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Bruce Lee (Jun Fan, 李振藩, 李小龍; pinyin: Lǐ Zhènfān, Lǐ Xiăolóng;  – ) was a Chinese American and 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 named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Lee was born in San Francisco, Californiamarker, and raised in Hong Kongmarker until his late teens. His Hong Kong and Hollywoodmarker-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim, and sparked the second major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West. The direction and tone of his films changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world as well. He is noted for his roles in five feature length films, Lo Wei's The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Bruce Lee; Warner Brothers' Enter the Dragon (1973), directed by Robert Clouse, and The Game of Death (1978).

Lee became an iconic figure known throughout the world and remains very popular among the Asian people and in particular among the Chinese, as he famously portrayed Chinese nationalism and upheld the Chinese national pride at a very crucial time in history and also of the Asians through his movies which reached every part of the known world. While Lee initially trained in Wing Chun, he later rejected well-defined martial art styles, favoring instead to utilize useful techniques from various sources.

Early life

Bruce Lee was born on 27 November 1940 at the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco's Chinatownmarker. His father, Lee Hoi-Chuen, was Chinese, and his Catholic mother, Grace Ho (何愛瑜), was three quarters Chinese and a quarter German. Lee and his parents returned to Hong Kongmarker when he was three months old. He was the fourth child of five children: Agnus, Phoebe, Peter, and Robert.


Bruce Lee's Cantonese given name was Lee Jun Fan 振藩; Mandarin Pinyin: Zhènfán). At birth, the English name "Bruce" was thought to be given by the hospital attending physician, Dr. Mary Glover.

Bruce Lee also had three other Chinese names: Li Yuan-Xin 李源鑫 a family/clan name, Li Yuan Jian 李元鑒 as a student name while attending La Salle College, and of course his Chinese stage name Li Xiao Long 李小龍 (Xiao Long - meaning small dragon). The Jun Fan name was originally written in Chinese as 震藩, however this Jun (震) was identical to part of his grandfather's name 李震彪, which was considered taboo in Chinese tradition. Therefore, Bruce Lee's name was changed to homonym/synonym 振.


Lee Hoi Chuen was one of the leading Cantonese opera and film actors at the time, and he was embarking on a year-long Cantonese opera tour with his family on the eve of the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong during the Second World War. Lee had been touring the United States for many years performing at numerous Chinese communities.

Although a number of his peers decided to stay in the US, Lee decided to go back to Hong Kong after his wife gave birth to their fourth child. Within months, Hong Kong was invaded and the Lees lived the ensuing 3 years and 8 months under Japanese occupation. The Lee family survived the war and had actually done reasonably well. After the war ended, Lee Hoi Chuen would resume his acting career and become an even bigger star during Hong Kong's rebuilding years.

Bruce Lee's mother Grace belonged to one of wealthiest and most powerful clans in Hong Kong, the Ho Tungs. She was the niece of Sir Robert Ho Tung, patriarch of the clan. As such, the young Bruce Lee grew up in an affluent and privileged environment.

Politics of the times

In 1966 Mao Zedong, the creator of mainland China's unique brand of Communism, launched the Cultural Revolution. His aim was to rid China of all remnants of traditional thought so that it could radically modernize into a fully functioning Communist State. Persecution of Chinese traditions hit the field of Chinese martial arts and no one was safe. Even the venerated Shaolin Temple was subject to revolutionary purges and the abbots were made to parade in public with paint slashed on their robes. Books and ancient martial arts manuscripts were looted from the monastery and burnt.

To avoid persecution by the Communist government, many Chinese martial arts masters fled overseas, while the remainder went into hiding or suffered harsh reprisals. Kung Fu continued to flourish in its overseas setting and many famous masters set up Kung Fu schools in British ruled Hong-Kong and R.O.C. controlled Taiwan. A lesser number moved to the United States, Australia, and Europe. Chinese cultural traditions became stronger in these expatriate Chinese communities than back home in mainland China.

Despite the advantage of his family's status during his youth, and because of the mass number of people fleeing communist China to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong neighborhood he grew up in became over-crowded, dangerous, and full of gang rivalries.

"Post war Hong Kong was a tough place to grow up. Gangs ruled the city streets and Lee was often forced to fight them. But Bruce liked a challenge and faced his adversaries head on. To his parents dismay Bruce's street fighting continued and the violent nature of his confrontations was escalating."

After being involved in several street fights, his parents decided that Bruce Lee needed to be trained in the martial arts. 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.

Wing Chun

It was during this time that 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 Chunmaster Yip Man in the summer of 1954. Lee's sifu, Wing Chun master Yip Man, was also a colleague and friend of Hong Kong's Tai Chi Chuan teacher Wu Ta-ch'i. Yip's regular classes generally consisted of the forms practice, chi sao (trapping hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques, and free-sparring. There was no set pattern to the classes. And he tried to keep them from fighting in the street gangs of Hong Kong, though he did encourage organized competition.

After a year into his Wing Chun training, some of Yip Man's other students refused to train with Lee due to his ancestry (his mother was of a quarter German ancestry) as the Chinese generally were against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians. Lee's sparring partner, Toe Dai Hawkins Cheung states, "Probably fewer than six people in the whole wing chun clan were personally taught, or even partly taught, by Yip Man." However Bruce showed a keen interest in the art, and continue to train privately with William Cheung and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.

Leaving Hong Kong

After attending Tak Sun School (德信學校) (a couple of blocks from his home at 218 Nathan Road, Kowloon) Lee entered the primary school division of La Salle Collegemarker in 1950 or 1952 (at the age of 12). In around 1956, due to poor academic performance (or possibly poor conduct as well), he was transferred to St. Francis Xavier's College (high school) where he would be mentored by Brother Edward, a Catholic monk (originally from Germany spending his entire adult life in China and then Hong Kong), teacher, and coach of the school boxing team.

In the spring of 1959, Lee got into yet another street fight and the police were called.Reaching all the way to his late teens Lee's street fights frequented more and included beating up the son of a feared triad family. Finally Lee's father decided for him to leave Hong Kong to pursue a safer and healthier avenue in the U.S.His parents confirmed the police's fear that this time Bruce Lee's opponent had organized crime background, and there was the possibility that a contract was out for his life.

"The police detective came and he says 'Excuse me Mr. Lee, your son is really fighting bad in school. If he gets into just one more fight I might have to put him in jail'." --Robert Lee

In April 1959 they decided to send him to the United States to meet up with his older sister Agnes Lee (李秋鳳) who was already living with family friends in San Francisco.

New Life in America

At the age of 18, Lee returned to the U.S. with $100 in his pocket and the titles of 1957 High School Boxing Champion and 1958 Crown Colony Cha Cha Champion of Hong Kong. After living in San Francisco for several months, he moved to Seattle in the fall of 1959, to continue his high school education and worked for Ruby Chow as a live-in waiter at her restaurant.

Ruby's husband was a co-worker and friend of his father. His older brother Peter Lee (李忠琛) would also join Bruce Lee in Seattle for a short stay before moving on to Minnesota to attend college. In December 1960, Lee completed his high school education and received his diploma from Edison Technical School (now Seattle Central Community College, located on Capitol Hill, Seattle).

In March 1961, he enrolled at the University of Washingtonmarker majoring in drama according to UW's alumni association information , not in philosophy as claimed by Lee himself and many others. He most likely also studied philosophy, psychology, and various other subjects. It was at the University of Washington that he met his future wife Linda Emery, whom he would marry in August 1964.

Bruce Lee had two children with Linda, Brandon Lee (1965–1993) and Shannon Lee (1969–). Brandon became an actor, who died in an accident during the filming of The Crow in 1993. Shannon Lee also became an actress and appeared in some low-budget films starting in the mid 1990s, but has since quit acting.

Jun Fan Gung Fu

Lee began teaching martial arts 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, who later became his first assistant instructor. Lee opened his first martial arts school, named the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in Seattle.

Bruce Lee dropped out of college in the spring of 1964 and moved to Oakland to live with James Yim Lee (嚴鏡海, no relation to Bruce Lee). James was twenty years senior to Bruce and a well known Chinese martial artist in the Bay area. Together they co-founded the second Jun Fan martial art studio in Oakland. James Lee was also responsible for introducing Bruce Lee to Ed Parker, royalty of the US martial art world and organizer of the (Long Beach) International Karate Championships at which Bruce Lee was later "discovered" by Hollywood.

Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do originated in 1965. A controversial match with Wong Jack Man heavily influenced Lee's philosophy about marital arts. After about three minutes of combat (some say 20 - 25 min), Wong Jack Man conceded. Lee concluded that the fight had lasted too long and that he had failed to live up to his potential using his 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.

Lee emphasized what he called "the style of no style". This consisted of getting rid of the formalized approach which Lee claimed was indicative of traditional styles. Lee felt the system he now called Jun Fan Gung Fu was even too restrictive, and eventually evolved into a philosophy and martial art he would come to call Jeet Kune Do or the Way of the Intercepting Fist. It is a term he would later regret because Jeet Kune Do implied specific parameters that styles connote whereas the idea of his martial art was to exist outside of parameters and limitations.

Guest at 1964 and 1967 Long Beach International Karate Championships

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 momentum 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."

It was at the 1964 championships where Lee first met taekwondo master Jhoon Rhee. The two developed a friendship — a relationship from which they both benefited as martial artists. Jhoon Rhee taught Lee the side kick in detail, and Lee taught Rhee the "non-telegraphic" punch.Lee also appeared at the 1967 Long Beach International Karate Championships and performed various demonstrations, including the famous "unstoppable punch" against USKA world karate champion Vic Moore. Lee told Moore that he was going to throw a straight punch to the face, and all he had to do was to try and block it. Lee took several steps back and asked if Moore was ready, when Moore nodded in affirmation, Lee glided towards him until he was within striking range. He then threw a straight punch directly at Moore's face, and stopped before impact. In eight attempts, Moore failed to block any of the punches.

Physical fitness and nutrition

Physical fitness

After his match with Wong Jack Man in 1965, Bruce Lee changed his approach toward martial arts training. Lee felt that many martial artists of his day did not spend enough time on physical conditioning. Bruce included all elements of total fitness— muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. He utilized traditional bodybuilding and weight training techniques to develop muscular and strength. Lee was careful to emphasize that mental and spiritual preparation were fundamental to the success of physical training in martial arts skills. In his book The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, he wrote

The weight training program that Lee developed during a stay in Hong Kong in 1965 placed heavy emphasis on arm development. At that time he could perform single bicep curls with 70 to 80 lbs (about 32 to 36 kg) dumbbell for three sets of eight repetitions. Other weight training exercises, such as squats, push-ups, reverse curls, concentration curls, French presses, and both wrist curls and reverse wrist curls. he performed consisted of 6 to 12 reps (at the time) per set. While this method of training targeted his fast twitch muscles, it also resulted in gaining muscle mass, placing Bruce a little over 160 lbs (about 72 kg).

Lee was documented as having well over 2,500 books in his own personal library, and eventually concluded that "A stronger muscle, is a bigger muscle", a conclusion he later disputed. Bruce forever experimented with his training routines to maximize his physical abilities, and push the human body to its limits. He employed many different routines and exercises including skipping rope, which served his training and bodybuilding purposes effectively.

Lee believed that the abdominal muscles were one of the most important muscle groups for a martial artist, since virtually every movement requires some degree of abdominal muscle activation. He trained daily from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., exercising stomach muscles, stretching to increase flexibility, and running to increase endurance. From 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. he would weight train and cycle. A typical aerobic conditioning routine for Lee would be to run a distance of two to six miles in 15 to 45 minutes, in which he would vary speed in 3–5 minute intervals. Additionally, Lee would also ride the equivalent of 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) in 45 minutes on a stationary bike.

Lee would sometimes exercise with the jump rope and put in 800 jumps after cycling. He would also include conditioning techniques to toughen the skin on his fists, including thrusting his hands into buckets of harsh rocks and gravel. He would do over 500 repetitions of this on a given day.

Chuck Norris states, "Lee, pound for pound, might well have been one of the strongest men in the world, and certainly one of the quickest."


According to Linda Lee, soon after he moved to the United States, Lee started to take nutrition seriously and developed an interest in health foods, high-protein drinks and vitamin and mineral supplements. He later concluded that in order to achieve a high-performance body, one could not fuel it with a diet of junk food, and with "the wrong fuel" one's body would perform sluggishly or sloppily. Lee also avoided baked goods, describing them as providing calories which did nothing for his body. Lee's diet included protein drinks; he always tried to consume one or two daily, but discontinued drinking them later on in his life.

Linda recalls Bruce's waist fluctuated between 26 and 28 inches (66 to 71 centimeters). "He also drank his own juice concoctions made from vegetables and fruits, apples, celery, carrots and so on, prepared in an electric blender", she said. He consumed green vegetables and fruits every day. Bruce always preferred to eat Chinese or other Asian food because he loved the variety that it had. He also became a heavy advocate of dietary supplements, including Vitamin C, Lecithin granules, Bee pollen, Vitamin E, Rose hips (liquid form), Wheat germ oil, Acerola — C, B-Folia


Acting career

Lee's father Hoi-Chuen was a famous Cantonese Opera star. Bruce was introduced into films at a very young age and appeared in several short black-and-white films as a child. Lee had his first role as a baby who was carried onto the stage. By the time he was 18, he had appeared in twenty films.

While in the United States from 1959–1964, Lee abandoned thoughts of a film career in favor of pursuing martial arts. William Dozier invited Lee for an audition, where Lee so impressed the producers with his lightning-fast moves that he earned the role of Kato alongside Van Williams in the TV series The Green Hornet. The show lasted just one season, from 1966 to 1967. Lee also played Kato in three crossover episodes of Batman. This was followed by guest appearances in a host of television series, including Ironside (1967) and Here Come the Brides (1969).In 1969, Lee made a brief appearance in his first American film Marlowe where he played a henchman hired to intimidate private detective Philip Marlowe (played by James Garner) by smashing up his office with leaping kicks and flashing punches, only to later accidentally jump off a tall building while trying to kick Marlowe off. In 1971, Lee appeared in four episodes of the television series Longstreet as the martial arts instructor of the title character Mike Longstreet (played by James Franciscus).

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 monkmarker 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. Books and documentaries about the show "Kung Fu" dispute Cadwell's version. According to these sources, the show was created by two writers and producers, Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander, and the reason Lee was not cast was in part because of his ethnicity but more so because he had a thick accent.

In a 9 December 1971 television interview on The Pierre Berton Show, Bruce Lee himself makes reference to both Warner Brothers and Paramount wanting him to do an American TV series. After Pierre Berton comments, "there's a pretty good chance that you'll get a TV series in the States called "The Warrior", in it, where you use what, the Martial Arts in a Western setting?" Lee responds, "that was the original idea, ...both of them (Warner and Paramount), I think, they want me to be in a modernized type of a thing, and they think that "The Western" type of thing is out. Whereas I want to do the Western, because, you see, how else can you justify all of the punching and kicking and violence, except in the period of The West?" Later in the interview, Berton asks Lee about "the problems that you face as a Chinese hero in an American series. Have people come up in the industry and said 'well, we don't know how the audience are going to take a non-American'"?. Lee responds "Well, such question has been raised, in fact, it is being discussed. That is why "The Warrior" is probably not going to be on." Lee adds, "They think that business wise it is a risk. I don't blame them. If the situation were reversed, and an American star were to come to Hong Kong, and I was the man with the money, I would have my own concerns as to whether the acceptance would be there."

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. Lee later formed his own company Concord Productions Inc. (協和公司) with Chow. 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 Beachmarker, Californiamarker, 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 Colosseummarker 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 26 July 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, Kim Tai Chung, 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.


Although Lee is best known as a martial artist, he also studied drama and philosophy while a student at the University of Washingtonmarker. He was well-read and had an extensive library. His own books on martial arts and fighting philosophy are known for their philosophical assertions both inside and outside of martial arts circles. His eclectic philosophy often mirrored his fighting beliefs, though he was quick to claim that his martial arts were solely a metaphor for such teachings. He believed that any knowledge ultimately led to self-knowledge, and said that his chosen method of self-expression was martial arts. His influences include Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism. John Little states that Lee was an atheist. When asked in 1972 what his religious affiliation was, he replied "none whatsoever." Also in 1972, when asked if he believed in God, he responded, "To be perfectly frank, I really do not."

The following quotations reflect his fighting philosophy.

  • "Be formless... shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend..."
  • "All kind of knowledge, eventually becomes self knowledge"
  • "Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."
  • "Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there."
  • "A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough."
  • "Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it."
  • "It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."

Controversial Death

On 10 May 1973, Lee collapsed in Golden Harvest studios while doing dubbing work for the movie Enter the Dragon. Suffering from seizures and headaches, he was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors diagnosed cerebral edema. They were able to reduce the swelling through the administration of mannitol. These same symptoms that occurred in his first collapse were later repeated on the day of his death.

On 20 July 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, due to have dinner with former James Bond star George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to Lee's wife Linda, Lee met producer Raymond Chow at 2 p.m. at home to discuss the making of the movie Game of Death. They worked until 4 p.m. and then drove together to the home of Lee's colleague Betty Ting, a Taiwanesemarker actress. The three went over the script at Ting's home, and then Chow left to attend a dinner meeting.

Later Lee complained of a headache, and Ting gave him an analgesic (painkiller), Equagesic, which contained both aspirin and a muscle relaxant. Around 7:30 p.m., he went to lie down for a nap. When Lee did not turn up for dinner, Chow came to the apartment but could not wake Lee up. A doctor was summoned, who spent ten minutes attempting to revive him before sending him by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospitalmarker. Lee was dead by the time he reached the hospital.

There was no visible external injury; however according to autopsy reports, his brain had swollen considerably, from 1,400 to 1,575 grams (a 13% increase). Lee was 32 years old. The only substance found during the autopsy was Equagesic. On 15 October 2005, Chow stated in an interview that Lee died from a hypersensitivity to the muscle relaxant in Equagesic, which he described as a common ingredient in painkillers. When the doctors announced Lee's death officially, it was ruled a "death by misadventure."

Controversy occurred when Dr. Don Langford, who was Lee's personal physician in Hong Kong and had treated Lee during his first collapse believed that "Equagesic was not at all involved in Bruce's first collapse."

However Professor R.D. Teare, a forensic scientist recommended by Scotland Yard who had overseen over 1000 autopsies, was the top expert assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was that the death was caused by an acute cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the prescription pain killing drug Equagesic.

The preliminary opinion of the neurosurgeon who saved Lee's life during his first seizure, Peter Wu, was that the cause of death should have been attributed to either a reaction to cannabis or Equagesic. However, Dr. Wu later backed off from this position:
"Professor Teare was a forensic scientist recommended by Scotland Yard; he was brought in as an expert on cannabis and we can't contradict his testimony. The dosage of cannabis is neither precise nor predictable, but I've never known of anyone dying simply from taking it."

Lee's death is still a subject of controversy.

His wife Linda returned to her home town of Seattle, and had him buried at lot 276 of Lakeview Cemetery. Pallbearers at his funeral on 31 July 1973 included Taky Kimura, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Chuck Norris, George Lazenby, Dan Inosanto, Peter Chin, and his brother Robert Lee.

His iconic status and untimely demise fed many theories about his death, including murder involving the Triad society and a supposed curse on him and his family.

Death Touch Theories

Black Belt magazine in 1985 carried the speculation that the death of Bruce Lee in 1973 may have been caused by "a delayed reaction to a Dim Mak strike he received several weeks prior to his collapse". As well other authors have said the death of Bruce Lee may have been due to a "Vibrating Palm technique".

Family Curse

The family curse theory was extended to his son Brandon Lee, also an actor, who died, 20 years after his father, in a bizarre accident while filming The Crow at the age of 28. It was released after his death and gained cult status, as had his father's last film. (The Crow was completed with the use of computer-generated imagery and a stunt double in the few but critical scenes that remained to be filmed.) Brandon Lee was buried beside his father.


Bruce Lee's certified instructors

Bruce Lee personally certified only 3 instructors. Taky Kimura, James Yimm Lee, and Dan Inosanto. Inosanto holds the 3rd rank (Instructor) directly from Bruce Lee in Jeet Kune Do, Jun Fan Gung Fu, and Bruce Lee's Tao of Chinese Gung Fu. Taky Kimura holds a 5th rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu. James Yimm Lee (now deceased) held a 3rd rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu. Ted Wong holds 2nd rank in Jeet Kune Do certified directly by Bruce Lee and was later promoted to Instructor under Dan Inosanto; feeling that Bruce would have wanted to promote him. Other Jeet Kune Do instructors since Lee's death have been certified directly by Dan Inosanto, some with remaining Bruce Lee signed certificates.

James Yimm Lee, a close friend of Lee, died without certifying additional students. The sole exception to this being Gary Dill who studied Jeet Kune Do under James and received permission via a personal letter from him in 1972 to pass on his learning of JKD to others. Taky Kimura, to date, has certified only one person in Jun Fan Gung Fu: his son Andy Kimura. Dan Inosanto continued to teach and certify select students in Jeet Kune Do for over 30 years, making it possible for thousands of martial arts practitioners to trace their training lineage back to Bruce Lee. Prior to his death, Lee told his then only two living instructors Kimura and Inosanto (James Yimm Lee had died in 1972) to dismantle his schools.

Both Taky Kimura and Dan Inosanto were allowed to teach small classes thereafter, under the guideline "keep the numbers low, but the quality high". Bruce also instructed several World Karate Champions including Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, and Mike Stone. Between all 3 of them, during their training with Bruce they won every Karate Championship in the United States.

Hong Kong legacy

There are a number of stories (perhaps apocryphal) surrounding Lee that are still repeated in Hong Kong culture today. One is that his early 70s interview on the TVB show Enjoy Yourself Tonight cleared the busy streets of Hong Kong as everyone was watching the interview at home.

On 6 January 2009, it was announced that Bruce's Hong Kong home (41 Cumberland Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong) will be preserved and transformed into a tourist site by philanthropist Yu Pang-lin.

Awards and honors

Martial arts lineage

Lee's familiarity of the Art of War was infinitely diverse from his studious life-time focus;Lee was trained in Wu Tai Chi Chuan (also known as Nga) and Jing Mo Tam Tui for the twelve sets. Lee also was trained in the martial art Choy Li Fut. Lee's perspectives were wide and never ending still as it included Western Boxing, of the three swords for fencing (epee, sabre and foil) Bruce was trained in Epee, Judo, Praying Mantis, Hsing-I, and Jujitsu.

::"When Bruce arrived in the U.S he (already) had training in Wu Style Tai Chi, sometimes in Hong Kong called Nga. And he had of course training in western boxing. He had training in fencing from his brother, that's Epee, that goes from toe to head. He had training obviously in Wing Chun. And the other area was the training he had received in Buk Pie, or Tam Toi, he was twelve sets in Tam Toi. And I believe he had traded with a Choy Li Fut man." --Danny Inosanto

Lineage in Wing Chun / Jeet Kune Do
Wing Chun teacher Yip Man (葉問)
Other instructors Wong Shun-leung (黃惇樑)

William Cheung
Sparring partner and friend Toe Dai Hawkins Cheung

Bruce Lee (李小龍)

Creator of Jeet Kune Do

Instructors personally certified by Bruce Lee to teach Jeet Kune Do Taky Kimura

James Yimm Lee

Dan Inosanto

Notable students of Jun Fan/Gung Fu/Jeet Kune Do Brandon Bruce Lee

Jesse Glover

Steve Golden

Larry Hartsell

Dan Inosanto

Yori Nakamura

Taky Kimura

Richard Bustillo

Jerry Poteet

Ted Wong

James Yimm Lee

Rusty Stevens

Chuck Norris

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

James Coburn

Joe Lewis

Roman Polanski

Lee Marvin

Stirling Silliphant

Steve McQueen

Mike Stone


Books authored

Selected filmography

For a complete list of Bruce Lee's filmography see



  • The Green Hornet (26 episodes, 1966–1967) .... Kato
  • Batman (Episodes: "The Spell of Tut" 28 September 1966, "A Piece of the Action" 1 March 1967, "Batman's Satisfaction" 2 March 1967) .... Kato
  • Ironside (Episode: "Tagged for Murder" 26 October 1967) .... Leon Soo
  • Blondie (Episode: "Pick on Someone Your Own Size", 1968)
  • Here Come the Brides (Episode: "Marriage Chinese Style" 9 April 1969) .... Lin
  • Longstreet (4 episodes, 1971) .... Li Tsung
  • The Pierre Berton Show (1971) .... Himself

See also


  1. Lee, Bruce. The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. 1975. p.12.
  4. Bruce Lee: the immortal Dragon, 29 January 2002, A&E Television Networks
  5. Black Belt: Bruce Lee Collector's Edition Summer 1993
  6. pg 18 Black Belt: Bruce Lee Collector's Edition Summer 1993
  7. pg 19 Black Belt: Bruce Lee Collector's Edition Summer 1993
  8. U. of Washington alumni records
  9. :"BB: What was the most significant thing you learned from training with Lee, and vice versa? :RHEE: I think the most important thing I learned from Bruce was his hand techniques, his "non-telegraphic" punch. The most important thing I taught Bruce was probably my side kick. This is, in fact, a very difficult kick until you really know the finer mechanics of executing the kick."
  15. Lee , Linda, Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew, Warner Books, 1975.
  16. Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey, documentary feature, 2000.
  17. "From Grasshopper to Caine,
  18. "From The Pierre Berton Show 9 December 1971 (comments near end of part 2 & early in part 3)
  19. Bruce Lee, the Legend, 1977, Paragon Films, Ltd., 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
  20. Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey at 31m45s
  22. Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, 1995 Legacy Productions, New Zealand.


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  • Dorgan, Michael. Bruce Lee's Toughest Fight [6358]. 1980 July. Official Karate

External links

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