DAR Legends: Bruce Lee

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-For us here at DAR, we salute the legends that seemingly changed the course of the world and how we view things. One man that changed the course of the martial arts and the world over was Bruce Lee. Born in San Francisco in 1940, and raised in Hong Kong, Lee Jun-Fan was always destined to be something special. Throughout his life, he was a leader, doing things by his own rules and paving his own path. Today, we begin a new series titled DAR Legends and what better person to start with than Bruce Lee? The team gathers and talks about their favorite movies, teachings, quotes, and more. Let's get into it.

Bruce Lee is a legend. From his beginnings in San Francisco to his untimely demise, he was vital to culture. He began acting as a kid then he developed a passion for martial arts, eventually meeting and being trained by IP Man, master of Wing Chun. After tensions arose with other students, he was trained by Wong Shun Leung. Shortly after, Bruce moved to Cali to become a martial arts teacher of Gung Fu. Traditionally, the chinese community kept their teachings to themselves and Bruce was threatening that when he started teaching american or non chinese students his art form. It bothered them so much that he received a challenge from the martial arts community stating that if he lost, he'd have to stop teaching the way he wanted. Some have said that he was challenged because of his cocky style and would fight anyone. Either way, after a tough fight with Wong Jack Man, this caused Bruce to revamp his fighting style by incorporating his philosophies, offense & defense to make "Jeet Kune Do", the art of fighting without fighting, no limitations. This eventually got him a lot of recognition which led him to be cast as the Green Hornet's butler, then eventually starring in his own movies like The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of The Dragon and Enter The Dragon. If I had to choose a favorite I'd go with Game of Death, although it was incomplete because of his untimely death, but there was enough within those 40 minutes to satisfy. The idea was to go five levels fighting a master of a certain technique until reaching the top. He wanted to show that his "no style" could show and prove. Two quotes I love from this film are:

"I'm telling you, its difficult to have a rehearsed routine to fit in with our own broken rhythm."

"See...rehearsed routines lack the flexibility to adapt. "

I wish he had been able to finish Game of Death because I was no fan of the stand ins and definitely not the remakes. A great thing about Bruce was his attitude and thoughts towards certain situations. Some of his most notable quotes were as follows.

“In order to control myself, I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature."

“Knowing is not enough, you must apply, willing is not enough, you must do."

“To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.”

He trained extensively giving him his one of a kind physical stature and did amazing things like perform two fingered pushups, powerful one inch punches & punishing sidekicks.

There were so many things Bruce didn't get to do with films, but he did open doors for martial arts films and actors by his success. He separated himself and his films from other asian films by incorporating his teachings, giving justification for the violence that occurs in the films. He made the American film industry change the stereotypical way they looked at and cast Asian actors. Bruce was a fighter, husband, father, actor, writer, director and producer who had so much vision. He had movements and mannerisms that many wanted to mimic, facial expressions and sound effects that were hilarious, a way with speed that was to be admired, an outlook on life that many should embrace and a philosophy that strongly went against confining yourself to boundaries. This man is one of my idols. An icon that truly entails "The Myth, The Man, The legend."

My favorite Bruce Lee moment was watching him square off against folks like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jim Kelly? Why? Well, it's simple. You see a kung fu master kicking ass with black folks who can also kick ass without talking in jive at 125 MPH. What more could you ask for?

The man is legendary for a reason. His movements were so fluid, his choreography was stunning, his fights were as real as they could be within cinema, and he set the tone for many an imitator after his death. Lee worked with the best because he was the best. Sorry to keep it brief, but he was and is just that damn good. A true legend that will always be remembered.

When speaking about the most influential Martial Artists ever, Bruce Lee's name has to be mentioned. A man that had a unique way of not only seeing the world but acting upon how he saw it, Bruce Lee was truly one of a kind. His influence reaches across the world of Martial Arts movies as those who studied him included Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar and actor Stephen Chow, whose Comedy/Action movies Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle make no attempt to hide Lee's influence. His crossover appeal paved the way for famed action stars Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Tony Jaa, allowing them to reach unheard of heights for Asian actors. His creation of the Jeet Kune Do "style" allowed him to flex his muscles not only as a Martial Artist but as a teacher as well. This form of Martial Arts was created upon his philosophy that combat is too spontaneous to predict movements and that  the combatant must simply react to them as fluidly as possible. It is from that, one of his most famous quotes came.

"Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

That philosophy is the bedrock of Jeet Kune Do and a quote that personally has influenced me as it can be extended to life. Bruce Lee preached adaptability and that quote sums up being able to adapt to any situation thrown at you. More than his movies, more than that iconic yellow suit, Bruce Lee will be remembered for what he brought us through his mind.

Of the billions of people that populate the world, you would think there would be hundreds of millions who have made an impact so great that they would forever be remembered for their accomplishments. Well personally,  I don’t think there are, in fact I believe those who have truly had an effect are very rare. Bruce Lee is one of those people. He is extraordinary, multi-talented and was exceptional at everything he did. Although he was born in San Francisco, he was raised in Hong Kong until he turned 18 and moved back to the United States. Throughout his life he mastered and created “Jeet Kune Do” and was a poet, actor, screenwriter, producer and philosopher.

His formative years were trying to say the least as the neighborhood he grew up in had heavy gang presence and his involvement in many street fights led Lee into martial arts training in Wing Chun Kung Fu (at the request and insistence of his parents) and learned directly from Yip Man. It was his extensive training in this form that led him to create his own form of martial art “Jun Fan Gung Fu” and once he left Hong Kong to settle in the US, he created a school to teach it in Seattle. Bruce Lee’s knowledge and philosophies of “minimal movement, maximum effect” were being taught and later would take on the art form we know as “Jeet Kune Do: the art of fighting without fighting”. He personally would go on to directly teach only three people in the world, who are certified by Bruce Lee himself, but they went on to train Bruce Lee’s son Brandon and a handful of others, including Chuck Norris.

It was through his discipline and focus that Lee developed a series of philosophies around self- awareness, motivation, and success in all things. He believed that practice without real application is useless and that people should always strive to better themselves through meditation, discipline and perseverance. By living this way, he inspired millions and millions of people through notable (posthumously released) books and several quotations. Here are a few of my favorites:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

“Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

It didn’t take long after he moved to Oakland that Hollywood would catch wind of the impact and influence he had in the martial arts world. He would appear in just over a dozen TV shows and movies starting in 1969 all centered around martial arts or incorporating it in some way. The most notable and my favorite works are “Fist Of Fury”, “Way Of The Dragon” which was written, directed and produced by Bruce Lee himself and “Enter The Dragon” which would be his last full on screen appearance before he passed away. What I personally always loved about Bruce Lee flicks was that he did all his own stunts, he worked tirelessly to be in the best physical and mental state and he never settled for anything less than perfection. He was (and still is) a master of his craft, an incredible teacher and a brilliant and inspiring philosopher.

Although Bruce Lee "the actor" is what we initially think of when we hear his name, he really did some profound things in his short 32 years of life. He left behind a series of ideals, beliefs and instructions on life and made sure to be an example of it. Bruce Lee is the essence of extraordinary and the definition of remarkable. He will forever be someone who will continue to influence people regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or beliefs.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-Personally, my favorite Bruce Lee moment comes in the form of his movie role in Enter The Dragon. Young True would be sitting in the living room with his grandmother and grandfather watching Jim Kelly next to Bruce Lee, captivated by the toughness, the calm, and the ability that he displayed. I would later in life watch that movie with a better appreciation for his teachings, philosophy, and more. I really can't say anymore that hasn't been said already by the rest of the team, but the effect that Bruce Lee had on me is beyond strong. I wish he would have had a chance to live a much longer life and do even more, but what he accomplished in his 32 years is more than enough to warrant the label of a legend.



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