Lee Jun-fan (November 27, 1940, San Francisco - July 20, 1973 Hong Kong), professionally known as Bruce Lee, was an American-born Chinese martial artist, instructor, philosopher, actor and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts system. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and famous martial artists of all time. He is considered by many to be the greatest martial artist of all time, including karate legend Joe Lewis and Davis Miller.
In United States, he participated in the series The Green Hornet, as the sidekick Kato.
Lee's films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level and sparked a greater interest in Chinese martial arts in the West. To which, Bruce is often regarded as the figure who first garnered a presence for Asians in Western film and culture. Lee also became iconic to Chinese, as he portrayed Chinese national pride and Chinese nationalism in his movies. His pioneering efforts paved the way for future martial artists and martial arts actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chuck Norris, bringing martial arts films and actors to the mainstream.
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 began the process of creating his own fighting system known as Jeet Kune Do. Bruce Lee's evaluation of traditional martial arts doctrines is nowadays seen as one of the first steps into popularizing the modern style of mixed martial arts.
The death of Bruce Lee was a tragic one since he died of having a brain tumor. The tumor didn't killed Bruce Lee alone, the medication of which Bruce Lee took was supposed to get rid of headaches, but it was actually a brain tumor. So the medication did more harm, by furthering the growth of tumor, until his brain eventually gave out.
"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."
Bruce Lee stood at 5'7.5 inches tall, and 141 pounds, in the prime of his career. He had a very flexible openness to his training. Taking only what he needed from martial arts, fitness, exercising, and bodybuilding, he was devoted to barbell and kettlebells. As well as calisthenics, he practices his kicking and punching daily, with full intensity. Often putting all that he had into heavy bags, some of which weighed just under 300 pounds (from the accounts of Joe Lewis and Richard Bustillo), because he'd bust those that weighed the normal weight of a hundred pounds. He developed an astonishing amounts of strength for his size and frame. Lifting his own weight in a push-up with just two of his fingers, doing whole sets of one-armed pull-ups, it was estimated that he could generate the same amount of force, 350 lbs, a Muhammad Ali, former Heavyweight boxing champion of the world, who was nearly twice his size.
He is records to have done 1500 pushups with both hands, 400 with one hand, 200 with two fingers, and a hundred with just one thumb. He easily lifted his own body weight, used dumbbells into the 70s and 120s of pounds. He delivered kicked and punches in the timespan of seconds. With a side kick that could send sandbags to the ceiling, he would knock larger opponents to the floor in ease. Having the precision and accuracy to hit a ping pong ball with a fling nunchuck, he moved at blindingly unblockable speeds that were famous for being beyond human comprehension. Beating opponents in matters of seconds, it is said that he had fought more than 300 duels before his death, remaining undefeated.
- He trained under the teachings of the legendary grandmaster Yip Man, when he was a teenager, in Hong Kong. It was the doctrine that he was most trained and familiar with, having practiced it for the longest period of time. However, after a fight with Wong Jack Man, Lee began to see the flaws in the style, and decided to advance his skills elsewhere.
- He began learning boxing in Hong Kong. And, becoming good at it, he even defeated an amateur boxing champion by the name of Gary Elms. He would incorporate many techniques from the style into his overall fighting system.
- When Bruce came to America, he opens a school and started Jun Fan Gung Fu (literally Bruce Lee Kung Fu), which was just his interpretation and approach to Wing Chun.
- Bruce started learning the basics of the swordsmen fighting doctrine from his brother, before furthering his understanding through the reading of several books. He appreciated many of the concepts behind the system, and the basics could even be seen in his style.
- As stated by American taekwondo pioneer, Jhoon Rhee, a close friend to Bruce, he wasn't knowledgeable in many kicks before they met. Almost all of Lee's dazzling kicks were taught to him by the Korean master, such as his famous sidekick.
- On the set of the Green Hornet television series, Bruce met famous Judo pioneer and stuntman, Gene Lebell. According to Lebell, they became friends and started spreading martial art knowledge to one another. Famously, he taught Lee moves like the arm-bar and guillotine. He well, his earliest encounter with the style was when he trained with judoku champion Jesse Glover.
- Famously training with the likes of Chuck Norris, a world champion in Karate, he learned much from him.
- Believing in "having no limitations as limitation", Bruce incorporated much of what he learned through multiple branches of martial arts and philosophy into his very own martial arts school system. JKD is not a traditional or singular martial arts style, but rather a composite of many different martial arts and philosophies Bruce were influenced by.
"Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there"
"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 water, my friend..."
"Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."
One of the most common quotes from Bruce was the 'Be water, my friend', using no way as a way, this is the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. Be like water and be fluid in attitude as well as movement, he believed in studying all that he could from anywhere and everywhere. He longed to find the best, until he accepted that their wasn't a best way. Instead, there was the once searching, who could take any method to find the best in them. Urging against the thought of one's style being better, as so to ignore the techniques of others as inferior, Lee strived to understand the best qualities of all styles of fighting. He took what he could from any and all methods. Have 'no limitations' and to 'have faith in yourself', he saw the importance he personal growth through experiencing all that one could.
Characters based off of Bruce Lee
Because of his influence in martial arts, many forms of media have paid homage to him by creating characters that look, act, speak, and fight like him. From movies, to cartoons, to video games, to anime, his presence lives on in media. In fact, a term, bruceploitation, has been coined for the act of filmmakers in casting Bruce Lee look-alike actors in imitation martial arts films to cash in on Lee's financial cinema success.
Hon Fu: The red shirt character from the beat'em-up game, Fatal Fury, Hon Fu is a combination of Bruce and Jackie Chan. A friendly Hong Kong police officer, though clumsy, who is known for his very acrobatic fighting style. Like Lee, Hon used nunchucks in combat. In similar fashion, he could even use two.
Dragon Chan: From the 1985 Super Punch-Out!! video game of the NES, Dragon Chan is one of the many aviaries of boxer Little Mac. A Chinese boxer from Hong Kong, he illegally utilizes kicking techniques. Though his name derives from Jackie Chan, he physical appearance and origins are of Bruce Lee.
Kim Dragon: Though he's a Korean fighter, this character, from the fighting game World Heroes, is very much heavily inspired by Bruce. Same fighting style, high pitch scream, flying kicks, and the super intense speed of his attacks, Kim is also a martial artist-turned-movie star, like Bruce. And, he's a kung fu master.
The father and son duo from the Tekken series, both of the Laws are heavily based off of Bruce Lee in appearance, mannerisms, fighting style, and screams. They use nunchucks like Bruce, as well as moves like the one-inch-punch in combat.
Paul Gulacy was the artist responsible for making Shang-Chi look like Bruce Lee, who was followed by other artists.
Kenshiro: The protagonist of the Japanese film, manga, and anime of the same name; Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro is mainly based off of Bruce Lee and Max from the Mad Max series. But, like Lee, Kenshiro possesses the ability to deliver a string of punches and kicks at intensely blind speeds, in addition to Bruce's repetitive breathing sounds. His battle cries, jumping stance, and fighting style is based off of Lee.
Hitmonlee: From the Pokemon animated series, Hitmonlee is a first generation pokemon based off of Lee. Known as the kicking fiend, the creature is known for his ferocious kicks, jump kicks, and strong side kicks, just like Bruce Lee.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Hun of Purple Dragons was redesigned to look like Bruce Lee.
In the film Batman: Soul of the Dragon (2021), Richard Dragon was redesigned as Asian and with a strong resemblance to Bruce Lee, he was voiced by Mark Dacascos.