The stories about him are mythical, he’s influenced countless and still does to this day. But what’s the allure of the Chinese/American aside from his extraordinary body, flawless moves and cult classic movies? Well one must return to the early 1960’s when Bruce first gained notoriety. I could sit here all day going into detail about how he came to be, but both you and I do not need that, however let us discuss some essential points shall we? Bruce Lee begins teaching some students independently his take on battle and practical martial arts, often training individuals in parking garages and in parks before getting enough students to start up his own college. At the moment the growing martial arts scene (as this was the pioneer days of martial arts shooting off in this country with Asian immigrants and armed forces service members coming back from abroad with those never before seen techniques) begins hearing all this chatter about a Chinese guy who’s so unbelievably fast and gifted he has to be experienced to be believed.
Well Bruce, begins getting invited to martial arts championships to perform demonstrations and the public can not believe what they’re seeing. Two-finger push-ups, 1 inch punches (in which Opossum Poop would set a little pad against a guy’s torso with his fist one inch off and burst the individual 6 feet back into a seat ) and fighting concepts which were unheard of at the moment. Well low and behold there was a television producer from the crowd one day that, after viewing this thrilling screen, gave Bruce the use of Kato in the Green Hornet TV series. The series is powerful but is canceled after a brief run, so he goes to China and becomes very successful in overseas kung-fu films. Not long after he becomes popular in the U.S. where he gets a films deal for a U.S. production everybody knows about,”Enter the Dragon.” Six days before it’s released he dies.
OK so why is he so hot? Well for one thing it was unheard of at the time for a Chinese guy to find a top movie role at the U.S. do to powerful anti-Asian prejudices which were prevalent at the moment. He was among the first to use weight training (before him people believed you would become muscle bound and slow if you lift weights, regrettably some still believe that only happens in the event that you do not stretch after lifting heavy weights), he also used boxing equipment for full-contact sparring and soccer strike pads which we now call the atmosphere shield for training kicks on. He was experimenting with mad kinds of vitamins and diets and was using electro-shock to make himself quicker, not unlike we see used in physical therapy for muscle stimulation for rehabilitative reasons, not faster muscle contractions. Finally he shunned traditional martial arts producing his own battle art named Jeet Kune Do (Way of the intercepting fist) after nearly losing a struggle fight in China Town when the elders were angry he had been teaching Caucasians Chinese martial arts, which wasn’t permitted in their culture back then. It would take too much time to discuss what his artwork consisted of but in short these are the reasons why he was so hot.
OK, so here’s a rhetorical question: what level black belt was Bruce Lee? He was a master right? Nope, actually he wasn’t even a black belt. No really, he attained intermediate position in Wing Chun (a Chinese classic manner of Kung-Fu) and had some early experiences in some other traditional styles of Kung-Fu but that is it. At one stage he got in a fight and hurt someone and the authorities were searching for him, so his uncle gave him some money he’d saved, place him on a boat and sent him back to the U.S. as he had been born here and had U.S. citizenship.