Bruce Lee slams traditional martial arts in a vintage recording!

In a private conversation with student, Dan Lee, in 1972, The Little Dragon expresses his distaste for certain traditional Chinese martial arts masters whose florid and visually impressive forms betray a significant lack of real-world potency in practical street-fighting. Bruce particularly denigrates their lack of stamina and extols the comparative virtues of western boxing:

“Joe Frazier is a man who is capable of using his tools and who is very determined in his savage, relentless attacks, whereas those sons of bitches are cowards, turning their heads and swinging their punches. After the second round, they’re out of breath. I mean, they’re really pathetic looking, very amateur.”

Bruce religiously trained to be a real fighter, combining stamina, reflex, impact and strength training with an obsessive drive for the perfect execution of technique. Famously, Bruce integrated all types of technique into his personal expression of the martial arts, posthumously earning for himself the coveted title: ‘The Father of MMA’. This integration of punching, kicking, locking, trapping and grappling is most vividly expressed in Bruce’s fight with Sammo Hung during the opening of ‘Enter the Dragon’ and in his pagoda duel with Hapkido master, Chi Hon-joi, in ‘Game of Death’.

Expressing one of the fundamental underlying tenants of his groundbreaking combat philosophy, Jeet Kune Do, Bruce explains:

“If you can move with your tools – from any angle – then you can adapt to whatever object is in front of you. The clumsier, the more limited the object, the easier for you to punch on it. That’s what it amounts to.”

Bruce also reveals that Warner Bros were chasing him to star in a TV series, but he expresses his lack of interest in that option, instead preferring to concentrate on his film career in Hong Kong. He also cites Clint Eastwood’s ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ with Italian director, Sergio Leone, as an example of a dubbed picture, which was elevated to an entirely new level. Clearly, Bruce aspired to hit the same standard of excellence with his Hong Kong film projects. By the time, he had reached ‘Enter the Dragon’, he had created a body of work that was every bit as timeless and influential as the lauded trilogy from Eastwood and Leone.

To read more about Bruce Lee’s subversive but enlightened road to martial arts excellence, please check out the article in Issue 2 of our poster-magazine. Here is a short excerpt below:

When Bruce finally accepts the challenge, he decimates Nakashi with an eleven-second rapid-fire barrage of strikes, including a blazing knockout kick to the head, which renders him unconscious and leaves him with a fractured skull and significantly lower self-esteem. In retrospect, Nakachi’s challenge was more in the tradition of Kamikaze than Karate, but hindsight is always 20/20!


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