Bruce Lee

Orfeas Katsoulis | Aug 27, 2022

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Bruce Lee (July 20, 1973) was a Hong Kong-born American martial artist, martial arts master, actor, filmmaker, philosopher and writer. Lee is widely regarded by critics, pundits, media and martial artists as the most influential martial artist of all time and a 20th century pop culture icon who bridged the gap between East and West. He is often credited with helping to change the way Asians were portrayed in American films. He was a renovator and the greatest exponent of martial arts, dedicating his life to this discipline, seeking perfection and truth, creating his own combat method and philosophy of life, the Jun Fan Gung-Fu, which later, in addition to his philosophical concept, would be called Jeet Kune Do or "the way of the intercepting fist".

His films, interviews and mainly his charisma and influence spread the passion for martial arts throughout the West, generating a wave of followers throughout the world.

Bruce Lee was born in Chinatown (however, Bruce grew up in Kowloon (Hong Kong), where he began training at the age of thirteen and formally practicing the Chinese martial arts of Tai Chi with his father, and then Wing Chun style with Master Ip Man. From a very young age, he appeared in films playing children and later teenagers. At the age of eighteen, Bruce returned to the United States, where he began his studies in philosophy at the University of Washington. Being an innovator and thinker, he applied what he learned to his art; he studied the thought of various Western and Eastern philosophers coming from Taoism such as Lao-Tse and Chuang-Tse and, in addition, he began to train his college classmates in the art of Chinese kung-fu.

During that time, Bruce opened his first martial arts school: the Jun Fan Gung-Fu Institute, located in Seattle; later, he opened two more schools in Oakland and Los Angeles (California). Quickly, based on all he had learned from his martial experiences in the disciplines of boxing, western fencing (from his brother Peter Lee), judo (from his friend and student Taki Kimura), Filipino eskrima (from his friend and student Dan Inosanto), muay thai, and tangsudo (from his friend and actor Chuck Norris), Bruce began to develop new ideas about martial arts training, which led to the creation of his system, Jun Fan Gung-Fu. This then evolved into physical and philosophical concepts, giving rise to his own method of combat, which he called Jeet Kune Do or "the way of the intercepting fist", of which he always proclaimed that it should not be taken as a simple "style" or prefixed "system". Some time later he regretted having given it a name, as that made it just another martial art and since then he insisted that Jeet Kune Do was just a name, emphasizing the "no style" or "no form".

While doing so, Bruce became a celebrity through the American series The Green Hornet, as well as his subsequent popular movies: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon and Game of Death, bringing exposure of Chinese martial arts to the Western world. Bruce became an icon recognized around the world, especially among the Chinese.

Bruce Lee married Linda Cadwell in 1964 and they later had son Brandon Lee born in 1965, as well as daughter Shannon Lee, born in 1969. Bruce Lee's life was cut short on July 20, 1973, when he died of a stroke of unknown cause. His body rests in Lake View Cemetery in Capitol Hill, Seattle, next to his son Brandon, who died in 1993 after being accidentally shot while filming the movie The Crow.

The legacy left by Bruce Lee ranges from films to books such as The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, where he shows much of his philosophy and fighting methods. His image endures over time and has remained in history as a great legend of martial arts, being even chosen by TIME magazine as one of the hundred most influential men of the twentieth century, besides being considered one of the heroes and icons of history.


Bruce Lee was born between 6 and 8 a.m. on November 27, 1940 at the Chinese Hospital, located on Jackson Street in Chinatown, San Francisco (California). He was born in the hour and year of the dragon, which according to the traditions of Chinese astrology is a harbinger of good luck; those born under this sign are considered noble, charismatic, powerful, wise and creative people.

The marriage between his father, Lee Hoi-chuen, of Han ethnicity, and his mother, Grace Ho, of Chinese-German descent, produced five children; Bruce was the fourth of these children; his siblings were Phoebe Lee, Agnes Lee, Peter Lee, and Robert Lee. Bruce's birth in the United States came about by chance, as his father, who worked as a Cantonese film actor and comedian in the Chinese opera, was on tour presenting an "Opera Company" play that passed through San Francisco at the time.

According to the papers submitted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Lee was registered with a Chinese and an American name. The Chinese name Jun-Fan was given to him by his mother and he was registered as Lee Jun-Fan, while the English name, Bruce, was suggested by a nurse at the Chinese Hospital, Maria Glover, so that the newborn would carry a Western name to avoid any problems with his American birth certificate; finally his parents agreed with what the nurse said and he was also registered with that name, Bruce Lee.

When Bruce turned three months old, his parents received correspondence from Hong Kong instructing them not to return as the Japanese invasion of Manchuria made the situation very complicated, but Lee Hoi-chuen chose to do so anyway, as his other children, Peter, Agnes and Phoebe, were there.

Once in Hong Kong, the Lee family lived in a two-room residence at 218 Nathan Road, Kowloon, but were troubled by the Japanese occupation during the years of World War II (1939-1945); Grace Ho spent those years worrying because across the street were Japanese military camps and Bruce constantly challenged them by raising his fists in a fight, and when Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter planes flew at low altitude, Bruce would go to the roof of the building where they lived to try to hit them with anything he could get his hands on.

When World War II ended in 1945, Lee Hoi-chuen returned to his acting work and was often accompanied by his son Bruce, who was then 6 years old; it was through this that Bruce was cast in the film The Birth of Mankind.


As it is Chinese custom to put the surname in front of the name, Bruce was registered as "Lee Jun-Fan", but the name "Jun-Fan" has its own explanation. The meaning of the name "Jun" is "to awaken or make something prosperous" while the syllable "Fan" refers to the Chinese name for the city of San Francisco, but its true meaning is to defend small countries from the abuse of big ones; the name "Fan" was widely used by the Hong Kong-born Chinese because in those days they felt inferior to the invading countries and their desire was to outshine and be superior to foreign powers, as well as to regain the golden age of China. Therefore, the true meaning of the name "Jun-Fan" was to "awaken and make a small nation prosperous", as well as to protect them from the abuse of the invading countries, being Japan and the United Kingdom.

However, during the first years of his life, Lee Hoi-chuen's mother decided to call him under the feminine pseudonym of "Sai Fon" which means "little phoenix", following an old and superstitious tradition in which it was to hide the sex of the newborn from the evil spirits that steal the male baby; Bruce's parents had already suffered the loss of a first son in the first years of their marriage, so that was why Bruce's parents and grandmother began to call him that way so that the spirits would pass by.

The western name "Bruce" was first used when he turned twelve and was enrolled in La Salle Secondary School, a Catholic high school in Hong Kong where he was first taught English. Until then, he did not know what his western name was and the moment the students were asked to write his name, Bruce copied the name of the student next to him.

His on-screen names were Lee Siu Lung (in Cantonese) and Li Xiao Long (in hanyu pinyin 李小龙, in simplified Mandarin), which literally means "Li the little dragon". These names were first used in the 1950 film My Son, A Chung.

Wing chun practitioner and student of Ip Man

During his childhood, he began attending Tak Sun Elementary, which was a few blocks from his home, and when he was about twelve years old he was enrolled in an English-speaking Catholic high school, La Salle College, where he was expelled for bad behavior; at the time, he was not interested in school, his attitude towards teachers and principals at La Salle College was defiant, his grades were not high, and his reputation as a gang member led to an expulsion.

"I was a misguided kid who went looking for fights..... We used chains and pens with knives hidden inside."

One day, on his way home from school, Bruce, without the support of his gang, was surprised by some thugs who tried to beat him up, and after getting out of that situation unharmed, his father taught him the basics of the martial art of tai chuan as a defense system and also to keep him away from the path of violence, but Bruce found this style a bit slow and very complicated, so he considered learning another martial art.

At that time, Bruce knew a boy his age, or a little older, William Cheung, who was always in fights and never lost. One day, Bruce asked him why he always won and he told him it was because of his martial arts training. On that occasion, William proposed him to learn the Chinese style of wing chun and Bruce accepted. Bruce's behavior when he first entered Ip Man's academy was not very respectful, especially for an oriental boy, so Ip Man decided that Bruce was not qualified to learn the art of Wing chun, and so they told him through William Cheung. Bruce decided to return the next day with humility and respect and so Master Ip Man gave him a chance. Bruce spent three to four years learning Wing chun under the tutelage of Ip Man, although most of his training was received from one of his best students, Wong Shun-leung.

After being expelled from La Salle College, his parents quickly enrolled him in another Catholic school called Saint Francis Xavier College, in Kowloon; in those days there were inter-school tournaments in sports, since they were schools with a strong English influence, where they held western boxing tournaments among them. Bruce decided to take part in one of them, which was held at St. George's College; he won it after defeating three-time champion Gary Elms in the third round by knockout. Before reaching the finals, Bruce had knocked out boxers Yang Huang, Lieh Lo and Shen Yuen in the first round. He was also introduced by his brother Peter Lee to the art of western fencing, of which his brother was a champion. All these influences had an impact on him when he created his own style years later.

At the same time Bruce was a Wing chun practitioner, he signed up for dance classes, which later led him to become a cha-cha-cha champion. This unlikely departure from the world of violence that surrounded Bruce set him on a more serious and professional path into the field of artistic expression and entertainment.

Leaving Hong Kong

At the beginning of 1959, a kung-fu school challenged Ip Man's school to a fight, so they met on the roof of one of the apartment buildings. Bruce represented Wing chun and faced the boy representing Choi Li Fut's school; during the fight, Bruce was attacked with an illegal blow leaving him with an injured eye, but he reacted quickly and gave a series of blows to his rival leaving him unconscious, to the point of breaking a few teeth. The boy's parents did not hesitate to report Bruce to the police, which led to him being detained until his mother came to pick him up.

Eventually, Lee's parents decided that the only alternative they had left was to send the troubled Bruce away from Hong Kong, so that he could live a safer and healthier life. His parents feared that Bruce would be attacked or recruited by a criminal organization such as the Triad, as he had previously fought with members of this gang while trying to help a friend of his; moreover, his constant street fights had led to his being targeted by the police and there was a possibility that he would be imprisoned.

"The police officer came and told my father, "Excuse me Mr. Lee, your son fights a lot at school. If he gets into one more fight, I'll have to put him in jail.""

In April of that year and already after that fight, Bruce left for the United States to stay with his older sister, Agnes Lee, who was already living with some family friends in San Francisco. His older siblings, Peter and Agnes, had already been in the United States on student visas, finishing their higher education. Bruce had not formally graduated from high school and was more interested in martial arts, dancing and acting, however, his family decided it was time for him to return to the land of his birth and find his future there.

New life in the United States

On April 29, 1959, at the age of eighteen and with a hundred dollars in his pocket, Bruce left Hong Kong for San Francisco, USA, on the steamship American Presidents Line, starting his journey on the lower deck of the ship, but was quickly invited to the first-class accommodations to give passengers dance lessons as a cha-cha-cha teacher and earn some money. Bruce began his journey on the lower deck of the ship, but was quickly invited to the first-class accommodations to give passengers dance lessons as a cha-cha-cha teacher and earn some money in the process. Eighteen days after boarding the ship and after a brief stopover in Osaka, where Bruce took the opportunity to go to Tokyo, the ship arrived in San Francisco. The official reason for his trip was to obtain American citizenship, since he was born in San Francisco and could get it if he returned to live there when he came of age. Once in San Francisco, Bruce went through all the necessary procedures to obtain American citizenship and then moved to the city of Seattle, in the state of Washington, where he had lodging as well as a job in the restaurant of an old family friend, Ruby Chow.

At that time, Bruce was not thinking about acting or dancing, as he intended to finish his high school education, so he enrolled in Edison Technical School, from which he graduated in 1960. He then enrolled at the University of Washington, in the faculty of philosophy, drama and psychology, in 1961.

During the four years (1961-1964) he studied at the university, Bruce had several small jobs in restaurants, newspapers and more; however, he had to give these up in order to make a living teaching wing chun kung fu in the windowless room he borrowed from time to time from Ruby Chow and in public parks, as well as teaching in empty garages on Saturdays.

There Bruce Lee had installed a bag and a wooden dummy to train whenever the weather allowed him, although the neighbors complained about the noise he made when he trained and he had to leave it. As he had no friends, he began to attend the meetings of a Chinese society, where there were people who also practiced kung fu and other styles from northern China, in which the use of the legs predominated, a use that Bruce did not know, since wing chun works legs at a very low level. The society decided to give a demonstration and so Bruce was able to meet one of his best friends there in Seattle, Jesse Glover.

Jesse had always been interested in martial arts (he had done judo), but when he saw Bruce he felt he should train with him. Bruce accepted the proposal to teach him. The first place they trained was the dining room of Jesse Glover's apartment. At their first meeting Bruce asked Jesse to show him everything he knew about kung fu. Jesse had never trained kung fu with a master; all the knowledge he possessed about kung fu he had taken from a book by James Yimm Lee. Bruce asked him to show him the book, and after a good time leafing through it he let him know that the style shown belonged to the Hung family, and that he had practiced it on occasion in Hong Kong, as it was a well-known style there.

Later, Jesse had the opportunity to travel to California with a couple of friends. Jesse's main purpose was to visit James Yimm Lee. Once in Oakland, they went to James' home and introduced themselves, telling him that they knew him from the book he had written. He invited them in and immediately began to show them his knowledge. This visit would become decisive in Bruce's life, as it made it easier for Bruce Lee and James to know each other.

Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute

In Seattle, Bruce accepted a new student, Ed Hart, Jesse Glover's roommate, and this was the spark for Bruce to accept more and more students, so Jesse and Ed convinced Bruce to charge more for his classes. Before long they had to look for a location, which they soon outgrew. Around that time he met the Japanese Taky Kimura (who had also trained Judo, obtaining his 1 Dan black belt), who became Bruce's first assistant instructor at the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, the name he gave to his training hall or kwoon. Therefore, the name of the institute was allusive to the combat system that at that time was taught by Bruce Lee, the jun fan gung fu, that is, Bruce Lee's kung fu; this, since, gung fu is a synonymous phrase of kung fu, while the phrase jun fan refers to Bruce Lee's Chinese name.

Allan Joe, a student of James Y. Lee, went to visit Bruce. The year was 1962, and Bruce was studying philosophy at Seattle University. Bruce invited Joe to see some of the wing chun techniques on the wooden dummy he had in the backyard of Ruby Chow's restaurant. Allan Joe was impressed and thought James Lee would be just as impressed if he saw it. After this, James called Bruce from Oakland asking if he could pay him a visit to teach him some of his kung fu; he agreed, seeing it as a good opportunity to extend his teachings. The following week he left for Oakland, staying at James' house.

There he had the opportunity to meet Wally Jay, a jiu-jitsu practitioner with whom he was able to exchange knowledge and learn some of the techniques of dislocation and submission. James had his garage full of training equipment he had invented. There they were practicing and Bruce gave him some suggestions on how to improve these devices. On a later trip Bruce met two other martial artists, who would eventually become the most famous in the United States, Ralph Castro and Ed Parker, with whom he shared knowledge and with whom he gained respect. This meeting was also vital in Lee's life and future, as it was Ed Parker who opened the doors to Hollywood.

Bruce continued to travel repeatedly to Oakland, to teach wing chun to James Lee, and even spent his vacations there training with James. The Seattle group continued to grow and Taky Kimura took on more responsibility, as he was Bruce Lee's assistant instructor. Given the success, he thought of expanding the horizons of his teaching and dreamed of a chain of gyms spread throughout the California area, so he proposed to James to be the chief instructor of the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in Oakland.

James shared with a student of his, Al Novak, an academy called Hayward California, and thought of transforming it into a Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, convinced that his student would share the conversion plans. At that time James was thinking of publishing a book for Bruce. When the proofs were ready he called him to come to Oakland to review them and on this occasion Bruce came with Taky Kimura. The three of them were training in James' garage and Bruce was surprised that James adapted so well to the movements of the Chi Sao. Neutralizing Taky's punching and throwing actions with strength, James had developed his body through bodybuilding, and had even trained with Steve Reeves, the famous Mr. Universe bodybuilder who starred in so many movies as Hercules. James had always relied on strength to be effective and found it difficult to adapt to the new concepts of softness.

The book was finally ready shortly before Bruce returned to Hong Kong to visit his family and was titled Chinese Gung Fu, The Philosophical Art of Self Defense. Once in Hong Kong, Bruce took the opportunity to visit his teacher, Yip Man. They spent many hours drinking tea, during which Yip Man would brief Bruce on subjects he was unfamiliar with, such as art history, and so on. Bruce thought that Yip was too old to defend himself, but during this stay in Hong Kong he realized that he was still fit despite his age, especially after having practiced Chi Sao with him. There, at Yip Man's school, he was also able to see other classmates of his, such as William Cheung, who was on vacation, as he had been living in Australia since he was 18 years old. Bruce spent five weeks in Hong Kong, after which he returned to Seattle to continue his teachings.

When he returned to Seattle, a draft letter awaited him and he began to fear for his future if he had to go to the Army. He asked James for advice on how to avoid going to the draft, although it seemed very difficult, since agile and strong people are precisely what the Army demands. Bruce went to the medical examination at the Recruiting Center, and to his surprise was declared unfit for military service because his foot arch was too pronounced, a congenital defect, and because he was short-sighted.

In 1964, the founder of Kenpo Karate, Ed Parker, organized the Long Beach Karate Tournament championship and for the occasion invited Bruce Lee, who amazed the audience with his demonstrations and skills, such as doing push-ups with two fingers on one hand (using the thumb and index finger of the hand) and the one-inch punch against Bob Baker.

"I told Bruce not to repeat this kind of demonstration again.... The last time he gave me that punch, I had to stay home from work because the pain in my chest was unbearable."

It was at that 1964 championship that Lee met for the first time with Dan Inosanto, who served as an occasional sparring partner for Bruce's demonstrations. Inosanto was impressed with Lee's style and asked him to accompany him in his demonstrations. Bruce Lee accepted Inosanto as a student at the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in Los Angeles, taught him and certified him as his first instructor (and is now fully certified to teach Lee's style). While Bruce was making films, Inosanto was teaching at the institute.

"I couldn't sleep thinking how that man defeated me so easily, I had the feeling of having learned a trade for years, and all of a sudden, someone comes along and tells you, 'We don't need you anymore, you're fired.'"

Bruce also met taekwondo master Jhoon Goo Rhee. The two developed a friendship from which they both benefited as martial artists. Goo Rhee taught Bruce the high side kick and others in detail, while Lee taught Rhee the "non-telegraphed" fist.

Lee returned again to this tournament in 1967 and performed several demonstrations, such as the famous "unstoppable punch" against the United States Karate Association's world karate champion, Vic Moore. Bruce threw eight punches at Vic Moore, who was a black belt, tenth dan; Moore could not stop any of the punches, even though Bruce told him where they were going to go.

The real challenges

Bruce Lee received many challenges during his life but only accepted a few of them, which were later recounted. Bruce's thinking about the challenges thrown at him was win or win because being in a real fight, he could die.

"I always get asked, "Hey, Bruce, are you really that good?" and I say, "Well, if I say yes, you'll think I'm bragging and if I say I'm not, I'm sure you'll call me a liar"...well, I'll try to be honest, I'll put it another way...I'm not afraid of any opponent, I know I'm self-sufficient and I'm not worried about it. When I make the decision to fight or defend myself, there's no more talking, it's over, and you'd better kill me first."

Yoichi Nakachi, a Japanese classmate of Bruce Lee's at Edison Technical School (where he attended high school), used to attend Bruce's demonstrations. On one occasion, Bruce mentioned that the internal styles of kung-fu are considered better than the external styles. At this, Yoichi, who at the time was a black belt in karate, became upset (since karate comes from the latter) and started a campaign to fight him. He often used to tease Bruce with gestures and looks, and even sent his friends in order to challenge Bruce; then he openly challenged him in public, wherever Bruce performed kung-fu demonstrations. Bruce asked his students if they thought it would be good to fight him but they all advised him to ignore him. But, despite what his students said, Bruce agreed to fight Yoichi. At first, the fight was to be on the top floor of the school, but Jesse Glover convinced him to fight on the YMCA basketball court. The rules of the fight were: three two-minute rounds, and if one was knocked down, the fight would end; also if one person could not continue, the opponent would end the fight.

According to Glover, Bruce wanted to go all out in the fight but Glover advised him not to do so as it could kill him. So he decided to use only his fists and feet, meanwhile Yoichi started the fight from a classic deep and long karate stance, but quickly switched to the cat stance. Bruce was standing with the classic high and short Wing Chun stance. Yoichi threw a front kick at him but Bruce blocked it with his forearm and countered with a series of straight chain punches characteristic of wing chun, which sent Yoichi back across the basketball court. When Yoichi ran into the wall, he tried to grab Bruce, but Bruce dodged and hit him with a double punch to the chest and head. Unbalanced, Yoichi flew through the air, quickly Bruce chased him until he threw a kick to his abdomen and finally, Yoichi's knee hit the ground, and he gave up.

Glover, who was the referee of the fight shouted for them to stop. Yoichi got up but fell unconscious on the ground again. After a long time, he regained consciousness. Those in attendance at that fight saw how Yoichi's face looked like he had been hit by baseball bats; in addition to his skull, which was broken and bleeding from his eye.

So they decided to go to a local handball field and lock up there. "When they started, the karateka opened the fight with a kick that Bruce blocked and then hit him with straight punches across the entire arena. When he hit the wall and was falling, Bruce kicks him.

Jesse Glover, Bruce Lee's first student, also recounted this encounter in the book Bruce Lee Between Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do (1976), where, according to Glover: "The karateka who was on the ground after receiving the kick that disfigured his face, asked worried about the duration of the fight and Ed Hart, his partner also present and in charge of controlling the time, more pious, doubled it and told him: twenty-two seconds".

In Oakland, California's Chinatown, Bruce Lee was officially challenged by the traditional Chinese community, who did not agree with Bruce teaching kung fu to non-Chinese students; Bruce had a controversial fight with Wong Jack-man, a direct student of Ma Kin Fung, known to be a master of Xing Yi Quan and Wushu.

According to his widow, Linda Emery, the Chinese community gave Bruce an ultimatum to stop teaching their traditions to non-Chinese, considered at that time as barbarians, something that Bruce did not comply with, so he was challenged to a fight with a recognized exponent of San Francisco Kung Fu at that time, Wong Jack-man, trained in the Northern Shaolin style (which has a wide repertoire of kicking techniques, more than the Wing chun used by Bruce Lee at that time). A date was then set for the fight (the date was in December 1964), which would take place in the hall where Lee taught his classes. The provision of the fight was that if Bruce lost he would have to stop teaching foreigners, in addition to closing his schools; but if he won, he would be free to teach Caucasian whites or anyone else, Chinese or non-Chinese. Although some time later, Wong Jack-man denied this and said that a friend of his gave him a paper where Bruce invited him to fight; before this Wong attended a demonstration that Bruce made in a theater in Chinatown and there, after hearing Bruce say that he could beat any martial artist, he agreed to fight and gave a paper to Lee. Wong also mentions that he does not discriminate against Caucasians and non-Chinese. In an interview, Bruce commented, "That paper had all the names of the sifus in Chinatown (Chinatown), but it doesn't scare me."

The fighter representing San Francisco's traditional Chinese community, Wong Jack-man, wanted to set certain rules for the bout, such as no hitting the genitals or eyes, but Lee told him that the conditions were set by him, the challenger, and the bout would proceed without any rules.

There are several versions of this encounter. Linda Emery, who tells in the book she wrote about the life of her husband, Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew and in accordance with what Bruce Lee himself stated in a radio interview, the Chinese fighter after an exchange of blows, began to circle around the gym after which Bruce reaches him, knocks him to the floor giving him punches to the head, and keeping him there with an immobilization technique asks him three times in Cantonese language: "Is it enough? "and receives the answer "Yes, that's enough".

Other explanations say that the challenger started attacking and Bruce responded with three straight fists, although only the first one clearly hit his jaw; he got to a distance where Bruce Lee could not reach with his short displacements and gave him a blow that hit Bruce in the left side of his jaw, this made him react and he threw himself after Wong Jack-man, who seemed to flee. Bruce Lee chased him across the room, hitting him in the back and head (as a result of this he said in the aforementioned radio interview that his fists had swollen, thus beginning to realize the limitations of Wing Chun, in the long distance). The man tried not to face him, turned his back to him, but finally Bruce cornered him and he surrendered.

Later Bruce realized that the fight had lasted longer than he thought and that he was exhausted, so he decided to improve his physical condition to have more endurance. He also decided to modify his Kung Fu to work better against circular punches and added a wide range of displacements. He also began training his fists with hard sandbags and stones. As he made modifications to the style, he began to disassociate himself from Wing Chun and started calling the new style Jun Fan Gung Fu ("Bruce Lee's Kung Fu"), which three years later he would label as Jeet Kune Do, even more evolved.

During the filming of Enter the Dragon, which was the last film Bruce Lee shot and completed just weeks before his death, producer Fred Weintraub and co-stars Bob Wall and Bolo Yeung have publicly recounted the constant challenges Bruce Lee received behind the scenes from the Chinese extras hired for the film, many of whom were martial artists who were members of local criminal organizations or Chinese triads. Bruce generally tried to ignore them for the most part but sometimes found it difficult.

The film's co-star, Bob Wall, recounts a challenge he witnessed in which, despite the loss of filming time and work involved, Bruce Lee accepted:

"The guy showed up from a jump and he was much bigger than Bruce, he definitely wanted to hurt him, but he started the fight and Bruce started hitting him, wrenching his feet, wrenching his hands, toying with him. Bruce wasn't bad but he did show him who was in charge...Boss Bruce was an excellent street fighter...then he would finish and say "go ahead, let's go to work"..., this fight with the extra was documented. Bruce Lee literally swept the floor with him."

Bolo Yeung, who also participated in Enter the Dragon, says that during the filming of the aforementioned movie, while Bruce Lee was teaching the choreography to his colleagues, that extra made indirect and offensive comments to Lee behind the scenes, making him understand that his fighting style was not real. Yeung recounted in Cantonese:

"When we were filming Enter the Dragon (Operation Dragon), a stuntman challenged Lee Siu Lung ("The Little Dragon" in Chinese), he wanted to try Jeet Kune Do, and Bruce says, "Okay, come on down then." They moved a little bit, until he got a kick from Bruce Lee. That was enough. And it was all over... very quickly."

Fred Weintraub, who was the film's producer and was also constantly with Bruce Lee during the filming of the movie, also talks about the challenges during the filming:

"I was worried about someone getting hurt because there were challenges every day...they had a ritual where they would challenge each other where they would cross their hands and tap their feet...but the fights luckily didn't last long because Bruce pa, pa, pa!" he would knock them out and move on.

Other eyewitness accounts can also be found, such as that of Paul Heller, the other producer of Enter the Dragon, who refers to Bruce Lee as being "unbelievably fast".

In the interview conducted with Bruce Lee between 1971 and 1973 by his disciple George Lee (Knowing is not enough: Interview with Bruce Lee), a martial artist and extra from the aforementioned film, named Lo Tai Chuen, who openly challenged Bruce Lee through the media, is mentioned.

Beginnings in acting

Her first film appearance was at the age of two months in Golden Gate Girl, also known as Tears of San Francisco; this film was shot in San Francisco in 1940, but was released a year later, in 1941.

Subsequently, Bruce shot about twenty more films and all of them featured his stage name, Lee Siu Lung , which means the "Little Dragon Lee"; this nickname accompanied him for the rest of his life and was acquired in the 1948 film, Wealth is Like a Dream. The 1950 film The Kid is the only one in which he worked with his father, but curiously they do not appear together in any scene.

In February 1965, Bruce and his wife Linda had their first child, Brandon, and 6 days later, Lee Hoi-Chuen (when he returned to Oakland, Bruce received a phone call from Ed Parker, who told him to audition in Hollywood with William Dozier, executive producer of the Batman television series, who had seen him a year earlier at the martial arts show he had given in Long Beach. Dozier then asked Bruce if he would be interested in playing the role of Lee Chan (The Number One Son) in a television adaptation of Charlie Chan. Bruce expressed interest in the project and just a week later left for Hollywood, where he auditioned. Bruce signed a contract option and immediately began drama classes; the studio, 20th Century Fox, gave him drama and acting lessons so he could better exploit his expressive talents and adapt him to the American film market, but his hopes were dashed when he received a call from Dozier that the series had been put on hold. Dozier knew of Bruce through the mediation of a mutual friend of his and Parker's (Jay Sebring, the Hollywood hairdresser who was a friend of Sharon Tate, both of whom were killed in the Charles Manson-led killing spree).

In February of the following year (1966), Bruce was offered a supporting role in the television series The Green Hornet, playing Kato, where he worked alongside Van Williams. Once the contract was signed, he packed up his things and left with his family for Los Angeles, where he bought a small apartment on Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood. His friend, James Y. Lee, was very saddened, but Bruce promised to visit him as often as he could, to train with him and his students. The success that this series achieved went beyond the screens, as Bruce was showing an innovative fighting technique, unknown at that time to the American public accustomed to boxing fights; this series lasted one season and ended successfully in 1967. Bruce also returned with his Kato character and appeared in three episodes of the Batman series.

In 1967, Bruce opened his third Jun Fan Gung-Fu Institute, which was his last kwoon; it was located at 628 College Street in Los Angeles' Chinatown, and, unlike the ones he had in Seattle and Oakland, it had no identifying markings, and even the windows were painted over to maintain anonymity. Bruce did not need the gym to live, as, fortunately, he could make a living from his television and movie appearances. So, in this way, the people of Chinatown were carefully selected among talented martial artists, movie artists and people related to show business that Bruce had known, such as Joe Lewis, Mike Stone, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Stirling Siliphant, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, among others.

Bruce did not like crowded classes, as he intended the classes to be as close to personal training as possible, and gave the example of a boxing trainer who could only teach two or three at the most if he wanted the boxer to respond to him up in the ring. It was for this reason that he turned down the offer to found a chain of gyms under the name Kato.

During those years, Bruce had small roles in Ironside and Here Come the Brides. In 1969, Lee made a small appearance in his first American film, Marlowe, in which he played a thug hired to intimidate private detective Philip Marlowe, who was played by James Garner.

In 1970, after suffering a back injury while lifting weights and having the results of the doctors not encouraging, Bruce began to recover in a matter of months. He wanted to resume his artistic career, so he started working on the script of The Silent Flute together with James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant; this film should have launched him to stardom. This script is sent to Warner Brothers and after a few months they give the green light to the project with the condition that it be shot in India, so Bruce, Coburn and Silliphant travel to the mentioned place, exactly to New Delhi. There they spend ten days looking for locations for the film without any success. By the beginning of 1971, Bruce already had in mind The Warrior, a film about a Shaolin monk from the American Old West in search of knowledge and adventure. Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers received Bruce's proposal but both wanted him to act in a type of series more of the time, that related to the old west. By June 1971, Bruce was feeling down in the dumps because he could not find work in the acting world, and also wanted to capture his fighting system on the screens, so his friend Stirling Silliphant wrote a script exclusively for him in which Bruce can show his vision of fighting and martial arts philosophy. Lee began filming the first episode of the TV series Longstreet, which was titled "The Way of the Intercepting Fist", the same name as his fighting system.

"... You know, I did Longstreet for Paramount, and Paramount wanted me to be in a TV series. On the other hand, Warner Brothers wants me in some other one. But both of them, in my opinion, want me to be in a modern kind of something and they think the Western idea is out..."

Finally, Warner Brothers accepted the idea of The Warrior and carried it out with the main name of Kung-fu; however, Bruce was very disappointed when he found out that the creator of the series was not him but someone else, called Ed Spielman, and that ABC Network, which worked in conjunction with Warner Brothers, appointed American actor David Carradine for the leading role, being discriminated because of his Chinese ancestry, not well seen in American forums. Some time later, Warner Brothers executive Harvey Frand acknowledged that he and Jerry Thorpe, who was the director of the series, wanted Carradine as the protagonist claiming that they did not use Bruce as the lead actor because it was supposedly going to be a very risky bet commercially, but that, even so, a large part of the studio wanted Lee as Caine.


In mid-1971, while visiting Hong Kong, Bruce was surprised to learn that the series he had recorded a few years earlier, The Green Hornet, was a hit, and even there they called it The Kato Show. After that he returned home to Los Angeles, but immediately received a call from a film producer in China, Raymond Chow, from Golden Harvest; he offered Bruce fifteen thousand dollars commission if he accepted to participate as a lead actor in the shooting of two of his films, something that Lee accepted, although before leaving he finished filming the first episode of the Longstreet series, "The Way of the Intercepting Fist".

At that time he decides to move to Hong Kong, and asks Taky Kimura (head of the Seattle school), James Lee (head of the Oakland school) and Dan Inosanto (head of the Los Angeles school), to close their activities, and no longer engage in commercially teaching what he had taught them.

After arriving in Hong Kong, Bruce immediately left for Pak Chong, Thailand, to shoot his first film The Big Boss (The Big Boss or Karate to Death in Bangkok). At Bruce Lee's first face-to-face meeting with Raymond Chow, upon shaking his hand, Bruce told him: "I'm going to be the biggest Chinese star in the world". The filming of the movie, which lasted six weeks, began under very harsh conditions, and with a budget of one hundred thousand dollars; during the first week of the film, Bruce sprained his ankle and caught a bad flu during his recovery process, and occasionally the filming was cut short due to cockroach invasion. Bruce and the other actors lost weight during filming; they did not eat due to the poor conditions in which the food was prepared and instead took vitamin pills to be able to endure the filming. Finally, the director, Wu Chai Wsaing, is replaced by his bad character and as a replacement comes Lo Wei; the problems between him and Bruce began quickly. After finishing the filming, Bruce and part of the crew returned to Hong Kong, and immediately, while still at the Kai Tak airport, held an impromptu press conference where they announced the release date for October 3 of that same year in Hong Kong.

Three days later, Bruce returned to the United States only to film three more episodes of Longstreet, where he appeared as Mike Longstreet's martial arts master (a movie that became a smash hit grossing on its first day three hundred and seventy-two thousand dollars, three days later reaching one million and reaching a total of three million two hundred thousand dollars. After the release of The Big Boss, Bruce gained the pinnacle of Chinese popularity, where he was considered a national hero.

After the film, several production companies wanted to have Bruce in their ranks; they even sent him a blank check in order to leave Chow. On the other hand, Warner Brothers wanted to resume and hurry the project of The Silent Flute, offering him twenty-five thousand dollars. However, Lee decided to turn them all down and fulfill the contract he had with Golden Harvest, devoting himself entirely to his next film, Fist of Fury, which exploited the superiority of Kung Fu over the Japanese martial arts of karate, judo and samurai swordsmanship. The success achieved in Fist of Fury exceeded all expectations and managed to collect USD 4,431,423 in his native Hong Kong, beating a box office record set by his previous film The Big Boss; with this, Bruce Lee became an established star of martial arts films.

In 1972 and already finished the contract with Golden Harvest, Raymond Chow offered him a new contract to work again with director Lo Wei in the film Yellow Faced Tiger, but Bruce refused because he wanted to direct his own films, so Bruce and Chow created the Concord Production Inc. in which Bruce provided the creative aspect and Chow the economic one.

Lee and Chow's first project was Way of the Dragon, a film in which Bruce was actor, screenwriter, co-producer and director, and also played percussion on the central theme of the soundtrack. The film was shot in Rome, Italy, and also starred actress Nora Miao, actor Bob Wall and seven-time world full contact karate champion and Tang Soo Do stylist Chuck Norris. After a month of filming in Rome, Bruce returned to Hong Kong with Norris and Wall. A day later, the three appeared on the Enjoy Yourself Tonight TV show to promote the film.

Bruce Lee intended Way of the Dragon to be the first of a trilogy, although before doing so he began what would be his next film, Game of Death, filming scenes with his friends and disciples Dan Inosanto, Tse Hon Joi and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

In December of that year (1972), Bruce attended the premiere of Way of the Dragon, a film that became another box office hit within the Chinese circuit, as Bruce did not want it to leave, grossing over five million dollars and again breaking all the records set by his previous films. This film is considered a martial arts classic, and the fight in the Roman coliseum is one of the most memorable in Bruce Lee's filmography; it is known as the fight of the century.

A few days after the release of Way of the Dragon, Bruce intended to continue filming Game of Death but this was interrupted after he received an offer of five hundred thousand dollars from Ted Ahley, president of Warner Brothers, to be the lead actor and co-director of the fight scenes in the martial arts film Blood and Steel; Bruce did not like the name and asked that it be called Enter the Dragon, a title the producers accepted. This was the first Chinese martial arts film to be produced by a major Hollywood studio (Warner Brothers), in association with Concord Production Inc.

Game of Death was put on hold to make way for the filming of Enter the Dragon, which began shooting in January 1973, in Hong Kong. The film production of this new movie was better than the previous ones, but still Bruce was nervous, as it was his first international project, which delayed the start of production. There were problems with the translation of the script, plus some cultural conflicts, as the American crew did not want to eat typical Chinese food, and there were also frequent injuries due to lack of special equipment to ensure safety in the most daring scenes. Bruce suffered several injuries and accidents during filming, such as a cut from a bottle that hit him and a cobra bite. He worried and worked on every aspect of the film, so much so that by March, when filming was finished, he had lost weight and was restless and nervous; he wanted the film to be good and accepted by Western audiences.

Bruce and some of the film crew saw the completed Enter the Dragon project at a special preview screening where neither the music nor the special effects had been added yet; Bruce felt he was finally going to become an international star. The premiere was set for August 29, 1973, at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

"... Bruce got to see the final version of Enter the Dragon and got to see his finished work. He liked it very much. Between the day of his death in July and the release in August, some scenes were cut from the film, especially those with philosophical content. He was very determined and knew what he wanted to communicate about martial arts and its philosophy. He was determined that his dream would be part of the film.... I'm very happy that viewers will meet Bruce with the version that he loved the most, Bruce would be very proud to be able to say and have people say about him, "He was a true human being." He was vibrant and full of life being true to himself."

Enter the Dragon was shown in Hong Kong six days after his death, while the U.S. release was only in August of that year. The film was an overwhelming box office success, grossing two hundred million dollars on its release, and coming second only to The Exorcist (which grossed 357,500,000 dollars on its release), but surpassing other films such as Al Pacino's Serpico, Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter, John Wayne's The Gallows Rope, among others; Bruce Lee earned a posthumous fame among the American public and is considered his masterpiece. One of the most remembered scenes of this film is the fight that Lee, Bruce's character's name, has against Mr. Han (Shih Kien) in the hall of mirrors. The film was listed in 2004 as "culturally significant and important" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry.

Game of Death was the next film in his filmography; it began shooting in late 1972, before the start of Enter the Dragon, so Bruce Lee only shot forty minutes of the film before his untimely death. The feature film was completed by Golden Harvest and released in 1978, making use of a double and notorious -even crude- edits. Only eleven minutes were added from the initial shooting.

Bruce Lee had a very short life, he died in Kowloon, Hong Kong, on July 20, 1973 at only 32 years of age due to an allergic hypersensitivity to meprobamate, one of the chemical components of Equagesic, an analgesic for headaches. Months before his death, Bruce had had several fainting spells, exactly since the beginning of 1973, from which he managed to recover quickly.

On May 10, 1973, during one of the dubbing sessions of Enter the Dragon at Golden Harvest Studios, Bruce began to feel sick and decided to go to the bathroom to freshen up, where he began to have convulsions and vomiting until he finally collapsed, after which he lost consciousness. The people who were at Golden Harvest Studios noticed that Bruce was taking a long time so they went to look for him. When they entered, they found him on the floor and quickly took him to a hospital, where he was thoroughly examined. Neurosurgeon Peter Woo, the attending physician, did not know exactly what caused his brain swelling, but in order to treat him and reduce the swelling, he was given mannitol; it saved his life on that occasion. Bruce began to regain consciousness immediately; however, he could not speak and it took him several days to fully recover.

That same month, after finishing post-production on Enter the Dragon, Bruce returned to Los Angeles for a complete medical examination at UCLA (University of California). The result was positive for Bruce as he was told that he had the health and body of an 18 year old; furthermore, no abnormalities were found. It was explained to him that the loss of consciousness he had a few days earlier was caused by cerebral edema, with excess fluid surrounding the brain. Bruce was prescribed Dilantin (phenytoin), a medication that calms brain activity.

On July 10 of that year, Bruce had an altercation with his former manager, Lo Wei, at Golden Harvest Studios. Lo Wei claimed that Bruce had threatened him with a knife. This incident reached the ears of the press and caused Bruce to be a guest on Enjoy Yourself Tonight, where he talks about the incident. This was the last television appearance Bruce made in his lifetime.

On July 20, 1973 (ten days after that incident), Bruce Lee was at his home in Kowloon discussing the script of Game of Death with Raymond Chow. Between the two of them they cast Taiwanese actress Betty Ting Pei for a major female role in the film. After this, Chow returned home but first agreed with Bruce and actor George Lazenby to have dinner that evening; Chow wanted Lazenby to work on the film Game of Death. A few hours later, Bruce went to Betty Ting Pei's house to discuss the film's script. While at her friend's apartment at around 2:00 p.m. that day, Lee felt a deep and overwhelming headache. Betty, according to her version which is considered official, gave him a prescription painkiller called Equagesic (a combination of aspirin and the tranquilizer meprobamate), which plunged him into a deep unconsciousness from which he would not return, entering into a coma.

At nine o'clock in the evening, Raymond Chow telephoned Betty's house to find out why Bruce had not attended the dinner as they had agreed. Betty replied that she could not disturb Bruce because he was sleeping. When she went to the bedroom to try to wake him up, he was unresponsive, he had gone into a coma. Within ten minutes, an emergency doctor arrived at Betty's house and tried to resuscitate Bruce, but seeing that he was unresponsive they called an ambulance which arrived around ten o'clock that night and took him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Raymond phoned Bruce's wife, Linda, to let her know what was happening. When Bruce arrived at the hospital, the doctors admitted him to intensive care and began to give him cardiac massages for his resuscitation, followed by electric shocks, but to no avail, as Bruce Lee had been admitted lifeless to the hospital.

Currently, there is still speculation about the causes of his death. Chow claimed in a 2005 interview that Bruce Lee's death was due to an allergic reaction to meprobamate (a component of Equagesic, which he described as a common ingredient in painkillers), an interpretation also supported by coroner Donald Teare. However, Filkins, a highly regarded physician, said that the official explanation for Lee's cause of death is flawed, since allergic reactions to drugs usually involve signs such as irregular swelling in the neck or respiratory failure. Instead, Filkins believes that Lee died of sudden unexpected death syndrome, which resulted from Sudep epilepsy, a syndrome that was not identified until 1995. On the other hand, the forensic expert Dr. Michael Hunter in the Discovery Channel program "Autopsies of Hollywood" presents the thesis that Lee's body collapsed due to an adrenal crisis as a side effect of the excessive use of cortisone, administered to treat the pain of a herniated disc.

Lee was almost 33 years old and doctors assured that his body did not represent more than 18 or 20 biological years. Recently it has been said as another attributable cause, that his demise was due to an aneurysm that caused his headache and ultimately led to his death. His death shocked the Hong Kong public and the information was initially attributed as false. Lee's autopsy showed that his brain had massively swollen compressing inside the skull cage. There were no visible external injuries, but he had Equagesic in his system.

About twenty thousand people gathered in front of the facade of the Kowloon Funeral Parlour where his bronze coffin, which had cost forty thousand dollars, was laid open at the top. The funeral that followed was apotheosis in Hong Kong; the crowd of admirers was so impressive that the atmosphere where Lee's coffin lay was suffocating. In the transfer of the coffin from Hong Kong to Seattle, where he was finally buried, the coffin had to be changed, since with the humidity or condensation, the white lining with which the coffin was lined was stained blue, due to Bruce's suit.

He was finally buried in Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill, Seattle, USA. In March 1993, his son Brandon, who died after being accidentally shot, was buried next to him.

In March 1961, Bruce Lee began studying at the University of Washington, where he majored in philosophy; during the fall of 1962 he began teaching kung fu classes at the Space Needle Restaurant in Seattle and it was during the course of one of his classes that he met a young woman named Linda Emery Cadwell (a Caucasian woman of English and Swedish parents), who had been invited by one of Bruce's friends. After dating for a while, they became sweethearts. During 1963, Bruce opened the "Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute" on 4750 University Road in Seattle, which soon became a famous martial arts academy; the price to become a student was twenty-two dollars per month. Still, Bruce felt that Seattle did not offer him the possibilities that California could and decided to move there.

In June 1964, Bruce Lee decided to continue his studies at the University of Washington in Oakland, California, in order to open his second martial arts school (Oakland Gung Fu Institute) there and thus achieve greater financial stability. Before leaving, Bruce promised Linda that he would return, although she did not believe him at first since her parents were opposed to the relationship. After several months in which they continued to maintain contact through letters, Bruce returned to Seattle and proposed to Linda. They were married on August 17, 1964, and that same day they left for Oakland, California.

Bruce and Linda lived at the home of James Y. Lee and his wife. At that time, Bruce did not have the money to rent an apartment, and until the gymnasium was up and running, he could not afford to support his new family, so they were financially dependent on James, who was delighted to have them in his home. They found a place with a low rent to open their kwoon, and set about fixing it up to start the school as soon as possible. It didn't take long for the first students to arrive.

In early 1965, Bruce Lee's enthusiasm for martial arts became his greatest burden. His Oakland-based institute, which had gotten off to such a good start, began to decline in the number of students, which resulted in financial losses. In February of that year, his son Brandon was born. However, a week later he was informed of the death of his father Lee Hoi-Chuen. A few years later, in 1969, Bruce and Linda had Shannon Lee. He then resumed his film career and from film to film, he managed to position himself as the best martial artist not only in his personal life, but also in the world of cinema.

In 1973, at the height of his fame, he served as technical editor of a book entirely devoted to wing chun, written by the only one of the three students Bruce Lee certified to teach his vision of the martial arts who was of Chinese descent, James Yim Lee. J. Lee learned his wing chun from Bruce Lee, and the book only features photos of people of Chinese descent, including Ip Man (to whom thanks are due), Ted Wong and Bruce Lee himself.


Bruce Lee's philosophical interest began when he was under the tutelage of sifu Ip Man in wing chun. Ip Man was always interested in the philosophy of wing chun, and this he passed on to Bruce, something that had a great influence on him.

"If there is one thing that Ip Man gave Bruce that may have crystallized Bruce's direction in life, it was to interest his students in the philosophical teachings of Buddha, Confucius, Lao-Tse, and other great Chinese thinkers and philosophers. As a result, Bruce's mind became the distillation of the wisdom of such teachers."

The second major philosophical influence on Bruce Lee was the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Bruce found that Krishnamurti's way of looking at life was the same as his own, such as knowing that: "Seeking knowledge led to self-knowledge. Bruce emphasized this teaching. It was one of the most important concepts he derived from his study of Krishnamurti.

Something that Bruce Lee practiced throughout his life was self-motivation; he had several motivational books from which he drew his positive-daily thoughts. In 1969, when he was 29 years old, Bruce left behind the ideas of making money teaching martial arts classes; also, he was in a bad mood because he could not manage to unite his two artistic passions such as acting and martial arts, and therefore, he began to apply what he had read in Napoleon Hill's books. Bruce Lee began to write down his goals in his diary (which he carried with him wherever he went), and mentioned to his wife Linda that he needed a plan to work with. One of the goals he wrote down was the following:

I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid oriental superstar in the United States. In return I will give you the most exciting performances and do the best quality, in acting capacity. Beginning in 1970, I will start on the road to becoming world famous and from then on, until the end of 1980, I will have in my possession the sum of ten million dollars. I will follow the path that pleases me and, I will achieve inner harmony and happiness."

Jeet Kune Do

In 1967, Bruce decides to call the combat method he had been performing as "the way of the intercepting fist"; these words appeared for the first time in January of that year, in his diary and written in Chinese: 截拳道, which phonetically sounds like "zit kyun dou". After a few months, exactly in July 1967, Bruce decides to correct the English phonetic translation of "zit kyun dou" (the way of the intercepting fist), to finally call it Jeet Kune Do. However, Bruce regretted having given it a name, since that turned it into just another martial art, something he did not want since his idea was to exist outside the parameters and limitations. Bruce insisted that Jeet Kune Do was just a name, as Jun Fan Gung-Fu (the name he gave to the combat method he practiced before calling it Jeet Kune Do) had been before. That is why he emphasized the "no style" or "no form". In this sense he mentioned: "The difference between having no form and having the "no-form" is that the former shows incompetence and the latter transcends".

Many of the concepts of Jeet Kune Do are extracted from wing chun, western boxing, eskrima, judo, kickboxing, western fencing, tangsudo, Greco-Roman wrestling and other martial arts that Lee trained throughout his life. With the experience gained in the training he had, Bruce realized that the classical styles were too mechanized and limited, that is why he created the Jun Fan Gung-Fu ("Bruce Lee's Kung-Fu"), a system that has the basic training methods, techniques and strategies for a fight, besides being used as self-defense. He also discovered that whatever the style, there are only five distances in which every fight is divided (long, medium, short, melee and ground) and five methods of attack (simple direct, direct and ground) and five methods of attack.

"I don't teach only "karate" because I don't believe in styles, I don't believe that there is a Chinese style of fighting or a Japanese style of fighting or any other country... there would have to be humans with three arms or four legs for there to be another style of fighting. If there are no other human beings on Earth with a structure different from ours, there are no other fighting styles and why I say that, because we have two arms and two legs, the important thing is how to use them to get the most out of them.... With the arms you can follow a straight line, a curved line, draw circles, you can give slow blows but sometimes they don't seem so slow, with the legs it's the same, up and down... And after all that, you ask yourself how you can express yourself sincerely in every moment".

Jeet Kune Do is an idea, but not a system; with its practice, the individual can find the cause of his own ignorance since he looks for his own way and takes advantage of everything that adapts better to his way of being, in addition he uses all the means that one believes necessary in his life but is not limited to any in particular. It is a process of evolution and constant improvement without a determined end, and with a philosophy of total freedom for whoever uses it. In the words of Bruce Lee: "The art of Jeet Kune Do is simply to simplify...". This was Bruce Lee's personal expression of what worked best for him in combat.

So, let it be clear that Jeet Kune Do is not a new style of Karate or Kung Fu. Bruce Lee did not invent any new style, nor did he modify any existing style, nor did he put together different styles in a kind of composite style. His main idea was precisely to free his followers from styles, molds or fixed patterns, it is to return to the fundamentals, to the original concepts that give effectiveness to the martial arts.

Jeet Kune Do is not a process of accumulation or a daily addition of techniques and more techniques but on the contrary, it is a process of continuous elimination of what is useless, taking what is useful and discarding what is useless, but, even so, a person can continue practicing various martial arts as long as he does not pretend to cover the totality of it since one should only use what really works for him in the combat system he is practicing. That is why Jeet Kune Do is not a martial art because it does not seek elaborate, complex techniques and stylized movements that are actually unnecessary, but goes to the direct and simple, and also focuses on realism in combat. For Bruce, the complicated and showy techniques served to amaze the public in exhibitions and films, but they were not usually effective in the defense of a street fight, which is why he used with his sparrings a team of protections that allowed to get as close as possible to the reality of combat.

"For me, martial arts is about knowing how to express yourself sincerely, that's very hard to do... for me it would be very easy to put on a show and show off, get drunk on that feeling and become a tough guy and all that. I could do a lot of fake things and dazzle or show very flowery moves but to express yourself sincerely, without deceiving yourself, to express yourself with all sincerity, that, my friend, is very difficult to do.... You have to train a lot, you have to have good reflexes to use them when necessary, when you want to move, to be able to move and do it with determination? If I punch with my fist, I punch hard, that's the most important part of training."


Bruce Lee kept a detailed record in his diary of the different workouts and the dates of each day to compare results and continuously improve. He trained daily for about eight hours and his activities, among others, were: calisthenics, exercises with weights and elastic bands, daily running about 16 km with intervals, and the continuous improvement of a certain blow or technique, against the bags, the wooden dummy, various implements, and even against the Makiwara (punching board used in traditional karate), and work in pairs (sparrings). He wanted to be always stronger, faster, more flexible, coordinated and resistant, he was 1.72 meters (5 feet 7½ inches) tall and weighed 62 kg.

At a crucial moment in his life, he seriously injured his sciatic nerve and sacral bone, so he had to undergo a tedious rehabilitation process and remain inactive for a long time, about six months, which he dedicated to study and compose notes that would be edited after his death as The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Although for some reason, despite later having the means to do so, he never published them during his lifetime. And although the doctor told him that he might never walk again, not only did he walk again, but his kicks returned to the way they were before and he continued his arduous training in search of perfection in the art of combat.

The hard training allowed him to perform without tricks proverbial and incredible physical feats, among which stand out: performing a large number of push-ups on two fingers of his hand, knocking down fighters twice his weight with his side kick, developing very close range punching power by means of the one-inch fist strike, performing an agile and flawless flying kick, develop tremendous instantaneous fist strike speed (thirty hundredths of a second) due to which his sparrings simply did not see the blow that knocked them down, plus a proficiency in such weapons as the nunchaku, the Bō (or long staff) with the Filipino technique, including the handling of the two middle sticks or "olisi". As he said:

"I don't represent one style but all styles. You don't know what I am about to do, but I don't know either. My movement is the result of yours and my technique is the result of your technique."

In addition to Chinese wing Chun, and throughout his life, Lee also adopted some techniques and tactics from various martial arts and combat sports, such as: boxing, Judo, Eskrima, Greco-Roman wrestling, Western fencing, Muay Thai and Tangsudo in his style, although he did not want to pigeonhole it and call it style, but said they were principles; based on distance, individual physical characteristics and opportunity. For him there was no predefined style of fighting, nor should there be. Likewise, Lee developed his own grappling techniques, and adopted several of the boxing movements based on the large collection of films he owned where he watched them over and over again, but above all he studied the way of fighting of the famous champion Muhammad Ali, whom he observed and studied meticulously through his recorded fights; these videos he would rewind and project them in order to be able to notice each of the details and nuances of his movements. He was not only going to apply these techniques to himself; Bruce had the intention of fighting a duel with Muhammad Ali, a fact that was never consummated.

Lee stood out for his technical perfection and balance, his coordination, the impressive speed of his feints and feints, his admirable physical development and body control.

His image, charisma and influence in the martial arts have transformed him into a classic. In life he had great movie stars and renowned martial artists as his followers and also as his students during his stay in the United States, among them are: James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Dan Inosanto and Chuck Norris, who were also his friends.

Way of the Dragon trilogy

Before the release of Way of the Dragon, Bruce had the intention of having his character, Tang Lung, be the protagonist of two more films, giving rise to a trilogy, but he postponed this idea because his friends went on vacation to Hong Kong and he did not miss the opportunity to record what, at that time, would be his next film, Game of Death. Then he received a proposal from Warner Brothers to film Enter the Dragon, so he also left Game of Death for later.

The Silent Flute y Southern Fist, Northern Leg

In 1970, Bruce suffered a severe back injury while lifting weights. During his recovery time, he decided to write the script for a movie that should have launched him to stardom, The Silent Flute, together with James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant. The script was sent to Warner Brothers and after a few months they accepted the project with the condition that they would look for filming locations in India, so Bruce, Coburn and Silliphant traveled to that country and chose the city of New Delhi for the filming. During the 10 days they spent looking for locations for the film there were problems. The night they arrived in India the staff of the hotel where they stayed decided to give Coburn a star treatment, something that bothered Bruce, so he asked Silliphant to go and complain, and also mentioned that one day he would be the most important movie star in the world, much bigger than Coburn, but Silliphant did not listen to him. Another problem was when Bruce began to give kung fu demonstrations, this bothered Coburn because he wanted privacy, but before Bruce's demonstrations people came in quantity. It was because of these problems that the project was finally abandoned.

After a while, Warner Brothers tried to retake the project but Bruce decided to turn them down and fulfilled the contract he had with Golden Harvest, dedicating himself entirely to his next film Fist of Fury. Moreover, when the press knew about this project, Bruce did not want to film it.

In August 1972, Bruce Lee wrote a letter to his wife Linda in which he mentioned that he had been working on the script of a new film entitled Southern Fist, Northern Leg and told her that: No doubt this film will have a place in the ninth heaven.

Bruce Lee wrote Southern Fist, Northern Leg as a way of doing the script for The Silent Flute his own way. In the documentary Bruce Lee: The Man & The Legend (Golden Harvest

Five years after Bruce's death, Warner Brothers re-released The Silent Flute but replaced some violent and erotic scenes with comic content. The film changed its title to Circle of Iron, starring David Carradine and Christopher Lee in 1978. This film starred David Carradine and Christopher Lee in 1978. Even so, the philosophical content of Bruce Lee was maintained. The plot of this film is considered one of the best in martial arts although, according to critics, the choreography of the fights in this film was very poorly elaborated. Currently, it is not known why Southern Fist, Northern Leg has not been made, despite the existence of a script.

Game of Death

Game of Death was released in 1978, but the reality is that until Bruce's death there was no original script, there were only ideas of what the movie would be, plus storyboards. The main idea Bruce Lee was working with was that of an international martial arts fighter named Hai Tien, who retires after winning the world tournament. The Korean mafia learns of his fighting skills and do everything possible to make him part of a group sent to a 5-story pagoda, heavily guarded by skilled martial artists, who are protecting something (not identified at all in any material relating to the film) lying on its top level. After saying no to the Korean mafia and being on his way back home, Hai Tien is informed of the kidnapping of his family by the Korean mafia, forcing him to get involved. Hai Tien is then accompanied by two more martial artists (James Tien and Chieh Yuan), and between the 3 of them they make their way through the pagoda, encountering different challenges on each floor. The location of the pagoda is the Peobjusa Temple in Songnisan National Park in South Korea.

"I'm currently working on the script for my next film. I haven't really decided on the title yet, but what I want to show is the need to adapt oneself to changing circumstances. The inability to adapt brings destruction. I already have the first scene in my mind. When the film opens, the audience sees a large expanse of snow. Then the camera focuses on a group of trees as the sounds of a strong windstorm fill the screen. There is a large tree in the center of the screen and it is all covered with thick snow. Suddenly there is a loud crack and a large branch of the tree falls to the ground. It can't support the weight of the snow, so it breaks. The camera then fixes on a willow tree that is bending in the wind. As it adapts to the environment, the willow survives."

Bruce conceived his idea after a visit he made to India in 1971 with actor James Coburn and writer Stirling Silliphant while scouting locations for their project The Silent Flute. While there, Bruce noticed that the pagodas had ascending levels. This gave him the idea to do fight scenes in a pagoda, where each level would have a different and more difficult threat.

The fights in this film were made possible thanks to the availability of actors Dan Inosanto, Tse Hon Joi and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who were on vacation in Hong Kong, something that Bruce took advantage of. He planned to insert these fights throughout the film. Bruce also asked his friend Taky Kimura to participate in this film but the fight never took place because of his death. This film was not shot completely because Warner Brothers offered him to shoot Enter the Dragon (Operation Dragon).

In 1977 and in order to resume the unfinished project, the Golden Harvest production company hired 8 screenwriters to take Bruce's idea forward and 3 American screenwriters to give the film an international look, and even contacted former soccer player Pelé to make a small appearance, but negotiations fell through. After half a year studying Bruce Lee's character and giving the film a new plot, Game of Death was released in 1978.

Shaw Brothers

In early 1971, shortly before Bruce Lee's return to Hong Kong, he decided to study his options and find a studio capable of giving him everything he wanted to become an international star. So, through his friend Unicorn Chan, Bruce met the owner and president of Shaw Brothers, Run Run Shaw, who offered Bruce a contract that included a salary of $2,000 per film, but Bruce did not accept and decided to go with producer Raymond Chow, who was going bankrupt until he took out a loan and began to make money shooting films with Bruce. Bruce did not accept and decided to go with producer Raymond Chow, who was going bankrupt until he took out a loan and started making money shooting films with Bruce. During that year, Run Run Shaw offered Bruce a blank check in order to leave Chow, but Lee did not accept as he had a verbal agreement and that was more important to him.

In 1972 and after the release of Way of the Dragon, Run Run Shaw accepted Lee's conditions and prepared all the necessary details to present him with a new film project, in which he would give life to two characters, one good and one bad. One of the characters would be Nian Kan Yao, a military legend of the Qing dynasty, known to be one of the greatest and most ruthless war heroes of his era.

The last letter Bruce wrote to the owner of Shaw Brothers stated how easy it was for him to negotiate with Run Run Shaw:

"Dear Run Run, As of now, consider the months of September, October and November (1973). A three-month period, reserved for Shaw Bros. Specific terms (of negotiation) will be discussed upon my arrival."

His legacy can be found in films, interviews, books and more objects that serve to learn a little of his way of training, as well as his philosophy. The fact of having created a combat method such as Jun Fan Gung-Fu and then applying his philosophy of life where he discards the unnecessary of a fighting style to make it evolve and give birth to Jeet Kune Do, makes him to be considered as the pioneer of contact combat and without rules such as mixed martial arts.

Another of the things that encompasses his great legacy is to have achieved the opening to the West of the Chinese martial arts and the dissemination of Kung Fu in its true dimension, which before him were unknown and only predominated in fantasy Chinese films with produced acrobatics, being Karate and Judo the only oriental martial arts known in the West in the 1950s.

It can also be said that Lee, because of his renown, was responsible for the international propagation of the wing chun system, which, together with tai chuan, is the most practiced kung fu style in the world. Many of today's martial arts practitioners do at least some comparative revisionism of his and Lee's fighting technique, so as to apply some of his concepts to their own style. After his explosive emergence through his schools and subsequent films, the trail left by this unique martial artist began to be followed.

Even so, the Chinese film industry exploited to satiety the unsatisfied commercial sales of a Western and Eastern audience eager to see films of the genre and style presented in the famous films in which Bruce Lee starred. After his death, the Chinese industry placed any martial artist who was physically similar to Lee and his technique to make films of dubious script quality and technical expression to overexploit with his figure the film market, and even came to place masks of Lee in natural size on the face of the actor.

The magazines dedicated to martial arts also fell into the overexploitation of Lee's figure, revealing his techniques, training, personal life, punches, thoughts, etcetera. His ideas, philosophy and training methods have been revised and applied in many of the modern martial arts academies around the world. Today, it is still possible to find in many martial arts academies his portrait or posters of him.

I owe my present state of development to my previous training in wing chun, a great style. That art was taught to me by Mr. Ip Man, the current leader of the Ving Tsun System in Hong Kong, where I was raised.

There are monuments erected in his honor in various parts of the world; on November 27, 2005, a bronze statue was unveiled on the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong to commemorate the 65th anniversary of his birth, and on the same day another statue was unveiled in Bosnia. A few years later, another bronze statue was presented to the public in Chinatown, the Chinatown located in the city of Los Angeles; this was done on the 40th anniversary of Lee's death, as well as the 75th anniversary of Chinatown.

Bruce Lee also earned a place on Hong Kong's Avenue of Stars, as well as the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In March 1993, he was posthumously awarded the Hong Kong Film Industry's Lifetime Achievement Gold Award. In 1999, he was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential men of the 20th century, as well as being considered one of the heroes and icons of history; in the same year he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Fellowship of Fellow Actors. In 2004, Enter the Dragon was honored by the Library of Congress as "culturally significant and important" and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry of the United States.

Bruce Lee's life has been made into movies and television; in 1993 the film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was released, starring Jason Scott Lee as Bruce Lee (in 2008 the television series The Legend of Bruce Lee premiered in Hong Kong (this series was produced by Yu Shengli and Shannon Lee).

His first-born son, Brandon Lee, was also an actor and like his father participated in some martial arts films, but his career was cut short after an accident where he died due to negligence on the set of The Crow, when he was shot in a scene that was later burned. He is survived by his wife Linda Cadwell and daughter Shannon Emery Lee, who continues to maintain and promote her father's legacy through the Bruce Lee Foundation.

Over the years, Bruce Lee's unreleased material has continued to be released, and the material produced by this artist has been remastered; as a tribute, Lee has been mentioned and personified, as well as being taken as inspiration in some film and television productions:


Due to the huge success of Bruce Lee's films, numerous imitators emerged, among which three stand out: Bruce Li, Dragon Lee (also known as Bruce Lei) and Bruce Le. The films starring these imitators were mostly of low quality. This genre is known by fans as "Bruce-exploitation". Of particular note is the 1977 film The Clones of Bruce, in which the various impersonator actors appeared together, along with some actors who used to appear in the films of the real Bruce Lee. The film is considered the ultimate expression of "Bruce-exploitation".

Some of the most representative Bruce Lee impersonators are: Bruce Chen, Bruce Lai, Bruce Lau, Bruce Lei (different from Dragon Lee), Bruce Leung Siu-Lung, Bruce Liang, Bruce Lo, Bruce Ly, Bruce Thai, Dragon Sek (also known as Dragon Shek), Judy Lee, Jun Chong (also known as Bruce K. L.Lea, or Bruce Lea), Kim Tai-Jung (also known as Tong Lung, Tang Lung or Kim Tai-Chung), Li Hsiu-Hsien (also known as Danny Lee), Sammo Hung, Tang Lung (another, not Kim Tai-Jung), among others.


  1. Bruce Lee
  2. Bruce Lee
  3. «How tall is Bruce Lee?». Consultado el 14 de febrero de 2021.
  4. ^ "Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do". Bruce Lee Foundation. Archived from the original on July 23, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Stein, Joel (June 14, 1999). "Bruce Lee: With nothing but his hands, feet and a lot of attitude, he turned the little guy into a tough guy". The Time 100. New York. Archived from the original on June 5, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  6. ^ Lee 1989, p. 41
  7. ^ Dennis 1974
  8. LIBRIS. 24  Οκτωβρίου 2012. Ανακτήθηκε στις 24  Αυγούστου 2018.
  9. «Alumni of the Century from J Through O». (Αγγλικά) Πανεπιστήμιο της Ουάσινγκτον. Αρχειοθετήθηκε από το πρωτότυπο στις 21  Φεβρουαρίου 2011. Ανακτήθηκε στις 22  Αυγούστου 2014.
  10. (Γερμανικά) Deutsche Synchronkartei. 253. Ανακτήθηκε στις 4  Απριλίου 2022.
  11. Utolsó, ötödik filmjéből, a Halálos játszmából csak pár percnyi jelenet volt kész, halála után öt évvel fejezték be egy dublőr segítségével.

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