Interview of Michael Chan Wai-Man on Bruce Lee

Interview of Michael Chan Wai-Man on Bruce Lee

LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 30th, 2015, 7:39 pm #1

Michael Chan Wai-man is one of the famous HK Kung Fu actors in the 70s-80s. He is well known for playing various triad roles, when in real life he has been involved with triads. In a media interview, he admitted to have been the No. 2 of the 14K Triad that dominated vice in Tsim Sha Tsui before the handover of Hong Kong.

Having worked as a police officer in the prison system, he came into contact with many underworld figures and joined the Triads. Chan was expelled from the police force as a result of his links. His body is tattooed with huge eagles on the chest and dragons on his back.

Chan in real life was a well-established kickboxing and boxing champion in Southeast Asia. As a martial arts fanatic, Chan studied a multitude of fighting styles, which included Muay Thai, northern and southern Chinese kung fu and boxing. Chan had a huge influence from Bruce Lee in his training methods and fighting, where they happened to be really good friends.

Like Bruce Lee, he was a genuine streetfighter who never backed down from a challenge even after he was famous. He was also a professional boxer who won fourteen bouts by knockouts. In 1983, 38 years old Chan Wai Mun K.O. 29 years old Japanese Kickboxing Champion Morisaki in just 35 seconds in Tokyo, Japan. His many awards obtained from international boxing competitions attest his success.
Here is the fight of him against Morisaki:

Below are extracts from his interviews from a documentary “Old Friend’s Stories” ( a radio program entitled “Dragon Seeks Its Path”( where he talks about BL (Note: The interviews are all conducted in Cantonese, thus, the interview’s extracts are translated into English and recreated/presented Q & A format for easy reading):

Q1: When and how do you get to know about BL?
A: I remember it was end of 1971 that I first saw Bruce and it was through Unicorn Chan’s introduction that I get to know Bruce and we strike off very well immediately.

Q2: Can you recall anything BL told you regarding his martial arts or physical ability?
A: Well, he said his physique is small but he wanted to challenge and beat those who is physically bigger and stronger than him. I think he wanted to become the "God of Martial Arts"…haha…
One day, Unicorn brought me to Bruce’s house at Kowloon and we have discussed a great deal on Martial Arts for a very long time. Bruce told me how he created JKD, its concept, philosophy and demonstrated to me how JKD works. He inspired me alot, especially got me to understand the importance of building up “qi” (stamina) before practicing martial arts. Physical conditioning is very important. With good physical conditioning and stamina, you will be able to fight well. Also, he told me don’t think too much on the strokes/styles in Kung Fu, just focus on unarmed combat freely. What he said really make a lot of sense, I really admire him very much.

Q3: Do you find BL to be proud or arrogant?
A: Bruce was very popular and was at the height of his superstardom then, thus, he was very proud and confident of what he said. In fact, he deserved to be in that way.

Q4: Can you tell us about what did he show you about his JKD?
A: He first showed me his punching and I showed him mine against the punching bag. Next, he tested my jump side kick. Then, Unicorn held on to a big kicking shield and Bruce just ran 3 steps forward and kicked the shield. Unicorn, like an arrow, flew backward completely. I only saw this kind of stuff in the movie. This was the first time in my life that I saw someone with such superb kicking ability. He was very small built with only 130 pounds but he was able to generate such an enormous power. It wasn’t an easy task.

Q5: What other stuff did BL perform?
A: I remember he wanted to test my arm power so we had an arm-wrestling. Nobody can beat him, really! You know, I am well-known for my arm wrestling but Bruce was even much better. He just beat the hell out of me easily. Not only that, later on, Bolo Yeung told me personally that he once lost to Bruce, so, a big guy like him can’t even beat Bruce, how the hell can I, who is much smaller than Bolo.

Q6: Did Bruce say which is the best way to punch?
A: He simply said, “Direct, the line has to be straight, and the speed is important in deriving heavy punch, not necessary only a big guy can land a heavy punch.”

Q7: How quick is his move?
A: You know, I was looking at his legs, then, suddenly, he strike. He was so damn fast. Boom, his punch was in front of my face before I make my move. His movement was unlike our tradition fanciful Kung Fu, he is so direct!

Q8: How do you view his martial arts?
A: I have numerous fighting experience in the rings, but I saw Bruce fought with others. His martial arts skills are much better than me. It’s true, much better than me!

Q9: Did you have a real fight with Bruce?
A: Bruce did ask me to have a try out with him but I don’t dare to utter a word and after seeing his amazing performance, I think I better not do so for fear of losing face. Just look at his speed, kicking and punching, it’s scary! He’ll just finish you off with one punch if you are to engage a fight with him. One punch from him and that’s it, you are gone! I'm not able to handle him. So, if I fight with him, I’ll lose, I can’t beat him.

Q10: Are you sure???
A: Sure! I, Chan Wai-man said that!

Q11: Have you heard about the challenge of Lau Tat-Chuen with Bruce? Did you think Bruce will win?
A: Oh yes, I heard about it and believe that Bruce will win. In fact, Bruce just hit him with one blow and Lau was finished.

Q12: How do you think Bruce’s fighting ability with the Muay Thai fighters?
A: No doubt Bruce should be the best in Southeast Asia then. If fighting in the ring with the Muay Thai fighter, it is hard to say who will win because of the rules and regulations but if it is on the street with no rules and all out, I’ll bet on Bruce, Bruce will definitely win for sure!

Q13: What do you think about the action or Kung Fu stars nowadays like Jet Li, Donnie Yen?
A: Well, I think the only person who deserves to be call "Kung Fu Super Star" is Bruce Lee!

Q14: Lastly, do you think Bruce’s death was linked with the triad society?
A: No, nobody in the triad society dare to touch Bruce. Bruce was such a big shot then and have won the respect of many HK people, including the triad society members. They have no grudge against him, and, believe me, no one dare to touch him.
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Joined: November 23rd, 2006, 7:41 pm

January 31st, 2015, 3:01 pm #2

Thanks for that interview. Can anyone elaborate more about that fight against Lau Tat-Chuen? He is this fellow?
Thank you.
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 31st, 2015, 5:46 pm #3

Here is a youtube video on the fight made by Marten Go.



In the video, the well-known teleconversation between Daniel Lee & Bruce Lee in 1972 mentioned about Lau's challenge but Bruce seemed to be the last one to know and he usually tried to ignore these challenges. Then, Tony Lau's interview states that Bruce, Lam Ching Ying and Tony met Lau Tat-Chuen in a restaurant one day. Lam told Lau Tat-Chuen to fight him first if he wanted to fight his master - Bruce. But Lau did not take up the challenge. While in the Tony To's (GH Publicity Manager) interview, Bruce did take up the challenge and beat Lau in just a couple of seconds in the first round. There were less than 20 people who witnessed the fight that took place at Inspector Dang's villa.

Though Daniel's teleconversation with Bruce and Tony Lau's interview did not mention about the fight, this does not mean the fight never take place (just like TBB, FOF, ETD challenges by extras did happen, Bruce was forced to kick their butts, witnessess were told to keep these challenges private until after Bruce's death, people started to talk about it). Recent HK forums and newspaper also have similar accounts on this challenge and the details are almost identical to Tony To's.

However, whether it is real or myth, most believe Bruce's JKD definitely was way superior over Lau Tat-Chuen's boxing and Cha-Kuen.
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 31st, 2015, 5:52 pm #4

Another Marten Go's video on the details of the fight.

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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

January 31st, 2015, 11:03 pm #5

Michael Chan Wai-man is one of the famous HK Kung Fu actors in the 70s-80s. He is well known for playing various triad roles, when in real life he has been involved with triads. In a media interview, he admitted to have been the No. 2 of the 14K Triad that dominated vice in Tsim Sha Tsui before the handover of Hong Kong.

Having worked as a police officer in the prison system, he came into contact with many underworld figures and joined the Triads. Chan was expelled from the police force as a result of his links. His body is tattooed with huge eagles on the chest and dragons on his back.

Chan in real life was a well-established kickboxing and boxing champion in Southeast Asia. As a martial arts fanatic, Chan studied a multitude of fighting styles, which included Muay Thai, northern and southern Chinese kung fu and boxing. Chan had a huge influence from Bruce Lee in his training methods and fighting, where they happened to be really good friends.

Like Bruce Lee, he was a genuine streetfighter who never backed down from a challenge even after he was famous. He was also a professional boxer who won fourteen bouts by knockouts. In 1983, 38 years old Chan Wai Mun K.O. 29 years old Japanese Kickboxing Champion Morisaki in just 35 seconds in Tokyo, Japan. His many awards obtained from international boxing competitions attest his success.
Here is the fight of him against Morisaki:

Below are extracts from his interviews from a documentary “Old Friend’s Stories” ( a radio program entitled “Dragon Seeks Its Path”( where he talks about BL (Note: The interviews are all conducted in Cantonese, thus, the interview’s extracts are translated into English and recreated/presented Q & A format for easy reading):

Q1: When and how do you get to know about BL?
A: I remember it was end of 1971 that I first saw Bruce and it was through Unicorn Chan’s introduction that I get to know Bruce and we strike off very well immediately.

Q2: Can you recall anything BL told you regarding his martial arts or physical ability?
A: Well, he said his physique is small but he wanted to challenge and beat those who is physically bigger and stronger than him. I think he wanted to become the "God of Martial Arts"…haha…
One day, Unicorn brought me to Bruce’s house at Kowloon and we have discussed a great deal on Martial Arts for a very long time. Bruce told me how he created JKD, its concept, philosophy and demonstrated to me how JKD works. He inspired me alot, especially got me to understand the importance of building up “qi” (stamina) before practicing martial arts. Physical conditioning is very important. With good physical conditioning and stamina, you will be able to fight well. Also, he told me don’t think too much on the strokes/styles in Kung Fu, just focus on unarmed combat freely. What he said really make a lot of sense, I really admire him very much.

Q3: Do you find BL to be proud or arrogant?
A: Bruce was very popular and was at the height of his superstardom then, thus, he was very proud and confident of what he said. In fact, he deserved to be in that way.

Q4: Can you tell us about what did he show you about his JKD?
A: He first showed me his punching and I showed him mine against the punching bag. Next, he tested my jump side kick. Then, Unicorn held on to a big kicking shield and Bruce just ran 3 steps forward and kicked the shield. Unicorn, like an arrow, flew backward completely. I only saw this kind of stuff in the movie. This was the first time in my life that I saw someone with such superb kicking ability. He was very small built with only 130 pounds but he was able to generate such an enormous power. It wasn’t an easy task.

Q5: What other stuff did BL perform?
A: I remember he wanted to test my arm power so we had an arm-wrestling. Nobody can beat him, really! You know, I am well-known for my arm wrestling but Bruce was even much better. He just beat the hell out of me easily. Not only that, later on, Bolo Yeung told me personally that he once lost to Bruce, so, a big guy like him can’t even beat Bruce, how the hell can I, who is much smaller than Bolo.

Q6: Did Bruce say which is the best way to punch?
A: He simply said, “Direct, the line has to be straight, and the speed is important in deriving heavy punch, not necessary only a big guy can land a heavy punch.”

Q7: How quick is his move?
A: You know, I was looking at his legs, then, suddenly, he strike. He was so damn fast. Boom, his punch was in front of my face before I make my move. His movement was unlike our tradition fanciful Kung Fu, he is so direct!

Q8: How do you view his martial arts?
A: I have numerous fighting experience in the rings, but I saw Bruce fought with others. His martial arts skills are much better than me. It’s true, much better than me!

Q9: Did you have a real fight with Bruce?
A: Bruce did ask me to have a try out with him but I don’t dare to utter a word and after seeing his amazing performance, I think I better not do so for fear of losing face. Just look at his speed, kicking and punching, it’s scary! He’ll just finish you off with one punch if you are to engage a fight with him. One punch from him and that’s it, you are gone! I'm not able to handle him. So, if I fight with him, I’ll lose, I can’t beat him.

Q10: Are you sure???
A: Sure! I, Chan Wai-man said that!

Q11: Have you heard about the challenge of Lau Tat-Chuen with Bruce? Did you think Bruce will win?
A: Oh yes, I heard about it and believe that Bruce will win. In fact, Bruce just hit him with one blow and Lau was finished.

Q12: How do you think Bruce’s fighting ability with the Muay Thai fighters?
A: No doubt Bruce should be the best in Southeast Asia then. If fighting in the ring with the Muay Thai fighter, it is hard to say who will win because of the rules and regulations but if it is on the street with no rules and all out, I’ll bet on Bruce, Bruce will definitely win for sure!

Q13: What do you think about the action or Kung Fu stars nowadays like Jet Li, Donnie Yen?
A: Well, I think the only person who deserves to be call "Kung Fu Super Star" is Bruce Lee!

Q14: Lastly, do you think Bruce’s death was linked with the triad society?
A: No, nobody in the triad society dare to touch Bruce. Bruce was such a big shot then and have won the respect of many HK people, including the triad society members. They have no grudge against him, and, believe me, no one dare to touch him.
So is the rumor of Chan Wai Man being with Bruce Lee at some point on July 20, 1973 accepted as fact by now? Has that been confirmed as being true?
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

February 1st, 2015, 5:14 am #6

This is one of the rumors that Chan was linked to Bruce's death. It is speculation not true.
Chan considered Bruce as a very good friend, their friendship is more like brotherhood and being a triad society's leader, he would not simply betray his "brother" for the sake of his own benefits (betrayal is forbidden especially in secret society), instead he would definitely help Bruce if he knows that Bruce was in trouble. Both have some similar traits in their characters, i.e. righteousness, straighforward and outspoken, which explains why they hit off very well.

According to HKMDB, Chan was involved in 5 movies making in 1973 (namely "Devil and Angel", "Adventure in Denmark","Back Street", "Angry Tiger", "Freedom Strikes a Blow"). He had a hectic filming schedule then and might be filming overseas at the time of Bruce's death which also explained why Chan was not seen at Bruce's funeral. In addition, if he was involved in Bruce's death, he would sure be called up by the police for investigation but that did not happen in the record.
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Joined: January 17th, 2014, 1:19 am

February 1st, 2015, 6:22 am #7

Alright, that seems plausible. Thanks for posting all these articles recently, they're very interesting reads.
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Joined: July 16th, 2003, 11:43 am

February 1st, 2015, 12:03 pm #8

Wang Yu's career at GH seemed to take off after Bruce's death.
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

February 1st, 2015, 6:02 pm #9

In fact, Jimmy Wang Yu was already very popular way back in 1967 when his Shaw's production, "One Armed Swordsman" smashed 1 million HK box office record. In the same year, Bruce was still struggling to meet his daily needs after the cancellation of "The Green Hornet" tv series. Jimmy was the No.1 action star in the Southeast Asia from 1967-1970, followed by Ti-Lung, David Chiang, Lo Lei, Chan Kwan-tai. In 1971, "The Big Boss" smashed 3 million HK box office record. Bruce Lee became an overnight sensation. He immediately replaced Jimmy as the No.1 action star of Asia. Jimmy and Bruce were Raymond Chow's valuable stars but it seemed that Raymond favored Bruce more over Jimmy. Thus, Jimmy should feel unpleased about his popularity being overshadowed by Bruce, much so as compared to James Tien, who was reduced to 2nd lead actor in "The Big Boss".

Jimmy's deteriorating career was mainly due to his out-of-date traditional sword-fighting style and his quick production but poor quality made movies. According to HKMDB, he had made 29 movies in just 2 years, from 1971-1973. His career did not turn better even after Bruce's death. In 1974, Michael Hui's new kind of comedy movie captured the attention of the audience and broke the box office record many times before Jackie Chan's new flavor Kung Fu comedy movie became the next big hit in 1977. The rest is history. Meanwhile, Jimmy had retreated to Taiwan in 1975 and made some cheap production movies over there. He then turned into a businessman and occasionally, had some cameo appearances in the movies. Not forgetting, Jimmy is still the leader of a triad society in Taiwan till today. Jackie used to get his help when he had trouble in making movies over there in the 80s.

There is a saying, "one mountain cannot retain two tigers" which is quite true to some extent. Though some photos showed Jimmy and Bruce shaking hands with each other with smiles on their face but both should feel not at eased when the two tigers met each other. After Bruce's death, Jimmy boasted in front of the press that he ever beat Bruce in an arm-wrestling at Bruce's Kowloon house in 1973. He also found that Bruce's physical power were very weak as compared to before. He lied because kickboxing champion Chan Wai-Man and muscular Bolo Yeung were all defeated by Bruce's strong wrestling power, how could Jimmy who is weaker than them beat Bruce. Jimmy was trained in Karate during his younger days but he looked awkward and unbalance in most of his action movies.

Recently, during a movie promotion in Korea, Jimmy boasted to the press again that he could beat his "friend" Bruce, in alcoholic drinking because he is a great drinker. What a joke! But some young Bruce's fans tend to believe what this old man said in the public. Mocking at a dead person who considered to be a friend, do you guys think this kind of personality deserve the respect of the fans?
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Joined: January 10th, 2009, 6:44 pm

February 1st, 2015, 7:46 pm #10

According to some sources, Wang Yu directed parts of the film. Trenchard Smith says Yu was difficult to deal with and shooting was hard - "there was a great clash of personalities, coupled with the inevitable mutual distrust that occurs in a co-production where both sides think the other is trying to rip them off.

Some of the crew said in ''the making of The man from Hong Kong'' that he was one of the worst person they ever met.
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