|March 8, 2014|
Image:Bruceflex.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Martial arts actor Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940 - July 20, 1973) is widely considered to be the greatest martial artist of the 20th century. His films, especially the last performance in Enter the Dragon, elevated the by-then traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level, and artists like Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris have been able to work from this platform. He was married to Linda Emery, with whom he had a daughter, Shannon Lee|Shannon, and a son, Brandon Lee|Brandon. Brandon also became a martial artist and an actor.
Lee Jun-fan (李振藩; Hanyu Pinyin: Lǐ Zh?nf?n; literally means invigorate San Francisco based on the Chinese name of his birthplace 三藩市) Bruce was born in his father's absence (he went on a Chinese opera tour.) His mother named him (李炫金) for the meaning of brighten San Francisco based on the Chinese alias of his birthplace 舊金山. The nurses at the hospital gave him an English name Bruce. His Chinese name was changed within a few months when his father returned, due to a conflict with his grandfather's name. In Chinese culture, it is taboo to give a child a name that is the same as an ancestor's.
Bruce's brother before him was stillborn at birth. Chinese believe baby boys are often stolen by the demons. Boys are sometimes called a girls name to fool the demons. In his childhood, Bruce was called Sai Fung (細鳳 a typical girl's name) by his family members in response to his brother's death and prevent a similar fate.
Li Xiaolong (李小龍; Gwohngdongwa pengyam: Ley5 Siw2 Long4; Pinyin: Lǐ Xiǎo L?ng; lit. Little dragon was first named by director 袁步雲 in the 1950 Cantonese movie 細路祥)
Born in San Francisco, California to a Chinese father Lee Hoi-Chuen (李海泉), who was an actor in classical Chinese opera, and a Germany|German-Chinese mother Grace Lee(何金棠). Lee was raised in Hong Kong, where his parents lived. His parents were film actors, hence he had the opportunity to appear in several China|Chinese movies as a child. He also studied the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu and spoke English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese.
In 1959, Lee went to Seattle, Washington|Seattle to complete his high school education. He received his diploma from Seattle Community College District|Edison Technical School and went on to enroll in the University of Washington as a philosophy major. It was at the UW that he would meet his wife Linda Emery.
After leaving University, Lee went on to star as Kato (The Green Hornet)|Kato in the television series The Green Hornet. On his return to Hong Kong, he starred in the movies, earning $30,000 for his first two feature films, that would cement his fame.
His martial arts style
After studying and becoming dissatisfied with existing classical schools of martial arts, Lee began the process of creating his own style: Jun Fan Gung Fu, a modification of Wing Chun blended with Western Boxing, and Fencing. His schools were called Jun Fan Gung Fu Institutes. Later, in order to apply a more descriptive name, he renamed it Jeet Kune Do (Way of the Intercepting Fist). JKD was a further refinement of his style which incorporated elements from many styles to create a more streamlined and practical martial art, as well as a comprehensive system of fitness training. JKD is also defined as his personal philosophy of how martial arts should be effectively practiced (and according to others also as a self-help philosophy).
There is often some discrepancy between Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu (a.k.a. "original JKD") and JKD Concepts, which explore other styles not previously incorporated into Jeet Kune Do by Lee. Depending on the instructor a person trains under, the name of "the style of JKD" is usually specific to a time period in Lee's process although many of the techniques are often the same. Perhaps a reason why Lee himself later regretted even giving a name to his philosophy/fighting style (Jeet Kune Do) thereby making it just another "martial art style." Lee saw loyalty to a particular martial arts style as being dogmatic, analogous to the practice of organized religion or ethnocentrism. This and Lee's other revolutionary ideas about martial arts and his teaching of non-Asian students gave Lee many enemies in the martial arts community of the 1960s/70s (culminating in many challenges by other martial artists Lee poignantly answered). Yet, much of the dispute about JKD instruction is not so much the names, but the credibility of the instructors teaching these 'JKD' fighting systems.
Dan Inosanto — receiving the highest certification in Lee's art (notable exception is Taky Kimura, senior most instructor in Jun Fan Gung Fu) — is widely regarded as the senior most JKD instructor under Bruce Lee. All other instructors (again except Taky Kimura and the late James Lee no relation to Bruce Lee) are certified under Inosanto, even Bruce's other original students. Kimura, to date, has certified only one person in Jun Fan Gung Fu — his son and heir, Andy Kimura. James Lee, a very close and personal friend of Bruce, never certified anyone before his untimely passing. Inosanto often serves not only as the leading instructor and historian of Jeet Kune Do Concepts; he also teaches and practices other styles such as Kali, Silat, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jujitsu.
Lee frequently gave demonstrations of his two-finger pushups and his famous "one inch punch", a mastered technique in which he could deliver a devastating blow yet have his fist travel a mere one inch (2.54 cm) in distance before striking an opponent. He was an all-rounder, being well educated both academically (he was a philosophy major at the University of Washington) and in the field of martial arts. His studies of Wing Chun Gung Fu sparked his enthusiasm and understanding of martial arts. In fact, Wing Chun was the only martial art Lee formally studied, under the guidance of Yip Man. Throughout his life Lee studied many styles of martial arts through an extensive literature research and contacts with other martial artists. Many contemporary martial arts instructors, in an effort to promote themselves or their schools, make dubious claims about learning from or teaching Bruce Lee. This was a major reason why he put rigid standards forth to earn certification in what he taught.
It is rumored that Lee used an electric current as an aid to strength training, because of the leanness the muscles gained in working against themselves. However, this muscle stimulator was only one of many pieces of equipment and exercise routines Lee used to achieve his on-screen physical appearance. His obsession with physical fitness is seen in his personal notes and diary. Lee tracked the evolution of his training in his diary, which has been recollected and published in The Bruce Lee Library by John Little a "martial arts historian" from Bruce Lee's Estate.
Bruce Lee's untimely death shook Hong Kong and Martial Arts fans all over the world, as well as people who respected and admired this aspiring legendary hero. The end of his life was considered to be under the strangest of circumstances, and still draws sensationalism and controversy, with a number of theories surrounding his tragic death. Rumours concerning the cause of his death range from Lee being killed by Hong Kong triads (gangsters) because he refused to pay them protection money, to his being killed by an angry martial artist's dim mak (death touch) strike for having angered the martial arts community by revealing ancient secrets to foreigners, to drug use. Many people also claimed that it was the work of Oni (Japanese for Demons or evil spirits), while others believed he was cursed. The theory of the "Curse of Bruce Lee" carried over to the equally tragic death of his son, Brandon Lee, who was shot and killed during the filming of The Crow in 1993. Yet, even though none of the mysteries surrounding his death were answered, his death was officially registered as one caused by cerebral edema.
The "Little Dragon", as he was known by his legions of fans, went on to become more famous than he had been in life.
On July 20, 1973, Lee was due to have dinner with former James Bond star George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to Lee's wife, Linda, Bruce met producer Raymond Chow at 2 pm at home to discuss the making of the movie Game of Death. They worked until 4 pm, and then drove together to the home of Betty Ting Pei (丁珮), Taiwanese actress who was to also have a leading role in the film. The three went over the script at her home, and then Chow left to attend a dinner meeting.
A short time later, Lee complained of a headache, and Ting pei gave him a tablet of analgesic. At around 7:30 pm, he lay down for a nap. After Lee didn't turn up for the dinner, Chow came to the apartment but could not wake up Lee. A doctor was summoned, who spent 10 minutes attempting to revive him before sending him by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. However, Lee was Dead on arrival|dead by the time he reached the hospital. The ensuing autopsy found traces of cannabis in his stomach. There was no visible external injury; however, his brain had swollen considerably, from 1,400 to 1,575 grams. Lee was 32 years old.
A similar incident had occurred a few months before. On May 10, during the final dubbing of Enter the Dragon, Lee suffered a sudden attack of seizures and a cerebral edema which was not fatal. The neurosurgeon who saved his life in May, Dr. Peter Wu, said that he removed a considerable amount of hashish from Lee's stomach. Bruce, whose entrained paranoia grew with his international fame, had been chewing hashish to calm himself. Dr. Wu, who is renowned for his cerebral edema research in Asian males, said that various neurological problems associated with hashish had been recorded in Nepalese men. Bruce was very vulnerable to the effects of drugs due to his extrememly low body fat. Dr. Donald Langford, Lee's physician in Hong Kong, said that Bruce's body had less than one percent body fat, that "it was obscene how little body fat he had." Bruce Lee weighed only around 128 pounds at the time of his death.
Dr. Langford says that, "This man was muscled like a squirrel, spirited as a horse. I've never seen anybody as physically fit as Bruce. analgesic|Analgesic is prescribed in the million-dose range every day in Asia. Nobody dies from one tablet of Equagesic. No analgesic killed Bruce. In my opinion, the cause of Bruce Lee's death is obvious. Every time I saw him after May 10, he was further and further into his own hype. I don't think that Bruce thought that there was anybody in the world who knew what was good for him except Bruce Lee. That's what killed him. The same series of events that took place in May caused Bruce Lee's death in July. Bruce was particularly sensitive to the alkaloids in cannabis. He died from hypersensitivity to chemicals in cannabis or a cannabis by-product. (There is some contention on this matter. See below. Please check credible references to confirm the above statements). Bruce's was a self-inflicted, though innocent, fatal illness." Dr. Wu agrees: "I think that Bruce was fully convinced that he was invincible, that he was immortal. This is what brought him down."
Davis Miller, a Bruce Lee biographer writes, "Maybe the most resonant Bruce Lee myth is that he was murdered by his own ambition, by his arrogance in believing that he could create himself, an arrogance that, as he aged, he surely would have outgrown..."
Cerebral edema was recorded as being the result of an allergic reaction to the analgesic he took combined with medicine he took for back pain that he sustained after pinching a nerve in his lower back while doing deadlift exercises without properly warming up—a condition that left him in a wheelchair. Fortunately, contrary to his doctor's prognosis that he would never kick again, Lee regained his athletic prowess, better than ever. Yet, it left with him a lifelong pain in his back.
He is interred in Seattle's Lake View Cemetery (Seattle)|Lake View Cemetery.
Although he made only a handful of films and television appearances in his adulthood, Bruce Lee has become an iconic figure in life, and in movies, as a personification of a small man who became the epitome of what some see as mental and physical perfection. He developed a trick for showing off his speed: a person held a coin and closed his hand, and as he closed it, Lee would take it and could even swap the coin for another.
His fame also sparked the first major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West. The direction and tone of Bruce Lee's movies have forever changed and influenced action and martial arts films.
The film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is a highly fictionalized biography of his life/legend.
In 1958, Lee was the Cha Cha Champion of Hong Kong. He worked part time as a Cha Cha instructor for a short time when he returned to San Francisco in April 1959.
In September 2004, rumors circulated (e.g., http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3620752.stm a BBC story) that the Bosnia|Bosnian city of Mostar was to honour Bruce 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.
Bruce Lee is one of the very few actors ever to have commercially released computer and console games named after himself, not after a character he/she played. These games include a 1980s game on various 8 bit machines, and more recently SNES, GBA and Xbox titles.
N.B. : The U.S. English titles for the first two films were swapped by the U.S. distributor. The title "The Chinese Connection" (a play on the then-recently-released "The French Connection") was originally intended for "The Big Boss" due to the drugs theme of the story.
Category:1940 births|Lee, Bruce
Category:1973 deaths|Lee, Bruce
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