guy wrote something like, "Oh, I don't feel like I get much attention there, and blah, blah, blah."
He was just like complaining really. But me, not knowing any better, I was like, "Oh, maybe I shouldn't go there. Yeah, yeah, maybe not." And I just kind of ignored it and never even tried it. If I was smarter back then, I would have been like, "No, let me just look into it myself and see what I like, see if they like me." Maybe they didn't, I don't know, maybe they didn't like him. Maybe he just sucked. I regret letting that one little review affect me.
Because years later, I started training in the New York Athletic Club which is a...it's by Central Park. It's been around in New York for over 100 years, very awesome place. I trained there for about a year, year and half, maybe two years. I can't remember. So my boxing coach, Sean Razor, died of cancer.
Janelle: Oh, no.
Leo: So that really, really sucked, yeah, I was really down after that. And I felt bad for all the other guys that we were training as a team, because I remember Sean Razor, he was like, "Leo, I might have you do the Golden Gloves this year, but if not, definitely you'll be ready by next year. I just wanna see like what you do in the next few weeks, next few months." And I just... You know, he died, man, and it sucks so bad.
Janelle: Oh, that's so devastating.
Leo: Yeah. He had cancer, and I remember he was fine. But the chemo, the chemo was killing him. His face got swollen, and one time, he was just in the hospital, and he died of a heart attack basically, like, the chemo just destroyed his body.
Janelle: That's awful.
Leo: Yeah. So I remember that kind of destroyed me a bit. So it also opened another door and I said, "You know what, I feel confident enough in boxing, and I love mixed martial arts." By this time, I'm already deep into Bruce Lee.
Janelle: Which, for our listeners, they should know that's your Instagram profile.
Leo: Yeah, Bruce Leeo.
Janelle: Bruce Leeo, yeah.
Leo: Yeah, Bruce Leeo. So I used to train, so the same gym where the president of the boxing club said, "Hey, you should come to New York Athletic Club." I used to train with this girl, and she was like, "You know what, I will call you Bruce Leeo." I was like, "Oh, my God, my life just changed." And I was like, "That's it. That should be my name, I'm gonna change my name now."
So where was I with the boxing? Yeah, so my coach died. And I wanted to get back into something, so I said, "Okay, I'm confident, as an individual I'm confident with, you know, just throwing hands with someone, just straight boxing. But I'm not confident at all with wresting, jujitsu." So, I'm like, "Man," I said, "Okay." So I know a lot of the listeners will know who Bas Rutten is. He was the heavyweight champion of the UFC. I think he was the first heavyweight champion of the UFC. And I used to send him Twitter messages all the time. And one day I was like, "Hey, Bas, where in New York City can I go and get legit training, not just crazy sparring, not just, you know, two animals just fighting, where can I get legit training?" He was like, "Oh, Renzo Gracie, of course." I was like, "Oh, man."
So, you know, I did what I was supposed to do years ago. Yes, so I went. The first day they treated me like I was their friend from day one, like super friendly, super awesome. The vibe I got from them as individuals, like from the professors, from the students, everybody was just super cool, super chill. By the first six months of training, I just...I picked up so fast just... As a white belt, I got my first stripe in like...not that this is anything special, like, it's not, but I'm just saying. I got my first stripe within a month or two, but what I'm trying to say by that is, like, I started going...I don't know, like, almost every day, like five or six times a week. I was taking the evening classes mostly at the time, I would stay extra after class, before class. So I was just obsessed with it.
And they recognized that. The professors were like, "Okay, this guy is always here, always practicing, you know, picking up stuff." And I remember I met a Wonderboy Thompson there, who's a UFC fighter. I was like, "Hey, you're Wonderboy, right?" He's like, "Yeah." And we just started talking, and I told him, "Yeah, I'm a white belt, just started training here." He said something that was really cool, he said, "Yeah, at first, you're the nail. Over time, you become the hammer." I was like, "Oh, man, that's so awesome." And that's how it was for the first few months, I just got beat up, beat up, beat up, beat up. And it's frustrating, but it's like learning a language. You can't expect to have a dialect, like a whole conversation with someone your first month. I remember, I met this guy that was a wrestler and we started training Chinese wrestling, it's called Shuai Jiao.
Janelle: Yeah, you said it's a really rare type of martial arts.
Leo: It's rare in America.
Janelle: In America.
Leo: But in China, you know, that's what they do, and those guys are amazing. If anyone listening is into wrestling, even jujitsu, if you want to learn how to throw people or take them down, judo, Chinese wrestling, any type of wrestling will help you a lot in jujitsu competitions, if that's, you know, what you like to do. And I just wanna say, Renzo Gracie, I've met Renzo before, I've spoken to him, he spoke to me like he knew me forever, like, just super chill. The professors...oh, man, I love all these guys. They're just amazing, their personalities, the way they carry themselves. That's one thing I realized too, you know, going from a boxing background to jujitsu. The way the professors carry themselves, they're just so chill and confident in the way. I'm like, "Oh, my God, these guys are just awesome, like, just cool people." So you could tell by, you know, John Danaher death squad like, these guys are just...
Janelle: They're the real thing.
Leo: Yeah, they're legit. Like Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, best Instagram pages. I follow these guys on Instagram, they're just funny, hilarious. Yeah, and they're just cool guys, these are just martial artists and that's what I love about. They don't care, they don't want to impress someone, they just compete. Because they want to, they want to show, "Hey, look, this is what I do, this is what I love." And that shows in the arts, like the art they expressed.
And one thing I love, like Garry Tonon, you know, he's a black belt in jujitsu. He's like, "All right, I wanna do mixed...like UFC-type fighting." I forgot where he fought in, but yeah, he started doing mixed martial arts. I just say that so people could understand like... You know, he wasn't in the UFC, but something similar, I forgot the name of it now. But, yeah, I love that. That's what I love. And I wanna say also for people that are looking for a place to train, definitely if you're in New York or anywhere. It's Gracie, yeah, Gracie is amazing.
And it's funny how they changed the game, and got at a whole country when, you know, started in Brazil because of, you know, their family just does it. I remember listening to the professors, the Gracies, they were like, "Yeah, I did this when I was like a baby, when I was like two, three years old." They were like, "Yeah, I thought it was just playing. So many Gracies, I think...I don't know, like, the entire family seems like they're all into jujitsu which is awesome but it is a way of life. So, yeah, you just do it. There is no...they don't put it aside, like, "Oh, my God. I have to work first and then do an hour of jujitsu, and then whatever. No, it's just the way of life. And that has shown in their art, they expressed that in their art, it just comes like second nature like nothing. Yeah, and they're amazing. So, yeah, injuries, I've had a few, as you can imagine.
Janelle: Yeah. I was gonna ask you, so did you get injured before or after you started traveling to China?
Leo: Well, before mostly, yeah. So when I was 15 years old, when I was in Dominican Republic, I remember I was chasing my cousin around. We were just playing. I was running, and the maid inside the house, you know, it's Dominican Republic, there was no wet floor sign, careful, caution. I slipped and fell straight on my head. Never in my life, what I even imagined, just falling like the cartoons when they slip on a banana peel, that's exactly what happened to me. I slipped, boom, smacked the back of my head. I didn't even have time to stop myself with my hands. And that 1,000% sure was my first concussion.
At the time, if you ask me, "Okay, what do you remember," I'll say, "I don't know, I don't remember anything about it." Like, all I remember that stayed with me throughout all these years was my dad saying, you know, he's old school, so he was like, "Don't go to sleep. If you go to sleep, you could not wake, you know, you get hemorrhage of head," or whatever. I remember he went to get me in the room, because I was in the room like resting. And he opened the door, I remember, I looked at him funny. I looked at him like, "You look different." And in a way I want to say like I didn't recognize him, but I just remember like the lights, like the light, the way his skin looked, the reflection. I looked at him funny. And I never forgot that.
So, you know, doing all my wrestling and not understanding concussions and training with people that, you know, maybe you're a little crazy. Sometimes you train with white belts, and can be a little too aggressive and not know what they're doing. You don't expect it. I hit myself a few times back in my head, and also falling flat on my back. It's like jumping in the pool flat on your chest or your back, it's gonna hurt.
So, thinking about it now, I realized that just me smacking my, you know, my back straight on the mat wasn't helpful at all. And I remember 2017, I'll never forget this, towards November, December, I just had double vision. And I am like, "Oh, that's not cool. I see two of everything."
Janelle: That's scary.
Leo: Yeah. If people are like, "Okay, what does that mean?" You cross your eyes and try living like that, just cross your eyes, see how that feels for a few seconds. That's what I felt.
Janelle: Oh, it's awful.
Leo: Yeah. So I went to the eye doctor. This is, again, I don't care what you call yourself, that doesn't mean you have all the answers, and you know it all. So I went to the eye doctor. Supposedly one of the best places, I'm not even going to mention where I went, they were just like, "Oh, yeah, so what's going on is the muscles in your eyes and, you know, you're getting older, and blah, blah, blah." So I was like, "Okay." I kind of believe it, I was like, "All right, you're the doctor, you should know," right?
I guess, luckily, not so luckily, my best friend had a small car accident, you know, he had a car accident, but he was fine. So I asked him, I said, "Hey, man, how are you doing? He said, "Well, you know, I'm fine. I just have a little headache. Doctor said I have a concussion. You know, I hit the back of my head in the car, but my vision is a little messed up."
Janelle: Wow. So that really helped you figure out what was going on with you.
Leo: "Bingo," I said, "Oh, my God, this is it. This is it." So I started just researching, researching, researching, researching. You know, Google is the best doctor. That's a joke. But it seemed like it, because I was finding all the answers myself and it made sense. I said, "Okay, now I know." Because I started...when I was wrestling as well, I started training in very hard mats, not like jujitsu mats. I'm talking about weightlifting mats, because we had nowhere else. You know, it's New York City, it's super cold. Sometimes, we couldn't just train outdoors, even though we did sometimes.
And I think over time, the minor...no I shouldn't say that, sorry. The sub concussions, flows of boom, boom, just the shaking of the head. I remember asking this Chinese girl. I say, "How do you say concussion in Chinese?" And I don't remember what it was, but she said it. And I was like, "What does that mean? Like, how do you guys translate it?" She said, "It's like brain shaking, like head jostling or brain jostling." Something like that. So I feel like that's what affected me, and I could tell you, to this day, I have double vision.
Janelle: Oh, you still do.
Leo: Yeah. So this is what I want to explain to many, many people. Because I feel as a person like myself that's had concussions. You look at me, you're like, "Oh, he looks healthy." You're like, "He is fine, 100% fine." But when I walk around and have double vision, I'm not fine. But no one can see that, no one can see what I see. So again, what did I say from the beginning, I hit the back of my head, right, I hit the back of my head, back of my head, back of my head. It was almost always the back of my head.
Your brain, the occipital lobes, the back of your head of your brain is where most the process is for vision. The frontal lobe is your emotional, your cognition, like your cognitive, like, decision making. I highly, highly, highly recommend people watch "Concussion," you know, where Will Smith is the main actor, which is about the real doctor. It's a true story basically about the doctor that discovered CTE. So the doctor was like, "Wait, these guys have this thing, it looks like clots, like blood clots, like just spots basically." Like, in a microscope obviously it looks a lot different, but you can still kinda see spots. You know, he was like, "That's funny, what is this? Their brain looks like they're 80 years old with Alzheimer's."
Janelle: Wow. That's kinda scary.
Leo: So yes, with me, I could go into the doctor, kept going, kept going. I did eye therapy for weeks, and weeks, and weeks. And I didn't see much improvement. It wasn't only until I stopped training completely or warming up. When a warm up in wrestling, sometimes we will roll, do a front roll, or back flip, or front flip. I get headaches very, very, very easy. I remember 2017 was my worst year. I couldn't see the movie theater, a huge screen. I couldn't stare at that. Couldn't stare at it without seeing two images. I would have to like close one eye, close...like, I was like a pirate basically. And I started noticing nighttime my vision was so bad. My headaches were so bad. If I had any alcohol, it just multiplied everything by 10. What happens in nighttime? How do you feel, Janelle, in nighttime? Feel tired, right?
Janelle: Yeah, yeah.
Leo: The brain starts shutting down. So what happened was my brain was trying to shut down, it's getting tired. So I'm physically more tired, of course, at nighttime, my brain is shutting down. So the symptoms of the double vision was worse, my headaches were worse. I went to my first neurologist, whatever they wanna call themselves, I don't know. This lady... Yeah, so I go to this doctor and I'm like, "Yeah, you know, I've had concussion." She's like, "How do you know you had a concussion?" I'm like, "I hit my head a lot, very hard." And she's like, "I don't think you had a concussion." I'm like, "Excuse me." Do you know her answer? Her answer to me was, "Well, unless you didn't pass out, get knocked out, or unless you weren't bleeding from your head, you don't have a concussion." And I was like, "Oh, my God, I cannot believe this person literally just..."
Janelle: There's so much misinformation about concussions, it's crazy.
Leo: I mean, I don't know if she got her degree from Google or whatever university like online. Like, for real, this was sad to even think this doctor would say this. And I didn't believe her, obviously. I was like, "Yeah, whatever." I was like, "Just give me my MRI," right. So there are two things, there's an fMRI, which stands for functional MRI, and there is the regular MRI. A functional MRI detects more of an activity in that area of the brain. So it'll light up, so you see like gray matter, like a gray image.
And if you show me a picture, I don't know, somebody, supermodel, certain areas in my brain would light up. So they're, "That area of the brain is working." So with fMRI, you could detect more, "Okay, this area of the brain is the lacking of whatever, blood flow, oxygen, whatever, it's not working properly." So she was like, "I don't know what an fMRI is." I was like, "Oh." And I was...
Leo: Yep, I had googled it in front of her. She's like, "Let me see." She's like, "Whoa. Well, I don't know about that, I'll give you an MRI." I was like, "Okay, doc, whatever." So I got that from her.
Janelle: I'm surprised you didn't just leave at that point and find another doctor.
Leo: Yeah. So imagine what she would tell another person that doesn't know any better. Again, went back to the martial artist, like the teachers. If you don't know any better, anybody could trick others like, you know, just the knowledge, no one is born knowing anything, but with the way we were raised, we start to speak, like, yeah. You ever spoke to a little kid, you know, "You're such a baby." "I'm not a baby." "Really? How come?" "Well, because I can talk." And I'm like, "So you think now because you could talk now you're not a baby? All right."
So it's just, we started thinking the basic things even for people that had severe...and all of it is severe, any brain injury is severe, but a brain injury that's so bad that they almost look like stroke's patients, like they have to learn how to walk again, they have to learn how to speak again. You know, we've all heard of that. You know, car accidents, it happens all the time. And we take something as simple as brushing your teeth as, you know, like, "Oh, I could brush my teeth, wouldn't even think about it." Even me, this is the type of person I am. I started brushing my teeth with my left hand years ago like two, three, four years ago just because I'm like, "Okay, I could do it with my right hand."
Janelle: So you tried to work both sides of the brain.
Leo: Yeah, why not? And it's not that easy, even if it's...what do you call it? When you crack some eggs and try to stir it up? Try that with the non-dominant hand. You're gonna feel...you will feel stupid but it's not that your stupidity, you just don't know. Your body is not trained to do it. A boxer, you see most boxers fight a certain stance, left foot forward, left hand forward, that's how they fight. And then you see the other ones, right hand forward, right leg forward, that's how they fight.
Well, as an example, Bruce Lee, he was like, "I don't care, I wanna learn both sides. Why not? Why do I have to just learn one side, what if I need to learn the other side?" So, yeah, before I get Bruce Lee a little bit, with the concussion stuff, it was really bad. The doctors were worse. I think the doctors were giving me the...just damaging my brain further.
Janelle: With all that runaround.
Leo: So the MRI, guess what, didn't show anything. It said...I forget what it said, but I was just like, "Oh, fine, normal brain." Because... Oh God, it even goes back to my kidney stones. I had a kidney stone. The doctors... I had like 1,000 x-rays, and doctor's like, "Well, you're fine. You don't have anything. Your back is fine."
Long story short, I ended up in the emergency room, because it's just what happens that the kidney stone I did have was invincible to the x-rays. It wasn't showing because the way the things it was made of. So, yeah, I did more research, more research, more research. Alcohol, it just multiplies it. The best way I can explain a concussion is alcohol. Have you seen drunk people, do you see how they drive? They can't drive straight, they can't walk straight. They can't talk straight, they're slurring their speech and they look stupid, they act stupid. That's exactly what people that have concussions, that's how many act, because it's not that they want to, it's their brain is literally damaged.
Again, I'm not a scientist, I'm not that doctor that was saying, "No, no concussions, you need to get knocked out to have a concussions." "Whatever, doctor." But I know enough and use logic to realize and notice patterns like, "Okay." That's how I felt. When I said earlier, I had a crazy headaches, I felt sick, I felt nauseous. What happens after a day of a lot of drinking, you get hung over. How do you feel when you're hung over? Your brain hurts, everything hurts, you feel sick. You don't have a lot of energy. That's how it feels when you have a severe concussion, like what I had. Severe concussion, so my vision was messed up.
It's just daily hangover. The only person I know that every used that analogy, I never heard it before until Dale Earnhardt Jr., the race car driver, mentioned it one day in an interview he had. So I want to go over. I made a list, because obviously my memory is not the best, of who people should listen to or like research on their own for concussions is Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. He was the wrestler. I forgot what they used to call him. But Chris Nowinski. Dr. Amen, just how it's spelled. Kevin Pearce who was a snowboarder. He was like world record breaker and everything. I just learned about him a few days ago actually, and I messaged him on Instagram. He responded. I told him I had the double vision. He also mentioned he had double vision. And one thing he said...
Janelle: And he is the co-founder of the LoveYourBrain Foundation.
Leo: Yes, exactly. Which is they also have their own Instagram page. So Kevin Pierce in a Ted talk, I think it was, he said, "I see you guys fine now, but if I tilt my head at a certain angle, I see double vision." I remember saying the same thing to the eye doctor. I said, "Hey doc, I notice if I tilt my head this way, I could see better, I don't have the double vision." Of course, I get the best doctors and the doctor said, "Oh, you're just using different muscles." That's their answer, like a basic nothing, I don't know, whatever.
Joe Namath, the ex-football player. He speaks a lot about hyperbaric oxygen chambers. He said he reversed even on himself...there is something called a SPECT scan, and they detect the blood flow in the area of the brain. So for people with concussions, like for me, for example, I'm pretty sure that the back of my head, it's not going to light up as much, the blood flow in that area is pretty bad. So Joe Namath, he did a thing in Florida where he went inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber over 40 times.
And before and after, they gave him a SPECT scan and they could see the improvement of, "Oh, now you have more areas in your brain lighting up." And oxygen chambers have been used for many, many, many years to cure, like, if you have any cuts, like an infected cut or something and it doesn't want to heal, with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber it heals a lot faster.
Janelle: I've heard amazing things about those, yeah.
Leo: Yes. And also Dr. Bennet Omalu which the movie "Concussion" is about who Will Smith plays. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who I mentioned, he also had vision. His vision was so bad, he said. I think he mentions it in some podcast or whatever that when he would walk, every step he took, the bouncing of it, his vision would be the same thing. So I'm assuming he meant like if I'm recording with my cell phone, I'm walking or running, the bounciness that you see in the video, he would see. And the last person that I have is Dr. Michael Collins. So, Dr. Michael Micky Collins, that's the doctor that helped Dale Earnhardt Jr. a lot. So all the listeners should, again, if they're interested in concussions or brain health or brain healing, search these guys, because these guys are legit. They've either been through it themselves, have made improvements for it, or they're just the doctors, like legit doctors. These are doctors I wish I had ability to, you know, talk to and see.
And like Dr. Amen, he is amazing. He's like, "Why do psychiatrists..." If you have a bone injury, you see, you know, bone doctor. If you have heart problem, you see a heart doctor. And they produce tests to scan that organ. They look at the organ. Psychiatrists and psychologists, they're the only ones that don't look at the organ that they're trying to help which is your brain. So Dr. Amen has done, I think, by now probably close to 200,000 brain scans, not the MRI stuff, you know. The actual brain SPECT scans, so you could see.
And he has patients where they would act crazy, do crazy things, say crazy things. He's like, "Oh, yeah, look at your brain scan. This area is lacking whatever blood flow, and if we improve this, I'm pretty sure you'll improve this." And he has thousands of patients that have shown that. And the funny thing is...it's not funny but, you know, the crazy thing is Bruce Lee died of like a brain hemorrhage. And it was said that he died because the medicine he was taking for his back injury or something. And one thing that you won't really hear in the popular or, you know, from the family or anything is that when Bruce Lee died, he had Cannabis leaves in his stomach. So Bruce Lee, a lot of people don't know this, he would consume like hashish or cannabis for pain. And, you know, it's medicine.
So in my search, in like going through Bruce Lee, and reading all his stuff, he used to do Iron Palm training with James Lee. Again, this is what people like, "Oh, James Lee, that must be his cousin or his brother." No, that's the name. There's million Lees. James Lee is not a family member, he was just a guy that when Bruce Lee was around...so in 1964, Bruce Lee moved to Oakland to practice and train with James Lee. I actually think if I'm correct, Bruce Lee lived with James Lee. Because James Lee's wife died, and I know Bruce Lee helped a lot, but no one talks about James Lee for some reason which I don't understand. So James Lee was the guy that got Bruce Lee into body building. So that crazy-looking physique that Bruce Lee had, that came from learning from James Lee who was an amazing martial art artist.
Janelle: Oh, that's interesting.
Leo: Yeah, so James Lee used to practice Iron Palm training, Iron Hand training. And the only way you could train that genuinely, not like hocus pocus, Harry Potter, whatever, you know, is by using jow. You guys have jow, and you guys have one of the best jows that I've tried.
Janelle: Thank you.
Leo: Yeah. So what James Lee would do, what he said, you put jow on whatever it is. Just say, for example, to make it easier hands, right, you put it on your hands. He would rub it, smack his hands, slap his hands, you're trying to get the area to get hot. To get hot, and the blood to start flowing there, and that helps so much with the avoiding injuries. And it also helps with healing. So in a way you're boosting your body's ability to smack bricks. Go ahead and try to smack a brick as hard as you can, try to beak it. It's not gonna just work. You have to train, condition your body to it. So one time, James Lee... And I know my story is a little...I'm not going in order exactly, but whatever...
Janelle: That's okay. We'll go back to...
Leo: You can replay and slow things down if you have to. Not you, but, you know, you listeners. Yeah, so James Lee, you know, Bruce Lee was like, "Wow, this is amazing." And he's like, "Yeah, look, let me show you." So Bruce Lee tried to break a brick, I think it was, or something, he tried to smack it as hard as he could, and he almost broke his hand. His hand got swollen. And they were like, "Oops, you probably broke it but not sure." But, you know, what would James Lee do is use jow and he rubbed it on Lee. He actually gave him a lot of jow, because he had like buckets of it. Because the longer the jow like fermentates or whatever, the stronger it is.
And, yeah, that's gonna help you out. Like, that is amazing science. Fighting has been going on for thousands and thousands of thousands of years. And there's a lot to learn. Like I said, I know a lot of people who don't know about the Chinese wrestling that I was talking about. These are cultures that have been doing things for thousands of years that Americans, we're the last to know because in China...
Janelle: It's true that people don't know enough about it, and that it has been around for years and centuries. And, you know, it is passed down traditionally, these liniments through, like your martial arts lineage. And Sifus will have their own recipes and hand those down, but it hasn't made a widespread impact yet on like our society. People don't know about it, widespread yet.
Leo: And I feel it comes from all...again, going back to the American culture. And yes, I'm Americans so whatever, but what I'm saying is they're like, "Oh, but you have to use this and ibuprofen." And no, ibuprofen is very, very bad for your gut health, just so you know, and your joints like... Anyway.
Janelle: Yeah. We talk a lot about that as well.
Leo: Yeah, the jow is something that's been around for thousands and thousands of years. And it's necessary for actual training, not only to prevent injuries, so you can do it whenever, after training, pre and post training, during training as well. Like I said, I have friends that would literally rub jow on themselves before a fight, before a competition. So the products you sell are not just to be cute, and it's not a cologne, like, "Oh, if you put the spray on, this girl's gonna be all over you." No. This is legit with a jow, like, the jow is something. And if people don't believe me, there's... This is one thing I wish I did earlier, I forgot about this.
But on YouTube, I remember, there was a scientist. She was interested in jow and how it worked. And she did a scientific work where she broke down the molecules of jow. And she said, like, "Yeah, the older the jow was, the stronger it was." And I just remember she was saying like, "Yeah, this molecule helps with blood flow. This molecule helps with this and with that."
Janelle: That's really cool. I'd like to find that video.
Leo: Yeah. I'll send it to you when I find it, and maybe you can post it. And I remember that, and I'm like, "This is awesome. I wish more people knew about in martial art, like every martial art school, every single one should have that." And not just because, oh, you have to do it for every class. No, if someone gets hurt like I did in my wrestling competition, I hurt my ankle so like I popped...I had a ligament that I popped, so my foot like...I twisted my foot and I fell like...just make believe like I'm doing a single leg squat on the side of my foot, like my hand, like my foot, whatever.
So I was going down, I try to pick myself up, which was stupid. I should've just let myself drop, but I try to force myself up. And all my weight was on the side of my ankle, and it just popped up. It went, "Pop." So what happens with ligaments, you get this pop feeling, even if it's not fully torn, you get a pop feeling. So, you know, I'm not gonna be like, "Oh, I'm sorry, guys, I can't compete this year." I still trained, I still competed, and I still kicked ass, like I didn't care. I wanted to compete, this is what I do. I still had a concussion at the time, like really bad. But I didn't know as much at the time, this was 2018, I believe, when I was just kind of learning about it.
And my friend gave me some jow, he's like, "Here, Leo, try this." So I rubbed it on my ankle, and it felt a lot better, like, it really did help with pain, with the swelling, inflammation. And it just felt better overall. And I remember, I said, "Wow, this feels good, I really like this." He said, "Yeah, you could keep it. So I kept it. And just so people can know, that jow was your jow, the Plum Dragon jow. When I was looking into...when I started reading about, "Oh, Bruce Lee learned from James Lee. Oh, they're putting what on their hand, what?" So jow in Chinese is alcohol. So for people that don't know jow, it's alcohol.
So I'm like, "What is this?" So I started researching, and I found your company and I saw the way you guys, you know, sell the ingredient separately as well. The way you guys store the jow and everything. I didn't find really any other company that was doing what your company was doing back then. I can imagine now. That's why you guys are still number one now in my book, you know.
Janelle: Thank you. We appreciate that.
Leo: So Felix Macias Junior, I knew him, you know, from Facebook and everything. His father, Felix Macias Senior, trained with James Lee. So the guy that Bruce Lee lived with for over two years, which no one mentions. And when I say no one, I mean, when you see these little Bruce Lee documentaries, "Bruce Lee moved to Oakland." They don't say who he stayed with, they don't say who he trained with. He was training with James Lee. James Lee was 18 years older than Bruce Lee.
So at this time, Bruce Lee is 24 years old. James Lee is, what, 44 years old. So as you can imagine, Bruce Lee is like this young, super hyper. So Bruce Lee, he wanted to be a doctor when he was a kid. So when he was a teenager, he wanted to be a doctor. So he was always studying, he always wanted to know more. He always was interested like, "I need to know, I need to learn, I need to know, I need to know." It just so happens having poor vision, one leg longer than the other by like an inch, an inch and a half. He chose Wing Chun. Because Wing Chun, you fight up close, so he was like, "Okay, I'm going to do Wing Chun, because that sounds like the best thing I could do because my vision is off." He didn't have a good vision. So Bruce Lee used a lot of...he used contact lenses when he would do movies and a whole bunch of stuff.
Leo: Yeah. So James Lee who literally... So Jeet Kune Do, this is what I should say, Jeet Kune Do was founded in Oakland with Bruce Lee and James Lee. Together, they were fighting scientists. Everyone knows that there were pictures where Bruce Lee is drawing images of stick figures. Even regular, normal cartoon images of kicking, two guys kicking, fighting, wrestling. They were scientists, they were just like, "Okay, if we're in a fight, right, how can I beat you? How can I stop you from hitting me?" Bruce Lee's favorite move, kick to the groin, punch to the groin, go for the groin and eyes, finger jabs to the eyes. Easy.
I've done it in a street fight before, and it works. You know, New York City in the subway, punched some guy in the groin, a lot bigger than me. I'm 170 pounds, this guy was like 200 pounds. He stopped real quick. But it changes, you know, these guys, "Oh, I'm a boxer, I'm gonna punch this guy, I'm gonna knock him out." Okay, when that guy unexpectedly just drops down punches you, or just kicks you straight in the groin, or finger jabs you in the eye, or something like that, this is just examples, you're gonna be like, "Oh, wait a minute, that's not fair." Yeah, exactly, because Bruce Lee and James Lee weren't thinking about fair. Yeah, so you see a lot of people talking about, "Yeah, we do Jeet Kune Do and we come to it from the lineage and we have certificates, and we're doing this."
The real lineage of Jeet Kune Do that I know for a fact, I don't know about any other people in the world, but that I know personally as a fact is Felix Macias in California. Yeah, so whoever wants to learn more about like the history of jow, because Bruce Lee was also into that too, James Lee taught Bruce Lee how to make jow.
Janelle: There is some interesting stuff on that that I'm actually looking up right now. I don't know that it mentions it in this one "Black Belt" magazine article, but it does talk about how the man who helped make Bruce Lee a success was James Lee.
Leo: Yes, and I think that you just said it right there. Maybe that's why they don't promote James Lee as much or you don't hear it like in certain things and documentaries. Because maybe they don't wanna mention that, this guy that helped. They wanna make it seem like Bruce Lee was the master and creator of this. Trust me, he was but, you know, you have to give credit where credit is due. And everyone should... Obviously I love Bruce Lee more than anybody.
Janelle: So there's this other really fascinating article that I think maybe we can put links to these. It's Inside Kung Fu, the 1975 edition and it talks about Dit Da Jow and Bruce Lee and James Lee in there as well. You've probably come across these.
Leo: Yes. And one thing I love about reading these guy's books... So James Lee has a son named Greglon Lee. He has like two or three books. There's a book called the "Dragon and the Tiger" basically Bruce Lee and James Lee. There's Volume 1, Volume 2. Those were the books that spoke about James Lee teaching Bruce Lee about Iron Palm, using jow, using jow before training, during training, post training, for injury preventions. And, yeah, man, like these are things that these guys were doing.
James Lee was a welder. He was welding the ships in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, he was like working like 20 hours a day, 18 hours a day welding. And he was welded his own...he was making like his own little dummies. His things. Like a lot of people...if you search like Bruce Lee, Iron Hand, Palm Training, or conditioning or something, you see him punching rice, you see him using certain equipment that looks like it was made in the backyard by this Frankenstein martial arts scientist. And that was James Lee, he was the master of like, "You want to learn how to kick, we should make this own thing."
A lot of people don't know, those MMA gloves, like with the finger...the fingerless gloves, that was Bruce Lee in that movie, "Enter the Dragon" or whatever dragon. He was the one that kind of started making his own stuff. And that area where he uses like pads like to kick people like, there was no equipment around for that. It was Bruce Lee and James Lee creating all these things like, "You know what? Yeah, we should do this. Oh, look, this will help."
And again, going back, I'm talking about James Lee, Bruce Lee, but this is from their culture, their Chinese culture of, you know, Wing Chun. All these cultures, all these martial arts from these cultures, they've been doing it for thousands of years, it's nothing new. This is probably new to certain Americans that are just like, "Oh, UFC." I'm not taking away from UFC fighters, believe me. That's another thing that people will say, "Oh, I bet the UFC fighter kick your butt." Yeah, I know. I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is, the training, they have to look at it differently. Instead of, "Oh, let me YouTube this guy that was just born yesterday, started doing 80 pushups and 50 pullups, and he's just naturally fit and thinks he can fight. Let me learn from him." No. Learn from history. Learn why Bruce Lee was called the best. He was the best because he learned everyone. That's what Jeet Kune Do is. Learn whatever. I don't care if it's Wing Chun, jujitsu, wrestling. Learn where there's no gaps in your game.
So like I said, "Oh, man, I'm good at boxing, I'm not confident with jujitsu fighter or wrestler." So what did I do? I started learning it, easy. Am I an expert in them? No. Do I want to be? Yes. So what do I keep doing? Keep training. "Hey, how do you have Iron Palms strong enough to smack a brick and break it in two?" Guess what, you're not just gonna do it just because your will is so strong. "And I believe in it and I'm gonna turn Super Saiyan." No. You do it, because you train over and over, properly using jow.
And, yeah if you have back pain, use jow. If you have joint pain, use jow. They don't...like a lot of guys don't know how serious and legit jow is, and how it's used, and why it's used. Like, do you think really they just wanted to waste your time? "Hey, you know what? Just put this on you, and yeah, you're gonna have superpowers." No, you see it, your body starts turning red. James Lee would start smacking his body, like I said, start smacking the jow himself before, during, and after training to prevent injuries.
Yeah, so people, I say look up all the names I gave you, James Lee, Bruce Lee, the concussion stuff, Felix Macias Junior who's still training and doing his stuff in the Oakland JKD. Super cool guy, and you can hear it when they speak. And if people are like, "Well, Leo, why aren't you an expert in fighting?" It was hard for me to find good teachers. Because I'm the type of guy just because you say, "Oh, Leo, my name is Janelle, I have the best jow in the world." I'd be like, "Yeah." I have to try it and unless I see like, "Okay wow, this is really good." I won't believe it, and I have tried it before, so I know it's good.
And if someone says, "Hey, I could train you. I'm a good boxing coach." "Okay, what's your background? What have you done?" If Mike Tyson says, "Leo, I'll train you boxing," I'm not gonna be, "I don't know, man, you're kinda old now." I don't care. Look at Mike Tyson's coach, Cus D'Amato. He was like 80 years old, out of shape. It didn't matter, because his knowledge, the history, the experience he had and knew when he was younger and all the years, that's what matters. And what did Mike Tyson do? He listened to everything Cus D'Amato said. He was opened. He studied, they studied 24/7. Again, this isn't, "Hey, I'm do my...I just bought a groupon, and I'm gonna do 30-minute boxing class." No. For a legit martial artist...if you're an owner or a trainer at a martial arts school, you need to have jow. It's not maybe.
Janelle: You guys heard it.
Leo: Do your research, for real. Do your research.
Janelle: Yeah. Well, and that's good, because we want people to do their research and we do...I don't know if everyone knows that we have a great blog that explains lots about dit da jow and how to use it and why it works and what to use it for. So that could be a good resource for people as well. And in conjunction with testimonials from people like you who have tried it, and have seen really amazing results, I wanna ask you, I wanna just kind of go back and tie a few loose ends. So tell me, did you finish telling me about the one that gave you jow.
Leo: So Felix Macias, when I was...you know, when I start reading the books, I was like, "Jow, what's this jow? Wow, this sounds amazing. Why don't I know about this?" Like, I said, I researched, I found your company. And I just...you know, I've already been a friend of his through Facebook and everything and, you know, associated with his school. So I messaged him, I said, "Hey, do you have any jow?" He said, "Yeah, I have some." So he just had his own personal stuff that he made. Again, this is traditional like Chinese medicine that every person has their own stuff. It's like a recipe, literally like a baking recipe, "Oh, I make my cake." Cool, there's a billion cakes you can make.
And just so happened that I was lucky enough to have a friend like him that knew how to make it and made it. And he didn't sell it to me. He was just like, "Here, this is my personal stuff, you can have some." And yeah, like, and I said, he's a legit martial artist. Like, when you speak to him, he's actually a really good guy to have on the podcast too. I'd highly recommend, because like I said, his dad trained with James Lee and Felix Macias...there's pictures, I have a picture that's black and white where it's Felix Macias Junior, Senior, and James Lee together in a picture. So he knew James Lee, I mean, he was a child, but he hung out with James Lee's son, Greglon Lee, who wrote the books. And, you know, they all know each other from California.
Janelle: And then going back to when you competed in China and before you really knew the repercussions of maybe fighting with your injury, do you wanna talk anything about that competition.
Leo: I one day was really, really sad and down. And I said, "My training career is over. I can't do anything." Even the warm ups, I realized, just rolling a bit, just rolling on my shoulder to warm up for jujitsu or wrestling, I'd get headaches, I'd feel like crap. And it got to a point where I'm like, "You know what, I don't care. Let me just train smarter, and just avoid the shock." The people I train with, "Hey, careful, don't slam me on my head."
Janelle: So you've been able to avoid injuries to your head doing jujitsu?
Leo: Oh, yeah. So jujitsu is an amazing, amazing art. Because you don't need impact, you don't need overwhelming [SP] force. You don't need to knock someone out, you could put him to sleep, but you could start on the ground, you could. It's a practice, standing up, and whatever. You could do whatever. You could practice on one foot, three feet, whatever. But what I'm saying is...and I just say that because there's always gonna be that one person who is gonna comment, "Well, jujitsu..." Okay, yeah, but you know, the thing is jujitsu...I still do jujitsu, I was actually training last Friday for like an hour and half. But you also have to be careful with who you train with, that's what I say. And don't be afraid. I don't care if it's white belt, black belt, be like, "Hey, man, just don't slam me so hard, please, or watch my head."
Janelle: Yeah. Well, it's been really fascinating talking to you about your injury, and trying to help others take these types of injuries seriously, and help them to recognize the signs that come with concussion. And also just all the fascinating facts about Bruce Lee. So I've really enjoyed talking to you. Should other people who wanna get in touch with you reach out to you on Instagram?
Leo: Yeah. I don't mind. I'll talk to anyone as long as they're not trying to do no pyramid scheme or send me these pictures. Yeah, I'm willing to listen to people, even depression, suicide, like, just message me, I'll be there. You know, I'll be here to listen to anybody. They need someone to talk to, you know, have questions, advice, or anything. That's pretty much it. I love Bruce Lee stuff, so if you wanna send...
Janelle: Yeah. If you're a Bruce Lee fan or you have questions about concussions or any type of martial arts that we have talked about on the show today, and also for your experiences with dit da jow. So, thank you. And you have a good rest of your day. We really appreciate you coming on the show.
Leo: Thank you, thank you.
Janelle: And thank you to all of our listeners for joining us today. Be sure to visit us at plumdragonherbs.com for show notes, a transcript, and links to things we discussed today. Also, if you could just take a moment to hit the subscribe button, you'll be helping us spread the reach of this podcast to others who could really benefit from it. Our guests have amazing things to say on "Staying in the Game."