“When Bruce came to the U.S. in 1959 he knew about sixty percent of the Wooden dummy, the first form and parts of the second and third form but his Wing Chun training didn’t end there. Fook Young, a friend of Bruce’s father, continued Bruce’s instruction in Wing Chun. Fook Young was a Chinese opera star from the time that he was ten. Each time that he joined a new opera he had to learn the Gung Fu style that Gung Fu master favored. Fook Young learned many styles and he taught parts of them to Bruce. One of the styles that he taught Bruce was Red Boat Wing Chun. The areas where Bruce excelled were sticking hands, closing, chasing and punching.”
“To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.”
Its interesting how some people’s lives are magnets for coincidence and tragedy. Maybe its just when you excel and put yourself out there, you come into contact with many exceptional people and fate multiplies.
Bruce Lee taught taught Sharon Tate a few moves (movie martial arts 1960s style) for her role in Dean Martin’s 1969 Matt Helm movie The Wrecking Crew, a cheesy spy spoof somewhat along the lines of Austin Powers.
That same year, Miss Tate became the most notorious victim of the Manson Family, when she was killed at her Benedict Canyon home with four other people. She was nearly 9 months pregnant at the time with the child of director Roman Polanski. It was later found the Manson followers had been looking for Terry Melcher, the previous occupant of the house, who was a music producer Manson targeted because he wouldn’t publish Manson’s music. Surprisingly, Manson had earlier had song’s recorded by Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and this was how he had met Melcher.
One of the other people killed at the house was Jay Sebring, Tate’s ex-boyfriend, a hair stylist who helped launch Bruce Lee’s career. He met Bruce at the International Karate Championships in Long Beach in 1964. Sebring introduced Lee to Bill Dozier, who cast him in The Green Hornet.
SIDE NOTE: For an even stranger life story, consider Roman Polanski, Tate’s husband and director of films like Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby. As a boy, he was interred in the Polish ghetto called Krakow during World War II, a place the Nazi’s used to warehouse Jews until they could send them to the extermination camps. He watched his father marched of to Mauthausen and his mother to Auschwitz, where she died. He escaped and lived on the run in Nazi-occupied Poland. He was nearly the victim of a serial killer in Poland (he was hit in the head in a bomb shelter but escaped). In the 1970s, he was accused of the statutory rape of a young girl, skipped the country, and is still on the run, living in France.
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
Bruce Lee moved to Seattle in 1958 and the next year started teaching Jun Fan Gung Fu (Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu). He dropped out of college in 1964 and moved to Oakland. Later that year, he attended Ed Parker’s first Long Beach International Karate Championship.
This is where he was seen by Hollywood hair stylist Jay Sebring, who worked on the TV series Batman. He gave a film of Bruce at the tournament to William Dozier, the producer and narrator of Batman, who was looking to cast Kato in the new TV series he was developing of the Green Hornet. The rest is history.
A few things to note about Bruce and the development of Jeet Kune Do. Bruce studied Wing Chun for a year and a half, mostly with Wong Shun Leung (although Ip Man liked the kid, who was a movie star in Hong Kong). Lee studied with Wong instead of Ip Man because Lee was one eighth German and so not really Chinese, causing complaints among Ip’s other students.
Lee’s sideways fighting stance and quick insertions/extractions was influenced by the fencing training he received from his brother, Peter.