The transcript below is from the video “What Fans Don’t Know About Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun Skills” by Goldenbell Training.
What’s up, guys? Some of the Bruce Lee fanboys are getting out of hand, and I think it’s time we have a serious conversation about Bruce Lee and his Wing Chun skills. Because some of y’all in these comments are making it clear to me why Beerdy and the BruceLeeRealFight Channel are getting so many views from telling their fake stories, or from just stretching the truth. Now, I already know that some of y’all will receive what I’m about to say the same way people acted after Dominick Izzo posted his “Why I Hate Bruce Lee” video about 7 years ago.
But for the rest of us who choose to listen to this message like adults, look y’all, I have to say this – Bruce Lee lived an amazing life. He accomplished a lot in the 32 years he was here, and I feel like what he actually did, it was pretty cool. But Bruce Lee was not a superhuman. He was not the god of Martial Arts. I would not even consider him the greatest martial artist to ever live because I mean, how do you even measure something like that? But can we call him the most inspiring martial artist? Sure, I’m okay with that because Bruce Lee had the widest reach. And that’s the advantage of being a movie star who dies right as his star is beginning to ascend.
Before Bruce left for America, he’d starred in about 20 films in Hong Kong as a child actor and teenage heartthrob. He came to America where he really had time to cultivate the whole martial arts thing, and then show business called again later in his life to make him not only known in Hong Kong, where he’d already been a star, but to the rest of the world as well. Bruce Lee would have been like if Michael Jackson became a star in the Jackson 5, but then he flew under the radar for about 10 years while he started to branch out on his own, but then he put out Thriller, and then died right at the peak of his fame.
Now I mentioned Bruce cultivating his interest in martial arts while he was in America, and look, this is where some people need a real wake-up call. My most popular video on this channel at this time is “Why Yip Man Stopped Teaching Bruce Lee,” but some people took that as some type of confirmation of their belief that Bruce Lee had mastered Wing Chun before coming to America.
In their minds, it was, well, “Yip Man stopped teaching Bruce Lee because Bruce bested the old man, and so he no longer needed Wing Chun.” Look y’all, Bruce started training under Wong Shun Leung not long after he first started learning from Yip Man, but Yip never stopped teaching Bruce Lee. Bruce stopped attending the public lessons at Yip’s apartment but he was still taking private lessons with Yip. Here’s the thing, Bruce did not master Wing Chun.
I said something along those lines in the second video when I talked about Rahsun’s fight with Waldo in that Jeet Kune Do versus Wing Chun series of videos. I said that I didn’t feel like Bruce Lee knew very much of the Wing Chun curriculum in that video. I could not believe the amount of people who wrote me angry essays all about how wrong I was and it was a clear indication to me that these people probably never studied Wing Chun. They don’t know what they are talking about.
I mean, let’s take a second to address why so many Wing Chun people are so different. The Late Grandmaster Ho Kam Ming said in an old Wing Chun training video, that Wing Chun is not known for its kicks, but he said that Wing Chun has a shadow kick. Wing Chun’s kicking comes after learning the footwork. The problem is a lot of the people who studied with Grandmaster Yip, they were only there for a few years before they left to open their own schools to start teaching, and they never actually learned the footwork.
Look, I once saw Bruce describe the experience of practicing with Yip Man like this, he said no one could touch the old man, and when you did Chi Sau with him, he could manipulate you and push you away with very little effort and in a way that would make you smile afterwards. Bruce later told Steve Golden, one of his Jeet Kune Do students at the LA school, that on a visit back to Hong Kong he met with Yip Man for chi sau. He said that he was faster than Yip, but he still couldn’t touch the old man. The way Bruce Lee and others like the late Hawkins Cheung describe Yip Man’s skills is the same way people describe practicing with high level internal martial arts teachers. You can’t touch them, but they can move and hit you with very little effort. Yip had that kind of skill, and if you look at some of his disciples, like Chu Shong Tin and Wong Shun Leung, they had that kind of skill, too. Bruce Lee did not have that skill when he left Hong Kong.
When he first came to America, he envisioned developing that level of Kung Fu skill – Jesse Glover said so in his book. Jesse Glover said when he first met Bruce, Bruce loved the underlying philosophy behind Tai Chi, the idea of taking energy from an opponent and sending it back at them, but Bruce could never make it work when applied at full speed. If you train Wing Chun as an internal art the way it was intended, you would develop that skill, but it takes time. I’m talking years. Why do you think there are people running around saying that “the original Wing Chun” was probably more like Tai Chi?
Now I’m not saying that Wing Chun and Tai Chi are alike, but I agree that what Yip was doing would be considered internal training, and it was nothing like this chain punching nonsense that i’m seeing all over YouTube where you have guys with no Wing Chun structure are getting pounded by people they have no business trying to fight in the first place. So when I say Bruce didn’t know much Wing Chun, I mean, I personally don’t feel that Bruce was getting deep into developing the internal side. And there’s no need to get into silly debates about “well, Bruce didn’t know the last form; he didn’t know the dummy; and he never trained the weapons” because I feel like Bruce got a very long way with what he did have. He trained like a madman, and he went a long way with what he did actually learn. I mean, with one and a half forms and a little bit of chi sau, Bruce dog walked everyone he faced before Wong Jack Man showed up at his school in Oakland in 1964.
Bruce Lee’s student, Doug Palmer said that if Bruce had stayed in Hong Kong, he would have developed into one of the top Wing Chun practitioners. And I believe that. Bruce Lee’s family had the money to pay for private lessons with grandmaster Yip, and Bruce had the work ethic to become one of Yip’s disciples and get the full art. And there’s an important lesson to be learned from what I just said – if you want to really get this stuff, or any other martial art, you need the resources to train, and you need the work ethic. If all you had to do was show up,hand over your money, and then you get an instructor certificate, well, then everyone would be a strip mall Krav Maga instructor.
Now if you were paying attention to all that stuff I just said about Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun, look y’all, I’m not putting him down at all. I’m just being honest about my stance on the topic. You don’t necessarily have to agree with me, and I don’t expect you to agree with me 100% of the time, or maybe even 10%. With that said, look man, I’m about to drop a bomb on some of you guys. Look, stop trying to be Bruce Lee. Stop going through “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do” and quoting it like it’s the Gospel, or Holy Writ. Only Bruce Lee can be Bruce Lee, and as a matter of fact, Bruce Lee actually used to tell his students that “if you try to be Bruce Lee, you will get hurt.” This thing we call “Jeet Kune Do” is just a name on this idea that Bruce had.
Some of those ideas changed over time, and when we look at those ideas, it’s important to know the time and the context. Oh, this is just something Bruce copied from this other book because maybe he thought it was cool. Oh this, right here, this is something Bruce said when he was being a rebel and he was trying to get back at the old guys in Chinatown in San Francisco. Oh, this is something Bruce wrote when he was laid up for 3 months because of his back injury and he was high on muscle relaxers and weed. So, to you guys who view the Tao of Jeet Kune Do as some kind of a Bible, I’m sorry to say this, but you all have the wrong idea. For every time you read something from the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, you need to go read something from Krishnamurti because he was a huge influence on Bruce’s philosophy after 1970. Krishnamurti told this story that summed up Bruce, later in his life, and I heard this in an interview with Tim Tackett.
Anyway, the story goes that the Devil and his friend are sitting on a hill watching over people. This one guy is walking past them, and the Devil throws something on the ground. The guy stops to pick it up, he looks at it, and then he keeps walking. The Devil’s friend goes, “hey man, what was that?” The Devil says,” oh, it’s a piece of the Truth.” His friend says, “Well, isn’t that dangerous?” The Devil goes,” no, it’s not, not after he organizes it and makes it into a system.” Now, the irony here is that people have taken Bruce Lee’s notes and they’ve created a system.
People have taken the idea of Bruce Lee and made him into an icon. People have taken everything about Bruce Lee and created their own version of the Gospel Truth to the point that it doesn’t even resemble the man who lived, trained, had kids, made some movies,and died at the early age of 32. Doug Palmer wrote that part of Bruce’s appeal is that he punched above his weight. Literally, he was a welterweight who was capable of physically dominating heavyweights and I think that’s why he appeals to a lot of people. He started out like the wimpy kid getting bullied but was not afraid to fight back. He was never bitten by a radioactive spider. He didn’t hit puberty and learned that he dropped out of the sky in a spaceship from the planet Krypton. He was just a dude who worked hard every single day to accomplish something big that we are still talking about 50 years after his death. So let’s stop deifying the man and acting like he never made a single mistake. Let’s accept what he knew and did not know and use it to motivate us to train the body, train the mind, and be the best that we can be.
If you want to learn some interesting facts about the life of Bruce Lee, be sure to check out this video about Why Yip Man stopped teaching Bruce Lee, or you can check out this other video on why Bruce Lee had beef with Tai Chi masters when he was younger. And before you check out the next video, hey, keep training, remember to breathe, and come holler at me on the next video.
Watch The Video Below! 👇
Click Image To Buy Mug 👇