Born in 1940 and died in 1973, Bruce Lee was a world-renowned Chinese kungfu master and kungfu movie actor, as well as the creator of Jeet Kune Do. He made remarkable contributions to martial arts and movies. Various magazines and special journals were simultaneously published in countries and regions like America, Japan, the UK, Hong Kong and Taiwan to commemorate Bruce Lee and honored him as “the most effective Chinese Kungfu promoter”.
Lee was born in San Francisco to parents of Hong Kong heritage but was raised in Hong Kong until his late teens. Lee immigrated to the United States at the age of 18 to claim his U.S. citizenship and receive his higher education. It was during this time that he began teaching martial arts, which soon led to film and television roles.
His Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim, and sparked a major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West in the 1970s. 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, as well. He is noted for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Wei’s The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Lee; Warner Brothers’ Enter the Dragon (1973), directed by Robert Clouse; and The Game of Death (1978), directed by Robert Clouse.
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, 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.
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.
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…”
“All types of knowledge, ultimately leads to self knowledge”
“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”.
In a lifetime comprising a mere 32 years but thought by many to be the ‘Greatest martial artist of the 20th Century’, Bruce Lee revolutionized the world of martial arts through his profound teachings and philosophy, and created a legacy through his work in motion pictures, that has evolved into a Legend. 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.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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