Hopefully, as people learn more about the context of Bruce Lee’s match with my teacher, Wong Jackman, and begin to discover who Wong Jackman really is, everyone will see that the idea of Wong Jackman trying to prevent Bruce Lee from teaching non Chinese was just a bit of Hollywood spin used to make Bruce Lee sound more heroic.
And now a little historical context….
When Wong Jackman opened his school in San Francisco, his school was a Ching Wu Association School.
The Ching Wu Association was founded by the famous martial arts hero Huo Yuan Jia. Huo has been immortalized in many Kung Fu movies. Huo founded the Ching Wu Association to promote and preserve traditional Chinese Martial Arts and bring them into the 20th Century. After the disastrous Boxer Rebellion, people in China realized martial artists, no matter how expert, were not going to defeat soldiers with guns. They also realized becoming a decent shot with a pistol was a lot less effort than learning Kung Fu. You could hire a body guard with a gun and have better protection than from a martial artist bodyguard. The bodyguard business for martial artists disappeared suddenly. As railroads spread throughout China, the need for caravan escorts also virtually vanished. These two legal jobs for martial artists declined rapidly. Chinese martial arts were dying rapidly. Huo saw martial arts were no longer a career path like they had been. However, martial arts, still had the benefits of increasing health, and personal protection. Both of these were badly needed. Huo loved the traditional martial arts, and wanted to preserve them. With the help of wealthy and patriotic businessmen, Huo founded the Ching Wu Association.
The Ching Wu Association was responsible for modernizing important aspects of martial culture and teaching the public openly. The Ching Wu Association, for the first time in China, taught anyone, both men, and women, who showed up, and paid a modest tuition. There were no lifelong vows of obedience, loyalty, and secrecy. More than one instructor, and style, was promoted at each location. Religious and magical elements were removed. Some western methods of strength training were adopted. The curriculum was organized, there were social events, and other activities throughout the Ching Wu Association. It was a positive place for people to become healthy, socialize, and learn.
San Francisco Jing Wu Physical Culture Association was the name of Wong Jackman’s school. This showed he was championing the cause of freely, and openly teaching traditional Kung Fu. From the first day, Wong taught both men, and women, and people of all races and ethnicity. Teaching martial arts, and spreading traditional martial arts outside of China, and Hong Kong, was why Wong Jackman came to the United States. At this time, the cultural revolution was starting in China, and the traditional martial arts were heavily suppressed throughout the country. Hong Kong was under British control and did not experience the Cultural Revolution and began making fabulous Kung Fu movies. San Francisco was going to become one of the best places to study martial arts of all types as people immigrated to San Francisco from Asia.
Most martial arts teachers teach a single style of martial arts. Wong Jackman taught several styles including Northern Shaolin, Tai Chi Chuan, and Xing Yi Quan (From and Will Boxing). In addition, he also taught historically significant forms, and the best parts of a number of styles, to help preserve them in line with the Ching Wu Association philosophy. These additional styles were LoHan, or Buddha Palm, Liu He, or Six Harmonies, Tang Lang, or Praying Mantis, and Cha Boxing. Wong Jackman also taught many traditional weapons including authentic sword techniques from the legendary Wudang mountain tradition. For those of us who were able to study with him it was an amazing journey through traditional Kung Fu. We are so grateful he came and shared these arts so openly for 40 years.