- Category : Actor
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Duality 2
Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973) was a Chinese American martial artist, philosopher, instructor, and martial arts actor widely regarded as one of the most influential martial artists of the twentieth century.
Lee is iconic for his presentation of Chinese martial arts to the non-Chinese world. Lee's films, especially his performance in the Hollywood-produced Enter the Dragon, elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim. Lee's films sparked the first major surge of interest of Chinese martial arts in the West. The direction and tone of his films changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong, China, and the rest of the world. Lee became an iconic figure particularly to Chinese; as he portrayed Chinese national pride and Chinese nationalism in his movies. Many see Lee as a model blueprint for acquiring a strong and efficient body, as well as developing a mastery of martial arts and hand to hand combat skills.
Lee was born at the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco. His father, Lee Hoi-Chuen (???), was Chinese, and his Catholic mother, Grace (???), had a half German and half Chinese father and a Chinese mother.
Screenshot from Thunderstorm, one of a few movies Bruce Lee starred in as a teenagerLee's Cantonese given name, Jun Fan literally means "invigorate San Francisco". At his birth, he additionally was given the English name of "Bruce" by a Dr. Mary Glover. Though Mrs. Lee had not initially planned on an English name for the child, she deemed it appropriate and would concur with Dr. Glover's addition. Interestingly, the name "Bruce" was never used within his family until Bruce Lee enrolled in La Salle College (a Hong Kong high school) at the age of 12, and again at another high school (St. Francis Xavier's College in Kowloon), where Lee would come to represent the boxing team in inter-school events.
Lee initially had the birth name Li Yuen Kam given to him by his mother, as at the time Lee's father was away on a Chinese opera tour. This name would later be abandoned because of a conflict with the name of Bruce Lee's grandfather, causing him to be renamed to Jun Fan upon his father's return. Also of note is that Bruce Lee was given a feminine name, Sai Fung (literally "small phoenix"), which was used throughout his early childhood in keeping with a Chinese custom that is traditionally thought to hide the child away from evil spirits.
Lee's screen names were respectively Lee Siu Lung (in Cantonese), and Li Xiao Long (in Mandarin) which literally translate to "Lee Little Dragon" in English. These names were first used by director of the 1950 Cantonese movie in which Lee would perform. It is possible that the name "Lee Little Dragon" was based on his childhood name of "small dragon", as in Chinese tradition the Chinese dragon and phoenix come in pairs to represent the male and female genders, respectively. The more likely explanation however is that he came to be called "Little Dragon" because according to the Chinese zodiac, Bruce Lee was born in the Year of the Dragon.
Education and family
At age 12, Lee entered La Salle College, a high school, under the wing of Brother Henry. Then, he attended St Francis Xavier's College. In 1959, Lee got into a fight with a feared Triad gang member's son. His father became concerned about young Bruce's safety, and as a result, he and his wife decided to send Bruce to the United States to live with an old friend of his father's. All he had was $100 in his pocket and the title of 1958 Crown Colony Cha Cha Champion of Hong Kong. After living in San Francisco, he moved to Seattle to work for Ruby Chow, another friend of his father's. In 1959, Lee completed his high school education in Seattle and received his diploma from Edison Technical School. He enrolled at the University of Washington as a philosophy major. It was at the University of Washington that he met his future wife Linda Emery, whom he would marry in 1964. He had two children with Linda, Brandon Lee (born 1965) and Shannon Lee (born 1969). Brandon, who would also become an actor like his father, died in an accident during the filming of The Crow in 1993.
Lee's father, Lee Hoi-Chuen, was a famous Cantonese Opera star. Through his father he was introduced into films at a very young age and appeared in several short black-and-white films as a child.
In the 1960s Lee attempted to start his acting career in America. He became famous for playing Kato alongside Van Williams in the TV series The Green Hornet which lasted for only one season from 1966 to 1967. He also played Kato in three episodes of the series Batman which was also produced by the same people of The Green Hornet. This was followed by guest appearances in television series such as Ironside (1967) and Here Come the Brides (1969). In 1969 he made his first major film appearance in Marlowe where he played a henchman hired to intimidate Philip Marlowe (played by James Garner) by smashing up his office with karate chops and kicks. In 1971 he appeared in four episodes of the television series Longstreet as the martial arts instructor of the title character Mike Longsteet (played by James Franciscus)
Not happy with the roles that he was being offered in America, Lee then returned to Hong Kong and was offered a film contract by Raymond Chow to appear in films produced by his company Golden Harvest. He played his first leading role in The Big Boss (1971) which was a huge box office success all over Asia and catapulted him to stardom. He went on to star in Fist of Fury (1972) which was an even bigger success at the box office and wrote, directed and starred in Way of the Dragon (1972). In 1964 at a demonstration in Long Beach, California, Lee met Karate champion Chuck Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Chuck Norris as his opponent in the final fight scene at the colosseum in Rome which is considered to be one of his most famous fight scenes. He was then offered the lead role in Enter the Dragon (1973) which was the first to be produced jointly by a Chinese and American studio. This was to be the film that would have shot Lee to fame in America. Tragically Lee mysteriously died two weeks before the film was released. Enter the Dragon went on to become one of the highest grossing films of the year and cemented Lee's status as a martial arts legend. It was made for US$850,000 in 1973 ($3.74 million in 2005 currency). To date, Enter the Dragon has grossed over $200 million worldwide. The movie sparked a brief fad in the martial-arts epitomized in songs like Kung Fu Fighting and TV shows like Kung Fu.
After his death two feature-length films with episodes of The Green Hornet' were edited together and released on VHS in 1974.
Robert Clouse, the director of Enter the Dragon attempted to finish Lee's incomplete film Game of Death which Lee had intended to also write and direct. Lee had shot over 40 minutes of footage for Game of Death before shooting was stopped to allow him to work on Enter the Dragon. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a student of Bruce Lee also appeared in the film. In the film, Lee played Billy Lo who while wearing the now famous yellow track suit, took on the 7 foot 2 giant basketball player in a climactic fight scene. Unfortunately, Lee had died before he was due to resume filming for Game of Death. Robert Clouse finished the film using a Bruce Lee look-alike and archive footage of Lee from his other films and released it in 1978 with a new storyline and cast. However it only contained 15 minutes of the actual footage Lee had shot and the rest of the film had Lee's lookalike Tai Chung Kim playing Billy Lo and Yuen Biao acting as a stunt double. The unused footage Lee had filmed was recovered 22 years later and was included in the Bruce Lee documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey.
Martial arts training and development
Young Bruce learned the fundamentals of Wu style Tai Chi Chuan from his father, Lee Hoi Cheun. Lee's Wing Chun sifu, Yip Man, was also a colleague and friend of Hong Kong Wu family teacher Wu Ta-ch'i. He always held that the principles of Tai Chi Chuan influenced his view of martial arts all through his life as an actor and a martial artist. While it is obvious that the style studied by his father was the Wu style, Lee was seen on at least one occasion demonstrating the 108 Basic Movements of the Yang form.
Lee started training in Wing Chun at the age of 14 under Hong Kong Wing Chun master Yip Man. Lee was introduced to Yip Man in early 1954 by William Cheung, then a live-in student of Yip Man. Like most martial arts schools at that time, Sifu Yip Man's classes were often taught by the highest ranking students. One of the highest ranking students under Yip Man at the time of Lee's training was Wong Shun-leung, who is understood to have had the largest influence. Yip Man trained Lee privately after some students refused to train with Lee due to his ancestry. Lee would leave before learning the entire Wing Chun curriculum, but Wing Chun formed a base for his later explorations of martial arts.
In between the learning of Tai Chi and Wing Chun, Lee also learned bits and pieces of the Hung Gar style from a friend of his father. There are photographs and videos of Bruce demonstrating animal stances and forms found within its teachings.
Lee was also trained with weapons by the renown Martial artist Fumio Demura, the head of the Shito Ryu martial arts style.
Jun Fan Gung Fu
Main article: Jun Fan Gung Fu
Lee began the process of creating his own martial arts system after his arrival in the United States in 1959. At first Bruce Lee taught what he called the "Tao of Chinese Gung Fu" with Wing Chun at its core. Not to show disrespect to the art of Wing Chun and to accurately name what he was teaching Lee changed the name of his martial art Jun Fan Gung Fu (literally Bruce's Gung Fu), which consisted mostly of Wing Chun, with elements of Western boxing and fencing. Lee taught friends he met in Seattle, starting with Judo practitioner Jesse Glover as his first student and who later became his first assistant instructor. Before moving to California, Lee opened his first martial arts school, named the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in Seattle. Lee also improvised his own kicking method, involving the directness of kung-fu and the power of taekwondo. Like tkd experts, Lee used full hip and leg power. Like kung fu kicks, Lee's kicks were delievered very quickly to the target, without chambering the leg.
Jeet Kune Do
The Jeet Kune Do Emblem. The Chinese characters around the Taijitu symbol indicate: "Using no way as way" & "Having no limitation as limitation" The arrows represent the endless movement and change of the universe.Main article: Jeet Kune Do
Jeet Kune Do originated in 1965. The match with Wong influenced Lee's philosophy on fighting. Lee believed that the fight had lasted too long and that he had failed to live up to his potential. He took the view that traditional martial arts techniques were too rigid and formalistic to be practical in scenarios of chaotic street fighting. Lee decided to develop a system with an emphasis on "practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency". He started to use different methods of training such as weight training for strength, running for endurance, stretching for flexibility, and many others which he constantly adapted.
Lee emphasized what he called "the style of no style". This consisted of getting rid of a non-formalized approach which Lee claimed was not indicative of traditional styles. Because Lee felt the system he called Jun Fan Gung Fu was too restrictive, it was transformed to what he would come to describe as Jeet Kune Do or the Way of the Intercepting Fist, a term he would later regret because Jeet Kune Do implied specific parameters that styles connotate whereas the idea of the martial art was to exist outside of parameters and limitations.
Bruce Lee certified 3 instructors, Taky Kimura, James Yimm Lee (no relation to Bruce Lee) and Dan Inosanto. James Yimm Lee, a close friend of Bruce Lee, died without certifying additional students. Taky Kimura, to date, has certified one person in Jun Fan Gung Fu: his son and heir Andy Kimura. Dan Inosanto continues to teach and certify select students. Prior to his death, Lee told his then only two living instructors Inosanto and Kimura (James Yimm Lee had died in 1972) to dismantle his schools. Both Taky Kimura and Dan Inosanto were allowed to teach small classes thereafter without using the name Jeet Kune Do.
As a result of a lawsuit between the estate of Bruce Lee and the Inosanto Academy, the name "Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do" was legally trademarked, and the rights were given solely to the Lee estate. "The name is made up of two parts: 'Jun Fan' (Bruce's given Chinese name) and 'Jeet Kune Do' (the Way of the Intercepting Fist). The development of Bruce Lee's art from 1961 until the end of his life was one smooth and indivisible path. In the beginning, he referred to his teachings simply as Jun Fan Gung Fu.
Some martial arts instructors, in an effort to promote themselves or their martial arts schools, make dubious claims about learning from or teaching Bruce Lee. Yet, only 3 were certified by Lee.
1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships
Bruce Lee's "One inch punch"At the invitation of Ed Parker, Lee appeared in the 1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships and performed repetitions of two-finger pushups (using the thumb and the index finger) with feet at approximately a shoulder-width apart. In the same Long Beach event he also performed the "One inch punch". The description of which is as follows: Lee stood upright, his right foot forward with knees bent slightly, in front of a standing, stationary partner. Lee's right arm was partly extended and his right fist approximately an inch away from the partner's chest. Without retracting his right arm, Lee then forcibly delivered the punch to his partner while largely maintaining his posture, sending the partner backwards and falling into a chair placed behind the partner to prevent injury, though the force of the impact caused his partner to soon after fall onto the floor.
Physical fitness and nutrition
Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon in 1972Bruce Lee felt that many martial artists of his day did not spend enough time on physical conditioning. Bruce included all elements of total fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. He tried traditional bodybuilding techniques to build bulky muscles or mass. In his book The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, he wrote "Training is one of the most neglected phases of athletics. Too much time is given to the development of skill and too little to the development of the individual for participation." "JKD, ultimately is not a matter of petty techniques but of highly developed spirituality and physique".
The weight training program that Lee used during a stay in Hong Kong in 1965 at only 24 years old placed heavy emphasis on his arms. At that time he could perform bicep curls at a weight of 70 to 80 lbs for three sets of eight repetitions, along with other forms of exercises, such as squats, push-ups, reverse curls, concentration curls, French presses, and both wrist curls and reverse wrist curls. The repetitions he performed were six to 12 reps (at the time). While this method of training targeted his fast and slow twitch muscles, it later resulted in weight gain or muscle mass, placing Bruce a little over 165 lbs. Bruce Lee was documented as having well over 2,500 books in his own personal library, and eventually concluded that "A stronger muscle, is a bigger muscle". However, Bruce forever experimented with his training routines to maximize his physical abilities. He employed many different routines and exercises, which effectively served his training and bodybuilding purposes.
Lee believed that the abdominal muscles were one of the most important muscle groups for a martial artist, since virtually every movement requires some degree of abdominal work. Perhaps more importantly, the "abs" are like a shell, protecting the ribs and vital organs.
A typical exercise for Lee would be to run a distance of two to six miles in 15 to 45 minutes, in which he would vary speed in 3-5 minute intervals. Lee would then ride his stationary bicycle for 30-45 minutes at full speed immediately after running. Next, Lee would do some jump rope work for 10 minutes minimum, using the same time intervals as boxers'.
According to Linda Lee, soon after he moved to the United States, Bruce Lee started to take nutrition seriously and developed an interest in health foods, high-protein drinks and vitamin and mineral supplements. Bruce later realized that in order to achieve a high-performance body, you could not fuel it with a diet of junk food. Without the right fuel, your body's performance would become sluggish or sloppy. Lee's diet included high-protein drinks, he always tried to consume one or two daily.
Linda recalls Bruce's waist fluctuated between 26 and 28 inches. "He also drank his own juice concoctions made from vegetables and fruits, apples, celery, carrots and so on, prepared in an electric blender". Bruce always preferred to eat Chinese or other Asian food because he loved the variety that it had.
Although Bruce Lee is best known as a martial artist and actor, Lee majored in philosophy at the University of Washington. Lee's books on martial arts and fighting philosophy are well-known both for their philosophical assertions both inside and outside of martial arts circles. His philosophy often mirrored his fighting beliefs, though he was quick to claim that his martial arts were solely a metaphor for such teachings. His influences include Taoism and Buddhism. Lee was a contemporary of the Hindu philosopher and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti, whose philosophy influenced Lee's. Lee referred to Krishnamurti in the book The Tao Of Jeet Kune Do.
The following are some of Bruce Lee's quotes that reflect his fighting philosophy.
"If I tell you I'm good, you would probably think I'm boasting. If I tell you I'm no good, you know I'm lying."
"Be formless... shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, and it can crash. Be like water, my friend..."
"Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."
"The more relaxed the muscles are, the more energy can flow through the body. Using muscular tensions to try to 'do' the punch or attempting to use brute force to knock someone over will only work to opposite effect."
"Mere technical knowledge is only the beginning of Kung Fu. To master it, one must enter into the spirit of it."
"There are lots of guys around the world that are lazy. They have big fat guts. They talk about chi power and things they can do, but don't believe it."
"I'm not a master. I'm a student-master, meaning that I have the knowledge of a master and the expertise of a master, but I'm still learning. So I'm a student-master. I don't believe in the word 'master.' I consider the master as such when they close the casket."
"Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there."
"Jeet Kune Do: it's just a name; don't fuss over it. There's no such thing as a style if you understand the roots of combat."
"Unfortunately, now in boxing people are only allowed to punch. In Judo, people are only allowed to throw. I do not despise these kinds of martial arts. What I mean is, we now find rigid forms which create differences among clans, and the world of martial art is shattered as a result."
"I think the high state of martial art, in application, must have no absolute form. And, to tackle pattern A with pattern B may not be absolutely correct."
"True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns."
"The other weakness is, when clans are formed, the people of a clan will hold their kind of martial art as the only truth and do not dare to reform or improve it. Thus they are confined in their own tiny little world. Their students become machines which imitate martial art forms."
"Some people are tall; some are short. Some are stout; some are slim. There are various different kinds of people. If all of them learn the same martial art form, then who does it fit?"
"Ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself. It is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky so I can show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly enough; that my friend is very hard to do."
"Use no way as way; use no limitation as limitation."
See also Wikiquotes for more quotes by Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee and popular culture
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The Tekken video game series features two characters based on Bruce Lee; Marshall Law and his son Forest Law. In Tekken 3, Forest Law's third alternate costume is similar to the yellow jumpsuit worn by Bruce Lee in Game Of Death.
The Dead or Alive video game series features a character named Jan Lee who is a practitioner of Jeet kune Do. One of his alternative costumes in Dead or Alive 4 is similar to the yellow jumpsuit worn by Bruce Lee. Upon beating story mode with Jan Lee you can see a flashback of him as a child watching a Bruce Lee film.
The character Liu Kang in the video game series Mortal Kombat is also based almost entirely off of Bruce Lee, ranging from his appearance to his fighting style.
Awards and honors
Statue of Lee at the Avenue of StarsWith his ancestral roots coming from Gwan'on in Seundak, Guangdong province of China (??????, Guangdong Shunde Jun'An), a street in the village is named after him where his ancestral home is situated. The home is open for public access.
Bruce Lee was named TIME Magazine 's 100 Most Important People of the Century as one of the greatest heroes & icons, as an example of personal improvement through in part physical fitness, and among the most influential martial artists of the twentieth century.
The 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story claims to be a slightly fictionalized biographical film about Bruce Lee, few scenes are based on reality, however.
In 2001, LMF, a Cantonese hip-hop group in Hong Kong, released a popular song called "1127" as a tribute to Bruce Lee.
In 2003, "Things Asian" wrote an article on the thirtieth anniversary of his death.
In 2004, UFC president Dana White credited Bruce Lee as the "father of mixed martial arts".
In September 2004, a BBC story stated that the Herzegovinian city of Mostar was to honor Lee with a statue on the Spanish Square, as a symbol of solidarity. After many years of war and religious splits, Lee's figure is to commend his work: to successfully bridge culture gaps in the world. The statue, placed in the city park, was unveiled on November 26, 2005 (One day before the unveiling of the statue in Hong Kong, below).
In 2005, Lee was remembered in Hong Kong with a bronze statue to mark his sixty-fifth birthday. The bronze statue, unveiled on November 27, 2005, honored Lee as Chinese film's bright star of the century.
As of 2007, he is still considered by many martial artists and fans as the greatest martial artist of all time.
On April 10, 2007 China's national broadcaster announced it has started filming a 40-part series on martial arts icon Bruce Lee. Xinhua News Agency said China Central Television started shooting "The Legend of Bruce Lee" over the weekend in Shunde in Guangdong province in southern China. Shunde is the ancestral home of Lee, who was born in San Francisco. It said the 50 million yuan (US$6.4 million; €4.8 million) production will also be filmed in Hong Kong and the United States, where Lee studied and launched his acting career. Chen Guokun, who plays Lee, said he has mixed feelings about playing the role of the icon, Xinhua reported. "I'm nervous and also excited, but I will do my best," Chen, who's also known as Chan Kwok-kwan, was quoted as saying. Chen, best known for appearing in the action comedy "Kung Fu Hustle," says Lee has been his role model since he was a child and that he has practiced kung fu for many years. The TV series, which is due to be aired in 2008, the year Beijing hosts the Olympic Games, appears to aimed at highlighting Chinese culture in the run up to the event.