In 1959 a short, skinny, bespectacled 18-year-old kid from Hong Kong traveled to America and declared himself to be John Wayne, James Dean, Charles Atlas and the guy who kicked your butt in junior high. In an America where the Chinese were still stereotyped as meek house servants and railroad workers, Bruce Lee was all steely sinew, threatening stare and cocky, pointed finger--a Clark Kent who didn't need to change outfits. He was the redeemer, not only for the Chinese but for all the geeks and dorks and pimpled teenage masses that washed up at the theaters to see his action movies. He was David, with spin-kicks and flying leaps more captivating than any slingshot.

As an exceptional martial artist, Lee's ability to synthesize various national martial techniques sparked a new trend in unarmed combat martial arts films. His talent shifted the focus from martial arts director to martial arts actor.

Since 1973, the year Bruce Lee died and his famous motion picture Enter the Dragon was released, movies have been the single most influential factor behind the growing popularity of martial arts. Lee’s cinematic success spawned a global industry of the martial arts, and schools opened and flourished worldwide. During the 1970s more students took up the study of martial arts than at any time before or since. To those involved in martial arts, the years from 1972 to 1975-the height of Lee’s popularity-are often cited as the Bruce Lee era.

Biography of Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee (Lee Hsiao Lung), was born in San Fransisco in November 1940 the son of a famous Chinese opera singer. Bruce moved to Hong Kong when he soon became a child star in the growing Eastern film industry. His first film was called The birth of Mankind, his last film which was uncompleted at the time of his death in 1973 was called Game of Death. Bruce was a loner and was constantly getting himself into fights, with this in mind he looked towards Kung Fu as a way of disciplining himself. The famous Yip Men taught Bruce his basic skills, but it was not long before he was mastering the master. Yip Men was acknowledged to be one of the greatest authorities on the subject of Wing Chun a branch of the Chinese Martial Arts. Bruce mastered this before progressing to his own style of Jeet Kune Do.

At the age of 19 Bruce left Hong Kong to study for a degree in philosophy at the University of Washington in America. It was at this time that he took on a waiter's job and also began to teach some of his skills to students who would pay. Some of the Japanese schools in the Seattle area tried to force Bruce out, and there was many confrontations and duels fought for Bruce to remain.

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Besides, you can also get to know the life of this legendary figure by the four movies below.

Wing Chun

The largest influence on Lee's martial arts development was his study of Wing Chun. Lee began training in Wing Chun at the age of 13 under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man in 1954, after losing a fight with rival gang members. Yip's regular classes generally consisted of the forms practice, chi sao (sticking hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques, and free-sparring.There was no set pattern to the classes.Yip tried to keep his students from fighting in the street gangs of Hong Kong by encouraging them to fight in organized competitions.

After a year into his Wing Chun training, most of Yip Man's other students refused to train with Lee after they learnt of his ancestry (his mother was half Chinese and half Caucasian) as the Chinese generally were against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians.Lee's sparring partner, Hawkins Cheung states, "Probably fewer than six people in the whole Wing Chun clan were personally taught, or even partly taught, by Yip Man".However, Lee showed a keen interest in Wing Chun, and continued to train privately with Yip Man and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.

(Lee was training in Wing Chun with Yip Man)

Jeet Kune Do

The Jeet Kune Do emblem is a registered trademark held by the Bruce Lee Estate. The Chinese characters around the Taijitu symbol read: "Using no way as way" and "Having no limitation as limitation" The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin.

Jeet Kune Do originated in 1967. After filming one season of The Green Hornet, Lee found himself out of work and opened The Jun Fan Institute of Gung Fu. A controversial match with Wong Jack Man influenced Lee's philosophy about martial arts. Lee concluded that the fight had lasted too long and that he had failed to live up to his potential using his 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, including fencing and basic boxing techniques. Lee emphasised what he called "the style of no style". This consisted of getting rid of the formalised approach which Lee claimed was indicative of traditional styles. Lee felt the system he now called Jun Fan Gung Fu was even too restrictive, and eventually evolved into a philosophy and martial art he would come to call 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 connote; whereas the idea of his martial art was to exist outside of parameters and limitations.

Main article: Jeet Kune Do

Physical feats

Lee's phenomenal fitness allowed him to perform numerous exceptional physical feats:
*Lee's speed in terms of reacting + punching from a distance of three feet away was determined to be around five hundredths of a second (0.05 second); from five feet away it was around eight hundredths of a second (0.08 second).
*Lee could take in one arm a 75 lb barbell from a standing position with the barbell held flush against his chest and slowly stick his arms out locking them, holding the barbell there for several seconds.
*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.
*Lee performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger.
*Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.
*Lee could cause a 300-lb (136.08 kg) bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling with a sidekick.
*Lee held an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer.

Lee is best known as a martial artist, but he also studied drama and philosophy while a student at the University of Washington. He was well-read and had an extensive library. His own books on martial arts and fighting philosophy are known for their philosophical assertions, both inside and outside of martial arts circles. His eclectic philosophy often mirrored his fighting beliefs, though he was quick to claim that his martial arts were solely a metaphor for such teachings. He believed that any knowledge ultimately led to self-knowledge, and said that his chosen method of self-expression was martial arts.His influences include Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism.On the other hand, Lee's philosophy was very much in opposition to the conservative world view advocated by Confucianism.John Little states that Lee was an atheist. When asked in 1972 about his religious affiliation, he replied, "none whatsoever".In 1972, he was asked if he believed in God, and responded, "To be perfectly frank, I really do not".

The following quotations reflect his fighting philosophy.

"Be formless... shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You pour water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or creep or drip or crash! Be water, my friend..."

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once. But I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

"All types of knowledge, ultimately leads to self knowledge."

"Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it".

"Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there". "Quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough".

"I always learn something, and that is: to always be yourself. And to express yourself, to have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him".

"It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."

A man who changed the worlds of film,philosophy,physical fitness,music, and the arts.

A man who died aged 32 before seeing the impact he created.

A man who changed the world forever.

In his short but eventful life, Bruce Lee managed to secure a permanent place in Hollywood history, popular culture, and the hearts of martial arts fans everywhere. He introduced ancient martial arts to the modern world with a style that he developed called Jeet Kune Do, and with just five mainstream films under his belt subsequently went on to influence popular culture all over the world. But few really knew the man behind the lightning-fast moves.

Before the 1970s, Western perception of the orient was Chairman Mao, communism and cheap consumer products. Chinese culture was as remote as any could be, impossibly exotic and seemingly impenetrable. Then came Bruce Lee - the very first Asian superstar. Bruce Lee was a martial arts extraordinaire. His incredible skill and understanding of Chinese martial arts landed him many movie roles in Hollywood and as one of the first Asians to break into the international movie scene he fought against Asian stereotypes and prejudice within the industry. Though he completed a mere handful of movies before his early death in 1973, Bruce Lee's explosion onto the movie scene was the catalyst for the global acceptance of all things Asian. Between 1972-1975, the number of students taking up martial arts surged at an unprecedented rate to what many now refer to as the Bruce Lee era. Some of his famous students included basketball star Kareem Abdul Jabbar, actor Chuck Norris, and martial artist Daniel Inosanto.

The History Channel’s How Bruce Lee Changed the World , chronicling his birth to his life in life San Francisco to his meteoric rise as a movie star and the mysteries surrounding his death just a month before the opening of his only U.S. film, Enter the Dragon. Featuring rare footage of interviews and home movies, hear from those he influenced including Jackie Chan, John Woo, comedian Eddie Griffin, hip-hop artists LL Cool J and RZA, Marvel Comics' Stan Lee and famed Hong Kong film producer, Raymond Chow among many others.