Bruce Junfan Lee is perhaps the greatest martial artist who ever lived. He was a Hollywood star, philosopher, martial artist, cinematographer, and author who also pioneered a new universal martial arts style called Jeet Kune Do. Bruce trained every day, not in a gym, but at home. Interested in speed and power and expressing the art of the human body he trained combining, diet, exercise, meditation, and weight training.
He was born in San Francisco, and then the family moved back to China where he had his first role was being a baby in 1941's ‘Golden Gate Girl’. He began starting as a child actor in movies in China at the age of 6 appearing in more than 20 films.
His older brother died at birth so he was often called by a girl’s name to protect him from a similar fate.
He learned from his father Tai Chi Chaun. The art form as Lee refers to it as “running water never goes stale.” Then he began his formal training at 14 after losing a street fight with a local gang.
He came to the United States in 1959 with one hundred fifteen dollars in his pocket.
He went to college in Seattle, studying philosophy, but then began to teach martial arts.
He developing a new style of Kung Fu, Jeet Kune Do, based on practicality, speed, flexibility, and efficiency he began relegating his diet to health food, high protein drinks, fruits, vegetables, vitamin supplements, and on rare occasion some meat. His physical training was aimed at increasing strength and speed and he did so by with cardiovascular training by running daily two to six miles averaging 7-minute miles, and weight training for lean muscles. He also believed that the abdominal muscles were the most important since every movement a martial artist would need resulted in some movement of the abdomen.
He became a vegetarian for the last years of his life, alongside Leonardo da Vinci
, Steve Jobs
, Benjamin Franklin
, and Isaac Newton
He developed his own style of combat techniques, spin-kicks and flying leaps.
In 1964, at 24, he was invited to the Long Beach International Karate Championship for a series of demonstrations. One demonstration was one-handed “two-finger pushups” and the other was a “one inch punch.” He demonstrated the punch an inch way from his opponent and without moving retracting his arm he contacted the opponent who was trained in Karate with enough force that he flew backwards and then fell to the floor.
In 1966 he started acting in America on a TV series called The Green Hornet as Kato, the sidekick that did 30 episodes and then went off the air. Lee received more fan mail than the main star.
His first Bruce Lee move, in 1972, was the ‘Fist of Fury’ and ‘The Big Boss’ in the United States and was a big hit. Lee wrote the film, choreographed and directed his own fight scenes. He continued to do this in all his films. In ‘The Big Boss’ Jackie Chan plays an extra. And the move out grosses in the first three weeks the Walt Disney
movie the ‘Sound of Music’ starring Julie Andrews and winning five Oscars.
In a later film the camera speed had to be slowed down to catch Lee’s lightening fast hand strikes.
Several of his students have included Chuck Norris, Steve McQueen who did start in two Alfred Hitchcock Presents, James Coburn, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
He said, "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." A few years later, in George Lucas’s Star Wars, Yoda said “Do or do not... there is no try.”
His son, Brandon Lee, who was also an actor, and was killed while filming a movie, ‘The Crow.’ Ap prop gun loaded with blanks malfunctioning killing him at age 28. Bruce died at age 32.
In 2003 footage was found of Bruce Lee’s in an unfinished martial art film by Elvis Presley and Ed Parker
July 20, 1973: Complaining of a headache, he was given a painkiller. He laid down for a nap. He then had a reaction to an ingredient in the painkillers prescribed for back pain, called equigesic, His brain swelled 13% (cerebral edema) and he died in his sleep at age 32 and 128 pounds on the way to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong.
Complaining of a headache, he was given a painkiller. He laid down for a nap. He then had a reaction to an ingredient in the painkillers prescribed for back pain, called equigesic, His brain swelled 13% (cerebral edema) and he died in his sleep at age 32 and 128 pounds on the way to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong.
He received a national funeral in Honk Kong and then he than was taken to Lake View Cemetery in Seattle for a private burial. Two of his pallbearers on July 31st were his students, Steve McQueen and James Coburn.
His son Brandon is buried next to him and not far from them is Carl Sagan. Every year people come to visit and honor the master. Jimi Hendrix has the same kind of pilgrimage at his grave sight.