The transcript below is from the video “Bruce Lee and Mike Tyson” by Greenville Academy of Martial Arts.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

Hey guys, Bruce Lee and Mike Tyson. I’m Sifu Jason, welcome to Greenville Academy of Martial Arts. Thank you for watching. If you don’t know this, you should know this. It’s a very important part of Jeet Kune Do. Bruce Lee was very impacted by a guy named Jack Dempsey. Jack Dempsey was the man, and he won the heavyweight title July 4, 1919. He beat a big guy named Jess Willard. He beat him bad too. It was awful. Awful fight. How Jess ever survived the first round was beyond me. But Jack was a vicious puncher, he would have booked the whole championship fighting the art of the aggressive defense.

Bruce Lee was a huge fan of it, studied it assiduously and applied, especially the fallen step, and the principles of the four types of power that Jack taught upward surge, shoulder whirl, falling forward, springing forward, all of that is part of, I think, any valid Jeet Kune Do curriculum. With that said, there is also somebody else who studied Jack Dempsey. It was Cus D’Amato. Now, if you don’t know who Cus D’Amato is and you’re a boxing fan, shame on you too!

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

Cus D’Amato was the man who was the braze behind Mike Tyson. So, Mike comes out of the Cus D’Amato of the peek-a-boo style of defense in boxing. Now, Cus is an interesting story because he was a huge fan of Dempsey, like Bruce was. But also like Bruce, Cus was working for the perfect boxing style. Bruce was looking for the perfect self-defense style. So they have a lot in common. Cus of course, never boxed incidentally cause he was just a mad genius, a mad man of boxing. And so he wanted Dempsey’s power and explosiveness but he didn’t want Dempsey’s self-defense liabilities. So he patterned Tyson with a propulsion motion machine, a guy named “Slapsie Maxie” Rosenbloom, you can look him up. And Slapsie Maxie did not hit hard. You don’t get a nickname like “Slapsie” if you hit like a truck. You get it because you hit like a Dandelion.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

So, Slapsie, like he knocked out like 17 of them and probably one of them was an old lady and the other one like you know, his mother or something. He was a big hitter but he was a propulsion motion machine. And Cus thought: Man, I want Dempsey’s power, Maxie’s propulsion motion. And thus, came in Cus’ at that point to get the peek-a-boo. He didn’t get it right away though, like i’m gonna name it a peek-a-boo. What he did was, he started studying it. And the first group of Cus’ boxers, it was nicknamed “Cautious Cus” because his fighters were so defensive oriented. When you’re looking at Tyson, you see Tyson’s explosiveness and you go: My god! You know, the most offensively explosive fighter of all time. Ya, but Cus was highly criticised early in his training career for being too defensive. So, he got better at that as taught these people how to exploit weaknesses.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

Now Tyson, early Tyson in particular, considered himself an aggressive counter-puncher. I think that feats in the Jeet Kune Do cause the Jeet Kune Do is an aggressive counter-fighting system. Not necessarily, as Bruce Lee himself said there’s really no such thing as a direct attack in Jeet Kune Do, or at least very little of it because you run the risk of getting nailed by a counter shot yourself. So, the counter-attack is huge. Now, Bruce never studied Tyson because obviously, Bruce was dead in 1973, Tyson doesn’t become popular until the mid or later 80s. Now, I want to bring it to your attention, I think that when you look at Jeet Kune Do and you go like how I can bridge the gap in fighting, instead of staying back and just using the straight lead and the sidekick and so forth, what do I do about the inside game?

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

We think that it’s very effective to use a Tyson esk ability to slip and counter, hold and hit, of course you can cheat hold and hit out a Tyson esk version of in-fighting boxing. That Dempsey…my point is that if Bruce studied Dempsey, really like Dempsey, what do I learn Tyson, because Tyson is still doing the same step that Dempsey was doing, but he was doing it with a bit more of a defensive professionalism. You know, again Jack’s style, he was a little easier to hit. Tyson was just a better defensive fighter, a defensive wizard in fact early in his career. And he was extraordinarily hard to hit. Obviously as he aged and you now, Cus died and Don King fired all the good boxing trainers. Sorry, I know there were some good guys there but, you know, Mike became a little less disciplined later in his career and therefore became easy to hit.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

So lastly, just to pull this together why it is so important, if Mike Tyson spend of his time of his career working on being invasive, and I know I’ve said this in other videos but this is really really should be something that you gotta get drilled in your head guys, you should work on defense and make sure your a hard target to hit, right. Because Tyson got about 20 years, he could take a lot of damage if he needed to. Nobody ever knocked him out with one punch. He was always a barrage of shots and it took him a long while and Lennox Lewis shot him down, Buster Douglas shot him down, Holyfield shot him down, nobody just took Mike out. But still even when being so durable, he was very hard to hit. So, we should be very careful about, especially going forward to make sure that we are hard to hit.

So, the point of the video is, and I put this in JKD in-fighting blog, you got a whole section on it, is that I really think every Jeet Kune Do student and Wing Chun student by the way, would do really well to study Mike Tyson’s style and adapt that ability to move your head, because sometimes you’re in an environment where you can’t move your feet very well and you can’t catch things with your hands, so you move and you got that ability to that. And you still get the concept of hit and not get hit. And is where Cus D’Amato’s brilliance was.




Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

So, all of that said, I want you to consider when you’re thinking that Jeet Kune Do is way of the intercepting fists or way of the hunting fist. And Tyson’s thing was to make you miss, make you pay. Think of the great fight with Trevor Berbick. Everybody has seen when he hit some and Berbick goes down like 8 times from the same round, right. The point with that fight is that Berbick wanted to beat Tyson into the jab and kick him into the jab and he couldn’t cause Tyson was slipping. Tyson broke Berbick’s nose in the first round with a counterjab. And that’s pretty much the end of the story there, it was just a matter of time. Tyson was just so hard to hit of the peek-a-boo.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

Most of us, being Americans, don’t see, I think, Cus D’Amato as we should. I mean, Catskill New York was a boxing monastery. Tyson stayed there when he came out of that kind of a reform school in [inaudible] New York and then Bobby Stewart discovered him, sent him to Cus when he realised that this kid has got some special talent, let me get him to Cus. Cus took him in Catskill and raised him there, kind of like, you know, like his son. And they watched boxing films all day long because later on, if you don’t know this, Cus D’Amato’s backers, Jimmy Jacobs and Cayton had a fight film collection that they sold to ESPN later. Classics. I think the ESPN paid like a hundred million bucks for it. I mean, just think about that, you have a collection and somebody pays a hundred million dollars for it. And Mike Tyson had that at his house before there is YouTube, where nobody can see these fights. Tyson was just digesting all of this. Of course, he studied Dempsey. Of course, he studied Joe Louis and Marciano, and all of these guys. But it was a boxing monastery.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

Same thing Bruce said. Bruce was an avid researcher. So, there’s a lot of similarities there. And you have that at your fingertips with YouTube. Definitely get out there and study. This used to be a philosophy that Bruce had, came into play; you gotta know what you’re looking for. And what Cus brought and what Bruce Lee understood; we should be able to hit and not get hit. You have to have an explosive evasiveness that’s linked to your offense. That is what Tyson and Lee have so much in common. Now, obviously, there is a little bit of stylistic difference, cause obviously one is a boxer and one is a self-defender martial artist. But being in an anonymous side, I had a hard time with Ip Man 3. I mean, did you? I mean, the whole thing, imagine Tyson hit Donnie Yen. Ip Man would have broken half if Tyson would have hit him, but nevertheless, I digress. Hopefully, you agree with me, if you not, you’re delusional if you don’t. Seriously! But once again, you even see that in the movie, of how evasive he was, that he just wasn’t easy to hit because he was moving and he was coming back with such power.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

And so, take that idea and run with it, with your Jeet Kune Do and yeah your Wing Chun. And you can see there is a common thread there of the simplicity of getting the unified offensive defense, so a defensive offense, not having anything complicated. So, I really think you could see it and I think if Bruce had lived, he would have loved Tyson. Everybody is always like: Oh I wonder if Bruce Lee would have lived, by the time he was 60, he would have been to another level man. He would have been invisible. (Laughs) I think he would have been a huge Tyson fan. That’s what he would have been cause Tyson encapsulated the idea of the integration of offensive defense, of the integration which is what the Jeet Kune Do was looking for. And that my friend, is I think what Bruce Lee meant when he said don’t fuss over the name, cause he was trying to point to something and that is that integration and the simplicity of it, of getting rid of any other essential things. That’s why Tyson was so cool in his career. Remember he came in just trunks, sneakers, gloves, he’s gotta fight. No big fancy robes, no nothing. He just come in into the ring and I beat the crap out of here and I’m gonna get home. You know, we have a tendency to not think like there is a literal martial art monastery in America but there was, and that was in Catskill in the 80s with Tyson.

Greenville Academy of Martial Arts:

So, hopefully that opened your mind and if you would like to, Tyson has a book on Cus. Look that book up, it’s awesome. And you also get to know a little bit about why Mike had a little messed up childhood in a whole bit, that will open your eyes too. I know a lot of you guys out there are huge Bruce Lee fans and as am I, but you should also do a lot of looking into Mike’s career and Cus D’Amato’s development, and how he came to understand things. And I think it really parallels some of the things that Bruce was doing with martial arts and Jeet Kune Do. Alright, hope this helped. Sifu Jason signing off. Let me know if you got any questions or comments. Thank you guys so much for watching. Hope to see you next time.




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