Ted Wong

 Biography of Sifu Ted Wong

Sifu Ted Wong

Sifu Ted Wong 8-26-2006

Sifu Ted Wong was regarded as the foremost expert on the later stages of Bruce Lee’s art of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) and one of a few people to be certified in the art of JKD by Lee himself.  He received instruction under Lee at the Chinatown school as well as privately at Bruce’s home. According to Bruce’s personal notes and planners, Sifu Ted had logged more hours of individual instruction with Bruce than anybody else, having taught him privately from 1967 until 1971 when Bruce moved to Hong Kong to pursue his movie career (1).  In fact, Bruce’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell, “recollects that Ted’s teaching is perhaps the purest strain of her late husbands art” (3).   Though private lessons may have ended in 1971, through their years together Bruce and Ted forged a lasting friendship that remained until Bruce’s passing on July 20, 1973.

Born on November 5, 1937 Sifu Ted came to the United States in 1953 first settling in the San Francisco area.  Once in the states, Sifu Ted developed a passion for western boxing and boxing history, watching it on television with his family and researching it through print sources (2).  It was his love of boxing, among others that would help endure him to Bruce upon their meeting  in 1967.

Initially, Sifu Ted was unaware who Bruce Lee was, first hearing about him and his skill through a friend.  Through this same friend he was told that Bruce would be opening a school in the area.  At the time Bruce was doing a TV show called the Green Hornet, which upon hearing of Bruce, Sifu Ted watched an episode and became very impressed with his skills as a martial artist.  Shortly after, he showed up for the demonstration at the opening of the Chinatown school.  At the end of the demonstration, membership forms where handed out and Sifu Ted was so impressed with Lee’s skill he payed his $20 dollars and signed up immediately.  As Sifu Ted tells it, “…when I saw Bruce Lee [at the Chinatown school], the way he moved, the way he talked, [I knew] that this is the martial art I wanted to learn (2).”

Upon showing up for the first class, Sifu Ted was greeted by a “Who are you?  Where are you coming from?” from Bruce.  What Sifu Ted didn’t know is that classes were by invitation only, though after  talking Lee allowed him to stay.  So began his journey in Jeet Kune Do, a journey that would carry him around the world and continue until his death on November 24, 2010.

Looking back it is fortunate that Sifu Ted met Bruce when he did.  He was there to witness the evolution of JKD from the founder himself.  When he began training with Bruce he never had any previous martial arts training, which was rare because Bruce tended to only teach people with prior experience (3).   Thus, Sifu Ted was unencumbered by having to “unlearn” techniques from other schools, so what he learned was from Lee himself and not influenced by other teachings.  More than that, he came to JKD towards the end of the time when Bruce was solidifying his ideas that would define his martial art that he would name “Jeet Kune Do” which translates to “The Way of The Intercepting Fist”. In fact, he was there when Bruce first coined the phrase “Jeet Kune Do” (3).  So, in many ways he got the purest form of the art from the master himself.

  1. “Meet the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus.”  Third Annual Jun Fan Jeet kune Do Seminar: April 23-25, 1999 Seattle, Washington.  (1999). 18-21. Print.
  2. Wong, Ted.  “Ted Wong Memorial Special.” Ted Wong Memorial Poster Magazine. 2011:  Print.
  3. Wong, Ted. “The ‘Knowing is Not Enough’ Interview; This Month: Ted Wong.”  Knowing is Not Enough: The Official Newsletter of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. Vol. 1, No 3. Fall 1997. 1-5. Print.