Now that we passed the 40-year anniversary of Bruce Lee's untimely death, there has been some misinformation making the rounds on Facebook. Some people, including celebs, are a bit confused about his Chinese name(s). So let me break it down for you!
Please note that with Chinese names the surname comes first. Also note that in Bruce's mother-tongue of Cantonese his family name "Lee" (李) is actually pronounced like "lay". So his name would be pronounced "Lay Jun Fun" to be accurate phonetically.
LEE JUN FUN: Bruce Lee's Chinese name was Lee Jun Fan (李振藩). That is why he used this as the name of his "Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute" and this is the Chinese name on his grave in Seattle.
SAI FUNG: When Bruce was a child his mother called him Sai Fung (細鳳) or "little phoenix" which would be the name for a girl. Apparently she was superstitious about protecting her male sons and so used this name to trick the gods into thinking Bruce was a girl. This is not an unheard of practice at that time. This name was only a childhood nickname from his mother and should not be used when addressing or naming Bruce in Chinese. Bruce had two lesser-known names, one was a traditional family clan name and the other was a name he was registered under in La Salle College secondary school (high school for Americans). Although the Chinese characters of these two lesser-known names are different, the pronunciation of both names are nearly identical: "Lee Yuen Jam/Gam" (李源鑫/李元鑒).
LEE SIU LUNG: In the Chinese speaking world Bruce was mostly known by his stage name of Lee Siu Lung (李小龍), or "little dragon Lee". What most people fail to realize is that Bruce had been in many films as a child, in fact he had done twenty films by the time he was 18. In the picture I posted here, the 10-year old Bruce is listed as Lee Siu Lung. Therefore this stage name was from very early on and not something he was given later when he became an international star as many people think. When Chinese speak about Bruce Lee, this is the name they use.
I hope this clears the air!
It makes me so proud to see the tremendous progress of not only our students, but also of the higher levels as well. Higher levels are also students themselves, but in many schools those with high rank tend to coast. But not at CWT! As a matter of fact I demand quite a bit more of my higher levels than I do of the students.
I dare say the examination this past weekend was probably one of the most thorough and demanding of those done worldwide. In addition to strict guidelines for qualifying instructors as "sifu" as well as testing theoretical knowledge, CWT always provides a thorough examination of all the pertinent aspects of the level being achieved.
We had four primary level technicians test for their second levels and our very own Nicole Daniels test for 3rd level technician. Nicole earned her Sifu title back when we were part of a now defunct North American section of a once dominant Wing Tsun association. At that time (and still to this date I believe) she became the first female sifu in the US for Wing Tsun. Now after this weekend she is officially the highest ranking female WT practitioner in North America.
The newly revamped test examines the classical WT forms (SNT, CK, BT & for 3rd TG wooden dummy), the chi sau curriculum, WT guo sau/lat sau, WT lat sau vs. non-WT, and a 3-minute non-stop gauntlet against only non-WT attacks. I have also taken a page out of Mas Oyama's dan ranking tests and added a physical conditioning requirement. I know Wing Tsun is a self-defense style that does not require MMA fighter like conditioning, but I find if we reduce Wing Tsun to self-defense too much then the I believe the discipline of martial arts will be lost. Additionally I can't stand out of shape technicians or sifu's. The average kickboxer with 6 months of training is more fit than most "senior WT instructors" and that is a real shame. It's up to us to change this! Wing Tsun people in the attempt to gain effortless reactions and fighting skill should not sacrifice fitness and well-being as a result. In other words fitness needs to stop being a dirty word for all the masters of borrowing force. There is a world of difference between useless bodybuilding and functional strength and conditioning. Ah but this seems like a blog topic for another day!
All the examinees did a fantastic job, showing real reactions under stress and the mastery of the material that was required. After all the sparring and lat sau and conditioning, the examinees still needed to perform the siu nim tau form on one leg. Of all the examinees I'm most proud of Paul Matthews, our stalwart 64-year old terror. He didn't get an easier exam, he did the same exam that everyone did and stuck it through to the end. All his hard work and dedication paid off and I'm very proud.
We were very proud to host BJJ expert and MMA fighter Tom DeBlass for a two-hour workshop at our school this past June. Prof. Tom is a black belt in BJJ under Riccardo Almeida and has an impressive record in both competitive grappling and in MMA. A "retired" ROC champion and two-time UFC veteran, Tom is now focused on grappling tournaments and teaching at his Ocean County BJJ academy. Although not actively focused on MMA anymore, he still does show up in the Bellator cage from time to time.
Back when Tom was getting ready to fight in the UFC in Macau he asked me to help him find a spot to practice at the week leading up to his fight. Being that I am pretty much the white-guy authority on all things HK and Macau (at least martial arts related), I found a small BJJ school for him to practice at. In return for the favor he said he would teach a workshop at my school and thus this is how the whole thing came to be.
Although we teach a traditonal Chinese martial art and Tom teaches the very different BJJ and MMA, we found more similarities than one might think. A lot of Tom's advice (for example getting very close to the opponent so his punches are not as effective) seem to come right out of the WT playbook. Tom showed some fantastic clinch work (some of which was nearly identical to what we teach), as well as some locks, takedowns and groundwork that was new territory for my students.
I want my students to be exposed to different martial arts and methodologies so that they can better apply their own Wing Tsun. Most traditional martial arts practitioners just talk, but I want my students to know first hand what it's like to train with elite practitioners of different styles. At the beginning of the workshop Prof. Tom said that there was a lot he can learn from us too. A truly humble attitude from a top fighter like Tom should be a lesson to all the keyboard warriors out there!
For the last 30 minutes Tom had a Q & A session and regaled us with amazing stories of his experiences in both the grappling and MMA world. He also explained the brutal weight cutting procedures and gave great insight into fighting sports.
I have to say that I have had many teachers over the course of my long martial arts career and Tom was definitely much more polished as an instructor than I would have expected. No doubt he knows his stuff, but what sets Prof. Tom apart is his rare ability to communicate it to a broad and (in this case) non-BJJ audience. My student's know what an emphasis I place on proper teaching pedagogie, so it takes a lot to impress me!
The proceeds of the workshop were all donated directly to Tom's student(s) who were affected by the devasting Sandy hurricane last year. If you are in the Forked River/Tom's River NJ area, please check out OCBJJ or visit http://oceancountybjj.com/
I rarely openly endorse instructors, but Prof. Tom is in a class all by himself.
This past weekend we hosted a workshop with Sifu Timmy Lee from Hong Kong. Sifu Lee is my si-bak, or elder kung-fu uncle as he one of the few remaining active si-hing (elder brother) of my si-fu (wow, that was a mouthful). This was the first time he taught a seminar outside of Hong Kong, and I must say that he did a fantastic job - well above expectations. It was arguably a bit of a hard sell to get my students to go to a seminar with a Chinese instructor as the past experience with a certain Chinese instructor has been mixed. Although Hong Kong is the source of Wing Tsun, the HK teaching style is sometimes a bit inconsistent and sometimes Chinese instructors don’t teach very exciting workshops, especially for beginners.
But this seminar was much different.
Sifu Lee broke down the three forms of siu nim tau, chum kiu and biu tze for their respective leveled groups. Afterwards he went into detail about proper force generation in the forms and how this applies to fighting. He then started to teach the applications of the forms step by step with special emphasis and practicality and generation of force. The students were very happy to learn these very practical fighting applications. The biu tze level instructors were learning how to apply the biu tze sau in both fighting and in chi sau. Sifu Lee also imparted many details on how to use techniques such as palm strikes to counter chain-punching and many other gems as well.
Sifu Lee took the time to work with all of the students and patiently imparted his knowledge to all. I’m convinced that based on the fantastic feedback from this year’s workshop, next year's will be much, much bigger.