Biblical Lesson – Part 3
I am going to conclude the S Saga with a sermon. Do not, I repeat, do not cast pearls before swines. Especially truly valuable ones which you have gotten through expensive overseas trips.
It came to pass that after I had left Singapore for the USA in 2000, I started practicing JKD. And it naturally followed that I left S’s camp once I found competent teachers, even though they were in a faraway country across the ocean.
However, back in 2008 (I think), I was back in Singapore again and my JKD teachers were away in USA and UK. I was still training, but without the benefit of teachers and group support. And at the same time, a tournament was taking place in Singapore. So, when I ran into S again, my sole training partner at the time advised me strongly to make use of this chance encounter.
So after some phone calls and a meeting, I arranged to go back to his camp and fight under his school’s name for the tournament. I thought: “Hey I need the works for this one. Pad work and partner drills and so on!” Then I thought: “Things are going to be different now. I am technically competent. I know how things work now. I can plan my own training and S can just be my trainer.”
I thought wrong.
Well, I wasn’t wrong about the former. I did need the works, the full treatment, before I was tournament ready. But things didn’t go as planned. When S heard that I did JKD, he invited me to his class for training. He sounded enthusiastic at first and even said he’s happy to let me do my own thing at his place too. OK. I interpreted that as approval to let me plan my own training, so I went.
After the first lesson when I did my shuffle kicks against their slower rear leg round kicks, I was kinda barred from kicking in his class. It probably made his students looked bad. We were supposed to kick pads from one end of the room to the other and I finished my circuit long before his students. since then, he thought up excuses to prevent me from displaying my kicks in his class again. Flimsy excuses such as ‘Oh, I think your partner can’t hold the pads properly. Next time.’ Then he would ask me to demostrate the straight lead. By holding the pad way off so I couldn’t land my punch properly. Then he would say “Too slow” in front of the class.
After I was banned from doing my JKD kicks, S would do his own demo of my kicks and tell his class that’s really too weak as the lead leg can’t generate power. That’s really silly. He was just flicking his feet out without using waist power. That wasn’t how I did my kicks. The last straw came when he said (in front of the class) I was misinterpreting JKD as I wasn’t bouncing around on the balls of my feet like how Bruce did in his movies. Such assumptions about JKD based on Bruce Lee’s silver screen performances, by the way, are super annoying to serious JKD practioners. For the sake of dramatic necessity and turning a profit, Mr. Lee did things in the movies that deviated from actual JKD. According to some accounts, from his students, Bruce Lee was “still as water” until he had to move. No wasted movement. No theatrical bouncing.
S also set me sparring against fighters with years of tournament experience rather than those closer to my ability. That wasn’t helping me at all as those fighters weren’t taking the approach of using their experience to help me. I think they were under orders to show me up in front of the other students.
Therefore, I can only conclude that S wanted me there so he could discredit JKD and further cement his position as the one and only authority on Bruce Lee in his pack. There are others like him around in Singapore. So I came to the conclusion that it is better for me to do my own training by myself rather than shame my art by casting pearls before swines.
So I left abruptly. Didn’t even sign up for the tournament. I was convinced there’s no point in staying with S any longer. Let’s face it. There is no way I can pull off the JKD interception or the bridging or the straight blast (which will give me an advantage over boxers) without doing specific drills regularly with an understanding partner. And S was anything but understanding. I made one last ditch attempt to salvage my chance of participating in the tournament. I arranged a pre-lesson meeting with S so I could go through what went wrong during our previous lessons and hopefully come to some sort of understanding. But he called that off at the last moment. No dialogue. No understanding. No way I was going to come up against pro-boxers without a comfortable training environment. Those boxers who were going to fight. They train “full-time”. They most definitely had trainers and partners to help hone their tools and ring craft. And I was a JKD guy trying to come to terms with the basic “necessities” like having an understanding pad holder.
Teck Y. Loh