by Bruce P. Campbell
Part 1  Part 2  Part 3
Part 4  Part 5  Part 6
Part 7  Part 8  Part 9
Part 10  Part 11
After 9 years of the night club business, in 1983 we purchased an apartment house on the beach in Fort Pierce, Florida. I went down to prepare the building for rentals on my own without my family. Knowing that I would be eating out a lot, I started to check out the local restaurants. I had wondered in to a small Chinese restaurant off the beaten path.
I always liked to try the small restaurants. From my experience in New York I had found that the small ones were the best or at least I thought so. This time would be no different. Little did I know that I would find much more then good food. After finishing my meal, I walked to the front of the restaurant to pay the bill and noticed a corkboard with various local notices and started to read it while waiting for the waitress to take my check. I noticed a small file card that read, "Kung Fu classes, inquire here." I was involved in the martial arts since the late 60's. I started in Korean Karate, moved on to various different styles of Gung Fu, Tai Chi, Hsingi, Pak Ka, wrestling, grappling, Jeet Kune Do seminars, and the like. When the waitress came I ask her who was teaching Kung Fu? She said the cook, who was also the owner and he was in the kitchen and I could go back and talk to him. At First I declined, but she insisted, so I went back.
There was this man standing over a wok cooking and smoking at the same time. My first thought was that he is a Kung Fu teacher? and is smoking? I told him that I was interested in his teaching and he wanted to know my experience which I proudly told him. Then I asked him what style he taught and he said, "Jook Lum." I read about it in a magazine, the article was about a Gin Foon Mark. I had seen him do a demo on TV and was not really impressed. Mr. Yee started talking about his system and the more he talked the more I got lost. After about a 15 minute conversation he said I could come watch them train. He said that they trained a few times a week and classes start at 10:00 PM in the alley by his restaurant. As I walked from the restaurant I thought maybe I would stop and take a peak and maybe not.
About a week and a half later I went back to the restaurant to eat and Mr. Yee noticed me sitting at a table. He came over to the table and ask me where I'd been. I told him that I was busy and would try to stop some night. He told me they where practicing that night and that I was welcome to stop in. At about 10:30 that evening I went to watch. I watched for about 45 minutes as his students drilled in the basics.
I was getting bored and was looking for and excuse to leave. They say that ignorance is bliss, I certainly found out this was true on that evening. I was judging this system on my understanding of the arts. I had studied many different arts. I had not seen any trained this way and did not understand. So naturally I thought it was not good for self-defense. I had came from a background of kick boxing, and a lot of sparring. As they went through their movements I tried desperately to use them in a fighting situation.
From being in the night club business all those years I always looked at the arts for practicality, something you could use to remove a trouble maker from the club, with the least amount of danger to oneself. The more I watched the more I got confused with the movement. I told Mr. Yee that I had to go because I had an early day tomorrow or something like that.
Mr. Yee told me to wait for a while and he moved out to the center of the alley. He started explaining the system and the powers. After watching a few minutes of his movement I decide to stay. His gung Fu was like nothing I'd had seen before. It was short, fast, with snappy movement, but yet soft and powerful. His movement was like that of a well oiled machine. There was a carport at the side of the alley and while Mr. Yee was talking he was working his way towards it. Hanging on one of the support poles was a small bag filled with sand that they used for training. Now if you ever hit a bag filled with sand that had been out in the rain for sometime you would appreciate how hard it can get.
Once when I was training in Korean arts I had made the mistake by filling an Army duffel bag with sand and kicking it with my bare feet. It was hanging in the back yard of my house. I decided that I would go outside and practice my kicking routine. The neighbors were sitting out in their yard, as I strutted by with my new Karate uniform on. I was proud that I was involved in Karate and thought this was a great opportunity to show off. It had been raining earlier in the week, and little did I know that after a few rains on that sand bag, it would get as hard as concrete. I positioned myself in front of the bag, made sure that everybody was watching threw a round house kick with the toes, (suppose to be the ball of the foot, I would find out later) and wham the bag didn't even dent, just my toes did.
Now some people have this talent to remember movement, some have this ability to make there movement look good. Some can really dazzle a crowd. But with me, the only god given talents that I have in the arts are that I was born with a strong jaw, and a high pain tolerance, and can usually use the art in a fighting situations. And in some situations it would seem that god just wanted me to suffer. So after one kick I half limped, half walked back passed the neighbors trying not to show the pain. I was really feeling the pain and mumbled something about I forgot that I had to do something else, and pretending not to notice the smiles on there faces.
Anyway, while still talking Mr. Yee began striking the bag from inches away. The support poles were vibrating and shaking. I remember it brought me to my feet. Now he had all my attention. His knuckle was leaving huge dents in the sand bag and he showed no emotion on pain as he struck it very hard. His elbows seemed to be part of his upper body. His hands and arms did not pull back, they just released from where they were. On the other side of the alley was a building with a solid raised panel door, while still explaining his art he positioned himself in front of it. From inches away he struck the door, again and again, this time with his fingers. The door was rattling, then his fingers broke the door.
Mr. Yee looked at me and said that you have to be able to strike with more then the fist or knuckles. I had spent years at doing finger push ups, hand and wrist strengthening exercises, and just hand conditioning in general, but never had I'd been able to accomplish this kind of strength. I had never seen that kind of short energy. I had always heard that it existed, but after visiting several men that claimed they could demonstrate it, I always left disappointed. After that he came over and sat down beside me and lit a cigarette and said, "Oh.. What the hell? We are crazy people, right? We mess with this Kung Fu when we could be making money!" Then he laughed.
I had trained under Paul Huber for years, while training with Paul we had studied many different styles together. Paul was strong and fast. Paul was very capable in many different forms of self-defense, but never had I seen anything like this. When I got back to my apartment, it was about 1:00 AM. I couldn't sleep so I gave Paul a call. Paul answered the phone and was not real happy to here from me at this time in the morning. I ask him if he knew much about Southern Mantis? He said he didn't know much more then me, but from what he had seen he was not very impressed.
I told him about my experience with Mr. Yee. Paul became very interested and we talked for about and hour. After that evening I started training with Mr. Yee, but I had to go home after a few months and prepare to move down. I assured Mr. Yee that when I moved down I would be definitely joining his class.
It was about eight months later that I would move to Ft. Pierce, Florida. As soon as I got all my belongings in order I went to see Sifu Yee. While I had been up North packing, Sifu had renovated the building next to his restaurant. He had taken and old building and transformed it into a fairly nice training area. He had a large room for exercise and a room with bags, wooden dummies, and seats with a TV and sort of a lounge. Everybody who was a member of the club could come and go as he pleased, everybody had access to the rooms. You could train morning, noon, or night if you wanted.
Sifu Yee now had a mortgage so he had to charge for the training. It had became a real training hall and I was quit impressed. Once when Sifu was training people for free in the alley, a local Korean school took offense to the fact that Sifu had more students then he.
He came over while Sifu was teaching and told Sifu that he though that it was improper for Sifu to teach without charging. He felt that Sifu had a unfair advantage by not having a building, and no expenses. Sifu was very polite to him at first and tried to explain to him that he just wanted to teach his art and that the Korean gentleman should mind his own business.
With that the Korean gentleman got more aggravated, and went on to explain to Sifu that he was a champion fighter, and his father was a very famous teacher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He said that he would not tolerate Sifu teaching for free. He told Sifu that he wanted him to quit teaching at once or he would have to suffer the consequences. With that Sifu Yee's attitude changed. Sifu Yee told him just to leave. The Korean gentleman refused and made some more threats. Sifu took a small stone and drew a circle on the alley surface. He told the man if he could make him move out of the circle, that he, Sifu Yee, would pay him any amount that he wanted to teach him his Korean art. With that the man made his move. He started by throwing fast kicks at Sifu in the circle. The kicks would come from outside the circle and were like jabs, fast but with no power. Sifu would just close his body down and they would bounce off his arms. No matter what fancy kind of kick he tried they would not penetrate. Finally the man got angry and started to follow through with his kicks, which meant he was getting closer. When he started to enter the circle Sifu just moved and the man dropped. Nobody seen what hit him but he was down and could not get back up. In just a few seconds the fight was over. The man was taken to the hospital, and did not ever come back. We heard all kinds of rumors that his famous father was going to seek revenge, but to no avail.
Sifu Yee was much more aggressive back then and did not put up with much nonsense. Certain individuals would stop in the school and make fun of the art, and Sifu would run them out.
They were mostly street people and would stand at the door and make cat calls and the like.
Sifu had no patience with theses types and within seconds, he was in their face. I was always impressed with his confidence in his ability to use his art, something that we both shared. Like I had said earlier.
I had studied many different arts and met many different teachers. I always was impressed with the ones that were humble, but were always ready to take a stand for what they thought was right. Sifu Yee is one of these types of teachers.
I am a father of 3 boys; 28, 25, and 12 years of age. I have always told them that all a man has in this world are his morals, and character. Every material thing that you own can be taken away, but these 2 things are worth dying for. They are like Jook Lum you either have them or you don't, meaning you can't fake it with fancy explanations, excuses or movements.
After Sifu's run in with the Korean gentleman, there was a lot of talk in the area, of certain martial artist that were going to challenge Sifu Yee. So one day I walked in to the school and a new sign was posted inside the door. I was standing in front of it trying to read it and Sifu Yee came up to me and ask me what I thought. I told him that I could not read Chinese and hadn't a clue? He told me that it said, "We accept all challenges." I told him that this was fine, but since we had very few people frequent the school that were Chinese, I doubt that we would get many offers. He just looked at me and walked away.
The next day I came to the school to work out and under the Chinese sign was a large sign that read in plain English, "WE ACCEPT ALL CHALLENGES." Sifu walked up beside me and said, "Now you can read that?" I said, "Yes." He replyed, "Okay," and walked away. This was Sifu Yee's personality, this is one of the many things that I respect him for. He is not just talk.
Most of the training I would get from him was on Sunday afternoons. We would start at 1:00 PM and go till about 5:00 PM. Although I thought that I learned the most from his teaching in the evenings when I would be in the school on my own or just one other person. He would come out from his restaurant to smoke, see me struggling with the movements and would explain how and why we do them. I would also hear what he had talked to Lum Sang about and what Sifu was now training in. Sifu Yee had the up most respect for Lum Sang, his teacher. This was always obvious. You could not train with Sifu Yee and not feel his respect for this man.
Sifu never talked about what he himself could do. He was always telling you about the high skill of his teacher. Until I met Sifu Yee I had never heard of Lum Sang. Since then some people have said in magazine articles that Sifu Yee only used Lum Sangs name for fame or financial gain. Others have said that the pictures that Sifu has with his teacher are paid for. This is not true. Sifu Yee used Lum Sangs name because Lum Sang gave him permission. This is well documented in letters from Lum and on cassette tape with Lum Sangs voice. Lum Sang was in no way ashamed of Sifu Yee. Sifu Yee would not have used theses pictures or his name without Lum Sangs permission. This became even more obvious when Sifu Yee did several magazine articles about the Jook Lum system long before Lums death. Not one complaint, or letter written to the magazines that carried the stories. Only after Lum Sang death did the complaints start to flood in. After that everyone was close to Lum Sang and new his most private thoughts. Sifu went to New York Chinatown to train and to have a meeting with Lum Sang and some of the disciples. Although most of the disciples did not show for the meeting for whatever reason, Sifu Yee was there.
When Sifu Yee returned he had some pictures of Lum Sang. We as students of Lums art were eager to see what he looked like. We had a 8x10 of Lum hanging in the school, but it was old and we were curious on how he might have changed. Sifu Yee also had some cassette tapes of Lum talking about the current standing of Jook Lum and the political mess, and certain individuals.
I heard these tapes when Sifu came back from New York, they are in Lum Sangs voice. He is speaking Chinese and I could not understand what he was saying, but Sifu Yee would translate them to me. If what is in them is what Sifu Yee has translated and I have no reason to doubt him.
Training with Sifu Yee was always interesting. He would show the movements of the system then explain it in every detail. I always tell the people that are attending one of Sifu Yee's classes or Seminars not to waste a lot of time trying to copy his movement but to pay attention to the way he explains the system. The real Gung fu is in what he says. You should listen to what he says and adopt it to your own body. Sifu always told me that the real gung fu is in the basics. I have found this to be true. If you dont have the foundation, then the hand movement is useless. I have watched other branches of this art go through their pattern of movements, and have noticed that most have only hand movement and no body. They seem to do everything with just the hand and arm. This is ok if you are defending yourself against an attacker that is not any stronger then yourself. The problem comes when the attacker is stronger then you and you cant move the person with just the arm. Without a strong foundation your gung fu is nothing but movement. Sifu Yee realized this and came up with his own method of teaching the foot work.
This is where Sifu Yee got into trouble with the other Sifu's of this system. It was not the same as they had always practiced. They openly criticized Sifu Yee for not doing things Lum Sangs way. Their conclusion to this was that he was not taught the right way. Sifu is always looking for a quicker way to have the people who train with him understand that the foundation is the real essence of this system. He understood that modern people would not train with the same intensity of past practitioners or have the time. People had changed through the years. Most of his students were American people and you would have to train them differently to get the same results. He said that he explained this to Lum Sang and showed him a video of the way he was training his people and Lum said it was ok. He was not watering down the system or changing the principles, or concepts, just changing the approach. Sifu said that he had noticed other branches senior students didn't have any foundation and this concerned him. He used to joke that the other teachers of Jook Lum teach the advanced level and he teaches the basics. He always says, there is no high level without good basics.
Sifu told me that he showed Lum Sang the way he had broken down the system to what he called baby forms, and that Lum Sang, was happy and told him that he was a genius. Sifu kept Lum Sang informed of his teachings, and would not have taught knowing that Lum Sang did not approve of it. On at least one occasion there were other people present when Lum Sang gave his approval.
The basics where always important to Sifu Yee and we would drill them tirelessly in the Florida school. Sifu Yee told me one day that I had thousands of gung fu movements but had no balance. I had been training many different kicking arts and thought that my balance was superior to anybody that he had training with him at that time. I would go home and stand on one leg. I would walk a balance beam that I had constructed, and do anything to improve my balance. Still he would watch me perform my gung fu and would say this guy has no balance. This statement would make me angry and I would take it out on fellow students when we would practice hands. After one session of practice, Sifu Yee made the statement again that I had no balance. This time I was ready for him and I said, "What do you mean I have no balance? I have as much balance as anybody in here!" He looked at me and said softly; you brought the top of your body to Florida, but you left your ass in Pennsylvania. You are only hand movement, you have no foundation! Here after all these months I did not understand that he meant the balance was not standing on one leg, but the balance between the top and the bottom of the body. I just laughed. There would be many times that I didn't understand the way Sifu would explain something.
I was the new student in the Florida school. I had more Martial Arts experience than most of his students and wanted them to notice. I had no friends in the state of Florida and was feeling insecure. I was much more cocky than now. Sifu used to tell me that I was hyper. I was used to playing rough, and I like that way of practicing. When we would go through what I like to refer as hand games (two man exercises), I would bang pretty hard, and was always mixing things that I had learned in other martial arts with the exercises. This would drive some of his students wild, and they would get angry with me. In turn I would just go harder. Sometimes I would bang their arms, and they would get bruises. It didn't take long for them to go to Sifu Yee with a complaint about me and my way of training.
One day when I was training on my own in the school, Sifu Yee approached me and said that I had been banging some of his students too hard. He told me that I was not to train with those individuals again, and that I was to seek out the students that like to train my way and continue with them only. He told me that some students have a different personality and did not want to train that way. He said that he had rent now and it was important to keep all his students so he was able to pay it. He said if I didn't change I would have to leave. I assured him that it would not happen again and I would leave them alone. The fact that they had went to Sifu Yee complaining made me angry. I found a few people that could bang back and continued to do so. Sifu Yee would just stand and watch me, shake his head and walk away. When he was watching, I would always try to show him just how powerful and fast I was and show him all that I knew about fighting.
One day I was sparring with one of his students and he was watching. He called the class together and started to show the class how the type of sparring I was doing was not real fighting. He said it was just a game. He came over to me and stood in front of me and said to the class, "This guy has a lot of Martial Arts experience." He said, "This guy trained for a a long time and is a good fighter." All the while I was standing there with this big smirk on my face and thinking... Well as least he noticed. He said, "Try to hit ME!" First I looked at him like no way. He said, "You like to bang with my students, hit me." I said, "How do you want me to hit you? With my hand? or do you want me to kick you?" He said, "You dont ask my students which to use. Try to hit me like you hit them." He told me I can use anything that I want. I thought to myself, I know that I am pretty fast and he is standing pretty close, I know I can hit him. So he said whenever your ready you come. I got in to my best fighting stance, and got ready to execute my best punch. All of a sudden, I just snapped a punch right beside his head. Sifu Yee didn't move, and this look of anger had come across his face like I had seen when he threw trouble makers out of the school. He said, "Do you think that your gung fu is better than mine?" I said no. He said, "Why then do you punch beside me and not at me like you do my students?" I said, "I didn't want to hit you Sifu." He said, "I cannot react to something that is not going to hit me." He said, "If you can beat me I pay you and you can teach me!"
Now I was embarrassed in front of the whole school, I thought well ok, if you want me to hit you, I will and I was ready. This time I got serious, I thought I won't hit him hard I'll just tap him and show him that I can. Now don't get me wrong. I didn't think that I could beat him, or that my gung fu was better than his, I knew better. I just thought that I could hit him. There is a big difference. I always laughed at people in the martial arts that would get bummed out because someone was able to hit them, as if that was the end of the fight. In other forms of self-defense it is expected, but in the martial arts it a no no.
I shuffled in with a punch as fast as I could, but he wasn't there, he had slipped by me some how, and was hitting me the whole time. He must have hit me 10 times and his body was like it was stuck to me and I could not get free. I fell on the floor and he was yelling get up, get up try again. That was no good, he was saying. I could feel the pain coming from me head and upper body, and now I was ready. I stood in front of him and attacked him again this time I tried to take him to the floor, and again he wasn't there, but was stuck to me striking me again and again. When I got up he said his famous words, "Your fast and powerful, I can hurt you real bad." He told me that he could not release on me with his full power because I gave hime too much to hit. When I sparred or fought I was always the aggressor; I would always bring it to my opponent and make him fight me. In Jook Lum you soon find out that this way of fighting is not good. Sifu Yee went on to tell the whole class how low level and stupid my way of fighting was, He said this is not gung fu, it is kick boxing.
Now I had been beat before and someone kicking my ass was not getting a cherry. But after the fight I always knew how the person beat me. Strength, speed, size, but with Sifu Yee I could not figure it out. It was none of these. I knew I was stronger, I was as fast, and I out weighed him by at least forty pounds. Although, all of that didn't help. The next day when I was taking a shower I found these black and blue spots all over my upper body. I remember calling my wife to the bathroom and showing her where he hit me. She shook her head and walked out, to many years of gung fu had made her not react anymore. After that day I had more respect for Sifu Yee then I previously had. I always had a rule of training that I could not train under anybody that could not use what they were teaching, or that I thought I could beat. I found out that day that I could retire that train of thought and go on training with Sifu Yee.
The next time I trained with Sifu Yee he treated me as always, talking and just down to earth. I told him how impressed I was with his ability to handle my attacks, and he just said that my way of fighting was low level and that I was easy. Then he said, Thats ok, you train hard and you will change. He said you have a lot of bad habits. He said gung fu is like smoking, you dont smoke for along time it is easy to quit, but if you smoke for years and years its very hard to quit. He said you keep trying, you'll change. I ask him what technique he used against me to make it look that easy. He said no technique, Jook Lum has no techniques, only motion. He said, you people always want to know what technique I use, there is none. He said, "My body just reacts." He said; We dont hit people, they run in to it. This he said "is the real Jook lum," He said that most people do not know this.
he Jook Lum training for me was very different then I was use to training in a martial arts. We would train continuously to form what Sifu Yee called a "praying mantis body." I had been use to training different systems, but when it came to the fighting it was kick boxing. I remember asking some of the teachers in the other systems why we work so hard on the forms and stances and when we spar we are kick boxers. They would always come up with one ridiculous answer after another. Most of the time that didn't know themselves. They were taught that way and just pasted on. One teacher said that the real gung fu was too deadly to use in sparring so we spar this way. I always had a problem with this type of reasoning, because what you practice when you spar, is what your are going to use to defend yourself. I was impressed with Sifu Yee's Jook Lum because the way you practice is exactly the way you fight. And when you would swing at him he would never tell you which hand or foot to use.
Years ago when I was training with Paul, we were working with just putting a bunch of different moves from a lot of different arts together, and working them into our sparring. Paul had been training this way for quite sometime and could teach it as well. At our school groin kicks, knees, and elbows were legal. We would usually kick some one in the groin take them to the floor with a choke and make them tap out. We always wore shoes and it made the groin kicks pretty effective. If you missed the groin and hit the tail bone it was just as good. When people from other schools came to spar with us we would always tell them the rules first so their would be no questions. The fellows that we sparred with were usually from a kick boxing schools of some type and were not use to these particular targets. After we would explain they would always say, well ok, we can fight like that too. The difference with us was, we didn't have to think about it. We just did it. They always had all these rules in there training and had to consciously think about it. These types of target were talked about in there schools but not practiced. When they would throw high kicks, we would just kick them in the groin and drop them. Even though they new that the groin was a target, once hit there you would always get this look of shock. Like you can't kick us there? When I started to train with Paul I was not use to this type of sparring either, but it didn't take me long to catch on. So I learned early on that you have to practice what you want to use.
When I seen that the Jook Lum people trained the way they fight, I was happy. Sifu Yee told me early on that he doesn't teach shit, yes, that is what he said. He said everything that I teach you, you can use for self-defense. I found out that statement to be true. He told me that he doesn't waste class time with sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jaxs and the like. He said the Jook Lum is a complete martial art and by just practicing the system you will develop the muscle, and tendons necessarily to make the art functional. All you had to do was look at Sifu Yees arms to see this development. When you first meet Sifu Yee, it appears his forearms are normal size for his body. But a few minutes after doing the exercise you will notice that his forearms seem to double in size. The only way you can get this type of development is by doing these exercises for a long period of time. Which again would shoot holes in some peoples theory that he did not train this system very long.
I remember one New Years celebration that we were having at our school in Florida. Every student took turns going on the floor and doing there gung fu. One by one we went up and down the floor seeking Sifu Yees approval. We had a Chinese visitor that day who was a Tai Chi man and he also performed his Tai Chi. He was very much respected in the Tai Chi community. I thought his exhibition of Tai Chi was excellent. After everyone else had finished, it was Sifu Yee's turn to go out on the floor and would be the last performance. Lum Sang had been teaching Sifu Yee what I guess, was some type of Chi Gung. Sifu was moving up the floor slowly and powerfully and his right forearm was getting bigger all the time. His arm look like it did not belong on his body, it was turning a dark red, like when you squeeze your finger at the end and trap the blood. His arm was getting bigger and bigger. The power in his feet was coming from the ground and it felt as if the concrete floor was going to crack. I had never seen anything like this before. The look On Sifu Yee's face was of pure concentration. The set lasted approximately 5 minutes and the room was very silent. He had everyone's attention that was present and everyone was trying to figure out what they had just witnessed. The Chinese gentleman said, that he had seen nothing like this before and that he was curious on how you can generate so much power. Sifu Yee told me a day later what he was doing. It has been quite a few years passed and I can't remember all that he told me, but it had something to do with forcing a lot of blood into your arm. Something that I didn't understand then and still don't. He said that he got light headed 2 days later. He said, that he spoke to Lum Sang about it and he told him not to do that exercise again.
I remember that he was talking with Lum Sang quite a bit back then. Sifu was always improving his power. He was not just a teacher he was working on improving his gung fu and still is.
Although I worked the Jook Lum very hard I was still tinkering with the other arts that I had studied before I met Sifu Yee. One day while Sifu Yee was sitting at his desk taking a break I started kicking on the bag. I could kick high and enjoyed doing so. Sifu sat there in silence watching me. I had notice him watching so I started to kick faster and stronger.
After a while he got up and came over to me and said, "If you fight, you would use this stuff?" I said yes that I probably would, only I would not kick so high. He said, "This is a dumb martial art." He said this type of kicking is no good for fighting. He gave me an example. If I meet you on the street, you don't know me, I dont know you, you have no idea of my skill? And you would try to kick me like this? I just stood there listening. I knew that I was about to get another lesson. He said, by kicking like that, you open a vital part of your body. He said I hit you there one time the fights over. I told you before he said, "In Jook Lum we do not expose a vital part of our body to hit people." He said, and that is a vital part. He said, high level gung fu, the feet have to stay on the ground. He said, all the high level people know this. He said that Lum Sang always said, that the kickers are the easy ones. He said in Jook Lum we do not kick, we release the leg. He said, there is a big difference.
Then he told me to try to use some kind of a kick on him. I said, "No, that is all right Sifu, I believe you." He said, "No kick me with your fancy kick." I had trained kicking a lot and new the secrete to a successful kick was in the with draw. So I figure that I will throw it as fast as I can and get my foot down to the ground before he moves, so at least when he makes contact with me both feet will be on the ground. I was wrong again. I threw the kick fast and hard and he sort of hooked it and struck it at the same time and I was on my ass on the floor in no time. When he struck my leg he hit sort of a nerve and my leg felt like it was going to sleep. He said, you ok? I said my leg feels kind of funny, so he bent down and rubbed it at a spot that brought my feeling back. He said, I didn't hit you in the groin because we are friends. I was glad of that. He said that certain people say that in Jook Lum there is high kicks. He said, this is not true. Again he said this is the street gung fu, not the high level. He said everybody knows this. If you kick high and your feet are off the ground you break the principals of this system. He said the people that think this is true don't understand high level gung fu.
After years of practicing this art I have learned that the high level always keeps both feet on the ground. It is the only way you can transfer the power to the hand. Some people will try to tell you that Jook Lum has high kicking in it, if so this is only for a stretching exercise, it is not good for self-defense. Sifu told me that the reason I got away with the kicking with most people, is that they are not high level. He said, that you have to start training as if everybody is high level. He said, this way you train the body to react. He always said, if you don't make these kinds of mistakes you dont have to be such a good fighter, He said, let Jook Lum take care of you. For the rest of the time he was in Florida I only practiced Jook Lum, and nothing else.
The one thing that I notice in training martial arts, is that the time period of training a particular system has little bearing on the true understanding of the art. I have seen people that train this system for a long period of time and still not understand how the system works. And have seen people come into the system and after a reasonably short period of time understand the system. Although they have the same teacher it is no guarantee that everyone will learn at the same pace, no matter how many hours you train in a day. I found high level arts to be like this. Their is no guarantee that you will get it at all.
When a teacher picks disciples, he may choose them for many reasons. Some might be of there skill level in the art, or it could be that he trusts them, or that he likes there personally, or that they have stuck by his side for a long period of time, on and on. It does not necessarily mean that they are his highest skilled, or that they have the superior knowledge of the art. Jook Lum is a very difficult system to learn as well as to understand its principal. At any rate acquiring skill in this system is very time consuming, and even after putting in the time, there is no guarantee that you will be able to perform this art properly, or with any high skill.
Sifu Yee has always told me that your are all Jook Lum or you are not half or some Jook Lum. He says, all or nothing. Meaning you can't mix techniques from other systems with Jook Lum and expect it to work. This reminds me of a funny story I like to tell about Sifu Yee. A few years back we had a Seminar in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After the Saturday secession all the people that attended the seminar met for dinner. We spent the evening at the dinner table discussing the system as well as the seminar. One fellow told Sifu that he really liked this system and had been practicing it for years under another well know teacher.
He said that he had participated in tournaments and had always entered the sparring competition. Although he said that he used his Korean art for competition, he always kept his Southern Praying Mantis as sort of a secret weapon, or a surprise if you will. He said, that at one particular tournament that he was in the heat of competition and all of a sudden out came a Pray Mantis hook, that saved him and he went on to win this particular competition. Sifu sat there listening to the fellow tell his story and did not interrupt him one time. At the end of the story Sifu looked at him and said, yes Jook Lum is a good system. Later that evening when Sifu and myself were in the car on the way home. Sifu looked over at me and said, out of no where, "WHAT THE HELLS A PRAY MANTIS HOOK?" I said, "I don't know, I thought you knew." He said this guy has been to at least 3 of my seminars now. He said he hasn't learned a damn thing and then we both started to laugh.
aking the transition to Jook Lum was very difficult for me. I found it hard to understand, as well as to make it functional. My kick boxing arts background just kept coming back and held me from progressing at a pace that I was happy with. Although I could see that the Jook Lum was a better way of self-defense, my body just seemed like it would not make the change. I had made friends with some of Sifu's top students in the Florida school and they would spar with me. I would always use my previous martial arts ability and they would use what they had learned from Sifu Yee.
The guys that I spared with didn't have as much experience at sparring as I, and were not used to my aggressive style. I was sure that in a real fighting situation I would have no problem in getting the upper hand on them. But the one thing that always frustrated me was, no matter what technique I would use on them, their hand would always be in my face. No matter what I tried it would always end this way. I knew that it was only a matter of time until my way of fighting would prevail no longer. This was a big reason I didn't give up training Sifu Yee's system. I told Sifu Yee that I was impressed that his students could do this to me, and he said, "Well gung fu is like school, there is elementary, there's high school, and there's college. There are times you have to go for your masters degree." Then he said, "This is Jook Lum, and your trying to fight them with high school stuff. You can only survive as long as you do because they are inexperienced." Then he laughed and walked away.
Which reminds me of something I witnessed one evening while training in the Florida school. It was just me and one other student in the school on a week night training. The door was always open, because in Florida it was hot and we had no AC. Two street guys came in and where watching us go up and down the floor training. The whole time they were watching they were making comments on our training. We just ignored them and kept on training. It didn't take long till they were making cat calls and jumping around pretending that they were gung fu masters.
They had started moving from the sidelines to the center of the floor where we were training. I thought to myself, here we go. The fellow that was training with me was one of Sifu's top students but was young. The one trouble maker said to him, I studied the Crane system, and started to imitate the Crane movements. His imitation of the Crane was laughable at any rate, but still they were big enough guys to do some damage. Sifu's student said, "Oh yeah, you look pretty good." The guy said, "Damn right I'm good, a lot better then you." This kid turned and look at him and said, "You want to try to hit me with your Crane?" The guy looked back at his buddy and started laughing. He said, "Yeah, but you better be better then you look." I could smell the alcohol on these guys from across the room. I said, to Sifu's student, lets just throw them out. You know "give'um the bums rush". The guy looked at me and said, after I kick his ass, your next. Sifu's student looked at me and said, I want to see this guys Crane. I just shook my head and said, "OK."
The trouble maker got in to what he called a Crane stance which looked like drunken Crane. He asked Sifu's student if he was ready? Sifu's student said, "Come!" The guy made a move and this kid had him by the throat and up against the wall. The kid left him go and said,
try again. He did, and again the kid made a circle and had him by the throat. Each time the kid got him by the throat he did not struggle, you could see he knew that it wasn't by accident. The guy looked at the kid and said, "Damn, you're pretty good." He started for the door and said he'd be back. And the next time will see if you can handle the Tiger. As I stood there and watched this kids confidence, I knew that it had come from his training in this system. Nothing that he did was fancy, but very direct and to the point. I knew that there would come a time that I could not do anything with this kid.
Somebody must have noticed these guys in the school and went next door to the restaurant and told Sifu Yee because a few minutes later he came in to the school asking if there was trouble makers over here. He looked at me and said, dont take any S--- from these people. He said if they come in here to throw them out. I said, "Dont worry, the kid did." I was still amazed how easy this kid got his throat. Something that I was determined to learn.
Sifu had many different ways at training his students to hold the center line. One day when I came to class he had a belt around this students elbows so his elbows would not pop out while he practiced his gung fu. Another time he had him in front of a chalk board with chalk. The idea was to keep his elbows in while maintaining a circle. This kid would make large circles and small circles, figure 8's over and over, with out letting his elbows pop from his body. Sifu always told us that to protect the center line of the body was of up most importance. The elbow had to remain in and close to the body. He would always say, put the strongest bone in your body in front of you to protect you. The knees would take care of the lower half of the body. Sifu said, that in Jook Lum we have no blocks, we just close the body. If the people that are attacking you are going to hurt you they have to come to you. This was different for me, because all the systems that I had came from you would practice blocking. Sifu told me, that blocking is low level martial art and has no place in Jook Lum. Another thing that I found difficult in making the transition to Jook Lum was the stepping forward.
Sifu would say when this guy punches or kicks at you, you must step in to it. For me this was suicide. He told me at the beginning, there is no backward movement in this system. Although I had watched him demonstrate this philosophy quite successfully, I had, very little success with it at all.
Many years later when we reunited in Pennsylvania. This concept of Jook Lum would come back to haunt me. Sifu was teaching a class in the Lancaster school. He had us line up across for each other. One person was the attacker and the other the defender. The attacking person could use any attack that he wanted, while the defender was to use JooK Lum to defend himself. He had just went though the procedure for about and hour on what we were to do.
We were all lined up and going through the exercise and I noticed Sifu Yee watching me. Then he walked over to me and told me that when this guy punches you must step in, not sideways. He walked away and started helping other groups but kept looking back at me. He came over to me again and said, you are stepping sideways and not into the punch. I said, that I realized that but I was pretty successful with this side step and that it felt more natural and comfortable. Paul Huber was punching at me. Me and Paul always had this thing that when we punched at each other we didn't hold back. Paul is big and strong and I didn't want to block one of his punches with my face. I new that Paul was going to try to knock me out, and then give that famous saying, "You didn't stop that one, did you buddy?"
After a while Sifu gave up and walked away and went on teaching. Shortly after we closed the class and started to head home. We were riding along in the car and Sifu looked at me and said, you know Bruce Campbell, I think that I will not teach you anymore. He said, Maybe you can call me every now and then, and I'll call you. We will remain good friends, but I will not be your gung fu teacher. This took me by surprise, and I said Why?!? He said, I have been telling you for a long time what you have to do to improve your gung fu. You dont listen to me. You always second guess me. You people that have a lot of gung fu experience are the worst to teach. He said, you think you already know, and you dont listen you keep doing the same thing. I said, "Sifu, I dont understand," He said, I tell you that you have to step in when he punches, but still you always step to the side. And when I try to explain it to you, you always come up with some excuse. He said, you cant learn gung fu like this. I said, "But Sifu, Paul punches hard and I know that I can get away by stepping sideways, I'm good at that." He said, "How are you going to improve if you keep practicing the things that your already good at." He asked me if I want to improve my gung fu and I said, "Yes," then he said, "Then you have to listen to me and you have to learn to step in. This is your first step to improving your Jook Lum." It was the first but it definitely was far from the last.
Many years later I hear myself teaching my students these two important steps in the Jook Lum system. I tell them that you must step into the punch or kick, close the body don't block, and then the only blocks that really work are the ones with your face. Most Jook Lum people don't understand this about the system, and if they do they don't practice it. These two principals are a must if you want this system to work.
Another thing essential to the Jook Lum system is short energy. In Florida Sifu Yee was teaching this, which was very difficult to learn, but essential to the Jook Lum system. Jook Lum people don't use long range of motion, so it is very important to be able to generate power from a short range of motion. Sifu Yee would teach a class on it, then demonstrate it. Then we would go through some exercises to try and develop it. Sifu Had a empty cardboard box sitting on a stool. The box was about 2 1/2' x 2'. It would just sit on the stool away from the wall. The purpose of this was to strike the box from a few inches away and punch holes in it with a phoenix eye knuckle without knocking the box on the floor. We would line up and strike the box one at a time. When we would hit the box and it would fly off the stool and on to the floor, usually without any knuckle hole in it. Sifu Yee would stand in front of the box and strike it and you would hear this popping noise like you had just popped a pencil or some hard object through the box. There would be a hole where his knuckle went through the box, and the box would remain on the stool. Sometimes he would release three times and there would be three holes and still the box would remain on the stool.
I was fascinated with this and was always trying to be successful with it before and after class. One day when I was trying this without much success Sifu Yee approached me and said, your problem is, you can not control your power. I had progressed some. I could knock a hole in the box, but it would always end up on the floor. He said, that all my power goes out the back of the box and I must work on generating it into the target and keep it there. Now if you think this is easy, try it and see how you make out. All the students in Florida, seen Sifu do this many times. Sifu Yee could do many things that would capture my attention. Punching holes in a empty cardboard box is hardly something that one would think shows martial arts ability, until you try to duplicate it yourself. Then you realize, its takes more skill then one would think.
fter being at the Florida School for a year I was still having a rough time adapting to the Jook Lum philosophy of self-defense. I was used to arts that were much more aggressive. They were 75% offense. With Jook Lum you are waiting for the attackers to attack then borrowing their energy and giving it back to them. I understood the theory, but doing it was another matter. Some arts that I had studied you would redirect energy. Jook Lum was alltogether different from them also. Sifu Yee told me that those types of arts are lower level gung fu. He said that if you try to redirect they will use your redirection against you. Sifu used to say, "If you don't attack me I can't attack you. The harder you try to hit me the harder you get hit." I had watched him do this flawlessly. But I was another matter. One time I asked him, "Sifu, what if you want to hit somebody? Say he's just bugging you and you want to hit him?" He looked at me and laughed. He said, "Call his mother or sister a name, then he will try to hit you, then you can use this gung fu." Well I had to admit, I had never thought of that.
I was going to visit Pennsylvania and I mentioned it to Sifu Yee. He ask me, when you are up there, are you going to see the people that you use to work out with? I said that I was. He said that this was a good opportunity for me to work the gung fu that I learned down here. He said that these people have never seen this system and I will surprise them. Now the people that I worked with were good fighters and I knew that they were waiting to test what I had learned while I was away. Sifu told me that it was very important that I only defend myself with Jook Lum. He told me not to give up my stance. He showed me how to stand and told me I must stand like that. He said, "If your ever going to start getting my system, you must start while your up there." He said that this will be a good experience for me. I was thinking, it will be a good experience all right. I knew that they were going to shoot holes in my new system, or I should say my ability in it and Sifu just wanted me to stand in this one stance and take it. It was not only a good test for the system, it was a test on my personality.
Later that week I met with the guys that I had worked with. Naturally we sparred. I stood there and they beat on my legs and arms. They all took their turn one by one. But they could not seem to land anything solid. I was having a tough time just standing there, but somehow I did. At the end of the sparring session Paul Huber said to me that he didn't understand what I was doing, but at any rate it was working. I assured him that I didn't know what I was doing either and was surprised that I had made it through in one piece.
Many years later Paul and I were telling this story of my first trip back to Pennsylvania to Sifu Yee. When I showed him the stance that he told me to hold and asked him if he remembered showing me it. He laughed and said he did, but he said that he did not think that I was stupid enough to hold it while they beat the s--- out of me.
After my vacation, I started to train seriously in this system. I was feeling better and little more comfortable in the weird stances. For the first time I started to understand how the system worked. Although making it work was another thing. I would watch Sifu Yee just explode, and with such power for a small man, that it made me anxious to improve at this system. Sifu had what I thought was a strange way of teaching the forms of this system. I was practicing the Som Bo Gin form one day and had forgotten the next move, I asked one of my Seniors, "Where do I go from here?" He said, "Which way do you want to move?" I said, "No what is the next movement?" He just said, "Well... Which way do you want to move?" Now I was getting frustrated and said, "Just tell me what the next movement is!?!" He said that it depends on where I wanted to move. I saw Sifu Yee coming so I thought I'll just ask him. I said, "Sifu, I seem to be stuck here and I can't remember the next movement." He looked at me and said, "Do you want to go straight? left? right? back?" I just stood there and shook my head. Sifu looked at me and could see my frustration, and said, "Well, for everywhere you move there is something different that you must do, you must learn this. This is real gung fu."
Believe me, it took me quite a while to learn what he meant, his forms where alive, just like fighting. No prearranged movement. His body could adapt, he did not have to think. This man was and is high level gung fu. That is why a lot of the other Jook Lum people don't understand him. They are still in elementary school with there Jook Lum. This was back in the early 80's, his gung fu is much better now.. His gung fu matures and grows with him. He doesn't have the same personality as he did when he was a kid, and his gung fu is not the same as it was when he was a kid.
Another example of Sifu Yee using what he talked was with a Sheriff in Florida. Sifu was teaching the police his gung fu for a while, and for whatever reason it ended. One of the Sheriffs would stop at his restaurant to eat and to talk martial arts with Sifu from time to time. He told Sifu that he was a black belt in the Ninjitsu system. He would tell Sifu all the great things that he seen some of his teachers do in his system and Sifu would listen with interest. Eventually he would steer the subject into sparring and would want to spar with Sifu. Sifu would always say, "Oh, No you're much too big." This guy was about 6' 3" tall and I would say approximately 230lbs. He said, "I would like to see how my system would hold up against yours." He was always telling Sifu about how he kicked this Karate guys ass and this Kung Fu guys ass. Sifu would always laugh and say you're too big for me to fight. The more that Sifu would decline the more this guy would suggest it. Sifu used to tell me about this guy and say this guy always wants to spar with me. I ask Sifu what style he was and he said, Ninji. Sifu looked at me one day and asked, "What the hell's a Ninja?" I told him what little I new of the system, and he said, he had never heard of it. Sifu told me he didn't want to mess around with this guy because he was a cop.
This just kept on happening, the guy would get more and more persistent as weeks went along. One of Sifu's students was an attorney, so Sife asked him what he thought about the situation. The attorney told him if he keeps it up, spar with him, but first make him sign a release form. So Sifu had the attorney draw one up and Sifu kept it handy. One Sunday afternoon we were working out at the school and in comes the sheriff (Ninji). He was quite a lady's man and had a women on each arm. Every where this guy would go around town he had these two women and two nickel plated pistols with him. It was funny because everything this guy would say the women would both giggle. He said to Sifu, "Are you ready to spar with me?" Sifu said, "I told you I don't see any advantage to us sparring." He said, "Come on, I'm here, you're here, we're both martial artists." Well he had picked a good day to come because Sifu was in a bad mood and nothing that we were doing seemed to suite him. He said, "Mr. Yee... I'm ready." When he said that both women giggled. Sifu had told me before how these women always giggling got on his nerves.
I believe this guy heard about Sifu and the Korean guy (mentioned earlier) and he wanted to make a name for himself. Sifu said to him, "Okay, we will spar, but first you have to take those guns off and lock them in your car. Then you sign this. Because you are a cop and I want no trouble." With this, the guy laughed and said OKAY.
The guy jumped around for a while loosing up and Sifu stood there finishing his cigarette. Sifu looked at him and said, "You're ready now?" The guy said yeah. He got in his stance and Sifu just stood there. The guy said, "Are you going to get ready?" Sifu said, "Just come." This guy started to move around while Sifu just watched him. The guy was changing from stance to stance as if to show Sifu how many he had. He started to jab at Sifu and Sifu did not react. Then he came in. Sifu's body was like a spring uncoiling, he hit him and the guy tried to run but Sifu was stuck to him. The guy fell trying to get loose and Sifu let him go. The guy yelled, "WHOOOO! What was that!!!" Sifu didn't respond. I looked over at the women and they were not smiling. Sifu just lookeded at him and waited for him to try something else. This time he tried some kicks but they were half hearted. He went from stance to stance without Sifu moving. Then he came again and Sifu dropped him so fast that it looked effortless. This time he didn't get up fast and he was not laughing. He stood and bowed Sifu. He said, "I never felt like I was in a trap before." Sifu responded, "Well. It not me, it's my system." Sifu told him he can get away with that stuff with other systems, but not with the Praying Mantis. Sifu shook his hand and said, "You're pretty good, but I think that your system is kick boxing. I see no gung fu." I looked over at the women and they were still not laughing.
Sifu Yee's door is always open; He is a kind man and would be glad to discuss this system with you on any level. People who want to see if our knowledge in this system is adequate are always welcome to come to one of the C.K.F.A. schools or public seminars and discuss the system. We are always open for peaceful discussion.
ack when I originally started to study this system and until this very day, I am still enthralled by the power a person can generate by studying this system and the way that you use your opponents strength against him. I think that we all have heard that a smaller person should be able to defend himself against larger stronger attackers only to find out that our style of martial art is lacking. And it all comes down to strength against strength. Some teachers will tell you that you keep practicing this block and you should be able to break his leg if he kicks at you. Well let me tell you this, if your are 150 pounds and the guy throwing the kick is 240 pounds, if you block his kick with your arm, you have a better chance in seeing Jesus then breaking his leg, let alone stopping it from impact. We train or at least I do to defend myself from stronger aggressive people usually bigger and stronger then myself. The ones that are much smaller usually dont pose a threat. In a perfect world the attackers would all be similar in size and weight. Most systems are strength against strength, even though we are told otherwise. Or at least it would seem that way to me.
Now before anybody gets offended here, Yes there is always those exceptions. You might have a couple of tricks up your sleeve. Or you might get lucky. But when all the crap stops flying, you would be more successful with someone smaller then yourself or someone close to the same size. Hey, the kick boxers found this out years ago, that is why they have weight divisions.
I have had many heated discussions with a lot of martial artists over the years on this subject. Even though they realize it, they still go on the defense, and try to defend there system. But many of them are very aware of this problem.
I remember a situation that came up one evening when I had the night club. I was working the door. And a group of regulars came in for a few drinks. The club was located in a small area and most of the people that frequented the club knew I was in the martial arts. I would get all kinds of reactions, some were inquisitive about the arts, some would cop an attitude, some were afraid, some wanted to kick my ass, but most just didn't care. I was familiar with this particular group except for one guy. As they stopped to pay the cover charge, one of the regulars mentioned to his buddy that I was in the martial arts. I didn't like to talk about the arts to the customers, so I had no reaction. The new guy laughed and said, well that's his problem. One of the regulars went on to tell me how this gentleman was from Philadelphia, and was a golden gloves boxer. He said he had just won a big fight and he was the champ. The guy told me that he had sparred with alot of karate people, and kick boxers and had no problem with them. He looked at me and said, you want to learn how to fight, take up boxing. The one fellow said, "Hey Bruce, maybe you should spar with him sometime."
I didn't think much of it, but I must admit that it did bother me. I noticed that the boxer didn't appear to be to big. And looked a little young. I think I was 170-175 pounds and he looked quite a few pounds lighter. Later that evening one of the fellows brought me a news paper article about this boxer. It went on to say how he was one of the best they had seen, had great potential. The gym he was associated with had great expectations for him. I believe it said he was 120 pounds, whatever class that was. I kept on reading and then it mentioned his age. It said he is only 20 years of age. Now even back then, the drinking age in Pennsylvania was 21 years of age.
The band had started playing and the boxer seemed to be having a good time with his friends. I went over to him and ask him for some ID. He said, "Why?" with a few other obnoxious comments. The longer I stood there the more obnoxious he got.
Then he came over and got in my face. I always had a policy at the club, you could say what you wanted, call me all the names, as long as you didn't get physical and were leaving the premises. He pushed me and said, "Come on karate man, lets go!". His friends were saying, you don't want to fight this guy, Bruce, he's real good. Well anyway he started to swing. I always thought that I was pretty fast. But this guy was fast. He must have hit me in the face 4 to 5 times, before I even reacted. I thought old boy, I dont know. He hit me a bunch more and I remember thinking, this don't hurt. My nose and mouth were bleeding, but it wasn't phasing me. I thought, the hell with trying to kick or do something fancy. I am bigger and stronger then him and he's going down. I dove on him and pulled him to the ground, and started to choke him. At first he was struggling and then he quit. I was yelling, tap!, tap!, and then I realized that he didn't know what I was talking about. I picked him up slammed him into his buddies car as he stood there with glazed eyes staring at me. I told them all never to come back. He didn't say a word. Later, I seen in the paper that he lost his next big fight. Maybe I took his confidence away. Anyway, I'd hope so.
The reason I told this story is that this kid was good at what he did, but again he lost because of my size in comparison to his. If I had of been 50 pounds lighter, he may have done some damage. His self defense was bases on strength and size.
When I had first met Sifu I was at the point in the martial arts that I thought that all martial arts were not any good, if you stick with one style. People use to ask me what style do you think I should take? And I would answer, Just run, do a lot of exercise, buy a bag and just train on your own. I had came to this conclusion from what I seen in the arts through the years. One style would tell you this, and one would tell you that, and on and on. But when you took a good look the guys that were successful in there arts that could really use it, they were big and strong guys. Or just good fighters. What attracted me to Sifu Yee's art was that here we have a reasonably small man that could knock me around without much effort. I had been beat lots of times sparring, but I always knew how they beat me. It was strength, speed, size, etc. I could always figure out how I got beat. But with him, I had no idea. I told Paul that when I would try to hit Sifu, I always felt that I was a fly bothering him. It was if I was no threat. I remember one time when he dropped me with a cigarette in his mouth, and the ash didn't even fall off. Yes, that bothered me. I had to find out these secrets.
Sifu told me in order to be successful with Jook Lum you have to learn to borrow your attackers energy. In doing this you can't slow down his attack, and you have to control it in the direction it is coming. And then you simply use this against him. Sounds simple? Well its not. In order to be successful at this you cannot stop the motion at any point. If you are from a blocking system and you have this habit it is very hard to over come. Most people will block first and then try to make this work, only to find out that you get hit in the process. Everything is circles, and the motion does not stop. The hard part is making the circle with redirection.
Borrowing someone's energy is very difficult to do. To be successful against bigger, stronger people this is the only way. In order to do this you must first get the 'body.' If your movements are just the arm, it will not work. Sifu Yee always says, you must have the bow and the arrow. Meaning the knee and the elbow always work together. I watch some people that try to do Jook Lum without this and it will not work. Sifu invented different kinds of training exercises to teach this 'body.' Through the years I have watched different people on tape demonstrating Jook Lum. Sifu has watched a few with me. He says, "Look at this guy, what he is doing will not work against a stronger person." He would say,"This is lazy gung fu, only movement." He's quick to point out, look he has no body. Or he's trying to do the old mans gung fu, but he don't understand it, so it won't work for him. Yes, even Jook Lum will not work if it is not practiced properly. Some think that you always go for pressure points, and must practice it soft. One guy from another branch told me that we practice it to hard and ridged. He said, "The hands must be soft with no power." Well if you practice with no power, you will have no power. In order to be soft, you must practice hard, you must have both. Sifu Yee has always had a saying that sticks with me. He says, "We train like zombies, but we fight like scholars".
ifu told me that if I were to be successful in this art that I would have to learn to divide the body into different portions. He said that I would have to able to do one thing with the right side, and a different thing with the left side. He said, "When it comes to fighting more then one person at a time, your body has to adapt to more the one person at a time. You can not fight them both the same way." He had came up with some training methods to practice this. He called this Army fighting. Sifu would say, "If you try to hit me, I'll hit your buddy." And then he would demonstrate it. Two and three people would try to hit him at the same time and he would just react off the attacker to hit the other guy. This was amazing, it looked so easy.
Sifu would stand there talking, making a circle with his one hand and a box with the other, and while talking switch from side to side. He would say, "One guy is making a box and the other is making a circle, you have to be able to adapt to both of them." I must of tried this little trick a hundred times and could still not do it. Sifu said, "To be able to have high level gung fu, you must be able to break the body in sections." He can do this.
This is some of the training that you must understand to be successful in this rare system. This system is more then just learning techniques and body motion. Trying to divide the body in to sections and controlling each one is as difficult as it sounds. Very few Jook Lum people can do this because of the difficulty. When I watch Sifu Yee demonstrate this it appears to be quite simple, but when you try it, it is quite frustrating. Sifu Yee always says, "Its all or nothing." He says that Pray Mantis dont have to think. When something attacks, he just assumes the body and reacts. Sifu always says that real gung fu is not form, it is for exercise.
Sometime ago a young man was attending college in our area and he called me to ask if he could take a few classes at our school. I said that I had no problem with that and he was to come in. He came in to the school and introduced himself and said that he was a student of a five animal system in another state. He said that he was not really interested in studying our system, that he would be in town for a few months and he would just like to work out with us. I told him that I had no problem with it and that he was welcome. He came to about three classes and was struggling with understanding the Pray Mantis. He said he had never studied a system quite like this one and was confused at how one would ever apply it in a fighting situation. I assure him that it was quite effective and that he just could not understand it in only a few classes. One evening near the end of class he was asking about this movement and that movement and how one would apply it. I think he was convinced the system was not good for self-defense. I was trying to explain how certain things worked and he asked if I would spar with him. I explained how we spar is quite different then what he is use to and he assured me that he was confident in his art and I should not concern myself. We have a policy at the Lancaster Branch School, we will turn no one down who wants to spar as long as they understand, they must try to hit us and there is no real rules.
Something we picked up from Sifu Yee. Which reminds me of a short story, of something that happened at our school. There was a young man who was apparently sparing with some of our students previously and had knocked them around pretty good and decided that he had worked his way up to sparring with Paul and I. He was much bigger then our students and was a kick boxer. He came in for a Saturday class and joined in. After class he asked me if I would like to spar with him. I said OK and was about to go out on the floor with him and the phone rang. I was talking on the phone when I heard this noise. I looked back and this fellow was laying on the floor. Paul was standing over top of him and helping him up saying, "I can't believe you tried that dumb stuff with me." The poor fellow kept on coming at Paul as Paul proceeded to knock him all over the room. After he had tried everything that he had, he finally gave up. He was ready to leave and I talked him into taking a few shots at me, but Paul had taken the wind out of his sails and he was not much of a formidable opponent. After he left I said to Paul, "What happened there"? He was waiting for me! I said, "All I did was take a phone call, and the next thing I knew, I heard this noise and he was on the floor." Paul said, he didn't no how long I'd be, and he didn't want to make him wait. Like I said, If you want to bang we will bang.
Anyway, the five animal guy got into one of his animal stances and attacked me, I just sank, swallow and spit, and hit him, he tried a few more times and I just kept doing the same thing. he could not penetrate and kept running into my punch. He said 'I'm going to try the snake on you!' I said OK and he attacked and I did the same thing that I did against his tiger, he then ask if he can try the Dragon, he did, and again I did the same thing. He said, you look so easy to hit but I cant seem to penetrate your defense. I told him that I was not real good, and can only do a few things. I told him that I dont have to think. I just react! I told him that I do not have to think about which animal I am going to use and can only be the Pray mantis. He told me that he could not figure this style out but he thought it to be affective, but he was going to stick with his system. That was the last that I seen him and only wish him the best. Remember what Sifu Yee always says, "We dont hit people, they run into it."
A few years back I visited a karate school in my area. When I came in the black belts were having a special class and were learning 'secret' techniques. When the instructor saw me, he told the class to stop what they were doing and just to do exercise. He came over to me and told me that he wished I would have called and said I was coming. He went on to say they do not allow spectators when they are teaching black belts. When I first met Sifu Yee he talked about the so called 'secrets' of the martial arts. He said he would do anything in front of spectators. He said there are no secrets. His famous words are, "You can not learn gung fu from video tape or just watching." He said, "There is no place for secret gung fu when a person can shoot you from 400 yards, or push a button and blow up a country." He says, "If a person can learn my gung fu from just watching, then he deserves to learn, or what he is watching is not worth while." The ones that have the secrets have no gung fu.
eople get involved in the martial arts for different reasons. Sifu Yee says it's different personalities. I often think back to when I got started. I think of all the time and money that I spent over the past 30 years chasing something that I never seem to be satisfied with when I catch it, only to spend more time and money looking for the same thing that I was chasing at the beginning, "self-defense". Do we ever feel secure with what we learn, or are we always chasing that next level? I, for one, always thought it quite natural to want to be able to defend oneself. I also thought it natural to try to get to a higher level, only wondering if you are capable of getting there. This is what kept me searching for teachers who were of much higher level then myself. They were always hard to find because being a higher level does not mean only that this teacher is a better fighter then you. You have to ask yourself why is he and in that you may find he may or may not be of a higher level. When studying the martial arts people are looking for different things. Some are looking for health, some for exercise, some self-defense and some just as a hobby. Myself I was always interested in self-defense because it was my nature.
My interest was not to beat people up. What got me interested was this kid in my neighborhood who was taking Karate and I was impressed that he could kick high, I thought that it was neat. I had a teacher in school that was a black belt in Isshin-Ryu and he would show us movies of his teacher in Okinawa. I thought the idea of being able of defending yourself with your feet was a good idea. Besides back then there was not much known about the martial arts and there was all kinds of myths about it. We were told that if you were a black belt you had to have your hands registered at the police station as deadly weapons. We thought the idea of this on its own was neat. We thought you could defend yourself against anything if you were a black belt. Later to find out that it was just stories that were spread around and the only time your hands were registered was if the police had your finger prints.
I took Karate to learn how to kick and got hooked with the arts in general. It became an obsession of mine. The more I new about it the more I wanted to know. But after a period of time it started to go the other way. The longer that I studied the arts the more I got disillusioned with it as a real self-defense method. There was so much politics involved, as the years went by I knew I would eventually leave my original art in search of something more affective for self-defense. The political battle on which style was best didn't interest me, I only wanted to see it work as a practical way to defend yourself. I was open to any style, "Just show me that it worked." The Kung Fu series was on TV and I found myself getting more and more interested in Kung Fu. I had read about Bruce Lee, seen him on the Green Hornet series and was fascinated by what he was doing. I started to do all the research that I could find on Kung Fu, I couldn't get enough.
My original Karate teacher had retired and the school was left to the highest ranking student. His knowledge of the arts was not much more then mine. From this point on I felt that my learning had came to a halt. From here on it was just exercise and reputation. From here on it was you must learn the next form, and the next, and the next! All the guys ahead of me had already learned the next, and the next, but self-defense was a different matter. I would ask my teacher questions about Kung Fu only to see him get more and more impatient with me. Kung Fu was not Tang Soo Do so he was not interested in it and you should not mention it in the class room. This was sacreligious, a real no-no. In the Lancaster area there were no commercial Kung Fu schools, so I was having a hard time satisfying my desire for this art. One day I attended a Kung Fu demonstration that was being hosted by Paul Huber and some of his students. I had heard of Paul from other martial artists in the area. They would always talk about how good he was at the arts, but would go on to say that he was rather hard to approach and would not take new students. When you would ask the other teachers about him they would usually not say much, only that he had studied several different forms of Karate and now he was teaching and studying some form of Kung Fu, which they did not understand. Paul had quite a reputation of being out spoken about some of the teachers forms of self-defense and was not known as a politician. One teacher told me that he always wants to spar and is not respectful of our rank. His reputation only made me want to meet him all the more.
I was not being taught anything new in Karate. I was being asked to teach the class more and more and did not want that responsibility. I wanted to learn, not teach. By now I had seen that black belt level was not what I expected and wanted a change. The rank thing did not impress me. I wanted the ability not the rank. When somebody attacks me they don't care what rank I am. Your rank was only good in your own style, it meant nothing to me. I had been there 8 years and had met the masters, and frankly, I wasn't impressed! They were little men doing a large mans art. It would not work against bigger, stronger men, especially if they weren't cooperating!
I had the Night club by now and was more and more concerned about a self-defense system that worked. When I took it over it was a scene right out of the movie Road House. Bikers, rednecks, ex-hippies, city boys, and country boys, and after a hard night of drinking and rock and roll the different personalities had a way of expressing themselves. We were good for 5-6 fights a night and that didn't count the parking lot. I was well aware of its reputation because I hung out there before I took it over. Tang Soo Do was a high kicking art, and would not work in a club that was wall to wall people. If you got your feet off the ground these guys would drive you to the ground and pound you. I had seen and been involved in enough altercations to know not to try that stuff. I would always go back to the wrestling that worked before, or cheap bar-room tricks. The Karate was keeping me in good shape, but that is not what I wanted out of it. I knew how to keep in shape, I wanted self-defense. I decide that I would go to Paul's demonstration and judge for myself. I took a friend with me that was also involved in Karate. Paul and his students put on a very interesting demo on the art of Kung Fu. I decided that day I was going to meet him. I told my karate teacher I went to the demo and what we had witnessed. He told me that I did not have a chance on studying with Paul because he had known him and he was not taking students. He said that Paul would not talk to me. I stalled around from calling Paul for a month or two trying to work up the nerve to call him.
Finally I made the call to him. He talked to me about the arts on the phone for awhile ask me of my experience, and told me that I could watch one of his classes but he was not looking for anymore students. He was teaching at his home so I made a date to come watch. I got there to find that Paul was a gentleman and was more then willing to discuss martial arts in general. I was impressed with his working knowledge of many different systems that I had only read about. Paul and I had one thing in common, we both liked Bruce Lee and his teaching. Paul went on to demonstrated what he was teaching and it was the first time I had seen someone that could do what I was trying to learn from a book. I stayed for a few hours and then ask him if he would be interested on taking me as a student. He said that he was not looking for anymore students, but I could come down and we would see how it worked out. He said that first I should tell my Tang Soo Do teacher my intentions and then after that I could attend his classes. At my next Karate class I informed my teacher of my intentions, he got angry with me and told me that I'd be throwing all my rank and time out the window. He said that Paul would just knock me around, make an ass of me, and send me on my way. He was cautious not to say anything too negative about Paul, but wanted me to know that he was not a nice person. He had heard of Paul's reputation of going to other schools after they had made certain statements and challenging them. Something that you could do in the old days but now is an impossibility because of lawsuits.
I felt loyal to Tang soo do and had planned to take both. Paul's classes were not on the same days so I could attend both. My teacher apparently thought he should call Paul for what ever reason and did that evening. I think he was afraid I might mention some of his attitude to Paul and Paul might want to see him. My teacher was a paranoid person with a strange personality. I would have never ratted him out. During that conversation he had arranged for Paul to come to our school and put on a Kung Fu and weapons demonstration. I would guess to show him there were no hard feelings. A few days later Paul came to the school and put on his demo and tried to explain the difference between Karate and Kung Fu. After Paul left my teacher said, "See all the stuff he was doing? We have that too in our system. All you have to do is be patient." He always seemed to forget that I was involved in Tang Soo Do almost as long as him, I was a few years older then him and had seen it all, he was just higher rank. We agreed to disagree and I started to take both systems simultaneously. But after my teachers remarks about Pauls demo, I was sure that I would eventually leave Tang Soo Do. I could see that what Paul was teaching was at a much higher level. The fact that my teacher didn't see this bothered me. I was pretty sure that he was not capable to take me to a higher level. He was destine to say at the same level only to get higher in rank and not ability.
was sure that I would start attending Kung Fu classes at Paul's house. I was nervous about this new martial art. Although I had read about it, I really didn't know what to expect. Tang soo do was the only martial art that I had taken and from what I read this was going to be quite different. I drove in Paul's driveway only to find my karate teachers car parked in the driveway. I thought, What the hell? I walked in and he was standing there talking to Paul. He had came down for whatever reason, which is still a mystery after all these years. He brought his 9 year old son with him and his son was running all over the basement. Paul's school was his basement and that is what it was, a basement. He had tools, a washer and dryer, cabinets, shelves, household items, a pool table, weapons, and things to train with. It was different then training in a open room. My Tang soo do teachers kid was quite a piece of work and was always out of control. Paul had just walked over to me and asked me if I was ready and my karate teachers kid started to cry, scream, and yell, I mean he was flipping out. He had his hand caught in one of the pockets of the pool table and could not get it out. Well my karate teacher (John) was over there swearing and pulling on his arm. The more he swore and pulled the more the little brat yelled. Pretty soon Paul was yelling at John to let the kid alone and said, he would take care of it. Now this is great, my first time with a new teacher and this melon head shows up with his kid and shows Paul just how much class he really has. I felt bad and I have nothing to do with it. I still couldn't figure out why he's was there?.
Paul starts with a simple coordination drill and I can't touch my ass with both hands. John is standing five feet from me and shaking his head as if to say, "see I told you." He starts telling me what Paul really means and I'm getting more mad by the second. Now don't get me wrong, I always show respect to my teachers, but John is two years younger then me, had not been studying Tang soo do much longer then me, and the only reason I am his student in the first place is that my original teacher retired and left him the school. So I really never thought him as my senior, even though I knew he was. The more he stood there staring at me the less I could do. Paul started to take notice of my nervousness and ask John to join in. Well that is all it took, he grabbed that little brat and out the door he went. No way was he going to try something new and he certainly didn't want to try it in front of me. He said good bye and away he went. After he left I did a little better but this type of coordination was all new to me. I knew I was going to have a hard time picking it up, but I also knew this was what I was looking for. It was so much different then Tang soo do, the only thing my previous training helped me in was, I was in good shape and I could kick. Other then those two things I was lost. I tried to attend both styles simultaneously, but they were so opposite from each other I was not improving in either. I mentioned it to Paul and he said there was and old Chinese saying that said, you can't chase two rabbits at the same time.
This made a lot of sense to me and I knew that I would have to make a choice. I could go back to just Tang soo do, keep my rank, do the same thing, learn a couple new forms, get more rank, teach, learn a couple of new forms and so on and so on, but my level would stay the same. Or I could give up all my rank, study something at a higher level, train in something that I could use for self-defense, never have any rank, and struggle to get to the next level. It was no contest, I was staying with the Kung Fu. Most of the people I had trained with were already mad and thought I had sold out Tang soo do. Every time I would go back to train with them, they would treat me as a outsider. John had nothing but criticism and would not bother with me. It was a real no brainier. I was going to train real hard in my new founded art and go back and kick there asses.
The next few years were going to be tough trying to adapt from Tang soo do was not easy. The coordination was much more difficult. Sometimes Paul would get so frustrated with me he would just walk away shaking his head. It seemed the harder I tried the worst I got. I was what you would call a hard case. He would be showing a whole class of guys something new and at the end of the evening I was the only one that could not coordinate it. Sometimes I just wanted to quit. I would leave class tried and depressed. I use to think what in the hell is wrong with me, it doesn't look that hard, everybody else can do it. But it was not in my nature to quit, I just kept torturing Paul, and he kept trying to teach me. I would talk more and more to Paul about the fighting. When I started with Paul he had people that were mostly interested in form, so in turn that was what Paul was mostly doing. They would get together on weekends and head for a tournament. They would compete in form only and Paul would usually take first place and come home with a trophy. This kind of kung fu didn't interest me. It reminded me of dancing. I never remember watching anyone doing form, and thinking, "I bet that guy can fight!" I wanted to learn how to use it, not dance with it. In class I would get Paul started on the fighting and he would drill it more and more. Some of the guys that were there before me would get upset that I was always talking about the fighting and the fact that Paul would change mid class to beating on equipment. Most of them didn't want to train this way. They were under the impression that you learn fighting through form. Where they got this I don't know? But they didn't get it from Paul. The real reason they didn't want to train in the fighting was they didn't want to get hurt. If there was one place that I had and advantage was in this type of training, this is where I came alive. I could take the kung fu moves and figure out how to use them for self-defense. It was a god given talent, one of the only ones I had, I might add.
The more we practiced this way the more Paul would teach it. He was slowly getting away from just forms and going to less and less tournaments. Paul always liked the fighting but he didn't have any students that were interested so he would just work it on his own. Now I was here bugging him every chance I could for him to teach it. I remember the first time that I sparred in his class. I had done a lot of sparring at the Karate school and a lot with different people outside of school. I always liked to spar. Paul told me that he was going to spar with me but warned me not to spend a lot of time doing high kicks because he said that his people kick in the groin. I said OK, but was really not concerned. Paul and I squared off and I threw a high round house at his head and he kicked me in the groin and dropped me. He said, "I told you about the high kicks, You won't get away with much of them down here." Well Tang Soo Do was a high kicking style and I did not have much else. So I tried to use my hands and found myself running into his low kicks. I was always told if you can kick high you and kick low. Well this is simply not true. And if there is anybody out there that believes this, they have not fought with a good leg kicker. Kicking low successfully requires much more foot work then kicking high. Well anyway I messed around for a while and then thought I could slip a high kick in. I threw another only to get a shot in the groin again. After that Paul said he had seen enough and that I would have to work on a new system if I wanted to spar. I agreed and began training completely different then what I had previously trained.
Paul had a one student that really never warmed up to me joining the class. He was there a few years before I got there and he wanted me to know it. Every chance he got he would criticize Tang soo do karate, as if to say that I completely wasted my time, and he was of superior quality because Paul was teaching him form for 2 years. He knew his coordination was much better then mine, and would always make little jokes about it. This got on my nerves, but because he was my senior I would just blow it off. When we would start to bang on equipment it was a different story. I had more power then him and he knew it.. And this would drive him wild, the more we would strike the equipment the madder he got. Paul would show combination drills on the bags. I picked it up fairly easy and he didn't. Paul would compliment me and he would get mad. Paul was showing counters to high kickers, and because Paul could get away with theses on me, he just naturally thought he could also.
We had sparred a few times and I always held back because he was my senior, and I didn't want Paul to think that I was to aggressive. Paul asked me if I was holding back when I sparred him? and I said that I was. He told me that if I was going to improve, and going to help him I should not hold back. Paul said, that this fellow was studying Kung Fu for quit sometime and he should be ready to spar.
One day Paul said me and this guy should spar. We put on head gear, gloves, chest protectors, and shin guards. This fellow warned me that I should keep my kicks down or suffer the same consequences that I had previously with Paul. As we were squaring off he made some comment about how Tang Soo Do and high kickers were a waste of time. And he would try to take it easy on me. Well anybody that knows me will tell you, you might be able to beat me, but you don't have to take it easy on me. I thought, "well buddy, you're no Paul", lets see what you got. He was jumping around in front of me with this half smile on his face jabbing and kicking at my legs. Then he said, Why don't you try one of those high kicks that you practiced so hard? He started to laugh, and I sent a round house kick, right upside his head. It knocked him sideways, and the look on his face was priceless. I ask him if he was OK? and he got upset. He Yelled! "You better not try that again!" and I let go with another, the exact same kick, and hit him the same place. He was hurt and dropped his hands for awhile and I backed off. I looked at Paul and he was shaking his head. Paul said, I guess you better have some respect for those high kicks! From then on he was gun shy and would not come in, so Paul geared up and came out and knocked me around a little. I guess the lesson that I'm trying to get across is, high kicking is not the smartest or the best way of fighting, but you should always respect it. If one of those kicks lands on your head, "they hurt"
he martial arts will always have my interest. Sometimes I get tired of the on going argument of who is doing what right and would just like to quit alltogether. And then I start a new day with this desire to learn more or at least to improve what I have. My teacher is of a high skill level in the art of Jook Lum. You won't here him say this, but we who train under him have no doubt. Sifu Yee is always trying to improve his gung fu, and I wished that I had half his level.
Sifu Yee has told me that Lum Sang trained him quite differently in the 80's then when he trained with him when he was much younger. I think that Lum Sang himself was continually improving and the older that he got the better his gung fu became. It would be totally ignorant to think that Lum Sang would have been looking at Jook Lum on that same level after 20 to 30 years. Some would want us to believe that he taught the same in the 80's as he did in the 50's and 60's and that he taught everybody the same no matter what their level of understanding. I believe that not to be true. I know that with myself I dont teach the art the same as 5 years ago; my understanding of how it works is much different.
These people that would say in order to be practicing Lum Sang's Jook Lum you have to practice the same pattern of movement as all the rest. I would say if everybody was taught the same exact movement then maybe the old man did not think you were capable of learning any other way. Sifu Yee once told me that Lum Sang could teach many different forms of Jook Lum at many different levels. He said if the old man did not want you to learn his system he would just show you movement for years and never put the gung fu into your body. He said in order to learn this system your teacher has to put the gung fu into you. Otherwise he just shows you movement.
It's not bad enough that people are running around saying that Sifu Yee is not legitimate Jook Lum, but now I read on a web site that Lum Sang never was taught the real Jook Lum. It just goes on and on. The problem with a secret system is that sometimes it is to secret. Sifu Yee's Jook Lum is in his hand.
Sifu Yee is not hiding his ability, it is always shown in a public form, tournament demos, open to the public seminars across the United States, and recently a trip to China where he trained with some Jook Lum people over there. He has said many times that he is trying to further his studies of this system by meeting with people and comparing ideas. Sifu Yee has tried to approach several Jook Lum people in the States so Jook Lum could be united and this foolish back stabbing would cease. He did not ask to be thought of as the leader of the system or the head honcho, just that they could all get together and compare ideas and improve on the system. Nobody was interested in this kind of resolve. Instead they all want to be in their little groups telling their people this guy doesn't have this and this guy never learned that on and on we go. What happens hear is the students believe what their teacher tells them, then they go on the chat lines and say things that are just not true. Even though Sifu Yee has as much proof as anyone else that Lum Sang taught him and gave him the permission to teach his art, we hear some people make excuses why Lum Sang might have done this. Sifu has letters, pictures, tapes, and Lum Sangs alter, still they say that it isn't so. Only to sound ridiculous in there explanations.
Bruce Campbell is Sifu Yee's oldest active student and still trains with him today.