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Bruce Lee & Dragon Style System’s Connection

November 1 2016 at 8:19 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

According to Robert Lee, when Bruce came back to HK in 1963, his whole family was amazed in how proficient he became in martial arts techniques because he was doing many things that they had never seen before. It wasn’t long after his return to HK that Bruce set out daily to do research on different styles of martial arts. He would often come back every day and show them things he just learnt. Bruce was going around to different individuals for picking up different techniques. Besides the Iron Palm Kung Fu which he picked up in the U.S., Robert remembered Bruce showing them Choy Li-Fut, Hung Gar, Mantis style and a really rare kind of Gung Fu called Loong Ying Mor Kiu.

This article is going to talk about this rare Gung Fu of Bruce, which has never been discussed or published in most Bruce’s books and magazines before.

About Loong Ying Mor Kiu (LYMK)
Loong Ying Mor Kiu (abbr. LYMK) literally means “Dragon Style Bridging Hand” in Chinese. It is a kind of fast and aggressive Southern Dragon Style System. As the name implies, it is a dragon form cum bridging hand fist. Bridging hand means if the opponent throws a punch at you, you would quickly respond by grapping his hand tightly so as to “lock his bridge” and counter-attack at the same time. This is similar to Bruce’s JKD’s intercepting fist concept. Like other Southern styles, LYMK also emphasizes on the principle of instant change upon triggering of the opponent’s touch, just like the flying arrows shooting at the prey, which was caught in the trap instantly. LYMK launches the attacks from the centerline (like Wing Chun) and pays closely watch to its defense. In other words, it attacks swiftly and defends securely by using the body force to exert the power.

Origins of The Dragon Style Bridging Hand (LYMK)
Based on the verbal transcribed of the LYMK descendents and the Chinese Southern Gung Fu’s history, LYMK is originated from the Hakka. The founder of LYMK was Grandmaster Lam Yiu-Kwai (1877-1966) who was born in the Wai Yeung district in Canton (aka Guangdong). He studied Hakka fist, Southern Shaolin Dragon Style and Taoist Gung Fu. Consequently, he synthesized all three systems into one, known as the Loong Ying Mor Kiu (LYMK).
Lam Yiu Kwai learnt his family’s Hakka Fist from both his father and grandfather since he was a child. As he grew up, he continued his studies at Shaolin’s Wah Sa Tsoi temple, where he trained his mental and spiritual aspects of martial arts cultivation. The monk, Dai Yuk was the abbot of this temple located on Mount Luofu. Lam Yiu-Kwai studied under the monk, Wong Lee Giu who taught him the Sam Tong Gor Kiu form (“Three Ways to Cross the Bridge”) and under Ke Hing Ma who taught him Mui Fa Chart Lo (“Seven routines of Plum Flower Fist”).
In the early 1920’s, Lam Yiu-Kwai established several Dragon Style Schools in Canton. Some of his assistant instructors included Ma Chai, Lam Woong-Kwong (his eldest son), and Tsoi Yiu-Cheung. In addition, he also opened several schools with Cheung Lai-Chen, a Bak-Mei Kuen master. Both styles are based on the same principles but with slight variations in the order of these principles.
Lam Yiu Kwai was also one of the members of the “Three Tigers of the East River” This martial trio included Lin Yum-Tong (Mo Gar style), Cheung Li-Chen (Bak-Mui style) and Lam Yiu-Kwai (Dragon style). In 1925, Lam Yiu Kwai became famous in Canton when he defeated a Russian national heavyweight world boxing champion. It was a difficult fight and the Russian was eventually defeated by Lam Yiu Kwai who used a technique called “fan san kwa chui” (literally means “reverse turn back fist” or “turn body pull hammer”).
In 1949, his 2 sons, Lam Woong-Kwong and Lam Chan-Kwong moved to HK. In 1956, Lam Yiu Kwai had a stroke and went to HK for medical treatment. Later, he recovered and established a medical hall and a Dragon Style School in HK. He spread his skills among the younger generation and published a book on LYMK to further promote the Dragon Style System. In 1965, his stroke relapsed and passed away a year later at a ripe old age of 89. As more and more students learn LYMK, his arts were thus, able to flourish globally.

Bruce’s learning of Southern Dragon & LMYK
Bruce learnt Hung Gar as early as in the late 50s. He had self-learnt the ten animals forms in the Hung Gar System in which dragon form is one of them (the rest of the forms are tiger, crane, snake, leopard, monkey, lion, horse, elephant, bear). According to Mr. Anthony Mirakian, during a visit to HK cinema, Wong Fei-Hong’s famed actor, Master Kwan Tak-Hing, told him that he was visited by Bruce seeking development of his personal-style of martial arts. Master Kwan, like Shih Kien, knew Bruce since he was a child, taught him 'dragon style' with the forte of forward-leg and forward hand functioning in unison to his future Jeet Kune Do.

As for LMYK, Bruce picked up this Dragon Style System while he was in HK during his summer vacation in 1963. Like Robert Lee said, while in HK, he would set out daily to do research on different styles of martial arts. Thus, he probably had gone to the LYMK’s school and exchanged techniques with the people there. He had a photographic memory and was able to perform various forms precisely after seeing them as told by Linda Lee, Taky Kimura and Jesse Glover. Bruce might also possess the LYMK’s manual written by Lam Yiu-Kwai which would also help him further to master this Dragon Style system.

Furthermore, Bruce who had studied Hung Gar back in the late 1950s, must have come across the “Ten Animal Forms Fist” where the first form is the Dragon form. This is also the Southern Shaolin Dragon form which was studied by Lam Yiu-Kwai during his younger days. Bruce should have analyzed and picked up some relevant techniques from this form which also stresses on the mental cultivation of the skills. The simple, direct and aggressive attacks from the centerline with the intercepting concept in mind etc. are some areas which Bruce had likely adopted.

LYMK’s Method & Concept
Surprisingly, LYMK is essentially an internal chi cultivating method. However, the initial training is more like a hard, external style rather than a delicate, reptilian approach. In practice, the student usually hits hard, blocks hard and stomps into each position, with the idea of learning the proper place to be once each movement is completed. Eventually, the method of transmitting power is retained, and the physically strengthened body is able to make transitions in the proper fluid manner.

Just like most Southern Gung Fu forms such as Hung Gar and Wing Chun, the LYMK stylist is both aggressive and defensive. He relies on offensive and defensive techniques which are applied to forward, backward and sideways movements. A LYMK stylist does not hold back following an attacker’s first sign of aggression, instead becomes an instantaneous and non-stop attacking force relying on floating and sinking movements with shoulders dropped and elbows bent, just like the Mantis style.

However, unlike Wing Chun, a LYMK stylist defends himself by withdrawing or curving his body inwardly to absorb or neutralize any incoming attack. When the opponent has over-reached in his or her attack, the LYMK stylist changes from soft to hard, and combines footwork with blocks as he intercepts his or her opponent. As one arm strikes forward, the other is readied back. Your arms swing in and out with power generated from the waist. The application of pressure is in the same direction as the attacker’s force. This resembles Bruce’s 1 inch power punch’s principle on power generation.

Encountering an opponent whose power is too great, the LYMK stylist will steps off-line, to counter his opponent’s open area, and to “bounce” him or her out. The LYMK stylist, keeping the above in mind, uses many large zig-zag stepping movements with the practitioner constantly extending and contracting his or her body. Hands follow feet, feet follow hands. When the hands stop the feet follow, when the feet stop, the hands follow. Move left, go right, move right, goes left. Up follows down, down follows up. A strike is a block and vice-versa.

Strengths & Weaknesses of LYMK
The forms that constitute this system are divided by complexity into three sets, i.e. Basic set which includes the 16 Movements/Holes, Passing Bridge Three Times, Fierce Tiger Leaping Over Wall, Bridge Smashing etc; Intermediate set which consists of Touch Bridge (introduces sticking hands), Venomous Snake Moves Tongue, Hua King’s Fist, Standing Five-Form etc.; Advanced set which comprises of Plum Flower Punch and Seven Ways of Plum Flower Punch.
Like Wing Chun and Hung Gar, LYMK focuses mainly on powerful, short range attacks. However, the styles’ use of gripping and seizing techniques as well as the extensive use of the forearms both offensively and defensively are fairly unique to the art. The style was created as an aggressive combat art and operates under the basic assumption that you are trying to disable your opponent or kill them. This is also a combat theory which Bruce favors. As such LYMK employs a large number of techniques to damage the opponent’s joints either through joint manipulation or direct striking (like Chin Na and Mantis); nullify the opponent’s defenses either through breaking their stance or compromising their guard, and thus their ability to defend. Like most Southern style Gung fu, it has limited kicks and jumps and consisted mainly of fist, palm and clawing techniques. This is one weakness in this system, which Bruce would have been aware of it. Therefore, he looked further in Northern Gung Fu to compensate for the lack of legs/ kicks techniques in this system.

Shadows of LYMK
Bruce demonstrated few of LYMK in his early years photo sessions, for instance, in “The Green Hornet” photo session, Bruce in Kato uniform, positioned in a lowered body standing stance with two dragon claws/hands protruding in front of his body; in another photo session of the same era, Bruce in Gung Fu uniform, did a side kick and showed his two dragon claws/hands simultaneously by the side of his kick; in Enter the Dragon photo session, Bruce again depicted dragon style hands in front of the camera. Though not much have been mentioned or revealed about Bruce’s learning of LYMK system but we are able to see shadows of this system in Bruce’s poses and in his Gung Fu theories.

Photos of Bruce in dragon form:

Videos of LYMK:
LYMK or Dragon style kung fu performed by Sifu Chan Tse Si, student of Master Lam Chan Kwong:

Sifu Kurt Scott performing LYMK or Dragon style Mor Kiu at 132th CLC Bak Mei anniversary in HK:

Sifu Scott performance of LYMK or Dragon style Mor Kiu

Dragon style Mor Kiu from a Hong Kong Demo:

 Respond to this message   

  • Re: Bruce Lee & Dragon Style System’s Connection - S.Wira on Nov 1, 2016, 11:49 AM
  • Re: Great stuff - dragonforever on Nov 2, 2016, 2:29 AM
  • Southern Dragon manual - TopCrusader on Nov 6, 2016, 11:00 PM
  • LJF, question about dragon hands... - TopCrusader on Nov 13, 2016, 1:54 PM
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