It’s been two weeks since the 42nd anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death. On Tuesday, November 27, 1973, the martial artist superstar was found dead at the home of Ting Pei, after complaining of a headache and tried to take a nap, and could not be resuscitated from his unconscious state. The young star died at 32, in the prime of his life, at the highlight of his acting and fighting career, after having assembled his own style of moviemaking, and invented his own philosophy and fighting style, known as Jeet Kun Do, “The way of the Intercepting Fist”. Though most know Lee only for his movie roles, the man behind the one inch punch offered more to Western Civilization than just his high pitched battle cries.
1. Bruce Lee, the civil rights activist
The period between the 1960’s and 1970’s (Civil Rights Movement) where the common minority of American people were rising up and voicing their injustice of the way the country treated their own citizens. From African Americans, Latinos, women, and even the Asian community were participating, and one of their first members included Lee, Before he stepped on the big screen. Before his arrival, Chinese Americans were viewed as sickly, weak, inferior, and nimble people who could not compare to anyone else in terms of intelligence and strength. As a newcomer in Hollywood, Lee would often reject roles for the nature of those roles and be casted out of major leads, as the major studios in the 60’s and 70’s were white dominant in the appearance of their protagonists. Lee’s own T.V. project, known as Kung Fu was rejected at Warner Brother Studios because the producers did not want to have a predominately Chinese man as the lead. But nevertheless, Bruce Lee changed the scape of how American people viewed the Chinese, bringing a strong Asian protagonist in his movies that was proud of his heritage and able to defend himself in any situation.
Bruce Lee’s Flag
2. Bruce Lee changed the way we view fitness
On the subject of Lee, former Govenator and terminator Arnold Schwaranegger regarded Lee’s physique quite highly, stating, “There’s a lot of people who do action movies and have skill, but none of them looked as visually impressive as Lee. He had a very and I mean a very, very defined physique.”
From the early 20th century, bodybuilding magazines and fitness enthusiasts alike all wanted to model their bodies after “Herculean” proportions. Bodybuilders like Steve Reeves and John Grimek were thought to be some of the best looking people on the planet, until the introduction of Bruce Lee’s body. Lee’s extremely fast reflexes, masterful presentation of the martial arts, and athletic ability such as performing feats
like the two-fingered one arm push-up in Long Beach, where he demonstrated his skill in front of the nations best fighters at that time in the Long Beach International Karate Championship. And running backwards, all introduced the one concept that every athletic individual has at their disposal: Power. It’s Lee’s extremely lean
and defined physique that allowed us to see what the power beholds, inspiring a generation of fitness enthusiasts. Even celebrities such as Schwaranegger and Sylvester Stallone, focused on being extremely lean while retaining muscle mass. Lee paved the way for the lean-mean-fighting machine action stars of today’s world.
3. The introduction of Minimalism.
Lee believed man, not styles nor ideologies, was the most important aspect of the human condition. One of Lee’s most famous quotes, if not the most famous quote, “Be Water, my friend…” mentioned on the Thursday, December 9, 1971 edition of the Pierre Berton show. Who talks about how that cultivating to one aspect of yourself will limit yourself indefinitely, in order to grow, accepting what works and disregard the unnecessary. Lee’s Jeet Kun Do focuses on the accept in both terms of philosophy and combat. In such, Lee is one of the first movers of the minimalist movement.
“It’s not the daily increase, but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”