Interview of Michael Chan Wai-Man on Bruce LeeJanuary 30 2015 at 7:39 PM
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Michael Chan Wai-man is one of the famous HK Kung Fu actors in the 70s-80s. He is well known for playing various triad roles, when in real life he has been involved with triads. In a media interview, he admitted to have been the No. 2 of the 14K Triad that dominated vice in Tsim Sha Tsui before the handover of Hong Kong.
Having worked as a police officer in the prison system, he came into contact with many underworld figures and joined the Triads. Chan was expelled from the police force as a result of his links. His body is tattooed with huge eagles on the chest and dragons on his back.
Chan in real life was a well-established kickboxing and boxing champion in Southeast Asia. As a martial arts fanatic, Chan studied a multitude of fighting styles, which included Muay Thai, northern and southern Chinese kung fu and boxing. Chan had a huge influence from Bruce Lee in his training methods and fighting, where they happened to be really good friends.
Like Bruce Lee, he was a genuine streetfighter who never backed down from a challenge even after he was famous. He was also a professional boxer who won fourteen bouts by knockouts. In 1983, 38 years old Chan Wai Mun K.O. 29 years old Japanese Kickboxing Champion Morisaki in just 35 seconds in Tokyo, Japan. His many awards obtained from international boxing competitions attest his success.
Here is the fight of him against Morisaki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH7WkO-JCJE
Below are extracts from his interviews from a documentary “Old Friend’s Stories” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSwhhDUwTHQ)and a radio program entitled “Dragon Seeks Its Path”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SalTeeiKZw), where he talks about BL (Note: The interviews are all conducted in Cantonese, thus, the interview’s extracts are translated into English and recreated/presented Q & A format for easy reading):
Q1: When and how do you get to know about BL?
A: I remember it was end of 1971 that I first saw Bruce and it was through Unicorn Chan’s introduction that I get to know Bruce and we strike off very well immediately.
Q2: Can you recall anything BL told you regarding his martial arts or physical ability?
A: Well, he said his physique is small but he wanted to challenge and beat those who is physically bigger and stronger than him. I think he wanted to become the "God of Martial Arts"…haha…
One day, Unicorn brought me to Bruce’s house at Kowloon and we have discussed a great deal on Martial Arts for a very long time. Bruce told me how he created JKD, its concept, philosophy and demonstrated to me how JKD works. He inspired me alot, especially got me to understand the importance of building up “qi” (stamina) before practicing martial arts. Physical conditioning is very important. With good physical conditioning and stamina, you will be able to fight well. Also, he told me don’t think too much on the strokes/styles in Kung Fu, just focus on unarmed combat freely. What he said really make a lot of sense, I really admire him very much.
Q3: Do you find BL to be proud or arrogant?
A: Bruce was very popular and was at the height of his superstardom then, thus, he was very proud and confident of what he said. In fact, he deserved to be in that way.
Q4: Can you tell us about what did he show you about his JKD?
A: He first showed me his punching and I showed him mine against the punching bag. Next, he tested my jump side kick. Then, Unicorn held on to a big kicking shield and Bruce just ran 3 steps forward and kicked the shield. Unicorn, like an arrow, flew backward completely. I only saw this kind of stuff in the movie. This was the first time in my life that I saw someone with such superb kicking ability. He was very small built with only 130 pounds but he was able to generate such an enormous power. It wasn’t an easy task.
Q5: What other stuff did BL perform?
A: I remember he wanted to test my arm power so we had an arm-wrestling. Nobody can beat him, really! You know, I am well-known for my arm wrestling but Bruce was even much better. He just beat the hell out of me easily. Not only that, later on, Bolo Yeung told me personally that he once lost to Bruce, so, a big guy like him can’t even beat Bruce, how the hell can I, who is much smaller than Bolo.
Q6: Did Bruce say which is the best way to punch?
A: He simply said, “Direct, the line has to be straight, and the speed is important in deriving heavy punch, not necessary only a big guy can land a heavy punch.”
Q7: How quick is his move?
A: You know, I was looking at his legs, then, suddenly, he strike. He was so damn fast. Boom, his punch was in front of my face before I make my move. His movement was unlike our tradition fanciful Kung Fu, he is so direct!
Q8: How do you view his martial arts?
A: I have numerous fighting experience in the rings, but I saw Bruce fought with others. His martial arts skills are much better than me. It’s true, much better than me!
Q9: Did you have a real fight with Bruce?
A: Bruce did ask me to have a try out with him but I don’t dare to utter a word and after seeing his amazing performance, I think I better not do so for fear of losing face. Just look at his speed, kicking and punching, it’s scary! He’ll just finish you off with one punch if you are to engage a fight with him. One punch from him and that’s it, you are gone! I'm not able to handle him. So, if I fight with him, I’ll lose, I can’t beat him.
Q10: Are you sure???
A: Sure! I, Chan Wai-man said that!
Q11: Have you heard about the challenge of Lau Tat-Chuen with Bruce? Did you think Bruce will win?
A: Oh yes, I heard about it and believe that Bruce will win. In fact, Bruce just hit him with one blow and Lau was finished.
Q12: How do you think Bruce’s fighting ability with the Muay Thai fighters?
A: No doubt Bruce should be the best in Southeast Asia then. If fighting in the ring with the Muay Thai fighter, it is hard to say who will win because of the rules and regulations but if it is on the street with no rules and all out, I’ll bet on Bruce, Bruce will definitely win for sure!
Q13: What do you think about the action or Kung Fu stars nowadays like Jet Li, Donnie Yen?
A: Well, I think the only person who deserves to be call "Kung Fu Super Star" is Bruce Lee!
Q14: Lastly, do you think Bruce’s death was linked with the triad society?
A: No, nobody in the triad society dare to touch Bruce. Bruce was such a big shot then and have won the respect of many HK people, including the triad society members. They have no grudge against him, and, believe me, no one dare to touch him.
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