What You Know And What You Don’t Know About Bruce Lee

The myth, and the legend. A man eternally shrouded in mystery. A man, whose astonishing feats of strength, speed, and mind boggling coordination made him an international symbol for martial arts.

A banner carrier for Hong Kong cinema, and the most popular Asian movie star of all time, Bruce was an inspiration and a role model for kids around the world. Everyone wanted to copy his spinning kicks, ridiculous two finger push ups, and punches which were too fast for the human eye to see. Bruce was truly one of a kind.

As his birthday approaches, one can only wonder what else he could’ve accomplished had his life not been taken away by mysterious circumstances.

Instead, i believe it would be more appropriate for the legend to celebrate his life and accomplishments, and admire his legacy.
So here are some known, and some unknown facts about the martial arts icon. Rest assured, all of them are simply amazing.

The Knowns

His rough beginnings

When Lee Hoi Chuen, a famous Hong Kong opera singer moved to San Francisco together with his wife and three children, he was getting ready to make a living for his family, when a fourth child was announced.

While Lee was out touring around San Francisco, he received news that his wife gave birth to a Dragon. Born both in the year, and the hour of this Chinese mythology beast, Bruce even had it all written in the stars. His legacy was set, even before he was aware of the world.

Then known as, Lee Jun Fan, which was the name his parents gave him, the name Bruce came afterwards. It was initially given to him by a nurse in the hospital he was born in, and it wasn’t used for the most part of his childhood.

Believe it or not, Bruce’s movie career started when he was just 3 months old, when he acted as a stand-in for an American baby in Golden Gate Girl (1941).

His “career” was cut short by his family’s decision to move back to Hong Kong, but it seems that there was no stopping Bruce from becoming a child star, as he soon continued to appear on the screen in Hong Kong.

He appeared in around twenty movies as a child, with the first one being in 1946. In his childhood, he was also an avid dancer, going as far as to win Hong Kong’s cha-cha competition. Bruce didn’t stop there when it came to arts, as he was also a poetry enthusiast, which played a great influence on his life. Let’s remember one of his most famous quotes: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water” The influence of poetry is clearly noticeable here as it truly resonates with poetic energy.

Martial arts hero

Still, as we all know, all of this was secondary for Bruce, as his biggest passion came in the shape of a different art form, martial arts. This is what he was born to do, this is what he was destined for. This was the Dragon in him, emerging onto the surface. When he was still a teenager, Bruce was teased for his Chinese background, in the Japanese occupied Hong Kong, even going as far as joining a street gang.

However, his rage and passion were tamed. Bruce managed to maintain discipline, leaving the gang life to begin studying Kung Fu, under the great Master Yip Man. By the end of the 1950s Bruce moved back to the U.S. where he worked as a dance instructor before starting his martial arts school. This is where it all began as one of his students was a screenwriter for the 1969 movie – Marlowe. He decided to give a role to Bruce, as he already had acting experience from various TV shows. And just like that, a legend was born.

Surprisingly, Bruce’s career in Hollywood didn’t last long, as he decided to move back to Hong Kong due to many racial stereotypes in Los Angeles. This turned out to be a great move, as his Hong Kong movies Big Boss (1971) and The Chinese Connection (1972) shattered every single Hong Kong box office record.

Bruce used the success to start his own movie company, directing Return of the Dragon, and getting ready to break out on the Hollywood scene with Enter the Dragon. As he was preparing to reach stardom, tragedy happened. On July 20, 1973, just one month before the premiere of Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee died, at the young age of 32.

The cause of death was cited as an edema in his brain caused by a painkiller he had taken after complaining of a headache. This sparked several controversies surrounding his death, as people claimed he was killed by gangsters, or even cursed. The movie went on to gross more than $200 million, and paved the way for modern action heroes we see today.

The Unknowns

Since his mysterious death, there has been a huge number of myths and facts circulating about Bruce Lee. From the fact that his son, Brandon, also had a tragic ending, to the number of his amazing feats of strength, everything about Bruce was simply astonishing. Here are some of the lesser known facts about the Dragon.

  • Bruce’s grandfather was a full-blooded German, restricting him access to many strict Kung Fu schools.
  • Bruce gave voice to various characters in his movies.
  • He had poor eyesight, making him a bad driver, which lead him to be one of the first people to try contact lenses, as glasses were simply not appropriate for his line of work.
  • He admired Muhammad Ali, and even once hoped to step into the ring with him.
  • Bruce could puncture cans with his fingers. Back in the day, cans were not made of soft aluminium either.
  • He failed a basic military physical. Yeah, you heard it right, one of the most incredible physical specimens in human history failed a physical. Of course, this was due to his already mentioned poor eyesight.
  • Bruce used to carry a gun. Fists can only protect you to some extent.
  • Bruce couldn’t swim and actually hated the water.
  • He used to charge $275 per hour of martial arts lessons, or close to $2000 dollars in today’s money.
  • Lastly, in one of his final quotes, almost poetic, and incredibly fitting Bruce said this: “If I should die tomorrow, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do. You can’t expect more from life.” By saying this, he basically foretold his tragic death, leaving a final mark on his amazing career.