I have had a couple of people ask me if Bruce Lee could really ‘Kung Fu Fight.’ Obviously, these guys weren’t martial artists, so I was gentle with them. Bruce had two distinct arts. He had his cinema art, which you saw on the screen, and which made him look like the baddest cat around. Then he had his real art, the one he used to be the baddest cat around. Everybody knows about his cinema art, but only JKD students, or very wise researchers, know of his real fighting ability. In 1958 the Little Dragon fought in the Honk Kong boxing championships. He knocked out Gary Elmes in three rounds using some rather vicious Wing Chun trapping maneuvers. In 1959, now a member of the ‘Tigers of Junction Street,’ Bruce was to fight in one of the infamous ‘rooftop’ matches Hong Kung was famous for. He was sucker punched, and became so angry he broke his attacker’s arm. In 1962 Bruce fought a Karate black belt named ‘Uechi’ in Seattle. The fight lasted all of eleven seconds. Bruce struck Uechi some 15 times, kicked him, and rendered him unconscious. Period. Bruce’s most famous fight was in 1964 with Wong Jack Man in Oakland (San Francisco?). There is a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding this fight, and, because of differing eye witness accounts, there is confusion to this day as to who the winner was. People from Mr. Lee’s camp state the fight lasted three minutes, and Bruce won. People from Wing Jack Man’s camp state that the fight lasted 25 minutes, and that Wong Jack Man won. While there is controversy, it should be pointed out that Bruce changed his training methods after the fight, and formulated his final version of Jeet Kune Do. Win or lose, Bruce was one to learn from his fights. There are also accounts of Bruce acccepting a challenge on the set of Enter the Dragon. He is reported to have handled all the other fellow’s attacks, then taking him down easily. And, the one fight not many people know about, a fellow invaded Bruce’s home in Hong Kong and challenged him to a fight. Bruce states that he had never kicked a fellow harder. Without corroborating accounts, it can still be surmised that the fight lasted the time it takes to do one kick. So, two arts, many fights, and a legend lives up to his name…these are the kung fu fights I tell people about when they are naive enough to ask whether Bruce Lee could fight. If you would like to know more about Kung Fu, and how to learn it well and fast, checkout the Shaolin Butterfly at Monster Martial Arts.
From the research I have done Bruce won a High School boxing tournament.