Bruce Lee is an icon. An inspiration to Chinese and Asian culture. There’s no denying it – he made martial arts cool and if you were a kid growing up in the late 60’s and 70’s you wanted to be Bruce Lee. His last movie, “Enter the Dragon” combined with his untimely death at the age of 32 made him more than an icon…he became a legend – but like most legends, over time there is more fiction than fact.
So what do you think you know about Bruce Lee?
Most people know his movies and the urban legends that are perpetuated by his fanatic followers. You know Bruce Lee is trained in Wing Chun Kung Fu by Ip Man (or Yip Man depending on your interpretation). Bruce Lee was also in a gang and participated in “Death Matches” in the streets and rooftops of Hong Kong.
Bruce Lee later came to the US, opened a school in San Fransisco and was ostracized by the Chinese martial arts community for teaching non-Chinese. He later had to defend his position by fighting a local kung fu legend and enforcer Wong Jack Man, in a “death match” (where obviously no one died).
After being seriously injured by Wong Jack Man is that fight, Bruce wrote his infamous book…the Tao of Jeet Kun Do while recovering from his injures. His death, to this day, still remains a mystery and many believe Chinese organize crime poisoned and killed him.
Like most legends, there’s a kernel of truth surrounded by exaggeration and folklore.
In reality it was the combination of his good looks, athleticism, flashy moves, intelligence, Hollywood connections, his willingness to speak out against racism as well as the “martial arts establishment” that made him an icon. His death at such a young age, made him a legend.
Timing is everything…
The 60’s and 70’s were a time for change and Bruce Lee was a part of that change. Bruce was the perfect person with the right message at the right time. He should rightfully be remembered as a liberator and an innovator…but what’s the REAL story…?
The truth about Bruce Lee…
From the age of 13 to 18 he studied with Yip Man….but that’s not all he was doing…Bruce Lee also won the Cha Cha dancing championship of Hong Kong and…APPEARED IN ALMOST 20 FILMS!! So in between a prolific dancing and acting career, Bruce participated in death matches and trained in martial arts.
Bruce Lee moved to the US in 1959 when he was only 19 years old. He lived with family friends outside Seattle, Washington, initially taking up work as a dance instructor. He finished high school in Edison, Washington, and subsequently enrolled as a philosophy major at the University of Washington.
In college he taught Wing Chun to his fellow students and others. In 1964, Lee got married and opened his own martial-arts school in Seattle. He later dropped out of school and moved to Oakland and then to San Francisco to teach martial arts and pursue acting.
The truth about the ‘death match’ with Wong Jack Man.
In the 1960’s, Bruce Lee was just another young instructor trying to promote his new school. In fact, the “establishment” really didn’t pay him any mind.
The fight had NOTHING to do with teaching non-Chinese Kung Fu Secrets…
Bruce Lee was NOT the first to teach Kung Fu to non-Chinese in San Francisco…in fact most of the Chinese instructors already were. Wong Jack Man taught non-Chinese as well as the people who really governed the Chinatown Martial Arts Community for thirty years, Lau Bun and TY Wong.
Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man had little significance in the Chinese Martial Arts Community and their fight was a heated sparring session between two small school owners.
It all started because Bruce LOVED to publicly bash martial arts (sound like someone else you know…?). In fact, at Ed Parker’s inaugural Long Beach Tournament in August 1964, Bruce delivered a scathing lecture that disparaged many existing practices, including such common techniques as the horse stance.
“He just got up there and started trashing people,” explains Barney Scollan, an 18-year-old competitor that day.
Although Bruce’s showing at Long Beach is often painted in glossy terms, many of those in attendance corroborate the polarizing nature of his demonstration, in which half the crowd perceived him as brash and condescending.
As longtime karate teacher Clarence Lee remembers it: “Guys were practically lining up to fight Bruce Lee after his performance at Long Beach.” (but Bruce didn’t fight anybody).
Why did he fight Wong Jack Man?
There are two main theories on this. The first is that because Wong Jack Man was poised to open his own martial arts school in Chinatown, he stepped forward in an opportunistic moment to generate some publicity. Local Tai Chi practitioner David Chin asserts that Wong said as much when he signed a challenge note to be delivered to Bruce.
Yet a more popular theory professed by many local sources from that era is that Wong Jack Man was duped into fighting. Bruce, essentially the new kid on the scene, goaded Wong into a schoolyard brawl without grasping the stakes.
The fight happened at Wong Jack Man’s School in front of about 10 people, lasted anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes with both sides stopping after they got tired. I’m sure if someone posted the fight on youtube today, people would be TRASHING IT.
Lee’s martial arts career really ended when his acting career took off..at the age of 25.
1966-67 Lee starred in the Green Hornet and continued to work in film regularly until his death in 1973. So Bruce Lee trained and studied martial arts for 10 years. This is not saying that he was wrong in his observations (I agree with many of them) its just that he really never had time to implement and test his ideas.
What about his famous book that launched a style…. The Tao of Jeet Kune Do? Well Bruce did write a book, but it wasn’t the Tao of JKD. In 1963 he wrote and published, Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense.
He started the Tao of Jeet Kune Do in 1970 after he hurt his back IN TRAINING (not in the infamous death match) and it wasn’t completed and published until well after his death in 1975. The main editor was Gilbert L. Johnson. Johnson along with Linda Lee, Dan Inosanto and other students of Bruce Lee helped Johnson understand Jeet Kune Do well enough to editorialize and organize Lee’s material into text. Basically the Tao of Jeet Kune Do is a collection of Bruce’s thoughts and notes along with a collaboration from his students written by an outside author.
What Really Made Bruce Lee Great…
He’s an actor and a philosopher who used martial arts to improve the image of the Chinese in western eyes.
At the time there weren’t any Asian leading men in Hollywood, in fact, it was much worse than that…Asians were portrayed as weak and grotesque looking waiters, laborers and servants.
The picture to the right is how Asians were portrayed in popular culture. It’s from a popular 70’s cartoon Mr. Magoo…and the voice of the character is worse than the image.
So is there any record of Bruce Lee in a real street fight?
Actually YES, but strangely no one ever talks about it…
It wasn’t a street fight, or a “death match” but it was a bare knuckle challenge match where Bruce Lee destroyed a guy in seconds.
That fight took place when Bruce Lee was teaching in the Seattle area. A local karate practitioner Yoichi Nakachi took issue with Bruce’s martial arts worldview and loudly issued a challenge.
Yoichi pursued him for weeks. When the two finally fought at the Y.M.C.A., they fought on a handball court. It was supposed to be three, 2 minute rounds, but it didn’t go that long.
Bruce obliterated Yoichi with a rapid series of punches and a knockout kick in an 22-second fight that left him unconscious. Oddly enough, the entire affair tends to get shrugged off as meaningless; when really, it kind of proved Bruce’s point.
Bruce Lee was smart, he could fight, and he sure did have a HUGE set of brass cajones….no doubt, but what you hear about Bruce Lee is just like a Hollywood Movie…”based on a true story”.
Below are the links of reference for the article.
Bruce Lee IMDB here https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000045/
Wong Jack Man fight
Bruce Lee biographical
Tao of Jeet Kun Do (wiki)
Bruce Lee’s martial arts is a hybrid of Wing Chun, Western boxing and *gasp*!- fencing. Yes, fencing! Watch his cat-like movements. Then watch the feet movements of fencing. Notice the similarities? Bruce Lee adopted what suited his body and his temperment. Smart for any martial artist!
Bruce was liked in San Francisco for his looks, style and stand up attitude. Not just by Chinese but by young men of all races. He was admired because he showed how a man of small physical stature could fight with grace, speed and style without being a bully ass.
He really wasn’t liked…in San Fransisco. In fact if you read the articles you’ll discover that the establishment paid him no mind. He was just another young school owner.
I agree he did a lot for the “little guy” image as well as the Chinese.
As for not being a bully and humble…. there is NO indication of that…he often BASHED martial arts during demonstrations.
wing chun rules whatever type of defense you try .
Is that why Bruce Lee studied other arts like Judo and Wrestling and started creating Jeet Kun Do?
And are you in 4th grade?
So what if most the stuff in the movies is exaggerated? How has any of it caused any harm? What did Bruce Lee ever do to you? You don’t gotta bash the guy! He’s deceased for chrissakes!
Here’s the thing Wayne…
The harm is causes is that millions of people THINK IT’S REAL.
I don’t think telling the truth is bashing the guy…in fact I thought I was complimentary.
Finally, if we’re not allowed to talk about the dead…I guess we should burn all of the history books.
I first remember Bruce Lee from his early appearances in Long Street, Green Hornet, and Marlowe, and was impressed to say the least. He had amazing self-confidence on the screen and was my first real exposure to any martial arts! I had never seen anyone kick the way he did before this time. Later, during my Hapkido training, I took my 2nd degree black belt Korean instructor to see (I think) “Fist of Fury” as he was a fairly recent arrival to the U.S. and had never heard of Bruce Lee. My instructor was not particularly impressed with what he saw. I later watched an interview with Chuck Norris, well known as a World Karate Champion and successful actor, who was asked about his time with Bruce, and while kind, polite, and complementary, he reminded the interviewer that Bruce was an actor first of all. (I previously had the good fortune to meet and briefly talk with Chuck Norris at a 1975 Hwarangdo exhibition in Phoenix, AZ. He has always been an impressive martial art figure to me.) Bruce Lee certainly brought incredible attention and popularity to the martial arts through his acting career, and his fighting skills, philosophies, stories and legacy, both factual and/or exaggerated, will continue to live on. I am very grateful for the brief time that he was with us.
I don’t think there’s anyone over the age of 40 who didn’t get into the martial arts because of Bruce Lee and the TV Series KUNG FU….which was rumored to have been pitched by Bruce.
Thanks for a truly great article. Just like you say, I got into my study of the martial arts (Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do, Northern Shaolin and Wing Chun) because of two reasons: the TV Series KUNG FU and viewing Enter the Dragon for the first time. I was actually already studying Kenpo ~ because of David Carradine’s Kwai Chang Caine. However the famous fight scene between Bruce and Bob Wall in Enter the Dragon changed my life. I never saw a human being move that fast! Those backfists and lightning fast trapping and feints! From that moment, I wanted to be able to move like that! R.I.P. Little Dragon ~ you inspired a generation of martial artists through your movies, philosophy and martial talents.
I first saw Bruce Lee when I was 6 years old when watching The Green Hornet. I never missed an episode, and my parent’s signed me up for an after school Tai Kwan Do school where I received my 2nd degree black belt by age 12 in 1972. Learning martial arts has helped me throughout my entire life, and I thank Bruce Lee for sparking the interest.
When you go on the internet and see how many are trying to make a living ( and some a fortune ) off of martial arts and self defense we realize that they too are doing it with ulterior motives. So many believe that “they” are superior to other practitioners ….in many cases this is strictly ego driven. I for one believe strongly in CQC / Navy Seal training and the Self Defense Company is by far the best I have seen in coming up with an organized practical method of learning. But each of us need to respect ( not agree) with others who love the ART and benefits of all the forms but realize we all have our own preference. Bruce Lee has at least done more for promoting self defense then most people ever will. My opinion. Dave
First off, Hollywood is about getting people to spend their money watching their productions, same with TV. in which advertisers sponsor a “show” in hopes you buy their merchandise. Its simply ENTERTAINMENT. Yes, actors are charismatic, good looking and so forth… but they are STILL actors, playing a role either the “good guy” or the “bad guy”
Would I attempt some of these “flashy” Martial Arts moves used by Actors, which are choreographed. (sorry if I miss spelled but you get the drift). “Staged performance” In a REAL situation?? HELL NO!! My LIFE is on the line, or the life of a loved one. The best defense is a good offense. and Damian’s techniques WORK!! perhaps not flashy, but EFFECTIVE! guaranteed!!
So no, I don’t think I’d be taking off my boots, like Tom Laughlin, in Billy Jack and whopping “Posner” up side the head with either right or left foot. I’ll simply stick to what WORKS,
My own teacher tells a story of Bruce visiting a Japanese karate school in San Francisco. He was, apparently, known to visit local schools and even challenge some of the fighters there. Supposedly he would win enough to keep doing it. This particular day he entered the dojo and at that time two senior students were free fighting. No challenge was issued by Bruce, he commented that they had a great school and left. That was wise of him …
I know someone personally who ran into Bruce at a tournament, it was not a particularly auspicious moment. Bruce’s arrogance and condescending attitude were more than enough to fill the room. I appreciate his films, his acting, etc. the fight scenes are tame by today’s standards, and the film speed is obviously raised to make the fighters appear quicker. Bruce did have the effect of generating interest in martial arts. My teacher’s school in NY and parent school in SF enjoyed great membership during those years.
Only confusion I have is that Mr. Inosanto speaks highly of Bruce, or at least credits Bruce with much of the techniques he teaches. I live a mile from his school and have watched a few classes there.
Your comments seem to be in line with the articles I referenced in the post.
Regarding Dan Inosanto, my only explanation is this:
A. He’s a little full of shit too.
B. He aligned himself with Bruce because he believed in what he was teaching.
C. He wanted to capitalize on the Bruce Lee brand.
It’s reasonable to think it’s a combination of 2 or 3 of the above.
The student-instructor relationship is one of dependency. The student invests time, energy and money so that instructor BETTER be right.
The instructor needs the student to validate him and vice-versa the student. It’s almost cult-like. You see it in politics, religion, martial arts and many other endeavors.
I’ve only trained with someone claiming to be one of Dan Inosanto’s top students. I don’t know if it’s true are not. He was teaching JKD, Shoot Wrestling and Eskrima – as I reflect back on that training I found most of it somewhat useless except a handful of tactics.
But like I said – it wasn’t Inosanto and I don’t know if that guy was real or not.
But…Inosantos claim to fame IS BEING BRUCE LEE’S STUDENT.
I believe Mr. Ross is right.
As a JKD instructor, holder of 3. dan degree in jujitsu and ex-bouncer hardly any fight will go down in stylized form of combat. Martial arts instructors are trying to deceive themselves and others that they have found a working style of moves to eliminate the problem of violence and achieve “spiritual harmony”.
Fighting is violence, and it will never be eliminated by martial arts.
Martial arts are only effective, providing someone allows the technique to be administered. Techniques that “work” when there are no multiple and armed attackers are simply not worthy of your consideration.
Beware the MMA, Krav Maga, JKD… propaganda!
All of these are tantamount to sticking your head in the sand and do not deal with reality. In reality it takes 5 cops to handle a single man even though they’re trained in martial arts. Real fighting can never be considered as “controlled technique” or style.
Martial arts “experts” are very confident concerning the value of the martial arts for street defense. Allegedly, the only drawback to their style is the fact that they don’t fight on the street. No matter how many decades one studies, we will never know how good he is outside his style.
In actuality those “experts” created a perfectly sealed bubble which was later promoted by Hollywood movies and pre-arranged UFC events, only to gain as much money as possible.
Learning martial arts in order to become the next Bruce Lee or Connor Mcgregor is exactly what these individuals are trying to sell you.
However if your goal is personal protection, then training in the martial arts will be a negative detour from your objective.
I spent sixteen years as a cop and a martial artist and instructor. The statement that it takes five cops to handle one fighter is pure BS. I used all of my tools at my disposal to handle combative individuals and rarely did I need four other cops for assistance. Bruce Lee’s philosophy is simple use what is effective, discard that which is not effective, be like water conforming to whatever situation you are in and adapt your fighting system or style to your own strengths. Any martial artist with a brain knows the various fighting forms have many layers and many different applications and the more you train, think, analyze and apply the various systems you choose to explore the more you discover for your own use. Paul Vunak is very impressive and his use of Jeet Kune Do is very successful and he is a student of Inosanto. Bruce Lee was ahead of his time as was Joe Lewis and Ed Parker. These pioneers of the martial arts had one thing in common in that they were not afraid to ask questions about the art they were in and they were not afraid to add and adapt. This is evident in the use of their fighting systems personally as film of them in their early years is totally different after their respective personal enlightenment and adaptation of their arts. I was lucky enough to be involved in the martial arts in the mid seventies and the eighties when personal and school challenges were still occurring. These were times when you could test your fighting spirit and techniques. I quickly learned what was useful and what was not. I later learned even more while working in bars and later as a police officer which joint locks worked and which were junk. Those were informative years.
Does anyone have any experience with Paul Vunak’s RAT? He also claims to be an Inosanto student
Vunak is a Canadien Acolyte of Mas Guru Inosanto. Probably one of his oldest students.
I have not seen anything better than the SDC if “easy to learn, practical, effective, comprehensive, adaptable, and cost effective self-defense is the goal, with tactics proven by guys like William Fairbairn and others who faced many life and death situations! My opinion is based on readings of military related close combat history and my past instruction in six different formal martial arts at different stages of my life, from age 18 to my latter-50s when I dropped out of Aikido. Now at age 69, I adapt and depend on what works for me. The SDC gives me what I need and more, including the bullet proof jackets, LOL! I also just added a couple of stun guns (legal to carry in my state) to my personal security options. REAL self-defense requires REAL solutions to REAL threats!
It’s good to know all this. I happen to think that Bruce’s real story (warts and all) would make a better movie, although that kind of directorial talent seems to have been pushed aside by the drooling idiocy of most “action films”. As far as myth-making goes, I think the ancient Greeks did a better job than Hollywood. Your article made me think exactly zero less of Bruce Lee, but I now admire his intelligence a little more.
I trained w Ted Wong (Bruce Lee protege’. I started in 1960’s and 70’s. I also trained with Parker acolytes Jimmy Woo “San Soo” huge influence on Am. Kenpo) I am a JKD Practitioner, Kempo, Silat Kali, and Combat Judo Via Force Recon father who was in Viet Nam. I will say to the things posted here.
I have seen the Movie, and I encourage people to look up an article written by Charles Russo. I know Dan Inosanto students, I know Parker First Generation Students, and it is and was nothing like what everyone is trying to push to the forefront.
Jun Fan, (Bruce Lee’s real name); was born in San Francisco. He grew up on the mean streets of Hong Kong and liked to fight. Parker A Hawaiian, who also grew up on the mean streets of Hawaii when the Haolies were viewed poorly by locals and was almost the self same position.
The influences are truthfully Filipino in derivation. Dan Inosanto was already trained in Kali when he joined Parker, Parker had already been influenced by the Emperado’s (kali) of (Kajukenbo) where he incorporated the 6, 12 count into Okazaki Danzan Ryu and Mitose Kempo and Hawaiian Kapu Kuialua.
In fact Inosanto was a student of both Parker and Lee Fan, but he probably had more influence over both of these two men than the other way around (Mind you I am not an Inosanto acolyte).
At the time Willie Chow not Parker’s first instructor a different Chow (Tong Member) born in Oakland (an American) lived in Canton, Bruce born in San Francisco (an American) lived in Hong Kong, these “Death Matches” LOL! Were gang fights.
Parker, Chow,Lee Fan, had many many street confrontations which were deadly, but not “Death Matches” if that were so I could claim to have fought in “Death Matches”, but they all had in common and was the catalyst to get away from the “Classical Mess”.
Such was the way day 1960’s 70’s and time of the ERA. But Parker introduced Lee Fan to the World, and he was more friend than foe unlike as was shown in the movie.
Parker and Lee saw eye to eye on the “Hey we need to make this street ready” Get rid of the classical stand in a horse stance for 3 years then I can teach you something.
Fact is there was never a “Mc Q” person other than Steve Mc Queen who did train with Lee Fan but much later. Lee’s School was mainly in OAKLAND not Frisco which at the time was an operation of the Hawaiian Kenpo KAJUKENBO Crew of I believe Ray Arquilla. Which I believe was how Lee Fan was introduced to Parker.
As for the fight scene PURE FANTASY. Though I actually Liked the movie. My only Problem is they made this Mc Q fantasy figure “White Guy” in love with Chinese Girl the main theme more Fantasy
These 3 Americans were teaching “Chinese Karate” Parker/ Chinese San Soo Gung Fu/ and Wing Tsun Gung Fu but were viewed as Americans and were viewed as unknown uncontrolled variables by the Tongs.
Woo’s father took him back to Canton because of the Tongs in America wanting him dead, that is where he learned his Gung Fu. That was a huge influence on Parker’s Kenpo.
This actually has caused a rift between Jimmy Woo Acolytes and Parker Acolytes. Parker was a Mormon and when he found out about Woo left him standing on a street corner (Again I am not a Parker Acolyte either).
I would say he “borrowed ” Woos’s stuff and made it his own. So yes I feel for the San Soo people and they do have a Legitimate gripe.
But Lee Fan “borrowed” too.. Just like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is Jigoro Kano “Classical” Jiu Jitsu with the Gracie/Machado or any other Brazilian name to it. But question is does it work? Sure it does.
I think the rift was the loss of control of “Chinese” Systems.
He died on the same day at the age of 32 year. He died on July 20, 1973 using painkiller allergic reaction lapsed into coma and died on the same day. This become a secret matter how did bruce lee die murder or death? The funeral ceremony was held in Hong Kong where fan attend the funeral ceremony with 25000 people.
“He grew up on the mean streets of Hong Kong and liked to fight.”
Bruce was a famous child actor and attended private schools. He even had a personal driver who according to his family saved him from a gang. I dont think Bruce was going around much getting into fights on the “mean streets” even then kids brawling doesnt mean a whole lot. There are stories that he participated in the roof top matches with other King Fu schools even though people say he didnt compete.
Good reading really enjoyed it, just going to add my two penneth regarding Jeet Kune Do. My instructor the late Sifu Martin Sterling passed on to me a set of the original writings and drawings to me before he died, these papers are dated 1964 – 1967.
In those papers is something that is very interesting (not one kick is above the knee) I call those papers practical JKD. What you see in his films is clearly theatrical JKD.
Right. Bruce’s straight blast was pretty in line with what we do…just take ground and go. Movie stuff is just that…movie stuff.
Great article. The book everyone needs to read if you haven’t already on Bruce is “Unsettled Matters” by Tom Bleecker.
Tao of Jeet Kune Do was never meant to be a book. It was just taken from Bruce’s notes and capitalized on to make money after his death by his wife and her lawyer. They are responsible for most of the Bruce Lee post death marketing and hype. read that book.
Exactly — look take the information in the book for what it’s worth, and I can’t fault a widow trying to use her husband’s name to feed her family. I don’t have a problem with any of that — it’s just the fact that the legend of Bruce Lee was created and marketed.
That much is true.
Damian, do you think you could’ve beaten Bruce Lee in a hypothetical match?
Why am I fighting Bruce Lee — is he trying to rape my wife and kill my children?
Excellent answer Damien. Can’t say much more than that, succinct and to the point. SDTS……
Aloha from Kauai happy holidays !
Dr.Moses Powell taught Sanuces Ryu, a very effective form of Street Fighting Martial Arts, his instructor was Professor Vee who taught Visitacion Kuntao, also a very effective form of Street fighting.
Very interesting stuff as usual Damian. Thanks, and much respect to you.
When I was a kid in the 70’s (after his death) Bruce was a legend….His movies were released annually in movie theaters until the early 80s. Plenty of kids bought that cheesy yellow (with black stripe on sides) one piece suit that they sold in the back of the karate magazines……
Great article….When I was a kid in the 70’s (after his death) Bruce was a legend….His movies were released annually in movie theaters until the early 80s. Plenty of kids bought that cheesy yellow (with black stripe on sides) one piece suit that they sold in the back of the karate magazines……
A few comments:
The “Death Matches,” in HK were just rooftop matches, mostly unskilled brawls. (there is video footage floating about, nothing impressive) The fight between Wong Jack Man and Bruce Lee was more of a result of Lee’s ridiculing elder teachers in the Chinese Martial Arts community, particularly T.Y. Wong. In Bruce Lee’s book, he even demonstrates his techniques with his student wearing the identical uniform to T.Y. Wong, against techniques which Wong had demonstrated, which was a slap in the face.
The article seems somewhat biased against Bruce Lee. You should have contacted some of his students and other world renowned martial artists to give their take on the man.
The article is based on FACTS about his life that includes the timeline until his death.
Interviewing a sycophant is not factual.
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Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.
Great article. With all these crazy cities in America wanting to disband their police force, citizens better learn self defense.
You could think of Bruce as a philosophical Corona virus. Whether or not he was real, the ideas attributed to him irrevocably changed the timeline.
Take what’s useful, dispense with what’s not useful. So many things that I already had concluded, I read on the Tao of Jeet June Do. I was right handed but southpaw. The fencing footwork, which is similar to basketball footwork.
The fencing footwork is the drop step, btw.
I agree with Napoleon that “history is a lie agreed upon” — maybe even including the fact that Napoleon said that. So, I’ve learned not to make idols of anyone since all my childhood ones have literally turned out to be frauds over the years. Without exception.
But philosophical points and ideas are self validating, and so I’m careful to focus on the ideas themselves. Like I had a saying, “think like a sociopath,” but obviously you don’t want to idolize sociopaths and psychopaths. But you can apply their ruthless mindset to high moral ideals, rather than to narcissistic emptiness.
So anyways, the character known as Bruce Lee was a huge influence on me because of the ideas and the philosophy attributed to him.
The character MacGuyver was also a huge influence on me as a kid. As an idea — solutions can always be found around you.
Or, The Saint, from before my time, but still a great show. It almost doesn’t even matter if these people are real or not, because ideas are what they are.
If Bruce Lee had just been an action movie star, I wouldn’t even remember him, cuz he didn’t make that many movies, and only one was good. And there were interesting philosophical points in that one, one of the most notable to me being Bruce explaining to a student that he was “merely a finger pointing the way to all that heavenly glory.” And not that actual heavenly glory itself. That’s brilliant material there.
People keep thinking they can find someone to hand them all the heavenly glory. Self defense and violence is no different. The heavenly glory is a bloodbath in which you are the last man standing.
Foundationally, my approach to people is philosophical and, as you can see with the character known as Bruce Lee, philosophers live on long after death. Carl Cestari was similar in this regard and in his approach.
A brilliant guy named Rich Grannon was explaining the fraud of psychology and the fact that what people need is not psychology but philosophy. Foundational beliefs and a moral code.
Without these you’re a leaf in the wind. How are you going to fight anything without having determined a proper moral threshold for doing so, and your own rules of engagement?
These are philosophical. I see this with self defense. People don’t really need self defense — what they need is a philosophical foundation to stand on. People have vague notions of core principles and thus have already surrendered any potential fights. All that’s left to fight over is feelings and ego, both of which have already weakened them.
Like a yard with no boundary markers. How to think is more important than what to think. So listening to great ideas and philosophies triggers even more great ideas and philosophies in your own mind, merely because of the approach being modeled.
So Bruce Lee lives on as a great philosopher and not really as a great fighter or athlete. Jackie Chan’s made more and better movies but nobody gives a shit about that guy.
Brilliant philosophy is where it’s at. It’s really what people need. People think they need self defense because in reality they have weak core principles which creates weak intent.
The principles are what trigger the violence — for the good and for the evil. And the level of intent determines the level of violence. The more sharply defined the principles then the stronger and more powerful the intent.
We’ve all heard of mother lifting cars off their children. Maybe these stories are bullshit — I haven’t personally vetted them — but they illustrate the point. In the case of a mother and child, there isn’t even a hint of wavering on principle and thus absolutely psychotic intent.
The modern man and woman are unprincipled whose core principles consist of whatever their emotions are one second to the next.
This is also how violent criminals act except the ones who have embraced their own pathology to the point of premeditation, rather than just lack of impulse.
So essentially, I’m surrounded by weak fuckin criminals. Psychologically. So it’s no wonder that these people are scared of actual criminals.
There’s no one who doesn’t know how to really hurt someone if they really need to. Absolutely no one. Sure, I can make it a little more efficient, but give me a break.
The real question is what are your principles, and what is your intent?
These are philosophical questions. It’s ideas that remain throughout history, whoever they are attributed to.
So in that sense of enduring, you want to fight as if you yourself ARE a philosophy. I AM.. an idea. And I cannot be destroyed.
“The way of the samurai is in desperateness. Against such a man ten men cannot prevail.” — Hagakure: Book of the Samurai.
This is the kind of shit I wouldn’t be thinking without Bruce Lee lighting the fuse. So whoever the guy was, he will live in literally forever.
Bruce Lee’s films got me in to martial arts. I’ve been lucky to train with some great people. The philosophy expressed in other replys and encapsulated in Damians why would I be fighting Bruce Lee comment hit home for me. In that kind of situation protecting your life or or your loved ones or the innocent there is a change in mindset. In a situation like that I found I felt like a lion and fear didn’t enter in to it. I wasn’t armed but I quickly identified that the attackers weren’t holding weapons and what I could use as an improvised weapon if I needed one.
Second, in defence of Dan Inosanto from what I’ve seen of his training and students I’ve me he’s a modest and awesomely talented martial artist and trainer. His long time chief instructor as was developed the RAT (Rapid Assault Tactics) for the Navy Seals. In terms of keeping it real it’s right up there.
Having said that I wish I’d discovered SDTS earlier. A few simple techniques applied to many situations, street applicable, taking account of armed or multiple opponents. Awesome!
Some say many fights are caused by ego, alcohol and drugs. Another says don’t be a dxxk head and don’t go where dxxk heads go. That probably leaves the sociopaths and psychopaths. Your lion can can then come out and do whatever is necessary.
that should be I’ve met not I’ve me!
The RAT comment was referring to Paul Vunak. Rumour has it that the SEALS tested their skills against the kind of people Carl C faced when he was jailed. Allegedly.
Hey John – I don’t know about the SEALS testing their skills…I do know that Carl didn’t have a high opinion of Vunak. After his release from prison during Carl’s “relentless pursuit” of the truth about self defense Carl did go to a Vunak seminar in early 90s and was not happy because Vunak took a lot of breaks – which lead Carl to believe he was using cocaine or some other controlled substance. Again – I was not there, this was how I heard it from Carl so I can’t confirm any of this.
That being said – how do you “teach the SEALS”? ell, they’re bringing guys in regularly. Usually you know someone in the unit that has in interest in martial arts. And if you happen to run a martial arts school or live near a base, there’s a good chance you will be tapped to show your stuff. In other words…it’s not like an official “blessing” from the special forces. Needless to say we can claim the same since either myself or SDC Instructors have instructed a wide variety of members in various agencies.
I am 39 years old portuguese and I started martial arts inspired by Bruce Lee and the Kung Fu series.
Right now I have a small study group of Original Jeet Kune Do from the IFO led by Tommy Carruthers here in my home town. Its a relatively simple (but not easy) and elegant style to learn. A great adition to my personal style.
I am studying SDTS and am very pleased with it. I am using part of it to add to the style of JKD that I am teaching and learning. I wanted something simple and direct. The combination of original jkd form Tommy Carruthers and SDTS seems very efective to me. Its a work in progress.
Best wishes from Portugal!
Welcome to the SDC!!
We’re all a work in progress :)
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