Patrick Strong's Interview

Patrick Strong

Patrick Strong

Download the audio file here

Matt Numrich: Hi everybody! This is Matt Numrich here with and I just wanna welcome a very, very special guest that we have today. We have Pat Strong here to the interview and Pat, thank you so much for taking time out and being able to open your schedule to share with us your experiences real quick.

 Patrick Strong:   Oh Matt, thank you for having me. I appreciate it. Thank you.

 Matt Numrich:  Awesome. Well can you go ahead and maybe just give us a quick little summarized bio of exactly how you got started in the martial arts and I think that will be the best place to start right now.

 Patrick Strong:   Ok. I think it was I started with Bruce either at the very tail end of 1960 or right at the beginning of ’61 and I’ve been boxing, I started boxing. A friend and I were boxing at the Cherry Street Gym, it was a professional gym in Seattle Washington, I wasn’t planning on becoming pro but I was in golden gloves. And at that time, I had a friend telling me about this young man, he was a Chinese boxer a thing called Gung Fu and I had no idea what he was talking about and I was extremely skeptical. So eventually what happened I went up and I saw Bruce Lee, a young man, and he was teaching a group of about…oh probably, 25,20 people and it was beneath the Blue Cross which was now Dory parking garage directly across the street from Rubitell Restaurant where Bruce had a room and worked as a waiter. And so I went over there and I started to watch him. He wasn’t there at first and the guy was warming up and finally he showed up and I started watching him, I was just an observer that first day and I been around the pro boxers – Archi More used to come and coach some of the guys. He came all the way from San Diego to Seattle just to work on some of the fellows. And my highest colleague who was a great champion and died, Bobby Hit, he would’ve been a great champion but for a young fellow, he was a stunning fighter. So I’ve seen a lot of guys who are really fast with their hands and then all of a sudden I’m looking at this young, Chinese guy and I’ve never seen speed like that before. And so it didn’t take us long my friend, John Craig, also was boxing and he was boxing for the athletic club – Golden Gloves – and we immediately signed up and that’s when it all began.

 Matt Numrich:  Excellent. What was and I know it’s gonna…but what was the first thing in the beginning that really caught you and what separated what you saw in this young guy Bruce Lee? What was the one thing that separated you’ve seen…coz obviously up to that point, you’ve getting training on in your own right, what was kinda separated him from the rest of the people that you know…that you ran into?

Patrick Strong:   Well the thing that I saw that first day because I’ve been boxing coming in just cold, I was coming in from a standard – from a boxing standard – what I noticed about Bruce is that his movements, his strikes, didn’t seem to have a beginning to them. They just happened. You realize the strike happened after you saw it. There was no start to his punch then I noticed the continuity of movement. In boxing, you go bang bang bang, bang bang bang but Bruce would go in and his continuity would just flow he keeps moving…he didn’t have to stop and start. Later I learned when in martial arts they started to have karate tournaments, no contact and Bruce was adamantly opposed to those. And the reason was he would say that the karate guys was they were like two chickens pecking, one goes pek pek, and the other one goes pek pek, one goes pek pek pek and stops another one goes pek pek pek stops. They couldn’t keep the thing going. They would just punch punch, back off, punch punch punch punch back off, charge, punch punch punch, back off. Bruce’s idea came from Wing Chun the chisaw, in good chisaw, you just fall, you become one with the opponent, you become his complement and your message, it has no start, it has no stop. It just keeps on going. The idea in Chinese is that you answer a big question – no matter what the fellow does, you have the answer for it, right now. And the other one, and that one, and this one, and that one. There is no bop bop bop bop you compared the karate fighters to two chickens pecking, he didn’t have much respect for it at that time.

 Matt Numrich:  Ok. Fair enough. How did this influence your training not just early on but then as you continued your training with them, how did you progress? What were the distinctions that you made that really changed the way that you saw fighting combat?

 Patrick Strong:   Let me go back, way way back because the other thing that was different about Bruce that I never run into in boxing in fact, I never ran into it in any martial arts since not at the same degree and that was that Bruce was philosophical. His philosophy and his art were actually one and the same. There was no separation from it so if you would talk to him about a technique or something, he would talk to you philosophically. He talked a lot about the wu way, the thing that happens in the Taoist principle and the way with the soft, invisible power. So Bruce was into this really heavy Chinese Taoist philosophy. If you asked him about the Tanza, how it worked mechanically, he would say it’s the palm of hand, you hold it out like this and the arm is neither straight nor bent nor is it bent or straight. It’s both straight and bent but it’s neither. And then you turn to think what is he talking about? He’s talking about yin and yang, there is no extreme and then he would go on to say that if the arm bends too much that means the elbow comes too close to the body. There’s a certain point that they couldn’t go beyond, right? If it comes too close then your structure’s destroyed. So you went too far to the yin, if it’s too straight, you went too far to the yang. And you’re structure’s destroyed again.  Then he would go and say but that the thing about structure is there is no structure – structures without structure.

 Matt Numrich:  Right. Can you elaborate on that because I think that’s a tagline that so many people use when they talk about jkd? Can you elaborate on structure without structure?

 Patrick Strong:   Yeah, well, it’s not just the structure, it’s the whole thing. When Bruce says the art of fighting without fighting, I think that that’s been grossly misinterpreted. What is it is the elimination of self in concept so in the Tao of jeet kune do Bruce writes the concept of self is the greatest hindrance to all physical actions. So that means that if I go to throw a strike at you, if I intend to strike at you, I send a signal to my muscle to make that strike happen, that took a delay in time. That will not be a perfect strike. It won’t have perfect structure; it won’t have ultimate speed because so many things are in the way because I had the intention. So Bruce quote that the wu way is the most powerful tenet of all Taoism, because of not doing and letting that happen. His motion picture of the Dragon, he says I don’t hit, it hits by itself. That absence of self, that thing that you get the direct mind out of the way is what frees up everything. That’s what allowed you to be instant in your speed, that’s why Bruce’s speed was so fast because he wasn’t that he was so fast in the continuity of movement, it was his speed so if we were to take speed and cut that into 10 different kinds of speed ranging from the start speed to the end speed, going through acceleration speed, fast short arm speed, all those kinds of speed, the most important speed of all of them is how fast you start your movements. And you can take a guy who looks like he’s really, really fast but if his start speed isn’t instant, he’s already too slow. That start speed means that you have to release without the direct intention to hit. So now Bruce would use physics and there’s a couple of ways of doing that. You can do that out of your structure, for example in Su Hung Tao you learn to make you make your first movement, you bring your hands down, you cross your hands in front of you what’s happening there you’re in the goat stance, your hips are turned up that means your spine has elongated, it kinda straightened out. That allows you to have a greater power in your body, it means you can lift something or you can’t be moved back or you can push somebody a lot harder – it’s the way you carry your big TV set. Your hips turned up what happens is your inner colossal muscles clamp down when they clamped down, you develop an abdominal pressure you now have kind of a hydraulic system in your body. When you have that pressure in your body, if you simply release that pressure, just a little bit, if you even use the thought that at that first release the guy just got hit, so your direct intention is not to hit the guy, it’s simply in your mind just a fleeting thought of the release system, he gets hit, you never did it. The same thing the way Bruce did it was he would use what’s called in Physics, he would use gravitational potential energy. He would position himself and his elbow would be there in his mind, the elbow would just drop. It’s not even a matter of, you don’t even physically drop the elbow, the elbow drops, if his elbow drops, you’ve been hit. He doesn’t have to contract the shoulder muscles to stop his movement to hit you. If the elbow drops a thousandth of an inch, you’ve just been hit. If you think about that because gravitational potential energy is all starting, your start movement went without a contraction and now as the hands goes, it pulls the body into perfect alignment. It becomes cosailants in Physics bursting with diversions right? It’s different from a car pushing another car, this is like a car pulling a car because something pulls in perfect alignment so now your structure is in perfect alignment. This went by gravitational potential energy becoming kinetic energy and there was no muscle contraction, in the beginning very, very little. How was happening he has no intention? Now there’s no excess tension in the body, we’ll call it tenzigrity. It comes from the hand all the way back up the shoulder of the body which causes rebound in contact. When you hit the heavy back like with a 50 pounds of force, you get a lot of that force right back at you for every action, there’s a reaction. But if you can hit a perfect punch, a very perfect punch, if you can hit an object at 100% of the power went into the object and none went back to you. But that would be impossible but if you can hit it with 95% going in and only 5% coming back, you can hit with less force and have greater power.

 Matt Numrich:  Ok. That makes sense. Thank you. How do you go ahead then, coz this actually ties with the question that was sent in about this and I’m gonna change it a little bit but then how can a person develop this start speed?

 Patrick Strong:   Well, let’s take for example the Chisun Wing Chun, you and I touch hands…Bruce’s Chisun is a lot different from a lot of people’s Chisuns in the use force or pressure. So if you and I are touching hands, let’s just say for example I hold my tons out and you hold yours out right hand to right hand and I put pressure on your tons on, I tell you when I move my hand, I want you to strike as fast as you can. Strike right in front of my chest. So suddenly bop! I move my hand and you strike. If you do that there’ll be a whole second about 20,000th second delay if you have the fastest nervous system in the world. But that little delay, that 20,000th of a second caused all the problems. It broke your speed, it ruined your power and your ongoing strength and your continuity of movements – all been affected by just that start. So what happens now is if I tell you to put your hands against me, apply pressure with your hips and you and I are talking, suddenly I move my hand what happens to your hand is it shoots in and by the time you realize you’re going to hit me, you stop and you pull back. But still you didn’t hit me, it hit me. It was the elastic potential energy that when released it hit me so Bruce would use analogies. He’ll talk about the bamboo. He’ll say that if you went to a bamboo forest, you gotta be careful. You move the bamboo and it hit you, it hit you right in the face because the bamboo doesn’t have a brain, it doesn’t have to think to hit. Its integrity is built by the rings that go around every 8 or 10 inches apart. And that gives the flexibility, you bend it, it snaps back. You say it snaps back, it doesn’t prepare to snap back, it doesn’t think to snap back. That would be elastic potential energy becoming kinetic energy. The gravitational energy – that would be another one. He would talk about a set of keys set at the end of the table. When that keys are there at that table tickles a little bit, the keys fall. They don’t have to think about falling, they don’t have to prepare to fall, they just fall. They fall because of the gravity. There is no contraction, keys don’t have muscles but they still move they still fall. The same thing with what Bruce would do in his mind if his elbow drop, even a thousandth of an inch you’ve been hit. So he can’t drop his elbow a thousandth of an inch, he becomes almost like a level of…almost like hypnosis where you stand an idea in your body and your nervous system reacts to it, right? I think my elbow drops, you’ve just been hit. I never hit you but when my movement starts it was instant. It went from now, no contraction to my body, the end is moving, my body is following the hand and when it hits you, it hits in perfect alignment. Who can hit with perfect alignment? If he used diversions, he can’t do it. It’s impossible. It’s the law of physics so again it’s like when you take a car, you’ve done this before where you push another car, the car in front of you kinda wavers and stuff but if you took a big hook a car or a trailer behind you and you pull it, even if it hits a construction or something, it will fall right back into perfect alignment. So it’s conversion so Bruce when he says hand before body, the physics behind that has converted the hand pulls the body into perfect alignment, providing you don’t power it up by putting your mind behind it and putting effort into the punch.

 Matt Numrich:  Right, then going back to the bamboo analogy, then the structure would be the potential, would that be correct?

 Patrick Strong:   Correct. Yeah, that’s right. So let’s say we’re using elastic potential energy. The structure then becomes the elasticity, if you touch my hand and you move my hand, my hand should send. I never started the movement, you did. So I’m in real time, I’m in your time but if I’m going to react to you and move your hand, I’m not in real time. Not with you. I’m behind you. 10,000th, 20,000th of a second behind you. And it’s gonna require  a contraction from me. If I contract, this is very important, if I contract, I now contract the muscles which have created a handle in my body. If you’re a grappler or something, you can now get a hold of that handle and throw me around or take me down. If I shoot that strike in a way that there’s no handle, you can hardly even take me down. And Bruce had that.

Matt Numrich:  Right. He had that in so many different forms, right?

 Patrick Strong:   Well, remember Bruce was a philosopher and the thing that he was driving for, that he considered to be the highest level in martial art was wu way which is not doing and letting it happen. That’s where you get the conscious self out of the picture to do something. So everything is that you’ve really have to trick your brain so that the brain, and everybody else is using the brain, but you gotta trick your brain in a way that it doesn’t initiate the strike. Then you have full power. When that happens, you sorta have a magic almost that you couldn’t believe. It goes into strength and power and everything else. You can use that in grappling, there’s things that you can do that…and tell yourself that you could never believe is possible. Now Bruce used the coach in these things because he used to do tricks what happened one time, I think that I was about 19 at the time and there was a karate guy that came into town and I saw him fight in a tournament, and he opened up a school not too far away from ours. It was up in Capital Hill and I went up to see him one day and he and I were just talking and he said “you know, I have a fellow from Japan who’s coming over here. You’re free to stay.” So the fellow from Japan was a friend of his Japanese instructor. It happened be Tohe, with that time was either 8th or 9th dan in Aikido. And he spoke English and Tohe sat down with the three of us, we’re the only ones in the place and I don’t remember how long it was 45 minutes – an hour and a half whatever and he started showing us some things and the things that he showed me were unbelievable. So that night, it was the very night, I went to class and I think at Bruce’s time and I told him about having met this guy and what this guy was doing and Bruce was very interested and he said something to the effect that it was good tricks but those principles and those tricks are used in fighting. And so then from that moment on, Bruce started showing some tricks I’ve never shown him some tricks up until that. It’s almost like Tohe could do these things so he started showing some stuff and that’s when he started talking about non-intention, it’s a word that’s gotten lost over the years. And his intention was wu way.

Matt Numrich:  Right. If I can go ahead and ask about Bruce’s passing, where were you in your training? What was the next step after Bruce passing? Where did you go from there, etc.?

 Patrick Strong:   At the time that Bruce passed, I’d already been through a number of martial arts because I came down to California and Bruce was there too. And before Bruce left, Bruce used to give private instructions to Sterling and Steve MacQuain and Joe Lyons and so Bruce left I took over teaching Joe but that time I trained in a number of arts and as I started going that all the arts I’ve done everything from the grappling to the stand up arts, the one thing that always plagued me was this non-intention. So what happened is all my life I stayed with it. And I understood it for the speed, I had the speed down really fast, I had that I had the form of standing to that and one day about I guess between 10 and 12 years ago, somewhere, that I kinda stumbled on a discovery. And all of the sudden, I understood the thing so I’ve been working on it ever since I had a small group of guys, really experienced guys and I used them as a research group so I’ve been testing it for the last 10 or 12 years and I used that in grappling. And stand up. It doesn’t matter what it is.

 Matt Numrich:  Okay. As far as what you’re doing now, as far as training-wise and stuff like that, if you don’t mind me asking what your current age.

Patrick Strong:   I’m 67.

 Matt Numrich:  Okay. Excellent. Go ahead and talk about what you currently do for your training regimen and things like that?

 Patrick Strong:   Yeah. I have a good group of guys that I train but I train 6 days a week. And I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for over a year, going in health clubs and I put some fitness products in the market and I have a new product that’s coming out right now which is a striking product based on the originations of Bruce Lee actually and the lessons that he taught me. And so I train people, I have certain people that I train in the mornings, I start at 6.30 in the morning and I end up about 1,2 o’clock. I do that every day. In addition to that, I do my own training, so I’m a 6-day a week guy and I would, my secret to staying young is working out with younger people. They were stronger guys than me.

Matt Numrich:  Yeah. One of my mentors actually told me as you teach your students will stay the same age through and they keep on getting older. So I mean that’s definitely something that clicked with me. My students keep on staying the same age and they keep on getting old. That’s great though, that’s great. Can you talk about a little bit more about the product that you have coming out now? Exactly what that is?

 Patrick Strong:   I really can’t because it’s a patented product. I’m speaking wise and saying right now, have it for kids. But I tell you what it does do, though, it’s a product and with the product it has an educational system built in. When you train with Bruce, Bruce…I learned philosophy from Bruce through his Gung Fu, begin in the yin and so this yin and yang thing is an extremely important thing but it goes way beyond the way we martial artists look at it. For example, and you can really test how powerful yin and yang is. You can take one of your students and have him get into a low force stance and you stand to his side, you put both of your hands on his shoulder and you tell him to brace himself and lower his weight and you gotta push on him sideways and probably if he’s good, you probably won’t be able to budge him at all. But now if you tell him to do the same thing, you say now just hold that position, you put your hands on his shoulders lightly, on one shoulder, very lightly you’re yin and now if you increase the yang, he’ll go like a fly. Now you do the same thing. You tell him to brace himself, you put your hands, both hands in his shoulder you press the yang really hard, you can’t move him and then you go to yin, he’ll take off. So yin and yang is in the law of changes, so it has a lot more to do with just soft and hard and reliability and stuff like this, it really has to do with forces.

Matt Numrich:  Interesting. We will definitely be looking forward as far as that, you definitely has to keep us on…you know, about that. If people need to get a hold of you, what are the best ways that people can try to get a hold of you?

Patrick Strong:   Email.

 Matt Numrich:  Would you mind saying that out? Is that ok?

 Patrick Strong: That’s fine, it’s

 Matt Numrich:  Excellent. Pat, thank you so much for taking the time out and just kinda talking about some of your experiences that you’ve had in life, obviously, you’re second to none. I mean we can go on and on about this, you know, I’m glad you’re able to really talk about the topics that you talked about, hearing it from you, you’ve obviously put just a lot of thought into how to express those ideas because once again, getting down Bruce Lee’s philosophy and what he was thinking and how he was thinking, that’s obviously a very, very difficult thing and I’m so glad that you’re able to pass on what you learned from him and also your own sense of this and everything.

Patrick Strong:   Yeah I would think that you mentioned in your email about what young people training today, what they might look for… what you wanna learn about Bruce, if you really wanna learn about something from him is that he became non-mechanical. A mechanical is like when you do, it has nothing to do with techniques, it’s when you do the technique mechanically. If you lose the mechanical side of things to what would become a technique, then it becomes the body expressing it, and all of a sudden, there’s a greater power. Once you use a technique, you contract muscles, once you contract muscles, you create a tension in the body that somebody else can take advantage of. They can mount their pressure against that. Bruce Lee would move in a way that he did not mount that pressure. You couldn’t get a hold of his handle that easy. His chisaw, it wasn’t the greatest chisaw in the world, but his is lightning fast, the reason he was lightning fast was simply because of the non-intention. He removed the need to have to contract his muscles to strike. You remove that and you have greater, physical power.  You have greater everything. So that’s what he meant by the art of fighting without fighting you don’t go and intend to hit, the body does the thing. It does everything, the energies to the whole thing.

 Matt Numrich:  Right, can I go ahead and make an association? Watching professional athletes playing sports, they are not thinking about just doing, is that correct?

Patrick Strong:   That’s right. They’re just doing it. I think when you look at Michael Jordan or something, you think about being in the zone. This guy’s get in the zone but this is on a higher level. For example, you look at professional golf, I don’t play golf to start giving some tips, when you hold the club you start to think of movement with the smallest, smallest muscle contraction. That can just be the idea of a finger moving. Now if you take your finger, your little finger, you put it there and you contract the muscle, you can feel the contraction when it opens up, but in your mind if you imagine that finger open up, you just felt something else. You felt the nerve impulse. That’s the lowest degree of contraction, if you can start your movement with that lowest degree of contraction, you will have the speed and the power that’s just unbelievable. You can overpower people that does not know how strong they are. You can put them around, they can’t move you. I’ll give you one little thing, it’s an interesting thing, it’s just mechanical but something you know, you know when you do fuksan? Ok, have one of your guys grab you around the neck like a plum, like a movie-type plum and push against his chest with both hands and you probably won’t be able to move him.  And then use your techniques to break out of that, see how long it takes now after you’ve done that, just take your hand, your fuksan, put the back of your wrist against his chest, now what happens is, your fuksan there’s no contraction in your arm. Right now, if you take your fingers and you point them up, you contract the muscles in your forearm which creates conduit rebound in your body. If you take the fuksan, you just eliminate it. You put the back of your hand on him, it’s still fuksan a system away. It doesn’t matter how hard he’s holding on, he won’t be able to hold his strength to hold you. Now, it goes way beyond that and how you would use the energies but that would be the simplest, easiest way to study the mechanics of it. And to get the idea of how you can start the movement without the force and you’ll get stunned of what happens and you can use that in everything. You can use that in grappling, you can take guys down, they can put you in headlocks, you touch their knees, their legs, their thighs, their back and just go flying.

 Matt Numrich:  Ah. Exactly, when you explain that to me, I’ve never thought about the grappling application and all that…

 Patrick Strong:   It is unbelievable. It is unbelievable.

 Matt Numrich:  That’s incredible. Well once again Pat, just thank you so much for your time. I mean that.

Patrick Strong:   OK Matt.

Matt Numrich:  And I’m just glad you’re able to play it on the level that you’re explaining because it’s in a way complicated but just like what we said it’s very, very simplistic as well, you know?

Patrick Strong:   That’s just so crazy about this. So simple.

 Matt Numrich:  Exactly and being able to explain it verbally when you can’t show things even, that takes it to a higher level. So thank you very, very much for blessing us with that.

Patrick Strong:   OK Matt. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that.

Matt Numrich:  You too. Thank you so much.


For more info: