Bruce lee vs. Wong Jack Man. Fact & Fiction
The battle between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man has become a legendary story surrounded by dozens of myths. Even though different people have different opinions about who won the battle, the entire story surrounding the event is no less than the stuff of legends. The fight of 1964 went down in history as a clash of the titans, which was supposedly sparked by the fact that Bruce Lee was teaching kung fu to caucasians.
When the Chinese Martial arts community found out about Lee’s whereabouts, they chose Wong Jack Man as their fighter, backed by few of his martial art friends. The fact, myths, and controversies about this event is one for the record books, and even more so because of the Bruce lee biography.
Leading Up To The Event
Around 1964, Wong Jack Man departed Chinatown with five other people as the sun set on Francisco Bay to travel east to Broadway Avenue in Oakland. Bruce Lee’s new Kung Fu School in Broadway was the chosen destination for the spectacular event that was hyped up beyond all imaginations. After weeks of back and forth jabs and rising tensions, the D-Day had finally arrived.
It is speculated that this colossal showdown occurred that night in front of just seven witnesses, behind securely locked doors. The two highly dynamic martial artists of 23 years of age shared yin/yang chemistry between them despite having two different styles of fighting. Little did the fighters know that what was about to happen would affect the rest of their lives
Make no mistake about it; a clash of egos did not fuel this fight. It has a much broader relevance that not only shaped the fighting approach of the man who became a global phenomenon in martial arts.
If Bruce Lee can be considered to be the father of contemporary mixed martial arts, then his battle with Wong Jack Man can be seen as a qualifying moment.
Getting Ready For The Battle
So, the stage was set! The 5’7” tall, 140 pounds Bruce Lee was about to take on 5’10” tall, 135 pounds Wong Jack Man in a closed event that was more about prestige than anything else. It was Lee’s Wing Chun kung fu versus Man’s internal kung fu styles – who would win? Believe it or not, the real story and controversies surrounding it begin here.
It is said that when the two men were eyeing each other at the start of the match, Bruce Lee made an unnecessary remark about a friend of Man’s who had helped facilitate this competition. Apparently, Bruce said “you’ve been killed by your friend”-whatever this implies. At this moment, Wong Jack Man was completely silent and was processing the situation at hand.
So far, all the battles Bruce Lee had been involved in took place in the rooftops of Hong Kong when he was serving as a member of “Tigers of Junction Street.” This was a street gang that was notorious for hosting vicious fights and death matches that often left competitors physically disabled for life or even dead.
After Lee’s remark, the people who were attending the event stepped back and made space for the combatants to begin the fight. On Lee’s side of the room stood his wife Linda and an acquaintance going by the name of James Yim Lee. Three people stood on another side of the room to cheer on Man, one of whom was famous Tai Chu Chuan teacher named William Chen.
According to Linda Lee, there were about 13 people in total present in the room whereas Chen recalls 15 being in attendance. This oddity is a crucial one as it lays the foundation of the myths propagated by the two people who are known to have attended the event.
Bruce Lee vs. Wong Jack Man – Clash Of The Titans
As the floor cleared, two men bowed, and Man moved forward for a pre-fight handshake. Bruce didn’t care about that much and moved into a quick spear hand planted to Man’s eyes. As surprised as Wong was initially, he managed to assume a Wing Chun stance and managed to ward off the aggressive kicks and strikes by Bruce Lee.
Lee overall, was more aggressive and was quickly going for strikes to the eyes or the groin area, leaving Man with no choice but to block and parry to save himself. Lee’s eye pokes were dangerous and could have left the man blind if he didn’t bother to block them.
The fight continued for quite a long time but ended in somewhat of a draw because Bruce Lee was exhausted by the end and Wong was unable to shift gears from his defence mode. Linda Lee claimed that Wong was running scared the entire time and the fight had turned into a farce.
Wong’s men, on the other hand, say that they tried to stop the fight but James Lee himself insisted that they let the fight continue. According to rumours, Bruce Lee supposedly took his opponent to the floor where he pounded his head using nothing but his fists. This is a rumour because there is no evidence available to back up the claims.
What’s The Truth?
Because of the widely varying accounts that came from the two camps, it’s difficult to ascertain who won the match. Wong’s people claim that there was no way that the fight went to the ground but had to end when both men were left exhausted. Even though this led to Lee to change his style, it does not in any way prove beyond a doubt that he lost.
As Bruce began to form his new system named as Jeet Kune Do, the world of martial arts saw a new reason to cheer. Bruce Lee is considered to be the godfather of MMA not only because of his effective sense of mixing different styles but due to his emphasis on using correct techniques and always evolving to match ever-changing situations.
Regardless of who won the battle that day, we are still waiting to see if some conclusive evidence emerges that will settle the score once and for all. What are you waiting for?