Bruce Lee - The Most Famous Martial Arts Legend

Considered to be one of the most influential men in the 20th century by Time Magazine, Bruce Lee is certainly a name that is recognizable by anyone.

As a man that gained a lot of popularity because of his action films, Bruce Lee is also an avid practitioner of martial arts.

In essence, when it comes to his action films, he is known to be the “real deal,” a feat that is rarely seen these days.

In this article, we are going to cover Bruce Lee’s career, his achievements and martial arts skills and techniques.

Brue Lee’s Amazing Career

Bruce Lee was a man of many talents. Yet, he is predominantly known for his acting and martial arts career, which is why this article is going to mainly focus on these two.

Brue Lee's Amazing Career

Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco on November 27, 1940. He was named Lee Jun-fan by his parents. At only three months old, Bruce Lee’s father relocated to Hong Kong.

At the time, Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese, which led to some turbulent times. Even at a young age, Bruce Lee was involved in many street gang violence.

His father decided that Bruce Lee should receive proper instructions on how to defend himself. Consequently, Bruce Lee’s father became his first martial arts teacher.

At age 13, Bruce Lee trained under the legendary master, Yip Man. Bruce Lee was trained under a kung-fu style known as Wing Chun.

Bruce Lee’s affinity for violence and together with the turbulent times in Hong Kong, his father decided to relocate the family back to San Francisco. By 1959, Bruce Lee was back in American soil.

Despite being enrolled in Washington University, Bruce Lee’s love for martial arts never waned. He eventually dropped out of school and moved to Seattle to teach kung fu.

Eventually, Bruce Lee opened his own school in Seattle, officially named as Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu.

As Bruce Lee is also a philosopher and a thinker, he saw kung fu styles as restrictive to one’s personal development. This led him to create his own style known as Jeet Kune Do, or also known as “The Way Of The Intercepting Fists.”

Philosophically, Jeet Kune Do is a style of no style. In a way, it’s a form of mixed martial arts. According to Bruce Lee, one should explore different martial art styles and incorporate what is useful, and spit out the useless aspects.

Keep in mind that Bruce Lee considers himself primarily as a martial arts practitioner, and sees acting as something that is secondary. Nevertheless, it can’t be denied that acting is what made him world famous.

Bruce Lee's Notable Achievements

Bruce Lee was no stranger to acting. In fact, his first appearance on a movie screen happened while he was still a baby. By the age of 18, Bruce Lee already appeared in more than 20 films.

Eventually, Bruce Lee starred in the Green Hornet as Kato. Bruce Lee was not satisfied playing supporting roles, so he went back to Hong Kong and worked with the legendary director, Raymond Chow.

His first leading role came in 1971 with the movie “Big Boss.” The movie was a big success. Bruce Lee followed with two action films, the Way Of The Dragon and Fist Of Fury, which heightened his popularity to greater heights.

Way Of The Dragon is probably the most important film in Bruce Lee’s acting career as he took control of the movie. He was the star of the movie, the writer, choreographer and the director. Enter The Dragon was Bruce Lee’s last film, which he passed away just six days prior to the premiere date.

Bruce Lee’s Notable Achievements

Bruce Lee was a man of passion and action; it’s no wonder that he received a multitude of honorary achievements. Below are few of the notable ones.

  • In 1979, Joe Green, Tom Bradley and Mayor of Los Angeles proclaimed June 8 to be a Bruce Lee Day. This was to honor how Bruce Lee’s effort in the film industry helped grow the city like never before.
  • Time Magazine named Bruce Lee as one of the most influential people in the 20th century due to his commitment to personal improvement, physical fitness and as one of the most influential martial artists. 
  • In 1993, Bruce Lee is received his own Star in the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
  • In 1999, Bruce Lee was the first entry for the “Martial Arts Hall Of Fame”.
  • In 2004, Dana White, president of the UFC, proclaimed Bruce Lee as the Father Of Mixed Martial Arts. 

As mentioned before, Bruce Lee was a great thinker, not just in the field of martial arts, but also about life in general. As such, he has produced some of the memorable quotes in history.

Be Water My Friend” – Bruce Lee’s way of saying that flexibility both in mind and body does not mean weakness. 

“Absorb What Is Useful, Discard What Is Useless, And Add What Is Specifically Your Own” – a quote that does not only apply in the field of martial arts mats, but also in life in general. 

“To Hell With Circumstances; I Create Opportunities” – Bruce Lee’s way of illustrating the half-empty or half-full glass of water scenario. 

“Real Living Is Living For Others” – Bruce Lee’s version of saying that living for yourself is a dead end road. 

“The Successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus” – Bruce Lee was a big believer that you don’t have to be born rich, talented or whatever to be successful. You only need the right focus, persistence, and determination. 

Bruce Lees’ Skills And Techniques

Bruce Lee was originally schooled in the style of Wing Chun, a technique that places great importance on the “central axis,” flexibility, balance, and the right softness.

Bruce Lee trained under Yip Man, a legendary practitioner of Wing Chun. In the United States, Bruce Lee originally taught Wing Chun with his own twist.

Later on, he realized that his form of martial arts had deviated so much that it’s no longer considered as Wing Chun. As a result, he named his technique as Jeet Kune Do.

At its central core, Jeet Kune Do is more of a philosophy rather than a martial art style that has a set of rules.

Bruce Lee considers “styles” as a source of limitation, which does not help the practitioner. Which is why Jeet Kune Do is also considered as the style with no style.

Nevertheless, Jeet Kune Do emphasizes on punching, trapping, grappling and kicking.

Closing Thoughts

A serious martial arts debate is difficult without introducing Bruce Lee into the picture, and hardly anyone disagrees with his philosophy. The man was also a successful actor.

In fact, his portrayal has drastically changed the outlook of Asian men for the better. With so many achievements and wisdom in life, Bruce Lee deserves every bit of the title as one of the most influential men in the 20th century.

Photos from: gyn9037 /, LeeSnider /, teddybearpicnic / 

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