Posts Tagged ‘Martial Arts’

BRUCE LEE

23 November 2012

B LeeBRUCE LEE DIED YOUNG and he died when I was young.

He undoubtedly left a legacy, and he had an influence on my own life.

First of all, you have to understand the 1970s as a period of renaissance, as probably the most creative burst in human history.  That is the context to consider Bruce Lee.  The period of time belonging to Arthur C Clarke, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jaco Pastorius, Muhammad Ali, and more. Check out the 1970s and be prepared to be amazed; it’s too big a thing to go into here and now.

Bruce Lee belonged to that era, and to the heroes who died young — such as Jimmy Dean, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

He popularised martial arts in the west – and this carries on to this day. The poses he struck, the noises he made still inform us today — from kids’ cartoons like Hong Kong Phooey, and films like The Karate Kid, to Richard Pryor’s antics in Stir Crazy.

He set the scene for the TV show, Kung Fu which everyone remembers for the pupil being called “Grasshopper”, and for Jackie Chan movies and Chuck Norris jokes.

Today, martial arts is simply part and parcel of culture.  It is perfectly normal to the point of parody. This is, I think, because of Bruce Lee.  Before Bruce Lee, crowds did not attack a single person in films. People did not kick, nor do acrobatics, during a fight.

Bruce Lee introduced flamboyant street skills into movie fight scenes. The swashbuckling sword fights of the past were as old hat as wrestling or boxing. The gangster or cowboy guns looked boring too.

Lee could fight, including the kicks, but he could also sneak about as a silent, shadowy figure (Ninja), he could run up walls and do acrobatic flips — like the street runners (parkour) and hip-hop street dancers. Bruce would use exotic weapons, and do extraordinary feats with whatever was to hand.

This was something to be admired by all men.  Lee was small and wiry, so it was all possible – or so it felt. The spiritual aspect tapped into the hippies and those with the hole left from leaving a main religion.  Through Bruce Lee, people were tending to their mental health as well as their physical heath.

I think he changed the world in a fundamental way, and that he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it all. Mind you I like the mystique and legends that have sprung up, and the fact that he died young (preserved) was not lost on me either.

He was the first celebrity, and one of the first people I had ever seen dead in a coffin — even if it was just a photograph. I took up martial arts and studied those ways for a while — and while I abandoned it all later, I do not regret anything, rather I am glad for it, and I appreciate what it did for me personally.

Martial arts and Bruce Lee were important in my development into manhood. I do believe that it has saved my life on more than one occasion, but that aside, it has been a positive influence on me in myriad ways. So I’d like to simply take the opportunity to thank Bruce Lee here. Thanks, Bruce.

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