Bruce Lee was born on November 27th 1940, in the year of the dragon. He was born in San Francisco while his family was on a trip to California.
He was in his first of 21 films in 1946 at age 6. 7 years later at age 13 he started training in Wing Chun kung fu under Yip Man. After some run-ins with autorities in Hong Kong he used his American citizenship to return to San Fransisco in 1959. Here he began teaching Wing Chun to anybody who was interested wherever he could find the space: parks, gardens, etc..
By teaching kung fu to outsiders, he angered traditional martial artists. They sent Wong Jak Man to challenge him to a duel, the loser having to close his school. Bruce lee won a decisive victory, but -- always the perfectionist -- is convinced his fighting style is inefficient and can be improved. He begins working on improving it.
Soon thereafter Bruce Lee married Linda Emery, one of his students. He opened a school and continued to teach Kung Fu to anybody he thought wanted to learn.
In 1964 Ed Parker invited him to give a demonstration at the Long Beach internationals. Lee demonstrated his one-inch punch and his two finger pushups. His performance and presence at the competition was so impressive that it led to a screen test. Eventually this leads to a role as Kato on The Green Hornet.
Brandon Lee was born the next year in 1965, and less than a month later his father died. The Lee family went to Hong Kong for his father's funeral and to visit with family that year, before returning to the United States where they moved to Los Angeles.
Bruce stole the show as Kato on the Green Hornet. At the same time, he taught private kung fu lessons to celebrities such as James Coburn, Steve Mcqueen and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. These connections, his drive and charisma help him get many bit parts on TV shows and in movies.
His daughter Shannon Lee is born in 1969.
In 1970 he injures the sacral nerve in his back while training. He is hospitalized and doctors tell him he would never kick again. During his long hospital stay he occupies his time by working on improving kung fu, using techniques from other martial arts, including western boxing. His notes during this period are eventually compiled as The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, the name of his new kung fu style.
In 1971 he returns to Hong Kong where he has become extremely popular. While unsuccessful in the United States, The Green Hornet was extremely popular in Hong Kong where it was known as "The Kato Show".
In Hong Kong, Bruce Lee is immediately offered a film deal, and immediately begins filming The Big Boss, which is immediately successful. His next movie, Fist of Fury is an even greater success. His two successes enables him to write, direct and star in Way of the Dragon, a much higher budget film shot in Rome, featuring some of the biggest stars of the day. He then started Game of Death, a movie which he never finished. Instead he started Enter the Dragon, the first film which both the Hong Kong and Hollywood film industries co-produced.
On July 20th, 1973 Bruce Lee died, apparently from cerebal edema. The circumstances surrounding his death have been a source of speculation since this day. The official explanation is that it was the result of drug allergies, exacerbated by his extreme lack of body fat, claimed to be less than 1%.
On August 24th, Enter the Dragon opened at Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. It was an immediate success and completely changed the way movies were made.
During his lifetime Bruce Lee certified four people as instructors: Taky Kimura, Danny Inosanto, James Lee and Ted Wong. Other students who have made a major impact on the Martial Arts scene include Joe Lewis, Larry Hartsell, Richard Bustillo, and Jerry Poteet.