Bruce Lee and Longstreet

Bruce taught me to dissect time into infinite degrees.  It’s what he called ‘playing between the keys of the piano.’  It’s the understanding that you actually have worlds of time within seconds to do something unanticipated when your opponent is already committed to his announced [telegraphed] action.”
Sterling Silliphant, Bruce Lee: FIghting Words

Bruce-Lee-James-Franciscus-LongstreetIn 1971, I was 9 years old.  A new TV show came on the air, which my parents decided to watch, called Longstreet.

I was already pre-sold on recurring guest star Bruce Lee, who I’d loved as Kato in The Green Hornet, where he was like the enforcer for the Green Hornet, his “boss.”  He gleefully beat up guys nearly every episode, with a style and method unlike anything seen elsewhere at that time on American TV.

I was also pre-sold on the star , James Franciscus, because I had just seen him in a cool TV movie called Night Slaves (about a town of people who are under the control of an alien intelligence at night – -Franciscus’s character is immune from the control because he is a Vietnam vet with a plate in his head from a war injury).  I always wondered if Stephen King had seen that movie and it was the seed for his book Tommyknockers.


The Green Hornet

Anyway, I loved Longstreet.

As a kid who generally felt small and weak and unable to fight, I was always on the alert for information on how to kick some ass.  Longstreet did not disappoint.  In fact, I trace my lifelong interest in kung fu to this show, particularly the pilot episode, “The Way of the Intercepting Fist.”


Bruce Lee and Steve McQueen

In the 3 years (1968-1971) after The Green Hornet but before The Big Boss, Bruce Lee did a few small parts and taught martial arts to a number of Hollywood people for big money (I’ve heard $250 an hour –that’s $1700 in 2015 dollars).

His students included James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Kareem Abdul Jabar, and a (now) less well-known but perhaps ultimately more influential student, Hollywood screenwriter Sterling Silliphant .

Silliphant was a big deal screenwriter.  He won an Oscar for In the Heat of the Night, the movie that made Sidney Poitier a star.  He also wrote the 70s blockbuster The Towering Inferno and the classic TV show Route 66, among a lot of other high-qaulity TV and movies.

He was also a big fan of the martial arts.  He heard about Bruce’s abilities, then tracked him down and became his student.

Sterling Silliphant and Bruce Lee

Sterling Silliphant and Bruce Lee

He trained with Bruce in that 3 year in-between period and also worked with him on some TV and movie projects.  He wrote Bruce a memorable cameo in the James Garner movie Marlowe  where Bruce is an enforcer who destroys Marlowe’s office.  He wrote also Bruce into Longstreet, a detective show about an insurance investigator.  Longstreet is investigating some jewel theives, who set an explosion to kill and silence him.  The explosion blinds him and kills his wife.

A key figure in the early shows was Li Tsung, played by Bruce, who helps Longstreet regain his independence, basically by teaching him Wing Chun / Jeet Kune Do.

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Archery Dominated Long Range Fighting for Millennia

The gigantic tension before the shooting of an arrow, and the total relaxation seconds later, is my way of connecting to the universe.
Paulo Coelho

The sword for close up, the arrow for distance.  This was how it played out since the Bronze Age, possibly as early as 2000 BC.

The Bow and Arrow actually predate the sword, going back into Pre-History, probably sometime between 10,000 and 5000 BC.

How to Develop Timing and Flow

Still round the corner there may wait,
A new road or a secret gate.
J.R.R. Tolkien

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

*This article is at the intermediate level

I like to think that I have invented a new drill.

Many Wing Chun teachers over the years have added to our treasure trove of methods to up our game, notably Wong Shun Leung and Gary Lam (in my lineage).

But Wing Chun has been around for at least a hundred years and maybe for as long as three hundred, so what I have come up with is likely to be nothing new.  But it was new to me, so perhaps it will be new to you also.

The meaning of the Wing Chun phrase “Chi Sao” has become fuzzy through sloppy use, so I will define it (again), so we can use it as an exact technical term.

Chi Sao is a slow to medium speed drill in which the trainees practice attacks and defenses in a cooperative manner.  Who is doing what is agreed upon in advance and then movements are trained.  Calling it “Chi Sao” really just means we are going to do these drills using a base of the Tan-Low Fok-Bong-High Fok  rotation.

We do similar drills starting with a Lap Sao base (Bong-Strike rotation).

Chi Sao is not fighting.  Lap Sao is not fighting.  They are drills.

In fact, lets just get it out of the way and say that nothing is fighting except fighting.  Being good at any drill is no indication of how well you will do in a fight.

Chi Sao is to fighting what jumping rope is to boxing.  You may be great at jumping rope but suck at boxing.  In fact, you can even be good at boxing but not as good at fighting — this is another topic.

Jumping rope helps develop some attributes (footwork, endurance of a certain bandwidth) but does nothing for your ability to take a punch or keep your hands up.

Two capabilities that are, as we know, related.  If you can’t do the latter, you better be able to do the former.

Back to my NEW drill

As I’ve mentioned several times, I’ve had a sore nerve in my left arm since October.  To let it rest, I stopped going to my class with Greg and quit lifting weights.  I couldn’t face doing nothing, so I continued to work with my students and training partners.

I’m in the fortunate position of having a handful of students / training partners who I teach but who let me set the agenda, so I can test stuff out with them.


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One Hand Lies, the Other Hand Tells the Truth

And working with the best stunt people ever, who worked on The Matrix. We learned regular Crouching Tiger. I had to learn everything, including English….(the kung fu training) was incredible. We worked for two months before we started shooting. And we had this tent in the middle of production in Malaysia where everybody was training. And I had these Chinese guys teaching me Kung Fu, some Japanese guys teaching me sword fighting, and the Bulgarians teaching me wrestling, and again others teaching me horseback riding and archery. The first week was fun because according to choreographer Brett Chan, he called my first week of training the “body shocking.” So it was 10 hours of training every day and then at the end, deep in a bathtub with salts otherwise the next day I wouldn’t be able to move a finger.
Lorenzo Richelmy, star of Marco Polo

From the new Netflix TV show Marco Polo.  I haven’t seen it yet but this is a concise explanation.

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NEW Free Wing Chun Federation iPhone/iPad App

Wong Shun Leung was once asked why he did not write  book about Wing Chun.  He replied that he did not want to disagree with himself in ten years.  By saying this he meant that he was very aware of his own constant evolution; Wong clearly thought that setting down an inflexible blueprint was an unwise thing to do.  However, modern technology now allows malleable media, such as this one, to be updated in real-time.  We can shoot fresh footage and edit the copy as our training resources and personal development requires.
from Wing Chun Lite

*This is a re-post of a article that was lost due to my system crash last week.

There is a new resource for Wing Training called Wing Chun Lite available from Alan Gibson‘s Wing Chun Federation in the UK.  It is currently free in its Beta format.

There are various videos and text content from Allan and Cliff Au Yeung and many others.

Alan says: “The app is currently free but we intend to add more exclusive content in a while, initially we will just ask people to register via email/password. Possibly later on we might add a small subscription fee but it’s still early days for this project yet … For now … we will continue to post films and text of our training and practice for free, in order to educate, inform and entertain.”

I think this is a pretty cool idea and probably a template for future development of providing supplementary materials for Wing Chun training.