Bruce Lee Student Skip Ellsworth

Jeese Glover on left, Bruce Lee's first student in the US, Skip Ellsworth second fron left, then the late GM Sonny Umpad

I was in Cebu Philippines two years ago and was reading the local paper. There was an article about a beach resort in Daan Bantayan in northern Cebu. The resort there was run by an American, and instead of the usual sky-is-the-limit prices, everything was reasonable, and many services were free. The owner seemed like a really laid back and generous guy, and his resort was on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach. I was practically there.

But I about fell out of my chair when I read that the owner, Skip Ellsworth was one of Bruce Lee’s first students in America! Holy crap! I was going to go there even if I had to crawl on my hands and knees over broken bottles.

I traveled north several hours by bus and arrived at Daan Bantayan. When I walked up to the resort, something seemed odd. Skip had just died and they were holding a wake. What a shame that I never got to meet him, and that I had come so close.

If you read on his website, you gain a lot of insight into Bruce Lee’s early days, when he was just a Chinese dishwasher with a horrible accent, living in a room little larger than a closet.

QUESTION:  What is the most important thing you ever learned from Bruce Lee ?

SKIP:   Frankly, I learned so many important things from Bruce that it would be hard for me to pick the one most important thing.

QUESTION:        Well… please try to do it for us.

SKIP:   I guess one of the most important things I learned from Bruce was how to explode.

[A long pause… as though this was a complete answer with no need for further explanation.]

QUESTION:        Can you elaborate on that ?

SKIP:                   Yeah — but it’s hard to explain.

Basically, Bruce taught me how to explode with bursts of speed, power, and energy that I didn’t know I had in me – and that I didn’t know I was capable of.

Bruce called the explosion “Ging.”  Later on, I think he sometimes called it “ch’i” – or “chi”.  However, I guess it doesn’t matter what it is called.  The important thing is that Bruce could summon this amazing speed, power, and energy at will, and it was always an integral part of his Gung Fu.

QUESTION:        Can you explain that in greater detail ?

SKIP:                   In greater detail ?

Man, I’m not sure I can explain it at all.

I’m afraid I would need to think about it a lot before I could come up with a good explanation.

I can give you an example of how it works though.

QUESTION:        Please do.

SKIP:                   Well, the first time I used Ging was shortly after Bruce tried to teach me the principle just by talking to me about it.  However, I hadn’t really learned how to do it – and I was still pretty confused about the concept.


QUESTION:        So… ?

SKIP:                   It happened when I was fighting a guy in a pool hall in the Central Area of Seattle.

The fight went to the ground, and as we were grappling, the guy tried to dig out one of my eyes.

One of his fingers actually started to go inside the corner of my left eye, and I could feel my own eye-ball being forced to one side — and “out.”

I suddenly thought to myself, “This might be a good time to use some of that ‘Ging’ stuff that Bruce has been trying to teach me.”


At that time, when the guy’s finger was actually starting to dig out my left eye, I completely exploded.

In other words, I had an instantaneous burst of speed, power, energy, and focus that I had never experienced before.

It was like I went from a speed of 2 miles per hour to a speed of 1,000 miles per hour in a fraction of a second.

It was like I had been asleep, and then suddenly I was completely awake – totally focused – more aware — more dynamic – stronger – faster – like I was in a different dimension – almost like I became a different person.

It was like I was dreaming.

I will never forget the tremendous focus that I experienced at that moment.

I remember feeling that I had much more strength and speed than I had ever experienced before.

Also, it seemed like “time” had actually slowed down for me.

My opponent seemed to be moving in slow motion, and I seemed to be moving in “fast forward.”

I was amazed by what had happened to me – and the effect that it had.

The fight was over almost immediately, and the other guy was unconscious.

As soon as the fight was over, my two friends and I got out of the pool hall as fast as we could because we didn’t know how bad the guy was hurt.

When I got back to my girl-friend’s place I spent the rest of the night reflecting upon what had happened to me – the explosion that I had just experienced.

As I reflected upon that stuff, I tried to remember exactly what I had done to “make” the changes occur – the physical and mental state that I was in at the exact moment that the explosion “happened.”

In other words, I was hoping that I could remember exactly how I got into that mental state – so I would know how to make it happen again.

I even wrote a few notes to myself to help me remember how it happened – how I felt when it happened – my state of mind when it happened – my motivation – what the strength felt like – what the speed felt like – what the focus was like – and so on.

Eventually, as I continued to practice Gung Fu with Bruce, I always tried to learn “more” about how to control the “ging” process.

In fact, even at my present age of 29 [much laughter…] I can probably still summon “Ging” if I was called upon to do so.

Unfortunately, I have never gotten to the point where I can explain the “Ging” process very well – or teach it very well.

On the other hand, I think it is important to note that some of my students told me they more or less learned the process just by talking with me about it.

Maybe all they needed was some idea regarding what they were supposed to look for (and find) in their own consciousness – and then they were able to put the rest of it together on their own.

Incidentally, I have never gotten to the point where a prolonged or extended use of Ging didn’t take a lot out of me and leave me completely “worn out.”

However, it seemed to me that Bruce could summon that type of energy instantaneously – at any time – and keep it going indefinitely without ever seeming to get tired.

He seemed to revel in it – to be addicted to it.

I’m afraid my explanation doesn’t make much sense, so I should probably just stop taking about this now.

[A long pause…]


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