"Simple and to the point"

Jay Dobrin is both the Chief Instructor and the founder of British International Fighters Federation (B.I.F.F.)

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Jay Dobrin is both the Chief Instructor and the founder of B.I.F.F. This is an extract from an interview with Jay last year (2005).


The beginning – Master Brian Jones

I first met Brian in 1970. He was teaching in a dojo in East London. This was my introduction to Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Master Jones has been teaching for over 50 years. His instructor was Master Greco Wong. Greco taught Brian Wing Chun behind closed doors because in those days it was not "the norm" to teach any Westerners. He made Brian wait for some considerable time before allowing him to train.

Greco Wong was frowned upon by many of his former students and friends in the Chinese community for allowing a Westerner to learn Kung Fu. Master Wong was taught through the top instructors in China, and his instructors going back through the masters of Wing Chun including Yip Man. These same instructors taught the great man Bruce Lee, who went on to teach people like Guro Dan Inosanto.

Master Brian Jones taught his Wing Chun to only a very few, and over the period of myself (Jay Dobrin) gaining an instructorship over 20 years had elapsed.

Brian Jones and Bill Newman

Guro Dan Inosanto and Jeff Imada at Jay Dobrin’s club


My first meeting with Escrima, was around 1974. I was now a black belt in Wing Chun Kung Fu training a very small dojo in Stoke Newington in North East London, alongside my instructors Master Brian Jones and Professor Bill Newman. One night a person came into the dojo who was to become a massive influence in my martial arts future..... this 6” plus Philipino guy walks in and says “Hi ya, mind if I watch a bit?” This was our first introduction to Master Rene Latosa. Rene Latosa was in those days part of the American Air Force stationed outside London. He wanted to see our Wing Chun system and he liked what we were doing, he also just happened to have a few moves of his own.

We were all amazed as he produced graceful and powerful techniques using one stick, two sticks, knives and razor sharp machetes anything he could pick up Rene could use to great effect. So from then on (the next three to four years), Rene travelled down weekends, staying at my home. Brian, Bill and myself making use of every hour training we could. Three years later Rene gave his permission to teach and granted us Instructor Status. So I then became one of the first three people in the UK to receive an instructorship in Escrima from Rene Latosa.

Master Rene Latosa and Jay Dobrin


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After gaining my instructorship, Rene advised me to go and train with some of his instructors in Stockton USA to further my knowledge and prove to myself Escrima works. The year was 1978: Bill Newman and myself were booked onto a flight to go to train in US (Stockton). Unfortunately Bill had to cancel his trip so I went alone. I had the great privilege to train with Master Leo Giron and Dentoy Revillar plus many of their students. Rene did say to me if they play with you with sticks in armour and padding, don’t put any on as it slows you down, and you’re not used to it Jay!”.

That’s exactly what happened. It’s very daunting when you face guys padded up with fencing masks on and 2-3 foot sticks in their hand trying to throw you down and keep you there. But I did what Rene said and refused the offer of padding: I have never moved so fast in my life through fear or training I’m still not sure 30 years later!?

When you train with people like Dentoy Revillar, they pull a knife from behind their back whenever they feel like it, you might be doing stick against stick and all of a sudden a knife flashes out across your vision. Dentoy would say to me “Jay we have no rules we just fight”. This was the way these guys trained.

Master Dentoy Revillar and Jay Dobrin

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Upon my return from America Bill, Brian, and Rene had formed the Philippine Martial Arts Society (PMAS), I wanted to teach both systems, which didn’t fit into Bill’s plans, so I asked Rene for his permission to go on my own. Rene approved and gave me written permission to go it alone, of which I still have to this day. I then formed the Inner London Martial Arts Society (ILMAS). I later changed the name from ILMAS to B.I.F.F., simply because I started to travel and teach in different countries and the words Inner London was obviously restricting.

Over the last 20 years due to the training in Escrima and Kadena-de-Mano, I call my unarmed training Chinese Boxing, as the original Wing Chun training and Escrima are now one of the same.

Jay Dobrin

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