Here it is!!! The article that started it all!!!
*WHY I DON’T LIKE BRUCE LEE*
Forever will the name of Bruce Lee be synonymous with changing the face of martial arts. Respected by millions, the father mixed martial arts, creator of Jeet Kune Do and movie legend has inspired millions and motivated just as many to pursue an undying passion for using their bodies as instruments of perfection, harmony and interconnection with the universe.
Having those “props” gotten out of the way, I can now state personally that I never was a Bruce Lee fan. I have nothing negative to say about him, but he did not affect me in my youth the way he did so many others. I never grew up on his movies and when they were on, I actually used to change the channel. I didn’t get involved in martial arts because of Bruce Lee, nor did I ever strive to become like him.
Talking negatively about Bruce Lee, or not giving him undying credit, seems to be a sin in the martial arts community. Here is what Bruce Lee was to me: beyond influential and very charismatic. His influence can not be denied. After all, in an era of karate and judo, for Bruce to bring his kung fu to the American forefront was timing that couldn’t have been any better.
When I strip away the flash and fan fair of the man who we make a deity, I actually see a kid who was nothing more than a free thinking individual. After all, wasn’t “his” martial art all about stripping away in-essentials? Strip away all from him and wasn’t he just a guy who opened his mind and looked at something in “his own way”? If you and I look at a tree, we see the exact same tree…but based on angle, lighting, depth…won’t we see two completely different trees?
Bruce Lee studied Wing Chun, fact. Bruce Lee wrote that although he trained under Ip Man, he thought of Wong Shun Leung as his teacher, fact. Bruce Lee left for America with Sil Lim Tao, Chum Kiu (the first two Wing Chun form) and chi sau (sensitivity drills), fact. I have read several articles about Bruce Lee having amazing skill, hand speed and sensitivity in the Wing Chun community. But the fact remains that he did not finish his Wing Chun training.
Evidence of his in-completion can be found in the photo of Bruce Lee doing a Gan Sau / Tan Sau movement on the Wooden Dummy. His structure is almost folded in half at his waist, indicating no use of his hips. However, yes I know he understood hip power as seeing him hit a heavy bag is proof enough. And his famous video of his 1 inch punch shows him front leg heavy and over extended in his punch, granted effective, but not Wing Chun. So my personal thought is, “what would Bruce Lee’s outlook on martial arts and ‘classical mess’ be if he had finished his Wing Chun training and actually understood Wing Chun?”
Bruce Lee did not fully understand the Wing Chun system, therefore did not have a conclusive enough base to draw from. The Jeet Kune Do community is not far off from the Wing Chun community in that almost no one agrees with the other. I find that a bit interesting considering that Bruce Lee wanted harmony and to undo the classical mess of martial arts. How ironic that his very own martial art is plagued with this problem. And what about the notion that he “created” a martial art?
Bruce Lee brought Wing Chun to white America, who had not seen it before him, and called it his own. Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun became Jeet Kune Do. His implementation of other martial arts were simply his opinion for how HE could fight better. All of the Jeet Kune Do “concepts” are from Wing Chun. The fact that he was in the stage of his life where he was mentally invincible (his 20’s and full of testosterone) also had a huge role. What would happen if he had matured and grown with life experience? Would he have looked back and said, “I need to re-read what I have not yet finished?”
So, by not having the information the Chinese already knew in America, it was very easy for him to “create” a martial art. What Bruce Lee was phenomenal at was his physicality. He was a freak of fitness and that allowed him to do things no other human could. Doing so affected his way of seeing his own ability. It would be and is impossible for him to have taught another human being to act or think like him unless they possessed the same physical ability.
Bruce Lee was an anomaly and his thinking was not ahead of his time, more so was within his ability to deduce from the information he had at hand. Wong Shun Leung was noted to have been the one person Bruce Lee could not “best” during training. Again, what would Bruce Lee have been or thought if he could have completed training in Wing Chun. For Jeet Kune Do to think that it has branched off or evolved from Wing Chun is actually a very incorrect statement. Evolution cannot be achieved without exhausting all known resources…forcing a need for change and growth. Jeet Kune Do is a mutation of Wing Chun.
There will never be another Bruce Lee. But the problem I have with immortalizing this man is that somewhere in the world there is some kid who is training with all the passion he has…he is thinking and feeling and thinking and feeling and he is trying to make his martial art “his own.” This kid may have an amazing perception and think differently than the rest of us. But he will never get due credit, because of course, anything after Bruce Lee has is just a duplicate. Funny, I wonder how many people back in China thought the same thing of Bruce Lee.
What Bruce Lee was the first at was publicly recognizing that is was ok to cross train. I will give Bruce Lee credit for the fact that he was brave and bold enough to give traditional martial arts the middle finger and say, “I want to play in other sandboxes.”
Personally, I wish he had finished his training.