Oakland group - BL was actively hiding his methods

Oakland group - BL was actively hiding his methods

Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

December 30th, 2017, 1:06 pm #1

Hi guys,

Long time BL fan. I'm an email friend with Jesse (RiP) and James Demile (who is now in Hawaii), so I've tried to get information from the source.

Both of these gentlemen have told me personally that after leaving Oakland, BL was almost obsessed with hiding his methods.

I'd like to start a discussion and pick some brains of you most knowledgeable people.

So if I may ask.

1) what things was BL trying to hide? (basically ideas, techniques, methods of training and practice, and anything else).


2) why was he actively trying to hide his methods?


3) how did he hide them? (IOW, just show the superficial or actually lead people off on wrong directions, including his students?)

I'm up for concrete information as well as speculation along with some 'basis for the speculation).

Have a great day and thanks for having this forum.
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

December 30th, 2017, 7:01 pm #2

Bruce was hiding techniques as far back as Seattle. That's why Jim Demile and Jesse Glover eventually dropped out of the Seattle group around 1963. They both felt they weren't learning anything new, and suspected Bruce was holding back some of his knowledge. Jim has recounted this story in various interviews, and how his dispute almost came to blows. After Jim and Bruce developed the 1-inch punch, there was a falling out between them.

What techniques Bruce was holding back, we'll never know, since by definition, he didn't reveal them. His reasoning was 'why should I teach other people how to beat me?' (I think those were more or less his exact words to Demile). If you think about it, it makes sense.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

December 30th, 2017, 10:08 pm #3

Hi JKD54,

Oh, I stand corrected, I was going on memory, and we are in synch as to the 'hiding' going on from Seattle, and that was what I meant.

I did read how Demile had an argument with BL, according to his account was actually armed and wondered if he was going to have to shoot BL, the temper was so high.

I think we can detail at least some of the things he was hiding, and I will make a brief list, and I think I can give some good ideas why he was hiding them, beyond the obvious and further how he did this.

Ok, I just spent about an hour typing out some of them. Some are obvious, some not so. I came up with 20 pretty good things which BL intended to not let out or teach to the public.

The most famous one was explained by Dan Inosanto when he described Bruce telling never to teach the 'double pak sao'.

Why was he hiding them. Well I think there were some obvious reasons. He didn't want people to be able to beat him and when he came to the US he was a bit taken aback at how big the American MA were. He had to immediately set about upgrading and improving his methods and abilities to feel he could win any encounter. In addition, he knew he was building up his cred, and wanted there to be some mystery about his abilities and methods. Like many Chinese GF people, he did not realize that by sharing your methods the methods would be improved, and by not sharing them the art would be degraded over time. I think he closed his schools specifically to prevent anyone from following in his footsteps, and it appears, even his children.

How did he hide things? He would show things, but then not explain why he was doing them. He would give a demonstration of certain amazing things and then not explain why he spent time developing them. He also changed the class training from what he taught Jesse and James and other people in those early times, and was basically doing a kind of calisthenics class than a developing hard core base skills.

Hope this helps drive the discussion.
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Joined: October 24th, 2015, 12:26 am

December 31st, 2017, 3:08 am #4

Hi guys,

Long time BL fan. I'm an email friend with Jesse (RiP) and James Demile (who is now in Hawaii), so I've tried to get information from the source.

Both of these gentlemen have told me personally that after leaving Oakland, BL was almost obsessed with hiding his methods.

I'd like to start a discussion and pick some brains of you most knowledgeable people.

So if I may ask.

1) what things was BL trying to hide? (basically ideas, techniques, methods of training and practice, and anything else).


2) why was he actively trying to hide his methods?


3) how did he hide them? (IOW, just show the superficial or actually lead people off on wrong directions, including his students?)

I'm up for concrete information as well as speculation along with some 'basis for the speculation).

Have a great day and thanks for having this forum.
Basically JKD54 said it. Bruce needed his students to be just skilled enough to be convincing in demonstrations while never being anywhere near skilled enough to actually beat him. His image was everything. The better you got the more of a threat you became and the less he shared. I personally believe he was a bit of a bully and used his students as human punching bags. If you got tired of taking a beating he no longer had use for you.
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Joined: December 31st, 2017, 6:43 am

December 31st, 2017, 7:14 am #5

Hello everybody. I am an Oakland JKD student. As one of the Oakland JKD students, I can very much say the way we train is completely different from Taky, Chinatown JKD (WNG), Inosanto Academy, and pretty much 95% of all other JKD guys out there. I don't condemn or put down any other JKD schools, but from what I've trained, ours is one of the closest ones to connecting the dots on Bruce's secrets. Indeed, there are many secrets we don't publicly share, we don't record on DVDs and sell them out, we don't host mega seminars and try to recruit members, and we still have lots of old school JKD training methods used by Bruce Lee and the original Oakland JKD ways. We still use a lot of the old equipment. If any of you are serious about learning Oakland JKD. I'd humbly like to say that Oakland JKD does things differently.

First and foremost, Seattle and LA branches of JKD were left out. Oakland however, was not. The reason why is because the friendship that Bruce Lee and James Yimm Lee were very different compared to Inosanto, Ted Wong, and Taky Kimura. Out of all of them, James Yimm Lee was the most capable martial artist among them all, and James Lee actually helped Bruce Lee a lot. (ie, Bruce moving into James house, writing books together, teaching WC, WJM fight, then evolving to JKD) James Yimm Lee can basically be considered a co-founder to the original JKD material. If Bruce had secrets, it would not be much secrets as him and James Lee spent thousands of hours in James' garage developing the blueprint for Jun Fan Gung Fu & then later Original JKD.

Everybody forgets that JKD was born in Oakland, not Los Angeles or Seattle. 1964-1965 were years that JKD was already in creation. There is a misconception that JKD was 'born in 1967' and all the JKD schools, if not all but most, all propose the idea that JKD from 1967-1973 'were the years.' The dates and time don't add up or make any sense. If JKD was created in 1967 then there would not be enough time to demonstrate it the same year at the '67 Long Beach Intl. Truthfully speaking, it's well documented that in late 1964 and 1965 Bruce wrote to James Lee saying "We are having a new gung fu system drawn up."

As an Oakland JKD student, we are heavy on boxing fundamentals, and we don't discard the "trapping techniques." In our class we are taught how to have variation besides just pak sau and lop sau. Our school isn't advertise massively on Yelp, Google, and other search engines. We're pretty much underground and there's no official business building. Our classes don't run like a normal school, it's very informal. Our class is small, we don't have more than 8 or 9 faithful students. Bruce Lee wanted his real JKD classes to be small and high quality, not large numbers and bad quantity. We know all the hand trapping techniques that weren't passed onto Dan Inosanto and Ted Wong, and that's because of the original James Lee lineage. The Straight Lead punch made famous by Bruce's JKD was actually developed in Oakland, not anywhere else! Bruce's development in Oakland is what gave him the confidence to go down to Southern California and mess up all the Karate kids!

Let me just say this--- Howard Williams said when Bruce Lee closed all his schools, if you read between the lines, Bruce Lee only shut down all 3 COMMERCIAL branches but Oakland was never a commercial school, therefore it was never shut down. It was kept there to continue evolving. It only closed officially when James Lee died.
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Joined: December 19th, 2017, 9:38 pm

December 31st, 2017, 10:04 am #6

thanks so much for posting.

Though you said you don't share many of the methods, I would urge you to record the if just for your own use.

Many times I had the same 'take' and didn't always record, but years and years later I am very glad I have my original notebooks and training methods.

It's easy to forget what you did back 45 years ago. I regret most not having a camera accessible (poor student, lol), and got very little photograpic evidence of development and so on.

In addition, if you don't share, you don't grow and if you don't share your school and students will gradually lose their robustness and even become diluted.

I would urge you to write it all down, document what was shared with Dan and Taky and what was not.

You might not publish it now, but you never know you might meet someone who stumbled onto the same paths and want to collaborate.

I hope you keep posting here and at least give the kind of information you've given in this post. It's appreciated because we're all here to make sure a great man's legacy is not lost or diluted.

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Joined: October 1st, 2011, 9:12 pm

December 31st, 2017, 11:15 am #7

Hello everybody. I am an Oakland JKD student. As one of the Oakland JKD students, I can very much say the way we train is completely different from Taky, Chinatown JKD (WNG), Inosanto Academy, and pretty much 95% of all other JKD guys out there. I don't condemn or put down any other JKD schools, but from what I've trained, ours is one of the closest ones to connecting the dots on Bruce's secrets. Indeed, there are many secrets we don't publicly share, we don't record on DVDs and sell them out, we don't host mega seminars and try to recruit members, and we still have lots of old school JKD training methods used by Bruce Lee and the original Oakland JKD ways. We still use a lot of the old equipment. If any of you are serious about learning Oakland JKD. I'd humbly like to say that Oakland JKD does things differently.

First and foremost, Seattle and LA branches of JKD were left out. Oakland however, was not. The reason why is because the friendship that Bruce Lee and James Yimm Lee were very different compared to Inosanto, Ted Wong, and Taky Kimura. Out of all of them, James Yimm Lee was the most capable martial artist among them all, and James Lee actually helped Bruce Lee a lot. (ie, Bruce moving into James house, writing books together, teaching WC, WJM fight, then evolving to JKD) James Yimm Lee can basically be considered a co-founder to the original JKD material. If Bruce had secrets, it would not be much secrets as him and James Lee spent thousands of hours in James' garage developing the blueprint for Jun Fan Gung Fu & then later Original JKD.

Everybody forgets that JKD was born in Oakland, not Los Angeles or Seattle. 1964-1965 were years that JKD was already in creation. There is a misconception that JKD was 'born in 1967' and all the JKD schools, if not all but most, all propose the idea that JKD from 1967-1973 'were the years.' The dates and time don't add up or make any sense. If JKD was created in 1967 then there would not be enough time to demonstrate it the same year at the '67 Long Beach Intl. Truthfully speaking, it's well documented that in late 1964 and 1965 Bruce wrote to James Lee saying "We are having a new gung fu system drawn up."

As an Oakland JKD student, we are heavy on boxing fundamentals, and we don't discard the "trapping techniques." In our class we are taught how to have variation besides just pak sau and lop sau. Our school isn't advertise massively on Yelp, Google, and other search engines. We're pretty much underground and there's no official business building. Our classes don't run like a normal school, it's very informal. Our class is small, we don't have more than 8 or 9 faithful students. Bruce Lee wanted his real JKD classes to be small and high quality, not large numbers and bad quantity. We know all the hand trapping techniques that weren't passed onto Dan Inosanto and Ted Wong, and that's because of the original James Lee lineage. The Straight Lead punch made famous by Bruce's JKD was actually developed in Oakland, not anywhere else! Bruce's development in Oakland is what gave him the confidence to go down to Southern California and mess up all the Karate kids!

Let me just say this--- Howard Williams said when Bruce Lee closed all his schools, if you read between the lines, Bruce Lee only shut down all 3 COMMERCIAL branches but Oakland was never a commercial school, therefore it was never shut down. It was kept there to continue evolving. It only closed officially when James Lee died.
There are some folk out there who know that JKD was co-created by James. I run a small group that practice the Oakland curriculum. There are 6 of us. The only formality we observe is the JKD bow, after that it's very informal. All of us have backgrounds in other arts too and although we are JKDers we do look at and try other stuff (mainly grappling). We are not a commercial club .and we don't advertise for members at all. We have been going now for 8yrs.
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Joined: September 9th, 2016, 12:03 pm

December 31st, 2017, 1:42 pm #8

Basically JKD54 said it. Bruce needed his students to be just skilled enough to be convincing in demonstrations while never being anywhere near skilled enough to actually beat him. His image was everything. The better you got the more of a threat you became and the less he shared. I personally believe he was a bit of a bully and used his students as human punching bags. If you got tired of taking a beating he no longer had use for you.
Insosanto has said "it was not what he did to us but what he was capable of doing to us that scared us" - or something to that effect.
Still , he probably did use excessive contact but I really think that was cause Bruce was 'old school'martial artist and that is how things were done.
Old time masters would keep certain techniques to themselves just incase the student turns on them and challenges them one day.So Bruce probably showed and did different things with different people.
I remember hearing stories from an old Judo 'master', about the older Judo people and he said that there was a time when they would throw all NEW students on the mat and the ones that were left standing were the ones selected as students. Rough times, rough training.
Most MA schools in USA are now more of a money making machine.

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Joined: December 31st, 2017, 6:43 am

December 31st, 2017, 5:40 pm #9

Hello everybody. I am an Oakland JKD student. As one of the Oakland JKD students, I can very much say the way we train is completely different from Taky, Chinatown JKD (WNG), Inosanto Academy, and pretty much 95% of all other JKD guys out there. I don't condemn or put down any other JKD schools, but from what I've trained, ours is one of the closest ones to connecting the dots on Bruce's secrets. Indeed, there are many secrets we don't publicly share, we don't record on DVDs and sell them out, we don't host mega seminars and try to recruit members, and we still have lots of old school JKD training methods used by Bruce Lee and the original Oakland JKD ways. We still use a lot of the old equipment. If any of you are serious about learning Oakland JKD. I'd humbly like to say that Oakland JKD does things differently.

First and foremost, Seattle and LA branches of JKD were left out. Oakland however, was not. The reason why is because the friendship that Bruce Lee and James Yimm Lee were very different compared to Inosanto, Ted Wong, and Taky Kimura. Out of all of them, James Yimm Lee was the most capable martial artist among them all, and James Lee actually helped Bruce Lee a lot. (ie, Bruce moving into James house, writing books together, teaching WC, WJM fight, then evolving to JKD) James Yimm Lee can basically be considered a co-founder to the original JKD material. If Bruce had secrets, it would not be much secrets as him and James Lee spent thousands of hours in James' garage developing the blueprint for Jun Fan Gung Fu & then later Original JKD.

Everybody forgets that JKD was born in Oakland, not Los Angeles or Seattle. 1964-1965 were years that JKD was already in creation. There is a misconception that JKD was 'born in 1967' and all the JKD schools, if not all but most, all propose the idea that JKD from 1967-1973 'were the years.' The dates and time don't add up or make any sense. If JKD was created in 1967 then there would not be enough time to demonstrate it the same year at the '67 Long Beach Intl. Truthfully speaking, it's well documented that in late 1964 and 1965 Bruce wrote to James Lee saying "We are having a new gung fu system drawn up."

As an Oakland JKD student, we are heavy on boxing fundamentals, and we don't discard the "trapping techniques." In our class we are taught how to have variation besides just pak sau and lop sau. Our school isn't advertise massively on Yelp, Google, and other search engines. We're pretty much underground and there's no official business building. Our classes don't run like a normal school, it's very informal. Our class is small, we don't have more than 8 or 9 faithful students. Bruce Lee wanted his real JKD classes to be small and high quality, not large numbers and bad quantity. We know all the hand trapping techniques that weren't passed onto Dan Inosanto and Ted Wong, and that's because of the original James Lee lineage. The Straight Lead punch made famous by Bruce's JKD was actually developed in Oakland, not anywhere else! Bruce's development in Oakland is what gave him the confidence to go down to Southern California and mess up all the Karate kids!

Let me just say this--- Howard Williams said when Bruce Lee closed all his schools, if you read between the lines, Bruce Lee only shut down all 3 COMMERCIAL branches but Oakland was never a commercial school, therefore it was never shut down. It was kept there to continue evolving. It only closed officially when James Lee died.
Thank you for the suggestion of keeping record of everything. Of course, we are in a digital age now, and recording is so necessary and it's very accessible. I wish there was more recording devices back then, but there wasn't. I have some old tapes from the 80s, 90s, and early 00s. I have lots of recorded videos, sparring matches, class videos, and lots of material saved and share with my classmates only. Lots of offline, nonpublished, informal material. Yes, I agree, I don't want to someday be older and have nothing and no record of anything. So I have lots of material on record so that we can remember the original and pure JKD. I would say, I don't have enough content from the 70s, 80s, 90s, but I have a lot of footage from these recent years. Thanks for the suggestion!

Here in Oakland JKD we do as much as boxing as much as we do the trapping techniques. I've been in other JKD schools and the trapping techniques they do sometimes seemed outsourced. And if they weren't outsourced, they were definitely the basic ones that Bruce Lee did in his movies. The ones Bruce Lee did in his movies were purely for theatrics, but in real life, there are so many better ways to apply JKD hand trapping techniques. So many more faster, quicker, and efficient ways to get in and surprise your opponent, control him, and put him in an extremely bad situation.

I encourage anyone to study Oakland JKD if you can find it, which is rare. Very rare.
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 3:19 am

December 31st, 2017, 7:41 pm #10

Insosanto has said "it was not what he did to us but what he was capable of doing to us that scared us" - or something to that effect.
Still , he probably did use excessive contact but I really think that was cause Bruce was 'old school'martial artist and that is how things were done.
Old time masters would keep certain techniques to themselves just incase the student turns on them and challenges them one day.So Bruce probably showed and did different things with different people.
I remember hearing stories from an old Judo 'master', about the older Judo people and he said that there was a time when they would throw all NEW students on the mat and the ones that were left standing were the ones selected as students. Rough times, rough training.
Most MA schools in USA are now more of a money making machine.
Thanks JKD Respecto. You're right, a lot of people forget about James Lee's contributions to the development of JKD, and that it originated in Oakland. But also, that Bruce had been going down to Oakland to visit James Lee since about 1962 (possibly before that). Bruce was trying to get more speed and power into his Wing Chun techniques. James Lee had developed his power to a high degree, and Bruce was fascinated by that. In the early 1960s, Seattle was a sleepy little city without much of a martial arts community. Bruce's main concern then was working on being able to someday beat his Wing Chun seniors in Hong Kong. He figured that in order to be able to beat his seniors he needed an 'edge' or 'work around' and was always experimenting with and incorporating techniques from other Chinese styles like Choy Li Fut, Hung Gar, Crane, etc. His goal back then seemed to center around creating a modified hybrid form of Wing Chun that was theoretically unbeatable.

When he went back to Hong Kong in 1963, Bruce was still trying to learn the more advanced aspects of Wing Chun. However, as he told Jesse Glover (and Doug Palmer), the senior instructors (including Ip Man) were holding back some things. Even when Bruce visited Hong Kong again in 1965, he was still trying to squeeze the last bit of Wing Chun knowledge out of Wong Shun Leung, Hawkins Cheung, and Ip Man. But he could never get them to reveal all they knew, and it drove Bruce nuts, which made him experiment even more.

After the fight with Wong Jack Man in November 1964, Bruce realized that no matter how good he was in Wing Chun, or how good he could get, there would always still be problems and situations that Wing Chun was simply not designed to overcome. Bruce realized he needed to transcend the limitations of not only Wing Chun, but all Chinese martial arts. He needed to rethink the whole idea of fighting from the ground up. That's when Bruce immediately took up boxing and doing bag work, according to Leo Fong.

So yes it definitely makes sense that there would be an emphasis on boxing fundamentals in Oakland JKD -- while still retaining trapping. Oakland is not only where JKD was born, but it also represents the bridge between Bruce's modified Wing Chun and the later advanced JKD concepts that only he himself understood.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"
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