As a small child I had the privilege of having very little tv (literally a 9 inch black and white Motorola) and we had few channels, mostly in German as we lived in Bitburg at the time (1964 - 1968). One of my favorite programs that we did get was "The Green Hornet", a 'superhero' program along the lines of "Batman": campy comic book fare.
Most people who know anything about the Green Hornet know this was what shot Bruce Lee into the spotlight. I watched the show just to see Cato, Bruce's character, do fights and stunts. I was fully hooked on all things Chinese and martial arts by 6 or 7 years of age.
At the time Bruce was not the legend he is today. I feel fortunate to at least have seen his initial work when it was first breaking. The rest they say is history.
Fast forward to the early 1980's. I survived high school. I was a scrawny lankny nerd with zero physical conditioning and a focus of numerous bullies. My father left the Air Force in the mid 70's and moved a scant 15 miles from the air force town we settled in after returning from Germany.
Whereas the air force town was a melting pot of various cultures, the town we moved to was very white: a mix of small town middle class sorts and a large population of 'hillbillies' who had relocated to the town some time earlier after General Tire closed a plant in their area of Kentucky. I never really fit in and was something of an outcast, encouraging the more primate-like rednecks and hillbillies to punk on me for fun. I always dreamed of being able to fight but no such offering outside of half-assed 'judo' classes at the YMCA.
In 1985, living in Indianapolis, Indiana, I passed a situation in which a guy was slapping a girl around. I stopped and got out and shouted at the guy to stop. The guy told me to fuck off, the girl told me to fuck off and a voice behind me told me to fuck off. Which I did quickly.
That was the last friggin' straw, I told myself.
2 weeks later I was studying Okinawan Karate with a set of instructors I felt good about.
Which meant I had to move away.
I found far, far better instruction in Evansville, Indiana, of all places. There I was introduced to Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Kali, and Jeet Kune do. As well as a new martial art called Brazilian Jiujitsu.
I studied there for almost 2 years (early 1986 to Late 1987) and, again, just when it got really good, I had to move. But I have worked with what I can remember since that time.
My teacher or sensei was a multi-degree blackbelt and, sometime after I was there, he became a certified Muay Thai Instructor via Francis Fong. My sensei also studied under Dan Insosanto who was a very senior student of Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee was a student of a variety of teachers, including Ip Man, currently considered to be one of THE founders of what is now called Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Bruce Lee took what he had learned and went through a period of refining and refining it, always 'chiseling away that which isn't needed".
He called this emerging system or approach - he eschewed forms - Jeet Kune Do: the Way of the Intercepting Fist.
I have devoured the book numerous times over the past 20-some years. During times of real stress I jack up my exercise and my practice.
In 1991 I heard another girl screaming in a parking lot at 1 am on a Saturday night. Again, like a dummy, I go to intervene. A man is clearly engaged in what law enforcement calls "kidnapping', trying to jerk her into a nearby open apartment door. She was clinging onto a tree and screaming. I told him to stop.
He proceeded to attack me and it was on. This time, I was prepared and prevailed. He went to the hospital. I got bragging rights.
About 3 years ago I discovered WEC/UFC and was amazed to see professional competition done correctly with people fighting just I was taught. (Those guys would crush me with a high-5, by the way). This just sparked more of my interest in my old hobby.
Recently, and the point of all this rambling, is I came across a couple videos and a couple theatrical films that I think do a very fair job of showing what Wing chun and JKD bring to self defense, personal combat as well as professional MMA.
The first video below is aptly titled "the best trapping techniques you will ever see" and despite the ultra-crappy quality of the video, the video delivers. I highly recommend this to people interested in learning effective self-defense or who are considering getting their children trained for the ugly world ahead of us.
There are four basic 'ranges' in fighting: Kicking, Boxing, Trapping and Grappling. Trapping, to me, is the real meat of 'kung fu' along with throws and joint locks. Much of this is not the flashy stuff most people think of when the subject of "martial arts" comes up. It's almost impossible to film chi sao techniques because they are nuanced and often very fast.
The video is long and is excellent instruction and shows more than words can say.
In recent years, my guess is that American interst in Wing Chun has grown and/ or fascination with Bruce Lee has grown and/or Chinese Cinema has taken off or whatver, a series of movies about Ip Man have been made including 3 or 4 with Donnie Yen, another Ip Man student. He's a very clean cut guy, looks like a doctor or a dentist to me, but one bad mofo with the wing chun.
In this video, Dan Inosanto talks about Bruce and Ip Man and Wing Chun and there are scenes from the first 2 Ip Man films, presented as interplay between actual school training and movie fight choreography.
Here's a lengthy original JKD training film with Bruce and Dan for ages ago, apparently found sitting on a shelf.
Here are a series of videos showing a lot more trapping and WC/JKD strikes, joint locks and general punishment of the human body. This is not competitve sport martial art; this is save your ass from victimization martial art:
Thank you for reading!