Bruce Lee was born in the United States while his father was on tour with a Chinese Opera. Lee subsequently returned to the states with his family. During his teenage years he began to study Wing Chun (also known as Ving Tsun) under Grandmaster Yip Man. During his time under Yip Man, Lee trained closely with other top Wing Chun men who included: Wong Shun Leung and William Chueng. Lee’s friend and classmate, Hawkins Cheung also trained at the kwoon during this time. While training in Wing Chun, Lee also experimented with different martial arts such as Hun Gar, Praying Mantis and Tai Chi.

Lee later moved to the
United States and settled in Seattle, Washington. He first met Jesse Glover (a judo champion) who became Lee’s close friend and training partner. Glover soon introduced Lee to his circle of friends which included Ed Hart, Skip Ellsworth, Jim DeMile, Leroy Garcia and Pat Hooks. Lee conducted his classes in parks, parking garages, and gymnasiums. Later on, students Taky Kimura, Joe Cowles, Doug Palmer, Pat Strong and several others came into the mix and studied at Lee’s formal school.

During this time, Bruce met
James Lee, who was an accomplished martial artist from Oakland and several years older than Bruce. Despite their age difference, James was impressed by Bruce’s prowess and soon became his student and assistant instructor. Bruce joined James in Oakland with Bruce’s wife Linda, while they were expecting their son, Brandon. Bruce Lee was discovered at Ed Parkers 1964 Karate Internationals where he caught the eye of TV producer, Bill Dozier, who hand picked Bruce for the role of Kato for the upcoming Green Hornet television series. Lee later moved to Los Angeles in 1965 where he later opened his third and final school with his close friend, Dan Inosanto, as the assistant instructor. During this era, Lee coined the term, Jeet Kune Do which meant, “Way of the intercepting fist (or foot)”. His martial art was formerly known as Jun Fan Gung Fu (Lee’s Chinese name was Jun Fan). Students at his LA Kwoon include: Ted Wong, Dan Lee, Bob Bremer, Jerry Poteet, Pete Jacobs, Richard Bustillo, Larry Hartsell, Herb Jackson, and Steve Golden. During this time, Lee also trained tournament champions such as Joe Lewis, Mike Stone, Chuck Norris and Louis Delgado. In addition, Lee trained celebrity students Joe Hyams, Stirling Siliphant, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Steve McQueen. Lee closed all of his schools in 1969 and opted for a “backyard” approach to training in order to keep classes small and the instruction more personalized.

Bruce Lee’s death, his art of Jeet Kune Do has gone through different phases. Initially, his assistant instructor, Dan Inosanto, kept JKD classes small and geared to a select few. As time passed, classes grew and with the onslaught of interest in Lee’s art, the requirements to learn JKD became more relaxed. As seminars began to grow in popularity, Jeet Kune Do became more wide spread. While some of Lee’s students chose to teach JKD as Lee taught it to them, others began to invoke their own cultural arts such as Filipino Kali into the curriculum of Jeet Kune Do as well as Thai Boxing and French Savate. While it is true that Bruce Lee made it a point to study all forms of martial arts, most will agree that he did so to learn how to defend against them rather than to incorporate their moves into his art. Jeet Kune Do seeks simplicity over complicated moves and stylized patterns. While every martial artist will find their own JKD within their own self, there will always be a core set of principles that establishes Jeet Kune Do as an art in and of itself.

  • collage image title

    The Wing Chun Years


    The "Wing Chun Years" section includes profiles of some of the most famous and important Wing Chun men in the history of the art. Lee first began his tuteledge under Yip Man at age 13 but was heavily influenced by Wong Shung Leung who was the clan's top fighter. Notable practitioners from this era are William Chueng, Hawkins Cheung, Victor Kan and many others.
  • collage image title

    The Seattle Era


    Bruce Lee's Seattle students may not receive the attention that the later LA students have received but their knowledge of Lee's Gung Fu is undeniable. In fact, many in the martial arts community perceive Jesse Glover as his most knowledgeable student. This era contains profiles on: Taky Kimura, Ed Hart, Jesse Glover, Jim DeMile, Pat Strong, Doug Palmer, Joe Cowles and Leroy Garcia. From the Seattle era, various off-shoots of Jun Fan Gung Fu have emerged such as: Non-Classical Gung Fu, Wu Wei Gung Fu, Wing Chun Do and Core JKD.
  • collage image title

    The Oakland Era


    The Oakland school first started in 1963 while Lee still lived in Seattle under the close watch of James Lee. Their first location was on a street called Broadway but the school was soon moved to James Lee's garage. During the Oakland era, Bruce Lee had his confrontation with Wong Jak Man which made Lee re-examine his art and prompted him to improve his footwork and use of angles in attacking. Students from this era who are profiled are: James Lee, Allen Joe, George Lee, Bob Baker, Felix Macias, Sr., Howard Williams, Leo Fong, David Cox, Al Novak, Gary Canaaga, Gary Dill, Dr. Lloyd Freitas and the son of James Lee, Greglon Lee.
  • collage image title

    The Los Angeles Era


    While some have claimed that Oakland was the birth place of Jeet Kune Do, most historians admit that the Los Angeles era was where Lee finally coined the term Jeet Kune Do and had a clear basis for his 'way of no way'. The LA school contained several "turn coat" students from Ed Parker's Kenpo system. Students profiled from this era include: Dan Inosanto, Ted Wong, Bob Bremer, Dan Lee, Larry Hartsell, Steve Golden, Jerry Poteet, Steve Johnson, Herb Jackson, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Joe Hyams and many more. Lee is reported to only participate at the LA kwoon for around 7 months and then left most of the teaching to Dan Inosanto while Lee took a few students to his backyard for private training.
  • collage image title

    The Next Generation of JKD


    Bruce Lee's three era's of teaching spawned many students who in turn, gave birth to their own legions of students. Many have become successful martial artist in their own right while some have gone on to become top stunt men and women in the film industry. As time permits, I will continually add second and third generation students of Lee's own students.
  • collage image title

    Family, Friends and Associates


    Bruce Lee's family was an important part of his life as were his friends who were not martial artists. In this section I have included some of his closest friends, family members and close friends who have interesting and insightful memories of, "the little dragon."
  • collage image title

    Hollywood Students & Friends


    Bruce Lee's life in Hollywood first began with the Green Hornet series but continued on with various other TV appearances along with his instruction of notable celbrities like James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Stirling Siliphant, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and many others. In this section, I will high-light their experiences with Lee and the stories they had to share.
  • collage image title

    Authors and Historians


    Just as their have been several Bruce Lee imitators, there are also those who seek to spread the word about Lee's art, films and philosophical contributions. In this section, I will high-light those who have written about Bruce Lee and provide insight and documentation into their work and feelings on Bruce Lee and his art of Jeet Kune Do.

The above Yin/Yang’s were borrowed from Lee’s final ranking system during his Los Angeles Chinatown school era.

Bruce Lee, Jeet Kune Do, james demile, jeet kune do, jkd, doug palmer, jim demile, bruce lee
skip ellsworth, bob bremer, howard williams, taky kimura, jesse glover, leo fong, james lee jun fan gung fu, richard bustillo, jerry poteet, joe cowles, dan inosanto