A very sharp-eyed Gigi (https://gigisrantsandraves.wordpress.com) noticed my poster of Bruce Lee in the background of the most recent picture of Maggie (BSL and BS Politics).
I’ve admired Bruce Lee since I was in high school. Besides his (literal) kick-ass movies, Lee Jun-fan was ahead of his time in many things, and was an avid reader, artist, and poet. He became a star that crossed all demographic lines, and paved the way for other Asians in Hollywood. (It is this author’s opinion that Asians are still the “invisible race” and grossly under-represented in movies and on TV.) Bruce Lee inspired me to try my hand at martial and mixed-combat arts. Although I don’t consider myself an “expert” on Bruce Lee, I’d like to share some of the knowledge I do have with you.
Today, I’m going to pepper this blog with bits of trivia about Little Dragon, Lee Jun-fan, also known of course, as Bruce Lee.
Did you know that Bruce Lee pioneered protein shakes for athletes? His creations included drinking raw eggs and steak (yes, raw steak) and allegedly were so disgusting, even his closest martial art cronies refused to drink them!
Lee was born November 27, 1940 in California. His mother named him “Jun-fan” or “will return” because she felt he would return to America one day (more on that in a minute). It is believed the doctor in the hospital nicknamed him “Bruce”, and that was the name he would later use professionally. After Bruce was born, the family relocated to Hong Kong.
Bruce’s grandfather was of German descent, and therefore, his Chinese blood was not considered “pure”. Consequently, young Bruce was denied entry into many Kung-Fu schools. Knowing what we do now about him, this seems incredible! However, things worked out where he studied under Master Ip Man and learned the Wing Chun contact style of Kung-Fu. This was a really good thing, because…
Bruce Lee had very bad eyesight! The Wing Chun technique relies more on touch than sight, and we all know that Bruce excelled at his art! He did not let his bad eyesight prohibit him from doing his very best. I really admire that about him.
Speaking of eyesight, Bruce was an early wearer of the new invention, “the contact lens”, which is known for having been most uncomfortable when it was first introduced. It is said, however, that Bruce often wore his taped-up “Coke bottle” glasses to remind him to be humble.
Legend (there are lots of legends about Bruce Lee) has it that Bruce did, in fact, return to America after beating up a mobster. An incredible cha-cha dancer who won awards in Hong Kong, Bruce allegedly gave dancing lessons for extra pocket money on the boat back over to America. He arrived with about $100 in his pocket, which would be worth about $800 or $900 today.
Bruce wasn’t the biggest firecracker in the bundle – he was only 5’7″ and, at his top weight, weighed 160 pounds (he was about 125 pounds when he died) – but he definitely had the most spark. I have seen videos of him doing pushups with his thumb and forefinger, and his famous “one inch punch” is absolutely devastating to watch. But Bruce Lee wasn’t, and isn’t, just about the physical aspects of martial arts. He had a formidable mind and wasn’t afraid to break the rules. For example…
Kung-Fu used to be a closely guarded secret. However, in 1964, Bruce Lee opened his first school and welcomed not only Asian students, but Caucasian and African-American pupils, as well. Keep in mind, this was absolutely unheard-of. Bruce felt the discipline taught in martial arts was too important not to share with everyone. This mindset won him both fans and garnered him enemies. Bruce Lee taught his “Jeet Kune Do”, or, “The Way of the Intercepting Fist”, which dismantled the traditional structure of Kung-Fu; again, winning him friends and gaining him enemies. Nonetheless, he continued teaching and opening schools. It is wonderful to me that he wanted to share this gift with so many others.
On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee collapsed on a movie set in Hong Kong, suffering seizures and headaches. His death is still a mystery. Did he have a fatal reaction to prescription medication? Did the mob finally catch up with him? Were too many people upset about his teaching? We’ll never know. Bruce Lee died at the age of 32, leaving behind his wife Cindy, and two young children, Brandon and Shannon. (Brandon Lee later died in a freak accident filming, “The Crow”). Bruce Lee left us way too soon, but left behind a comprehensive body of work in not only in his movies, but in his drawings and poetry.
I will close this blog with one of my favorite quotes by Bruce Lee:
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
(this image is from Google Images. I don’t own it.)
Your friend, Elizabeth