In 1959, James W. DeMile began his martial arts career in Seattle, Washington, under the direction of the legendary Bruce Lee. As one of Bruce's first generation students, Mr. DeMile had the opportunity of assisting Bruce in developing his unique fighting skills. It was also DeMile's privilege to appear in Bruce's only book, "The Philosophical Art of Self Defense". DeMile was an undefeated heavyweight boxer in the Air Force as well as hand to hand combat instructor for the Special Forces Combatives program at Fort Lewis in 1985 and 1986.
Grandmaster James W. DeMile was born in 1935 in San Francisco. Much of his childhood was spent in an orphanage. His whole attitude of survival of the fittest, his ability to overcome any situation, either psychologically or physically developed during those years. "It is not surprising that I was getting into a lot of trouble as a youth and really had no value system established," said DeMile. He joined the Air Force hoping to focus his energy in a more positive direction. He became the Heavy Weight Champion of the Air Force for two years. He found his aggressiveness as a street fighter worked well in the boxing ring. He was undefeated and won 128 fights. After the Air Force, James began attending Edison Technical School in Seattle where he met Bruce Lee in 1959.
DeMile first saw Bruce Lee on stage, performing a kung fu demonstration during an Asian Day celebration at Edison Technical School. "He was performing a form called 'Chong que", DeMile explained. "Bruce did a lot of leaping around and slapping his feet. He then went on to explain how effective it was for fighting - which really amused me because I thought he looked like a butterfly flapping its wings. I thought this kid is living in a fantasy world." Afterwards DeMile went up on stage and said, "Well, that's fine. This might work over in China but this is America and it's a whole different ball game." Bruce then asked DeMile to punch at him. DeMile took a good swing at him, but Bruce just trapped him, tied him up, and slapped him a couple of times, tapped him on the head and asked if 'anyone was home.' This was a shock for DeMile because he had never been beaten, and until then had never questioned his own ability. But this little punk kid, 18 yrs of age, weighing about 135 pounds, had embarrassed him. He then asked Bruce if he could join his martial arts group.
James DeMile with Bruce Lee
Bruce at that time was building a group, but a very special group, no novices. He was looking for guys who were seasoned street fighters. Each member brought very different skills to street fighting and Bruce wanted to pit his Gung Fu against them to find out what worked and what didn't. In return, Bruce would teach them Wing Chun so he would have people to train with. Jesse Glover, Taky Kimura, Ed Hart were already a part of this group, when DeMile joined. Bruce taught them what worked and with their help, started modifying Wing Chun. "His only interest was fighting," DeMile said. "He would analyze techniques, break them down to their simplest form and make them as effective as physically possible."
One of the foremost authorities on 'Modern Wing Chun', DeMile has adapted Bruce's modification of the ancient art of Wing Chun and created Wing Chun Do, a practical self defense system. DeMile is listed in Bob Wall's Who's Who in the Martial Arts, and The Genealogy of Ving Tsun (Wing Chun) Family. He has written many articles for national and international magazines. He has written four best selling martial art books as well as produced a number of training videos, including "Bruce Lee's One and Three Inch Power Punch". DeMile travels extensively throughout the world teaching his dynamic self defense concepts and techniques to students, police and the military. Sijo (Founder) James W. DeMile presently teaches or administers seminars at his International Headquarters in Rogue River, Oregon.