Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong American actor, martial artist, philosopher, filmaker and founder or the martial art Jeet Kune Do. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about him!
1.His real name was Lee Jun-fan.
2. He was born on November 27 1940 and died at July 20 1973.
3. According to the Chinese zodiac, Lee was born in both the hour and the year of the Dragon, which according to tradition is a strong and fortuitous omen.
4. Bruce’s father, Lee Hoi-chuen, (李海泉) was Han Chinese, and his mother, Grace Ho (何愛瑜), was of half-Chinese and half-Caucasian descent.
5. Bruce was the fourth child of five children: Phoebe Lee (李秋源), Agnes Lee (李秋鳳), Peter Lee (李忠琛), and Robert Lee (李振輝).
6. The name “Lee Jun-Fan” homophonically means “return again”, and was given to Lee by his mother, who felt he would return to the United States once he came of age. Because of his mother’s superstitious nature, she had originally named him Sai-fon, which is a feminine name meaning “small phoenix”. The English name “Bruce” is thought to have been given by the hospital attending physician, Dr. Mary Glover.
7. Bruce Lee had three other Chinese names: Li Yuanxin (李源鑫), a family/clan name; Li Yuanjian (李元鑒), which he used as a student name while he was attending La Salle College, and his Chinese screen name Li Xiaolong (李小龍; Xiaolong means “little dragon”).
8. Bruce Lee’s given name Jun-fan was originally written in Chinese as 震藩, however, the Jun (震) Chinese character was identical to part of his grandfather’s name, Lee Jun-biu (李震彪). Hence, the Chinese character for Jun in Lee’s name was changed to the homonym 振 instead, to avoid naming taboo in Chinese tradition.
9. After Lee was involved in several street fights, his parents decided that he needed to be trained in the martial arts. Lee’s first introduction to martial arts was through his father, from whom he learned the fundamentals of Wu-style t’ai chi ch’uan.
10. The largest influence on Lee’s martial arts development was his study of Wing Chun.
11. Bruce Lee began training in Wing Chun when he was 16 years old under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man in 1957, after losing several fights with rival gang members. Yip’s regular classes generally consisted of the forms practice, chi sao (sticking hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques, and free-sparring.
12. There was no set pattern to the classes. Yip tried to keep his students from fighting in the street gangs of Hong Kong by encouraging them to fight in organized competitions.
13. After a year into his Wing Chun training, most of Yip Man’s other students refused to train with Lee after they learned of his mixed ancestry, as the Chinese were generally against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians.
14. After attending Tak Sun School (several blocks from his home at 218 Nathan Road, Kowloon), Lee entered the primary school division of La Salle College at the age of 12.
15. 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 teacher and coach of the school boxing team.
16. At the age of 18, Lee returned to the United States.
17. After living in San Francisco for several months, he moved to Seattle in 1959, to continue his high school education, where he also worked for Ruby Chow as a live-in waiter at her restaurant.
18.In March 1961, Lee enrolled at the University of Washington, majoring in drama according to a 1999 article in the university’s alumni magazine, not in philosophy as stated by Lee himself and many others.
19. Bruce Lee also studied philosophy, psychology, and various other subjects.
20. It was at the University of Washington that he met his future wife Linda Emery, a fellow student studying to become a teacher, whom he married in August 1964.
21. Bruce Lee had two children with Linda Emery, Brandon Lee (1965–93) and Shannon Lee (born 1969).
22. Bruce Lee began teaching martial arts in the United States in 1959.
23. 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 continued to teach some of Lee’s early techniques.
24. Taky Kimura became Lee’s first Assistant Instructor and continued to teach his art and philosophy after Lee’s death.
25. Bruce Lee opened his first martial arts school, named the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in Seattle.
26. Bruce Lee dropped out of college in the spring of 1964 and moved to Oakland to live with James Yimm Lee. James Lee was twenty years senior to Bruce Lee and a well known Chinese martial artist in the area. Together, they founded the second Jun Fan martial art studio in Oakland.
27. James Lee was also responsible for introducing Bruce Lee to Ed Parker, American martial artist, and organizer of the Long Beach International Karate Championships at which Bruce Lee was later “discovered” by Hollywood.
28. In Oakland, California in 1964 at Chinatown, Lee had a controversial private match with Wong Jack Man, a direct student of Ma Kin Fung known for his mastery of Xingyiquan, Northern Shaolin, and T’ai chi ch’uan.
29. According to Lee, the Chinese community issued an ultimatum to him to stop teaching non-Chinese. When he refused to comply, he was challenged to a combat match with Wong. The arrangement was that if Lee lost, he would have to shut down his school; while if he won, then Lee would be free to teach Caucasians or anyone else. Wong denied this, stating that he requested to fight Lee after Lee boasted during one of his demonstrations at a Chinatown theatre that he could beat anyone in San Francisco, and that Wong himself did not discriminate against Caucasians or other non-Chinese. Lee commented, “That paper had all the names of the sifu from Chinatown, but they don’t scare me”.
30. Individuals known to have witnessed the match include Cadwell, James Lee (Bruce Lee’s associate, no relation), and William Chen, a teacher of T’ai chi ch’uan. Wong and William Chen stated that the fight lasted an unusually long 20–25 minutes.
31. Jeet Kune Do originated in 1967.
32. After filming one season of The Green Hornet, Lee found himself out of work and opened The Jun Fan Institute of Gung Fu.
33. The controversial match with Wong Jack Man influenced Lee’s philosophy about martial arts. 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.
34. Bruce 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 fencing and basic boxing techniques.
35. Bruce Lee emphasised what he called “the style of no style”. This consisted of getting rid of the formalised 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.
36. At 173 cm (5 ft 8 in) and 64 kg (141 lb),Bruce Lee was renowned for his physical fitness and vigor, achieved by using a dedicated fitness regimen to become as strong as possible.
37. He used traditional bodybuilding techniques to build some muscle mass, not overdone as that could decrease speed or flexibility. At the same time in balance, Lee was careful to admonish that mental and spiritual preparation are fundamental to the success of physical training in martial arts skills. In Tao of Jeet Kune Do he wrote
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. He believed that any knowledge ultimately led to self-knowledge, and said that his chosen method of self-expression was martial arts.
41. His influences include Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism.
42. On the other hand, Lee’s philosophy was very much in opposition to the conservative worldview advocated by Confucianism.
43. John Little states that Lee was an atheist. When asked in 1972 about his religious affiliation, he replied, “none whatsoever”.
44. In 1972, he was asked if he believed in God, and responded, “To be perfectly frank, I really do not”.
45. On May 10, 1973, Lee collapsed during an ADR session for Enter the Dragon at Golden Harvest in Hong Kong.
46. 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. The headache and cerebral edema that occurred in his first collapse were later repeated on the day of his death.
47. On July 20, 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, to have dinner with 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 film Game of Death. They worked until 4 p.m. and then drove together to the home of Lee’s colleague Betty Ting Pei, a Taiwanese actress. The three went over the script at Ting’s home, and then Chow left to attend a dinner meeting.
48. Later Lee complained of a headache, and Ting gave him an analgesic (painkiller), Equagesic, which contained both aspirin and the tranquilizer meprobamate. Around 7:30 p.m., he went to lie down for a nap. When Lee did not turn up for dinner, producer Raymond Chow came to the apartment, but was unable to wake Lee up. A doctor was summoned, who spent ten minutes attempting to revive Lee before sending him by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
49. By the time the ambulance reached the hospital he was dead. He was 32 years old.
50. There was no visible external injury; however, according to autopsy reports, Lee’s brain had swollen considerably, from 1,400 to 1,575 grams (a 13% increase).
51. The autopsy found Equagesic in his system. On October 15, 2005, Chow stated in an interview that Lee died from an allergic reaction to the tranquilizer meprobamate, the main ingredient in Equagesic, which Chow described as an ingredient commonly used in painkillers. When the doctors announced Lee’s death officially, it was ruled a “death by misadventure”.
52. Bruce Lee’s wife Linda returned to her hometown of Seattle, and had him buried at lot 276 of Lakeview Cemetery.
53. Pallbearers at his funeral on July 25, 1973 included Taky Kimura, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Chuck Norris, George Lazenby, Dan Inosanto, Peter Chin, and Lee’s brother Robert.
64. Around the time of Lee’s death, numerous rumors appeared in the media. Lee’s iconic status and untimely demise fed many wild rumors and theories. These included murder involving the Triads and a supposed curse on him and his family.
65. Donald Teare, a forensic scientist recommended by Scotland Yard who had overseen over 1,000 autopsies, was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by an acute cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination medication Equagesic.
66. While there was initial speculation that cannabis found in Lee’s stomach may have contributed to his death, Teare refuted this, stating that it would “be both ‘irresponsible and irrational’ to say that [cannabis] might have triggered either the events of Bruce’s collapse on May 10 or his death on July 20”. Dr. R. R. Lycette, the clinical pathologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, reported at the coroner hearing that the death could not have been caused by cannabis.
67. At the 1975 San Diego Comic-Con convention, Bruce Lee’s friend Chuck Norris attributed his death to a reaction between the muscle-relaxant medication he had been taking since 1968 for a ruptured disc in his back, and an “antibiotic” he was given for his headache on the night of his death.
68. There are a number of stories surrounding Lee that are still repeated in Hong Kong culture. One is that his early 1970s interview on the TVB show Enjoy Yourself Tonight cleared the busy streets of Hong Kong as everyone was watching the interview at home.
69. On January 6, 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.
70. Bruce Lee was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
71. In April 2013, he was posthumously awarded the prestigious Founders Award at The Asian Awards.
72. A Bruce Lee statue was unveiled in Los Angeles’ Chinatown on June 15, 2013. It stands at 7-foot (210 cm) tall and was made in Guangzhou, China.
73. In April 2014, it was announced that Lee would be a featured character in the video game EA Sports UFC, and will be playable in multiple weight classes.
74. Bruce Lee was voted as the Greatest Movie Fighter Ever in 2014 by the Houston Boxing Hall Of Fame.
75. The HBHOF is a combat sports voting body composed exclusively of current and former fighters and Martial Artists.