Okay- if you are here then you asked - so prepare for a long winded answer.

Well first off I cannot possibly give you everything about QLK in a few short pages so this is ONLY a brief synopsis.

SO this is only a short history of how QLK was created and some of its OVERALL philosophies.

ALSO please note this is MY version so it may not be the way that the other members of the board of governors necessarily agree on.


the short story is that QLK is a combat style taught to everyone that wants to learn - without regards to money or politics ....

we only ask that dangerous techniques not be taught to children or people that do not have the experience to know when to walk away or understanding that you do not need to unnecessarily hurt someone just because they have a big mouth ...

on the other hand we truly believe you have an ABSOLUTE right to be safe and that size and strength can be overcome if you know how ... thus there is no limits for women (some of our most dangerous martial artists are our women!!!) or small stature people ...

we can and do teach ways that totally invalidate strength size and will work even if you don't feel pain -- thus these techniques WILL work against drunks, people high on drugs or mentally ill ... if that was not true then you could not say that anyone can defend themselves at all time ...



SO What QLK is:

In many ways it may help to understand by explaining what we are not ...



A VERY Abbreviated History of QLK:

The History of QLK…


QLK did not have an exact date of starting… well I suppose there was but frankly we didn't pay attention to the date when we started training because we were just interested in training ... there were 5 of us that wanted to train together and learn what skill the others had ...

In fact for several years it existed as a closed style … open only to the 5 martial artists that started the style and training morphed from just learning what skills each other had to trying to work out how to make things work better .. then why things worked (i.e. the principles behind the techniques)

 The history as best as can be determined is this…. One of the students who had a history of Chinese, Okinawa and Japanese style martial Arts training started studying Tae Kwon do in 1980 in Des Moines Iowa… very shortly after that a friend who wished to “work out “ joined him in private practice sessions.

Fortunately that friend also had experience in combat (military) and wrestling and another martial art style.

Unwilling to accept the traditional answers that techniques were blocks when they would not work in their sparing sessions. They began to mix in techniques from their previous styles to learn how to defend themselves “on the street”.  Very soon 3 other students with the same intent joined them.  All had significant experience in combat arts in one form or another (some in multiple) all wanted to expand their knowledge and all had been soured on the attitudes of "formal" karate.

It became very clear to the 5 of them that the traditional explanations that they had been given in their past traditional training did not hold the answers for real self defense and so they attempted to determine what the real purpose of techniques were if the old answer were not correct.



However the focus soon became how to make such techniques work not only when you partner cooperated but also when the sparing partner was doing everything possible to resist the technique.

Soon after the senior student of the group - who was also studying TKD at that time ( at the 2nd Dan level ) - opened a branch of the Tae Kwon do School in Knoxville Iowa affiliated with the TKD school that he had been training .. that branch opened in (1982). 

There the problem started because instead of simply teaching the traditional TKD techniques as he had been taught he began to teach the new students the new information that the 5 members had discovered.  Also students were encouraged to ask questions and challenge the answers that were given them. They were taught to keep asking until answer made sense to them.

The problem was that in sparing (with members of the original TKD school) members of this new branch school were out sparing students who were much bigger physically and in some case much higher rank.

In fact the problem came to a head when one smaller (and several years younger) green belt (girl) knocked down and repeatedly scored against a brown belt who was testing for their black belt.  In fact the Brown belt was unable to score at all against the green belt. It was so lopsided that it was openly embarrassing to both the brown belt and the instructor of the Brown belt.

Master Jeun, a 7th degree black belt who was the owner and main instructor of the TKD school demanded that the student teaching the branch school stop teaching these new techniques and go back to teaching traditional techniques.

When the student refused he was given an ultimatum of either doing what he was told or leaving the school.  He chose to leave and the 5 members joined together and started the style of QLK (1984)

Formally Separated from TKD a set of rules as to the real markers for Kata techniques were developed;The technique / explanation had to be consistent with known medical facts.

  1. The technique / explanation had to work ALL the time … not just when the opponent cooperated
  2. The technique / explanation had could not rely sole on strength or speed.

While the traditional katas were kept from TKD new explanations quickly began to be developed which further widened the gap between this new art (which came to be called Quan Li K’an) and TKD.

And additional rules were initiated;

  1. Strength and size were not to be used as the principles to make the technique work
  2. The principle had to work regardless of pain

Additionally the principles of Pressure points, poison hands, light force knockouts and Dim Mak were incorporated into QLK

Also incorporated were the principles of the 5 sub styles taken from the Chinese martial arts

In 1988 BRUCE E. MILLER moved up to Minnesota (due to job relocation) and started a second school of QLK in St. Cloud MN.

In 1990 in order to provide instruction to students who were still in Knoxville Iowa Mr. Miller started writing books intended for QLK students. However very shortly after that students in other styles began to discover

In 1991 Tai chi (combat application) was added as part of the advanced portions of QLK

Word of QLK spread and questions about it and the principles behind it attracted attention. several schools asked to be part of the system but the board which had been formed to govern QLK decided that the important thing was the attitude and the knowledge of how to apply kata rather than the kata themselves and that QLK did not have the authority nor the desire to replace any other style. Instead the idea was simply to expand the offering of what we had discovered to anyone that wanted to learn. Thus most of these schools kept the bas system they had and added QLK principles.

The mid 1990’s students from QLK were asked to come to Europe to demonstrate this art. 




Why bother doing this ... Well all of us were tired of the standard lines we had always gotten and conditions we had been put through - like;

1) The "wait 20 years and maybe we will tell you the answers

2) The attitudes of the belt assembly line schools and not teaching us "gajin" anything useful ... But more than willing to take our money

3) Techniques which we had been taught which flat out did not work in real life. We knew it, they knew it ... but no one was supposed to talk about it ...

4) People/ Instructors who acted like we were supposed to look up to them just because they were oriental and gracing us with their presence  ... as if we were privileged to be learning in their shadow.

5) The "my way or highway" attitudes of instructors ... god forbid you asked questions ...one didn't even think about cross training ...

Having had more than enough B. S. we broke away and decided to try and figure out things on our own. This was in the early 80's

So we took EVERYTHING apart but instead of discarding kata we researched out the reasons why things happened in kata. - FROM MULTIPLE STYLES - Especially we looked at the things which did work. We especially took them apart to learn WHY they worked.  With time we discovered PRINCIPLES behind why things worked which gave us clues to other answers which gave us other clues, etc.

Over time we came upon a set of rules to determine how we could tell if a technique was valid ... and if we should accept it into our system: We decided to base what we accept as valid techniques on the following concepts:

1) PROVE to me (show me ... on me) that it works while I am trying to keep it from happening (telling me it works doesn't count). If I have to cooperate to allow you to accomplish the effect ... it is NOT VALID! [The jerk on the street is not going to cooperate ... so ...]

2) There is only one rule. Win or die! The fight doesn't stop as long as you are above the ground! Thus if you are knocked down... well you are still above ground aren't you!

3) KISS (no battle plan survive contact with the enemy!) Forget fancy plans and large laundry list of thing to memorize! You haven't got the time for that when your enemy is trying to shove their fist or a knife down your throat! (You have 1/2 second to react EFFECTIVELY after that you are DEAD)

4) It is not allowed to simply add a technique or a kata to the style. Instead you must learn the scientific principle(s) behind why the technique works and then present that principle. If you can prove it works then we will (the board that governs the style) reexamine EVERYTHING we are already doing to see if old theories need cleaning up (again)

5) If you have to rely on strength or speed to make it happen ... then you have no clue why it is working. Go back to the drawing board!!! [This became one of MY main guiding principles]

We do believe that the martial artists of old really did know what they are doing. [WE also realize they may not have had a clue ... but that is a point deliberately ignore ... [Why ignore that probably reality? The perception that they did know is enough to make us look for better ways of doing things] Although our new theories may explain things better still, it is believed that knowledge has been lost though translation but is still present in the katas, IF we really understand ...thus we strive to get better!

6) We believe ALL techniques in kata are killing, KO or maiming techniques! You hopefully don't have to take it that far ... but the choice should be your not your attackers!

7) It MUST happen FAST ... you have 1 second to determine whether you win or die ... and the whole technique has to be completed in less than 3 seconds. [see the book called The meanings of forms and katas or the ADULT DVD of the same name if you need further information on why]


Based on those concepts we took apart the old katas and discovered what we believed is really happening on all 5 levels and then taught it/ rethought it/ taught it/ rethought/ etc. (And hopefully WILL keep changing things as we learn) along the way we learned a few things<G>


Some things are still different from other systems.

When we redid they understandings of our style we did such based on MWM... not on the old TCM paradigms! We are/ were not afraid to state that we don't have the answers but when we make a physiological explanation for a technique or principle then we want to be on firm footing and want anybody who decides to check up and to learn more about the principle to be able to do so at ANY location which discusses physiology from a MWM standpoint. Thus technique theories CAN be evaluated to see if they are the most efficient way of doing things, validated and used as firm stepping stones for future research.

Quan Li K'an also uses a 5 animal system with the above concepts! But combined in different ways so as to either enhance a persons natural abilities or more common as a way to counter an opponents advantages... for example snake is supple and bend around a strong opponents strength and thus nullifies strength versus tiger uses strength to maximize damage to an opponent.

It seems to work! But QLK is and always will be an evolving system as we constantly deliberately reexamine what we are doing so that we can go back and again "clean up" our techniques. Therefore even though our katas look generally much like you would see else where (if you took/combined katas from TKD, Tai Chi, Cheng Wei Quan, and the Okinawan systems) it is the combat/ street fighting emphasis which makes them IMHO valuable.


As far as the future ...

We continue learn from just about anybody but then we have to bring the theories back to the board and try to "prove" them.... <g> that gets real cute sometimes! <BIG GRIN> but as we do QLK improves ... and that and the people are what it is all about ...

Finally QLK schools are not owned by me nor controlled by me. We have a board of Governors and I am presently the HONORARY head but each school is run but the person who owns the school ... thus there are differences and each school is a bit different. No one else has the right to tell another school what to do ... we collaborate in the QLK system so as to spread knowledge. The system/ style is not designed to create profit. There is no dictatorship nor hero worship. We present seminars to other schools ( inside or outside the system). We don't try to convert people. We simply present ideas and explanations and let others decide on their own if it make sense to them. Hopefully we learn from them at the same time [See the section on the Free yearly bridge tours]

We don't see ourselves as "bad" or "tough" but rather as someone who ... is capable to self defense in ways that do not require size, strength or speed (as a prerequisite). We would rather avoid a fight than hurt someone but WILL defend at all costs if required.

But Mostly the QLK system is comprised of people who want to train and see each other as part of the QLK family. It continues to focus on training and to deliberately NOT focus on profit nor titles nor ego ... To me it is a great family to belong to.

Bruce Everett Miller

Tai Laoshi*


*BTW that simply translates into older teacher ... (nothing magical or mystical)



Thanks to taking to time to read all this. Feel free to write me with any questions.



BTW Some people have asked about my previous background BEFORE being in QLK ... well frankly I am not sure that matters but if you really want to know here are the styles that I hold at least Dan level (or Higher) in - I admit they have all influenced what I do and believe - some specifically in what NOT to do ... [not meant to be an insult just how I have changed my thinking over the years]

Kieshan Kan

Uechi Ryu

TKD -Chung Do Kwan

TDK - Shim Do Kwan

Ching wei quan

Doitsu Kobodu KyoKai


Frankly there have been many more people that I have learned much from ... A LOT of which has been incorporated into QLK because QLK is an AMERICAN style thus it is a collection of what we feel is the best we know from as many styles and people that we have had to pleasure to learn from.


QLK is in fact a composite of everything that every Student that brings ideas or who questions why things work or doesn't work


For that I thank you all








main page Button.... book Button . ... Seminars button . .. Mail order button .... Members Button