As a former student of Wong Jack Man, I was intrigued by Sifu Rick Wing's conversations with this venerable grandmaster of the Northern arts. I was a witness to many of their exchanges during my years training and perfecting the techniques Sifu Wong taught me (some of which I have successfully used in real self-defense situations). Many of Wong's students (including myself) are not of Chinese descent, which should call into question the notion that the conflict between Lee and Wong arose from Wong's insistence that Lee had no right to teach non-Chinese pupils. The book presents compelling evidence to the contrary, and Sifu Wong is quoted as saying: "Even Bruce Lee never said these things."
There can be no significant discussion of this fight without a reading of this book. Most of the Internet discussions about the event, which have been carried on for years, have been heavily biased in favor of Lee, presumably based on Lee's own testimony. But the book presents evidence that Lee had made several statements that were patently false.
It should be noted that Lee was quite young at the time, having not yet landed his first U.S. role, as Kato on The Green Hornet. At the time he was still trying to make a name for himself and was known to be quite the capable fighter, having proven his mettle during many scraps in Hong Kong. He wasn't, however, invincible. The book quotes Lee's friend Michael Lai: "Bruce hated to lose. If he lost, he would have some excuse and never admitted that he had been beaten fairly. He had `nga tsat,' which is to say he was very cheeky and strutted like a peacock. He always acted very superior." A similar take of Bruce's young life is given by Wong Shun Leung, Bruce's senior kung fu brother (his article, "Bruce Lee and His Friendship with Wong Shun Leung," is a very interesting read).
It should be noted that Sifu Wing reveals himself to be quite a Bruce Lee fan. He recounts the first time he saw Enter The Dragon and the splash that it made with him and his peers at the time. Among Wing's friends is Greglon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee's good friend James Yimm Lee (who was at the fight). Greglon has written a foreward for the book and has shown his support for Sifu Wing's efforts in recounting this historic event. Other testimonies include Ming Lum's, a friend of both Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man and who Sifu Wing eventually befriended.
The book is a treasure trove of rare photographs, many of which have never been revealed to the public. The photos of the young Wong Jack Man performing his Northern Shaolin kung fu are spectacular, and there are some great pictures of Bruce (courtesy of Greglon Lee) that have never been made public. There are also many photos of the relevant historical locations throughout the Bay Area, including some of the family associations in San Francisco's Chinatown, the Sun Sing Theatre, where Bruce Lee demonstrated his skills to the public, and the location of Bruce Lee's kung fu school in Oakland. The book also includes copies of the Chinese newspaper articles reporting the event at the time, which along with the extraordinary photos further enrich the fabled tale.
Showdown in Oakland is a must-read for all martial arts enthusiasts. I highly recommend it, and every Bruce Lee fan with a strong opinion about this event should read this book to develop deeper insights and determine if what they think they "know" about this fight is in fact true.