Lee was born on 27 November 1940 at the Chinese Hospital in Chinatown, San Francisco.His father, Lee Hoi-chuen was fully Chinese, and his mother, Grace Ho (何愛瑜) was half Chinese and half Caucasian.Lee was the fourth child of five children: Agnes, Phoebe, Peter, and Robert. Lee and his parents returned to Hong Kong when he was three months old.
Lee's Cantonese birth name was Lee Jun-fan (李振藩).The name homophonically means "return again"; it 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 originally named him Sai-fon (細鳳), which is a feminine name meaning "small phoenix".The English name "Bruce" was thought to be given by the hospital attending physician, Dr. Mary Glover.
Lee had three other Chinese names: Li Yuanxin (李源鑫), a family/clan name; Li Yuanjian (李元鑒), 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"). 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.
Lee's father, Lee Hoi-chuen, was one of the leading Cantonese opera and film actors at the time, and was embarking on a year-long Cantonese opera tour with his family on the eve of the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong. Lee Hoi-chuen had been touring the United States for many years and performing at numerous Chinese communities there.
Although a number of his peers decided to stay in the United States, Lee Hoi-chuen decided to go back to Hong Kong after his wife gave birth to Bruce Lee. Within months, Hong Kong was invaded and the Lees lived for three years and eight months under Japanese occupation. After the war ended, Lee Hoi-chuen resumed his acting career and became a more popular actor during Hong Kong's rebuilding years.
Lee's mother, Grace Ho, was from one of the wealthiest and most powerful clans in Hong Kong, the Ho-tungs. She was the niece of Sir Robert Ho-tung,of Eurasian descent and patriarch of the clan. As such, the young Bruce Lee grew up in an affluent and privileged environment. Despite this advantage of his family's status, the Hong Kong neighborhood Lee grew up in became over-crowded, dangerous, and full of gang rivalries because of the mass number of people fleeing communist China to Hong Kong, :
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, Lee's parents decided that he needed to be trained in the martial arts. Lee's first introduction to martial arts was through his father. He learned the fundamentals of Wu style tai chi chuan from his father.
The largest influence on Lee's martial arts development was his study of Wing Chun. Lee began training in Wing Chun at the age of 13 under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man in 1954, after losing a fight 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.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.
After a year into his Wing Chun training, most of Yip Man's other students refused to train with Lee after they learnt of his ancestry (his mother was half Chinese and half Caucasian) as the Chinese generally were against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians.Lee's sparring partner, 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, Lee showed a keen interest in Wing Chun, and continued to train privately with Yip Man and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.
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 College 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 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. From all the way to his late teens, Lee's street fights became more frequent and included beating up the son of a feared triad family. Eventually, Lee's father decided for him to leave Hong Kong to pursue a safer and healthier avenue in the United States. His parents confirmed the police's fear that this time Lee's opponent had an organised 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".
In April 1959, Lee's parents decided to send him to the United States to stay with his older sister, Agnes Lee (李秋鳳), who was already living with family friends in San Francisco.
At the age of 18, Lee returned to the United States 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 1959, to continue his high school education, where he also worked for Ruby Chow as a live-in waiter at her restaurant.
Chow's husband was a co-worker and friend of Lee's father. Lee's older brother Peter Lee (李忠琛) would also join him 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, Lee enrolled at the University of Washington, majoring in drama according to the university's alumni association information,not in philosophy as claimed by Lee himself and many others. Lee also studied philosophy, psychology, and various other subjects.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.
Lee had two children with Linda Emery, Brandon Lee (1965–93) and Shannon Lee (b. 1969).
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.
Lee dropped out of college in the spring of 1964 and moved to Oakland to live with James Yimm Lee (嚴鏡海). 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. James Lee was also responsible for introducing Bruce Lee to Ed Parker, royalty of the U.S. martial arts world and organiser of the Long Beach International Karate Championships at which Bruce Lee was later "discovered" by Hollywood.
The Jeet Kune Do emblem is a registered trademark held by the Bruce Lee Estate. The Chinese characters around the Taijitu symbol read: "Using no way as way" and "Having no limitation as limitation" The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin.
Main article: Jeet Kune Do
Jeet Kune Do originated in 1967. After filming one season of The Green Hornet, Lee found himself out of work and opened The Jun Fan Institute of Gung Fu. A 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. 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.
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.
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 push-ups (using the thumb and the index finger of one hand) 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", Baker 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 Goo Rhee. The two developed a friendship – a relationship from which they benefited as martial artists. Rhee taught Lee the side kick in detail, and Lee taught Rhee the "non-telegraphic" punch.
Lee 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.
Lee was involved in competitive fights, some of which were arranged while others were not. Dan Inosanto stated, "There's no doubt in my mind that if Bruce Lee had gone into pro boxing, he could easily have ranked in the top three in the lightweight division or junior-welterweight division".
Lee defeated three-time champion British boxer Gary Elms by way of knockout in the third round in the 1958 Hong Kong Inter-School amateur Boxing Championships by using Wing Chun traps and high/low-level straight punches.
The following year, Lee became a member of the "Tigers of Junction Street," and was involved in numerous gang-related street fights. "In one of his last encounters, while removing his jacket the fellow he was squaring off against sucker punched him and blackened his eye. Bruce flew into a rage and went after him, knocking him out, breaking his opponent's arm. The police were called as a result". The incident took place on a Hong Kong rooftop at 10 pm on Wednesday, 29 April 1959.
In 1962, Lee knocked out Uechi, a Japanese black belt Karateka, in 11 seconds in a 1962 Full-Contact match in Seattle. It was refereed by Jesse Glover. The incident took place in Seattle at a YMCA handball court. Taki Kamura says the battle lasted 10 seconds in contrary to Hart's statement.Ed Hart states "The karate man arrived in his gi (uniform), complete with black belt, while Bruce showed up in his street clothes and simply took off his shoes. The fight lasted exactly 11 seconds – I know because I was the time keeper – and Bruce had hit the guy something like 15 times and kicked him once. I thought he'd killed him".
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. 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 issued an open challenge during one of Lee's demonstrations at a Chinatown theatre, 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".
Individuals known to have witnessed the match included Cadwell, James Lee (Bruce Lee's associate, no relation), and William Chen, a teacher of T'ai chi ch'uan. Wong and witness William Chen stated that the fight lasted an unusually long 20–25 minutes. According to Bruce Lee, Linda Lee Cadwell, and James Yimm Lee, the fight lasted 3 minutes with a decisive victory for Bruce. "The fight ensued, it was a no-holds-barred fight, it took three minutes. Bruce got this guy down to the ground and said 'do you give up?' and the man said he gave up" – Linda Lee Cadwell.
Wong Jack Man published his own account of the battle in the Chinese Pacific Weekly, a Chinese-language newspaper in San Francisco, which contained another challenge to Lee for a public rematch. Lee had no reciprocation to Wong's article, nor were there any further public announcements by either, but Lee had continued to teach Caucasians.
Lee's eventual celebrity put him in the path of a number of men who sought to make a name for themselves by causing a confrontation with Lee. A challenger had invaded Lee's private home in Hong Kong by trespassing into the backyard to incite Lee in combat. Lee finished the challenger violently with a kick, infuriated over the home invasion. Describing the incident,
One time one fellow got over that wall, got into his yard and challenged him and he says 'how good are you?' And Bruce was poppin mad. He [Bruce] says 'he gets the idea, this guy, to come and invade my home, my own private home, invade it and challenge me.' He said he got so mad that he gave the hardest kick he ever gave anyone in his life.
Bob Wall, USPK karate champion and Lee's 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
Lee's father Lee Hoi-chuen was a famous Cantonese opera star. Because of this, Lee 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 to 1964, Lee abandoned thoughts of a film career in favour of pursuing martial arts. However, a martial arts exhibition on Long Beach in 1964 eventually led to the invitation by William Dozier for an audition for a part in the pilot for "Number One Son". The show never aired, but Lee was invited for 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 three television series: Ironside (1967), Here Come the Brides (1969), and Blondie (1969).
At the time, two of Lee's martial arts students were Hollywood script writer Stirling Silliphant and actor James Coburn. In 1969 the three worked on a script for a film called The Silent Flute, and went together on a location hunt to India. The project was not realised at the time; but the 1978 film Circle of Iron, starring David Carradine, was based on the same plot. In 2010, producer Paul Maslansky was reported to plan and receive fundings for a film based on the original script for The Silent Flute. In 1969, Lee made a brief appearance in the Silliphant-penned 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. The same year he also choreographed fight scenes for The Wrecking Crew starring Dean Martin, Sharon Tate, and featuring Chuck Norris in his first role. In 1970, he was responsible for fight choreography for A Walk in the Spring Rain starring Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn, again written by Silliphant. In 1971, Lee appeared in four episodes of the television series Longstreet, written by Silliphant. Lee played the martial arts instructor of the title character Mike Longstreet (played by James Franciscus), and important aspects of his martial arts philosophy were written into the script.
According to statements made by Lee, and also by Linda Lee Cadwell after Lee's death, in 1971 Lee pitched a television series of his own tentatively titled The Warrior, discussions which were also confirmed by Warner Bros. In a 9 December 1971 television interview on The Pierre Berton Show, Lee stated that both Paramount and Warner Brothers wanted him "to be in a modernized type of a thing, and that they think the Western idea is out, whereas I want to do the Western". According to Cadwell, however, Lee's concept was retooled and renamed Kung Fu, but Warner Bros. gave Lee no credit. Warner Brothers states that they had for some time been developing an identical concept, created by two writers and producers, Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander. According to these sources, the reason Lee was not cast was in part because of his ethnicity, but more so because he had a thick accent. The role of the Shaolin monk in the Wild West, was eventually awarded to then-non-martial-artist David Carradine. In The Pierre Berton Show interview, Lee stated he understood Warner Brothers' attitudes towards casting in the series: "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".
Producer Fred Weintraub had advised Lee to return to Hong Kong and make a feature film which he could showcase to executives in Hollywood.Not happy with his supporting roles in the United States, 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 recognised on the street as the star of the show. After negotiating with both Shaw Brothers Studio and Golden Harvest, Lee signed a film contract to star in two films produced by 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. (協和電影公司), 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 Beach, California, Lee had met Karate champion Chuck Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Norris to movie-goers 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. The role was originally offered to American Karate champion Joe Lewis.
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. Filming commenced in Hong Kong in February 1973. One month into the filming, another production company, Starseas Motion Pictures, promoted Bruce Lee as a leading actor in Fist of Unicorn, although he had merely agreed to choreograph the fight sequences in the film as a favour to his long-time friend Unicorn Chan. Lee planned to sue the production company, but retained his friendship with Chan. However, only a few months after the completion of Enter the Dragon, and six days before its 26 July 1973 release, Lee 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 film sparked a brief fad in martial arts, epitomised in songs such as "Kung Fu Fighting" and TV shows like 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 out-takes, 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 of Lee's students, 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 challengers 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 1978. 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.
Apart from Game of Death, other future film projects were planned to feature Lee at the time. In 1972, after the success of The Big Boss and Fist of Fury, a third film was planned by Raymond Chow at Golden Harvest to be directed by Lo Wei, titled Yellow-Faced Tiger. However, at the time, Lee decided to direct and produce his own script for Way of the Dragon instead. Although Lee had formed a production company with Raymond Chow, a period film was also planned from September–November 1973 with the competing Shaw Brothers Studio, to be directed by either Chor Yuen or Cheng Kang, and written by Yi Kang and Chang Cheh, titled The Seven Sons of the Jade Dragon.Lee had also worked on several scripts himself. A tape containing a recording of Lee narrating the basic storyline to a film tentatively titled Southern Fist/Northern Leg exists, showing some similarities with the canned script for The Silent Flute (Circle of Iron).Another script had the title Green Bamboo Warrior, set in San Francisco, planned to co-star Bolo Yeung and to be produced by Andrew Vajna who later went on to produce First Blood.Photo shoot costume tests were also organized for some of these planned film projects.
Lee was renowned for his physical fitness and vigorous, dedicated fitness regimen to become as strong as he possibly could.
After his match with Wong Jack Man in 1965, Lee changed his approach toward martial arts training. Lee felt that many martial artists of his time did not spend enough time on physical conditioning. Lee included all elements of total fitness—muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. He tried traditional bodybuilding techniques to build bulky muscles or mass. However, Lee was careful to admonish that mental and spiritual preparation was fundamental to the success of physical training in martial arts skills. In Tao of Jeet Kune Do, he wrote
Training is one of the most neglected phases of athletics. Too much time is given to the development of skill and too little to the development of the individual for participation. ... JKD, ultimately is not a matter of petty techniques but of highly developed spirituality and physique.
The weight training program that Lee used during a stay in Hong Kong in 1965 placed heavy emphasis on his arms. At that time he could perform single biceps curls at a weight of 70 to 80 lb (about 32 to 36 kg) for three sets of eight repetitions, along with other forms of exercises, such as squats, push-ups, reverse curls, concentration curls, French presses, and both wrist curls and reverse wrist curls. The repetitions he performed were 6 to 12 reps (at the time). While this method of training targeted his fast and slow twitch muscles, it later resulted in weight gain or muscle mass, placing Lee a little over 160 lb (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 maximise 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 work. Mito Uyehara recalled that "Bruce always felt that if your stomach was not developed, then you had no business doing any hard sparring". According to Linda Lee Cadwell, even when not training, Lee would frequently perform sit ups and other abdominal exercises in domestic living throughout the day, such as during watching TV. She said of Lee, "Bruce was a fanatic about ab training. He was always doing sit-ups, crunches, Roman chair movements, leg raises and V-ups".
Lee trained from 7 am to 9 am, including stomach, flexibility, and running, and from 11 am to 12 pm he would weight train and cycle. A typical exercise 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. Lee would ride the equivalent of 10 miles (about 16 kilometres) in 45 minutes on a stationary bike.
Lee would sometimes exercise with the jump rope and put in 800 jumps after cycling. Lee would also do exercises 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.An article of the S. China Post writes "When a doctor warned him not to inflict too much violence on his body, Bruce dismissed his words. 'the human brain can subjugate anything, even real pain' —Bruce Lee".
Lee's phenomenal fitness meant he was capable of performing many exceptional physical feats. The following list includes some of the physical feats of which, according to author John Little, Lee was capable:
Lee's striking speed from three feet with his hands down by his side reached five hundredths of a second.
Lee could take in one arm a 75 lb barbell from a standing position with the barbell held flush against his chest and slowly stick his arms out locking them, holding the barbell there for several seconds.
In a speed demonstration, Lee could snatch a dime off a person's open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.
Lee performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger.
Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.
Lee could cause a 300-lb (136.08 kg) bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling with a sidekick.
Also, according to the Intercepting Fist DVD, Lee would hold an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer.
According to Linda Lee Cadwell, 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 and refined flour, describing them as providing calories which did nothing for his body.
Lee consumed green vegetables and fruit every day. He always preferred to eat Chinese or other Asian food because he loved the variety that it had. Some of Lee's favorite Chinese dishes were beef in oyster sauce, tofu and steak and liver. He also became a heavy advocate of dietary supplements, including Vitamin C, Lecithin granules, bee pollen, Shilajit, Vitamin E, rose hips (liquid form), wheat germ oil, Acerola – C and B-Folia.
Lee disliked dairy food although he felt that for building muscle he must consume milk. As a result he only ate dairy as part of cereals and protein drinks, usually using powdered milk instead of fresh milk. Lee's diet included protein drinks; he always tried to consume one or two daily, but discontinued drinking them later on in his life. They typically included non-instant powdered milk which is reported to have a higher concentration of calcium than other forms of powdered milk, eggs, wheat germ, peanut butter, banana, brewers yeast for its B vitamins, and Inositol and Lecithin supplements. Linda Lee recalls Bruce Lee's waist fluctuated between 26 and 28 inches (66 to 71 centimetres). "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.According to Lee, the size of portions and number of meals were just as important. He would usually consume four or five smaller meals a day rather than a couple of large meals, and would boost his metabolism by eating small healthy snacks such as fruits throughout the day. Fruit and vegetables provided him with the richest source of carbohydrates; he was particularly keen on carrots which would make up one half of the contents of the drink, with the remaining being split between the other fruits and vegetables. The reason why Lee was so keen on juicing vegetables and fruits is that he believed it allowed the body to assimilate many nutrients more easily. The enzymes in the juiced vegetables acting as organic catalysts which increase the metabolism and absorption of nutrients. Given that most of these enzymes are destroyed when vegetables are cooked, Lee would try to consume them raw.
Lee often drank a royal jelly and ginseng drink as they contain B-complex vitamins, including a high concentration of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), acetylcholine, hormones, and eighteen amino acids which allow for a quick energy boost.In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is also said to improve circulation, increase blood supply, allow quicker recovery times after exhaustion and stimulating the body.In addition, Lee regularly drank black tea, often with honey or with milk and sugar.
Lee is best known as a martial artist, but he also studied drama and philosophy while a student at the University of Washington. 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.On the other hand, Lee's philosophy was very much in opposition to the conservative world view advocated by Confucianism.John Little states that Lee was an atheist. He was asked in 1972 what his religious affiliation was, and he replied, "none whatsoever".Also in 1972, he was asked if he believed in God, and he responded, "To be perfectly frank, I really do not".
The following quotations reflect his fighting philosophy.
"Be formless... shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You pour water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or creep or drip or crash! Be water, my friend..."
"All types of knowledge, ultimately leads to 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".
"Quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough".
"I always learn something, and that is: to always be yourself. And to express yourself, to have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him".
"It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential".
Bruce Lee is buried next to his son Brandon in Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle.
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, 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 pm at home to discuss the making of the film Game of Death. They worked until 4 pm 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.
Later Lee complained of a headache, and Ting gave him an analgesic (painkiller), Equagesic, which contained both aspirin and the muscle relaxant meprobamate. Around 7:30 pm, 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 Hospital. 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 an allergic reaction to the muscle relaxant (meprobamate) 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".
Don Langford, Lee's personal physician in Hong Kong, had treated Lee during his first collapse. Controversy erupted when he stated, "Equagesic was not at all involved in Bruce's first collapse".
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 drug Equagesic.
The preliminary opinion of Peter Wu, the neurosurgeon who saved Lee's life during his first seizure, was that the cause of death should have been attributed to either a reaction to cannabis or Equagesic. However, Wu later backed off from this position, stating that:
"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 wife Linda returned to her hometown 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 Lee's brother Robert.
Lee's iconic status and untimely demise fed many theories about his death, including murder involving the triads and a supposed curse on him and his family.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".