Patrick Strong Q&A

The following was taken place in the Temple Discussion on 04/24/01 between regular vistitors of this site:
(Jt, Drunken Master,Jen, Kevin, Damian, Drunken Master, Nick Clarke, Johnny Williams and Toayb Hamidi)

With JKD Instructor and friend of Bruce Lee Patrick Strong.

Temple of the Unknown: Hello and welcome Mr. Strong to the Temple of the Unknown forum,

We hope that your visit here is a pleasant one and we thank you for taking the time in answering our questions.

Temple of the Unknown: Mr. Strong,

What three words best describe the Bruce you knew? Do you feel that your views of him have changed in any way?

Patrick Strong: Three words... I have a huge list, starting with amazing, incredilbe, unbelievable.... But the word that stands out most in my mind is "loyalty." Bruce was loyal to his friends. If he liked you, he really liked you. It didn't matter what color your were or how rich or poor.

"Deep," is another word that comes to mind. Bruce had amazing, incredible, unbelievable depth. He was truly one and inseparable with his gung fu. He was philosophical and often when he talked on serious matters he talked from the spirit of his art. For example, he would explain "tan sao" as being straight, but not straight; bent, but not bent; nor neither hard nor soft, but both hard and soft. He used to talk like this. Then he would go on to explain that the tan sao exists with its Immoveable Elbow Principle. If the elbow were to give way the your structure is destroyed. And then he would compare that to not giving up to much when negotiating a business deal such as driving a car, or whatever. Phew, he was something! Yes. After having spent so many years in martial arts and knowing what I known now, I regard him higher than ever. While some say that Bruce was overestimated, I say that he was grossly underestimated. He is given credit for his incredible performance as a martial artist and the fact that he created his Jun Fan and Jeet Kune Do. But he is never given credit for the incredible depth of knowledge that he possessed, demonstrated in his personal method. The way he performed his art.

Temple of the Unknown: Mr Strong, Given the fact that you continue to train in JKD , are there techniques or strategies that Bruce showed you that you now find useless or lacking compaired to what you have learned over the years. On the flip side, what is the most powerfull thing Bruce showed you? Thanks for your time

Patrick Strong: On the contrary, I had learned things from Bruce that I have never seen the likes of other arts. From Bruce, I learned the Principle of Non-intention. Somehow this amazing principle has gotten horribly diluted. Today, people speak of non-telegraph. Non-intention and non-telegraph are two completely different things. Non-telegraph is to not send a telegrram to your opponent that you are about to strike. Non-intention is to strike without the intention to strike. This is a principle that Bruce modified from certain laws present in wing chun. Non-intention is the reason for Bruce's amazing start speed.

But then there were so many things that I had learned from Bruce that transcend anything else that I have learned in martial art. Many of those things were later reinforced and better understood from my personal research and ongoing training with Hawkings Cheung who had been Bruce's close friend, schoolmate, and wing chun training partner.

Temple of the Unknown: Hello and thanks again for joining us,

Is it true that you did some type of movie work on "Kentucky Fried Movie"?

Could you explain what you did and what kind of experience it was for you.

Patrick Strong: : I choreographed the fight scene in the Enter the Dragon segment of Kentucky Fried Movie, in addition to having a small part. I was the "Old Spice Guy." John Landis insisted that I do the shower scene with the naked woman, but I refused. I happen to be in the film industry as a screenwriter and producer. From time to time I have worked with actors in training them for their fight scenes, or choreographed scenes. It's not something I do often, nor do I care for doing it. On Kentucky Fried Movie, I trained Evan Kim to fight like Bruce. I also brought Bong Soo Han into the film to play the role of Bruce's nemesis. And then, I choreographed and created the fight scenes, etc...

Temple of the Unknown: Hello Mr.Strong,

How do you think JKD has changed over the years? Has it improved?

Patrick Strong: Wow, this is a big question, and a hard one at that! In my opinion there are different kinds of JKD. I see Bruce Lee's JKD as being far different than others JKD. In other words, Bruce's personal JKD was based on his own abilities, on a muscular and nervous system carefully developed through a unique set of principles and mechanics unknown to other martial arts systems. In fact, they were diametrically opposed to them. Bruce's personal methodology, the way he did it, was based on an inner structure and energies developed from wing chun. Some people like to say that Bruce abandoned his wing chun. This is not true, at all. Bruce's wing chun structure and energy was present in everything that he did. Even in his modified JKD stance, wing chun structure and Vital Energy were still very much in tact, although not visible.

Now compare this to those who had never trained these important aspects as did Bruce. Still, Bruce was not out to duplicate himself in others. His meaning was free others from their own limitations. It is sort of an end result, but without the same foundation. Therefore, you have different methods from the core out as to how to perform Jeet Kune Do, depending on the specific background of the jkd practioner, himself.

I think that there are some who have improved very much on some aspects of JKD and, at the same time, have fallen back a bit. It's just a tough question that would take volumes to go into.

Temple of the Unknown: Hi Patrick

Hope you are keeping well and it's a real pleasure to have you here and to talk with you again.

1/ Did Bruce Lee teach you all the Wing Chun forms (3) and what did your early training sessions mainly consist of?? Also how many students did Bruce teach in a normal class??

Patrick Strong: Bruce taught Sil Lum Tao, Chum Kil, and part of Bilgee, the three basic forms of wing chun. He also taught a Tai Chi form, a southern style gung fu form containg a cyclone kick, and a northern style kicking form facign all angles. He would often demonstrate a three-section staff form and, of course, part of the Mook Jung (wooden dummy) form.

All classes began with meditation. Bruce was very big on this. And then there were the endless calisthentics. I remember one guy vomiting and another passing out. The bunny hops and duck walks were killers. LOL

There was a great deal of training dedicated to speed and sensitivity. Start speed was the key.

There was free fighting, and fighting against multiple opponents. Endless kicking and punching. Hard, hard work always.

After class was where I would learn the most over dinner at one of the local Chinese restaurants. When Bruce talked I absorbed more than the delicious food.

Temple of the Unknown: Could you please explain in detail about Bruce's 'Snake Step' principle and the best way to practice or to properly apply it in your footwork?

Patrick Strong: At the beginning of the Wing Chun form you raise your hands to shoulder level, close to fists and retract to either side of the chest. You bend the knees sinking your weight, and slide your toes out forming a v-shape from the heels. This involved swivling on the heels, an extremely important principle used throughout moving structure. With the toes v'd outward, you now switch onto the balls of the feet and move the heels outward into a another V.

This switching of the heels alternating with the switching of the balls of the feet create a movement. Bruce would use his movement with his lead foot and rear foot as he advanced on you. The advantage is that there is no beat. If I were to take a step at you it would cost me a beat that you would be able to identify as a set point. While closing in tight Bruce could hide his beat, while keepng himself dynamic and lethal.

Temple of the Unknown: Hi Pat,

Johnny Williams here. I am glad to see you once again sharing your unique perspective on your personal piece of the Lee Legacy.

My question is this; given that you were only 15 years old when you began training in `the original' Jun Fan Gung-Fu under Bruce and Taky, how do you feel presently about training children in JFJKD? It is not a sport related art, and some of the principles, theories, and techniques can be somewhat esoteric. How young can someone be, in your opinion, and readily absorb JFJKD? Thanks, and please tell Joel I'll be in touch with him shortly. Take care.

Patrick Strong: Hi Johnny,

Good seeing you!

Actually, I was 17 years old when I started training with Bruce Lee. I'll be 58 in about two weeks.

You ask an interesting question about children in JKD. I have to answer this one as to how I teach JKD, which is somewhat different than how others teach.

I teach very strongly to the principles and mechanical advantages enjoyed by Bruce personally. For example, I put a great deal into proper structure.

This last weekened I gave a seminar in Kentucky. There were two boys present, one 13, the other 14. After the first day, either boy could stand on one leg and hold a tan sao against any man in the room who would try and push him over but couldn't. Either boy could bend down and tie his shoelace with a full grown man at 225 pounds trying to push them over, but unable to. I had the 14 year old stand balanced on a gymnists high beam. Actually, the beam was positioned just a few feet off the floor. Anyway, he stood while I and the others pushed against his extended tan sao with both our hands, and were unable to push him off. This kind of thing is simply principle and mechanics. It has to do with physical and energy structures enjoyed by Bruce, and is the secret of how he was able to move big men around so easily. Bruce once jacked a professional wrestler up off his feet against a wall using double tan sao.

You can imagine that the kids just loved this sort of thing, to peform feats that were seemingly impossible. The same holds for similar energies used in punching and kicking. This is what I mean when I say "the way Bruce did it." His personal art.

Temple of the Unknown: Hi,

1) Which of Bruce's films do you like best???

2) Whats the most nicest/touching thing Bruce ever did for you???

3) Did you ever see BL knock someone about in a REAL fight???

4) What are your views on his death, do you believe in the "Official" verdict,

Patrick Strong: 1) Which of Bruce's films do you like best???
My favorite film was "Enter the Dragon." Recall the scene in the film between Bruce and the young monk where Bruce taps the boy on the forehead and asks, "What was that, a demonstration?" He then instructs the boy, "Now feeeeel, or you will miss all of that heavenly glory." Something like that, anyway. To "feel" at the smallest levels was an important aspect of BruceÕs personal training. This concept was more than likely due to his training in Tai Chi Chaun and Wing Chun. In Tai Chi the forms are done slowly for proprioceptive and neuro-pathway training. In Wing ChunÕs Sil Lum Tao (first form) the movement is slow for the same reason and the development of fa jing, end power, not to mention forging the structure and tools. In the Tao of Jeet Kune Do Bruce means the same thing when he refers to "Kinesthetic Awareness." I believe that it was in "Fist of Fury" that Bruce battled in the ice factory. He had just landed a deep penetration blow to a bad guyÕs abdomen, killing him. Realizing, Bruce grips his wrist trembling in almost horror at what he had just done. Bruce used to like to tell a story of what would happen if he actually were to kill a man in a fight. At his trial he would be asked to plea either guilty or not guilty. Naturally, BruceÕs plea would be "not guilty." "But there were a dozen people who saw you strike the man, and then watch as he died?" the judge would say. To this Bruce would answer, "Your Honor, I did not kill him. It killed him!" "It," meaning the non-intention of his strike. In other words, it just happened. Anyway, I like those personal touches in the films that were all Bruce. I was seventeen and I had a fight with my parents. I was ready to drop out of high school and run away to California. Bruce overheard me telling this to a friend outside of the school one night. Taking me aside, he told me that he had more money than I did, and that he would use it to come and find me if I ran away. Whoa, I believed him! I chose to finish high school and then go on to college.

3) Did you ever see BL knock someone about in a REAL fight???
No. But I recall the fight he had with the Japanese Sensei in the handball court at the YMCA. Bruce had taken Jessie Glover and Lanzten Chin as his seconds. The Sensei insisted that the fight be for real. Afterward, he explained his injuries by telling everyone that he was in an automobile accident.

4) What are your views on his death, do you believe in the "Official" verdict?
As you know from the autopsy report, Bruce died from cerebral edema (swelling of the brain)as the result of an anagesic drug (aspirin). My understanding is that Bruce had been having severe headaches and had once passed out while on location filming. He even went back to Los Angles to have a brain scans. I also understand there were some other problems. I suppose all of this might add up to what was finally reported as to the cause of death.

While working on "Kentucky Fried Movie," I had the chance to spend time with George Lazenby who Bruce had planned to pick up at the airport that night. We had an interesting discussion, but who knows.

I was also privy to some other information from a direct source that indicated an intention of foul play, but I have no way of knowing if was actually carried out. In truth, I just don't know.

Temple of the Unknown: Hello Mr.strong its an honour for us to ask you a few questions.My questions are as follows:

1)In your opinion could you describe an excellent fighter/opponent?

2)what are your views on philipino martial arts specially escrima,kali, are they the best to study?

3)And my last q is what did Bruce Lee did for you that touched your heart and did he ever got mad/happy about you?

I thank you very much for coming here and sharing your info's with us fans.

Patrick Strong: Thank-you for the kind words.

You asked:

1)In your opinion could you describe an excellent fighter/opponent?

Rickson Gracie!

I mention Rickson because although his methodology is different than Bruce's he shares the same kind of high level. Like Bruce, Rickson is a master of incredible skill. He also as the spirit of a warrior, ready and prepared to fight. Again like Bruce, Rickson is always the complete complement of his opponent. He doesn't fight his opponent, he fights with him. He is a smart fighter and a strategist who never loses his emotional control. He is at work throughout the fight, putting the science to his methodology to work. To me, these qualities are what make a great fighter.

2)what are your views on philipino martial arts specially escrima,kali, are they the best to study?

I am a big fan of FMA, having studied Modern Arnis and Balintiwak. A few years ago, I went to Milan, Italy as coach and trainer to Rick Mitchel who won 1st place in the World Full-contact Stick Fighting Championship.

3)And my last q is what did Bruce Lee did for you that touched your heart and did he ever got mad/happy about you?

What Bruce did most for me was to be my friend and inspiration. I believe that much of what I am today is because of him. I miss him very much.

Temple of the Unknown: Do you consider yourself a Bruce Lee "fan". I am sure it is better just having known him but do you watch his films or do any collecting yourself?

Also what are your thoughts on Warriors Journey and the Hype surrounding Bruce's last film.

Patrick Strong: :I've enjoyed Bruce's films. I wasn't crazy about a lot of the martial arts stuff as it didn't really show the real Bruce as a fighter. Take for example, "Game of Death." On on hand, Bruce is critical of his opponent's pre-patterened movements. Then he picks up the nunchukas and performs a lot of pre-patterened movement. Oh well, movies. It would have been fun to have seen the real Bruce Lee. Also, there are a lot of people who judge Bruce's martial ability by those films. And that's a shame. and as for WJ, I'm sorry, I'm not up on any of that stuff.

All of the questions and answers were compiled by JT

If you'd like to email Patrick Strong, CLICK HERE