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The Man Who Revolutionized Martial Arts: Bruce Lee

The Man, the Myth, the Legend. Bruce Lee was far from a myth, but he was a legendary man who completely changed the martial arts. He redesigned his foundation so dramatically and precisely that neither man nor woman can do it anymore. Today, Martial Artists can only build on that foundation and help refine their ideas. Bruce was a great motivator, innovator, and philosopher. More importantly he was a True Martial Artist.

A Martial Artist is someone who adapts to any situation. This philosophy is not limited to the martial or martial arts. It can be used in everyday life. We can use work as an example.

Let’s say you’re not doing as well as you thought and you know you can do much better. How can you be better at your job? You adapt to it! You listen and learn as much as you can. You go to work every day with a new goal in mind and every day you figure out how to achieve that goal.

As a Martial Artist, I learned to use what I learn in the martial arts in everyday life. Bruce Lee highlighted this in his books and films. He expressed his philosophy in a way that was impossible to ignore.

A personal challenge for you: Watch a Bruce Lee movie (Enter the Dragon has great fighting scenes and great quotes from Bruce Lee)! Let me know if you felt his passion and heard any part of his philosophy. Did it make you MOTIVATE? His philosophy inspired me in such a way that it changed my outlook on many things and the way I approach each day. No article about Bruce Lee is complete without much history about it.

A Brief History of Bruce Lee:

Bruce Lee ‘s story began on November 27, 1940 in San Francisco, California. He was born Lee Jun Fan, and was the fourth child of his father, Lee Hoi-Chuen and his mother, Grace.

Lee ‘s father was a Hong Kong opera singer who was touring San Francisco when he was born, making Lee a US citizen. Three months later, the family returned to Hong Kong, where the Japanese were living at the time. When Lee was 12, he enrolled at La Salle College and later attended St. Francis Xavier College, both of which are high schools although he says college. Lee’s father was his first martial arts instructor, he taught him Wu Tai Chi Chuan style early on. After joining the 1954 Hong Kong street gang, Lee began to feel the need to improve his fight. This prompted him to study Wing Chun Gung Fu under Yip Man. During his time there, Lee often trained under one of Yip’s top students, Wong Shun-Leung. So Wong had a huge impact on his training. Lee studied about Yip Man until he was 18 years old. Most of them don’t realize how extensive Lee’s martial arts background was. Lee also trained in western boxing and won the 1958 boxing championship against Gary Elms by striking out in the third round. Lee also learned fencing techniques from his brother Peter Lee (champion in the sport). This diverse background led to personal modifications to Wing Chun Gung Fu, and brought his newer version of the style, Jun Fan Gung Fu. In fact, Lee opened his first martial arts school in Seattle and named it the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute.

Lee began to form a martial arts style that was practical for street fighting and existed outside the parameters and boundaries of other martial arts styles. He kept what worked and what he didn’t use. Jeet Kune Do was born in 1965. Lee opened two more schools after moving to California, with only three certified art instructors. They were Taky Kimura, James Yimm Lee, and Dan Inosanto.

Bruce Lee appeared in his first film at three months old, acting as a stand-in for an American baby in Golden Gate Girl. He has made about 20 appearances in movies as a children’s actor. In 1959, Lee got into trouble with the police for fighting. His mother, deciding that the area in which they lived was too dangerous for him, sent him back to the United States to live with some friends. He holds a high school degree in Edison, Washington before enrolling at the University of Washington to study philosophy. He also started teaching martial arts there, which is how he met his future wife, Linda Emery. Bruce Lee married Linda Emery in 1964. They had two children together: Brandon Lee and Shannon.

Bruce Lee made several American headlines as an actor in the television series, The Green Hornet, which aired from 1966-67. He served as Hornet accessory, Kato, where he demonstrated his film-friendly fighting style. Even with other appearances, acting stereotypes were major obstacles and inspired him to return to Hong Kong in 1971. In Hong Kong, he became a huge movie star in films such as Fists of Fury, The Chinese Connection, and Way of the Dragon.

On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee died in Hong Kong at the age of 32. His death was officially caused by brain edema, which was the result of a reaction to a prescription painkiller he was taking for a back injury. Controversy arose over his death, as Lee was worried about the idea that he might die soon, which left many wondering if he had been murdered. One month after Lee’s death in the United States Enter the Dragon came out in the US, eventually grossing over $ 200 million. Bruce contributed a lot to happen in no time. His studies and beliefs have led to a universal change in the world of Martial Arts. Today, we have Mixed Martial Arts (AKA MMA) taking the world by storm and thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and becoming the fastest growing spectacle in the world. Bruce Lee is the man to thank. His ideas and ability to reach a wide variety of people show that the only way to become a True Martial Artist is to find martial arts to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Thanks Bruce Lee!

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