Millions of movie watchers all over the world enjoy films laced with a good dose of martial arts; we love the kicks, jabs and killer punches that allow the hero to debilitate the villain and save the day. The Bruce Lee vs Wong Jack Man martial arts fight gave witnesses of the fight the opportunity to see the very best of fighters at their best. Both men were respected martial artist and teacher, who wanted to prove whose fighting style was the best and to put the other in their rightful place, as well as to determine who the best fighter in the San Francisco bay area was.
What Led to the Bruce Lee Vs Wong Jack Man Fight?
The San Francisco area in the 1960s was some sort of martial arts Mecca for those seeking to learn the martial arts tenets and principles back then; both Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man were very experienced and influential martial arts practitioners then, and they had numerous disciples and students, who were eager to drink from their fountain of martial arts wisdom.
Sometime in the 1960s, according to some account, the doors of Bruce Lee’s martial arts school was flung wide open to both Asian and non-Asian students, and this was thought to have caused some disquiet within the martial arts instructors community, some of whom were against martial arts being taught to non-Chinese students. Wong Jack Man was one of those most vocal about this.
In 1964, Bruce Lee was said to have stated during one of his demonstrations at his martial arts exhibitions that he can defeat all martial arts instructors and practitioners within his domain – a statement that didn’t go down well with Wong Jack Man, who was said to have responded to Bruce Lee, accepting his challenge for a duel, but with a few conditions; he wanted the fight to be public and that should Lee lose the fight, he would close down his martial arts school and move out of the San Francisco Bay area.
Wong was said to have received a private message and invitation from Bruce Lee to have a duel at his new martial arts school in San Francisco. Wong was initially said to have delayed acting on the invitation from Lee, but on the appointed day, he was said to have shown up for the duel.
The Controversial Nature of the Bruce Lee Vs Wong Jack Man Tale
Actual accounts from their fight have always been subjected to controversies, as it was held behind closed doors with only a handful of witnesses. Similarly, the fight was not recorded or filmed at all. The individuals who were witnesses to the Bruce Lee vs Wong Jack Man fight included James Lee, an associate of Bruce Lee, Linda Emery (Lee’s wife), Cadwell and Willian Chen, who taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan – just like Wong.
Wong was said to have asked that restrictions be placed on eye jabs, groin kicks and directly hitting each other’s face during the duel – conditions which Lee was not stated to have agreed to. Different “eye witness” accounts trailed the fight, with each camp giving a different account of what transpired.
Linda Emery’s Account
Linda Emery’s account of the duel had it that it was a very short one that lasted for roughly 3 minutes. After both men took the traditional bow, she stated that Lee – who was still practicing his Wing Chun style dealt a series of quick direct punches at Wong, who began to backpedal as a result of the assault, and when he couldn’t take it anymore, he was said to have turned and fled before Lee pounced on him, hitting him several times on his back and at the back of his head, while yelling “Is that enough”, and Wong replied “It is enough”. Lee was said to have asked Wong this question twice before the duel was stopped.
William Chen and Wong Jack Man’s Account
William Chen and Wong Jack Man had a different account of what transpired during the Bruce Lee Vs Wong Jack Man duel, which they countered, had lasted for more than 20 minutes. In an interview Wong had with the Chinese Pacific Weekly, he stated that during the duel, Lee was said to have come out aggressively at Jack while he used his largely defensive T’ai Chi style to neutralize Lee’s aggressive Wing Chun style.
Wong said that he restrained himself from landing killer punches and jabs on Lee when the opportunity presented itself, as he believed he would have killed him. He then issued a challenge to Bruce Lee for a public fight to settle the issue once and for all, but Lee never responded to the challenge.
Rick Wing’s Account of the Fight
Rick Wing, in his book “Showdown in Oakland: The story behind the Wong Jack Man – Bruce Lee Fight” gave an account of what transpired in their duel. He mentioned the unfair punches that Lee threw at Wong during the formal bow before the fight began, and he said the fight lasted about 20 minutes with both men trying to outwit the other. Wing also mentioned the part where Wong restrained himself from kicking and landing deadly jabs at Lee; he stated that towards the end of the fight, Wong stumbled over a display stand, losing his balance and Lee capitalized on this, pounced on Wong and rained punches and jabs on him before they were separated. Though Lee was yelling at Wong to surrender, Wong never did.
Bruce Lee was said to have closed down his school and moved out of the San Francisco Bay area after the fight; with some suggesting that he probably lost the duel. Wong on his own part expressed regret about fighting Lee, stating that both men’s arrogance got the better of them.