When Bruce Lee was 14 he studied Wing Tsun under Ip Man, whose senior disciple was the "Talking Hand King" Wong Shun Leung. His Wing Tsun theories and style also came from Wong Shun Leung. Bruce Lee also studied martial arts like Hung Fist, Power Fist, Choy Lay Fut, Shaolin Fist. After filtering and merging he created Jeet Kune Do and became a martial art master. Even though Bruce Lee's martial art abilities has reached its peak, his flips were not his strong suit. To appear as lively as a monkey off the string in film, he could only rely on stunt doubles. This double came from the China Drama Academy, everyone called "somersault king" Yuen Wah.
Not Soon Enough, American Dream Shattered
Perhaps among Seven Little Fortunes Yuen Wah was not the best fighter, but his somersault abilities were undoubtedly the best among his peers. High and fast, the rest of the disciples had to submit. Even Yuen Wah was proud of his abilities. He credited the abilities to Master Yu Jim Yuen's attentive nurturing. He says, "I was the most afraid of Master's cane, as soon as he held the cane I knew how to perform any move."
Yuen Wah's flips were renowned in the industry. Soon after stepping on the Beijing Opera stage he immediately was heavily utilized in the film industry. He even caught perfectionist Bruce Lee's eyes and became his official stunt double.
Speaking of his encounter with Bruce Lee, Yuen Wah proudly says, "In CHINESE CONNECTION (JING MO MOON) I played a Japanese. I was even lucky enough to be Bruce Lee's stunt double. Because he couldn't perform some Beijing Opera and acrobatic serial somersault moves, I was his stunt double."
Yuen Wah cannot stop talking about Bruce Lee. "Bruce Lee and I got together due to kung fu. Sometimes I went to his house and study kung fu together, trained with him, coordinated action sequence. Sometimes we even had tea and chatted! He was very nice, very real, he didn't put up any front. A big star didn't need to treat me so well, but he did."
Yuen Wah after docking with Bruce Lee's big pier had endless job offers. He and Bruce Lee worked together again on the film ENTER THE DRAGON (LUNG JUNG FU DAU) and received and more and more trust from this superstar. Later Bruce Lee invited Yuen Wah to try his luck in the U.S., but after Bruce Lee's passing everything changed.
Like Mentor And Friend, Received Many Benefits
Yuen Wah sighs, "Originally Bruce Lee thought after completing GAME OF DEATH he would form a team to work in the U.S., bringing ten people including me with him. Yet he passed away before the film was finished, in the end I didn't get to go to the U.S."
While his American Dream went unfulfilled, from Bruce Lee Yuen Wah learned a lot. He not only learned how to be a good actor but also a lot of life philosophy. First he met Master Yu, then he met Bruce Lee. Yuen Wah's life absolutely was not wasted. (46)