Breaking the Chains
JKD is not a religion. If JKD were a religion it would be a Buddhist/Taoist influenced religion. This conclusion is prompted by comments about 'personal liberation' and the 'height of simplicity'. No doubt it would be a religion influenced by the ideas of its leading lights; people like Taky Kimura, Dan Inosanto, and Linda Cadwell. Taky Kimura believes helping other people is the most important thing. Dan Inosanto would like to see martial arts used to unite cultures, races, and communities. Linda Cadwell believes life is made up of bundles of energy and intelligence that are endlessly recycled. The positions of Taky and Dan seem akin to that of the Mahayana bodhisattvas who are said to postpone their own salvation in order to help others on the spiritual path, while Ms Cadwell's position seems reminiscent of karma-based systems and Taoist notions about union with nature. As a religion JKD would aspire to a situation where citizens were dedicated to helping other people in a world united through martial art. It would be a world in which children were educated to believe they are made of bundles of energy and intelligence that are endlessly recycled.
A question often asked is, what would JKD be like if Bruce had not died? Some idea of any direction Bruce may have taken could possibly be gleaned by an examination of his situation in the early 1970s. Raymond Chow, of Golden Harvest Films, approached Bruce about the lead role in 'The Big Boss'. In July 1971 Bruce was filming in Thailand, and come October 1971 Bruce and his family moved into 2 Man Wan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong. It was a busy and exciting time for Bruce. He was on the threshold of stardom and superstardom. 'The Big Boss' was a success, and 'Fist of Fury' was an even bigger success. In 1972 Bruce wrote, directed, and stared in 'Way of the Dragon'. This movie was more successful than the previous two. Bruce appeared to be going from strength to strength. He was doing what he most wanted to do, which was make movies. Had Bruce lived he may have neglected his JKD schools in America to concentrate on his movie career. Jeet Kune Do would probably have died out as a name - perhaps it is worth noting that Bruce did not open a JKD school in Hong Kong even though he went there to live. No doubt Bruce would have continued to develop his martial art abilities to look good on screen.
Returning to Hong Kong allowed Bruce access to Grandmaster Yip Man. Bruce had only a partial understanding of the Ving Tsun system when he emigrated to America in 1959. However, according to Grandmaster Victor Kan, Bruce returned to Hong Kong and studied the Ving Tsun system for a further two years. Although Bruce Left Hong Kong in 1959, he returned there for a few months in the summer of 1963 and the summer of 1965. During his 1965 visit Bruce took Brandon to see Grandmaster Yip Man. Evidently, Bruce continued to have an interest in Ving Tsun Kung Fu and Grandmaster Yip Man. Yip Man died in December 1972. Unfortunately, Bruce upset the Chinese martial arts community by not attending the funeral of his Sifu. The martial arts community was going to boycott the films of Bruce Lee. The situation was so serious that Raymond Chow felt it necessary to have an apology for Bruce's behaviour printed on the front page of three leading newspapers. Some people in the Ving Tsun world still feel it was inexcusable of Bruce not to attend Yip Man's funeral. The ill will generated amongst the Ving Tsun family by Bruce Lee's slight of Yip Man made it impossible for Bruce to continue to study Ving Tsun with any of Yip Man's top students. Had Bruce been able to continue his Ving Tsun training, advanced Ving Tsun techniques would have featured in his movies and his JKD.
Before his name became associated with Bruce Lee, Grandmaster Yip Man had made Ving Tsun Kung Fu famous in Hong Kong. Yip Man had begun learning Ving Tsun in Fat Shan, Kwangtung, in southern China, when still a young boy - some accounts claim he was only seven years old, other accounts claim he was nine years old, while other accounts say he was eleven years old. His teacher, Chan Wah Shan, had studied with Leung Jan. Leung Jan made Ving Tsun famous throughout Kwangtung by defeating masters from many other systems. He had two sons. Several traditions maintain that at the age of fifteen Yip Man met the eldest of these in Hong Kong. His name was Leung Bik. Yip Man studied with Leung Bik for several years before returning to Fat Shan. In 1949 Yip Man moved to Hong Kong, where he lived until his death in December 1972. It was Grandmaster Yip Man who decided what the spelling of Ving Tsun should be.
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