b 11.27.40 - d. 07.20.73 (brain edema). Lee received his degree in philosophy from the University of Washington. He had respect for traditional beliefs, but was considered iconoclastic for rejecting certain traditions as oppressive to the individual. He wished to make martial arts a tool for equality, and did not speak against any other school; rather, he reduced all that he had absorbed into jeet kune do, and his ideal of simplicity, harmony, and integrity. As an actor, he was best known for his role in the American-produced Enter the Dragon, 1973.

Bruce, although no actor (despite the fact that he starred in over 20 Hong Kong movies as a child actor) had a screen presence matched by no martial artist past or present (in fact matched by few 'celebrities' whatever their craft).

A few Bruce facts you may or may not be au fait with.
Although rumour has it that he died in mysterious circumstances, his own doctor believes that his brain reacted to a chemical present in the hash cakes he was so fond of - a rare and unfortunate allergic reaction to a usually harmless drug.
The legendary scene in which Bruce performs a kickflip kick on Han's personal bodyguard O'Hara in Enter The Dragon was in fact performed by Jackie Chan's brother (Bruce couldn't do it!!).
Jeet Kune Do is roughly translated as 'the way of the intercepting fist' - at least this is the more romantic interpretation, I think the most accurate translation is 'stop fist way' or something?
Bruce had less than 1% bodyfat.
Bruce's father was a famous vaudvillian actor and comedian in his native Hong Kong although Bruce had American citizenship due to being born stateside on a family visit.
Bruce's pupils (in his pre-fame days) included basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabaar and actor Steve McQueen.

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.

In 1999 while filming the video for Push Upstairs, Underworld recorded part of a live set they played in Sydney known as the "Blue Mountain" series. Later they encoded it to MP3 and distributed it via www.underworldlive.com (where it can still be found today).

The last track of this set is a great version of Bruce Lee which ends in additional spoken word from the sample of the woman's voice used throughout the song. This is interesting to me because the material being read was probably written by Underworld themselves (and not released outside the context of the song) yet it seems strangely familiar. Here I have transcribed part of the sample that was not used in the original song.


Skin taut as sails in a gale, hair always cut with a blunt tool,
muscular but thin like springs but not steel...


Junkie? Criminal? Fugitive?
Four young men and old each one up in his own head ...
Holed up in these flat stinking boxes out of the sun
Piggy little eyes
holes in skin
just enough to let in the light


We've got the wrong bloke,
but he's going to die anyway
it's nothing more to it if he don't move
See how slumped up the wall in the crumpled blanket
My husband was late for days
Wrong bloke, drops the gun
old black pistol onto the bed
heavy scars all over it
the thing had been changing hands all its life
Suture gets up from the other room
maybe went off accidental
maybe from ghosts in his head
eyes just enough to let the minimum of light in
maybe just having a laugh
Suture gets up from his bed in the next room and comes through
Target it's obvious the block on the other bed was the intended mark
starts rolling a fat joint, unfuzzed
his composure is evil he seems he's coming from a long way off
and now he's doing what he always planned for his moment
and you know he's a professional -- probably the only one there
and though he looks the same as the other three
something very different moves beneath his skin
Target is focused on the simple soothing task, motion response has kicked in for the final act and centuries of practice fashion the perfect conar long with measured madness.
He lights it and inhales
Suture walks in, deliberate and stiff.
Holds a pistol to the chest of Wrong Bloke and pulls the trigger
a thin jet of water hits him in the face like a circus clown
Wrong Bloke looks out of big eyes now
He's straining against something he's heard just to see what is really happening
arms limp, palms up.
Suture reaches down into the blankets beside him, across a grey bloodstained vest
and comes up with the old black pistol covered in scratches
back to bare metal like it's been kicking around the desert alone for years...

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