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Bruce Lee Stories That Show How Man Became Legend

Updated November 27, 2019 162.0k views14 items

Chuck Norris may have earned his own custom line of jokes regarding his supposed superhuman qualities, but legends about Bruce Lee have been kicking butt for much longer. And considering the Bruce Lee real story proves many of his legendary feats have a solid base in reality, consider that another knockout for Lee. Although rumors about playing ping pong with nunchucks and snatching rice out of the air using chopsticks may not be true, Bruce Lee facts include an astonishing record of physical feats, endurance, and stories about his amazing achievements.

When his legends blended into the Bruce Lee true story, epic myths about a near-superhuman man emerged. His devotion to training both his mind and body led him to master power and strength that seem wild to everyone else. Lee's study of philosophy also helped grow his myth, as people consistently attribute wise quotes and sage advice to the martial arts master. When he passed at age 32, he was just becoming a star in the US, having already gained a huge amount of popularity overseas. Perhaps because his life was so short and the world never got to see him as an old man saddled with age like the rest of humanity, legends about Lee remain strong. He will always be young and strong in fans' eyes, and the legends he created will remain unchallenged by time. Could Lee really send a man flying with only a one inch movement of his fist or knock someone out in a matter of seconds? While the legends say yes, the truth may surprise you.

  • He Once Landed Eight Punches In A Row - After Telling The Other Guy The Punches Were Coming

    In 1964, Lee became famous in the martial arts world for demonstrating his One-Inch Punch at that year's Long Beach International Karate Championships. Invited back to the event in 1967, Lee showed the martial arts world another amazing feat. Pitted against Vic Moore, a world karate champion, Lee allegedly claimed he had an "unstoppable punch" in his arsenal. According to stories, Lee told Moore he was going to direct a punch toward Moore's face, warned him to block the punch, and then took a few steps back to make sure Moore was ready. After Moore nodded to signal Lee to begin, Lee moved toward Moore at lightning speed and threw a punch toward Moore's face that would have hit him, had Lee not stopped short. Moore reportedly failed to block the punch, as well as the next seven Lee threw at him. 

    Although this story became another Bruce Lee legend, Moore and other witnesses claimed it was a carefully crafted version of the event. Moore claimed Lee told him the first punch would be directed toward his body, and Moore successfully blocked the strike. He said he also blocked Lee's second punch and the third landed too far away from Moore to make contact. According to Moore, Lee was unable to land any of his punches, but Moore was able to successfully hit Lee. He believed Lee's team focused only on the footage of the strike towards Moore's face in order to maintain Lee's image.

  • An Extra Challenged Lee To A Fight On The 'Enter The Dragon' Set, And The Extra Lost

    Legends about Lee frequently claim people constantly challenged him to fight, and several people allegedly made fight requests while filming Enter the Dragon. Only one of these claims from the film set is documented and took place after an extra challenged Lee. Always willing to teach, Lee reportedly helped teach martial arts techniques to extras, including a young Jackie Chan who Lee accidentally hit for real while filming. One extra made it clear he didn't think that much of Lee. "This loudmouth kept baiting Bruce and finally said, 'I reckon you only act out your fighting. You're not for real!'" recalled Bob Wall.

    Ever the cool guy, Lee ignored the extra for a while, but according to Wall, Lee eventually "pointed at the guy and sharply said 'You! Come on down. Now!'" Although the extra was a good fighter, he wasn't good enough to beat Lee. "...Bruce played with him for a couple of minutes, then slapped him around until the guy was all bloody and messed up," Wall remembered. Another witness recalled, "...He did a kick and it was so fast, the kick hit the guy and the guy thought nothing, he didn't think he even he got hit. He opens his mouth to laugh at Bruce, and all the teeth and blood fell out."

  • According To Some Stories, He Came To America Because There Was A Triad Contract Out On His Life

    Born in San Francisco, Lee grew up in Hong Kong. An energetic child, he burned off the excess energy by engaging in street fights. Although this was due more to the environment and gang activity surrounding his parents' home, it did cause Lee's parents to encourage him to learn martial arts. Due to poor grades and possible problems with his conduct, they tried transferring Lee to another high school. When he got into another street fight a few years later, however, the severity of the argument caused the police to become involved. This didn't deter the teenage Lee, and he continued to get involved in street fights.

    Eventually, Lee allegedly fought the son of a triad member and beat him. Police reportedly feared the victim's ties to organized crime would mean big trouble for Lee. According to stories, the outcome of the fight meant the victim's family may have put out a contract on Lee's life. However, other stories claim Lee was expelled from school and was in desperate need of a life change. Whether the involvement of organized crime is true or not, Lee's parents did believe he needed a more dramatic change of scenery to teach him discipline and sent him to live in the US. After staying with his older sister in San Francisco for a while, Lee moved to Seattle to finish high school and continue his study of martial arts.

  • He Invented His Own Martial Arts Style Because He Wasn’t Beating Opponents Quickly Enough

    As he became more of an expert in martial arts, Lee grew frustrated with many of the accepted styles of the time. He believed they included too many wasteful movements, weren't efficient, and trapped users in a concrete set of ideas of what was possible. Lee realized adherence to form and traditional technique made him less efficient and slow in a fight, so he decided to develop his own style: a martial art that would challenge conformity and celebrate simple, fluid movement. He named his new style Jeet Kune Do, or "the way of the intercepting fist," but he was reluctant to give it an official name, thinking labeling the style would contradict the freedom of form that it celebrated.

    "JKD is not a form of special conditioning with its own rigid philosophy," Lee explained. "It looks at combat not from a single angle, but from all possible angles... it is bound by none and is therefore free." Through Jeet Kuno Do, Lee challenged students to do more than visualize beating opponents through memorized routines, but to use a fluid, non-conforming style that could be considered a metaphor for life. "Life is a constant movement - rhythmic as well as random; life is constant change and not stagnation," Lee wrote. "The students end up performing their methodical routines as a mere conditioned response, rather than responding to 'what is.' They no longer 'listen' to circumstances; they 'recite' their circumstances. These poor souls have unwittingly become trapped in the miasma of classical martial arts training."