Bruce Lee Battle with Wong Jack Man!

Bruce Lee Battle that He Lost!

The Bruce Lee Battle with Wong Jack Man has become the stuff of legends, it was a wildly famous battle. There are different opinions as to who won, and people can’t even agree on how many people were there, or who they were.

The Bruce Lee Battle with Wong Jack Man happened in 1964. It supposedly happened because Bruce was teaching Kung Fu to white people. A challenge was issued by the Chinese martial arts community, which probably meant Wong Jack Man by himself, or with the backing of a few friends.

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Was the Bruce Lee fighting method developed because of the Wong Jack Man fight?

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There is controversy in the challenge itself, as Wong Jack Man was one of the first Kung Fu instructors in San Francisco to open his doors to white students.

So the two men met in a Kung fu school in Oakland in late winter of 1964. On one hand was Wong Jack Man, 5’ 10”, 135 pounds, an expert in Shaolin styles, and having experience in internal kung fu styles. On the other hand was Bruce Lee, 5’ 7”, 140 pounds, an expert in Wing Chun (Ving Tsun) Kung Fu as taught by the legendary Yip Man.

As the two men eyed each other, Bruce Lee made an interesting remark concerning a friend of Wong Jack Man’s who had helped to set up the affair. “You’ve been killed by your friend.”

Wong Jack Man remained silent, but undoubtedly he was thinking over the remark. After all, Bruce Lee Battles had taken place in Hong Kong, ‘roof top’ contests when he was a member of the street gang ‘Tigers of Junction Street.’ These were particularly vicious fights, and Bruce Lee had fought in these so called ‘death matches.’

Bruce Lee’s remark in his mind, the people in the school stepped back and cleared a space for the combatants. On Lee’s side of the room stood wife Linda Lee, and James Yimm Lee. On the other side of the room stood three people, one of which was named William Chen (not the William Chen who teaches Tai Chi Chuan in New York). This is an oddity as Linda Lee recalls 13 people being present, and Chen recalls 15 people being in attendance. The fact that there is so little recall on this simple fact bodes ill for recall on the Bruce Lee Battle itself.

The floor cleared, the two men bowed, and Wong Jack Man moved forward and extended his hand for the pre-fight handshake. Bruce leaped forward with a quick spear hand to the eyes.

Wong was surprised, but quickly settled into his classical Kung Fu mode of fighting. Bruce, for his part, assumed a Wing chun stance. Still, though the men were in stances, Bruce was the more aggressive. He continually rushed in, kicking to the groin or striking to the eyes.

Wong, remembering Bruce’s remark at the beginning of the fight, backpedaled. He was constantly blocking and parrying and trying to get away from the dangerous eye pokes.

For long minutes the fight continued, Bruce unable to finish it, and Wong unable to move off the defensive. At last, the fight ended.

Linda Lee claimed Wong was running, that the fight was turning into a farce.

Wong’s men are said to have tried to stop the fight, but were forestalled by James Lee, who told them to let the fight continue.

Bruce is supposed to have taken him to the floor where he pounded his head with his fist. This is not born out by other witnesses.

Wong states that he had Bruce‘s head under his arm on three separate occasions.

Linda Lee says the fight lasted three minutes. Other witnesses says it went for 20 minutes.

Wong’s people claim the fight never went to the ground, but ended when both men were exhausted and unable to continue.

Do you see the difficulty here? So few eyewitnesses, and yet there is wildly varying accounts from the two camps.

So, what is the truth.

While this may not make please the reader, this writer thinks that this particular Bruce Lee battle went to Wong Jack Man. There are several reasons for this.

First, Linda Lee makes contradictory statements concerning the fight. This indicates a problem with memory.

Second, there was a lot more agreement that the fight actually lasted 20 minutes.

Third, Wong Jack Man went to work the following day, and the only mark that he had been in a death match was a scratch under the eye, which he said he received in the opening spear hand from Bruce.

Fourth, it was Bruce who wanted the fight kept a secret, but it was Bruce who broke this agreement by talking about the fight within a couple of weeks in an interview. Why would he want it a secret, yet be compelled to blurt it out? There is a conflict here. Not sure what it was, how deep it went, but it is Bruce Lee who was conflicted, not Wong Jack Man, who has rarely spoken of the fight, nor of Bruce Lee.

Fifth, and this is the one that really speaks to me: Bruce changed his fighting style after the fight. After the fight he left the Wing Chun kung fu style and developed his Jeet Kune Do method. So why would a man change what works? Only if it didn’t work. The truth is this, people learn from their mistakes, and that education will cause change. If Bruce had won it wouldn’t have been a mistake, and there wouldn’t have been an impetus to change.

That said, I know people will disagree with this, and I am truly curious as to their thoughts concerning this fight and to my reasoning. Feel free to comment below.

At any rate, the Bruce Lee Battle of the century doesn’t look like it was a win for Bruce. In fact, it looks like Bruce Lee lost. At best, it might have been a draw, but that might be a good thing. After all, it gave the world the Jeet Kune Do of Bruce Lee, and that means the entire world of the martial arts has won.

This article has been about the Bruce Lee battle with Wong Jack Man.

If you want to know about the man who killed Kenpo Karate…click here.

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116 thoughts on “Bruce Lee Battle with Wong Jack Man!

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  3. Tian

    Articles of martial arts are meant to be written without bias, if you just gave the details it would have been a good read, but instead you supplement Man’s actions and decisions and tried to lead the reader into thinking that Lee’s change in combat styles and death could possibly be due to his fight with Man. I wasn’t there, but neither where you – so the facts would have been much better; such as how besides Linda’s – there were few accounts of a three minute battle while a majority of eye witnesses agreed that the bout lasted more than twenty minutes.

    Overall, it was an interesting read about a pivotal point in martial arts from a different perspective.

    Reply
    1. aganzul Post author

      I used to write articles without bias when I was writing for the magazines, but it is fun to give an opinion. The only thing I look at now is whether my interpretation can be justified by facts. As I recall Bruce himself (verified by Linda), said he changed his methods after the fight. I always think that if he had solidly won there would have been reason to change. Well, we’ll never know, but it sure is fun to think about. Probably one of the most pivotal fights of the last century that almost nobody saw. Thanks for reading, and have a great work out.
      Al

      Reply
      1. Suraj

        Biased article… big time… Lee changed his method because it was restrictive and didn’t encompass everything you would encounter in a fight… he wanted to expand on a fighting style.. how you can make it into something negative is total bs

        Reply
      2. Alex

        Your bias is obvious – you only gave credit to Wong’s witnesses, but debunked Lee’s. What proof do you have that Wong’s witnesses weren’t lying out of jealousy as well? Also, you only took Wong’s word that it was Lee who wanted the fight kept a secret.

        Do you know some MMA fighters commented that even with their hardcore training, it would be near impossible to fight 20 minutes?

        Knowing how Chinese martial artists train, lasting a few minutes would have been a miracle. Trust me – I do kungfu, boxing and freestyle sparring.

        Reply
        1. Arthur

          For a fact, a second challenge was issued to Bruce Lee in a Chinese newspaper and
          your great Bruce Lee turned it down and moved out of Oakland to LA.

          Reply
    2. jason

      As a huge Bruce Lee fan, I’m tempted to defend him based on nothing more than I like him, but the reality is, we don’t know the truth. I do believe Bruce Lee tended to exaggerate his boasts even when unlikely. However, even Wong did not claim victory. He claimed he could have killed Lee, but I find that hard to believe any more than Lee could have killed him or any man could kill any other. Linda Lee may have oversimplified it, but Lee developing Jeet Kune Do doesn’t mean he lost–it means he was fatigued at the end of the fight and realized that’s not practical. At worst (for Lee) it was a draw, but by no means was it a defeat when Wong was as tired and spent the entirety of the fight defending without much offense.

      Reply
      1. gboy

        yeah, i’m a huge bruce fan too. Or atleast i was till i found out who he really was. Never the less he is one of my childhood icons. Nobody really won according to what i’ve read, and I beleive Wong was better than Bruce. But the thing is people compare all these martial artists and fighters, i think it’s silly. Fighters like Bruce, Joe lewis, Ali, Tyson, Manny, Floyd are just the publicised fighters. They were really good , no arguement. But you can’t compare them with the real great masters like master Uyeshiba, Funokoshi, Ip man etc. (and these are the recent great masters) Real martial arts masters a couple of 100 yrs ago, didnt need to prove anything, they were of a different class. Some of them didn’t need to lift a finger against an opponent.

        Reply
    3. soti

      –Lee’s wife said it in her book that after the fight he changed his style and trained like a maniac

      –Lee said it in an interview that after the fight realised that the wing chun was not as effective as he first thought

      –and…. he also closed all his schools until he developed jean kun do.

      basic psychology here : if you stop believing in your martial arts effectiveness do you continue with your scools????????

      also speaking first about an incident when agreed not to, that means his ego was hurt and was afraid of his credibility if Wong Jack Man has talked first. it would look like he was afraid to speak first which would mean he had lost. so he spoke first. basic psychology of an arrogant person.

      my opinion is that the fight was a draw. cause his Lee’s ego if he had lost he would backstab the man on his way out of the dojo and everywitness in the scene or he would have committed suicide.

      Reply
    4. Ivan

      A very awesome point of view…here are some interesting things I have noticed as well.
      1. There is a difference between fighting for twenty minutesand running for 20 minutes .if I was present, and I witnessed two men exchanging blows for 3 minutes then suddenly it shifting to one man running.and on the defensive for 17 minutes after that, I would have called it a 3 minute bout. Even in todays modern boxing, if ur getting whaled upon after round one but survive for the rest of the match running until the decision time at rnd 10or12. People will say it was over after round one they will not even credit the loser the honor of saying he went the distance. Also Bruce Lee was OCD about everything especially martial arts, it is a known fact through creditable witnesses and documented records he was a pioneer in martial arts always engineering new ways to advance his martial arts skills. His style was already changing long before the fight, it is said he took up fencing and studied western boxing along with many different art forms discarding what he thought to be rubbish and keeping what worked. A man so sure of his wing chin wouldn’t have done this unless he was already losing fights( which was far from true) at this time, or he was pursuing innovation which was Bruces middle name.The final thought, and the clenc her, the winner always talks when it comes to the public media, Bruce Lee was an icon no man who beat Bruce lee in a match would ever stay silent after witnessing his sudden rise to fame, a rise that had he lost would not have been allowed remember what it meant if he lost can’t teach anymore but he went along and did it anyways, and slaughtered every challenge on the way. A man who lost would never make it to fame the way he did. Bruce lee was extremely cocky, and very arrogant according to friends and family. This man eluded him for 20 minutes leading to a very strong ideal that it was probably the longest fight he’d had in ages, even on the run the cocky Bruce would have found it highly offensive that a peon lasted that long with him, hence the eminent burst of motivation to further advance his skills after. They were advanced because Bruce Lee was not a sitting still kinda person, Today if alive I guarantee he would not be at home retired but still trying to sharpen his skills like a mad man trying to find a flaw in his design. To Bruce, whether your running or not u will be obliterated in seconds defending is pointless. Except in this case last 17 minutes worth of running meant to Bruce that he might as well have lost, that his incredible lightning fast punches and kicks were still far too slow to be effective or penetrate through the guard of a man whom according to ur own post, was already a dead man.

      Reply
      1. Paul

        Bruce wasnt all that well known when he went out and broke the rule of silence and bragged about beating WJM. WJM never claimed to win and thought it was a draw. WJM requested a rematch and never got it.

        Reply
    5. shakeel

      lee changed his style because he was upset that the fight took 3 mins.he always thought that wing chung was the greatest of all martial arts cos he was taught by the greatest ip man
      but he then realised that it has weaknesses such as the fixed stance.he started to learn ali’s footwork and so forth developping jeet kune do

      Reply
  4. Angelo

    “Articles of martial arts are meant to be written without bias…”
    I don’t see bias in this article. I see analysis of facts and a subsequent conclusion. So maybe we need to define “bias”.
    Without going into the detailed definition, Webster defines “bias” as “prejudice” or “unreasoned judgment”.
    I see no evidence of prejudice in the article. It’s a description of an event based on the conflicting opinions of the witnesses present.
    The only “judgment” I see is the author’s oppinion based on his analysis of the statements of the witnesses and the conduct of the principals after the event. In any book, that qualifies as a reasoned judgment.
    Therefore, if we are to be fair, there IS NO bias in the article.
    Now, that doesn’t mean that one has to agree with the conclusion. Some may agree, some may not and some might not even care. But the fact that someone does not agree with the reasoned judgment of the author does not mean the article is biased. It just means that someone doesn’t agree… period.
    So before we start calling articles “biased”, let’s make sure we understand the meaning of the word and that we have analyzed the article’s content correctly.
    Just an observation to keep us all focused. :-)

    Reply
  5. voldo2006

    lol…no he didn’t lose. I mean if he did….why was he still able to teach chinese martial arts to non-chinese students? Actually, this was one of his “Oh my god” moments…..because after this fight, he started to question the martial arts, which lead him to his philosophy. Discard what doesn’t work and apply what does.

    Reply
      1. aganzul Post author

        I’ve heard this, too. So both were teaching non-chinese, sounds like maybe it was just two roosters flexing their muscles.

        Reply
      2. soti

        so his style didnt work in the fight thats more than obvious
        it may have meen a draw but he definately didnt win lolol.

        Reply
      3. Ivan

        Actually in the underground Chinese community you must pay homage and fees, whites weren’t the biggest issue, it was the fact that just like starting up a drug operation on someone’s turf without permission.. Bruce with his schools was doing the same thing but wasn’t paying taxes, so to speak…but the movies won’t tell you that..he wasnt just fighting the Chinese community, he was defying the mafia, and paid with his life.

        Reply
  6. Anil John

    I agree with the author of this article. To substantiate the opinion, Bruce Lee in fact didn’t agree to a challenge from Wong Jack Man for a second public fight. Bruce Lee never responded to that call. That somewhat tells the truth. I feel Bruce Lee was unable to beat Wong Jack Man.

    Reply
    1. Andy Yu

      Wong jack man is a pussy who was on the defensive for 20 mins , bruce lee was 300% aggresive , bruce lee knew he had win the fight , and what a typical loser reaction to ask a rematch xD

      Reply
      1. David Williamson

        Everyone please forget about this 20 minute nonsense. Neither Bruce nor Wong could fight for twenty minutes non-stop. This was a street type fight that could only have lasted several minutes.

        Reply
        1. pcuzz

          While I question the 20 min also it is possible for 2 young men in good shape to fight for 20 min. Both would tire and slow down and neither would have an advantage.

          Reply
          1. David Williamson

            Please try not to confuse a ‘real’ fight with a training session or sparring. Also your version of a gradual slow down doesn’t fit with any witness account. Linda’s reported duration fits with reality, the Wong supporters propaganda duration is a work of fiction as any fighter should know. The witness accounts report an explosive start to this fight, not a paced beginning, which further fits the shorter duration.

      2. Willow Palm

        Bruce acted like a typical loser by changing his style and slamming Wing Chun saying it was “insufficient”. Who would do that after they won? Which fighter in the history of sports fighting has ever done that? Bruce was an angry punk who would publicly lie to make himself look like a hero.

        Reply
        1. Knock Out

          It’s called evolving. Martial artists who do not know how to grow beyond their roots and improve their techniques are in for a rude awakening. That’s why a well rounded martial artists will learn how to incorporate better punching, better kicking, better ground game, better strength conditioning, etc to improve their chances of winning a fight. And to answer your question there are plenty of fighters who change their style to improve their odds.

          Reply
    2. Alex

      Bruce was already an actor – with a career, family and kid. I think it makes no sense to respond to that lowbrow call for another fight – what if Wong himself wanted to get some attention?

      I used to box, spar and mix it up alot on the streets – but once I got a great job and got married, I didn’t want to do those things anymore, for a ton of reasons other than being “afraid”.

      Reply
  7. Sonny Crockett

    The reason that Bruce won this “fight” is very clear. With no disrespect to Wong Jack Man, Linda Cadwell and others who were there paint a more realistic picture. The “fight” was probably over very quickly (3 minutes seems about right) and not the 25 minutes people from WJM have stated. Also, Bruce DID teach who he wanted, where he wanted and when he wanted, another example of why Bruce won this tussle. What’s good to remember, according to examples given by BOTH sides, WJM asked for a rematch. Winners NEVER as for rematches.

    Reply
    1. soti

      you must be really stupid mate and life must look really hard to you.

      if sb says publicly that he beat you when there was an actual draw wouldnt you tell him “come on you piece of shit let have rematch publicly this time”

      and the other person wouldnt answer cause he wouldnt want to lose his fame with a draw.

      got it dummy?

      Reply
    2. Willow Palm

      If you read “Showdown in Oakland” the question arises as to whether Linda herself was even in the room. She was 19 and pregnant. In an interview before he died George Lee (who was there) said that Bruce told him to stay outside the room with Linda because he was worried about her safety.

      Reply
    3. Terry

      WJM requested a PUBLIC rematch, because he felt Bruce was lying about the match. It was more like you are stating you beat me let us do this in public for everyone to see.

      Reply
    4. Terry

      In correct Wong Jack Man asked for a public rematch. If he was truly beaten to demoralization why ask for a public rematch to be embarrassed again? As for winners never asking for a rematch it was more that he was claiming Bruce was lying so let us do this in public so every one can know who the better man is.

      Reply
  8. greg manwaring

    A couple of facts here are wrong.

    1. Bruce was NOT a member of Junction Street Tigers. Ronald Kho, a member of the Tigers, knew Bruce from school and of course the Junction Street area, but Bruce wasn’t in their gang.

    2. Bruce did NOT abandon everything about Ving Tsun. First of all, it was in his neural system, then secondly you can see in videos with James Coburn in ’70 or ’71 him rolling hands and working on lop sau with Coburn.

    Hope that helps!

    Reply
  9. MysticNinjajay

    All of the claims supporting Wong Jack Man as the victor or at least not the loser of this fight come from an article titled “Bruce Lee’s toughest fight” written by Michael Dorgan and published in Official Karate magazine. I believe Bruce Lee and Linda’s account of what happened for the following reasons.

    1. Bruce Lee’s account is more realistic

    – This fight was said to be a no rules challenge match between Traditional Martial Artists. Fights of this nature tend to be chaotic and short. 3 minutes sounds like a very realistic time period for this fight to occur. It’s long enough for a fighter who doesn’t do a lot of cardio training to be exhausted after extended explosive movement and short enough to believe that the fight ended in a decisive climax. Additionally Bruce acknowledges that the fight didn’t go smoothly as he hurt his hands pounding the back of Wong’s head. Anyone familiar with the chain punches of Wing Chun should know that this method of rapid punching hitting the wrong target can backfire on you.

    2. Wong Jack Man’s account is not realistic

    – Wong’s claim of the fight lasting 20-25 minutes is extremely long. We’re talking a no-holds barred fight with no referee and no breaks between Martial Artists who do not have the cardio conditioning of professional fighters lasting the length of a championship MMA fight. That’s simply too long. They would be bloodied, battered and exhausted if they were even half way decent brawlers. I simply do not believe that Wong Jack Man artfully dodged and parried Bruce Lee for 20-25 minutes and then came out of the fight virtually unscathed. The Dorgan article also claims that Wong avoided using kicks because he believed them to be too deadly. That’s nonsense. How many kicks in professional fights have resulted in death? Does anyone honestly believe that Wong Jack Man possessed deadly Kung Fu kicks that could kill Bruce Lee if he didn’t restrain himself? Such talk is something someone who doesn’t have much real fighting experience would say.

    3. Bruce Lee spoke publicly about the fight as the clear victor

    – In addition to having a more realistic account of the fight Bruce Lee proudly claimed in an interview that he defeated a Kung Fu cat in San Francisco which most agree was a reference to the fight with Wong Jack Man. Now if you lost a fight would you go around lying telling people you won when there are eye witnesses that could dispute your claim and expose you? Bruce Lee struck me as a very intelligent man. Surely he would not have done something so foolish that the average person, never mind a serious Martial Artist would not do. On the other hand the outcome of this fight was supposed to be a secret. Bruce Lee broke the code of secrecy. I find it more believable that Wong Jack Man lost the fight and feeling humiliated decided to dispute Bruce’s account to save face. This is something a sore loser of a fight would do.

    4. Wong Jack Man has been very quiet about the fight since it happened

    – I’ve looked around and I have not seen a single published interview or video featuring Wong Jack Man giving his side of what happened. After all of these years the only people that seem to be defending Wong are his students and friends such as the Dorgan article and the book Showdown in Oakland. Where is Wong Jack Man’s personal account of what happened? Is he really that private of a man that he would not speak out about this? Does he care that little about his reputation? For crying out loud Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon gave a video interview that was front page news on Yahoo yesterday repeating her parents account of how her daddy bested the racist and cowardly Wong Jack Man fighting for the right to teach other races Chinese Martial Arts. The video even had Wong’s picture as a young man in it! Yet I’m supposed to believe this life-long committed Martial Artist has so little regard for himself that he would not give a public interview to at least set the record straight? If there is a truth to be told have the courage to tell it! Or maybe he really did lose and he has made peace with it. That’s more believable.

    5. No evidence has been produced of Wong Jack Man’s request for a rematch

    – They say that Bruce Lee was a hot head who never backed down from a challenge which is how he got involved with this fight in the first place. I can tell that Bruce was a proud man with an ego. The Dorgan article claims that Wong Jack Man disputed Bruce Lee’s account of the fight after hearing about his public interview and issued another challenge for a public rematch in San Francisco’s Chinese language Chinese Pacific Weekly. I have just one problem with that claim. Where is the documentation? This fight is supposed to be the fight that inspired Bruce Lee to develop Jeet Kune Do which lead to his discovery as an actor and helped revolutionize and popularize Martial Arts world wide. Surely some historians would be interested in this paper and could produce it if it actually existed. I’ve seen no evidence of its existence and I’ve looked around. This would lend more credibility to Wong’s claim but mysteriously the document has never been produced.

    I think that Bruce Lee won this fight. I think that it happened exactly as he and his wife said it did. Now before one accepts Bruce’s account one may ask why Bruce Lee would decide to change his training methods if he was the clear victor. That’s simple. He was a perfectionist. He says he won but he also says he was surprisingly winded and his techniques did not work as effectively as he expected them to. So he decided to improve himself as a Martial Artist with a rigorous strength and conditioning regimen and learn new techniques to improve his fighting skills. He came to the realization that styles were limited and the true way was to have no way.

    The best fighter in Bruce’s eyes was a Martial Artist who could adapt on any style of fighting. He was formless, shapeless…like water. He used only what was useful and stripped away the inessentials. Bruce’s Jeet Kune Do as been called Scientific Street Fighting because it’s based on what he learned from real fights and what he gathered from the knowledge of the best masters in history around the world. It’s this perfectionist mindset that lead to Bruce Lee obsessively improving himself and building a reputation as a great teacher and Martial Artist, one who shared his talent with the world and changed the perception of Martial Arts forever.

    I would pay good money to see this fight but in truth I don’t need to see it. I’m confident that the account of Bruce’s victory is true and one has to consider what came out of it. The legend of Bruce Lee will continue to grow while Wong Jack Man remains in obscurity. A Martial Artist who while likely talented in his own right is only known as the man who lost a fight to a legend. It would indeed be hard to challenge that legend. I don’t think Wong Jack Man should chase a ghost. The movies, books and documentaries are too powerful for Wong to ever debunk a myth but he could at least grace us with one video interview if indeed his account of the story is the real truth.

    Reply
    1. aganzul Post author

      Nice points, valid opinion. I would say that I never read the article referenced in the beginning. Have a great work out! Al

      Reply
    2. drunkentaoist

      “Anyone familiar with the chain punches of Wing Chun should know that this method of rapid punching hitting the wrong target can backfire on you.”

      Funny, I’m familiar with chain punches since they’re actually in some other Chinese martial arts, and it never seemed to me that there were any more “wrong” targets than with western boxing-style punching. Anywhere on the head is especially not considered “wrong” to hit, especially when that’s where you’re usually aiming with that kind of punching anyway. Punching someone in the back of the head is more likely to lead to internal brain injury and it’s not allowed in MMA. So it never made sense to me that punching in the back of the head can be any worse for your fists than the face which generally has harder bones than the thinner back of the skull. That just doesn’t make sense as a critique of chain punching.

      “We’re talking a no-holds barred fight with no referee and no breaks between Martial Artists who do not have the cardio conditioning of professional fighters lasting the length of a championship MMA fight.”

      You’re assuming that neither fighter had the cardio conditioning that pro fighters have so it couldn’t have lasted that long but you’re selling them out as inferior to a typical mma fighter when there’s no evidence for that at all. Wong Jack Man was actually a grandmaster of Northern Shaolin which is all about lengthy forms with a great deal of kicking and almost acrobatic moves and Bruce Lee was no slouch either. Both men had fighting experience with other martial artists who trained to fight every day.

      “Bruce Lee broke the code of secrecy. I find it more believable that Wong Jack Man lost the fight and feeling humiliated decided to dispute Bruce’s account to save face. This is something a sore loser of a fight would do.”

      Neither Bruce Lee nor Wong Jack Man publicly spoke about the fight until somebody made up a story about it and published it in the Chinese Pacific Weekly. The article said that they fought over the love of a woman with Wong beating him up. Angry, and thinking this story possibly came from Wong, Bruce gave an interview in which he, let’s say, embellished what actually happened to make it seem like he was the winner (the end of the fight in this account actually doesn’t fully line up with Linda’s). If you know what kind of guy Bruce was, and if you just read what his buddies in Hong Kong said about him, it totally makes sense that he would do this. He would never admit to losing a fight, nor would he ever say he didn’t win a fight somehow. When Wong published his version Bruce never publicly said anything about it ever again and actually had another interaction with Wong as is all laid out in the only book dedicated to the subject, “Showdown in Oakland: The Story Behind the Wong Jack Man – Bruce Lee Fight” (http://www.amazon.com/Showdown-Oakland-Story-Behind-Bruce-ebook/dp/B00AR0KE1I). All of the articles are in that book.

      “For crying out loud Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon gave a video interview that was front page news on Yahoo yesterday repeating her parents account of how her daddy bested the racist and cowardly Wong Jack Man fighting for the right to teach other races Chinese Martial Arts. The video even had Wong’s picture as a young man in it! Yet I’m supposed to believe this life-long committed Martial Artist has so little regard for himself that he would not give a public interview to at least set the record straight?”

      It was Linda who told Shannon this, not Bruce, and Wong taught many non-Chinese in his time, one of whom (Peter Ralston) went to Taiwan and won a full-contact championship. Wong tried suing over the way he was portrayed in the 1980’s. In the end being that much in the public eye isn’t something that he seems to want and he would only have to constantly combat people who want to put him down for Bruce’s sake anyway.

      “5. No evidence has been produced of Wong Jack Man’s request for a rematch”

      There is evidence. Once again, it’s in Rick Wing’s book (http://www.amazon.com/Showdown-Oakland-Story-Behind-Bruce-ebook/dp/B00AR0KE1I). All of the articles are in there. Copies of them were obtained in San Francisco and they are fully translated.

      “Now before one accepts Bruce’s account one may ask why Bruce Lee would decide to change his training methods if he was the clear victor. That’s simple. He was a perfectionist. He says he won but he also says he was surprisingly winded and his techniques did not work as effectively as he expected them to.”

      By Linda’s own account it doesn’t seem to be just because he was a perfectionist. She said that after the fight Bruce was sitting on the back porch all depressed with his head in his hands. That’s not the way a winner would act at all but especially a winner against a grandmaster. What most people don’t realize is that for Bruce to have beaten someone like Sifu Wong would have been a big deal in Chinatown and most people who knew about the incident in Chinatown didn’t believe that Bruce won. Ming Lum said the only injury he saw on Wong was a scratch above his eye. Grandmaster Ming Lum was Bruce’s friend and if he were going to lie for someone it would have just as likely been for Bruce since he promoted him at the time. Linda Lee says Bruce pounded Wong into a state of demoralization. There seems to be a big discrepancy there and there’s evidence to suggest that she wasn’t even in the room or she could only catch glimpses behind a door (George Lee said in an interview with the Contra Costa Time that Linda “stayed outside” with him because Bruce didn’t want her in the room).

      Reply
    3. G

      -Now if you lost a fight would you go around lying telling people you won when there are eye witnesses that could dispute your claim and expose you?

      Happens more often in martial arts circles, specially in the pre internet days. Even today there are a lot of reputations from the past built of novelised accounts.

      The great shaolin temple as the seat all martial arts comes from nineteenth century and early twentieth century novels of wuxia.

      There is however some very nice codes in the East with less followers these days – of making a gentleman’s deal and sticking to it. If something like that happened and one of them broke it the other might still follow the deal and not expose it.

      This doesn’t discount that Bruce Lee had a fantastic physique, skill, and speed, but he was always a performer. I am more inclined to believe that what happened was re-engineered back by the Lee’s. Linda is well known for her patchy memory and marketing skills as the often quoted reason “the old traditional sinocentric masters would not teach the white man” shows even here

      Reply
    4. soti

      you sound so right though you are soo wrong.

      1. Lee was all about affectiveness in real fight challenges:
      i would say 3 minutes is effective enough IF it lasted that much
      SO no need of change of methods. in his interview he said it wasnt as effective that rules out the 3 min fight.

      2. when fighting time seems like ages, so neither 25 minutes is reallistic. lets say it was 10minutes…..well so much ego from both fighters…. i wouldnt accept the result in a ten minute fight and i dont even have half the ego of these men. so it should have been around 15-20minutes.

      3. if you were Lee and was a draw would you respond ? how could you fight with confidence when you have started doubting about your art? and confidence most of the times means winning while doubt means definitely loss.

      4. he decided to be formless and adaptive after he found out wing chun is not as effective, since up to then he was religiously practising it.

      5. being a perfectionist does not say anything about this fight.

      6. saying that wing chun is not as effective that means clearly that you get exhausted before you manage a knock out which strengthens the assumption that the fight took much longer.

      7. wong jack man honored the agreement while Lee not accepting a possible draw arrogantly spread rumours to keep his fame. and he had a lot at stake.

      8. if wong jack has lost in such ridiculous way there wasnt goint to be any request for a public rematch ( you say that is not documented, well it is documented everywhere, unless you have an original article from that era that says differently).

      9. you are telling me that you go challenging bruce lee and you give up in two minutes and you run and get beaten up on the 3rd minute? if you say that not only you are not familiar with saolin art (i am not saying i am an expert but i did my fair share of studying).

      10. you may be right though about the prohibition of shaolin kicks but lets see: Wong kept his promise saying nothing about the fight until he was challenged so he may have kept a promise to a sifu if he was asked. well sometimes even sifu grow to become stupid old men and they dont realize how mean your opponent (Lee) may be.

      11. if you havent seen Wong saying anything about this fight then you didnt search well enough.

      12. that is sooo stupid “”Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon gave a video interview that was front page news on Yahoo yesterday repeating her parents account of how her daddy bested the racist and cowardly Wong Jack Man fighting for the right to teach other races”…. the fight was not about that WOng had students other than chinese and that is well documented if you search. of course she will defend her father against the big bad wolf terrible man.

      and i conclude you are stupid

      Reply
    5. Vanguard

      After reading all the comments and theories, I tend to agree more with MysticNinjajay. Ive changed the way I do things in life, especially when Ive succeeded at something I always try to improve on the manner on which I did those things. It’s compulsive really.

      Great ideas all around though. Thanks for everyone sharing.

      Reply
    6. Terry

      Wong Jack Man knows that at this point, he cannot overcome the legendary staus Bruce Lee has obtained. The fact that he does not respond shows security to me. He did respond Wong Jack Man challenged Bruce Lee to a PUBLIC battle for all to see after Bruce Lee broke the confidentiality agreement. Bruce Lee never accepted this challenge. Also another note is has been said that Bruce sought out Wong Jack Man’s instructor after the fight. Take from that what you will…The little that Wong Jack Man states concerning the fight is that who won to him at this point is not as important as to why they battled. He wishes that Bruce’s supporters would stop labeling him a racist. The truth is that Wong Jack Man has trained non-oriental and yes Caucasian world champions. Finally he states that he believes the changes Bruce made in creating Jeet Kune Do may have attributed to his death. He criticizes Bruce Lee for trying to recreate something that was created over thousands of years. Another article on the fight is below:

      http://www.jadedragonalaska.com/bruce-lees-lost-fight.php

      Reply
      1. Terry

        Wong Jack Man knows that at this point, he cannot overcome the legendary staus Bruce Lee has obtained. He did respond Wong Jack Man challenged Bruce Lee to a PUBLIC battle for all to see after Bruce Lee broke the confidentiality agreement. Bruce Lee never accepted this challenge. Also another note is has been said that Bruce sought out Wong Jack Man’s instructor after the fight. Take from that what you will…The little that Wong Jack Man states concerning the fight is that who won to him at this point is not as important as to why they battled. He wishes that Bruce’s supporters would stop labeling him a racist. The truth is that Wong Jack Man has trained non-oriental and yes Caucasian world champions. Finally he states that he believes the changes Bruce made in creating Jeet Kune Do may have attributed to his death. He criticizes Bruce Lee for trying to recreate something that was created over thousands of years. More article on the fight is below:

        http://www.lakungfu.com/sifujackmanwong.html

        http://www.jadedragonalaska.com/bruce-lees-lost-fight.php

        Reply
  10. r williams

    I believe that I understand that Wong Jack Man’s student Rick Wing is merely trying to get to the facts as best as possible and change the public’s perception of WJM. As for Bruce Lee, I’m not sure if the so-called fight ultimately led to the creation of Jeet Kune Do. I’ve had the impression that Lee was already progessing in that direction prior to the fight. For instance, he had probably already begun working on a way to quickly close the gap between two points. And he did …not completely abandon his Wing Chun training. There are some individuals that believe that there is no way that the fight could have lasted twenty minutes or more. If it did, then maybe there were a lot of stops and starts during the match. Or it may not have actually been a fight at all. It seems obvious that BL and WJM had/have different perspectives as it relates to the martial arts, and as it relates to fighting. Lee probably believed that he was not wrong for opening the match with a strike prior to completing any form of pre-fight rituals. If it was indeed a fight then one should be prepared for an attack to occur at anytime. Wong Jack Man on the other hand probably wanted some sort of rules to be in place beforehand for such an encounter to occur. It is almost like yin and yang comparing these two men. Lee probably became unusually winded because Wong may have simply not given him enough to work with. Which may have caused Lee to have to work harder than he normally would have to. Also, the two may have held back to some degree due to respect for each other and their fellow human beings.

    Reply
  11. David

    Although Linda has provided different versions of the fight, her recollection of how long it lasted is the more believable. This was essentially a street fight, no rules, no rest breaks and two to three minutes is a more realistic duration for a ‘real’ fight. It’s impossible to say who won for certain but the claims of a twenty minute duration for me casts the biggest doubt. MMA fighters and Professional boxers need months of preparation to build stamina to last the duration of a fight and even they are catching their breath after the first round, whilst taking a break and usually a drink too. It would be impossible for either of these two fighters, neither at the peak in terms of physical condition, to fight continuously for twenty minutes, unless they spent long periods doing nothing, which was clearly not reported by any witnesses. The fact that Bruce realised that he wasn’t physically prepared to fight over an extended period, also makes the Lee version the more plausible. I don’t think there will ever be definitive proof one way or the other, regarding the victor and it’s clear that both developed into better fighters later, so either way, neither man was at his best.

    Reply
    1. soti

      “”””The fact that Bruce realised that he wasn’t physically prepared to fight over an extended period””””.

      you proved it yourself mate. if he said he wasnt prepared for an extended period this only mean one thing that the fight was extended so this rules out the 3 minutes.

      Reply
  12. drunkentaoist

    3 minutes is one round of boxing. I guess he just got gassed really easily? Who completely changes their views on fighting because they had to run after somebody? Let’s face it, he lied. We’ve all known people like him.

    Reply
    1. David Williamson

      Have you tried doing three minutes of full on fighting without getting gassed? Have you even tried shadow boxing full on for three minutes without stopping?

      Reply
  13. TheKingOfRuckus

    This is an argument that never truly stops. I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee and greatly admire his work ethic and the lasting effect he’s had on not just the martial arts, but the world as a whole since his death. There is absolutely no doubt that he inspired people during his life and continues to do so over 40 years since his death. Even with that said I’m not sure just how much of his account I can believe.

    He changed up his style for a reason, that much is sure.

    There were never any pictures of him seriously hurt or bruised or anything like that, so we can at least surmise that Wong Jack Man didn’t land any devastating hits. Wong Jack Man was also not seriously injured, as evidenced by his arrival at work the day after the fight, so the same applies for Bruce Lee’s attacks on him. No one has ever said either opponent was straight up knocked out, so that’s out of the discussion.

    Bruce Lee’s account is that he chased Wong Jack Man down then brought him to the floor and beat him into submission, but was severely winded afterwards. Wong Jack Man’s account is that the fight lasted for 20 to 25 minutes and he spent most of that time defending.

    While Bruce’s account seems more feasible(if you have to sprint after or otherwise chase somebody for a few minutes you’ll be winded), you’re still left wondering why an otherwise sound victory would lead to him creating an all new style and closing down his schools for a time. Bruce Lee was by all accounts a perfectionist when it came to martial arts, so the idea of him looking at a fight he won and saying “I didn’t win fast enough. I was too tired/winded/whatever.”, getting behind the wheel of that and driving to the destination we now know as “Jeet Kune Do” is almost instantly believable for a lot of people, but at the same time it makes you question whether or not he “won” this fight so easily, or even at all.

    It’s also kind of funny to picture some dude just turning tail and running mid fight, in a private setting in front of a small audience.

    The thing with Wong Jack Man’s account is that it’s 20-25 minutes. This would also lead to both combatants being exhausted, but it just makes less sense that a fight would go on for so long unless they spent most of that time sizing each other up and unwilling to make the first attack, and THAT is thrown out the window when you factor in Lee’s opening finger jab. That set the pace right there, and it’s the one attack that both camps manage to agree on. Everything else is clouded by memory or tainted by bias.

    There was also supposedly some issue with Wong Jack Man not using his kicks because they were too deadly or could otherwise cause severe and permanent damage. Others have said it already, but I’m not sure I believe that. Your opponent comes at you with a finger jab to your eyes and you retaliate by refusing to use some of your best attacks? It doesn’t make much sense, at least not to me when I look at it that way.

    In a phone conversation with Daniel Lee, Bruce Lee referred to Wong Jack Man as a “bullshit artist”. The exact quote was:

    “I have yet to lose one challenge, ever since I was in the United States. Wong Jack Man, and all these…bullshit artists. All of them!”

    It’s important to note that Bruce didn’t know he was being recorded. If he had, he might have said worse about Wong Jack Man, been a bit less brash, or chose not to say anything. We can never know if this was boasting or substantiated fact from someone who knew firsthand.

    At the end of the day, I think whatever really happened was more of a mix of both accounts. I don’t think Bruce Lee chased Wong Jack Man for 3 minutes and I don’t think Wong Jack Man played exceptional defense for 20 to 25 minutes. I think the battle ended in a draw, and that lead Bruce to reexamine his art.

    It’s also pretty interesting that Wong Jack Man issued a public challenge for a rematch that went unanswered by Lee. Nothing from Lee, after he closed down his schools and started to rework his style of fighting. Nothing from a man who was known for being overly cocky and brash, someone who would jump at even the slightest provocation.

    The obvious conclusion is that Lee didn’t beat him as soundly as he claimed he did in that Black Belt magazine interview and chose not to take his chances in a rematch on a public stage. However, you also have to remember that Lee was challenged all throughout his career up until his death, at random, and chose to walk away from most of those random challenges. When he didn’t, or couldn’t(as recounted by Bob Wall, Fred Krause and others in various interviews over the years), the challenger always got hurt. Every time, from random street fights to on the set of Enter the Dragon itself. If he won, maybe Lee decided that once was enough and to pour his focus into improving his art.

    If he LOST, maybe Lee decided that once was enough, and to pour his focus into improving his art.

    If the match was a DRAW…..you see where I’m going with this, right?

    At the end of the day….fuck it :).

    Reply
    1. David Williamson

      I agree with you, I too believe a fight lasting a few minutes is the more believable. I also don’t think that Bruce changing his style necessarily means he lost the fight, it just means that he wasn’t as good as he thought he was and that he realised his limitations. If he was gassed after a few minutes of fighting, which most people would be anyway, then it’s logical that you’d train to improve your cardio. If you couldn’t knock somebody out with your punches, you’d train to develop more power. Yes it’s unlikely that Bruce was entirely satisfied with his performance but nothing in the claims of Wong’s advocates proves that Lee lost this fight and much that they say seems to be fantasy.

      Reply
  14. HR

    hi;

    1) As> you know Kick or Punch or Elbow Strike is just NOTHING if it lack the Power. While Everybody talks about kick/punch like this, like that, kick or punchwith power etc, but I am never Told or Read anywhere where to get that POWER from ? What exercises to perform to get> that power ? is it QI Energy or Chi Energy or Internal Energy ?
    >
    > how an ordinary person get acquire that power that sets him apart from other martial artists ?
    >
    > 2) Where does the power comes from ? as I see in videos that wing chun guys demonstrate Internal Energy by Pushing 10 people, and also 10 People Unable to push him back……
    >
    > 3) Can I hurt someone from a distance without touching by projecting energy ?
    >
    > 4) How to remove blockage in the flow of Energy in the body ?
    >
    > 5) How you rate Bruce Lee JKD as compare to Wing Chun ?
    >
    > regards

    Reply
  15. Phil Kwan

    I tend to believe Bruce Lee`s story more than Wong Jack Man`s version. Before the fight, both sides agreed to a no-hold-barred, no referee, no rule match. It`s odd for Wong Jack Man`s to say “‘If he injures me, if he really hurts me, I’ll have to kill him.”. What did he expect ? Everyone came out no scratch like in a pillow fight ? This was essentially a death match, so for someone to make such comment is unconvincing. Both sides essentially wanted to hurt each other badly before the fight.
    Secondly, Wong Jack Man wanted to indicate that he fought because a mutual friend set him up – The reason he showed up at Lee’s school that day, says Wong, is because a mutual acquaintance had hand-delivered a note from Lee inviting him to fight. I really think Wong Jack Man has discussed, contemplated, and scouted out Bruce Lee many times before decided to fight him. I believe Wong Jack Man and his friends decided to engage Bruce Lee to a fight rather than Bruce Lee sought him out from a crowd.
    Thirdly, I believe Bruce Lee’s version that Wong Jack Man and Chinese Kung Fu experts in the area didn`t want Bruce to teach foreigners their secrets. It`s typical of Shaolin`s school of thought at the time.
    With these points, I think Bruce Lee`s version is more believable.

    Reply
  16. drunk taoist

    Before the fight both sides did NOT agree to a no-holds-barred fight. Wong Jack Man was the one trying to get Bruce Lee to not kick to the groin or go for the eyes. Bruce Lee was the one acting like it was a “death match” probably to intimidate Wong.

    The mutual friend was David Chin and he was more of a friend to Wong than Bruce. Wong Jack Man didn’t do any scouting either. David Chin set up the fight and they met on the appointed day. That’s it.

    Also, there were Caucasian guys learning from sifus in San Francisco at the time. Y.C. Wong and T.Y. Wong had white students at the time and they were members of the Suey Sing and Hop Sing tongs in the city. The tongs didn’t have a problem with that and neither did most of the other family associations in the city. The notion that the fight was over teaching non-Chinese originated solely from Linda Lee. It seems she thought it would make a great story and it’s helped her to make lots of money but it’s completely untrue. Bruce Lee never said that.

    Reply
  17. Hmarrs

    I don’t generally comment. However as this issue means really sparks my interest probably as the one of the biggest Bruce Lee fans out there.

    However as a fan I want to acknowledge who he is and not what myth and fantasy dictates.
    So forever being a realist and always about facts.
    This is an issue as mysterious as his death.
    Which by the way you may want to look up information on Arsenic poising being a cause if it interest you.

    It has been my experience.
    That in situations such as this is that when neither story is true or both have such strong accounts that neither but yet both stories are true.
    What do I mean by this is that no matter who tells a story there will always be a Bias whether it is true or not because truth is based on ones perception and they themselves may believe it to be true by their own interpretation and experience. If you don’t believe me watch any Boxing match and hear the accounts of both fighters and there is no more controversy then when there is no definitive winner.

    So when neither side is accountable the truth must lie in the Middle.

    First of all Bruce was not a traditionalist he may have been teaching Wing Chun but that doesn’t mean he was a traditionalist.
    Not by any means so the “Breaking of the Silence” may have meant nothing to Bruce as he was not set in the old ways but was all about being progressive.I just don’t think he knew where he really wanted to go at this point. I think he at this point may have been trying to be progressive Wing Chun. As for Wong he may have very well keep “Vow of Silence” and true to the tradition of silence in such battles. The silence comes from the tradition of these battle tradition that Bruce did not hold himself accountable too.

    Nothing teaches US MORE THEN DEFEAT. When one is victorious there is little to be learned you don’t fix what’s not broken yes you may perfect it but nothing expresses a mass overhaul stronger then defeat.

    Am I saying that Bruce lost?…No I am not because even if he won in his mind he Lost.
    Do I believe there was a “Form of Handshake” …no not at all.Do I believe there was a “Bow” absolutely. First off the Wong would have no interest in a handshake as being more traditional and tradition requires a Bow.Bruce not being a traditionalist would have Bowed just out of respect for the Art.

    If anyone one would have offered a more modern handshake or tapping of hands would have been Bruce and I believe he had no interest to do so at all.
    Do I believe Bruce jumped and leaped out with an eye jam?…No not at all.This is in contrast to Bruce both before “Jeet Kun Do” and after. First of Bruce in either case was not an offensive fighter but defensive this can be seen in both “Wing Chun” and “Jeet Kun Do” it is the basic principle of both. “Wing Chun” is more re-action then pro-action.”Wing Chun” answers the “Action with a responsive reaction “Jeet Kun Do” takes it a step further back as being “The interception of the Action.” “WAY OF THE INTERCEPTION STRIKE”
    Bruce was always a cautious fighter and exposed your weakness. “Jeet” is one step before “Wing Chun” if that makes sense. Why respond when its better to Intercept. Think of Football the guy catches the ball and Drops it.In “WING CHUN” it capitalizes on that and you never get the ball back. JEET KUN DOO Intercepts the Ball.

    Do I believe it was about teaching Whites and Racism?… Yes and No.
    Our perception of racism is much more different then what it was then.
    It was no more of Racism as much as it was a form of tradition. It wasn’t so much as “We will not teach you because your White”..As much as it was was…”You can not learn because your not Chinese”..now I know you may ask what’s the difference but there is a difference…”As in this is ours not yours”…Think about yourselves for a moment.You will do things with your family because they are your family not excluding others because they are a different family but because they are from your family…Plus Tradition dictated this nothing personal…”You do yours and we will do ours”…call it Racism if you want to and by todays Social status you may be right however that was not the status quo in the 60’s as Whites were the predominate force and Chinese were clustered in smaller groups as minorities so it may not have been a question of Race as much as a was a form of Protection from Whites as a Community.
    Ergo Self Preservation.

    Anyway I believe it was more Tradition Versus Progressiveness.
    Do I believe the source was “Not to teach whites and other races”?…No…Do I believe it was…”Not to teach Non Chinese”?…YES…you might not see a difference but there is…Do I believe Bruce was taking a Martin Luther King Stance on racism?….Not necessarily basically I believe he had bills to pay and saw nothing wrong with it.
    Sometimes we forget in gloryizing people we forget there human and do things for human reasons.
    That later get turned into that by admiration.

    Which comes into effect like “hey it works lets do it”…It fits the Legend better.

    Do I believe Bruce won…?..NO…Do I believe he bested him?….YES….Bested meaning got the best or most punches in was it definitive no? again there is a difference.

    When you best someone you walk away feeling like you won. When someone bested you, You don’t feel you won but you don’t feel you lost and we see this here on both accounts.also if you don’t believ you won but feel you didn’t lose.This leaves you thinking if I had another chance I could do better leading to him calling Bruce out for a rematch.
    Do I believe it was 3 minutes or do I believe it was 20-25.Again in the middle when someone is besting you 5-10 minutes can feel like an eternity. Was it 3 no because 3 is nothing for Bruce to feel was too long.
    So how long again somewhere in the middle 3-5 compared to 20-25
    I believe it was 12-15 minutes…

    Wing Chun is defensive. It will re-act it will recoil and then spring forth it will let you or allow you to make a first move and re-coil but when it reacts it comes forward like a bullet or a cobra or rattlesnake.

    Bruce lee described Martial Arts as a “Chain with a Ball” on it and accurately so. As it has many movements and spins to it. Wing Chun is more direct as a “Spear” as you pull it back to lunge…”Jeet Kun Do’ is the spear without the re coil with out the pull back thus saving “Time and Energy” which is what Bruce was after or came to realization of after this fight.

    Did he run?…I don’t believe so..Once Wing Chun takes its offense in close combat the last thing you want to do is walk into it.That would be a death trap. Did Bruce hit him in the back of the head…Absolutely but this does not mean he was running as Wing Chun is straight forward in close combat so in fighting “Wing Chun”what you would do is step back looking for an opportunity to then step back in.Would you get hit in the back of the head yes this would definitely happen on an opponent who is in motion in turns and spins.Think of a “Spear” trying ot hit a “Ball and Chain”Thus creating as Bruce would say a “Classical Mess”

    Do I believe Bruce said…’Your friend just killed you”…No..I don’t.Bruce had a bad temper and ego but he wasn’t stupid.
    If you watch his movies and I know they are just movies but since you are the one Choreographing the fights.You play it out as you feel it should or would go in real life so him directing is some insight as to how he saw combat.In no moment when it came done to throw down does Bruce ever make a Cocky Statement…Or at least very rarely he took this moment very seriously how much more in real life where its life or death?.But again it adds to the Legend.I believe he was quiet and totally totally focused. He had to be.This is not a movie to be making statements…For what???In front of who and for what???…In his movies he demonstrated his perspective on a fight a Movie yes but still his perspective…Focus don’t waste energy and get the job done…
    Do I believe Bruce threw Eye jabs and Groin punches?…Absolutely this is real son this is not for play….Expalin the Scratch under Wongs eye.

    Do I believe some of Wongs people tried to stop it?…Absolutely upon witness that nothing was coming of it and Wong receiving so many punches on the back of the head is where I believe Bruce capitalized on Wongs weakness.Thus explaining why Wong did not have too many Brusies but I sure bet he was Lumped up.

    However again picture a “Spear” trying to hit a “Ball and Chain” and a “Ball and Chain” hitting a spear…Many many missies and very little contact…Everything happening so fast and messy and becomes as Bruce said..”A Classical Mess”
    Leading to an exhausting fight on both ends.

    If the “Spear” is more precise it will get the more of the hits in because even if the “Ball and Chain” is more precise the Ball must come back around to seize the moment and opputunity…..Phewww…Ok sorry for being long winded ok my account on the fight went as such…..

    They walk in they Bow…Classical stances…Wong makes several attempts to engage feeling the pressure not to fail. Bruce Blocks several times…Wong makes a move and misses..In comes in “Wing Chun” full force and forward….Wong back up defensively…While Bruce is missing tremendously most of his his hits come as Wong is turning and spinning in traditional form…Wong make attempts to Strike and lands but very few as all of his time is wasted on avoiding oncoming onslaught…Much of Wongs time is wasted in blocks and avoiding as Bruce blocks and misses.Coming into contact with the back of Wongs head most of the time due to his turning and avoidance….Bruce never really getting to jump off as he wants too because he himself is having to block.
    Bruce gets the better of the hits but neither one sees the purpose and are both exhausted after 10 -12 minutes of this Bruce asked Wong are you wanting to give up as Bruce is besting him.. Wong realizing he really is not getting anyway because he is just defending himself…Agrees Bruce asks him again and he agrees….
    End of Fight DONE….Bruce walks away knowing he got the better of him and feels he Won but unsatisfied with his performance and not obtaining a decisive conclusive victory so basically and Wong walks away feeling he didn’t Win because he knows Lee got the best of him but at least Lee didn’t get a conclusive victory and so he didn’t Lose. To which every story from this becomes credible and validates all of the accounts.

    So basically in the end Lee knows he didn’t lose but doesn’t feel he won while Wong Knows he didn’t Win but doesn’t feel he lost…
    That uncertainty in Lees mind drives him to become who he becomes. Never again will it be left up for question…
    Wong feeling is that uncertainty leaves him feeling he may still have a chance so he calls Lee out for a Re-match.

    However Bruce did him a favor because at this point he had become who we now know as was ..”THE MASTER”… There comes a time when you no longer do what you do but you become what you do.He stopped performing “Martial Arts and became Martial Arts”…Ergo..the statement “BE WATER” he became it instead of doing it and Wong would have had no chance so Bruce realized it was better to save a Life then take One…Long live “La Su Long”…

    Reply
    1. pcuzz

      According to Skip Ellsworth one of Bruce’s signature moves for the outset was to rush forward with multiple rapid strikes at the eyes and face, Bruce told him that Ip Man taught him that using that he would win most fights.

      Reply
  18. Willow Palm

    Despite trying to judge the truth based on their biased versions of what happened, every other eye witness account (except Linda’s) is in line with Jack Man Wong’s. David Chin and Bill Chen did come to Bruce’s studio with Wong but neither had any reason to flat out lie about what happened. It’s not like any of these men are lifelong friends who agreed to back each other up. Throughout the years they gave their own independent versions and each one seems to be describing the same event. Linda’s and Bruce’s versions differ slightly with Linda backtracking on her original version which says that Bruce pummeled Wong into submission. In the recent book “Bruce Lee: The Evolution of a Martial Artist” she says no one was injured. Of course, that was after a lack of evidence for the original story became more obvious throughout the years (every eye witness, including grandmaster Ming Lum, said Wong was uninjured). Let’s face it, Bruce lied from the beginning. And is this any surprise? He ran with a gang in Hong Kong and roamed the streets looking for fights. He was a violent, egotistical punk who would totally lie if it meant everyone thinking he got owned. How many kids in a gang have you known? I’ve known plenty and they’re not honorable people.

    Reply
    1. Terry

      A little harsh on Bruce, I wonder how a more mature Bruce say in his fIfties would describe the fight.

      Reply
    2. Alex

      And why did Wong’s people try to stop the fight? And why did James want it to continue?

      Obviously – Wong was losing.

      Reply
  19. David Williamson

    Reply for Willow Palm.

    As you know about Gang fights or Street Fights, you will also be aware that they do not have a duration of twenty minutes, unless there are periods of rest and inactivity which no witness describes. The fact that witnesses are claiming a 20 minute duration for the fight would indicate that this is not a realistic account for a street fight. A three minute fight is far more realistic. You only have to look at professional UFC or Boxing Fights to see how breathless fighters are after 3-5mins of a bout and that’s at the top levels of the sport and after long training camps. They also need to take a rest and usually a drink too between rounds. Neither Bruce or Wong had prepared for the fight, so it’s doubtful they could have fought for more than several minutes with the high activity witnesses describe. Yes Lynda has altered the details of her description but she has always described a realistic duration of a few minutes. This is the one fact that indicates the Lee version is the more truthful. Another point about Wong’s claims about the fight is that he is alleged to have said that he hadn’t used all his ability (e.g. kicks) for fear he would kill Bruce but that’s utter nonsense because there are many ways to incapacitate someone without killing them, e.g. knock out, choke hold, submission holds, broken bones. You have to wonder why Wong went to fight Lee in the first place, if he was so concerned there could be serious consequences that he effectively threw the fight and didn’t win conclusively as he allegedly believes he could have. I’m not going to state who won but I’m far more sceptical of Wong’s supporters version, especially as it is only being promoted so long after Lee’s death.

    Reply
    1. Willow Palm

      First off, it wasn’t a street fight. It was an official challenge match. Everyone keeps going about how neither man was prepared or trained as hard as professional fighters. Says who? All they did was train. Even though this fight caused Bruce to work on his cardio because he was “winded” he still trained like an athlete at the time. Wong Sifu’s cardio training was already pretty hardcore since he trained in Northern Shaolin which is known for it’s long forms and strenuous drills. People who say there’s no cardio training in traditional martial arts have never been involved with the right style or school. Are you going to say the Shaolin monks are pussies with no cardio training? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G8AnBNBs1Y, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs-ax3EMsoQ
      And the whole notion that because Wong decided not to use his kicks indicates he’s lying doesn’t make sense either. Giving yourself a disadvantage in a challenge match is something that was often done out of hubris throughout the history of such matches in China. It’s usually done to show just how much better you are than your opponent. Just because he didn’t use kicks didn’t mean he was at a disadvantage either. Many fighters in the UFC like Rampage Jackson, Randy Couture, etc. rarely if ever used kicks. They still won fights. It’s been surmised that Wong saying the fight lasted 20 minutes was taken out of context. His English was lacking at the time of the Official Karate article. He may have meant that the whole incident, including the verbal exchange beforehand, lasted 20 minutes.

      Reply
  20. Hmarrs

    I’m telling my account has to be the way it happened.
    becuaseit adds validity to both stories meeting in the middle.

    Reply
  21. Hmarrs

    I don’t generally comment. However as this issue means really sparks my interest probably as the one of the biggest Bruce Lee fans out there.

    However as a fan I want to acknowledge who he is and not what myth and fantasy dictates.
    So forever being a realist and always about facts.
    This is an issue as mysterious as his death.
    Which by the way you may want to look up information on Arsenic poising being a cause if it interest you.

    It has been my experience.
    That in situations such as this is that when neither story is true or both have such strong accounts that neither but yet both stories are true.
    What do I mean by this is that no matter who tells a story there will always be a Bias whether it is true or not because truth is based on ones perception and they themselves may believe it to be true by their own interpretation and experience. If you don’t believe me watch any Boxing match and hear the accounts of both fighters and there is no more controversy then when there is no definitive winner.

    So when neither side is accountable the truth must lie in the Middle.

    First of all Bruce was not a traditionalist he may have been teaching Wing Chun but that doesn’t mean he was a traditionalist.
    Not by any means so the “Breaking of the Silence” may have meant nothing to Bruce as he was not set in the old ways but was all about being progressive.I just don’t think he knew where he really wanted to go at this point. I think he at this point may have been trying to be progressive Wing Chun. As for Wong he may have very well keep “Vow of Silence” and true to the tradition of silence in such battles. The silence comes from the tradition of these battle tradition that Bruce did not hold himself accountable too.

    Nothing teaches US MORE THEN DEFEAT. When one is victorious there is little to be learned you don’t fix what’s not broken yes you may perfect it but nothing expresses a mass overhaul stronger then defeat.

    Am I saying that Bruce lost?…No I am not because even if he won in his mind he Lost.
    Do I believe there was a “Form of Handshake” …no not at all.Do I believe there was a “Bow” absolutely. First off the Wong would have no interest in a handshake as being more traditional and tradition requires a Bow.Bruce not being a traditionalist would have Bowed just out of respect for the Art.

    If anyone one would have offered a more modern handshake or tapping of hands would have been Bruce and I believe he had no interest to do so at all.
    Do I believe Bruce jumped and leaped out with an eye jam?…No not at all.This is in contrast to Bruce both before “Jeet Kun Do” and after. First of Bruce in either case was not an offensive fighter but defensive this can be seen in both “Wing Chun” and “Jeet Kun Do” it is the basic principle of both. “Wing Chun” is more re-action then pro-action.”Wing Chun” answers the “Action with a responsive reaction “Jeet Kun Do” takes it a step further back as being “The interception of the Action.” “WAY OF THE INTERCEPTION STRIKE”
    Bruce was always a cautious fighter and exposed your weakness. “Jeet” is one step before “Wing Chun” if that makes sense. Why respond when its better to Intercept. Think of Football the guy catches the ball and Drops it.In “WING CHUN” it capitalizes on that and you never get the ball back. JEET KUN DOO Intercepts the Ball.

    Do I believe it was about teaching Whites and Racism?… Yes and No.
    Our perception of racism is much more different then what it was then.
    It was no more of Racism as much as it was a form of tradition. It wasn’t so much as “We will not teach you because your White”..As much as it was was…”You can not learn because your not Chinese”..now I know you may ask what’s the difference but there is a difference…”As in this is ours not yours”…Think about yourselves for a moment.You will do things with your family because they are your family not excluding others because they are a different family but because they are from your family…Plus Tradition dictated this nothing personal…”You do yours and we will do ours”…call it Racism if you want to and by todays Social status you may be right however that was not the status quo in the 60’s as Whites were the predominate force and Chinese were clustered in smaller groups as minorities so it may not have been a question of Race as much as a was a form of Protection from Whites as a Community.
    Ergo Self Preservation.

    Anyway I believe it was more Tradition Versus Progressiveness.
    Do I believe the source was “Not to teach whites and other races”?…No…Do I believe it was…”Not to teach Non Chinese”?…YES…you might not see a difference but there is…Do I believe Bruce was taking a Martin Luther King Stance on racism?….Not necessarily basically I believe he had bills to pay and saw nothing wrong with it.
    Sometimes we forget in gloryizing people we forget there human and do things for human reasons.
    That later get turned into that by admiration.

    Which comes into effect like “hey it works lets do it”…It fits the Legend better.

    Do I believe Bruce won…?..NO…Do I believe he bested him?….YES….Bested meaning got the best or most punches in was it definitive no? again there is a difference.

    When you best someone you walk away feeling like you won. When someone bested you, You don’t feel you won but you don’t feel you lost and we see this here on both accounts.also if you don’t believ you won but feel you didn’t lose.This leaves you thinking if I had another chance I could do better leading to him calling Bruce out for a rematch.
    Do I believe it was 3 minutes or do I believe it was 20-25.Again in the middle when someone is besting you 5-10 minutes can feel like an eternity. Was it 3 no because 3 is nothing for Bruce to feel was too long.
    So how long again somewhere in the middle 3-5 compared to 20-25
    I believe it was 12-15 minutes…

    Wing Chun is defensive. It will re-act it will recoil and then spring forth it will let you or allow you to make a first move and re-coil but when it reacts it comes forward like a bullet or a cobra or rattlesnake.

    Bruce lee described Martial Arts as a “Chain with a Ball” on it and accurately so. As it has many movements and spins to it. Wing Chun is more direct as a “Spear” as you pull it back to lunge…”Jeet Kun Do’ is the spear without the re coil with out the pull back thus saving “Time and Energy” which is what Bruce was after or came to realization of after this fight.

    Did he run?…I don’t believe so..Once Wing Chun takes its offense in close combat the last thing you want to do is walk into it.That would be a death trap. Did Bruce hit him in the back of the head…Absolutely but this does not mean he was running as Wing Chun is straight forward in close combat so in fighting “Wing Chun”what you would do is step back looking for an opportunity to then step back in.Would you get hit in the back of the head yes this would definitely happen on an opponent who is in motion in turns and spins.Think of a “Spear” trying ot hit a “Ball and Chain”Thus creating as Bruce would say a “Classical Mess”

    Do I believe Bruce said…’Your friend just killed you”…No..I don’t.Bruce had a bad temper and ego but he wasn’t stupid.
    If you watch his movies and I know they are just movies but since you are the one Choreographing the fights.You play it out as you feel it should or would go in real life so him directing is some insight as to how he saw combat.In no moment when it came done to throw down does Bruce ever make a Cocky Statement…Or at least very rarely he took this moment very seriously how much more in real life where its life or death?.But again it adds to the Legend.I believe he was quiet and totally totally focused. He had to be.This is not a movie to be making statements…For what???In front of who and for what???…In his movies he demonstrated his perspective on a fight a Movie yes but still his perspective…Focus don’t waste energy and get the job done…
    Do I believe Bruce threw Eye jabs and Groin punches?…Absolutely this is real son this is not for play….Expalin the Scratch under Wongs eye.

    Do I believe some of Wongs people tried to stop it?…Absolutely upon witness that nothing was coming of it and Wong receiving so many punches on the back of the head is where I believe Bruce capitalized on Wongs weakness.Thus explaining why Wong did not have too many Brusies but I sure bet he was Lumped up.

    However again picture a “Spear” trying to hit a “Ball and Chain” and a “Ball and Chain” hitting a spear…Many many missies and very little contact…Everything happening so fast and messy and becomes as Bruce said..”A Classical Mess”
    Leading to an exhausting fight on both ends.

    If the “Spear” is more precise it will get the more of the hits in because even if the “Ball and Chain” is more precise the Ball must come back around to seize the moment and opputunity…..Phewww…Ok sorry for being long winded ok my account on the fight went as such…..

    They walk in they Bow…Classical stances…Wong makes several attempts to engage feeling the pressure not to fail. Bruce Blocks several times…Wong makes a move and misses..In comes in “Wing Chun” full force and forward….Wong back up defensively…While Bruce is missing tremendously most of his his hits come as Wong is turning and spinning in traditional form…Wong make attempts to Strike and lands but very few as all of his time is wasted on avoiding oncoming onslaught…Much of Wongs time is wasted in blocks and avoiding as Bruce blocks and misses.Coming into contact with the back of Wongs head most of the time due to his turning and avoidance….Bruce never really getting to jump off as he wants too because he himself is having to block.
    Bruce gets the better of the hits but neither one sees the purpose and are both exhausted after 10 -12 minutes of this Bruce asked Wong are you wanting to give up as Bruce is besting him.. Wong realizing he really is not getting anyway because he is just defending himself…Agrees Bruce asks him again and he agrees….
    End of Fight DONE….Bruce walks away knowing he got the better of him and feels he Won but unsatisfied with his performance and not obtaining a decisive conclusive victory so basically and Wong walks away feeling he didn’t Win because he knows Lee got the best of him but at least Lee didn’t get a conclusive victory and so he didn’t Lose. To which every story from this becomes credible and validates all of the accounts.

    So basically in the end Lee knows he didn’t lose but doesn’t feel he won while Wong Knows he didn’t Win but doesn’t feel he lost…
    That uncertainty in Lees mind drives him to become who he becomes. Never again will it be left up for question…
    Wong feeling is that uncertainty leaves him feeling he may still have a chance so he calls Lee out for a Re-match.

    However Bruce did him a favor because at this point he had become who we now know as was ..”THE MASTER”… There comes a time when you no longer do what you do but you become what you do.He stopped performing “Martial Arts and became Martial Arts”…Ergo..the statement “BE WATER” he became it instead of doing it and Wong would have had no chance so Bruce realized it was better to save a Life then take One…Long live “La Su Long”…

    Reply
    1. Willow Palm

      Your wasting time on details that you’re making up in your mind. Just like Bruce’s teacher Wong Shun Leung said, “People used to see Bruce Lee and have kung fu dreams.” The real details have already been published and told by the people who were there. After circling around the room trying to land something on Wong, Bruce was exhausting himself. Wong evaded, blocked, and checked Bruce’s underhanded groin kicks with his feet. Finally, Wong pounded his ass with a strike to his neck. Then, as Bruce was rocked, he got him in a headlock with his left arm. Bruce was flailing as Wong was debating hitting him with the final blow. But he let him go and, just like the dishonorable gang banging little prick that he was, Bruce kept charging at him. At the end Wong slipped and Bruce tried to get on top of him, but Wong braced him with either his foot or his knee. All everyone could see, including eventual money grubber Linda, was Bruce’s back and him punching downward at Wong. What they didn’t see was Bruce punching at air. If it was scored by points, Bruce lost plain and simple. Of course, a ruthless little punk like himself would never admit defeat. Once again, I ask you, have you ever known anyone in a gang? They’re egotistical punks who will never admit they lost!

      Reply
  22. David Williamson

    Well never heard this version but the duration seems a believable few minutes. Puzzling though why someone who came looking for a fight would not win decisively if they could, which again makes this version questionable too. Also if ‘all everyone could see’ was Bruce’s back, how do you know he was ‘punching at air’. If you’ve just hit someone in the neck and put them in a headlock, why not choke them out…. why let go of them? The fight wasn’t over, so why shouldn’t Bruce have kept fighting….. oh Wong slipped… then Bruce got on top. Unfortunately this is another load of rubbish, like the 20 minute fight that could never have happened.

    Reply
    1. Willow Palm

      Never heard that version? It’s the one that was in the Micheal Dorgan article from 1980 (http://www.kungfu.net/brucelee.html), and in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Showdown-Oakland-Story-Behind-Bruce-ebook/dp/B00AR0KE1I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414290948&sr=8-1&keywords=showdown+in+oakland
      Once again, it wasn’t a street fight. Bruce made an open challenge at the Sun Sing Theater because he got pissed off at the crowd. David Chin was the guy who went back and forth to confirm the details of the match. Bruce agreed to the whole thing but told them they had to go to his school. On the appointed date they showed up and there was a lot of verbal sparring before they actually joined hands. Bruce was yelling and cursing during the fight, especially after Wong nailed him. When Wong had him in the headlock he was thinking he’d have to nail him with a devastating blow for Bruce to stop because he just wouldn’t stop. He would have had to knock him out and originally he wasn’t there to really hurt him. It was a gwan sai challenge match, they were kung fu teachers sparring and comparing skills. Being the more disrespectful, loud mouthed punk, Bruce was trying to hurt Wong as badly as he could, kicking to the groin, and going for the finger gouges. Wong blocked and evaded everything and struck Bruce in the face. Bruce managed to strike him in the chest but it did nothing. He was punching air at the end because none of those punches hit Wong’s face. He was completely uninjured after the fight (except for the scratch above his eye). Bruce was too winded to go on and he knew he technically lost. No one quits their style after winning. Who’s done that in the world of sports fighting ever? Face it, Bruce Lee lied to do damage control and make himself look better. You don’t think a gang banger from Hong Kong would do that?

      Reply
  23. Greg Manwaring

    Good lord, willow palm, you should be a scriptwriter, as your imagination knows no bounds. You might as well add that he gave him the death touch and told him that he’d die within ten years! You and I weren’t there so any account we give is coming from someone else. What I can say is that coming from the Wong Shun Leung lineage and having been lucky enough to have a little training with the man, as well as some conversation time, I can better understand what kind of fighting spirit and VT skills he would have had after leaving HK. Also, from knowing Bruces Seattle student Jesse Glover I have insight into the Bruce which would have fought WJM. With this combined knowledge I could gather that the account that you are rehashing is way of the mark. BTW having started my own training in JKD under Larry Hartsell and Dan Inosanto, I can tell you that Bruce didn’t abandon VT. It is at the heart of JKD! what he added was a quicker footwork system to deliver an initial long range blow that would then bring him in to VT range.

    Reply
  24. David Williamson

    I’ve read the article but not the book, neither of the references you listed are even remotely believable because they refer to a fight with a duration of at least twenty minutes, which as I’ve explained numerous times here is utterly ridiculous. Also again why was Wong such a fairy or was he Bruce’s social worker too, have people forgotten to mention this perhaps? Wong thinks Bruce is trying to hurt him ‘as badly as he could’ but instead of choking Bruce out or knocking him out, he decides to go easy on him for the sake of not hurting him? Why did Wong even agree to fight Bruce in the first place, did he think it would be a tickling contest? You ask who changes their style in the world of ‘sports’ fighting but this wasn’t sport fighting, this was real fighting as you’ve already pointed out that Bruce was allegedly trying eye gouges and groin attacks both of which are outside any ‘sport’ fighting rules. However to answer the question, I would expect just about every sports person develops their style as they mature, learning what works and what doesn’t work… or adapting to different opponents. Mayweather for example fought a different style of fight against Maidana the second time around, he threw away what didn’t work in the first fight even though he still clearly won the first fight. There is no reason that Bruce Lee, if he won the fight with Wong, still wouldn’t change things. If it took three minutes to win but you thought, if you’d been fitter or stronger or had done certain things differently you could have won in half that time, you’d make the changes, that’s what learning from experience is about.

    Reply
  25. Michael

    So, it is interesting that nobody mentions James Lee’s account. He stated that they did fight for longer than 3 min. He also stated that neither fighter could land any real solid blows. Which led to exhaustion in both fighters and a draw. He also stated that the fighters looked like street brawler’s, instead of accomplished Masters. He states that Bruce was embarrassed by his performance. James explains this, in a interview, in response to the question of why Bruce stepped out of classical into a more street fighting system.
    It is interesting to note that Bruce Lee never actually completed his training in Wing Chun, which was stated by a senior student of Ip man. Bruce did not deny this fact at the time this statement was made. Of course, this interview of James Lee was taken during the time Bruce had returned to Hong Kong. I believe James version, as he was their and was honest with the duration and the outcome. Actually this interview caused a rift, for a short time, between Bruce and James. That is the reason Bruce made that statement in his interview.

    Reply
    1. David Williamson

      I totally believe that this was more of a street fight and that both fighters were unprepared and that Bruce was disappointed with his performance and especially his cardio (which Lynda also stated). What I don’t accept for a second is that they were fighting for twenty minutes, unless there were reasonable periods of inactivity, which nobody to my knowledge has described. I would believe a scenario where Bruce and Wong fought hard for a few minutes and then both were gassed, that would fit with the reality of a real street fight, not some fantasy make believe. If the duration was a bit longer than three minutes that’s acceptable but the intensity would have to have dropped off and I picture them floundering. I don’t think Bruce was happy with the fight but neither do I think he lost the fight, if he had I think it would have been in Bruce’s personality to have insisted on a rematch when both fighters were more prepared.

      Reply
  26. Greg Manwaring

    Bruce Lee fought as Bruce Lee, he was not flying a Ving Tsun flag as he fought. If you know anything about Wong Shun Leung, who Bruce acknowledged as being his biggest influence for becoming the fighter he was, you would know that Ving Tsun was created by humans and not by gods, and so an individual like Bruce could see ways to improve upon some things in the system just as his Ving Tsun ancestors had done while refining the system decades and century’s earlier. Even Wong Shun Leung famously altered the system when he added a move in the siu nim tao form. Wong Shun Leung always said “if you have a better way I want to know it”, and he meant it. Wong Sifu told me that he felt Bruce had taken himself, on his own, where he would have gotten had he stayed in HK training with him. So, don’t lay that Ving Tsun trip on Bruce as he had already been evolving his expression of fighting for a few years by the time of this infamous fight with WJM.

    Reply
  27. Willow Palm

    Linda, Leo Fong, Richard Bustillo, they all point to this fight as being pivotal in Bruce’s development as a martial artist. Bruce almost completely threw out Wing Chun for a time right after that fight. Linda remembers Bruce sitting with his head in his hands afterwards. Once again, I ask everyone: Who does that after winning a fight? Why does everyone assume an ego maniac like Bruce wouldn’t lie about losing? Not too long before that he was gang banging punk in Hong Kong. Guys like that don’t lie about losing fights? I’ve known plenty of fools like that and they always lie. Especially when it makes them look good.

    Reply
    1. David Williamson

      I think you’re making an assumption that someone is only disappointed when they lose at something. If someone is a perfectionist for example, they may be disappointed if they won but they thought they performed badly. Imagine a Tennis Player who plays against an opponent, normally he wins by three sets to love, then in one match it goes to the wire and he only just wins. Or look at Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Snooker today, he had a 9-4 lead and only needed one more game to win but his opponent came back to 9-9, O’Sullivan wasn’t happy with his performance but he still won. So take Bruce Lee, he could have won against Wong and still been disappointed, we know that he wasn’t happy with his cardio because he did more cardio training. I think it may have been you who also asked about people changing their style of fighting after winning but Floyd Mayweather JNR, fought Maidena differently after beating him in the first fight, even though he won the first fight. He wasn’t happy because he thought he took too many punches in the first fight. Bruce was arrogant no doubt, maybe he thought he’d beat Wong easier, maybe the fight was closer than he’d thought, maybe he was disappointed with his performance but none of that means that he must have lost. It happens all the time, people win at something but they may be annoyed by one mistake they made. Ronaldo might score three goals in a match for Real but if he misses a Penalty in that same match, he’ll be thinking more about the missed penalty than the three he bagged. Don’t assume disappointment always means somebody lost.

      Reply
  28. Willow Palm

    He didn’t just change his “style”, he slammed Wing Chun. He said it was “insufficient”. Do you not know how much of an insult that is for his teachers? You talk to Wong Shun Leung or William Cheung and they definitely don’t act like Bruce Lee was the greatest ever. Of course, we’re in America where enough hype is all you need. Bruce Lee knew that and he successfully used his egotistical punk ass attitude to convince people he “could beat anybody in the world”. Why does everyone refuse to believe this loud mouth Hong Kong gang banger would lie after losing a fight? Really? It’s that much of a stretch??

    Reply
  29. Mark

    The best thing i think in these situations is to get the story from either the source or someone who was there. The account given by James Yimm Lee states differently and im inclined to believe his story as he was in attendance it was the school James and Bruce opened together Wong Jack Man brought a few students with him an gave Bruce an ultimatum stop teaching non Chinese or face the consequences. They fought right there an that was that. There are a few facts that need to be cleared up to make this article viable at this point in his life Bruce was a gifted fighter an martial artist but no “Master” of Wing chun he learned the first 2 forms and was training under Yip Man for a total of 3 years. He learned alot of things but what set him apart was he was a fighter at heart , aggressive ,fast and innovative he wasn’t opposed to tailoring something if it didn’t work for him . After the fight he felt he needed to modify some things he did not throw out all his Wing Chun as Jeet Kune Do uses Wing Chun principles as its base thou modified. Like the centerline theory, Lin sil die dar, the vertical fist structure, as well as the tech ex. tan sao da, biu da, trapping hands. He didnt close the school to develop JKD it wasnt a commercial sucess so it was moved to James Yimm Lees garage, it was only a select few who Bruce and James taught. He was constantly in a state of experimentation , trial and error as he evolved so did his art . As to the winner or loser of the fight only the people who were there know for sure.

    Reply
    1. pcuzz

      “Bruce was a gifted fighter”….is there any proof that this is actually true? From all the evidence I have seen it looked like he got into scraps with untrained people before JKD then after he developed JKD and his own physical abilities he got into more scraps with more untrained people but was able to dominate or end the fight quicker.

      Reply
  30. Willow Palm

    I don’t believe James Yimm Lee ever said they told Bruce to stop teaching non-Chinese. Where is that quote? I read that he said something about WJM being “the runner”. But let’s not forget, he was Bruce’s partner and friend and always tried to make Bruce look good. I bet the only reason those punks called WJM that is because Bruce was never able to land a solid shot. I suspect James knew Bruce was bested which is why he never added any specific details about how Bruce hit him. Bruce was all down on himself afterwards which makes it OBVIOUS that he lost. Bruce was an egotistical movie star who built up so much hype around himself that peopled actually came to believe he was the greatest kung fu master in history. What a joke.

    Reply
    1. Terry

      The evidence seems to suggest Bruce may have been bested this does in now way take away that he no doubt had skill and his contributions to popularizing Kungfu around the world. Wong Jack Man was trained by an expert from the Shaolin Temple had had skills. Later he added Tai Chi to his arsenal.

      Reply
  31. David Williamson

    In response to ‘His English was lacking at the time of the Official Karate article. He may have meant that the whole incident, including the verbal exchange beforehand, lasted 20 minutes’.

    You see this is what happens when you provide a rational argument, the new ‘story’ begins to change. I am quite happy to accept that the whole incident lasted twenty minutes from entering to leaving, that’s quite possible with verbal exchanges, perhaps they stopped and had a cup of herbal tea too, who knows. What anybody with any sense does know is that they couldn’t possibly have been fighting for twenty minutes non-stop without rest, in the sense of a real fight, not just posturing up. I am also willing to accept that both Bruce and Wong had a degree of fitness equivalent to their level of ability in the Martial Arts at the time but that is not the equivalent to a training camp of a professional fighter, who would prepare for up to six months for just one fight. (Also Bruce became obsessed with improving his cardio after the fight, so it seems unlikely that he was anywhere near his peak fitness levels of later years). I don’t want to keep repeating myself but the account of a frenetic fight of a few minutes duration is the real world account, anything else is pure fantasy. One other thing, the most likely reason that Wong didn’t use his kicks is that in a real fight, you often lose your kinetics, kicks are not that easy to perform when someone is beating on you. I don’t think this discussion will ever reach a satisfying conclusion for everyone but could we all at least agree on the fact that the fight did not have a 20 minute duration, in the sense of unbroken, continually action without breaks. Do I need to make it any clearer?

    Reply
  32. Chinatown

    The Chinese did not allow teaching of gung-fu to non-Chinese until way after Bruce Lee’s interaction. During those days the Chinese were more worried about keeping their society under lock and key (discrimination, which still carries on to this day). Once the Chinese figured out that these non-Chinese brought money and was a stable income. Some began to accept non-Chinese into their schools and this happen to be in the mid-70s during the so called hippy era. I can tell you that most of these old sifus from the 50s and 60s still live up to the non-Chinese traditions of their schools. And I can tell you WJM is a traditional sifu.

    Reply
    1. Paul

      Goes both ways. Bruce Lee disciples have the advantage of Bruce being a celebrity and acheiving cult like status.

      Reply
  33. Rykter

    I agree the actual fight probably didn’t last more than 3 minutes. But my speculation is that neither man was knocked down, but were rather, worn down by exhaustion. You see, traditional martial arts focused more on technique rather than cardio. Traditional techniques always assume the fight is over after a few moves (hitting groin, poking eyes = job done). Even modern boxers who train extensively can only fight for minutes before needing a break (otherwise it results in two guys standing around catching their breaths, which would explain the 20 minute accounts). This illustrated the inefficiency of traditional kung fu training in general. Unless you train cardio extensively like modern day athletes, its impossible to endure that long. Bruce probably realized this, and threw away his classical training, and evolved his martial art training into something more similar to a modern day athlete’s training, which is shown in his physique later on. I think the important thing here isn’t trying to figure out who won, but realizing that a single truth was discovered here by these two men: That the traditional teachings were more talk than action. When in a real fight, you get tired, and all styles get thrown out the window. If I spent all my life training in something that was ineffective, and wouldn’t even help me when called upon, I would feel depressed, close all my schools, and discover something new. I would like to stress that no truth can be found by taking either side or bashing either one of these men, because their contributions are different. Bruce’s teachings hold true to this day, that traditional forms are deadweight and useless in a real fight, so he takes an almost scientific approach to fighting, while WJM is passing down thousands of years worth of chinese heritage to the next generation. This perspective, to me at least, would shed a more positive light on the issue.

    Reply
  34. Joey

    There are so many comments here, I don’t know if anyone will read this, but here goes. I believe this version makes the most sense. Also, I know the saying “the only dirty fight is the one you lose”, nevertheless, Bruce attacking the eyes and groin in this type of match, seems a little unethical.
    Bruce was an amazing physical specimen, but his technique was often ill advised. For example, against a knife, he advised using a crescent kick to the weapon bearing hand. (This is shown in his self defense book). However, when he tried this on the set in the original filming of Enter the Dragon, he severely cut his ankle, and they had to film around it!
    I would also ask, If Bruce’s Jeet Kun do was so effective, why was it changed by later students (many of Dan Inosanto’s) from original JKD to JKD concepts?
    I will answer that. Because what Bruce did might work for him, but not for very many other people! Keep in mind that this fight was before Jkd came about, so I don’t see Bruce in reality as the unbeatable movie martial artist that most people think of him as.
    One more point. When Bruce came first came to San Francisco he was confident to the point of almost being cocky. At a kung fu event he came into conflict with master Al Novak. Master Novak offered to settle issues right then and there. Bruce (wisely) declined. If you aren’t familiar with Novak, google him and you will understand.

    Reply
  35. Stuart (Glasgow)

    I’m a massive Bruce Lee follower/fan, but don’t have the slightest doubt Bruce had a hard, hard time of it when he fought this guy and the limitations of his style became glaringly obvious to a badly winded Bruce…I’m glad this happened, because it made him rethink, in a big way, what he had to do to make sure it could never happen again and we all know the end result…a truly formidable fighting machine or, as one of his first students so aptly described him (James W. DeMile at facebook) ‘death came disguised as a little Chinese kid called Bruce Lee’

    Reply
  36. Anon Marks

    Bruce lee beat WJM in 3 mintues that’s obvious. He stated it while alive but it was obvious he wasn’t happy with his performance.
    WJM didn’t like Bruce lee boasting as it might affect his business of attracting students to learn under him and it was embarrassing. But when Lee found out he went to WJM restaurant and WJM hid in the kitchen, everybody knows that. WJM knows he was an idiot for lying so has tried to forget about the incident and is it a coincidence he never discusses it, or questions Linda Lee. Im a body language expert and ive seen Linda describe the fight 100 times, and I know she isn’t lying, id stake my reputation on that so would any body language expert.
    The fight was about 3 minutes, but who did the timekeeping. Im sure to Bruce lee and WJM it might have seemed like more as they were both knackered. Bruce lee from chasing and WJM from running for dear life.
    But seriously, is anyone still seriously debating this. People are so desperate to make out as if Bruce wasn’t superman that they pretend to have had conversations with Bruce lee with “He made me look bad” “He had no class” “To tell the truth nobody won that fight” “I wrote it down all those years back” lies. Its all lies. That’s how desperate some people are out there.

    Reply
    1. Anon Marks

      People need to understand that Bruce lee was a feared street fighter. None of his fights lasted much longer than 10 seconds. His Wing Chun had always worked against anyone he had ever encountered. When Bruce lee squared off with WJM he himself didn’t think the fight would last much more than 10 seconds. But I think WJM was kind of prepared and knew what was coming from Bruce, im sure WJM had experience of the Wing Chun style, although might not have been prepared for Lees athletism, speed and viciousness. And it probably shocked WJM.

      So that Bruce Lee had a complete re think about his style isn’t that hard to understand, unless you make it hard, and make more of it than it actually is. He was a perfectionist and demanded a lot out of himself. Can you imagine how disgusted Lee would have been to allow the fight to go on to 3 minutes or more?

      Bruce lee beat WJM. Exactly how long it took isn’t clear, maybe a little longer than 3minutes, but nowhere near 20 minutes. Bruce lee wouldnt talk about a fight he lost, if he had of lost to WJM or even drawn. Seriously, how can you draw a fight like this?

      Reply
      1. PCuzz

        Then why agree to the draw? Not sure why you say Bruce was a “feared Street fighter”. There is little evidence he fought anyone of any skill.

        Reply
        1. Sam Smith

          Bruce lee was a feared streetfighter, so why are you questioning it? Him being a feared streetfighter is not dependant upon Bruce lee having millions of streetfights. Its more about people being aware he was a man with phenomenal abilities and the word getting around. People knew he had tremendous abilities back then, based on people having seen him spreading the word about it, and it going viral in a sense. And yes bruce lee was a gifted fighter which you are questioning as well. Anyone who sparred with him all come to the same conclusion, with no exceptions that he had amazing fighting abilities. They are compaing Bruce lee to everyone they had seen, or were aware of and bruce lee was another level in their opinion. So stop being overly critical about Bruce lee and changing the subject.
          All you need to know is Bruce lee kicked WJM butt in 3 minutes which any serious person would acknowledge to be most likely true.

          Reply
  37. Pcuzz

    “Bruce lee was a feared streetfighter, so why are you questioning it? Him being a feared streetfighter is not dependant upon Bruce lee having millions of streetfights. ”

    Questioning this because there is no evidence that he fought anyone of any skill. Nobody says he had to have millions of fights just a fight with someone of known skill. Kimbo Slice was a feared streetfighter until he actually fought someone with known skill. You make the claim that all of his fights lasted less than 10 seconds..what evidence backs that claim? Who did he fight?

    Reply
    1. Sam Smith

      “Questioning this because there is no evidence that he fought anyone of any skill.. Kimbo Slice was a feared streetfighter until he actually fought someone with known skill. You make the claim that all of his fights lasted less than 10 seconds..what evidence backs that claim? Who did he fight?”

      Its ok to say Kimbo was a feared streetfighter, but when people say Lee was a feared streetfighter you have to try deny that Bruce was, or resent it or question it rather than take the comment for what it is? You sound rather jealous and envious to me, you see people like you all the time.

      Well its obvious most of his fights lasted less than ten seconds. People who witnessed Lee said any fight with Lee that they saw was over in seconds. Bruce lee himself has described fights where he disposed of people in seconds. So its hardly using artistic license to say his fights mostly lasted a matter of seconds.
      So because Bruce lee was used to having his own way in seconds, its quite likely bruce lee expect to destroy WJM in 10 seconds. Im not sure if Bruce lee rated WJM higher than the people he had fought before.

      Reply
  38. Sam Smith

    Skip Elsworth said he knew Bruce lee could end any fight within seconds.
    So back on the subject with Bruce lee and WJM. Bruce lee was only disgusted with his performance against WJM because he was used to winning his fights easily soon after the first blow was thrown in fact. You have to assume that because otherwise why be disgusted at beating a skill martial artist in WJM?
    Bruce lees students have intimated that idea as well so why question the messenger? Why not question Lees students? Probably because you probably know they probably know what they are talking about. Its an easy way out to question the messenger because of whatever beef you’ve go.

    Reply
  39. Pcuzz

    The whole idea of being jealous of Bruce Lee is laughable and just plain ridiculous. I am over a decade older than he ever reached and never accomplished even a fraction of what he did. You seem to ignore the fact that all but one of Bruce’s fights had no names attached to them, how can anyone even make the claim that Bruce was so good without attaching any names? So all of his fights against unskilled people lasted less than 10 seconds and the one time he goes up against someone who has some sort of skill (not really sure about Wong Jack Man level) the fight goes to 3 minutes…says alot about the quality of the fighters Bruce was fighting up until then to me. I have questioned Bruce’s students when I had the chance and its plain to me that they have placed him on a pedestal without any proof. Seems to me they were awed and overwhelmed by his physical attributes and athleticism and star struck to the point they never thought about looking for any kind of proof and really those claims were made by them after he died.

    Reply
    1. Sam Smith

      You are just going off on a tangent now. We were discussing Bruce lee v WJM and now you are trying to make a case for Bruce lee being overated? Jealous guys always try to make a case for Lee being overated, but not convincing anyone while doing it. Join the club.

      Envious at how everyone said how great Lee was is what its boiling down to now. Just because you have a name, are pro with a win, loss and draw record it doesn’t make you any good. Bruce lee showed that countless time. He made light work of Delgado who incidently said Lee was the toughest guy he ever fought while Lee was alive. Skipper Mullins who was a streetfighter before turing karate champ said hed pick Lee in any street situation. John Worley and Jim Kelly have lavished praise on Lees fighting abilities as have countless other tournament champs.

      What will you exactly gain by saying bruce lee beat a lot of bums before fighting WJM and saying WJM was crap? Probably not much other than make yourself feel better. Go ahead then.

      Reply
  40. Hendrik

    Is there any reference about WJM fighting experience? How many fight he fought? Where he learned and how much he has learned? I think WJM lost in all of that compared to Bruce Lee.
    A less experienced fighter cannot defeat a much experienced fighter.

    Reply
    1. Paul Cuzzort

      Incorrect, a better trained fighter will win over a more experienced fighter, not saying that WJM was better trained or more experienced, just pointing that out.

      Reply
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  46. Ivan

    “I’d gotten into a fight in San Francisco with a Kung-Fu cat, and after a brief encounter the son-of-a-bitch started to run. I chased him and, like a fool, kept punching him behind his head and back. Soon my fists began to swell from hitting his hard head. Right then I realized Wing Chun was not too practical and began to alter my way of fighting.”
    This was the statement made by Bruce Lee…what great class as he never mentioned any names…the only people who would know that he was referencing the fight with Wong would have been those present at that time, and they already knew the outcome.The silence was never broken, what is meant by a private fight was that the name of either participant wouldn’t be dragged through the mud afterward,and the danger and serious presence of a real fight. and with that said Bruce never broke the silence. And this was a statement made in black belt magazine, the leading martial artist magazine in the U.S. Bruce was very known at the time as the interview in itself implies that…blackbelt magazine doesn’t interview you unless ur a big deal.
    Lastly, Bruce never refused a rematch. He refused an exhibition in which Wong wanted a redo, and requested restrictions and limitations such as no eye gouging or kicking to the face. Basically a rerun but this time the “The Karate Kid” way, unrealistic fighting was a huge pet peave of Bruce’s…yeah I wouldn’t have given a response either. Lol just saying.

    Reply
  47. Ric

    Please read this book, “Showdown in Oakland”, by Rick Wing for a more comprehensive telling of what happened. I believe the author of this article is unbiased but not necessarily in full possession of all the facts and research that Rick Wing was able to obtain. I am a big Bruce Lee fan, but that doesn’t mean I think he was infallible. He was a human and if the competition in MMA demonstrates anything, it shows that no one is the perfect fighter, an undefeatable god. Hero worship beyond reason goes against what Bruce Lee himself preached, the ability to learn by being open and not recognizing one style or one individual as the end all.

    http://www.amazon.com/Showdown-Oakland-Story-Behind-Bruce-ebook/dp/B00AR0KE1I

    Reply
  48. Vi

    Bruce was a perfectionist. The impetus to change was based on the improvement of something that was already good. I don’t understand why people can’t understand something so simple.

    Reply
  49. sherwin

    I think bruce won, because he continued teaching wing chun to other people, he changed his style because like he said in enter the dragon A good fight should be like a small play but, played seriously, but he never beat wong jack man easier so thats why he created JKD

    Reply
  50. Reuben

    The author here is buying into the untruths Wong and Co had no option but to spin. In Chinese society dishonesty is perfectly acceptable and expected if used for the purpose of saving face.
    Fights between fighters of this calibre will generally not exceed 5 minutes. And telling us what Wong “remembered” during the fight tells us the whole story is pulled directly from Wong’s account. Either that or the author is super-perceptive in knowing what someone thought without being present. Plus it makes perfect sense that Wong only had a scratch seeing as he allegedly surrendered in an arm hold.
    Using Lee’s change of residence and fighting style as evidence that he lost the fight is preposterous. There could be a million possible reasons for each, if in fact they even happened as portrayed.
    Just another rubbish blog here among the millions of others out here.

    Reply
  51. Patrick

    At the end of the day i think this fight changed both Fighters. Lee went ahead to create his JKD at the same time WJM wanted a rematch which in essence means he went back re-lived the fight and tried to improve and perfect his style.
    In conclusion Lee got the better of WJM

    Reply
  52. Rishabh

    Bruce Lee changed his fighting style after the the match.some guy in the comments said he adopted what seemed to be worthy and discarded what wasn’t necessary and that he learned Ali’s footwork for advantage. But wing chun didn’t need improvement.the fixed stance helped the fighter to stay focused on the opponent’s actions so they could read them and act accordingly. If you are jumping on your feet all the time you might be a tough target for many fighters to hit, but for a master you give up your position and he will judge where you would be the next moment and strike a blow right at you. Moreover,when you are moving like Ali you are off balance for a nick of time and that is exactly what a master needs. What I’m trying to say is wing chun didn’t need innovation if mastered.for masters like yip man it was enough standing and judging the opponent and that what they all did. Another thought is that what many people say that Bruce didn’t learn wing chun from yip man for enough time so he didn’t master it.therefore he had to add some of his flashy moves whether it be for better fighting that suited him or just for the movies or just because Bruce was so ambitious that he wanted to invent his own style.

    Reply

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