Pat Strong first met Bruce Lee in 1961. He was a member of the the Seattle Kwoon. He has taught such notable Hollywood elites as Joe Hyams and trained with Lee's Wing Chun classmate, Hawkins Chueng. He continues to teach to a few dedicated individuals and conducts seminars in the USA and abroad.
Mr. Strong is available for seminars and private lessons.
The Pat Strong Interview
Conducted By Paul Bax
HOW WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO BRUCE LEE?
PAT STRONG: I first learned about Bruce Lee from Doug Palmer who was one of Bruce's students. Sometime later, Jon Craig and I went to observe a gung fu workout and what we saw so impressed us that we immediately joined up. At that time Bruce was teaching a group of about a dozen students at an outdoor parking area beneath the Blue Cross Insurance building. Right across the street was Ruby Chow's Chinese Restaurant where Bruce had a small room for living quarters and worked as a waiter. The year was either late 1960 or early 1961.
WHAT WAS YOUR PREVIOUS MARTIAL ARTS EXPERIENCE BEFORE BRUCE, IF ANY, AND IF SO WHAT ART?
PS: Both Jon Craig and I had been training in boxing gyms before starting gung fu. Neither of us had any Asian martial arts experience.
What was your first impression of Bruce Lee regarding: 1) His confidence 2) His ability 3) His philosophyWHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION OF BRUCE LEE REGARDING: 1.) HIS CONFIDENCE. 2) HIS ABILITY. 3) HIS PHILOSOPHY?
PS: (1) I thought Bruce was extremely confident, even cocky. He was a natural showman who loved to dazzle audiences with his gung fu and feats of strength. He had a special quality about him that made him stand out from others and he loved to be at the center of things. As I think about it, I am reminded of something that Joe Hyams told me. Joe and Writer/Producer, Sterling Siliphant had shared lessons with Bruce's at Joe's home in Beverly Hills, California. When in 1973 Bruce went to Hong Kong to make "Enter the Dragon", I took over teaching Joe who would later author a book titled, "Zen and The Martial Arts". Joe had been an important newspaper columnist and author who knew and wrote about the biggest names of Hollywood's big star era. His chic exposure to the stars taught him that they all shared something in common. Joe called it "the star quality", an almost magical presence that came across both in life and on the big screen. From the first day that they met, Joe had detected that same star quality in Bruce. Joe likened Bruce's to James Dean, a man who resonated with youthful magnetism, and Humphrey Bogart, a man who stood out in any crowd.
2) My first impression of Bruce was that he had hands as quick as thought, itself. In Hong Kong, Bruce had studied Wing Chun Gung Fu, a fighting system known for its effectiveness in the streets. It was a system based on the firm principles of simplicity, economy, sensitivity and practicality, all of which made Bruce's method uniquely direct and fast beyond comprehension. Wing Chun's Chi Sao (sticking hands) training had developed in Bruce a particular kind of contact sensitivity that enabled him to move like water through an opponent's defense. With his unique foundation based on scientific structure and powerful tools he was able to demonstrate incredible feats of strength over much larger and stronger opponents. To put it mildly, I thought Bruce was just plane amazing!
In 1964, Ed Parker hosted his International Karate Championship in Long Beach, California. Among the throngs of people that day stood Tsutumaka Oshima, the first man ever to teach karate in the U.S. and one of the last men to have trained with the great Master, Funakoshi.
Accompanying Oshima, Sensei was Caylor Atkins, one of Oshima's top black belts. According to Atkins, he and Oshima were standing together in a large room set aside for black belts that were preparing to give demonstrations that night. Neither Oshima nor Atkins had ever heard of Bruce Lee nor, for that matter, had hardly anyone else at that time. But as Bruce walked past them Oshima's gaze followed him. "That one," said Oshima, "he is the only one here who can do anything." As Atkins said to me, "Oshima had judged Bruce's level by the way he moved when he walked."
3.) Having been a young Chinese man raised and educated in Hong Kong, Bruce was influenced in all aspects of Chinese thought. In particular, his study of martial art had taught him powerful principles, strategies, and philosophy. I was struck at the way he was able to interpret the physical realities of his gung fu into illustrations of universal principles. It seemed to me that his gung fu and philosophy were interrelated and inseparable. Not only was he a talented martial artist, but he was also an astute philosopher.
For instance, take the way Bruce taught the Immovable Elbow Principle of Wing Chun. In the technical sense, he showed how the elbow position of certain tools should remain firm and not be permitted to give beyond one fist length from the body, or else a fighter's structure could easily be destroyed. From the philosophical point of view Bruce likened the steadfastness of the Wing Chun elbow to the resolve of honor. "If your honor does not hold firm," said Bruce, "then your character can be destroyed." Strategically, this same powerful principle applied to many things in every day life such as business, a relationship, or even a fight that is about to happen. In the latter case, Bruce used this analogy:
Bruce said, "A man looking for a fight calls me a nasty name and advances a step toward me. Not wanting to fight, I retreat a step and try to reason with him. This time he calls my mother a name and advances another step. I know that name-calling will do no harm to my mother and I fall back a second time. Now he senses that I must be afraid and he grows even more confident. A third time he advances, but instead of retreating my move is both decisive and sudden! My attack catches him in mid-step and unprepared. If you ask me why did I wait so long to fight, my answer is because it was the third time that he approached me. You see three is the point I will not retreat beyond."
In a scene from "Enter the Dragon", Han (Shih Kien) has just given Roper (John Saxon) the grand tour of his drugs and prostitution operation. When Han suggests that Roper should join him, Roper refuses. Han replies, "So there is a point that you will not go beyond!"
Ummmm. . . sounds like a line Bruce might have written.
WERE YOU AWARE OF LEE’S GRAND SCHEME OF OPENING MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOLS NATIONWIDE AND IF SO DO YOU FEEL LEE COULD HAVE PULLED SUCH A FEAT OFF?
PS: I was not aware of such a plan, however I believe that Bruce was capable of achieving anything that he set his mind to.
SOME MARTIAL ARTS STUDENTS FIND A TIME WHERE THEY MIGHT QUESTION THEIR INSTRUCTORS PROWESS. DID THESE FEELINGS EVER SURFACE WHEN YOU TRAINED WITH BRUCE?
PS: I was too much in awe of Bruce's skills to ever have doubted his capabilities.
DESCRIBE A TYPICAL TRAINING SESSION WITH BRUCE LEE?
PS: The Seattle school was probably unique from the others in that none of the Seattle students had had previous martial arts experience, other than a few people who either played judo or boxed. Therefore, Bruce had to teach the entire Seattle group from scratch. Bruce was an inspiring teacher who demanded tough workouts and got them because no one wanted to be seen performing with less than their best effort. Each class began and ended with a gung fu salutation followed by a period of meditation, which was an important aspect of our training. Next came grueling calisthenics and body toughening. Areas of the body that required toughening were mostly the forearms and shins.
Bruce was adamant about developing strong tools. For instance, he explained that a tan sao (a palm up hand with the arm extended and slightly bent at the elbow) was not unlike a car jack that was specifically designed to fulfill its mechanical purpose. "A lightweight jack," Bruce said, "may lift a Volkswagen but it may not be strong enough to lift a Cadillac." He insisted that our tools be strong enough to do the really big jobs.
Next, came the forms an area in which Bruce personally excelled. It is said that Bruce discounted the importance of forms with his later students, however what is overlooked is the fact that forms played an important role in Bruce's own development of proper structural alignment and mechanics.
In addition to the three forms of Wing Chun (Sil Lum Tao, Chum Kil, and only a part of Bilgee), there was a Southern style long form which may have been from Hung Gar. There was also a Tai Chi form (Bruce had learned Tai Chi from his father), and a short northern style kicking form that included front kicks, side kicks, back kicks and double kicks.
A great deal of time was dedicated to punching and kicking drills, techniques, and self-defense applications. Sparring matches were one-on-one, two-on-one and, occasionally, three-on-one. There was always a strong emphasis on speed and, most important, how to initiate a move "without intention", a principle that held the secret to Bruce's amazing speed.
Following class, the group would often meet for dinner at one of the local Chinese restaurants. It was during this time that Bruce was more apt to share his experiences and ideas. I learned early on that this was also the time to pay very close attention, because this is where the real gems of information were to be found.
DESCRIBE BRUCE LEE’S INNER GAME?
The Pat Strong Interview
Conducted by members of “Temple of the Unknown” Web Forum
The following was taken place in the Temple Discussion on 04/24/01 between regular vistitors of this site: (Jt, Drunken Master,Jen, Kevin, Damian, Drunken Master, Nick Clarke, Johnny Williams and Toayb Hamidi)
Temple of the Unknown: Hello and welcome Mr. Strong to the Temple of the Unknown forum, We hope that your visit here is a pleasant one and we thank you for taking the time in answering our questions.
Temple of the Unknown: Mr. Strong, what three words best describe the Bruce you knew? Do you feel that your views of him have changed in any way?
Patrick Strong: Three words... I have a huge list, starting with amazing, incredilbe, unbelievable.... But the word that stands out most in my mind is "loyalty." Bruce was loyal to his friends. If he liked you, he really liked you. It didn't matter what color your were or how rich or poor.
"Deep," is another word that comes to mind. Bruce had amazing, incredible, unbelievable depth. He was truly one and inseparable with his gung fu. He was philosophical and often when he talked on serious matters he talked from the spirit of his art. For example, he would explain "tan sao" as being straight, but not straight; bent, but not bent; nor neither hard nor soft, but both hard and soft. He used to talk like this. Then he would go on to explain that the tan sao exists with its Immoveable Elbow Principle. If the elbow were to give way the your structure is destroyed. And then he would compare that to not giving up to much when negotiating a business deal such as driving a car, or whatever. Phew, he was something! Yes. After having spent so many years in martial arts and knowing what I known now, I regard him higher than ever. While some say that Bruce was overestimated, I say that he was grossly underestimated. He is given credit for his incredible performance as a martial artist and the fact that he created his Jun Fan and Jeet Kune Do. But he is never given credit for the incredible depth of knowledge that he possessed, demonstrated in his personal method. The way he performed his art.
Mr Strong, Given the fact that you continue to train in JKD , are there techniques or strategies that Bruce showed you that you now find useless or lacking compaired to what you have learned over the years. On the flip side, what is the most powerfull thing Bruce showed you? Thanks for your time
Patrick Strong: On the contrary, I had learned things from Bruce that I have never seen the likes of other arts. From Bruce, I learned the Principle of Non-intention. Somehow this amazing principle has gotten horribly diluted. Today, people speak of non-telegraph. Non-intention and non-telegraph are two completely different things. Non-telegraph is to not send a telegram to your opponent that you are about to strike. Non-intention is to strike without the intention to strike. This is a principle that Bruce modified from certain laws present in wing chun. Non-intention is the reason for Bruce's amazing start speed. But then there were so many things that I had learned from Bruce that transcend anything else that I have learned in martial art. Many of those things were later reinforced and better understood from my personal research and ongoing training with Hawkings Cheung who had been Bruce's close friend, schoolmate, and wing chun training partner.
Is it true that you did some type of movie work on "Kentucky Fried Movie"? Could you explain what you did and what kind of experience it was for you.
Patrick Strong: I choreographed the fight scene in the Enter the Dragon segment of Kentucky Fried Movie, in addition to having a small part. I was the "Old Spice Guy." John Landis insisted that I do the shower scene with the naked woman, but I refused. I happen to be in the film industry as a screenwriter and producer. From time to time I have worked with actors in training them for their fight scenes, or choreographed scenes. It's not something I do often, nor do I care for doing it. On Kentucky Fried Movie, I trained Evan Kim to fight like Bruce. I also brought Bong Soo Han into the film to play the role of Bruce's nemesis. And then, I choreographed and created the fight scenes, etc...
How do you think JKD has changed over the years? Has it improved?
Patrick Strong: Wow, this is a big question, and a hard one at that! In my opinion there are different kinds of JKD. I see Bruce Lee's JKD as being far different than others JKD. In other words, Bruce's personal JKD was based on his own abilities, on a muscular and nervous system carefully developed through a unique set of principles and mechanics unknown to other martial arts systems. In fact, they were diametrically opposed to them. Bruce's personal methodology, the way he did it, was based on an inner structure and energies developed from wing chun. Some people like to say that Bruce abandoned his wing chun. This is not true, at all. Bruce's wing chun structure and energy was present in everything that he did. Even in his modified JKD stance, wing chun structure and Vital Energy were still very much in tact, although not visible.
Now compare this to those who had never trained these important aspects as did Bruce. Still, Bruce was not out to duplicate himself in others. His meaning was free others from their own limitations. It is sort of an end result, but without the same foundation. Therefore, you have different methods from the core out as to how to perform Jeet Kune Do, depending on the specific background of the JKDpractitioner, himself.
I think that there are some who have improved very much on some aspects of JKD and, at the same time, have fallen back a bit. It's just a tough question that would take volumes to go into.
Bruce Lee teach you all the Wing Chun forms (3) and what did your early training sessions mainly consist of? Also how many students did Bruce teach in a normal class?
Patrick Strong: Bruce taught Sil Lum Tao, Chum Kil, and part of Bilgee, the three basic forms of wing chun. He also taught a Tai Chi form, a southern style gung fu form containg a cyclone kick, and a northern style kicking form facign all angles. He would often demonstrate a three-section staff form and, of course, part of the Mook Jung (wooden dummy) form.
All classes began with meditation. Bruce was very big on this. And then there were the endless calisthentics. I remember one guy vomiting and another passing out. The bunny hops and duck walks were killers. LOL
There was a great deal of training dedicated to speed and sensitivity. Start speed was the key.
There was free fighting, and fighting against multiple opponents. Endless kicking and punching. Hard, hard work always.
After class was where I would learn the most over dinner at one of the local Chinese restaurants. When Bruce talked I absorbed more than the delicious food.
Could you please explain in detail about Bruce's 'Snake Step' principle and the best way to practice or to properly apply it in your footwork?
Patrick Strong: At the beginning of the Wing Chun form you raise your hands to shoulder level, close to fists and retract to either side of the chest. You bend the knees sinking your weight, and slide your toes out forming a v-shape from the heels. This involved swiveling on the heels, an extremely important principle used throughout moving structure. With the toes v'd outward, you now switch onto the balls of the feet and move the heels outward into a another V.
This switching of the heels alternating with the switching of the balls of the feet create a movement. Bruce would use his movement with his lead foot and rear foot as he advanced on you. The advantage is that there is no beat. If I were to take a step at you it would cost me a beat that you would be able to identify as a set point. While closing in tight Bruce could hide his beat, while keeping himself dynamic and lethal.
Given that you were only 15 years old when you began training in `the original' Jun Fan Gung-Fu under Bruce and Taky, how do you feel presently about training children in JFJKD? It is not a sport related art, and some of the principles, theories, and techniques can be somewhat esoteric. How young can someone be, in your opinion, and readily absorb JFJKD?
Actually, I was 17 years old when I started training with Bruce Lee. I'll be 58 in about two weeks.
You ask an interesting question about children in JKD. I have to answer this one as to how I teach JKD, which is somewhat different than how others teach.
I teach very strongly to the principles and mechanical advantages enjoyed by Bruce personally. For example, I put a great deal into proper structure.
This last weekend I gave a seminar in Kentucky. There were two boys present, one 13, the other 14. After the first day, either boy could stand on one leg and hold a tan sao against any man in the room who would try and push him over but couldn't. Either boy could bend down and tie his shoelace with a full grown man at 225 pounds trying to push them over, but unable to. I had the 14 year old stand balanced on a gymnists’ high beam. Actually, the beam was positioned just a few feet off the floor. Anyway, he stood while I and the others pushed against his extended tan sao with both our hands, and were unable to push him off. This kind of thing is simply principle and mechanics. It has to do with physical and energy structures enjoyed by Bruce, and is the secret of how he was able to move big men around so easily. Bruce once jacked a professional wrestler up off his feet against a wall using double tan sao.
You can imagine that the kids just loved this sort of thing, to perform feats that were seemingly impossible. The same holds for similar energies used in punching and kicking. This is what I mean when I say "the way Bruce did it." His personal art.
Which of Bruce's films do you like best? Whats the most nicest/touching thing Bruce ever did for you? Did you ever see BL knock someone about in a REAL fight? What are your views on his death, do you believe in the "Official" verdict,
Patrick Strong: My favorite film was "Enter the Dragon." Recall the scene in the film between Bruce and the young monk where Bruce taps the boy on the forehead and asks, "What was that, a demonstration?" He then instructs the boy, "Now feeeeel, or you will miss all of that heavenly glory." Something like that, anyway. To "feel" at the smallest levels was an important aspect of BruceÕs personal training. This concept was more than likely due to his training in Tai Chi Chaun and Wing Chun. In Tai Chi the forms are done slowly for proprioceptive and neuro-pathway training. In Wing Chun’s Sil Lum Tao (first form) the movement is slow for the same reason and the development of fa jing, end power, not to mention forging the structure and tools. In the Tao of Jeet Kune Do Bruce means the same thing when he refers to "Kinesthetic Awareness." I believe that it was in "Fist of Fury" that Bruce battled in the ice factory. He had just landed a deep penetration blow to a bad guys abdomen, killing him. Realizing, Bruce grips his wrist trembling in almost horror at what he had just done. Bruce used to like to tell a story of what would happen if he actually were to kill a man in a fight. At his trial he would be asked to plea either guilty or not guilty. Naturally, Bruce’s plea would be "not guilty." "But there were a dozen people who saw you strike the man, and then watch as he died?" the judge would say. To this Bruce would answer, "Your Honor, I did not kill him. It killed him!" "It," meaning the non-intention of his strike. In other words, it just happened. Anyway, I like those personal touches in the films that were all Bruce. I was seventeen and I had a fight with my parents. I was ready to drop out of high school and run away to California. Bruce overheard me telling this to a friend outside of the school one night. Taking me aside, he told me that he had more money than I did, and that he would use it to come and find me if I ran away. Whoa, I believed him! I chose to finish high school and then go on to college.
Did I ever see BL knock someone about in a REAL fight? No. But I recall the fight he had with the Japanese Sensei in the handball court at the YMCA. Bruce had taken Jessie Glover and Lanzten Chin as his seconds. The Sensei insisted that the fight be for real. Afterward, he explained his injuries by telling everyone that he was in an automobile accident. What are my views on his death, do I believe in the "Official" verdict? As you know from the autopsy report, Bruce died from cerebral edema (swelling of the brain)as the result of an anagesic drug (aspirin). My understanding is that Bruce had been having severe headaches and had once passed out while on location filming. He even went back to Los Angles to have a brain scans. I also understand there were some other problems. I suppose all of this might add up to what was finally reported as to the cause of death.
While working on "Kentucky Fried Movie," I had the chance to spend time with George Lazenby who Bruce had planned to pick up at the airport that night. We had an interesting discussion, but who knows.
I was also privy to some other information from a direct source that indicated an intention of foul play, but I have no way of knowing if was actually carried out. In truth, I just don't know.
In your opinion could you describe an excellent fighter/opponent? What are your views on filipino martial arts specially escrima, kali, are they the best to study? And my lastly, what did Bruce Lee did for you that touched your heart and did he ever got mad/happy about you?
Patrick Strong: You asked:
1) In your opinion could you describe an excellent fighter/opponent?
I mention Rickson because although his methodology is different than Bruce's he shares the same kind of high level. Like Bruce, Rickson is a master of incredible skill. He also as the spirit of a warrior, ready and prepared to fight. Again like Bruce, Rickson is always the complete complement of his opponent. He doesn't fight his opponent, he fights with him. He is a smart fighter and a strategist who never loses his emotional control. He is at work throughout the fight, putting the science to his methodology to work. To me, these qualities are what make a great fighter.
2) What are your views on filipino martial arts specially escrima, kali, are they the best to study?
I am a big fan of FMA, having studied Modern Arnis and Balintiwak. A few years ago, I went to Milan, Italy as coach and trainer to Rick Mitchel who won 1st place in the World Full-contact Stick Fighting Championship.
And my last question is what did Bruce Lee did for you that touched your heart and did he ever got mad/happy about you?
What Bruce did most for me was to be my friend and inspiration. I believe that much of what I am today is because of him. I miss him very much.
Temple of the Unknown: Do you consider yourself a Bruce Lee "fan". I am sure it is better just having known him but do you watch his films or do any collecting yourself?
Also what are your thoughts on Warriors Journey and the Hype surrounding Bruce's last film.
Patrick Strong: I've enjoyed Bruce's films. I wasn't crazy about a lot of the martial arts stuff as it didn't really show the real Bruce as a fighter. Take for example, "Game of Death." On on hand, Bruce is critical of his opponent's pre-patterened movements. Then he picks up the nunchukas and performs a lot of pre-patterened movement. Oh well, movies. It would have been fun to have seen the real Bruce Lee. Also, there are a lot of people who judge Bruce's martial ability by those films. And that's a shame. and as for WJ, I'm sorry, I'm not up on any of that stuff.
All of the questions and answers were compiled by J. Torres who can be reached via his website.
The Pat Strong Interview, 2008
Conducted by Paul Bax
Much has been written about the life and legend of Bruce Lee, the person, the motion picture star, the martial artist. While an abundance of books and magazine articles from all over the world have covered the basics of his Jun Fan Gung Fu and his later development of Jeet Kune Do, none have ventured into the deeper principles of his philosophy, as they pertained to strengthening himself and his fighting art. In deciding to explore this area, I went to Patrick Strong, an original student of Bruce Lee, who specializes in what he calls, “Deep Level Training”.
Patrick, you trained with Bruce Lee in the early to mid 60’s in what has become known as the Seattle Era. At that time, what do you feel was the focus of Lee’s teachings to his students?
PS: Undoubtedly, Bruce’s predominate focus was the realities of the street, based on pragmatism and simplicity. Fundamentals included speed, power, timing, distance and continuity of movement with tactile sensitivity for close quarter combat. A firm believer in hard and correct training, he understood the importance for training the tendons and bones for structural alignment. He was adamant about developing strong tools, and targeting muscles to contract in the most minimal way to achieve maximum velocities when striking.
Bruce was also deeply infused in philosophy, particularly in Zen and Taoism. At the core of his teaching was the Taoist Yin and Yang -- the universal duality of opposites. It was the official school emblem, and it permeated his gung fu in every way. He spoke of the powerful Taoist tenet Wu Wei, meaning, “the not doing,” or “letting it happen.” He called it Non-intention. On occasion he would demonstrate the Wei Wu Wei, the sister tenet, meaning, “the effortless doing,” or “the soft and invisible power.” For instance, he would stand on one leg and let someone try and push him off balance, while he merely brush his fingertips under the other person’s elbows, sometimes only with one hand; or he might sit back on the rear legs of a chair, feet off the floor with his arm raised, while the person would take hold of the hand and try and push him and the chair over backward, to no avail. Whenever Bruce showed his stuff people would get the impression they had just witnessed someone that was truly amazing, if not unbelievable. His demonstrations were in some cases so incredible that observers had to doubt authenticity. But those of us who felt his speed, power, and abilities knew different. I can recall lying on the floor, stricken with panic for not being able to take a breath of air after receiving his one-inch punch.
You place a lot of emphasis on Bruce Lee’s amazing speed, giving credit to his Principle of Non-intention. Over the years it has become more-or-less your specialty. Would you go deeper into this?
PS: The Principle of Non-intention, although quite simple in concept, is really huge in magnitude. It involves a lot, both in its usage and in the results achieved, all quite remarkable. Non-intention is often confused with non-telegraph, yet the two are the neither the same, nor even remotely related. Non-telegraph means to not send a signal to your opponent that you are about to strike. Conversely, Non-intention means to strike without interference from the consciousness of self that greatly restricts physical performance.
‘I’m moving and not moving at all. I’m like the moon underneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking. It is not, ‘I am doing this,’ but rather, an inner realization that ‘this is happening through me,’ or ‘it is doing this for me. The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action.’
Bruce Lee/Tao of Jeet Kune Do.
For example, non-telegraph, alone, does not affect the neural-muscular system of the body in the same manner. Nor does it produce the same high quality of speed, power, and continuity of movement in subsequent strikes. Nor does it result in producing less rebounding energy to the striker at impact. Nor does it produce a body structure that is as strong and fluid. In contrast, Non-intention actually provides all of the above, and more. It shows no telegraph. If it did it would still be too fast to react against. For instance, have you ever heard of anyone blocking Bruce’s punch if he didn’t want them to?
To describe Non-intention, Bruce used analogies like a set of keys lying at the edge of a table, a stand of bamboo in the forest, and water behind a dam. In Bruce’s words, “When the keys fall off the edge of a table, they do not think to fall -- they just fall. When the bamboo snaps back and hits you, it doesn’t think to hit you – it just does. And when there is a break in the dam the water does not have to seek out the break, and then think to go through -- it just does.”
Obviously, what all these things have in common is that none have a brain. Therefore, none have a consciousness of self to interfere and muddle a process that should be natural. Instead, their action is based on physical integrities in relationship to the laws of physics and nature. As Bruce would say, their actions are in accordance with the Tao.
Now, all this sounds pretty esoteric and a bit far out. However, the truth is that Non-intention is a Principle based on the hard sciences of physics and kinesiology, helped brought to light through the extraordinary power of philosophical concept.
In Bruce’s work in television and film, he often planted precious hints of information. For instance, you may recall the scene in his film, “Enter the Dragon: Lee (Bruce Lee) and a venerable monk are strolling through a garden, as Bruce explains his gung fu. “I don’t hit,” says Bruce, holding up a clenched fist. “It hits all by itself.”
In an earlier motion picture, “Fists of Fury,” Chang (Bruce Lee) has gotten a job working as a laborer in an ice factory where the factory owners’ thugs are mistreating the laborers. Bruce does his best not to get involved, but when the thugs kidnap his beautiful cousin he is forced to take matters into his own hands to save her. As the fight carries to the conveyor belt that lifts the huge blocks of ice, Bruce delivers a lightning strike that doubles one of the thugs, killing him instantly. The look on his face is pure anguish, as he grabs the killing fist the way one might seize a deadly snake that has just bitten someone – as if to say, “I didn’t kill him. It killed him.”
Long time prior to his making Fist of Fury, Bruce related a fictional scenario for his students to get this very point across. It went like this… Bruce gets into a fight. The other man is killed. Arrested by the police, Bruce is charged for murder in which the court produces three witnesses, who testify they saw him strike and kill the victim with just one blow. When asked by the Judge how he pleads, Bruce replies, not guilty. And when asked to explain himself, he says that he did not kill the man. Holding up his fist, he looks at it a moment. “It killed him,” he says.
What does Wei Wu Wei, “the effortless doing, or soft and invisible power” exactly mean?
PS: In martial art, at the highest level, Wei Wu Wei means performing difficult tasks, in some cases seemingly impossible tasks, with almost no effort, at all. In stand-up fighting it could mean crushing an opponent’s structure, destroying his tools, striking with overwhelming speed and power, overpowering stronger opponents in the clinches and takedowns, and so forth. In grappling it could mean a seemingly superhuman kind of strength, contrasted to the opponent’s strength that suddenly wanes. I know -- sounds impossible!
PS: It is something that must be experienced and felt, as it utterly defies reason at the surface level. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of demonstrating the soft and invisible power to several kinesiologists, including a renown Professor from USC, who trains professional athletes, mostly pro-football players. All were amazed and without explanation. The Professor called it the most interesting discussion he’s ever had in his field. I’m in the process of setting up detailed studies at several universities.
Would you say Bruce had mastered Wei Wu Wei?
PS: Bruce had the Wu Wei (non-intention). As for the Wei Wu Wei (soft and invisible power) he may have enjoyed a clear understanding of its premise, and was able to physically demonstrate its meaning to others, but he was still a long way from knowing how to use it at a high level. Had he lived longer, I'm sure he would have found it. One thing is for certain, I would never have made the discovery it had not been for him.
That would be interesting. So how exactly did Bruce apply his non-intention to speed?
PS: To begin with, it is a broad misconception that Bruce’s explosive speed had to be the result of an overabundance of Fast Twitch “A” and “B” muscle fibers. The secret to Bruce’s speed was not superior genetics, but proper knowledge. He knew that when trying to hit with speed and/or power an excessive amount of muscle contraction is generated in major muscle groups. He also knew excessive muscle contraction during the initiation of a movement added to the time it takes to send a message from the brain through the nervous system to the muscles to contract. He knew there were different types of speed, and the most important among them was start speed. Start speed is how fast you start your movement.
To make his start speed instant, Bruce used a device – or perhaps any number of devices, as I use several myself. A device Bruce used was to simply drop his elbow ever so slightly to start his movement. Ever so slightly could even mean just a thought. The elbow represents Potential Energy). As the elbow is dropped it becomes Kinetic Energy (moving energy). The hand now moves first, before the body, pulling it into perfect alignment. All with a minimum of muscle contraction to start the movement. The concept is not to “hit” the opponent, but merely to let go of the elbow. Do this, and the opponent gets hit. As I mentioned, there are a number of devices that can be used in order to misdirect intention so as to start a movement.
You have investigated a lot of time in applying these old principles and concepts to today’s fighting standards and have come up with some amazing results. Please describe your Deep Level Training.
PS: Deep Level Training and its research uses martial arts as a real living laboratory, where testing is conducted, measured, and repeated with consistent results, all against unwilling opponents. For example, in the case of the soft and invisible power, we have dedicated years of research into the ways of accessing it both in standup and ground fighting. As a result of our research, we have made wonderful discoveries that can be enjoyed by all martial arts– regardless of system or style. Our testing and documented results are designed to serve not only martial artists, but also the academic interests of scientists, researchers, philosophers, historians, theologians and the generally interested persons by demonstrating and proving the validity of ancient, Principles with the hard sciences of modern time.
You have also done a lot of work with Mechanical Advantages. Can you share one that most of us would not be familiar with?
PS: First, let’s understand that a Mechanical Advantage is a body mechanic used for a specific function that greatly enhances efficiency and performance. I should mention that any mechanical advantage can be made far more effective with the use of proper energies, particularly, the soft and invisible power. However, one of my favorites happens to be the Fook Sau from Wing Chun Gung Fu -- Bruce’s home art. But we’ll use the Fook Sao quite differently than the way Wing Chun uses it. Rather, we use it for its most powerful mechanical advantage, the ability to apply force while, at the same time, reducing muscle contraction that serves as a conduit for rebounding energy that goes back to us. This means that a greater degree of force will be applied to the opponent. For those who are not familiar with Fook Sao (bridging hand), simply extend your arm out in front of you with the thumb bacing up. Bend the wrist inward so that the fingers point back toward the center of your chest. It helps if the thumb and fingertip touch, as when doing Sil Lum Tao. To apply the Fook Sau, press the back of the bent wrist to your training partner’s face, chin, chest, hip, shoulder – whatever area you want to move.
Let’s assume you are sparring with a Muay Thai fighter, who puts you into a plum, hands locked behind your neck, from which he can pummel you with his knees and/or spin and throw you to the ground. Now, if you were to push both your hands (palms) against his chest or face, you would have a lot of difficulty. So try this: reach your Fuk Sao (bent wrist) over the top of his arms and place the back of the wrist against his jaw or face somewhere, and then just push him back. It is important to push easily at first, and then build force. With a little practice you will find that he will be unable to resist your force and will be hurled backward. In event you cannot reach over his arms, simply place the back of your fook sao at his chest. You can also use the palm of your other hand or yet another fook sao placed to the inner wrist of the first fook sau as you push him backward. There you have it -- a mechanical advantage!
What are you doing to promote your latest discoveries?
PS: At the moment, we are preparing to introduce a piece of training equipment for martial arts, boxing, nearly all sports, and fitness training. It’s a great product that will come in several models ranging from home use to professional use in gyms and schools. It's something we're very excited about. Strangely, the original idea came from Bruce, himself.
Okay, I’ll end with this question: Was there the one special thing that you feel Bruce gave to you?
PS: Yes, but it was not until years later that I was able to fully appreciate the depths of his brilliance and insights. The special thing that he gave me: a glimmer into the possibilities.
Bruce Lee, Jeet Kune Do, james demile, jeet kune do, jkd, doug palmer, jim demile, bruce lee
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