DW Forum - First question, do you know if there were any witness who seen Bruce going into Betty's apartment the day he died, and also were there any witnesses that seen him when he went into the hospital, besides the obvious. Second question, in the morgue pic, in Death by Misadventure, is that a morgue pic, or is a picture from the autopsy? Sorry I haven't got around to reading your book yet, but I live in Canada, and summers are short, so I do most of my reading in the winter, but I will read it; from what I have been hearing it's a good piece of work, I can't wait.
Davis Miller - Thanks for your interest in my work, T. I hope that you enjoy TAO OF BRUCE LEE. Yes, there were/are witnesses who saw Lee go to Betty Ting Pei's. I'll reveal who, and their stories, in THE LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE. The doctor who admitted Lee at hospital knew very well that he was dead, and had been for several hours.
DW Forum - Bruce had planned to leave for the US with the HK crew which at that timewould have totallydestroyed the HK film industry, so the only way to stop him would be to killhim off and make it looklike an accident. Sometime before May 10th, weeks or months even, his food/drink etc istainted with a poison that works in twoparts, this was part one.May 10th, ETD is finished and Bruce is in the dubbing room and collapses inthe toilets, he's later diagnosed ashaving a swelling of the brain, in actual fact his weight loss wasn't due toover work as most HK actors of today work just as hard and have no worries,his body was failing because of the poison, he had became very ill andnearly died. The doctors prescribed the drug Manatol to reduce the swelling, which isactual fact doesn't do that, Manatol is used to counter poison, Bruce slowlyregained some health and flew to Los Angeles where he was given a clean billof health,the poison being of two parts was undetectable, it wasn't a completedformulation. He resumes GOD looking very frail and tired,July 20th, Bruce complains of a headache, in actual fact he didn't at all,he was at Betty's wen she slipped him part two of the poison which wasEquagesic, this tablet alone is totally harmless but mix it with poison oneand it becomes lethal.Bruce then became very ill and was taken outside and severely beat to deathby triads hired by Chow and a few others,without the poison disabling his fighting ability this wouldn't have beenpossible, he was then brought back inside and laid on the bed, Betty thencalled Chow to tell him the "job" was done, (Not that she couldn't wake himup as the report says), when he hears the news, he replied, "How many others are dead???", he tookages to arrive in order to make sure he really was dead, an ambulance wasthen called, but Bruce had long gone, he was taken to a well equipped roomand was placed on the floor on a stretcher without an help at all for quitea while, the staff wanted nothing to do with him as it was plain obviouswhat had happened, he was finally taken care of and was washed to hide theevidence.While his body was in the morgue, a reporter sneaked in and took ONE photo,that is ALL that exists,90% of the fans regard the picture as sick, they don't see it as what itREALLY is, it is the ONE piece of evidence that backs up this theory, theinjuries to the head are NOT possible to be caused by a single equagesic,equagesic played a part but it wasn't it that killed him,Later at the inquest Chow lies through his teeth making double negatives, hewas eventually being booed off by reporters,The reason for Bruce's death was money and greed at the hands of RaymondChow, a sad story where justice will never bedone,This theory is missing quite a bit of stuff yet I admit, but I always thought why not just poison him, then you see the facial bruising and swelling of the neck on the morgue photo's and they suggest a beating may have come into play.
DW Forum - That was very interesting, but if Betty was in on it then why have Bruce taken outside to be beaten and risk being caught by a photographer, or a witness passing by, and why the beating if Bruce was going to die from the poison anyway, this would only draw more suspicion. I still think that the "morgue" pic is actually the autopsy photo, I heard that it is common practice to take photo's of the body during an autopsy, they are part of the records kept on the file; I even recently seen JFK's autopsy photo's on TV. As far as Bruce being beaten, I think that Bruce would have looked a hell of a lot worse than the "morgue" pic shows. I know something for a fact, that before a body is prepared for a funeral the deceased persons mouth is stapled shut, from the inside, to prevent it from opening; in the picture of Bruce in the "morgue" his mouth is closed, if it wasn't stapled it would have been open. And another thing I know for a fact, that there was an autopsy done on Bruce, so his mouth had to have been stapled after the autopsy was done, probably by the same people who performed the autopsy. If what I have said makes sence, than that would explain the way Bruce looked in that "morgue" pic.
Davis Miller - That's not an autopsy photo, Lee's autopsy was not performed until three days after his death. (Very sloppy.) And the skull cap is removed during autopsy. What you're saying about a physical beating, however, is true. He would've looked much worse. That's not what happened to him, plain and simple.
DW Forum - If that is not a autopsy photo, than it must have been taken after the autopsy, because his mouth is closed, do you not agree that a deceased persons mouth is stapled shut, to prevent it from opening, before the body is placed in the casket. Why would this be done before the autopsy?
Davis Miller - I think you're assuming that people's mouths always fall open when they die. That's surely not always the case. Superlatives ("never," "always,") don't hold up in the real world.
DW Forum - Since the Death of Bruce Lee there have been many versions (rumors)surrounding his death. Honestly I don't buy this. First of all there are many H.K film crews so why would Chow be concerned if he really did want to take them to the states? I must be missing something here with such animosity existing between Bruce & Chow. It was because of Bruce that Chow achieved success with Golden Harvest so why kill your main bread & butter? Might as well say Lo Wei ordered such right? As for the morgue pic, after death the body usually tends to take unusual deformities such as swelling to even the point of not being able to recognize the corpse and this is also contributed from rigomortis. It's unfortunate that there's only one photo out there to analyze. I personally have had a family member pass away surprisingly from a sudden burst of blood vessel in the brain and in the best of health. Equagesic can be a deadly medicine especially if one might be allergic to it and since it was prescribed for someone else. Any medicine can be. Although one can never state what is truth with existing evidence, we can use logic as best we can and try to fit the pieces together. I know we've discussed this but i had to voice my honest opinion my friend.
Davis Miller - You're right: Bruce Lee wasn't murdered. But Equagesic didn't kill him, either.
Davis Miller - The circumstances of Brce Lee's death have never been precisely revealed, and they are somewhat different from anything that has been written or theorized. In the process of researching and writing my next book, THE LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE, I will extensively interview the people who were with him day in, day out for the last year of his life -- and reveal exactly and precisely what it was that happened to him, as well as how it took place. This is a book that will take me roughly two years to research and write, after the twenty-eight years I've already put into the project.
DW Forum - Can you please tell me where I can view Bruce Lee's morgue photo? It's been bugging me ever since I found out such material existed. A website or something would help greatly. I just wanna see this for myselfso that I can put some questions to rest.
Davis Miller - George Tan used the photo in his documentary film, DEATH BY MISADVENTURE, which I helped him write. DBM is not yet available in the US. It is for sale in England and many other countries. George and I plan to release a new version of the film on DVD in 2003 for the thirtieth anniversary of Lee's death.
DW Forum - I appreciate your response, I'm just kinda shook up by the fact that Chow would murder Bruce in such a cowardly fashion. I dont know, but alot of people would rather not touch Bruce's death, that seems to be a topic that carries alot of backstory. I met Guro Dan Inosanto ( He's my instructors teacher) in a seminarlast year, and I asked him if he thought Bruce was murdered and he just kinda smirked and changed the topic. It's really messed up that money/greed canlead to such catastrophic ends...I guess the fame Bruce wanted, wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Guro Dan really loved Bruce, and I guess I made him uncomfortable asking such a question. Well may justice be served someday...
DW Forum - To me it is obvious that he was assasinated for many obvious reasons, but do u know the real people behind this incident??? And what are your views on Brandon's death? Was he murdered too???????
Davis Miller - As for Brandon Lee's death, no, he wasn't murdered. Carelessness and high ignorance on several fronts is what caused his demise. Incidentally, when he was shot, I was working on the documentary, CURSE OF THE DRAGON. I live only 200 miles from where Brandon was shot in Wilmington, North Carolina. A research assistant was on the phone with someone from Carolco Studios (the studio that was producing THE CROW) setting up a time for me to drive down to Wilmington to interview Brandon for CURSE. During the conversation, the person from Carolco came on and said there'd just been an accident on the set. She'd call back as soon as she could. The accident, of course, was that Brandon Lee had just been shot.
DW Forum - Where were Wu Ngan, his wife & all the kids on Friday July 20th, 1973 as Cumberland Road seemed empty apart from Chow & Bruce? Is it true that Bob Baker was in Hong Kong on this day? Any truth in the rumours of Chan Wai Man being with Bruce on this day?
Davis Miller - First, Bob Baker was not in Hong Kong and was not the source for Lee's hashish. I know the source. Ever since 20 July 1973, he has blamed himself for Lee's death. Much more on this in THE LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE. At this time, while I'm still researching THE LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE, I'll only say this much: Several people were with Bruce Lee throughout the day on 20 July. When the book is published, you'll have the details fully documented.
DW Forum - What caused Linda to leave the Lee residence with the children on July 20th, leaving Chow and Lee alone? It was a heated exhange between all three, can you elaborate any further? Why did Chow have to drive Lee's Merc down to Bettys and why was Lee hiding in the car to make sure no one saw him? What was the REAL reason for Lee to go down to Bettys on July 20th?
Davis Miller - Bruce Lee and Betty Ting Pei: She adored him; she was mostly just another woman to him. And not the woman (other than his wife) that he was seeing the most of while in Hong Kong. More on this in the book. Bruce Lee said this of Betty Ting Pei: 'She always brightens up a dull day.' This was in reference to a particular ability of Ms Ting Pei's. More on that in the book, too.
DW Forum - Have you interviewed Betty Ting Pei for your book?
Davis Miller - I'll be interviewing her this fall along with everyone I can find (who's still alive) who was with him not only on 20 July but throughout the last year of his life.
DW Forum - Will you gain access to her, she rarely gives any interviews?
Davis Miller - She and I share a few friends. I hope to make it happen. Access has seldom been a problem for me, no matter what I'm writing. For whatever reasons, people trust me and implicitly understand I won't hurt them. I'm very kind and patient and work to find the largest possible view of what's true. That often seems to help.
DW Forum - How many chapters will your new book have and will they be major revelations?
Davis Miller - Yes, it will be full of never-before-revealed details. In fact, I'm not uncomfortable saying that the vast majority of the information in the book will be brand new to EVERYONE who reads it, including even the former Linda Lee herself.I purposely divided my book, THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE, into 32 chapters, one for each year of Lee's life. Many of the basic details of Lee's life and times, his martial art, his death, and his place in history are in TAO OF LEE. And it's the only book that is accurate on those details. I expect that THE LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE will be about 400 pages. When you read the book, you'll get a very real sense of who Bruce Lee was (what made him laugh, how he lived his life day-to-day, what he worried about -- and also exactly what went 'wrong') and wasn't, and you'll learn precisely what happened that killed him.
DW Forum - Has any pressure been put on you to drop the 'Last Days of Lee', by the Lee estate/Chow or others. Bleeker was pressured to drop his book, has the same been done to you? Have you encountered major resistance by certain people whilst conducting your research? An off topic question, do think R/Lee's book will ever be released?
Davis Miller - The only pressure has been in getting enough money to write the book, Jimmy. So far, I've sold it only for the UK. My American publisher hasn't yet committed. This is going to be an enormously expensive book to write. Between the direct and indirect expenses (travel, interviewing, research and writing time, god knows what else), LAST DAYS will cost me in the neighborhood of $100,000 to write. My advance for the book, both in England and in the US (assuming I can sell it here), will not be nearly that large. You guys can help by buying American copies of TAO OF BRUCE LEE, which I hope will convince my editor that there's a market for this book. He doesn't seem to think that there is.
DW Forum - When will the days of bruce lee be released?
Davis Miller - I hope to time it to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of Lee's death. Thanks for asking.
DW Forum - Is is true that Bruce and Linda were seperated or the marriage wasnt going well around the time of his death? Did Brandon really plan to have his father's body dug up and examined after filming The Crow? Thank You for your time today, I just finished watching the A&E bigraphy about Bruce.
Davis Miller - It's fair to say that it wasn't going well between Bruce and Linda Lee. I doubt seriously that Brandon Lee would have attempted to have his dad's body exhumed.
DW Forum - I'd like to ask you if you had or will have to Bruce's autopsy notes and report in order to publish it in your forthcoming book? If so, to which extent are they revealing, for Brandon Lee reportedly became so outraged when he read them that he had plans to request the exhuming of his father's body, shortly before he too passed away?One other question I had for you concerns the testimonial of Raymond Chow: at the inquest when he was asked why Lee's body was filled of bruises, Chow answered that it was due to Bruce's constant practice of nunchakus both on and off the film sets! Was he lying, and if so, why was Lee's corpse bruised throughout?
Davis Miller - The autopsy was dramatically summarized in the Hong Kong newspapers during the inquest. I have read those summaries many times over the years. On my next trip to Hong Kong, I will get a copy of the actual autopsy. There were numerous irregularities in Lee's physical condition at the time of death. Contrary to rumor, however, there were no bruises on his body. Raymond Chow testified at the inquest that Lee was sometimes struck while working on his movies. There was no response about nunchukas or about bruises at the time of his death: Again, there were none. The cause of his death was not as simple as murder.
DW Forum - When Lee was in HKONG for 2 years, whilst Linda was at home in the states looking after the children, is it true that Lee had 'romantic liasons' with other women? Linda knew of Lee and his 'romantic liasons' but was powerless to do anything, Lee only stayed with Linda because of the children, although towards the end, the marriage was practically broken down. What are your views on this? Am I correct in saying that Lee liked Nora and Maria more than Betty?
Davis Miller - Bruce Lee had sexual relationships with women as far back as 1967. In Hong Kong, he was much more of a tomcat. I'll hold info about Nora Miao, Maria Yi and others until the publication of LAST DAYS.
DW Forum - Several people claim that there are on-going investigations into Lee's death, even after 28 years. If there were any on-going investigations into Lee's death, surely these would have found their way into the media. Davis, are you aware of any on-going investigations into Lee's death? Will you be showing the time of events that occured on July 20th in your book?
Davis Miller - There are no current investigations into Lee's death. And yes, I'll give a timeline for 20 July -- and, more importantly, a day-to-day, moment-to-moment detailing of the events surrounding Lee's demise.
DW Forum - Will you be naming names concerning the people who set Bruce Lee up?
Davis Miller - One person -- and only one. I will very explicitly detail his role.
DW Forum - How can you account for the bruising on bruces body if no one touched him?
Davis Miller - No bruises; among other oddiities, however there were ruptured blood vessels in Lee's lungs.
DW Forum - Was Linda Lee in on the death or not??? Bruce's weight loss was apparently caused from overwork from ETD, if this not true, was poison a part of this??? Whats the REAL reason why the coffin/clothes were swopped because I don't buy the story of blue dye leaking from the suit when he was dressed in white, was the HK funeral set up, was that REALLY Bruce??? I know its hard for you to answer these questions without saying too much, If you say too much it would spoil the book, but my final question is, is ANYONE responsible for Bruce's death, in other words had nobody done anything would he be alive today or did he die from hashish or some other self infliction??? My initial theory I posted was simply what I myself have gathered, I can see now that I'm far from discovering the truth.
Davis Miller - He was strung-out. This was a very sensitive man, who didn't handle the perceived pressures of stardom at all well. He was getting what he'd thought he wanted -- and was finding out it didn't work for him. I'll write pretty much about the weight loss in the new book. (There's some stuff about it in TAO OF LEE, too.) For now, suffice it to say that the weight loss and lack of body fat was one of many serious factors that lead to Lee's death. I'll answer your questions one at a time, DM. WIth regards to yur previous questions, first, his wife wasn't in on anything. It amazes me she apparently didn't see it or something else calamitous coming, though. In the nearly thirty years since his death, I'll bet she's figured out a lot of what happened to him, though. It's not, however, in her best interests to share those details. There will be lots of information in LAST DAYS that Linda Lee-Cadwell was not privy to, and that will surprise her. Regardless of what she says publicly about my work, however, she'll understand that I got it right.
DW Forum - Why was Lee on a only liquid diet the last 6 months of his life?
Davis Miller - He wasn't on a liquid diet but he wasn't eating well at all. I've talked with a couple of very capable, well-regarded doctors about this. He may very well have had an eating disorder. Again, the guy was not at all well. And he was an ultra-sensitive man. He was bigtime strung-out. As far as Tom Bleecker's assertion that Bruce Lee was a heavy drinker, here's the truth: He drank saki while living in Hong Kong. And he had very low tolerance not only for alcohol but for almost anything he introduced into his system. He got drunk very easily. And he was trying to live like Mr. Hollywood.
DW Forum - Its been said that Peter Lee did not get on much with B/Lee after B/Lee jokingly punched Peter. This caused Peter to keep a distance from B/Lee, Peter Lee kept himself to himself and liked his own space. Towards the end of Lee's life what was the relationship like between Bruce Lee and Robert/Peter Lee? Davis, will you be writing on this issue in LAST DAYS OF LEE?
Davis Miller - I'll write everything in the book that I consider relevant to the story. Bruce Lee had a lot of respectfor his brother Peter -- and less respect for Robert. Peter Lee is a stand-up kind of guy. You're right in saying that he's quiet and keeps things to himself. He's said of his relationship with Bruce Lee, "We could sit together in a room by ourselves and feel so comfortable we didn't have to talk." I think that's a fairly revealing statement.
FYI: I don't know if you've heard of the five ways of attack that Lee outlined. People think that Lee "discovered" these himself. The truth is that he learned them from his brother Peter, who in turn learned them from a book about fencing: Peter Lee was a talented fencer.
DW Forum - Why the delay in taking bruce to the hospital, why was the doctor and ambulance called so late?
Davis Miller - Two reasons for this. 1 - ineptitude. 2 - wanting to save face. It's almost impossible to overstate the role of both giving and saving face in Hong Kong Chinese culture. No one wanted to be caught with the most famous person in Hong Kong dead in their flat. Hong Kong Chinese are infamous for refusing to have involvement with anything that could cause them to lose face. Please see Dr. Donald Langford's quotes about this in TAO OF BRUCE LEE.
DW Forum - What is your opinion on Robert Lee's quote that the tablet chapter is foul play, and he is waiting for some people to die,for publishing his book about Bruce Lee's death.
Davis Miller - Robert Lee has been saying this for a lot of years. My opinion is that he is desperate to be taken seriously and that he has no real information about his brother's death. it is also my opinion that no book will be forthcoming from Bruce Lee's younger brother.
DW Forum - If Bruce Lee wasn't murdered. But Equagesic didn't kill him, then what killed him?
Davis Miller - The cause of Bruce Lee's death was multifactorial. A lot of things contributed to his demise. I say (and also imply) what a number of these factors are in TAO OF BRUCE LEE. In LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE, I will give you the moment-to-moment, day-to-day details. I'll also say this here: Medically, we have much greater understanding about many of the things that contributed to Lee's death than we knew in 1973. Indeed, in '73, as a society we didn't have a clue about what would eventually cause Lee's death.
DW Forum - How much a part does Raymond Chow have in Bruce Lees death?
Davis Miller - Raymond Chow was helping promote a very unhealthy life for Bruce Lee. It is that way of living that directly caused Bruce Lee's death. Raymond Chow did not know that this would happen; his role was indirect. The same could be said of many people around Bruce Lee.
DW Forum - Is it true Bruce Lee's finger nails were black when he died?
Davis Miller - I'll compare that rumor to the one that says Bruce Lee died with an erection that was still present when he got to the hospital. There's so much ridiculous stuff out there. When I get the entire autopsy papers on my next visit to Hong Kong, I'll verify what shape his hands were in.
DW Forum - For years people having been playing the game that Lee and Chow had a meeting to discuss Betty's role in Game of Death at Betty's flat. This can't possibly be true, as why would Lee put his lover [Betty] in his own movie!. Doing this would simply play into the hands of Lee's enemies. Davis, what was the REAL reason that Lee/Chow went over to Betty on July 20th 1973?
Davis Miller - Bruce Lee was spending a lot of time with Betty Ting Pei. That's about all I'll say right now, Jimmy. A question for you to ask yourself: How did Ms. Ting meet Mr. Lee? I'll answer that in LAST DAYS.
DW Forum - What and how different will the similarities be between the Last Days of Bruce Lee and what Tom Bleecker wrote in Unsettled Matters?
Davis Miller - Last days of Bruce Lee will bear almost no relationship to Tom Bleecker's book or to anything else that's ever been published about Lee. You're going to get the real stories for the first times -- and have them entirely supported in verifiable ways. But it's going to read like a big novel or a true crime story. When you read the book, you'll have the sense that you're actually there while the events are happening.
DW Forum - I was informed that Bruce was taking Chow to court to split up their Concord film production company. Bruce was to get his fair share of the funds & return back to the US to live & work. This would of been a good motive for Chow!! An Example - When Jackie Chan became very succesful in the late 70's he was meant to be filming for Lo Wei but didn't and filmed for GH instead. Lo Wei went crazy and Jackie was put on a hit list. It got so bad that Jackie (the new hong kong superstar) had to flee to the US where he had to live under a false alias for a few years as the triads were after him. Just shows what happens if you mess around with the top Hong Kong film businessman & triads i.e. Chow & Wei. Of course Bruce hated both of these guys around the time of his death lol and was easily the biggest star of the Far East. I still believe Bruce was poisoned but the first time (May 10th) he was saved because he was treated quickly by Doctor Langford re mannitol. Bruce had kidney malfuncture & a very high BUN reading due to poison!! However, i am very much looking forward to reading your book & findings. Just a few thoughts. A Hong Kong newspaper reported that a few packets of powder were found on Bruce when he was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Any comments please? In 'Tao of Bruce Lee' you write that Bruce had stopped all physical training apart from his daily running just prior to his death. Was Bruce thinking of retiring from doing martial art films in your opinion and any further insight will be much appreciated?
Davis Miller - Yes, Bruce Lee was certain that Raymond Chow was stealing from him. And he was quite upset about it. I'll learn more about this over the next year or so and will write what i learn. It's true that in the last month and a half of his life, Lee had basically stopped training. Whats more, during his entire stay in Hong Kong in the early seventies, he wasn't training so much as a martial artist as he was training/practicing martial arts for films. That's an important distinction. Did he have plans to quit making action films that highlighted his martial arts skills? Certainly not at the time he died, though Linda Lee has (I think truthfully) said that her husband wanted to eventually stop making martial arts-driven movies and move on to other sorts of roles and other projects.
Davis Miller - By the way in reponse to an earlier question. I can't say whether Bruce Lee would be alive today. Period. In a number of ways, he was a fragile man. I feel completely comfortable saying that if he had not moved back to Hong Kong, he would've lived longer. And I can also say with some certainty that if he didn't believe the only person he could trust in the whole wide world was Bruce Lee himself (not a smart way for anyone to come to their life and to the people around them), he would not have died in July 1973. Lee didn't have REAL reasons not to trust what other people were telling him; he simply didn't think that anyone knew what they were talking about. That's the way he came to his martial art -- and, more and more, that's the way he came to his life. And that's a big part of what killed him. The reporters at the newspapers didn't purposely lie. Linda Lee and Raymond Chow constructed the story that BL had died at home while taking a walk with Ms. Lee in their meditation garden. LL and RC came up with this at one am on the morning after Lee died. It was then sent to newspapers as the official statement from the Lee family.
DW Forum - Would like to know how much of Bruce Lee's death and its real causes is revealed in Tao. Furthermore, are there any plans to translate 'Tao'and 'Last days' also into german ?
Davis Miller - The Tao of Bruce Lee is quite accurate about both Bruce lee's life and his death. In addition to being about the numerous ways Bruce Lee influenced me, as well as the ways he's influenced the people who visit this forum and hundreds of thousands of other folks, the book is intended to provide a primer into the basics of Lee's story and to look past the myths and legends to find some of what's real and true about the most influential martial artist ever and one of the most famous people of the 20th-century. THE LAST DAYS OF BRUCE will not supercede the information in TAO OF BRUCE LEE. It will go under the surface to get into the flesh and blood and bones of the story. Maybe it would be fair to think of LAST DAYS as something of a postgraduate program in Bruce Lee studies. I hope that this answer is of help to you. My first book, THE TAO OF MUHAMMAD ALI, has been translated into German under the title DAS GEHEIMNIS DES MUHAMMAD ALI. I hear that my work has been very well-received in Germany. I hope that a German publisher will eventually buy rights to both TAO OF BRUCE LEE and LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE.
DW Forum - Does Shannon Lee think she can control the bruce lee world/forums/magazines/books/conventions etc?
Davis Miller - Whether she thinks so or not, she can't. I wonder if her attorneys may take her for a very expensive ride before they tell her what they already know -- she can control licensing of his name and image for commercial mass-production, but that's about all.
DW Forum - What is this about a blue liquid coming out of Bruce`s coffin?
Davis Miller - Simply the dye from the traditional Chinese suit he was wearing. No liquid from the coffin. The white lining of the coffin was stained by the dye from Lee's clothing. Stuff happens.
DW Forum - I have one question that may seem disrespectful to Bruce, although being a hardcore traditonal shaolin and yet fei practitioner i can assure you im am purely inquisitive. I have trained kung fu all my life, traditional kung fu, master learnt in China and he is now the head hancho, keeper of the art, i have built great skills and defence is no problem. Bruce Lee spent so much time "bagging" traditional martial arts saying it was a waste of time and that "his way-(of no way)" was better idea. I cannot comprehend this though as all his skills, reflexes and training came fraom a traditional martial art! I know for a fact that he still trained his traditional exercises as you can see it even in his films. I was hoping you could comment on this.
Davis Miller - Lee was trying to get to the essence to that which he considered most efficient in every martial art, and every martial arts style, he studied and dissected. He was hoping to eliminate all that he regarded as wasteful and ineffective in the martial arts and achieve a superior, universal martial art. Did he achieve this? Nope. Is it an achievable goal? No way. (Pun intended.) Is it a useful experiment to have performed? I'm not always sure. After all, there are better ways to be in the world than to go around finding more efficient ways to pummel other living, breathing, aching, crying, laughing, dreaming human beings. And yes, Bruce Lee continued to practice a number of martial arts up until the end of his life, particularly including wing chun. His own teacher, Wong Shun Leung, says that Lee's actual martial arts skills had deteriorated by the spring of 1973, however, that his timing and defense were not as good as they had been before he returned to Hong Kong to make movies. This may be due to the fact that while in Hong Kong in the early 1970s, Lee was not so much practicing and continuing to develop his fighting skills as he was making movies and developing a "martial art" for use in the movies. Lee's skills as a fighter did not come simply from a traditional martial art as they did from having intensely studied a great number of martial arts, and also fencing with his brother Peter, many Western boxing books and films (particularly those of Muhammad Ali and Jack Dempsey), wrestling, jujitsu, judo and other grappling systems, and INDIVIDUAL sport martial arts competitors, especially Joe Lewis (from whom Lee learned both his step-across sidekick and his backfist), Chuck Norris (from whom Lee taught himself a spinning backkick) and Louis Delgado (from whom Lee learned some of the kicking combinations you see in his films). He also admired Nishiyama, a very traditional Japanese martial artist who lived in California and whose classes Lee attended. And he was so taken with Steve Sanders, another California-based karate practitioner, that he offered Sanders the role of head instructor of Lee's martial art, a role Sanders told Lee he did not want. It's worth mentioning that among the reasons that Dan Inosanto unofficially became "heir" to Lee's martial art is that no one Lee actually offered the role to was interested. I think it's helpful to also mention that Bruce Lee was quite a salesperson. And what did Lee sell? Himself and his martial art. He worked very hard to sell himself to the martial arts community in general, as well as to powerful Hollywood producers, directors and writers, and eventually to the world at large through his movies. And though he was a person of small physical stature, Lee was not of small ego. He NEEDED to be regarded as the best martial artist in the world. This is surely some factor in his seeming disregard for traditional martial arts.
DW Forum - Can you tell is all the REAL version of the Wong Jack Man fight, how long did it really last? Did Lee suffer bruising/cuts during the fight? Why did it really start in the first place? Do you go with the Linda Lee Cadwell version of events 'it lasted less than 3 mins....etc'?
Bruce Lee’s wife Linda recalls a total of 13 persons, including herself. But the only person that she identifies other than her husband and his associate James Lee, who died of cancer shortly before her husband died, is Wong Jack Man. Wong, meanwhile, remembers only seven persons being present, including the three Lees. Of the three persons other than the Lees and himself, only one, a tai chi teacher named William Chen (not to be confused with the William Chi Cheng Chen who teaches the art in New York), could be located. Chen recalls about 15 persons being present but can identify none other than Wong and the Lees. So except for a skimpy reference to the fight by Bruce Lee himself in a magazine interview, we are left with only three firsthand accounts of the battle. They are accounts which vary widely.
Linda Lee, in her book Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew, initially dismisses the fight as follows:
"The two came out, bowed formally and then began to fight. Wong adopted a classic stance whereas Bruce, who at the time was still using his Wing Chun style, produced a series of straight punches. Within a minute, Wong’s men were trying to stop the fight as Bruce began to warm to his task. James Lee warned them to let the fight continue. A minute later, with Bruce continuing the attack in earnest, Wong began to backpedal as fast as he could. For an instant, indeed, the scrap threatened to degenerate into a farce as Wong actually turned and ran. But Bruce pounced on him like a springing leopard and brought him to the floor where he began pounding him into a state of demoralization."
"Is that enough?" shouted Bruce.
"That’s enough!" pleaded Wong in desperation.
So the entire matter was just another quick triumph for the man who frequently boasted he could whip any man in the world. Or was it? Later in her book, Linda Lee hints that the fight may have amounted to more than the brief moment of violent diversion she had earlier described.
"Bruce’s whole life was an evolving process - and this was never seen to greater effect than in his work with the martial arts," she begins. "The clash with Wong Jack Man metamorphosed his own personal expression of kung fu. Until this battle, he had largely been content to improvise and expand on his original Wing Chun style, but then he suddenly realized that although he had won comparatively easily, his performance had been neither crisp of efficient. The fight, he realized, ought to have ended within a few seconds of him striking the first blows - instead of which it had dragged on for three minutes. In addition, at the end, Bruce had felt unusually winded which proved to him he was far from perfect condition. So he began to dissect the fight, analyzing where he had gone wrong and seeking to find ways where he could have improved his performance. It did not take him long to realize that the basis of his fighting art, the Wing Chun style, was insufficient. It laid too much stress on hand techniques, had very few kicking techniques and was, essentially, partial." Still later in the book, Linda Lee adds: "The Wong Jack Man fight also caused Bruce to intensify his training methods. From that date, he began to seek out more and more sophisticated and exhaustive training methods. I shall try to explain these in greater detail later, but in general the new forms of training meant that Bruce was always doing something, always training some part of his body or keeping it in condition." Whether Bruce Lee’s intensified training was to his benefit or to his destruction is a matter to be discussed later. For now, merely let it be observed that the allegedly insignificant "scrap" described early by Linda Lee has now been identified by her as cause for her husband to intensify his training and serves as the pivotal reason for his abandoning the fighting style he had practiced religiously for more than 10 years. That the fight with Wong was the reason Lee quit, and then later repudiated the Wing Chun style, was confirmed by Lee himself in an interview with Black Belt. "I’d gotten into a fight in San Francisco (a reference, no doubt, to the Bay Area rather than the city) with a Kung-Fu cat, and after a brief encounter the son-of-a-bitch started to run. I chased him and, like a fool, kept punching him behind his head and back. Soon my fists began to swell from hitting his hard head. Right then I realized Wing Chun was not too practical and began to alter my way of fighting."
Davis Miller - Wong was a timid, puny and less than qualified opponent. Here's the most plausible story I've heard of the "fight" itself. Lee apparently knocked Wong down with a straight blast and did not jump on him. Wong got up and ran with Lee chasing him around the room, trying to pound the back of Wong's head with closed fists. (Lee was inexperienced and didn't know better than to hit someone on the back of the noggin with fists.) Lee's hands became painfully swollen and he was gasping for air. Finally, he tackled Wong, knocking him to the floor, where he pinned his arms and sat on him until Wong "said uncle." Hardly an epic battle. By all accounts, Lee's less than consummate performance caused him to re-evaluate both his martial art and his level of physical conditioning. This variation of a schoolyard tussle eventually lead to a worldwide revolution in how martial arts and taught and practiced. I hope that this response is of some help to you in separating the myths of Lee from the reality.
DW Forum - Do you know if Bruce had any REAL fights on the film sets excluding Enter the Dragon?
Davis Miller - Lee had at least one real skirmish other than on the ETD set. Maybe skirmish is too strong a word, though. He was being given a hard time by a hairdresser on the "Fist of Fury" set. Lee folded the guy with a single sidekick. That's the only historical fight I've found evidence of, other than on the "Enter" set.
DW Forum - Can you tell us anything about the guy that sneaked into Bruce's backyard, I heard out of all of Bruce's fights, this guy got the most beat up. Would you be kind enough to share any info on the incident?
Davis Miller - This guy jumped the stone wall of Lee's Kowloon Tong home. The apparent reason: a newspaper challenge offering a movie contract to whoever beat Lee. This was another guy Lee said he folded with a single sidekick. He told his student Herb Jackson that he kicked this guy harder than he'd ever kicked anyone. "I gave it all to him," Jackson quotes Lee as saying. For more on this, please read my book THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE.
DW Forum - George Tan mentioned that Lee threw away the straightblast after the Wong Jack Man encounter, can you expand on this? Lee threw away the straightblast, what about all these jkd 'teachers' who still use it? How can they call themselves jkd 'certified' if they use a straighblast which Lee disgarded?
Davis Miller - He didn't so much throw the straight blast away as he modified it. He had been shown its limitations, as well as his own misunderstandings of how and when to use it. Up until the day he died, Lee kept an enormously powerful straight blast as part of his arsenal. The attempt after the Wong fight was to do away with his own limitations, to step outside what he had known and become the ultimate martial artist. As far as your question about "jeet kune do" instructors and what is being taught and called Bruce Lee's martial art, in my opinion Lee would be embarrassed not only by the crap that's being passed off as his martial art, but also by the vast majority of those folks who teach it. Since Lee's death, so-called JKD has become mostly the very stuff that Lee railed against; it is structured, unintentionally dogmatic, reverential, preachy, basically useless: It is, in short, the "classical mess." An interesting side note: It's helpful to look at Christian teachings in a similar light.
DW Forum - I agree with your points. How can these 'certified' jkd instructors have the nerve to claim that their 'certified'?, Lee NEVER certified them or even Linda Lee Cadwell. Basically these JKD wannabes are out there to fleece the public! They don't teach Lee's JKD, Lee took this with him when he passed away. It's their own interpretation of JKD with is so FAR away from Lee's original methods. What's your view on Inosanto?
Davis Miller - Inosanto would probably be the world's premier martial arts historian and ethnologist if such a thing existed. He is enormously knowledgable about martial history. And he is an amazing stick and knife guy. He is not, however, to e even remotely confused with a good, or even particularly capable, empty-hand fighter. He would be beaten empty-hand by very, very many people. And the ways he teaches empty-handed fighting would get people hurt in actual fights. He simply doesn't "get" the details or the flow of empty-hand. This opinion will surely irritate some/many people who believe otherwise, but I know what I'm talking about in this. Most other "JKD" instructors have scarcely a clue about anything at all resembling real-world combat. In my book, THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE, Joe Lewis calls these guys "geek kune do" practitioners. He's correct in doing so. These guys charge people many thousands of dollars to teach them Bruce Lee's martial art. Very, very few of them, if any, have anything any more than an intellectual clue what they're doing. They don't get it, they never have, and they won't in the future. That is the reason that Bruce Lee, in 1972, told all of the guys who were supposedly teaching JKD, including Inosanto, that they were to stop doing so. I hope that this post clears up some things for folks.
DW Forum - Lee trained Norris, Lewis, Stone...etc, why did Lee never enter competition? Surely this would have been a sure way to prove his fighting methods. Did Lee train Norris, Lewis, Stone in order to build up his own hype and image?
Davis Miller - Of course Lee used these guys to develop and support his reputation. Those guys, not Bruce Lee, were the biggest names in the martial arts in the late 1960s. And Lee recruited them, not the reverse. None of those guys ever called Lee their teacher or "master." Lee said that of himself. Lee in effect said that he did not enter competition because it was basically beneath him. Those guys weren't good enough, and that such competion was not to be confused with real-world fighting. There is a truth in what he said. In 1971 and 1972, however, Bruce Lee gave interviews in Hong Kong in which he claimed to have thrown and/or given away all of the trophies and plaques he won in competition in the United States. He did not say this once to one person who misquoted him. He said it again and again. The truth, of course, is that he had never entered competition in the U.S. And he was never going to. It's my opinion that Lee was afraid to put it on the line against real guys he'd have to prove himself against. Who did Lee spar ever? Inosanto, who can't fight a lick; Ted Wong, who's less capable than Inosanto; Herb Jackson, who's also incapable, Dan Lee, who wasn't very good but who hurt Lee badly with a single shot, maybe a couple other geek kune doers. BUT NO ONE REAL. No Lewis, no Stone, no Gene Lebell, no amateur boxers or wrestlers, much less the likes of world champs of his own size and weight, much less the Alis, Fraziers and Foremans of the world, who have the juice in their shots to kill guys of Lee's size with a single punch. Here's a simple idea for you: What in the world could Bruce Lee do against a contemporary of his named Andre the Giant? Choke out his kneecap. The reality is this: Bruce Lee was light years ahead of almost everyone else in martial arts anywhere in the world at the time of his death. Does this make him the most lethal unarmed guy on the planet? Not even close. Am I putting Lee down by saying this? Not in the least. Simply demythologizing him, making him the human being he was, instead of some martial arts world's greatest warrrior deity.
DW Forum - Joe Lewis does refer to Bruce as his teacher, I have an article Joe wrote for KARATE INTERNATIONAL were he states this, I can post it if you want. And as far as Bruce not competing in tournaments in the 60's, he didn't think they were teaching the fighters anything because they didn't make contact, he thought it was a waste of time. Joe Lewis was Bruce's only student to become a full contact champion. Bruce Lee was not a ring fighter, have you ever seen the ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHALLENGE, or no holds barred matches, ring fighters, such as boxers and kick boxers, don't do well and big fighters with hard punches don't do very well either, it's the more skilled all rounded martial artist which is often victorious. I've never read anywhere that Bruce stated that he won trophies, I've read that he thought they were meaningless; and as far as Bruce being afraid of putting it on the line against world class fighters, I would also have to disagree; if Bruce felt this way why did he surround himself, in training and at tournaments, and get so much respect from world class fighters of his time, I find it hard to believe it was because he was a good talker, they knew what Bruce was capable of, they knew he was for real. I thought most of Bruce's students had to have some sort of fighting background before he would work with them, if what you are saying is true, than all the things I have read about Bruce from other world class fighters and instructors such as Chuck Norris, Gene Lebell, Joe Lewis, Ed parker and many others is just a myth to keep Bruce's image up, so the martial art community will be a flourishing industry. As far as Dan Inosanto goes, I've heard he's working with the Gracies and they speak very highly of him as a fighter. Andre the Giant would drop in a flash in a no holds barred fight, I seen him wrestle when I was about 10 at a local stadium, he was slow and moved like a huge building, are you trying to tell me that Bruce, or any other martial artists mentioned above, couldn't drop him with a kick to the groin, or kicks to the shins, or fingers to the eyes; no disrespect to Andre, he did allot for wrestling, but he wasn't a world class fighter. Oh, another question Davis, sorry they are so long, is it true that Joe Lewis had a sparring session with Muhammad Ali, I read something about this before, but I can't seem to find it in my collection.
Davis Miller - Joe Lewis "met" Ali at a press conference for Ali's non-fight with Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki. He told Ali that he couldn't take a real wrestler. Ali objected in what i assume was Ali's style. Joe immediately dropped Ali to the floor and tied him up. In 1991, I helped Joe set up an exhibition against Leon Spinks. Joe has boxed with a number of boxers, including James "Bonecrusher" Smith. It's an understatement to say, however, that joe was very nervous before the exhibition with Spinks. He handled his time in the ring with Spinks very well. I'll write a detailed post tomorrow about everything else you've written in your post. Keep in mind that I know Lewis well and have spent time with both LeBell and Norris in unofficial (off-the-record) ways. There's so much legendizing around Lee. He's the Jesus and the Yoda and the Superman of the martial arts world. As I've said many times, he was the best martial artist in the world; I assure you he wasn't more or less than that.
DW Forum - Do you think that Wong SHun Leung one of Bruce's original teachers could have beaten him?
Davis Miller - Wong was one of very few wing chun people who actually went and tested his art, again and again, in competition. And Bruce Lee had considerable respect for him. Could Wong have beaten Bruce Lee? I doubt it very seriously, though Wong was a better, more knowledgable wing chun practitioner than Lee.
DW Forum - Do you yourself have fighting experiences, are you fighter? How do you feel Bruce Lee as FIGHTER, and why?
Davis Miller - I believe that Bruce Lee was the best, most knowledgable, smartest martial artist in the world at the time of his death. Was he the best fighter in the world? That's less certain. Please see my answers to other questions in this Q&A and read TAO OF BRUCE LEE to learn more. I hope that you've been able to find copies in India, by the way. If there's something I can do to help, please let me know.
DW Forum - Could anyone have beaten Bruce Lee do you think?
Davis Miller - A number of people would have beaten him. That's the way it works in the real world. Even among his contemporaries in the martial arts, there are people who would have beaten him. If you want me to name names, let me know.
DW Forum - Do you have any information on Bruce Lee's own real life confrontations, I heard he beat up a Japanese reporter?.
Davis Miller - I don't know anything about Bruce Lee in a fight with a Japanese reporter. That sounds like legend, instead of reality, to me. After coming to America from Hong Kong, Lee had a total of five fights I've been able to confirm. He won all of these; none of them were against genuine tough guys or talented martial artists.
DW Forum - How close to bruce was mike stone as a fighter?
Davis Miller - I'm not sure what you mean about "how close"? I'll try to answer your question from a number of different angles. Did Bruce Lee and Mike Stone ever spar? No. Was Mike Stone's skill level close to Lee's? No. Did they move at all alike as fighters, did they have similar fighting styles? No. Stone was strong, pushy, awkward. Tough. As a fighter, Lee would've been a stylist. I hope to soon interview Stone for a couple of projects I'm working on, including my book-in-progress, THE LAST DAYS OF BRUCE LEE. I bet he'll have very intriguing things to say.
DW Forum - Chaplin Chang said that Bruce defeated a challenger at a police official's house in Hong Kong (1972?). Do you know the true story? What was the name of the Japanese Karate guy that Bruce defeated in 11 seconds which was witnessed by Jesse & Ed Hart? Did Bruce get attacked at Kai Tak airport when he was with James Coburn? Any details will be much appreciated. In a book i've got 'Bruce Lee - his Eternities'. An Hawaiian student of Bruce's, Ronald Kaeloha (i've never heard of him??) says he witnessed Bruce fighting a Karate black belt at the National Guard Armory in Seattle. I rather doubt this story of a fight in a boxing ring.Bruce's techniques look impressive in the 5 mins or so footage i've got of Bruce performing on HKTVB in April 1970 prior to his back injury on August 13th, 1970. Any comments please Davis??
Davis Miller - I don't know the name of the karateka Lee creamed in Seattle but Jesse will soon be writing a book about the Seattle years that George Tan will help him publish. I'm sure the guy's name will be in there. No fight took place in the National Guard Armory in Seattle. And I question whether this guy in Hawaii is a former Lee student. Please drop me a line at my e-mail to remind me about this and I'll check into it and let you know. Lee was not attacked at the airport with Coburn. I hope/plan to interview Coburn again late this year and will ask him if he ever saw Lee in any sort of altercation. I'll see Chaplin in Hong Kong in September and will ask him about that reputed fight. I've heard several variations on that legend for the past couple of years. In my opinion, it never happened. I've been reading Chaplin's memoir to see if I can help him edit it and help him get it published. There's no reference to this supposed fight in the pages Chaplin has written. And he has not ever mentioned it to George Tan or to me. And if it had happened I bet he would have.
DW Forum - What do you make of all the stories going around about Bruce Lee's sparring matches with his students. I read that sparring was a big part of his teachings, and those who did sparr with Bruce were totally amazed at what he could do. Joe Lewis claims that he didn't sparr with Bruce, I find this hard to believe(but Joe was there I wasn't),if Bruce was training Joe to test his skills in tournaments, or the ring, why wasn't sparring a part of their traning? Joe also claims that he didn't want any of Bruce's other students attending their sessions because he would have wanted to tangle with them, why didn't he have this attitude with Bruce? Joe also says that his attitude is "don't tell me you can fight, show me!", with this attitude it makes it even harder for me to believe that the two didn't sparr at least once. There have been reports of witnesses to traning sessions with Bruce and his champion martial artist friends, most notably in Linda Lee's bio, The Bruce Lee Story, where there is an article from the Washington Star which states that Bruce handles and instructs these martial artists as a mother would a child; the martial artists the article is referring to is Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris and a few others, have you ever come across this article? Joe Lewis did state in an article he wrote about Bruce that Ted Wong was present at a few of his workouts with Bruce, I wonder what Ted Wong has to say about this? My thought is this, Joe Lewis writes about himself as this magnificent specimen back in his fighting days, and he probably was, and says that he didn't believe a little guy could beat a big guy, until he met Bruce; he also states that Bruce is the greatest martial artist of all time, what is he basing this on, the fact that Bruce was so intelligent, or the fact that he can fight, he must have tested Bruce. If Joe Lewis had sparred against Bruce and Joe overpowered Bruce I don't think their sessions would have continued, and also if Joe did overpower Bruce I don't think his ego could stop himself from telling the world, so he takes the easy way out and says the two never sparred; any thoughts.
Davis Miller - I'm sure that Joe is telling the truth when he says that he never sparred with Lee. Chuck Norris has told me exactly the same thing. I'm pretty sure that Mike Stone didn't spar with Lee, either, though he may have moved around with him in a less controlled manner than Lee did with Lewis and Norris. It's helpful to understand that all of these guys, including Lee himself, would've considered it embarrassing to duke it out with each other. These guys were professionals; that's not what pros do. Lee sparred regularly while in LA, but for the most part only with a few of his own students, guys he could easily, thoroughly whup up on, including Dan Inosanto, Ted Wong, Dan Lee. Would Lee have beaten Norris in a "real" fight? Unquestionably. Indeed, he would have stomped him. The outcome would have been a bit less certain with Stone and far less certain with Lewis. Which isn't to say that Lee wasn't a better martial artist than all of these guys put together at the time. He was. But Joe Lewis was a very bad boy, and I don't mean as a ring fighter. He's a guy who knew how to stick his fingers in your eyes, rearrange your skeleton, choke you out fast, or any- and everything it took to get the deed done. Joe has never received credit for this but I've known him for years -- and can 1000% assure you that it's true. He thought of competition karate as a silly little game, but one that could be fun to play. For more on all of this, please read TAO OF BRUCE LEE. There's a whole lot in there about Lee's assets and liabilities, the truth and the myth of who he was as a fighter.
DW Forum - As you were trained by Muhammed Ali and other greats have you yourself ever fought any greats in a ring?
Davis Miller - First, I'm not a fighter. I thought once upon a time that I was going to be one. I'm now glad it didn't work that way. I won't be shy in telling you that I'm damned fortunate to have learned fairly early on that I didn't enjoy hurting other people, and I sure didn't like getting hurt. People you may have heard of I've moved around with and/or sparred: Muhammad Ali, "Sugar" Ray Leonard, Pernell "Sweetpea" Whitaker, Hector "Macho" Camacho, Meldrick Taylor, Kathy Long, Peter Cunningham, Grace Casillas, world forms champion John Chung, and maybe the most talented unrecognized martial artist I've ever seen (and I've seen a whole lot of the best of them over the past twenty-five years), world superlightweight kickboxing champion Tony "Huracan" Lopez. And I've watched (and in a few cases worked with) hundreds of other world-class warriors. Did I have professional fights against any of these folks? Nope. Did I have pro fights? Yep. In the mid-1970s. Were any of the people I fought world-class talented? No way. Thank God. They were, with one exception, a bunch of karate dorks -- but pretty good guys almost without exception. I'm very pleased not to have gotten the chance to fight REAL opponent. I like my brains and my bones exactly the way they are. For more on all of this, you can see my books, maybe especially the new one that will be published this coming February; it's going to be titled THE ZEN OF MUHAMMAD ALI AND OTHER OBSESSIONS.
DW Forum - What made Bruce's power so great? A little guy like that able to move 700lb bags and split brand new bags is incredible, was he naturally talented or was it the work of INTENSE kicking training etc?
Davis Miller - The short answer, he worked his butt off. A little more: Lee hit bigdamnhard compared to other martial practitoners of his time. But those guys didn't know how to hit -- and may have been fairly easily impressed. Lee was way, way ahead of them. But did he hit hard compared to guys who really knew how to bang? I believe it's fair to say that we don't really know. When I've seen the "backyard" films of his training, I'm not impressed. He's anything but capable on the heavy bag: he pushes his shots instead of throwing them cleanly, crisply, powerfully; and, in order to make himself look more powerful (to convince not only his students who are watching but himself) he's "loading up" on his punches, trying to put heat on them that just isn't there. Which isn't saying he wasn't better than almost everyone else in the martial arts at the time. And tons better than the guys who were working out with him. And back in those days, I didn't know how to work a bag either. But I do now. And I know how to accurately say what I'm looking at. To see more about what I mean, get hold of that backyard stuff, take a peek at it, then get some footage of a good boxer (any good boxer) training on a heavy bag. Then go look at the Lee footage again. I'll be interested to hear what you think/feel.
DW Forum - I've seen the footage of Bruce whacking away at the heavy bag. Your assessment is correct in that it seems there's some "push" to the punches. On the other hand, in twenty eight years of training, I've rarely seen anyone punch a bag that big, that hard, bare-fisted. Boxers and kick-boxers alike always have their hands taped up till the fist is hard as a rock, and then they put the bag gloves on. Sometimes, the bag gloves are even weighted. Punching a bag with power is alot different when you don't have your hands protected. I'm sure you've seen pictures of Bruce's knuckles...pretty amazing - I'd never want to be on the bad end of one of his punches...!
Davis Miller - Nor would I.
DW Forum - I have viewed the backyard workouts and madeseveral comparisons of technique and form to severalchampionship fighters of the past 30 years andthe results are in...his technique is stillcompetant and effective,though unorthodox.Somerespondents commented on punching without use ofgloves and power.Not only is punching without glovesa more accurate guage of power but also a superiorguage of form and function.If form breaks downwithout the safety of protection injury and eventualnerve damage are the result.Remember,Lee was in frontof a camera at the time.The natural inclination ofa performer is to "perform".
Davis Miller - It's still amateurish, with or without gloves. Go to a good boxing gym, watch folks, both with and without gloves. Lee was basically inept (and trying to look otherwise) on that bag. I've in-person watched thousands of folks on heavy bags. He punched it as novices do, and he had no awareness of defense as he was doing so. He was neither fast or powerful (simply pushing his shots) and was not throwing combinations. It was disturbing and sad to me when I first saw it in the mid-1980s. I'm now able to accept it for what it was. Time and again over the past twenty-five years or so, I've watched people outgrow Bruce Lee. A few are even fortunate enough to outgrow a romance for, and need to honor, guys trying to knock each other's lights out.
DW Forum - Everyone here seems to love talking about who could and could not beat Bruce Lee. Throughout all your emails i have sort of got a message. Look, im sure there were people who could, infact i am dead certain there would be as i know a great man who would have. He is the keeper of my art and has never lost a fight in under one punch. Anyway, that is beside the point. What i was leading to was to say that, Bruce wasnt invincible, i think you'll agree, do you think his main objective in life was fitness, martial arts, body building or movies.
Davis Miller - I appreciate your level-headed response to my posts. Bruce Lee was a very ambitious man. This ambition arguably killed him. I think and feel that Lee's chief aim in life was to become famous. Movies are the vehicle he was using to make that happen. I believe it's also important to recognize that Bruce Lee died as a very young man. He was only 32. Emotionally, he seems to have been younger than that. Was he an all-powerful martial monk? No way. Was he an ambitious and capable martial artist? You betcha. And he understood and worked to apply what he understood in ways that no one else in the martial arts had done before him. In a way, that's not as uncommon as it sounds, though. His "No way as way" stuff/non-stuff is the "way" of 20th-century arts and culture. There have been Bruce Lees in painting, sculpture, literature, dance, music, Western philosophy, the social sciences, religion, architecture, physics, and very many other disciplines. Bruce Lee wasn't the first of these folks. And he wasn't the last. And that's pretty darned cool.
DW Forum - Can you confirm two fights of Bruce Lee against Larry Hartsell (Guy was so heavy that Bruce called him "stump"). Larry admitted he lost those two fights. Any details?
Davis Miller - Larry Hartsell, as you may know, was one of Bruce Lee's Los Angeles students. Hartsell had no real fights with Lee. I'll find out for you if he ever sparred with Lee. I'm curious to know the answer to that one myself. I do know that Hartsell was badly beaten by Bob Wall in a tournament fight in the late Sixties, i believe.
DW Forum - It's strange thing but Chuck Norris is telling various versions on first meeting with Bruce Lee. However couple of things are correct. He said when they arrived at the hotel (late at night) they decided to take off their jackets and started to train (sparr I suppose). I'm sure Bruce wanted to test Chuck's abilities (they were alone so no one would have known about Bruce's lost) but mr. Norris wouldn't tell if he had lost, right?I don't believe Bruce didn't sparr with Norris, Stone or Lewis. Bruce was considered their TEACHER!!! And back then they didn't have any arguments with it.
Davis Miller - I've heard this same story from Chuck, who I've known a little since the mid-Seventies. Every time I've heard it told, he said that they worked out, comparing techniques, through most of the night. That's not the same as sparring. I've known Joe Lewis pretty well for many years. When he says he never sparred with Lee, I am dead certain that it's true. Both Norris and Lewis have told me that Stone came closer to sparring Lee than either Lewis or Norris. I don't know Stone but as I said when answering another question for this Q&A, I hope to soon spend some time with him and talk about Lee. And although Lee never did spar with Lewis, he did set Joe up one time in front of Ted Wong. To see what I mean by that and for the details of that story, please read THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE. I believe it's also fair to say that you have a different understanding of Bruce Lee's relationship with Mr Lewis and Mr Norris than the ones they've told me about going back to the 1970s. That difference is understandable, but I'm certain there's a value in seeing it from as many perspectives as possible.
DW Forum - Some of you can not agree but I'm personally sure Bruce Lee could have had big chances to win with great Muhammad Ali in street fight. First, read in "Words of the Dragon" that people who seen Bruce fighting skills were sure he would fight with Ali.Second, Muhammad was king in the ring and that's it. Bruce was a street fighter (as larry Hartsell said). I own a footage of Ali trying to fight with Japanese wrestler (this wasn't a real fight of course) but Ali appeard to be kinda desperted seeing series of fast low kicks...Third, good kick is always more powerful then good punch...
Davis Miller - You're arguing from a traditional martial arts point of view. I've moved with marvelous kickfighters as well as marvelous boxers. Go hop in a ring with a real boxer in a boxing gym -- then try to kick him, particularly above the waist. I've done that. It was an enlightening experience. And please let me know what happens.
DW Forum - Could Bruce Lee have beaten Yang Sze AKA Bolo Yeung?
Davis Miller - Bolo Yeung (Yang Sze) is not to be confused with a fighter. Bruce would win, no contest.
DW Forum - I've read Sugar Ray Leonard has borrowed some tehniques from Bruce's JKD (I'm not sure though). Do you have any info on it?
Davis Miller - I know Ray well. He and I are kind of buds. He's a huge Bruce Lee fan. He says that he learned much about explosiveness and defense from watching Lee's movies. There's a story about how Ray was influenced by Lee, and about my relationship with Ray, in my forthcoming book, THE ZEN OF MUHAMMAD ALI AND OTHER OBSESSIONS, which will be published by Random House, UK in February 2002.
DW Forum - Please tell us more about Joe Lewis. I mean what is he really like? Lately I've also read an article about mr.Lewis (very old interviews just after Lee's death) and mr. Lewis appeared very self-conceited in it. He said that Lee was walking behind him and telling all the time that he is martial artist. And Joe Lewis didn't care at all (he just liked to kick some asses - that's what he said). I don't want to offend mr.Lewis but could you tell me the how true Joe Lewis is and what he really thinks about Bruce Lee (is he still ignoring him as a fighter?)
Davis Miller - I like Joe a lot. He's a complete knucklehead. And I've never heard him lie. There are very few people I've met in this world that I can comfortably say that about. Joe will tell you exactly what he feels and believes about Bruce Lee and anyone else he has an opinion about. In some ways, Lee's and Lewis's friendship was not an easy one. And please keep in mind that Joe was THE MAN in American martial arts in the 1960s. No one close. Not Norris, not Lee. No one. It's hard to recognize that now because Lee went on to become hugely famous after ENTER THE DRAGON and Chuck became a sizable star because he was a white guy that Bruce lee beat up in WAY OF THE DRAGON. And, of course, because Bruce Lee was dead. Joe has a very round, detailed opinion about Lee. That opinion is respectful and very well informed. It is easily misunderstood, and can seem paradoxical, when read in snippets from martial arts magazines. But it is an opinion I greatly respect. How can you not? Lewis was arguably the best karate fighter of the 20th-century. And as a martial artist, he's a whole lot more than most of the martial arts world believes him to be. I've talked with Joe for hours on end about the nature of martial art, boxing, wrestling, and combat in general. His understanding is genuinely vast. And, yes, Joe has been accused of being arrogant. He's mellowed a lot in the past few years and I've found him to be a kind-hearted gentle man, though still a complete and utter knucklehead. I hope that this response makes some sense to you.
DW Forum - You know awesome personalities! Could you tell me the exact date of you birth? Didn't you ever meet Bruce Lee?What influenced you to write about/ interest Bruce Lee?
Davis Miller - I was born on 15 January 1953. That's right: I'm an old man. Along with Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee was my hero. If it had not been for Mr Lee and Mr Ali, I might be dead in a ditch somewhere. And without their influences, there's little doubt that I would not have become a writer. My first two books, THE TAO OF MUHAMMAD ALI and THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE are about the numerous ways my childhood idols influenced my life -- and about the ways that both Ali and Lee have influenced many millions of people. Neither book is written in the traditional biographical form, although I'm comfortable saying that both books are the most intimate portraits ever of both Lee and Ali. A lot of people like my writing; a few people don't. I sometimes call my writing organic literature. If you want to think of it as the JKD of book writing, I will not be offended.
DW Forum - Bruce Lee was a great martial artist but was he a great fighter, what is the different between fighter and martial artist?
Davis Miller - To quote from the Tao of Bruce Lee book seems like a pretty good idea here. I hope that you'll be able to find a copy and can read what I've written in context.
'Bruce Lee was blessed with good long arms, incredible initiation speed and reaction time, and he hit big-hard compared to others in the Asian "fighting" disciplines. "Bruce had phenomenal attributes," confirms Joe Lewis. "Amazing speed, power, strength, reflexes." Kareem Abdul Jabbar was more than a little impressed with Lee's prowess. "He had cunning, killer instinct and the will to dominate. And incredible athletic skills: balance, eye-hand coordination, timing. And all that driven by a very intense will." Yet, regardless of fighting ability, numerous intangibles are required to be an outstanding warrior. Among these: proper anatomy. When i was trying to make a career as four-limbed lightning, it took me years to learn that there are many necessary biological qualities I didn't possess -- and that I couldn't create for myself. I have the wrong-shaped chin, excess tissue over, under and around both sad-dog eyes, terrible vision, and a long neck. Lee had dramatic anatomical inadequacies, too, including a pointed chin, a narrow jaw and skinny neck; small bones, particularly his wrists and ankles; and horrible vision -- he was very nersighted -- he couldn't see ten feet from his face without corrective lenses. It goes without saying that it's tough to get out of the way of fists and feet if you can't tell that they're being beamed at you.'
DW Forum - Could you please name the people who could have beaten Lee? This will also remove the myth that Lee was unbeatable. We know that Lee was way ahead of his time, but the question is was he unbeatable in his time?
Davis Miller - Part of what Bruce Lee was going for was the element of surprise. He well understood he was a very small man and intensively prepared himself to immediately take out people who had no clue what he was capable of. He had an incredible catalog of techniques. But he rigorously developed only a very few tools that he would have used in real situations: the eye jab, the shin kick and he could have choked out an oak tree with his phenomenally powerful forearms, Without the element of surprise in his favor, however, a lot of people could have "done" him. Maybe let's explore how he would've fared against two guys many forum visitors have heard of: Gene Lebell and Joe Lewis. Lebell had all the necessary tools to take out Lee. Regardless of what Lebell has said about Lee in various martial arts magazines, he did not particularly respect Lee's abilities as a fighter. If Lebell were to lose to Lee, that's why; he would've assumed he could walk all over him, as he had done with him on THE GREEN HORNET set. On the other hand, Joe Lewis would not have underestimated Lee. He knew damned well what Lee was capable of -- and how he would've attempted to accomplish it. In addition, Joe had the same tools that Lee had. The difference: Joe's were bigger, more powerful; he had more. And he had the explosiveness and the savvy to use them. I recognize that a whole lot of people think of Joe Lewis as a tournament fighter. To Joe, that was simply a silly game of tag that he enjoyed. The real Joe Lewis is an amazing martial warrior, arguably the finest of the past century. Just a couple names to mention among Lee's contemporaries. And my opinions on what would've likely happened with those guys and Lee. Then there are the real crazy huge nuts mofos out there who don't know martial art from marital art but simply enjoy hurting and even killing people. And have a lot of experience doing it. There are sick guys who travel the world making money doing just that.Lee had NO experience doing it. Yes, he practiced his lethal stuff on machines that could take the heat. Never on a real live human being. I hope you see what I'm getting at.
DW Forum - Bruce Lee trained and corresponded with many different martial artists, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Mike Stone, Bob Wall, Jhoon Rhee, Gene Lebell, and many others, my question is how many of these martial artists had actual street fighting experience. Among Bruces champion students, or that crowd, was there more than just the three tournament fighters Joe, Chuck and Mike? Who is Louise Delgado, did he ever compete against the above mentioned tournament fighters? Why is Bruce standing here with Joe shaking his hand in certain photograph's, was this picture taken after, or before Bruce started training with Joe, or was this Joe thanking Bruce for what he had taught him? I know I read somewhere that Joe Lewis did publicly thank Bruce for what he had taught him, I can't remember if it was after, or before Bruce passed on.
Davis Miller - Lebell has tremendous experience in a number of different sorts of arenas. He was an undefeated AAU US national judo champion, a pro wrestler, one of the most respected Hollywood stuntguys ever, and a crazy get down and break bones sort of guy. In addition, he grew up boxing with the likes of "Sugar" Ray Robinson and Archie Moore. Gene's not someone anybody needs to mess with, maybe even now; Gene is in his early 70s. The only other guy with notable street experience in the bunch is Joe Lewis. The person with the least combat experience on your list is Jhoon Rhee, who simply cannot fight at all. A couple high-school kids jumped in his car a few years ago and easily beat him up. Louis Delgado was one of the better tournament fighters of the 1960s. He trained some with Lee during that time. Yes, Joe Lewis has thanked Bruce Lee time and again over the years, both before and after Lee's death, for what he learned from Lee. There's a whole lot more about all of this in TAO OF BRUCE LEE.
DW Forum - Are you planning on interviewing Louis Dalgado for your upcoming Bruce Lee book, I read that he was interviewed by Black Belt magazine and he stated that he and Bruce sparred, this is what he had to say,
" I have never seen anyone who has baffled me so completely. I am in total awe whenever I spar with Bruce."
I don't know what issue this is from, or what year. Do you know what Delgado is up to these days. Also, does Joe Lewis have any rare pictures of him and Bruce and has he ever thought about writing a book about his life, I think it would be interesting to read.
Davis Miller - Yes, Louis Delgado sparred with Lee. I can't talk with him about it. Delgado unfortunately died four to five years ago. At the time, he'd basically given up martial arts training and had been making his living as a nurse. George Tan and I have been trying to convince Joe Lewis to write a book for several years now. Who knows? Maybe we'll eventually be able to make it happen.
DW Forum - I read an interview by Bob Wall once in which he related the story, during the shooting of Enter the Dragon, of an extra who jumped off a wall to challenge Bruce. Mr. Wall said in the interview that the guy was very good, but that when Bruce decided it was time to put an end to it, Bruce handled him very easily. Do we know anything more about this event, who the fella was, or how much of a challenge he really posed? I know Robert Clouse covered the same event in his book about the making of the film, but as far as being able to judge martial ability, I'd prefer Mr. Wall's account.
Davis Miller - And I think it's accurate to say that Lee politely busted up his would-be challenger. I've always heard that the fellow was an extra on the set. That makes sense to me. Lee was receiving a lot of challenges during that time. The one Bob Wall describes is one of at most three that actually came to blows. A second encounter was when the guy jumped the wall at Lee's home; I earlier described that situation in this Q&A. I haven't been able to verify that the third little set-to actually took place; it, too, supposedly happened on the ENTER THE DRAGON set. One supposed event that I can absolutely guarantee never actually took place, though most knowledgable Bruce Lee fans believe that it did was the legendary encounter on the Hong Kong TV talk show, ENJOY YOURSELF TONIGHT, the one where Lee supposedly knocked down the "old master" then said, "I don't push; I punch." No truth to that story at all. I know where the story came from but I'm not going to say here. To find out, you can read about it in my next book, THE ZEN OF MUHAMMAD ALI AND OTHER OBSESSIONS, which will be published in February 2002. The longest story in that book is called "Bruce Lee, American." In my manuscript it's 60 pages; it'll probably be about that number of pages in the book itself.
Davis Miller - I'm going to leave you guys to argue over what I've said. I've got a ridiculously busy day ahead of me. Thanks again for having me here again. DM, you da man.
DW Forum - Anytime Davis and thanks again for sharing your thoughts and views with us once more.