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|3 decades after his death, Bruce Lee is still considered the Master of Kung Fu film. He was the first to break through to Western audiences, and he set such a high benchmark of excellence that few have challenged him to this day. He is China's greatest movie star. Recently Guangzhou (Canton) TV has released a seemingly endless serial about his early life, enhanced by a young actor who looks and appears the part|
Bruce Lee 李小龙 (Jun Fan, 李振藩, 李小龍; born 27 November 1940, died 20 July 1973) was an American-born Chinese Hong Kong actor, martial artist, philosopher, film director, screenwriter, practitioner of Wing Chun and founder of the Jeet Kune Do concept. He is considered by many as the most influential martial artist of the 20th century, and a cultural icon.
He was born in a Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, California, to Chinese father named Lee Hoi Chuen (A Chinese Opera performer) and Grace Ho (A quarter German Chinese woman who came from an extremely wealthy family in Hong Kong.
Whilst born in the USA, his parents returned to Hong Kong when he was just 3-months old. This was just before the Japanese invasion, which lasted for 3 years and 8 months. He grew up in Hong Kong and later attended Tak Sun School (德信學校) located just a couple of blocks from his home at 218 Nathan Road, Kowloon. Lee entered the primary school division of the prestigious La Salle College (喇沙書院) in 1950 or 1952 (at the age of 12). In around 1956, due to poor academic performance (and/or possibly poor conduct as well), he was transferred to St. Francis Xavier's College (聖芳濟書院) (high school) where he would be mentored by Brother Edward, a Catholic monk. By a circuitous route of connections, this put him in contact with his Kung Fu teacher or Sifu in Wing Chun
Many claims are made concerning Bruce Lee, so lets give you some facts. His Chinese ancestral home is where his father was born, located in a village near Daliang in Shunde County, Foshan City District, Guangdong. He visited there once in his life. There is a shrine and museum dedicated to him there nowadays. His Sifu (Teacher or Master) Ip Man was a citizen of Foshan who suffered severe Japanese persecution during WW2 and fled half-dead to Hong Kong. He later returned to Foshan. Bruce did visit him in Foshan on several occasions. Bruce also lived in Seattle and California
According to statements made by Bruce Lee and also by Linda Lee Cadwell after Bruce's death, in 1971 Bruce pitched a television series of his own tentatively titled The Warrior, discussions which were also confirmed by Warner Bros. According to Cadwell, however, Lee's concept was retooled and renamed Kung Fu, but Warner Bros. gave Lee no credit. Instead the role of the Shaolin monk in the Wild West, was awarded to then non-martial artist David Carradine because of the studio's fears that a Chinese leading man would not be embraced by the public
|Martial Arts Skills
Lee's first introduction to martial arts was through his father, Lee Hoi Cheun. He learned the fundamentals of Wu style Tai Chi Chuan from his father. Lee's sifu, Wing Chun master Ip Man (alt: Yip Man), was also a colleague and friend of Hong Kong's Wu style Tai Chi Chuan teacher Wu Ta-ch'i.
The largest influence on Bruce Lee's martial development was his study of the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. Bruce Lee began training in Wing Chun at age 13 under the famous Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man in the summer of 1954. After a year into his Wing Chun training, some of Ip Man's other students refused to train with Lee due to his ancestry (his mother was of a quarter German ancestry) as Chinese were secretive in relation to teaching martial arts techniques especially to foreigners. This sounds like an excuse, and the reality was that he was probably too good! He then only trained with Ip Man privately and outside the school with his Wing Chun friends William Cheung and Wong Shun Leung.
Jun Fan Gung Fu
Lee began teaching martial arts after his arrival in the United States in 1959. He called what he taught Jun Fan Gung Fu (literally Bruce Lee's Kung Fu). It was basically his approach to Wing Chun. Lee taught friends he met in Seattle, starting with Judo practitioner Jesse Glover as his first student and who later became his first assistant instructor. Before moving to California, Lee opened his first martial arts school, named the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in Seattle.
Lee also improvised his own kicking method, involving the directness of Wing Chun and the power of Northern Shaolin kung fu. Lee's kicks were delivered very quickly to the target, without fully chambering the leg.
Jeet Kune Do
The Chinese characters around the Taijitu symbol indicate: "Using no way as way" & "Having no limitation as limitation" The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin.
Jeet Kune Do originated in 1965 after a match with Wong Jack Man influenced Lee's philosophy on fighting. Lee believed that the fight had lasted too long and that he had failed to live up to his potential using 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 diet and nutritional supplements
|Lee emphasized what he called "the style
of no style". This consisted of getting rid of a formalized approach
which Lee claimed was indicative of traditional styles. Because Lee felt
the system he now called Jun Fan Gung Fu was too restrictive, it was developed
into a philosophy and martial art he would come to call (after the name
was suggested by Dan Inosanto) Jeet Kune Do or the Way of the Intercepting
At the invitation of Ed Parker, Lee appeared in the 1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships and performed repetitions of two-finger pushups (using the thumb and the index finger) with feet at approximately a shoulder-width apart.
In the same Long Beach event he also performed the "One inch punch", the description of which is as follows: Lee stood upright, his right foot forward with knees bent slightly, in front of a standing, stationary partner. Lee's right arm was partly extended and his right fist approximately an inch away from the partner's chest. Without retracting his right arm, Lee then forcibly delivered the punch to his partner while largely maintaining his posture, sending the partner backwards and falling into a chair said to be placed behind the partner to prevent injury, though his partner's inertia soon caused him to fall to the floor.
His volunteer was Bob Baker of Stockton, California. "I told Bruce not to do this type of demonstration again", he recalled. "When he punched me that last time, I had to stay home from work because the pain in my chest was unbearable
Lee's eventual celebrity and martial arts prowess often put him on a collision course with a number of street thugs, stunt men and martial arts extras who sought to make a name for themselves. Bob Wall, USPK karate champion and co-star in Enter the Dragon, recalled one encounter that transpired after a film extra kept taunting Lee. The extra yelled that Lee was "a movie star, not a martial artist," that he "wasn't much of a fighter." Lee answered his taunts by asking him to jump down from the wall he was sitting on. Wall described Lee's opponent as "a gang-banger type of guy from Hong Kong," a "damned good martial artist," and observed that he was fast, strong, and bigger than Bruce
"This kid was good. He was strong and fast, and he was really trying to punch Bruce's brains in. But Bruce just methodically took him apart." "Bruce kept moving so well, this kid couldn't touch him...Then all of a sudden, Bruce got him and rammed his ass with the wall and swept him up, proceeding to drop him and plant his knee into his opponent's chest, locked his arm out straight, and nailed him in the face repeatedly." -- Bob Wall
Not happy with his supporting roles in the U.S., Lee returned to Hong Kong. Unaware that The Green Hornet had been played to success in Hong Kong and was unofficially referred to as "The Kato Show", he was surprised to be recognized on the street as the "star" of the show. Lee was then offered a film contract by legendary director Raymond Chow to star in two films produced by his production company Golden Harvest. Lee played his first leading role in The Big Boss (1971) which proved to be an enormous box office success across Asia and catapulted him to stardom. He soon followed up with Fist of Fury (1972) which broke the box office records set previously by The Big Boss. Having finished his initial two-year contract, Lee negotiated a new deal with Golden Harvest. For his third film, Way of the Dragon (1972), he was given complete control of the film's production as the writer, director, star, and choreographer of the fight scenes. In 1964, at a demonstration in Long Beach, California, Lee had met karate champion Chuck Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Norris to moviegoers as his opponent in the final death fight at the Colosseum in Rome, today considered one of Lee's most legendary fight scenes and one of the most memorable fight scenes in martial arts film history.
In late 1972, Lee began work on his fourth Golden Harvest Film, Game of Death. He began filming some scenes including his fight sequence with 7'2" American Basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former student. Production was stopped when Warner Brothers offered Lee the opportunity to star in Enter the Dragon, the first film to be produced jointly by Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. This film would skyrocket Lee to fame in the U.S. and Europe. However, only a few months after the film's completion and 6 days before its July 26, 1973 release, the supremely fit Lee mysteriously died. Enter the Dragon would go on to become one of the year's highest grossing films and cement Lee as a martial arts legend. It was made for US$850,000 in 1973 (equivalent to $4 million adjusted for inflation as of 2007). To date, Enter the Dragon has grossed over $200 million worldwide. The movie sparked a brief fad in the martial-arts, epitomized in such songs as "Kung Fu Fighting" and such TV shows as Kung Fu.
Robert Clouse, the director of Enter the Dragon, and Raymond Chow attempted to finish Lee's incomplete film Game of Death which Lee was also set to write and direct. Lee had shot over 100 minutes of footage, including outtakes, for Game of Death before shooting was stopped to allow him to work on Enter the Dragon. In addition to Abdul-Jabbar, George Lazenby, Hapkido master Ji Han Jae and another Lee student, Dan Inosanto were also to appear in the film, which was to culminate in Lee's character, Hai Tien (clad in the now-famous yellow track suit) taking on a series of different challenge on each floor as they make their way through a five-level pagoda.
|In a controversial move, Robert
Clouse finished the film using a look-alike and archive footage of Lee
from his other films with a new storyline and cast, which was released
in 1979. However, the cobbled-together film contained only fifteen minutes
of actual footage of Lee (he had printed many unsuccessful takes) while
the rest had a Lee look-alike, Tai Chung Kim, and Yuen Biao as stunt double.
The unused footage Lee had filmed was recovered 22 years later and included
in the documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey.
However, we also know that Game of Death 2 was made by Ho Gam Bo using the 100 minutes of shot footage, and keeping to Bruce's original plot. You can work out the real answer to this conundrum yourselves...
Ho Gam Bo is currently involved with a new film entitled Ip Man 2. We presume this will be a continuation of the fascinating, factual and grossly informative life of this Chinese Hero and Kung Fu Grand Master. It is a fair bet to say that Kung Fu will feature prominently, and that Bruce Lee's life will interweave in one form or another. Watch for the reviews to learn more
Links:Click for free online movie: Game of Death 2
or choose one from this Ku6 page of links
This link has great rare archive footage from the 60's (Scroll down page)
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