Training with Master Ted Wong in my Backyard

Dr. Z’s Backyard in Monterey Park around 1982

Dr. Z’s Backyard in Monterey Park around 1982

From 1982 to about 1992, I had the privilege of training under Sifu Ted Wong in Monterey Park.

The original JKD classes were taught in a private and semi-private backyard setting. My own backyard was employed for a year in Monterey Park, California.

There were no advertisements and the students as well as the visitors were a selected few. These classes were taught by first-generation students, namely Sifu Herb Jackson and Sifu Ted Wong, being directly connected with Grand Master Lee.

The emphases in the original JKD class were on the lead punch and the sidekick. Footwork was also an important part of the training. In fact, I have never studied footwork like the JKD footwork which served to break ground from danger and close tremendously with the sidekick, in a split second. It takes footwork to accomplish with perfection the Bruce Lee sidekick.

We also worked on modified trappings. We worked on some of the old training equipment such as the giant kicking shield, modified wooden dummy, and steel dummy. We learned to generate speed, timing, and power of the lead punch, from an extended and one-inch position. We learned to recognize telegraphic movements, regardless of style, intercept them with our lead hand and a lead foot. We learned to keep techniques simple, effective and direct as well as chisel away the unessential body movements. We also employed broken rhythm, changing cadences and timing. In this class, we learn to “Intercept”. 

The original class of Jeet Kune Do offered me a unique and a tangible way of fighting, to “Jeet” or to “Intercept” an attack. The methodology aimed to focus on physically preparing the body to intercept. Which is contrary to popular belief that it is not just to “absorb what is useful and reject what is useless”, but rather following the ancient concept of Taoism, to live a simple life and in a combatic sense applying techniques that are simple and direct, chiseling away the unessential movements to achieve grand finale. 

Sifu Wong was a man of honor and integrity. He was first and foremost loyal to our Sijo, the late Bruce Lee. He sought to preserve the high standards of JKD by selecting only quality students and not advertising publicly. He wanted the art of JKD, to remain non-commercialized, non-classical and non-“adulterated for the sake of wider distribution”. In his final years his wholehearted dedication to the art lead him to be inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame. And even though he is no longer with us, his spirit lives on in the hearts of all of his followers.

I remember most what he once said to me:

“Do not ask what JKD can do for you, but answer what you can do for JKD”.


I have always kept that phrase alive in my heart and I am truly honored to have been a participant in his journey. Sifu, we love you forever, REST IN PEACE. 

PS - If you are in Los Angeles in August 16-19, I am hosting a screening of my new film “Gung Fu, JKD & MMA” as well as some other JKD and filmmaking seminars during this time. I hope you can join me. You can reserve tickets here.