Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee books and biography


Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

Birth name Lee Jun-Fan (李振藩)
Born November 27, 1940(1940-11-27)
San Francisco, California, United States
Died July 20, 1973 (aged 32)
Hong Kong
Spouse(s) Linda Lee Cadwell
Official site Bruce Lee Foundation

Bruce Lee (Traditional Chinese: ; Simplified Chinese: ; Pinyin: Lǐ Xiǎolóng; [1] He was the father of deceased actor Brandon Lee and of actress Shannon Lee.

Lee was born in San Francisco and raised in Hong Kong. His Hong Kong-produced and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim, and sparked the first major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West. The direction and tone of his films changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world. Lee became an iconic figure particularly to Chinese, as he portrayed Chinese national pride and Chinese nationalism in his movies.[2] Many see Lee as a model blueprint for acquiring a strong and efficient body and the highest possible level of physical fitness, as well as developing a mastery of martial arts and hand to hand combat skills.


Early life

Jun Fan Lee was born in the hour of the dragon, 6-8 a.m., in the year of the Dragon, November 27, 1940 at the Jackson Street Hospital in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the United States.[3] His father, Lee Hoi-Chuen (李海泉), was Chinese, and his Catholic mother, Grace (何愛瑜), had a half German and half Chinese father and a Chinese mother.[4][5][6][7][8][9] Lee's parents returned to Hong Kong with the newborn Lee when he was three months old. He was a citizen of the United States by birth and did not hold any other citizenships.

Education and family

At age 12, Lee entered Chaboya Middle School a secondary school. Then, he attended St Francis Xavier's College. In 1959, at the age of 18, Lee got into a fight and had badly beaten a feared Triad gang member's son.[10]His father became concerned about young Bruce's safety, and as a result, he and his wife decided to send Bruce to the United States to live with an old friend of his father's. All he had was $100 in his pocket with the titles of 1958 Boxing Champion and the Crown Colony Cha Cha Champion of Hong Kong.[3] After living in San Francisco, he moved to Seattle to work for Ruby Chow, another friend of his father's. In 1959, Lee completed his high school education in Seattle and received his diploma from Edison Technical School. He enrolled at the University of Washington as a drama major and took some philosophy classes.[11] It was at the University of Washington that he met his future wife Linda Emery, whom he would marry in 1964. He had two children with Linda, Brandon Lee (1965-1993) and Shannon Lee (1969-). Brandon, who would also become an actor like his father, died in an accident during the filming of The Crow in 1993. Shannon Lee also became an actress and appeared in some low-budget films since the mid 1990s but has since quit acting.


Lee's Cantonese given name was Jun Fan (振藩; Mandarin Pinyin: Zhènfán).[12] At his birth, he additionally was given the English name of "Bruce" by a Dr. Mary Glover. It is the Chinese custom to bestow a Western name as well as a Chinese name on a child. Though Mrs. Lee had not initially planned on an English name for the child, she deemed it appropriate and would concur with Dr. Glover's addition.[13] Interestingly, the name "Bruce" was never used within his family until Bruce Lee enrolled in La Salle College (a Hong Kong high school) at the age of 12,[12] and again at another high school (St. Francis Xavier's College in Kowloon), where Lee would come to represent the boxing team in inter-school events.

Lee initially had the birth name Li Yuen Kam[2](李炫金); Mandarin Pinyin: Lǐ Xuànjīn) given to him by his mother, as at the time Lee's father was away on a Chinese opera tour. This name would later be abandoned because of a conflict with the name of Bruce Lee's grandfather, causing him to be renamed Jun Fan upon his father's return. Also of note is that Bruce Lee was given a feminine name, Sai Fung (細鳳, literally "small phoenix"), which was used throughout his early childhood in keeping with a Chinese custom that is traditionally thought to hide the child away from evil spirits.

Lee's screen names were respectively Lee Siu Lung (in Cantonese), and Li Xiao Long (in Mandarin) (李小龍; Cantonese pengyam: Ley5 Siu² Long4; Mandarin Pinyin: Lǐ Xiǎolóng) which literally translate to "Lee the Little Dragon" in English. These names were first used by director 袁步雲 of the 1950 Cantonese movie 細路祥 in which Lee would perform. It is possible that the name "Lee Little Dragon" was based on his childhood name of "small dragon", as in Chinese tradition the Chinese dragon and phoenix come in pairs to represent the male and female genders, respectively. The more likely explanation however is that he came to be called "Little Dragon" because according to the Chinese zodiac, Bruce Lee was born in the Year of the Dragon.

Acting career

Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon
Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon

Lee's father Lee Hoi-Chuen was a famous Cantonese Opera star. Through his father, he was introduced into films at a very young age and appeared in several short black-and-white films as a child. Lee had his first role when he was a mere baby that was carried onto the stage. By the time he was 18, he had appeared in twenty films.[3]

While in the United States from 1958-1964, Lee abandoned thoughts of a film career in favor of the martial arts. Fate would intervene, however, after Lee's high-profile martial arts demonstration at the 1964 Long Beach Karate Tournament, seen by some of the nation's most proficient martial artists and, as fate would have it, by the hairdresser of Batman producer William Dozier.[14] Dozier invited Lee for an audition, where the martial artist so impressed the producers with his lightning-fast moves that he earned the role of Kato alongside Van Williams in the TV series The Green Hornet. The show lasted just one season, from 1966 to 1967. Lee would also play Kato in three episodes of the series Batman, produced by the same company as The Green Hornet. This was followed by guest appearances in a host of television series, including Ironside (1967) and Here Come the Brides (1969).

In 1969 Lee made his first major film appearance in Marlowe which was based on one of Raymond Chandler's novels. In the film Lee's henchman character is hired to intimidate private detective Philip Marlowe (played by James Garner) by smashing up his office with leaping kicks and flashing punches, only to later accidentally jump off a tall building while trying to kick Marlowe off. In 1971 Lee appeared in four episodes of the television series Longstreet as the martial arts instructor of the title character Mike Longstreet (played by James Franciscus). Bruce would later pitch a television series of his own tentatively titled The Warrior. Allegedly, Lee's concept was retooled and renamed Kung Fu, but if true, Warner Bros. gave Lee no credit. The role of the Shaolin monk in the Wild West, known to have been coveted by Bruce, was awarded to non-martial artist David Carradine purportedly because of the studio's belief that a Chinese leading man would not be embraced by the American public.

Not happy with his supporting roles in the U.S., Lee returned to Hong Kong and was offered a film contract by legendary director Raymond Chow and his production company Golden Harvest. Lee played his first leading role in The Big Boss (1971) which proved a smashing box office success across Asia and catapulted him to stardom. He soon followed up his success with two more huge box office successes: Fist of Fury (1972) and Way of the Dragon (1972). For Way of the Dragon he took complete control over the film's production as the writer, director, star as well as choreographer of the fight scenes. In 1964 at a demonstration in Long Beach, California, Lee had met karate champion Chuck Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Chuck Norris to moviegoers as his opponent in the final death fight at the colosseum in Rome, today considered one of Lee's most legendary fight scenes.

In 1973 Lee starred in the lead role in Enter the Dragon (1973), his first film to be produced jointly by Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. This film would shoot Lee to fame in the U.S. and Europe but, tragically, only a few months after the film's completion and three weeks before its release, the supremely fit Lee mysteriously died. Enter the Dragon would go on to become one of the year's highest grossing films and cemented Lee as a martial arts legend. It was made for US$850,000 in 1973 (equivalent to $3.74 million adjusted for inflation as if 2005).[15] To date, Enter the Dragon has grossed over $200 million worldwide.[16] The movie sparked a brief fad in the martial-arts epitomized in songs like Kung Fu Fighting and TV shows like Kung Fu.

Robert Clouse, the director of Enter the Dragon attempted to finish Lee's incomplete film Game of Death which Lee was to also write and direct. Lee had shot over forty minutes of footage for Game of Death before shooting was stopped to allow him to work on Enter the Dragon. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - a student of Bruce Lee - also appeared in the film, which culminates in Lee's character, Billy Lo (clad in the now-famous yellow track suit) taking on the seven foot two inch basketball player in a climactic fight scene. Unfortunately, Lee died before he resumed filming Game of Death. In a controversial move, Robert Clouse finished the film using a Bruce Lee look-alike and archive footage of Lee from his other films and released it in 1978 with a new storyline and cast. However the cobbled-together film contained only 15 minutes of actual footage of Lee while the rest had a Lee lookalike, Tai Chung Kim, and Yuen Biao as stunt doubles. The unused footage Lee had filmed was recovered 22 years later and included in the Bruce Lee documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey.

Challengers On The Set

Bruce Lee's celebrity and martial arts prowess often put him on a collision course with a number of street thugs, stunt men and martial arts extras, all hoping to make a name for themselves. Lee typically defused such challenges without fighting, but felt forced to respond to several persistent individuals.

Bob Wall, USPK karate champion and co-star in Enter the Dragon, recalled a particularly serious encounter that transpired after a film extra kept taunting Lee. The extra yelled that Lee was "a movie star, not a martial artist", that he "wasn't much of a fighter" and said it was "easy to see his martial art wasn't any good." Lee answered his taunts by asking him to jump down from the wall he was sitting on. Wall described Lee's opponent as "a gang-banger type of guy from Hong Kong!," a "damned good martial artist," and observed that "He was fast, he was bigger than Bruce, and he was strong!" [17]

Wall would recall the confrontation in detail:

"This kid was good. He was no punk. He was strong and fast, and he was really trying to punch Bruce's brains in. But Bruce just methodically took him apart."[18]
"I mean Bruce kept moving so well, this kid couldn't touch him...Then all of a sudden, Bruce got him and rammed his ass into the wall and swept him, he proceeded to drop his knee into his opponent's chest, locked his arm out straight, and nailed him in the face repeatedly."[19]

After his victory, Lee gave his opponent lessons on how to improve his fighting skills. His opponent, now impressed, would later say to Lee, "You really are a master of the martial arts."[18]

Bob Wall himself was rumored to have conflicted with Bruce on the set of Enter the Dragon when Bob accidentally cut Bruce's hand with a broken bottle in a fight sequence. The cut not only halted the filming of the movie for several days, but supposedly also sent tempers flaring between the two. Days later when resuming the scene, Bruce was notified that Bob was bragging about how he was a superior martial artist and that he could take any of Bruce's strikes without budging. The cameras rolled as Bob tried to remain unmovable for an upcoming kick. The kick not only moved Wall, but it knocked him back several yards into the arms of several extras, one of whose arms were broken from the impact.[citation needed]

Hong Kong legacy

There are a number of legacies surrounding Bruce Lee that still exist in Hong Kong culture today. One is that his early 70s interview on the TVB show Enjoy Yourself Tonight cleared the busy streets of Hong Kong as everyone was watching the interview at home.

Another topic is that his moment of birth is often used as a modern cultural proof of the existence of the Four Pillars of Destiny concept, having been born in the year of the dragon and hour of the dragon along with other astrological alignment.

Martial Arts Training and Development

Bruce Lee's first introduction to martial arts was through his father, Lee Hoi Cheun. He learned the fundamentals of Wu style Tai Ji from his father.[20] Lee's sifu, Wing Chun master Yip Man, was also a colleague and friend of Hong Kong's Wu family Tai Ji teacher Wu Tai-Ji.

Lee trained in Wing Chun Gung Fu from age 13-18 under Hong Kong Wing Chun Sifu Yip Man. Lee was introduced to Yip Man in early 1954 by William Cheung, then a live-in student of Yip Man. Like most Chinese martial arts schools at that time, Sifu Yip Man's classes were often taught by the highest ranking students. One of the highest ranking students under Yip Man at the time was Wong Shun-Leung. Wong is thought to have had the largest influence on Bruce's training. Yip Man trained Lee privately after some students refused to train with Lee due to his ancestry.[21]

Bruce was also trained in Western boxing and won the 1958 Boxing Championship match against 3-time champion Gary Elms by knockout in the 3rd round. Before arriving to the finals against Elms, Lee had knocked out 3 straight boxers in the first round.[22] In addition, Bruce learned western fencing techniques from his brother Peter Lee, who was a champion fencer at the time.[23] This multi-faceted exposure to different fighting arts would later play an influence in the creation of the eclectic martial art Jeet Kune Do.

Jun Fan Gung Fu

Main article: Jun Fan Gung Fu

Lee began teaching martial arts after his arrival in the United States in 1959. Originally trained in Wing Chun Gung Fu, Lee called what he taught Jun Fan Gung Fu. Jun Fan Gung Fu (literally Bruce's Gung Fu), is basically a slightly modified approach to Wing Chun Gung Fu[24]. Lee taught friends he met in Seattle, starting with Judo practitioner Jesse Glover as his first student and who later became his first assistant instructor. Before moving to California, Lee opened his first martial arts school, named the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in Seattle.

Lee also improvised his own kicking method, involving the directness of Wing Chun and the power of Northern Shaolin kung fu. Lee's kicks were delivered very quickly to the target, without "chambering" the leg.

Jeet Kune Do

The Jeet Kune Do Emblem. The Chinese characters around the Taijitu symbol indicate:
The Jeet Kune Do Emblem. The Chinese characters around the Taijitu symbol indicate: "Using no way as way" & "Having no limitation as limitation" The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin.[25]
Main article: Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do originated in 1965. A match with Wong Jack Man influenced Lee's philosophy on fighting. Lee believed that the fight had lasted too long and that he had failed to live up to his potential using Wing Chun techniques. He took the view that traditional martial arts techniques were too rigid and formalistic to be practical in scenarios of chaotic street fighting. Lee decided to develop a system with an emphasis on "practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency". He started to use different methods of training such as weight training for strength, running for endurance, stretching for flexibility, and many others which he constantly adapted.

Lee emphasized what he called "the style of no style". This consisted of getting rid of a formalized approach which Lee claimed was indicative of traditional styles. Because Lee felt the system he now called Jun Fan Gung Fu was too restrictive, it was transformed to what he would come to describe as Jeet Kune Do or the Way of the Intercepting Fist. It is a term he would later regret because Jeet Kune Do implied specific parameters that styles connotate whereas the idea of his martial art was to exist outside of parameters and limitations.[26]

Bruce Lee certified 3 instructors. Taky Kimura, James Yimm Lee (deceased and no relation to Bruce Lee) and Dan Inosanto are the only instructors certified by Bruce Lee. Dan Inosanto holds the 3rd rank (Instructor) Directly from Bruce Lee in Jeet Kune Do, Jun Fan Gung Fu, and Bruce Lee's Tao of Chinese Gung Fu. Taky Kimura holds a 5th rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu. James Yimm Lee held a 3rd rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu. Ted Wong was never certified by Bruce Lee, however Dan Inosanto presented Ted with an honorary Intructorship after Bruce Had died, However Ted Wong holds only a 2nd rank in Jeet Kune Do, directly by Bruce Lee. Dan Inosanto is the only one certified by Bruce Lee to teach Jeet Kune Do, as he is the only one to be given the 3rd rank diploma. (James Yimm Lee and Taky Kimura hold ranks in Jun Fan Gung Fu, Not Jeet Kune Do, Taky Received his 5th rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu after the term Jeet Kune Do existed). Also Bruce gave Dan all three diplomas, on the same day suggesting perhaps that Bruce wanted Dan to be his protege.

James Yimm Lee, a close friend of Bruce Lee, died without certifying additional students. Taky Kimura, to date, has certified one person in Jun Fan Gung Fu: his son and heir Andy Kimura. Dan Inosanto continues to teach and certify select students. Prior to his death, Lee told his then only two living instructors Inosanto and Kimura (James Yimm Lee had died in 1972) to dismantle his schools. Both Taky Kimura and Dan Inosanto were allowed to teach small classes thereafter without using the name Jeet Kune Do. Bruce also instructed several World Karate Champions including Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, and Mike Stone. Between all 3 of them, during their training with Bruce they won every Karate Championship in the United States.[27]

As a result of a lawsuit between the estate of Bruce Lee and the Inosanto Academy, the name "Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do" was legally trademarked, and the rights were given solely to the Lee estate. The name is made up of two parts: 'Jun Fan' (Bruce's given Chinese name) and 'Jeet Kune Do' (the Way of the Intercepting Fist).


Main article: Jujitsu

At 22 Bruce also met Professor Wally Jay. From Jay, Bruce would receive informal instruction in Jujitsu. The two would have long conversations about theories surrounding the martial arts and grew to be longtime friends[28].

1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships

Bruce Lee's
Bruce Lee's "One inch punch"

At the invitation of Ed Parker, Lee appeared in the 1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships[29] and performed repetitions of two-finger pushups (using the thumb and the index finger) with feet at approximately a shoulder-width apart. In the same Long Beach event he also performed the "One inch punch".[30] The description of which is as follows: Lee stood upright, his right foot forward with knees bent slightly, in front of a standing, stationary partner. Lee's right arm was partly extended and his right fist approximately an inch away from the partner's chest. Without retracting his right arm, Lee then forcibly delivered the punch to his partner while largely maintaining his posture, sending the partner backwards and falling into a chair said to be placed behind the partner to prevent injury, though the force of gravity caused his partner to soon after fall onto the floor.

His volunteer was Bob Baker of Stockton, California. "I told Bruce not to do this type of demonstration again", he recalled. "When he punched me that last time, I had to stay home from work because the pain in my chest was unbearable."[31]

1967 Long Beach International Karate Championships

Bruce Lee's
Bruce Lee's "Unstoppable punch"

Bruce Lee also appeared at the 1967 Long Beach International Karate Championships[32] and performed various demonstrations, including the famous "unstoppable punch" with USKA world karate champion Vic Moore. Bruce would announce to Vic Moore that he was going to throw a straight punch to his face, and all he had to do was block it. He would take several steps back and ask if Moore was ready, when Moore nodded in affirmation, Lee would glide towards him until he was within striking range. He would then throw a straight punch directly at Moore's face and stop before impact. In eight attempts, Moore blocked zero punches. [33]

Official Fights

  • 1955: William Cheung, Hong Kong.........................Exchange
  • 1957: Wong Shun-Leung, Hong Kong....................Exchange
  • 1958: Pu Chang, Hong Kong..................................KO 2
  • (referee: Wong Shun-Leung)
  • 1958: Yang Huang, Hong Kong..............................KO 1
  • (Amateur Boxing Tournament)
  • 1958: Lieh Lo, Hong King.......................................KO 1
  • (Amateur Boxing Tournament)
  • 1958: Shen Yuen, Hong Kong.................................KO 1
  • (Amateur Boxing Tournament-Semi Finals)
  • 1958: Gary Elms, Hong Kong..................................KO 3
  • (Amateur Boxing Tournament-Finals)
  • 1960: Unknown, Seattle, Washington......................KO 1
  • (Lee scored a knockout with a backfist/Street Fight?)
  • 1960: Unknown, Seattle, Washington.......................KO 1
  • (Street Fight?)
  • 1962?: Uechi, Seattle, Washington...........................KO 1
  • (referee: Jesse Glover)
  • 1963: Unknown, Hong Kong....................................KO
  • 1964?: Wong Jack-Man, Oakland, California...........*Outcome Pending (12/?)
  • 1973: Kung Fu Fighter, Hong Kong...........................KO (30 seconds)
  • (* Result of this fight is disputed. And if further information becomes available, the result may be changed. Some sources claim the fight ended in a draw/a win for Lee.)

Physical fitness and nutrition

Physical fitness

Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon in 1972
Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon in 1972

Bruce Lee felt that many martial artists of his day did not spend enough time on physical conditioning. Bruce included all elements of total fitness--muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. He tried traditional bodybuilding techniques to build bulky muscles or mass. However, Lee was careful to admonish that mental and spiritual preparation was fundamental to the success of physical training in martial arts skills. In his book The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, he wrote "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".[34]

The weight training program that Lee used during a stay in Hong Kong in 1965 at only 24 years old placed heavy emphasis on his arms. At that time he could perform bicep curls at a weight of 70 to 80lbs for three sets of eight repetitions, along with other forms of exercises, such as squats, push-ups, reverse curls, concentration curls, French presses, and both wrist curls and reverse wrist curls. [35] The repetitions he performed were 6 to 12 reps (at the time). While this method of training targeted his fast and slow twitch muscles, it later resulted in weight gain or muscle mass, placing Bruce a little over 130 lbs. He was not 165 lbs as mentioned earlier. Bruce Lee was documented as having well over 2,500 books in his own personal library, and eventually concluded that "A stronger muscle, is a bigger muscle", a conclusion he later disputed. However, Bruce forever experimented with his training routines to maximize his physical abilities. He employed many different routines and exercises including skipping, which effectively served his training and bodybuilding purposes.[36]

Lee believed that the abdominal muscles were one of the most important muscle groups for a martial artist, since virtually every movement requires some degree of abdominal work. Perhaps more importantly, the "abs" are like a shell, protecting the ribs and vital organs.

He trained from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., including stomach, flexibility, and running, and from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. he would weight train and cycle. A typical exercise for Lee would be to run a distance of two to six miles in 15 to 45 minutes, in which he would vary speed in 3-5 minute intervals. Lee would ride the equivalent of 10 miles in 45 minutes on a stationary bike.[37]

Lee would sometimes exercise with the jumping rope in 800 jumps after cycling. Another well known work out for Bruce was that he would perform a handstand and hold his body upright for anywhere from 45 to 50 minutes continuously, as he believed this would strengthen and prolong his endurance. It is believed that his lower body daily workout rituals eventually led to the amazing feat of being able to dunk a basketball in a 10 foot hoop which is particularly astonishing due to the fact that Bruce was just 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m).[citation needed] Lee would also do exercises to toughen the skin on his fists, including thrusting his hands into buckets of harsh rocks and gravel. He would do over 500 repetitions of this on a given day. [38]


According to Linda Lee, soon after he moved to the United States, Bruce Lee started to take nutrition seriously and developed an interest in health foods, high-protein drinks and vitamin and mineral supplements. Bruce later realized that in order to achieve a high-performance body, one could not fuel it with a diet of junk food. With the wrong fuel, the body's performance would become sluggish or sloppy. Lee also avoided baked goods, as he believed they contained empty calories. He was not interested in consuming calories which did nothing for his body. Lee's diet included protein drinks; he always tried to consume one or two daily, but discontinued drinking them later on in his life.

Linda recalls Bruce's waist fluctuated between 26 and 28 inches. "He also drank his own juice concoctions made from vegetables and fruits, apples, celery, carrots and so on, prepared in an electric blender".[citation needed] He consumed large amounts of green vegetables, fruits, and fresh milk everyday. Bruce always preferred to eat Chinese or other Asian food because he loved the variety that it had. Bruce also became a heavy advocate of dietary supplements. Some of the well known supplements he consumed included:

  • Vitamin C
  • Lecithin granules
  • Bee pollen
  • Vitamin E
  • Rose hips (liquid form)
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Natural protein tablets (chocolate flavour)
  • Acerola - C
  • B-Folia


Lee's devotion to fitness gave him a body that was admired by many of the top names in bodybuilding community. Joe Weider, the founder of Mr. Olympia, described Bruce's physique as "the most defined body I've ever seen!" Many top body building competitors have indicated Bruce as a major influence on their bodybuilding careers including Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, Rachel McLish, Lou Ferrigno, Lee Haney, Lenda Murray and 6 time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates.[39] Arnold Schwarznegger was also influenced by Bruce, and said of his body,

"Bruce Lee had a very--I mean a very defined physique. He had very little body fat. I mean, he probably had one of the lowest body fat counts of any athlete. And I think that's why he looked so believable."[40]

A doctor who knew Lee once claimed that he was "Muscled as a squirrel, and spirited as a horse" and fitter than anyone he had ever seen.[41]

Lee was known to have collected over 140 books in his lifetime on bodybuilding, weight training, physiology and kinesiology. In order to better train specific muscle groups, he also created several original designs of his own training equipment and had his friend George Lee build them to his specifications.[42]

Physical feats

Lee's phenomenal fitness meant he was capable of performing many exceptional physical feats.[43][44][45][46] The following list are the physical feats that are documented and supported by reliable sources.

  • Lee's striking speed from three feet with his hands down by his side reached five hundredths of a second.[47]
  • Lee could spring a 235lb opponent 15 feet away with a 1 inch punch.[46]
  • Lee's combat movements were at times too fast to be captured on film at 24fps, so many scenes were shot in 32fps to put Lee in slow motion. Normally martial arts films are sped up.[48][49][50]
  • In a speed demonstration, Lee could snatch a dime off a person's open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.[51]
  • Lee could perform push ups using only his thumbs[39][46]
  • Lee would hold an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer.[45]
  • Lee could throw grains of rice up into the air and then catch them in mid-flight using chopsticks.[39]
  • Lee performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger[46][52][39][46]
  • Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.[53]
  • From a standing position, Lee could hold a 125lb barbell straight out. [45][39]
  • Lee could break wooden boards six inches thick.[54]
  • Lee performed a side kick while training with James Coburn and broke a 150-pound punching bag[45][55]
  • Lee could cause a 300-lb bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling with a sidekick.[46]
  • In a move that has been dubbed "Dragon Flag", Lee could perform leg lifts with only his shoulder blades resting on the edge of a bench and suspend his legs and torso perfectly horizontal midair. [56]
  • Lee could thrust his fingers through unopened steel cans of Coca-Cola, at a time before cans were made of the softer aluminum metal.[57]
  • Lee would use one finger to leave dramatic indentations on pine wood.[57]


Although Bruce Lee is best known as a martial artist and actor, Lee majored in philosophy at the University of Washington. Lee's books on martial arts and fighting philosophy are well-known for their philosophical assertions both inside and outside of martial arts circles. His philosophy often mirrored his fighting beliefs, though he was quick to claim that his martial arts were solely a metaphor for such teachings. His influences include Taoism and Buddhism.

The following are some of Bruce Lee's ideas that reflect his fighting philosophy.

  • "If I tell you I'm good, you would probably think I'm boasting. If I tell you I'm no good, you know I'm lying."
  • "Fighting is not something sought after, yet it is something that seeks you."
  • "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 like water, my friend..."[58]
  • "Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."[59]
  • "The more relaxed the muscles are, the more energy can flow through the body. Using muscular tensions to try to 'do' the punch or attempting to use brute force to knock someone over will only work to opposite effect."
  • "Mere technical knowledge is only the beginning of Gung Fu. To master it, one must enter into the spirit of it."
  • "There are lots of guys around the world that are lazy. They have big fat guts. They talk about chi power and things they can do, but don't believe it."
  • "I'm not a master. I'm a student-master, meaning that I have the knowledge of a master and the expertise of a master, but I'm still learning. So I'm a student-master. I don't believe in the word 'master.' I consider the master as such when they close the casket."
  • "Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there."[60]
  • "Jeet Kune Do: it's just a name; don't fuss over it. There's no such thing as a style if you understand the roots of combat."
  • "Unfortunately, now in boxing people are only allowed to punch. In Judo, people are only allowed to throw. I do not despise these kinds of martial arts. What I mean is, we now find rigid forms which create differences among clans, and the world of martial art is shattered as a result."
  • "I think the high state of martial art, in application, must have no absolute form. And, to tackle pattern A with pattern B may not be absolutely correct."
  • "True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns."
  • "The other weakness is, when clans are formed, the people of a clan will hold their kind of martial art as the only truth and do not dare to reform or improve it. Thus they are confined in their own tiny little world. Their students become machines which imitate martial art forms."
  • "Some people are tall; some are short. Some are stout; some are slim. There are various different kinds of people. If all of them learn the same martial art form, then who does it fit?"
  • "Ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself. It is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky so I can show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly enough; that, my friend, is very hard to do."

See also Wikiquotes for more quotes by Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee and popular culture

There are a large number of references to Bruce Lee in film, anime, manga, video games and other popular culture.

Awards and honors

  • With his ancestral roots coming from Gwan'on in Seundak, Guangdong province of China (廣東順德均安, Guangdong Shunde Jun'An), a street in the village is named after him where his ancestral home is situated. The home is open for public access.
  • Bruce Lee was named TIME Magazine 's 100 Most Important People of the Century as one of the greatest heroes & icons, as an example of personal improvement through in part physical fitness, and among the most influential martial artists of the twentieth century.[1]
  • The 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story claims to be a slightly fictionalized biographical film about Bruce Lee, few scenes are based on reality, however.
  • On March 31, 2007 Bruce Lee was named as one of History's 100 Most Influential people, according to a Japanese national survey that was televised on NTV.[61]
  • In 2001, LMF, a Cantonese hip-hop group in Hong Kong, released a popular song called "1127" as a tribute to Bruce Lee.
  • In 2003, "Things Asian" wrote an article on the thirtieth anniversary of his death.[62]
  • In 2004, UFC president Dana White credited Bruce Lee as the "father of mixed martial arts".[63]
  • In September 2004, a BBC story stated that the Herzegovinian city of Mostar was to honor Lee with a statue on the Spanish Square, as a symbol of solidarity. After many years of war and religious splits, Lee's figure is to commend his work: to successfully bridge culture gaps in the world. The statue, placed in the city park, was unveiled on November 26, 2005 (One day before the unveiling of the statue in Hong Kong, below).[64]
  • In 2005, Lee was remembered in Hong Kong with a bronze statue to mark his sixty-fifth birthday. The bronze statue, unveiled on November 27, 2005, honored Lee as Chinese film's bright star of the century.[65]
  • A Bruce Lee theme park with memorial statue and hall has been scheduled to be built in Shunde, China. It is expected to be complete in 2009.[66]
  • As of 2007, he is still considered by many martial artists and fans as the greatest martial artist of all time.[67]
  • On April 10, 2007 China's national broadcaster announced it has started filming a 40-part series on martial arts icon Bruce Lee. Xinhua News Agency said China Central Television started shooting "The Legend of Bruce Lee" over the weekend in Shunde in Guangdong province in southern China. Shunde is the ancestral home of Lee, who was born in San Francisco. It said the 50 million yuan (US$6.4 million; €4.8 million) production will also be filmed in Hong Kong and the United States, where Lee studied and launched his acting career. Chen Guokun, who plays Lee, said he has mixed feelings about playing the role of the icon, Xinhua reported. "I'm nervous and also excited, but I will do my best," Chen, who's also known as Chan Kwok-kwan, was quoted as saying. Chen, best known for appearing in the action comedy "Kung Fu Hustle," says Lee has been his role model since he was a child and that he has practiced kung fu for many years. The TV series, which is due to be aired in 2008, the year Beijing hosts the Olympic Games, appears to aimed at highlighting Chinese culture in the run up to the event.[68]

Martial arts lineage

Lineage in Wing Chun / Jeet Kune Do
Sifu in Wing Chun Yip Man (葉問)
Other instructors Sihing Wong Shun-leung (黃惇樑)

William Cheung

Notable Sparring partner Toe Dai Hawkins Cheung Note: He was Bruce Lee's friend at the time.
Bruce Lee (李小龍)
Creator of Jeet Kune Do
Instructors certified by Bruce Lee to teach Jeet Kune Do
Dan Inosanto
Taky Kimura
James Yimm Lee (Died 1974)
Ted Wong
Known students in Jun Fan
Gung Fu/Jeet Kune Do
Brandon Bruce Lee
Jesse Glover
Steve Golden
Larry Hartsell
Dan Inosanto
Tommy Carruthers
Taky Kimura
Jerry Poteet
Ted Wong
James Yimm Lee
Rusty Stevens
Numerous others...
Famous students taught
Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
James Coburn
Joe Lewis
Roman Polanski
Lee Marvin
Stirling Silliphant
Steve McQueen
Mike Stone
Chuck Norris
Numerous others...

Collapse on May 10, 1973

Bruce Lee was doing dubbing work in Hong Kong on May 10, 1973, for Enter the Dragon at Golden Harvest studios. He collapsed in the bathroom and was rushed to the Hong Kong Baptist Hospital. Doctors there that day who treated him said he almost died of cerebral edema.

Death by "misadventure"

Dr. Langford who treated Lee for his first collapse stated after his death that, "There's not a question in my mind that cannabis should have been named as the presumptive cause of death."[69] He also believed that, "Equagesic was not at all involved in Bruce's first collapse."[70] Professor R.D. Teare, who had overseen over 100,000 autopsies, was the top expert assigned to the Lee case. Dr. Teare declared that the presence of cannabis was mere coincidence, and added that it would be "irresponsible and irrational" to say that it might have triggered Lee's death. His conclusion was that the death was caused by an acute cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the prescription pain killing drug Equagesic. [71] Dr. Peter Wu's preliminary opinion was that the cause of death could have been a reaction to cannabis and Equagesic. Dr. Wu would later back off from this position however:

"Professor Teare was a forensic scientist recommended by Scotland Yard; he was brought in as an expert on cannabis and we can't contradict his testimony. The dosage of cannabis is neither precise nor predictable, but I've never known of anyone dying simply from taking it."[72]

The exact details of Lee's death are controversial. Bruce Lee's iconic status and unusual death at a young age led many people to develop many theories about his death. Such theories about his death included murder involving the Triad society[73] and a supposed curse on Lee and his family. The theory of the curse carried over to Lee's son Brandon Lee, also an actor, who died 20 years after his father in a bizarre accident while filming The Crow at the young age of 28. Like his father's last film, released after his death to gain cult status, Brandon's last film The Crow was also released after his death, completed with the use of computer-generated imagery and a stunt double in the few remaining but critical scenes that Brandon had left unfilmed at his death.

The grave site of Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon
The grave site of Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon

Upon the death of her husband, Linda returned to her home town of Seattle and had Bruce buried at lot 276 of Lakeview Cemetery. His son Brandon was buried beside him. Pallbearers at his funeral on July 31, 1973 included Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Chuck Norris, George Lazenby, Dan Inosanto, Taky Kimura, Peter Chin, and his brother, Robert Lee.

Kowloon City

On August 22, 2007, Fruit Chan announced that he will make a film on Bruce Lee's early years, specifically, the Chinese-language movie, Kowloon City, will be produced by John Woo's producer Terence Chang. The film will be set in 1950s Hong Kong. Chang's credits include "Made in Hong Kong," "Hollywood Hong Kong" and "Durian Durian." Also, Stanley Kwan stated that he was talking with Lee's family to make a movie about the late action movie icon. Further, in April, Chinese state media announced that its national broadcaster started filming a 40-part TV series on Bruce Lee to promote Chinese culture for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.[74]

Books authored

  • Chinese Gung-Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self Defense (Bruce Lee's first book)
  • The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (Published posthumously)

Books about Bruce Lee and/or JKD

  • Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew - written by his widow Linda Lee Cadwell.
  • This book served as the basis for the movie about his life, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
  • Bruce Lee: Words of the Dragon : Interviews 1958-1973 - written by John Little.
  • Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body - written by John Little.
  • The Dragon and the Tiger: The Birth of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, the Oakland Years. by Sid Cambell.
  • Bruce Lee Between Wing Chun and JKD - written by Jesse Glover
  • Bruce Lee: Dynamic Becoming - a book about Bruce Lee's philosophy
  • Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit - a biography by Bruce Thomas
  • Striking Thoughts - thoughts and quotes of Bruce Lee
  • The Tao of Jeet Kune Do - a book assembled posthumously that expresses Bruce Lee's notes on martial arts and philosophy.

Bruce Lee documentaries

  • The Intercepting Fist (2001)
  • The Unbeatable Bruce Lee
  • Curse of the Dragon (1993)
  • Death by Misadventure (1993)
  • The Man And The Legend
  • The Immortal Dragon (A&E) (1996)
  • Martial Arts Master (1993)


Main article: Bruce Lee filmography
  • The Big Boss (1971) (US title:Fists of Fury)
  • Fist of Fury (1972) (US title:The Chinese Connection)
  • Way of the Dragon (1972) (US titles:Return of the Dragon, Revenge of the Dragon)
  • Enter the Dragon (1973)
  • Game of Death (1978)

Television appearances

  • The Green Hornet (1966-1967) .... Kato
  • Batman (3 episodes, 26 September 1966, 1 March 1967, 2 March 1967) .... Kato
  • Ironside (Episode: "Tagged for Murder" 26 October 1967) .... Leon Soo
  • Here Come the Brides (Episode: "Marriage Chinese Style" 9 April, 1969) .... Lin
  • Longstreet (4 episodes, 1971) .... Li Tsung
  • The Pierre Berton Show (1971) .... Himself

Other media

  • Bruce Lee – a video game published by Datasoft Inc under license in 1984.

See also

This article contains Chinese text.
Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Bruce Lee
  • Bruce Lee Library
  • Brandon Lee
  • Shannon Lee


  1. ^ a b Stein, Joel (1999). TIME 100: Bruce Lee. Time Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-07-29.
  2. ^ a b "Bruce Lee King of Kung-Fu", Dennis, Felix & Atyeo, Don, Straight Arrow Books, U.S. (1974) First Printing, ISBN 0-87932-088-5
  3. ^ a b c Bruce Lee Bio (PDF). Kevin Taing Foundation (2006). Retrieved on 2007-07-06.
  4. ^ Little, John R. (1997). Words of the Dragon: Interviews 1958-1973. Tuttle Publishing. 
  5. ^ Vaughn, Jack; Mike Lee. The Legendary Bruce lee. Black Belt Communications. 
  6. ^ Prashad, Vijay (2001). Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections to the Post-Racial World. Beacon Press, 127. ISBN0807050113. 
  7. ^ Lee, Bruce. {{{title}}}, 73. ISBN0804831335. 
  8. ^ Yang, Jeff, et all. Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture. Boston/New York: Meridian/Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
  9. ^ Washington State History
  10. ^ Burrows, Alyssa (2002). Bruce Lee. HistoryLink. Retrieved on 2007-17-16.
  11. ^ 100 Alumni of the Century. University of Washington. Retrieved on 2007-08-06.
  12. ^ a b "The Bruce Lee Story", Lee, Linda & Bleecker, Tom, OHRA PUBLICATIONS INC., U.S. (1989) First Printing, ISBN
  13. ^ "Bruce Lee The Untold Story", Lee, Grace & Unique Pub. Editors, CFW Enterprise UNIQUE PUBLICATIONS, U.S. (1980) First Printing, ISBN
  14. ^
  15. ^ U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Inflation Calculator
  16. ^ Bruce Lee.Time 100.
  17. ^ Little, John (1997). Words of the Dragon : Interviews 1958-1973 (Bruce Lee). Tuttle Publishing, 167. 
  18. ^ a b Vaughn, Jack (1986). The Legendary Bruce Lee. Ohara, 153. 
  19. ^ Little, John (1997). Words of the Dragon : Interviews 1958-1973 (Bruce Lee). Tuttle Publishing, 168. 
  20. ^ Thomas, Bruce (1994). Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit : a Biography. Berkley, California: Frog LTD., 14. 
  21. ^ Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
  22. ^
  23. ^ Divine Wind
  24. ^
  25. ^ p.23, Bruce Lee: Dynamic Becoming, by James Bishop
  26. ^ Thomas, Bruce (1994). Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit : a Biography. Berkley, California: Frog LTD., 81. 
  27. ^ Little, John (2001). Bruce Lee: Artist of Life. Tuttle Publishing, 211. 
  28. ^ Dan Inosanto Talks about Professor Wally
  29. ^ Long Beach International Karate Championship
  30. ^ Bruce Lee Two Finger Pushups (includes a short video of his feats)
  31. ^ Vaughn, Jack (1986). The Legendary Bruce Lee. Ohara, 21. 
  32. ^ Long Beach International Karate Championship
  33. ^ Uyehara, Mitoshi (1991). Bruce Lee: The Incomparable Fighter. Santa Clarita, California: Ohara Publications, 27. 
  34. ^ Sanchez, Leonel. Martial Arts Overview. URL last accessed January 16, 2007.
  35. ^ Lee, Linda. 1989. The Bruce Lee Story Ohara Publications, California. (p.70)
  36. ^ Hatfield, Fredrick C., Ph.D. 1993. Fitness: The Complete Guide. International Sport Sciences Association, California. (p.119)
  37. ^ Uhera, Mito. Feats. Bruce Lee: The Divine Wind. Retrieved on 2007-07-16.
  38. ^ Cambell, Sid (2003). The Dragon and the Tiger: The Birth of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, the Oakland Years. California: Frog LTD., 58. 
  39. ^ a b c d e
  40. ^ Little, John (1998). Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body.. Tuttle Publishing, 18. 
  41. ^ Layton West's Unstoppable Fighting Power! Jeet Kune Do Street Defense (2007). Bruce Lee Death. JKD Street Retrieved on 2007-07-16.
  42. ^
  43. ^ DM. Feats. Bruce Lee: The Divine Wind. Retrieved on 2007-07-16.
  44. ^ Maniac World. Bruce Lee - Two Finger Pushup. Maniac World. Retrieved on 2007-07-16.
  45. ^ a b c d (2001, May 31). The Intercepting Fist [DVD]. Sterling Ent (studio). Retrieved on 2007-07-28.
  46. ^ a b c d e f Little, John (1998). Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body.. Tuttle Publishing, 22. 
  47. ^ Little, John (1998). Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body.. Tuttle Publishing, 21. 
  48. ^ Vaughn, Jack (1986). The Legendary Bruce Lee. Ohara, 110. 
  49. ^ Bruce Lee answers a challenge (2007). Retrieved on 2007-19-16.
  50. ^ Little, John (1997). Words of the Dragon : Interviews 1958-1973 (Bruce Lee). Tuttle Publishing, 66-67. 
  51. ^ Little, John (1997). Words of the Dragon : Interviews 1958-1973 (Bruce Lee). Tuttle Publishing, 71. 
  52. ^ Little, John (1997). Words of the Dragon : Interviews 1958-1973 (Bruce Lee). Tuttle Publishing, 82. 
  53. ^ Little, John (1998). Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body.. Tuttle Publishing, 108. 
  54. ^ Little, John (1997). Words of the Dragon : Interviews 1958-1973 (Bruce Lee). Tuttle Publishing, 87. 
  55. ^ Little, John (1998). Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body.. Tuttle Publishing, 150. 
  56. ^ Seal, Jack (2007). How Did Bruce Lee Get Those Washboard Abs?. Retrieved on 2007-18-16.
  57. ^ a b Miller, Davis (2000). Tao of Bruce Lee. Three Rivers Press, 141. 
  58. ^ The Lost Interview
  59. ^ p.44, Bruce Lee: fighting spirit, by Bruce Thomas, Frog, Ltd. (1994)
  60. ^ p.25, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, by Bruce Lee, Ohara Publications (1975).
  61. ^ [100 Most Influential people: Hero Edition]. April 01, 2007.
  62. ^
  63. ^ Wickert, Marc. 2004. Dana White and the future of UFC. See Wikiquotes for the text.
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^ Bruce Lee theme park to be built in China. Associated Press (November 26, 2006).
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^ p.229, Bruce Lee: fighting spirit, by Bruce Thomas, Frog LTD. (1994).
  70. ^ p.228, Bruce Lee: fighting spirit, by Bruce Thomas, Frog LTD. (1994).
  71. ^ Thomas, Bruce (1994). Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit : a Biography. Berkley, California: Frog LTD., 209. 
  72. ^ Thomas, Bruce (1994). Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit : a Biography. Berkley, California: Frog LTD., 228. 
  73. ^ Author James Bishop claims on p.157 of his book Bruce Lee: dynamic becoming that Bruce Lee was murdered by the American mafia via the Chinese triads.
  74. ^ IHT, Report: Hong Kong director plans Bruce Lee biopic

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
Sorry, no books found.

Sponsored Links

message of the week Message of The Week

Bookyards Youtube channel is now active. The link to our Youtube page is here.

If you have a website or blog and you want to link to Bookyards. You can use/get our embed code at the following link.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Bookyards Facebook, Tumblr, Blog, and Twitter sites are now active. For updates, free ebooks, and for commentary on current news and events on all things books, please go to the following:

Bookyards at Facebook

Bookyards at Twitter

Bookyards at Pinterest

Bookyards atTumblr

Bookyards blog

message of the daySponsored Links