A 30th Anniversary & Celebration of the Life & Legacy of Bruce Lee
Special Message from Betty Ting Pei (Sunday July 20th, 2003) For All Bruce Lee Fans :-
"I have been carrying my story with Bruce for 30 years. Things I learn from Bruce I want to share. After he pass away, I was so depressed. I study what Bruce said to me. "No way as way." "No limit as limit." I find that Bruce's philosophy connect with Buddhist philosophy. The ideas that Bruce said are in Buddhism. My story with Bruce is too big to give to you by answering questions. The answers I could give that way are not fair to Bruce, not fair to me, not fair to you. I am seriously considering writing a book that will tell the whole story, everything. That way I can stop carrying all this. It weighs too much. In a book, I will tell you the whole story, complete.
After 30 years, Bruce is still here. Both with me, and with you. Thank you for coming here to pay your respects to him."
30th Bruce Lee Tribute Question & Answer Sessions on July 20th Weekend Guest 1 - Joe Lewis (Recognized as the Greatest Karate Fighter of the 20th Century & student of Bruce Lee)
Question - Hello Joe Lewis, many thanks for being here and giving us the chance to talk to you!
There is irrefutable evidence that verifies (amongst other things) that Bruce Lee led with his strongest side (i.e. his right), threw punches with his fists aligned vertically on impact and also was not a supporter of many of the principles and techniques of classical Karate.
However, in spite of this you seem to encourage your students to lead with their weak side, rotate knuckles and I think it's safe to say you are a textbook Karate practitioner of the highest order (you've even got the white karate outfit to prove it!).
So, I respectfully ask what gives you the right to call the stuff that you teach Jeet Kune Do and what (apart from one or two vague metaphysical concepts) does your fighting method have in common with what Bruce Lee did?
JL - Dear Equalizer,
These are good questions from you. Don't be afraid to use your own name. Bruce Lee and I both always use our real names, nothing to hide behind.
First, I do not believe in the theory of "strong" side forward. I have BOTH sides strong. What does strong side mean? One side you have power and the other you can't hurt a flea? One side is fast and the other is slow? If weightlifters had a "strong" side, then one end of the bar would go up and the other end would freeze. Sprinters would have one leg moving faster than the other.
Does this mean you can knock someone out with one hand but not the other? Is the poor guy who is born ambidextrous excluded from this untested theory? I fought both ways and knocked guys out with both sides.
If this theory worked, than why aren't there any Chinese world champion boxers or fighters? In the real world of fighting, the lead hand or leg is used as a tool to stabilize the target before you shoot the power. Sometimes you want to try to break your opponent's balance or blind him with the lead hand. This is part of what stabilizing the target means. Bruce knew all this, but wasn't going to tell the world until later.
Vertical punching means nothing more than someone subscribing to outdated teachings. It does not protect the center line. Western fighters usually counter punch over the top of incoming strikes--not underneath as in JKD or Wing Chun.
Western fighters use vertical, inverted, and rotated punching techniques. If you limit yourself to only vertical punches, you'll never be able to execute cutting, (bleeding), strikes. Rotating your punches allows you to use the little knuckle as the axes for inside strikes, and the forefinger knuckle as the axes for outside/in hook punches to the body. It also employs the full contraction of the pronator teres muscle in the forearm for added power at contact.
When you rotate your hip through the center line during the executing of a hook punch or straight right "before" you release the punch, you add about 30 to 40 % more power to your punches. This is not taught in JKD.
Also, when you break your cervical arch before you make contact with your punches, you will loose at least 30% of your power. This cervical arch principle is not taught in JKD or karate. Rotating your punches not only lessens the chance of a fighter breaking his cervical arch before contact, but it also increases the span of contact surface for striking.
I do not own, as you implied, a white gi. I am extremely proud of my karate roots. If you knew anything about the principles of punching, you would never say that I am a "textbook karate practitioner."
I do not call my stuff JKD as you stated. My "stuff" is and has always been and will remain simply "fighting." I often teach JKD as well as other martial art and combat forms. If and when I teach JKD, I demonstrate clearly exactly what Bruce Lee "privately" taught me. No one can ever challenge that, because simply no one ever watched Bruce and I work together during our privates.
Of course he showed me things he didn't teach others. At major tournaments, I was his disciple designated to explain to the audience what was JKD and its principles, and why it was different from classical karate. He also picked me to physically demonstrate real JKD in front of tournament spectators. Bruce Lee never had anyone else attempt these assignments.
When he picked me, it was not based on as you say any "right" but rather something more important. It was because of power. I had the power to know it and also do it.
Power was a major part of Bruce's persona. When the Chinese establishment said he was too young to teach kung fu or to call himself a master, they challenged his "rights." Bruce said "screw you." "Where there is power, you delegate responsibility." Bruce knew that power dictates, not rights. Rights have no meaning without power.
Likewise, I do not need someone's permission to teach what I know. No one owns my knowledge or controls my right to express it.
Finally, my fighting teachings have nothing to do with as you say, "vague metaphysical concepts." I do not teach abstract nonsense or supernatural myths. Which one of my seminars did you get that from? What we teach is based on science and field testing.
As for what my fighting has in common with Bruce's? What's your point? Fighter's don't copy each other. I do know that we both believe in getting your ass in shape which 99% of martial artists don't. And secondly, always question what someone shows you. Never accept anything based on tradition or that hasn't been field tested "recently." Before you take a gun into combat, always test fire it. The same applies to martial art teachings.
Question - Joe there has been speculation that Bruce picked up his side kick from you, would this be a correct statement or did he already have this kick perfected when you met him.
There has been a lot of talk about Bruce never sparring with any of his better know students like yourself, Chuck Norris, Mike Stone, did you ever touch gloves with Bruce and if so can you describe him as a fighter on a real world situation? What was the best thing you gained from Knowing Bruce?
JL - Dear Bruce Lee Hippy,
I don't know if Bruce Lee picked up on my side kick. I got it from Okinawa. It was not a technique within his style before I met him. No one owns a kick. He did copy my fighting stance as did Jean Claude Van Damme. Bruce admits that he studied top fighters and integrated things he felt useful.
We didn't spar. I never thought about sparring him. I only wanted to learn when I was around him. I trained at home. Angelo Dundee didn't spar his clients either. He had fourteen world boxing champions and Ed Futch had 23. Like Bruce, they were trainers, not sparring partners.
The best thing I picked up from Bruce was his creative thinking, the highest form of intelligence. His readings of Krisnamurti and also in the Objectivist philosophy, a common tenet is that "conformity is the absence of not thinking." Almost all martial art systems advocate conformity.
Questions - Dear Mr. Lewis; would you mind giving your opinion on the following please?
1; Not sure if this is true, but I once read that you said Bruce Lee definitely wasn't as good as he is reputed to be (in the minds of some of his fans). Do you blame the fans for this misconception, or do you think Bruce deliberately set out to deceive people regarding his ability?
2; Jesse Glover once wrote that a great part of Bruce Lee's strength as a fighter/martial artist was down to the way he developed his body (particularly in specific areas) apparently, Lee strengthened certain muscles, connective tissue, joints etc. Mr. Glover points out that Lee's body, in places, was solid like mahogany. As a strong man yourself, were you impressed with Lee's physique? It seems that he was constantly showing off his body....do you think he developed it mainly for show?
Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to your new book.
JL - Dear Mark,
I do not enjoy evaluating Bruce Lee's credentials or skills. I went to him as a teacher which is hard for anyone to gain my respect. I never once thought about how good was he or what kind of fighter he was and so forth. Over the years others constantly bombarded me with those questions. I never thought of any of my teachers as fighters, only as mentors. How can any fighter stand in front of their coach and think about fighting them at the same time? That's childish. That's as low class as some boy thinking about having sex with his Mother.
Of course Bruce worked on his body for show. Please do not ask me for my impressions about any martial artists' body. I came from the weightlifting world. The first man to ever put three times his body weight over his head was in the 132 lb class, a Japanese lifter. Bruce weight about the same, 138 lbs. However, he couldn't do half that much weight.
Bruce's fan's bragged about his ability to do pushups on two fingers. A fellow body guard from Iran I worked with in the '70's weighed 220-lbs. He could do pushups at that weight on just one finger.
Forgive me. I grew up with the fastest men and the strongest men in the world. Later as I got into martial arts, very little in the physical skills impressed me. If someone bragged about being able to kick my ass, so what. My Mother had already done it many times and she was only 5-ft, 1-inch tall.
Bruce did his best to train daily. Unlike most martial artist in those days, he was in shape. He was fast, strong, muscular, could run six miles a day and demonstrated superior technique execution.
Question - Greetings Mr Lewis,
I was wondering after sessions were, did all or most of the students hang out together? How long and often did you train with Bruce?
JL - Dear Deron,
I never worked with any of Bruce's students. I never hung with any of them and still to this day do not know who they were. I only knew Ted Wong. I spent all my time in the gyms with fighters, boxers and top karate competitors. I only hung out with women, never other martial artists.
Questions - Thanks for coming for this tribute to Bruce Lee.
What was the secret of Bruce's closing the gap speed?
JL - Dear Nick Clarke,
Bruce's ability to close the gap was based on two things. First, he identified the concept. If you can't name something something, you can't control it. Secondly, he worked on that skill using drills to target that issue. Bridging the gap was a principle. Bruce worked on principles, while other martial artist only worked on technique execution.
Guest 2 - Lawrence Tan (martial artist who met Bruce Lee) :-
Questions - Hello Master Tan,
1/ Which year was it when you saw Bruce at Madison square garden & how did the audience respond to him there?
2/ When was the last time you saw Bruce alive & what did you discuss with him.
LT - Hi Julian,
1) I saw Bruce Lee demonstrate in the summer of 1967 at Henry Cho's Martial Arts Tournament.. Because it was the height of The Green Hornet T.V. series many in the audience came especially to see "Kato." Although it was exciting to see Bruce Lee himself demonstrate his skills, for me the presentation was not the highlight of the evening.
He demonstrated his finger tip push ups and trapping hands, threw some side kicks and had some black belts try to block his punch. He mentioned that he had a cold. His skills were impressive. His presentation was like an impromptu short lecture with two corny "Chinese" jokes.
2) I spoke with him in Hong Kong in the summer of 1970. We discussed the poor quality of Hong Kong martial art films and how he was going to elevate the genre by working with Warner Brothers. He promised that one day we would do a film together...
1- What was the martial arts scene like in 1963, and how old were you at the time?
2- What was your initial impression of the book Chinese Gung Fu?
3- What did you think of Bruce Lee at that time?
4- What was your martial arts background at the time, and did the book inspire you to train differently? Think differently?
LT - George Tan,
1. I was 13 in 1963. During that time karate was the hottest martial art because of the seemingly superhuman breaking techniques and spectacular kicks that today is commonplace, were first being introduced in the media. Even Tae Kwon Do was referred to as Korean Karate. Judo had already had already been after World War 2. At that time, Kung fu was rarely seen because it was taught secretly in Chinatown and non-Chinese were forbidden to learn. Fueled by tales of the old masters and kung fu films from Hong Kong. Therefore there was this exaggerated mystique around kung fu, the source from which karate and jujitsu emerged, which many uninformed martial artist imagined to be the ultimate ancient esoteric form of combat.
Because of the novelty of karate and kung fu there was an excitement and a special magic to the arts that is no longer exists because martial arts has today become part of the global culture and is taken for granted.
2. Bruce Lee's self published "Gung fu:The Philosophical Art of Self Defense" was one of the first books on Chinese martial arts. I had already read the high quality hard cover texts like Oyama's "This is Karate" and Nishiyama's "Karate: The Art of Empty Hand" so Lee's self published book was poorer in terms of photo quality and content. In comparison to these books, I found it lacking in terms of kung fu history, fighting theory and explanation of techniques. That being said, the $5 that I ordered from Popular Mechanics ,nevertheless, exuded Bruce Lee's magic. I cherished it as if it was a revered secret ancient kung fu manual.
3. At that time, Bruce Lee was the first Chinese American in the media who represented the heroic ideal. He was the man!
4. Kung fu became my life's passion, after a friend from Taiwan executed a sweeping technique that knocked me on my ass while sparring on the lawn. So when I got Lee's book, it merely reinforced my preference for kung fu over karate. I was practicing judo and karate since there were no gung fu schools open to the public.
Since this book was only an introduction, he had not yet delineated his new JKD concepts that challenged traditional training methods and form practice in favor of Western sport training - weight lifting and jogging. Nor did he criticize orthodox kung fu styles and laud the merits of boxing. So I was young and naive, still intrigued by the mystique of animal techniques and secret forms. It was only several years later after the Green Hornet and his Black Belt articles that his JKD philosophy of martial arts that introduced and the reality of combat vs. the "martial arts mystery tour" fantasy.
Lee's book influenced my life's journey, not just physically but also mentally. In retrospect, his writing was not intellectually deep, but it was an introduction that opened the mind of a young boy eager to learn about his heritage. My life long immersion into Eastern thought - Zen, Buddhism, Taoism, etc. - and culture can be attributed to this book with Lee's explanation of the Yin and Yang principle.
Question - What is your interpretation of Bruce Lee's notion to be like the nature of water? Do think Bruce Lee flowed like water? Does JKD flow like water? Do you flow like water?
And, does the "formless" form or "formless" state exist in martial arts?
LT - Hi Clyde,
Thank you for bringing up a penetrating question in terms of high level kung fu fighting theory. Bruce Lee's famous quote on the nature of water is in fact a paraphrasing of the ancient Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu whose profound thoughts influenced kung fu and subsequently Lee's JKD. The water theory is advanced, sophisticated and subtle. It can be understood three ways. Here I will only discuss two: Technically and strategically.
From a technical point, "becoming like water " refers to how to bio-mechanically generate maximum power into an opponent's body for deeper penetration and damage. Lee likens hitting to the surging force released when water suddenly spurts through a loose hose. When striking or kicking, many martial artists unconsciously tighten their muscles as it contacts the opponent. Power is lost. The key to the water principle is to completely relax your arm or leg so that all your force flows from you then explodes and penetrates through the opponent like someone being knocked on their ass by the water gushing out from a fire hose. Ideally the water way of expressing power combines both the explosiveness of a strike and the penetration of a thrust. The biomechanics of generating power this way is clearly articulated by Mr. Joe Lewis when he demonstrates Lee's famous "short range punch" and his explosive side kick to the heavy bag on his video on insightful "Practical Jeet Kune Do: What Bruce Lee Taught Me."
Too be continued�..
(Hey, Joe. Do I get kick back - not a back kick - for plugging your videos?)
End of Part 1
Guest 3 - Jesse Glover (Bruce Lee's first student in Seattle) :-
Question - What was your reaction when Bruce Lee ordered the closure of all the JKD schools? What's your take on that particular event?
JG - Equalizer,
I didn't have any particular reaction when Bruce closed his schools. I had asked him about teaching in 1962 and he said that it was okay as long as I didn't call it Jun Fan or Wing Chun and I never have. My take on the event was that Bruce was unhappy with the progress of the students in his schools. At an event in Nev a few years ago I shared a forum with Linda Lee and she said that for a time Bruce was considering teaching a lot of people and that he was of the frame of mind that only he could transmit his art like he wanted it transmitted.
Hi Jesse, good to see you here. My questions within the public :-
1.) Does the art of Jeet Kune Do really need any organizations, or to better ask: Do martial artists who are inspired by Bruce Lee really need the term JKD or a fixed curriculum, or was the essence of his training something else?
2.) Have you ever met martial artists who were superior in terms of practical fighting ability than the Top JKD'ler you have met?
3.) Have you ever met people who never practiced anything in terms of martial arts, but who were kind of guys you would put your money on in a fight against most martial artists? Why were these people such dangerous?
4.) Was Bruce Lee a guy who perfected "only" his punching and kicking or did you see him practicing more vicious things that could save his life for the heaviest possible situation?
5.) Why was Bruce Lee such good - did it have something to do with hard hard work, a scientific exploration of things, or did it have to with natural ability / genetics?
6.) You stress the fact that it is important that one has to be able to put what he practices also to 'functional reality'. What do you mean by that, are there any differences?
7.) Do you think that Wing Chun people understand the later stages of Bruce Lee's own evolution, where he took his art?
8.) Because this forum conversation serves as a 30th anniversary celebration to Bruce Lee - what did he give you for your life? What did he really give to the world? What would you recommend to a young martial artist who is inspired by Bruce Lee, and who wants to realize his own maximum potential? Visiting a Wing Chun school? Visiting a JKD school? Or doing something else?
JG - Andreas,
1. Like Bruce said JKD is just a name. I suppose that people can learn things many ways but most people like some type of organized instruction.
2. I have met lots of people who are good fighters. Generally I just note that they are good fighters. I don't really compare them to other people. I am not sure who the top JKDers are.
3. I have met and know a lot of people who are natural fighters who are very dangerous for anyone to fight. Generally they use direct methods and they are strong and aggressive and often love to fight, sometimes they enjoy hurting other people.
4. I would think that blinding someone is a pretty vicious tactic and so is trying to tear off a person's nut sack.
5. Bruce was good because of all the thing that you mentioned.
6. If things only work in staged situation (practice) then they often aren't functional techniques.
7. Some Wing Chun men understand where Bruce took his art and other don't.
8. Bruce gave me a path that I can follow through life. I am not sure what he gave the rest of the world, maybe a model for them to follow. My message to any young person is to get an education and find something that you love to do, I think that this also applies to finding a martial art. Martial arts systems are like cars there are many different kinds and each of them has an appeal for different people. If a person is interested in seeing where Bruce came from Wing Chun is a good place to start. One might go for a look and find that they want to stay there. At the moment I am doing okay.
Questions - Thanks for coming to this 30th Anniversary Bruce Lee Tribute.
1/ How important was the 'Sil Lum Tao' form in your early training years with Bruce?
2/ I have seen footage of Bruce & Taky Kimura doing sticky hands. Did you and Bruce ever do any filming together?
3/ What would a typical demo with Bruce consist of? e.g. was he performing the once inch punch?
JG - Nick,
1. I did the first form a lot and it helped my structure in sticking, blocking and striking.
2. I never stuck with Bruce in front of a camera. Bruce's sticking with Taky happened after I had left the school.
3. During the demos when I was with Bruce he would show stuff on the dummy, sticking hands, closing attacks and trapping, in those days he didn't show the one inch punch.
Question - Where do you see Bruce Lee's martial art being in a hundred years time?
Will JKD become an overdiluted commercialized mess? Will there be a small but elite group of people who know and practice his "real" art? Will his martial art die completely? What do you think?
JG - Pacman,
I am not sure what will happen to Bruce's art. At the moment I am not sure that many people really practice it. I doubt that it will ever be as popular as something like Judo.
Question - Hello,
1. How did you become first student of Bruce Lee?
2. Did he tell or show you his wing chun abilities and how far he was in it - what I mean is if he knew second form (Chum Kiu), 108 wooden dummy techniques or butterfly swords form?
3. Did he ever show you his Tan Tui (or tam toi) kicking abilities or set of 12 techniques from it?
4. Why do you think he modified wing chun stance he learnt mainly from Wong Shun Leung into a cat stance and why did he believe in low hands positioning in it?
5. What do you think about today's JKD schools around the world? Don't you believe people should go Bruce Lee's difficult way of getting knowledge in T'ai Chi, Wing Chun, Tan Tui or western boxing and THEN trying to express themselves instead of going to first JKD school they see for already done product? What's you opinion?
JG - Milosz,
1- I saw Bruce at a demo.Later I asked if he would teach me.
2- Wong Shun Leung said that Bruce knew about 60 percent of the system. He also said that Bruce could do the parts that he knew better than most people.
3- Bruce showed me several low kicks and waist high kicks from the Wing Chun system but he favored kicks from other styles.
4- I saw Bruce train in the Wing Chun stance where he had his hands high and low. I don't think that it much matters where a person holds there hands because it is extremely difficult to block punches or kicks that are thrown from within touching range.
5- Since I don't know much about the various JKD schools around the world I can't give a good answer to your question. My advice is to find something that you like and get good at it.
Question - Dear Mr. Glover. Not really a question but just the chance to say how much I enjoyed your books on Bruce Lee. I found them to be the most realistic, hype-free works on Bruce Lee (and the martial arts) that i have read. After all these years, is there anything further you feel you could include in the books about Bruce Lee or JKD?
JG - Mark, Thanks for the nice comments about my books. I try to make them as real as I can. I am about to release a book on sticking and a rewrite of my other books.
Guest 4 - Jim DeMile (Bruce Lee student in Seattle) :-
Question - Dear Mr. DeMile,
You say Bruce and yourself invented the 1 & 3 inch punch....I just wondered how the idea for these came about and how you developed them?
JD - Aloha Nick Cogley,
Bruce use to drop by my apartment during open class times and after school, primarily to use my phone to call his brother. The I & 3 inch punch (Floating Punch) came from brainstorming on the merits of different ways of hitting. Wing Chun (WC) had a long range floating punch that used the centerline hitting concept. It was determined that focus should be placed on splitting the research into two parts. First was the mechanics of the punch and the second part was to add power. We played with the basic aspects of the hand mechanics of the punch and found that the angles of the hand and forearm in the basic WC were weak when making solid contact with heavy resistance, especially if the hitter was smaller than the hitee. Much of the power was lost in the weak angles of the arm in the WC punch. With a little study we discovered that by aligning the hand and forearm and then the upper arm it created a more stable transfer of energy with less loss. The bottom line was that no matter what angle you punched, as long as the final angle was strong, then it did not matter the type of punch. By bringing the action of the hand and angle of the arm together it formed a base to shift the focus to power. Once we brought power into it we had to decide, blasting power or concussion power. Since speed was a factor and the ability to flow and maintaining control over the opponent was important it was determined that concussion power was more practical. Concussion hitting is faster and easier than blasting punching, took less commitment, yet had devastating results. Also, since it only takes 10 pounds of pressure to knock someone out, if you hit proper, then less emphasis is needed on power. Bruce wanted the ability to drop someone in a single shot, but knew he could never do it with the basic WC punch. This was the motivation for exploring for better ways to hit. This is my memory of how and why the Power Punch was developed. Once Bruce had the punch he asked me to never show it. That was in the early sixties. I never did it or saw it till I saw Bob Wall, in the early 70's, do it on TV when he visited in Hawaii. I was surprised and asked him to visit me. He came up to my club and demonstrated the punch on me. I then demonstrated the punch that I remembered from those early days and knocked him across my club. He seemed to be very impressed and said I should write a book on the punch and that is why I wrote the book on the Power Punch in 1975.
Question - I have a follow up question if that's ok:
I've seen one of two people advertising videos that declare that they can teach you how to use the one inch punch in a real life self defense situation. This has me a bit confused and I'd like to ask what is (or was) the one inch punch intended to be? Was it; just a party piece, an educational example of explosive power at work, a practical self defence technique for the real world, all of the above or none of the above?
JD - Equalizer, All three. Bruce used it to impress people. It was a study in the refinement of the use of energy and it is very effective for the one shot mentality to wipe out an opponent. I would be cautious about those types of promotions. I would question their ability unless I saw them demonstrate how they would do what they say they can do as well as I would want to feel their punch. I would want to see if it is a push or a punch. 99% of the time it is a push. Any names ??? You can contact me at my Email address if you want.
Guest 5 - Anders Nelsson (Extra in 'The Way of the Dragon') :-
Questions - Dear Mr. Nelsson,
1; Who, in your opinion, do you think Bruce Lee interacted best with on the film, did he have a good relationship with everyone (cast and crew) or were there some people he didn't hit it off with?
2; Do you think Lee was a good director.... would have gone on to direct Hollywood movies?
AN - Mark,
1/ Bruce did not suffer fools, but worked well with everyone who did a good job.
2/ Yes, I believe he could have gone on to bigger and better things in Hollywood or elsewhere.
Questions - Hi Anders,
1) I showed my dad a picture of you shaking hands with Betty and even though he had absolutely no interest in Bruce Lee when he lived in Hong Kong, he exclaimed "Hey, that's Anders!" You must've been quite a celebrity when you were in Hong Kong!
2) Any Bruce Lee biographies that you've read which you feel come close to the man that you met?
3) Bruce apparently used plastic nunchucks in his fight scenes for Fist of Fury, do you know why he chose to use real ones for the alley fight in Way of the Dragon?
AN - ZeroMinusEleven,
1/ Modesty forbids any response...but thanks anyway...say hello to your dad....do I know him?
2/ I am still waiting for someone to write the definitive Bruce Lee bio with pics. There is too much bullshit out there about the man.
3/ No idea....I would guess because of the weight, but I am no expert....
Questions - Hi Anders, Thanks for coming. It's much appreciated.
1/ When was the last time you saw Bruce before he passed and how was he? Did he seem ok?
2/ How many rehearsals would Bruce do before he filmed and how many takes on average? Was he a quick worker from your experience with him on set?
AN - Nick Clarke,
1/ I didn't exactly 'hang' with Bruce, but I saw him a few times in the lobby of the President Hotel and in the same hotel's Chin Chin Bar, sometimes with Raymond Chow, sometimes with Betty Ting Pei and a few times with other people he worked with like Little Unicorn (I also knew him quite well...he was a really nice guy...)....I usually only waved and said hello and chatted briefly once when he was with betty as I also knew her from seeing her in HK clubs and discos....he seemed fine and in good spirits.
2/ I think someone like Chaplin Chan could probably answer your technical and logistical questions! All I know is that I was impressed by the fact that he knew EXACTLY what he wanted as if he had rehearsed every second of every scene in his head. He also expected everyone else to 'get it' immediately and he got easily pissed at morons who made mistakes!
When he himself made a mistake, he would immediately apologize and he never tried to blame anything on anyone else (at least not when I was around).....and he would then work twice as hard to get things 100% right...he was a perfectionist.
AN - For George Tan, Thanks for the compliments, but my role was tiny in Way Of The Dragon. Getting to know Bruce between takes was far more memorable. I actually sneezed during my 2 second scene when I went to the premiere of Way Of The Dragon and had to buy another ticket to go and see myself as videos had not yet been invented!
Guest 6 - George Tan (Tracking the Dragon Archives) :-
Questions - Hi George,
1.) What were the most impressive students of Bruce Lee you ever met, when it comes down who has the most practical fighting abilities, in your mind?
2.) Have you met other Gung Fu men in Hong Kong or South East Asia who were on a par with Bruce Lee in one or the other way?
3.) You have met Wong Shung Leung. Is it true that you planned to produce an in-depth instructional series about the art of Ving Tsun? What were your impressions of Wong as a fighter and man?
4.) Did Wong tell you about his last meetings with Bruce Lee? If so, what did he mention?
5.) Do you know Mito Uyehara? In his book "Bruce Lee - the Incomparable Fighter" he mentioned that BL told him a story that he took it easily on two of Yip Man's students within Yip's school after he has asked him to spar with them. Is was said that Yip Man was interested in his new theories of JKD, and that he wanted to make notes about it. Due to Yip Man's death this thing was never realized. What do you know about the whole story?
6.) How do you see the state of today's JKD scene? Do you know people of Bruce Lee's family who are not happy about some things? If so, what do they complain about?
GT - Hi Andreas,
1- The most impressive students I trained with were Jesse Glover, Howard Williams and Joe Lewis. They all have their practical abilities and can transmit that to a student,which is important.
2- I've not met anybody on par with Bruce Lee except for Tommy Carruthers, who is better than Lee in some respects.
3- Yes, I received a fax from Master Wong just before he passed agreeing to do a video series. Ah, fate. He was a true gentleman and a dear soul. Very simple and humble man.
4- He didn't say specifically about the last meeting, but towards the end he was a little concerned about Lee's health, or more precisely how he looked.
5- I can't see Yip Man being interested in JKD. The last time Lee met with Yip he wanted to pay him to film the Wing Chun style.Lee had a crew at his house ready and Yip Man declined.
6- I don't think about the current state of JKD because it doesn't exist. Most are robots who mimic Lee and quote without having a clue. I wasn't aware that Lee's family was not happy, but not surprised. I had predicted to Jesse Glover and Joe Lewis that the Nucleus would fail sooner than later. JKD is not meant for this type of treatment, even with the best of intentions.
Question - Hi George,
If Bruce were alive today do you think he would still be making movies , or do you think he would have chosen the quiet life and continued with his own learning of the martial arts.
Keep up the good work. And when are we going to see those books?
GT - Hi Nick Cogley,
I think Bruce Lee's career would be similar to that of Clint Eastwood.
He probably would be worth a billion dollars. I'm not just throwing out a number. Eastwood is worth about 500 million. Lee had the whole Asian market to himself. Jackie Chan is worth about 300-400 million, so you know Bruce Lee would blow these guys away!
Check out the interview with Charles Lowe on the Death by Misadventure DVD next week or so. He talks about what Lee told him during his last days. This includes Lee wanting to be a producer with his own studio.
Question - Hi George,
Thanks for the reply earlier....Just a quick question for you..How good is this Tommy Carruthers, how does he compare to Bruce and will he be venturing into the film world?
GT - Hi Nick Cogley,
Tommy is absolutely amazing. He seems to hit harder than Lee, and can match his speed-with hands and feet. Best to ask Jesse Glover about him. He narrates a small featurette we did on Tommy, showcasing some of his abilities. The piece is on ALL the upcoming DVD releases from Videoasia. I insisted on it!
Question - Hi George,
Have you got any photos of Nancy & Bruce together (I know that Bruce choreographed the fight scene of Nancy & Sharon Tate re Wrecking Crew)? Are there any photos of them together on the 'Game of Death' set?
GT - Hi Nick, I do have a shot of Nancy Kwan and Lee that's rare. I can't find it! Still digging though!
Question - Hello George,
Based on what you have learned, what to you think the JKD community would be like today if Bruce was still alive?
GT - Hi E, My guess would be that Lee would have legions of people wanting to train with him, and he would organize some sort of schools to meet the demand. It wouldn't be like it is today. Lee had really high standards. Why don't you ask Joe Lewis, Jim Demile and Jesse Glover this question? They have a better insight on the man.
Question - Hi George,
In 1973 Bruce appeared at the Shaws for wardrobe fittings. Do you know when this was?
GT - Hi GB, Lee did 2 sessions-one was at Golden Harvest. The other was the one in which you posted a photo from, which is unclear where it was. But it wasn't at Shaws. The Golden Harvest photo shoot was in 1972. Somewhere between March and May.
Question - Hi George, Just one quick question: Who was the source for Bruce's hashish?
GT - Lee had quite a few people who supplied him drugs, both in Hong Kong and from the U.S..
By the way, Bruce Lee has the honor of being the guy who introduced the Hong Kong film community to maryjane. They didn't use it until he came along! In the new version of Death by Misadventure, I included an interview with Charles Lowe, one of the cameramen from Enter the Dragon, who talks about Lee using maryjane, and offering some to him. Very insightful dialogue from Charles.
1) What do you think accounted for the vacillation in Bruce's weight from '70 onward till his death? Was it just sweating from all the choreography in the HK heat (I can definitely attest that, it gets shit-hot in HK....), health issues, bad diet, etc? He also seems to have a varying level of muscularity in his films, although maybe it was just soft vs. hard lighting?
2) Why do you feel Bruce trained so religiously if he was not after any fighting trophies or tournament titles?
3) Bruce was often described as being ahead of his time. Do you feel the martial arts world has finally caught up?
4) Any particular questions you feel Bruce Lee fans should stop asking you? (besides this one hehe)
GT - Hi Z,
1- Lee's weight was mostly a result from training with Robert Chan. He introduced Bruce Lee to weight training back in the 1950's, and would work with him whenever he went back to Hong Kong. Robert was the fiance of Phoebe, Lee's sister. He's also in Way of the Dragon (the bulky looking guy). Lee was 132 pounds when he went to Seattle, so 127 of lean muscle is not unusual. I do understand what you're saying, but I don't think his weight loss indicates anything out of line.
2- Tournaments are not actual fighting situations, and Lee was into the real life and death scenario in terms of training. However, a martial artist looks to improve himself through the arts, and Lee certainly did that. Ask Master Tan about this. He's one of the guests coming on.
3- I don't think the world the world has caught up to Bruce Lee, since they don't truly understand what he did. Let's take you, for instance. I read a series of questions you've posted for Joe Lewis. Your understanding of JKD is a bit off. There's a saying, `it's not the wand,but the magician'. There are only a handful of people who have followed Bruce Lee's philosophy, and Joe, along with Dan Inosanto are probably the best examples. Lee didn't train Joe with `right side forward' or `vertical punch', etc. He shaped Joe with the principles of JKD- simplify, economize,longest weapon to the nearest target. Joe had a lead side kick from the start. And a lead backfist. He won 99% of his tournaments that way. Lee just adjusted a few things physically, and instilled a philosophy that is adaptable to all styles. Look at Chuck Norris and Mike Stone. They all look different, yet have the same methodology within them. Dan Inosanto has admitted he can't spar or use his bare hands well. He's really small. But put a weapon in his hands and he'll tear up just about anybody-including Bruce Lee. So he did `his thing'. That's what Lee always emphasized, time and time again - `Do your thing',`whatever works'. Always stressed that.
4- No, I never get tired talking about Bruce Lee. There are no silly questions (alright,maybe a few!).
Hello Mr. Tan. Hope you are doing well, and thanks for giving us the opportunity to ask you some quesions.
1: Do you get fed up with people on the forums constantly bringing up your name and using it for 'one upmanship'over others? How do you feel you are treated by people on the forum?
2; Do you think the 'sanitized' imaged that the BLF (also through John Little) and former students perpetuate is purely for financial gain? Do you think it's wrong to project Lee in a purely positive image?
3: It seems that Bruce Lee had a reputation as somewhat of a ladies man but have you ever heard any rumours that Lee could have been 'bi'? I ask this because in all the pictures I've seen of Lee with Unicorn, they look as if they have come out (literally!) from 'The Birdcage'...man, those clothes! Unicorn always manages to look very gay and in certain photos looks to be Bruce's bitch!
GT - Hi Mark,
1- It doesn't bother me that some clowns and infants try to `take me on'. I find it amusing, as it gives me a chance to rip on them.They are fools of the highest order. I offer myself to anybody willing to discuss Bruce Lee/JKD, and they piss on the opportunity. Who's loss is it? Not mine. I knows what I knows.
2- I'm completely against John Little and co., who basically hijacked Lee's image and attempted to twist it for whatever gain. It wasn't just for monetary reasons. Pick up the DVD for Bruce Lee -True Story next week. I did not one, but two complete audio commentaries about the subject. The real Bruce Lee was not a philosopher on par with Ben Franklin or Heraclitus. So what? He had a philosophy that could fit on a single sheet of paper. But you can't market that, right? Little had an image of Lee and he tried to put it out there.The fault lies with Linda, who allowed it to go as far as it did. I warned people that this guy was no good, and now I hear the Lee Estate has pressed charges against him because he has stolen items. Call me Nostradamus! Linda started this ball rolling with the best intentions, I'm sure. To present Bruce Lee to the world in a sanitized, homogenous form. Like an action figure with no private parts. It never works with public figures. The truth always leaks out.
3- Believe it or not, Unicorn and Lee were cutting edge fashion back in the day. They couldn't be gay-those clothes are actually proof! I don't think a gay man would be caught dead with those threads on! (LOL)
Question - Hi GT, Did you ever have the opportunity to talk to James about G.O.D, and what was it like on the set? The last understanding I have is he kind of reluctant to say much on the matter, and hard to track down.
GT - Hi Deron, I'm arranging to talk to James Tien this year (finally). I met him in the street years ago and we exchanged #'s but then he moved to Taiwan. Not to worry, he'll be gotten to!
Question - Mr Tan, How many of Bruce Lee's childhood films do you have? Are they planning to release them all in the near future?
GT - Hi Jan,
There really isn't a big market for Lee's childhood films.
To launch something like this is a labor of love, but no financially viable. This is why clips are used as part of a bigger project. The Orphan might be good to release, but the producer's estate is unreasonable.
But you never know....
Guest 7 - Davis Miller (author of 'Tao of Bruce Lee' & 'Tao of Muhammad Ali') :-
Question - Hello Mr. Miller. Hope your life is going well and I wish you all the best with your future projects. You have had the good fortune to meet and write about the great Ali. Anyone who has read his autobiography knows Ali as (at his peak) one of the greatest and most charismatic athletes ever. In your opinion, who do you think has had the bigger influence on the 20th century between Lee and Ali? Both are regarded as being athletes who have been ahead of their time.
DM - Mark, until recently I would have said that Ali is easily the most famous person to have lived in our time, a period when fame itself has become a sort of low-rent god. At this writing, I believe that Lee has become nearly as famous as Ali, though Ali is probably the world's most loved man.
Is Ali more influential than Lee? Or is it the other way around? If human beings still exist 500 years from now, both of these guys will have become genuinely mythological characters. Is either legacy particularly noble? Given that they are both such cosmic brats, it's tough to say. I feel that another thing that both Lee and Ali mythology shares is that they are both cautionary tales about the limits of ego, about the 20th-century and 21st-century religion of self-actualization. Both of these guys have paid a hard price for the ways that they strutted through their lives.
Question - Which book is better and why? Tao of Muhammad Ali or Tao of Bruce Lee?
DM - TAO OF MUHAMMAD ALI is the best book I've written so far, Carl. I'm very pleased that it has affected readers' lives in profound ways. I've recently expanded TAO OF BRUCE LEE by roughly 80 pages. It's a much better book in its new form, which will be published in France either this fall or next spring. I hope to soon sell it in this form to both American and British publishers. Maybe I should mention that as far as my Bruce Lee-related work is concerned, I very much like my story, "Bruce Lee, American," which can be found in my book, THE ZEN OF MUHAMMAD ALI AND OTHER OBSESSIONS. ZEN OF ALI can be purchased at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and at BN.com (Barnes and Nobles website).
I would like to thank everyone for attending my site's 30th Anniversary & Tribute to Bruce Lee and special thanks goes to George Tan for his wonderful help as always!
(website by Nick Clarke - copyright 2003) Special thanks to David Tadman & Blaas Gaudenz for providing the top quality photos. I'm very grateful for your kindness and friendship.