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Sijo Bruce Lee Biography

 

Sijo Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee (27 November 1940 - 20 July 1973)

Founder of Jeet Kune Do

Bruce Lee's Childhood

Bruce Lee was born on the 27th November 1940 (the Chinese year of the Dragon) in the city of San Francisco sometime between the hours of 6AM and 8AM. Bruce was the third child of his parents Lee Hou-Cheun and his mother Gracie Lee. The city of his birth was somewhat accidental due to the fact that his father Lee Hoi Chuen was a minor star of the Cantonese Opera Company, who were touring the area at that time. At birth, he was given the name Lee Jun Fan (which means "Return Again") by his parents. According to legend, his parents chose the name because they had a strange feeling that some day their son would return to the USA. Several reliable sources suggest that Bruce Lee's father was extremely superstitious. In particular he feared that that there was a curse that had followed male members of the family for several generations. So, for a while, Lee was renamed (yet again!), this time as Sai Fon a girl's name which means Little Phoenix. By giving his newborn some a girl's name, then the alleged demons would be unable to find baby Lee... or so the theory goes!

Shortly before leaving the Jackson Street hospital, a nurse suggested that it might be a good idea to give the child an English Christian name to avoid any complications with his American birth certificate. The nurse suggested the name Bruce Lee, and the newborn's parents agreed.

Within only a few months, the Lee family were back in Hong Kong, living in a small, overpopulated two room flat on 218 Nathan Road, Kowloon. Overpopulation however, was probably the least of their problems, as the early years of Bruce's life were overshadowed by the Japanese occupation of 1942-1945. It has been claimed that one of Bruce's earliest childhood memories was standing on the roof of his flat, shaking his fist at low flying Japanese planes!

The eventual ending of the Second World War brought with it the slow task of rebuilding. Fortunately for Bruce's father, one of the first industries to recover was the entertainment industry. Before too long Lee's father was back on the road earning a living as a working actor. Often, young Bruce Lee would accompany his father to film shoots and eventually, through his father's connections, he was given a role in a film- The Beginning of a Boy. He was only 6 years old. Shortly afterwards, in the same year, he also appeared in "The Birth of Madkind" and "My Son Ah Cheun". At the age of 8 years old, Bruce appeared another film entitled "Fu Gui Yun" meaning "Wealth is like a Dream". In this film Bruce got a new nickname of Siu Lung (meaning "Little Dragon"). This nickname would go on to remain with Lee through the rest of his life.

By the time he was 18, he had appeared in over 20 films- the most famous of which being The Orphan, a 1958 Hong Kong classic in which he played the role of a juvenile delinquent.

Even by his own admission, Bruce Lee was exactly the same kind of character off-screen, as the sort of gang-thug he had played in The Orphan. Years later, in 1967 he told Black Belt magazine, "I was a punk and went looking for fights". At school, Bruce was very much a disappointment too. His mother once, semi-jokingly, stated that "by the age of 10 that was as far as he could count!" After Chinese primary school, Bruce entered La Salle colleague- an English speaking Catholic institution which could neither hold Lee's interest his presence at class! He was eventually expelled for disruptive behavior, and his parents responded by immediately enrolling him in another Hong Kong catholic college by the name of St Francis Xavier. There was no improvement.

So, like many other Hong Kong Chinese kids, Bruce Lee spent much of his early years on the streets as a self confessed trouble-maker. Years later he explained, "Kids in Hong Kong have nothing to look forward to. The whites have all the best jobs and the rest of us had to work for them. That's why most of the kids become punks... Kids in slums can never get out". During this period of his life, Bruce often found himself involved in street fights. Sometimes he would arm himself with a toilet chain, though more often than not he would just use his fists and feet.

One day Bruce ran home from school and complained to his parents that he was being bullied. He then asked his parents if they would allow him to take Kung Fu lessons as a means of learning to defend himself from the bullies. His father was already a practitioner of Tai Chi, but Bruce found this to be too slow for his liking and he was also only interested in learning how to defend himself. Eventually, and somewhat reluctantly, his parents agreed pay for Kung Fu lessons from Sifu Yip Man - a grand master of the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu.

For several years Bruce Lee attended Yip Man's school of Wing Chun, rapidly growing in proficiency year by year. Bruce Lee was slight of build, and the fluid, economical style of Wing Chun seemed to suit him well. Within only a few years Yip Man had not only succeeded in training Bruce Lee in the physical aspects of the martial arts, but he also changed Bruce Lee's mental focus and Lee was now becoming increasingly interested in the philosophical aspects of Kung Fu.

Martial arts and street fighting, however, were not Bruce Lee's only pass times as a teenager. When Bruce Lee was 14 years old he enrolled for dancing lessons and later went on to become the Cha Cha Champion of Hong Kong! This unlikely departure from Lee's violent world was perhaps as strong an indication as any, that deep down Lee truly yearned for a life that would be somehow involved in realm of artistic expression and entertainment.

With every passing year Lee's focus on the martial arts grew more intense. Lee, however, never forgot his street fighting days and remained extremely mindful of the fact that in a real self defense situation there would be no graceful bows, nor any respect for ancient rules. By around the age of 18 Bruce Lee started to gradually form his own ideas about what made an effective style. He was convinced that the key to being successful in a modern self defense situation was to eliminate the element of surprise by remaining completely adaptable.

Lee's time under Yip Man came to a sad and abrupt ending when in early 1959 a challenge was issued to the students of Yip Man's school by the pupils of a rival Kung Fu school. The two groups met on the rooftop of an apartment block for what was meant to be a good-willed, non contact contest. However, the event quickly turned into an ugly and violent affair. During a sparring match, a boy from the rival establishment (the Choi Li Fut School) gave Bruce a black eye. Bruce responded to this by delivering a series of devastating straight punches and high kicks in a fit of uncontrolled rage. Although the boy escaped with only a lost tooth, his parents complained to the police and Bruce Lee soon found himself under arrest. Shortly afterwards, Lee's parents agreed that the only wise thing left to do would be to send Bruce away from Hong Kong out of harm's way. And so, Bruce Lee was sent back to San Francisco, the city of his birth. As his Chinese name predicted, he did indeed return again.

Bruce Lee returns to America

After an 18 day boat trip, Lee finally made it to San Francisco with $115US. Bruce had spent much of his time on the boat trip teaching cha-cha dancing to some of the passengers. He also decided to distance himself from the name Lee Jun Fan and diligently practiced his English on fellow passengers as often as he could. By the time the boat arrived in San Francisco, the Hong Kong street kid, Lee Jun Fan, had been transformed into Bruce Lee- an English speaking US citizen.

For the first few weeks Bruce earned a little money by giving dance lessons, however the amount he made was barely enough to pay for the most basic of provisions. Eventually, a restaurant owner who was a friend of the family, Ruby Chow, offered Bruce a room in return for his evening services as a waiter Bruce happy took the job and soon enrolled at Edison Technical School as a day student. Within a short time, Bruce earned his high school diploma and in the autumn of 1962, he enrolled for a degree in philosophy at the University of Washington. By now, his days as a trouble making street kid were well and truly behind him.

It was during his time at university that Bruce Lee started to teach kung-fu. At first he taught to small groups of Asian enthusiasts, but soon started teaching to anyone who was interested. Bruce Lee was obsessed with the idea of developing a version of kung fu which was simple and practical in a real-life situation. In fact, he once stated, "99% of the whole business of oriental self-defense is baloney. It looks good but it doesn't work." These convictions led Bruce to formulate the beginnings of a new version of Kung Fu which Bruce would later name "Jeet Kune Do".

Lee's controversial viewpoints had another, less positive effect- they soon caused offence to many of the local practitioners of the classical martial arts. Tensions reached a head when a Japanese Karate black belt challenged Bruce to a fight to determine who had the superior method. According to eye witness reports, Bruce quickly executed a series of straight punches followed by a kick to his opponent's head. The fight was over within a few seconds.

Word of Bruce Lee's exceptional martial artist talents soon spread like wildfire among his peers and Bruce soon realized that he could use his Kung Fu skills to earn some money. Late in 1963 he opened the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute at 4750 University Way in Seattle. This was the first of what Bruce hoped would become a large chain of kwoons. The joining fee was $22 per month.

Just over a year after opening his school of martial arts, at the Space Needle restaurant in Seattle, Bruce went on his first date with Linda Emery. Linda was a Caucasian girl of English and Swedish decent. She was a fellow student of the University of Washington and was also a student of Bruce Lee's martial arts classes. Despite fears that her mother would object to Linda dating a "china man", the couple dated regularly well into the summer of 1964.

Oakland Years

By June 1964 Bruce Lee decided to give up his studies at the University of Washington and moved to Oakland, California to open a second school of martial arts. His, now steady, girlfriend Linda dropped Bruce off at the airport and despite Bruce's promise to return she was not entirely convinced that he would.

However, after several months of letter writing, Bruce Lee flew back to Seattle and asked Linda to marry him. Despite desperate last minute efforts by Linda's family to stop the wedding, the couple were married on the 17th August 1964.

By this time the Oakland Gung Fu Institute had become a busy hive of activity with a full roster of students. However, Bruce's insistence on teaching non-Asians soon attracted some trouble when in December 1964 Bruce received a message from the elders of San Francisco's Chinatown. They were unhappy with the idea of Bruce Lee teaching kung fu to the gwei-lo (i.e. Caucasians) and ordered Bruce to stop teaching all non-Asians immediately. Bruce ignored the message, but within a week Bruce received an ornate scroll from the elders which challenged Bruce to fight one of Chinatown's best kung fu experts, Wong Jack Man. If Bruce lost the fight, the scroll declared that he was to either close down his martial arts institute or stop teaching Caucasians.

A furious Bruce Lee accepted the challenge without hesitation and the fight was carried out under the watchful eyes of the Chinese elders and some of Bruce Lee's own students. As with his previous fight, Bruce quickly felled his opponent with a flurry of straight punches and a powerful kick to his opponents head. Bruce Lee was never bothered by the Chinese elders again.

Despite his victory, Bruce was extremely unhappy with his how the fight went. There are conflicting accounts of how long the fight with Wong Jack Man lasted. One thing which is certain however, is that Bruce Lee felt that the fight lasted too long and he was immensely troubled by the belief that it should have been over much more quickly. Although he was already fit and very strong, Bruce now took his martial arts training to a level which seemed beyond fanaticism. His training became obsessive and intense to the point of being legendary! Some sources suggest that Bruce Lee later went on to fight Wong Jack Man a second time and that this time the fight was over much quicker.

In his intensive training regime, Bruce Lee focused on the development of his upper body strength, paying particular attention to his abdominal muscles and developing his explosive power. Many observers have commented that Bruce Lee's training during this period of his life would have put an Olympic gymnast to shame! He would regularly perform one finger push-ups, on one hand. He would execute extended V-sits for long periods of time. He could cannonade an opponent several feet back from a punch delivered from only one inch, and his side kicks became so powerful that, in the words of one recipient, "they feel like being hit by a car". Late on in the year Bruce gave a demonstration of his "super human" abilities at the Long Beach Karate Internationals. The audience was mesmerized.

By early 1965, Bruce Lee's obsession for martial arts had also become his burden. His Oakland Gung Fu Institute, which had got off to such a good start, began to dwindle in terms of numbers and in financial success. This turn-around in fortunes was mainly due to the fact that, by now, Bruce would only accept the most committed of pupils as students of his school. There was however, one piece of joyful news for Bruce and Linda at this time- the birth of their son Brandon. Sadly though, this joyful episode was all too short for Bruce- his father, Hou-Cheun, sadly died at the age of 64- only one week after the birth of Brandon. Bruce began to consider the idea of abandoning kung fu as a way of earning a living altogether. 

Bruce Lee's first taste of Stardom

On late February, as Bruce was pondering his future, he received a phone call from a television producer by the name of William Dozier. Dozier had seen some footage of Bruce in action at the Long Beach Karate Internationals and wanted to ask Bruce if he would be interested in playing the role of the "Number One Son" in a television adaptation of Charlie Chan. Without hesitation Bruce expressed his interest and soon drove to Hollywood for an audition. The reaction was positive.

Before long however, Dozier gave up on the idea of producing Charlie Chan and started work on a new project, a television series called the Green Hornet. The Green Hornet was a show which would utilize the same kind of format as the already hugely successful Batman series. In the Green Hornet Bruce Lee was to play the part of Kato- the chauffeur and sidekick to the lead hero, Britt Reid. Years later Bruce joked that the only reason he got the part was because he was the only Chinese person in the USA who could properly say the name "Britt Reid". There was to be a long delay before full production of the show would begin, but in the meantime Bruce was given a reservation fee of $1800.

Bruce used the money to pay for a lengthy trip to Hong Kong so that his family could meet Linda and Brandon. They returned to the States late in the year to be welcomed by the good news that The Green Hornet was "all go". With the promise of an exciting new career beckoning, the Lees moved to Los Angeles in March 1966, taking a small apartment on Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood. The studio, Twentieth Century Fox, also arranged for Bruce to receive acting lessons. These were allegedly the only proper acting lessons received.

The Green Hornet went into production in the summer of 1966. At that time the only Oriental actor featured on network television was George Takei, a Japanese American who appeared in the then low-rated Star Trek. The network was very apprehensive about the idea of casting a Chinese actor as a lead character and insisted that Bruce wore a black mask over his face throughout his time on screen.

In terms of ratings, the Green Hornet was something of a failure. It lacked the child appeal that Batman enjoyed and adult viewers found the show corny. As a result the show was taken off the air after only six months (26 episodes). However, one good thing that came from the show was that it everyone from kids to critics were dazzled by Bruce Lee's kung fu. Thanks to the Green Hornet, Bruce Lee had become something of a martial arts celebrity and when the show was at its peek, Bruce would often make personal appearances at karate demonstrations, film conventions and parades. It was his first taste of fame and he liked it!

The cancellation of the Green Hornet was a severe blow to Lee's financial status as well as his ego. During filming Bruce had received $400 a week and owned a red Porsche. Now, all of a sudden he was back to a dwindling income from his kwoon along with occasional minor appearances on television shows like; Longstreet, Ironside and Blondie. There was also a brief appearance in the 1969 movie Marlowe. This was Bruce Lee's first appearance in a Hollywood feature length film. Perhaps the most memorable scene of the entire film is when Bruce meets Marlowe (played by James Garner) on a roof top and Bruce's character comes to a sudden and unlikely ending by falling from a rooftop.

At this stage of his career Bruce was certainly not greatly admired for his acting abilities, however, his reputation as a martial arts master had already become rock solid and before long Bruce was giving private martial arts lessons to Hollywood stars such as Steve McQueen and James Coburn. Also receiving instruction from Bruce Lee at this time were the Karate experts Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis and Mike Stone. Between them, Norris, Lewis and Stone would go on to win every major Karate tournament in the USA.

Hard Times

Then, suddenly, in 1970 Bruce Lee's worst nightmare became a reality when he received a massive back injury during a weight lifting session. The diagnosis was that Bruce had injured his fourth sacral nerve. Bruce was told by his doctors that not only would he be bedridden for several months, but he would never be able to practice kung fu again. Depressed and barely able to move, Bruce stayed at home looking after Brandon and new arrival Shannon while his wife, Linda worked as a receptionist with an answering service. With his body almost completely out of action, Bruce decided to focus his energy on his mind and began an intensive academic self study on martial arts. Eventually his notes filled eight, two-inch thick notebooks and years later these notes would be edited by Linda and published as "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do".

Bruce Lee was a strong believer in the power of the mind and refused to accept that he would be disabled for life. Sure enough, in time (six months) Bruce slowly and gradually reintroduced his body to the stresses of training again. Within one year Bruce seemed to be back to his old self- as fast, strong and flexible as ever. However, off screen and in private he would suffer chronic back pain for the rest of his life.

Now back on his feet again, Bruce decided to focus his iron will power on his career. More than ever he was determined to be a major star and to introduce the Eastern art of Kung fu to the rest of the world through film and television. He began working on an idea for a television series about a Shaolin monk who roamed the Old American West is search of knowledge and adventure. Warner Brothers liked the idea and made it into the major hit series Kung Fu however, to Bruce's intense disappointment the starring role was given to the Caucasian, America actor David Carradine. The ABC Network had decided that to use Bruce Lee for the lead role would be too much of a risk- apparently Bruce was too Asian looking and too small a name to risk on such a venture.

Still reeling from the disappointment of losing the role in Kung Fu Bruce took a fleeting visit to Hong Kong in 1971 and found, to his complete surprise, that he had become a well known and admired superstar there. It turned out that The Green Hornet had been renamed "The Kato Show" and was one of the most popular television shows in South East Asia! Not only that, but many of the films Bruce Lee had appeared in were being screened over and over again in cinemas throughout Hong Kong!

Bruce Lee's Big Break

Bewildered and pleasantly surprised Bruce Lee returned to his home in Los Angeles, but almost as soon as his plane had landed he received an offer from Hong Kong film producer Raymond Chow to star in two Chinese martial arts feature films. Chow offered to pay Bruce $15,000 for his commitment to the two films. This along with the rapturous reception Bruce received in Hong Kong convinced Bruce to return to the East and work with Raymond Chow. In July 1971, Bruce arrived in the remote Tai village of Pak Chong for the shooting of his first film for Raymond Chow, "The Big Boss". On meeting Chow for the first time, Bruce shook Chow's hand and told him "I'm going to be the biggest Chinese star in the world". Chow did not doubt him.

Before long Bruce Lee was flown to the remote village of Pak Chong for 6 grueling weeks of filming. This was to be the set for Bruce Lee's first feature length martial arts film, The Big Boss. Conditions in the cockroach-laden village were barely tolerable. Fresh food was a rarity and Bruce Lee had to rely upon bottle after bottle of vitamin pills to keep his body going for the duration of the filming. There was a string of directors who came and went until eventually Raymond Chow's long time cinematic associate, Lo Wei took over as the film's main director.

Problems soon emerged on the set. There was no proper stunt equipment, and during the first week of filming, Bruce Lee badly sprained his ankle on a mat. On the road to recovery from his injury, he caught a bad case of flu and as the weeks dragged on, it became apparent that Bruce was badly missing Linda and his children, who were still in Los Angeles.

In spite of all these problems, by the time the filming was complete, Bruce Lee had high hopes for The Big Boss. He believed it would stand up as a good martial arts action film and Lee was particularly satisfied with his own performance. The premiere for the film was scheduled for October in Hong Kong.

In the meantime, Bruce Lee was flown back to States by Paramount studios and was commissioned for making a walk-on appearance in an episode of the crime show Longstreet, "The Way of the Intercepting Fist". Paramount offered Bruce Lee $3000 for another three appearances, but Bruce made them pay $6000 plus a technical advisor's fee. There were many others knocking at Bruce Lee's door too! Warner Brothers, who had previously dumped Bruce Lee's film project The Silent Flute, and had given the lead role in Kung Fu to Carradine, wanted to place Bruce Lee under television option for $25,000. Run Run Shaw made weekly overtures to woo Bruce away from Raymond Chow, even sending him a blank cheque and telling him to fill it in for any amount he desired!

With his life bombarded with offers and counter offers, Bruce Lee flew back to Hong Kong with Linda, Brandon and Shannon for the premiere of The Big Boss. A huge billboard of Bruce Lee in fighting pose greeted the audience as they arrived at the cinema. The film began running at midnight and for two hours the audience marveled at Bruce as he battled against legions of Thai adversaries. The film came to an unusual ending (at least, by the Mandarin standards) with the hero being hauled off in handcuffs by the police. For a moment, the audience was dead silent, then suddenly as the credits began rolling, the entire audience roared into standing applause. To the people of Hong Kong, Bruce Lee was suddenly more than just a film star- he was a symbol of their identity and a real life hero!

By now, Bruce Lee had suddenly become hot property and was subject to a tidal wave of offers from television and film producers. Never-the-less, Bruce Lee was a man of loyalty and despite the rich wooing of others, he decided to fulfill the terms of his contract with Raymond Chow. Their next film, The Fist of Fury, was to be filmed in Hong Kong. Golden Harvest studios temporarily moved Bruce Lee and his family into an apartment in the Waterloo area of Kowloon. Brandon was enrolled at Bruce Lee's former school, The Alma Mater, La Salle Colleague and Shannon was sent to a Chinese nursery.

Throughout the duration, Bruce Lee worked incredibly long hours and was rarely home before three in the morning. There was no proper script and the director, the cigar smoking Lo Wei, seemed uninterested in the project. For example, he was once caught listening to horse racing on the radio when he was supposed to be directing a love scene. In spite of these problems, the film's storyline was strong and was guaranteed to please any Chinese audience.

Fist of Fury smashed box-office records across all of South East Asia. Although some critics noted Lei Wei's sloppy handling of the film, there was universal appraisal of Bruce Lee's dazzling martial arts techniques, which were now augmented in this film by Lee's first ever on screen use of nunchaku (double fighting sticks joined together by a chain). Also singled out was Bruce Lee's acting abilities and, in particular, his ability to effortlessly switch between comedy and tragedy. Bruce Lee was now the hottest cinema property East of Hollywood.

The Highs and Lows of Success

With Fist of Fury completed, Bruce Lee was a free agent. For a while he considered another Golden Harvest production, The Yellow Faced Tiger, but the appointed director, Lo Wei, refused Bruce's requests that the film should be written by a professional script writer. Lo Wei, in the usual fashion of Chinese directors wanted to use a script as a bare guide and improvise as the film went along. Bruce Lee bowed out of the project and immediately formed a joint production company with Raymond Chow. This new arrangement put Bruce Lee on an equal footing with Raymond Chow, as opposed to simply being a hired actor. The problem of who would direct the next Bruce Lee film was easily solved- Bruce Lee would do it himself. For many weeks afterwards, Bruce studied volumes of books on the art of film production.

Bruce Lee was now an actor, a director and a film producer. However, he still had the problem of who would write the next script. Unable to find a suitable script, the two partners agreed that Bruce Lee should write the next script. And so, the next Bruce Lee feature film, Way of the Dragon, was solely a Bruce Lee project.

Although Way of the Dragon was a little rough around the edges, as may be expected from a director's debut, the audiences in Hong Kong's cinemas were ecstatic. Way of the Dragon grossed HK$5 million- more money than any film before it!

Now, for the first time in his life, Bruce Lee was finally wealthy. To celebrate he purchased a Mercedes 350SL, registration AX 6521. He also moved his family into a luxury Kowloon town house. The days when Bruce Lee could not afford to repair his broken glasses were gone forever.

Bruce Lee intended Way of the Dragon to be the first of a trilogy involving the character Tan Lung. However, as soon as the dust had settled from Way of the Dragon, Bruce received an offer from Warner Brothers which seemed too good to turn down. The studio agreed to pay Bruce Lee $500,000 for the shooting of a martial arts film entitled Blood and Steel, but which would eventually reach the big screen as Enter the Dragon. The senior Warner Brothers producer, Fred Weintraub, was in no doubt as to who should star in the film- he had already seen Bruce Lee in action in The Green Hornet and was well aware of Bruce Lee's sensational impact on the cinema circuits of Asia.

None of the shoots for Bruce Lee's previous films had been easy, but Enter the Dragon proved to be the most challenging of all. Bruce was nervous about making his first international feature film and persistently delayed the start of production. There were problems with translation for the international cast and crew. There was also cultural conflicts- not least that the American crew would not eat Chinese food! There were frequent injuries to the cast because of a lack of professional stunt equipment and Bruce Lee, himself, was also at the receiving end of a whole range of injuries and accidents such as a lacerated hand from a broken bottle in a fight scene with Bob Wall, and a snake bite from a cobra.

As time went on, the problems on-set piled up. At one stage, the martial arts extras threatened a strike when they discovered that the Hong Kong prostitutes, hired to appear in a key scene, were being paid at a higher rate than them. Bruce Lee also threatened to walk out at one point after a clash with script writer Michael Allin. There were also countless, time-consuming arguments between Bruce Lee and Raymond Chow who was the co-producer of Enter the Dragon. Another problem was that most of the martial arts extras were members of the Chinese syndicate, The Triads and they would often make challenges to Bruce Lee. For the most part, Bruce would ignore there taunting, but on occasion Bruce would accept a challenge to defend his honor. He never lost.

In Bruce Lee's mind, his entire future depended on the success or the failure of Enter the Dragon. He worried and worked at every single aspect of the film. By the end of shooting he had lost weight and was a ball of nervous energy. He was virtually living on vitamin pills and herbal drinks. He began to realize that stardom came with a heavy price; he could not walk through the streets of Hong Kong without being mobbed and the media pried into every aspect of his life. He became extremely suspicious of people and less friendly. Everywhere he went he would be bombarded with challenges. A dark cloud seemed to settle around him and only Linda received his complete trust.

The Death of Bruce Lee

On the afternoon of 10th May 1973, Bruce Lee's body began to show signs of breakdown. He was dubbing some sound to the final take of Enter the Dragon at the Golden Harvest studios. The room was small, hot and without air conditioning. Bruce Lee, already in a state of exhaustion, made a visit to the bathroom and shortly after returning, he collapsed in a fit of vomiting and convulsions.

Bruce Lee was rushed to hospital and his wife, Linda, was immediately summoned to his bedside. A leading neurosurgeon, Dr Peter Woo, declared that he believed something was wrong with Bruce Lee's brain, but he wasn't sure what. Fearing that Bruce was near death, the doctor administered the drug Manitol to reduce any swelling in Bruce Lee's brain and preparations were made for surgery if this did not work. It did. Lee began to regain consciousness almost immediately. He could see and make signs of recognition, but he could not talk and it took several days for him to regain his speech.

A week later Bruce Lee was flown to Los Angeles for a complete brain and body examination. No abnormalities were found and it was suggested that Bruce Lee's collapse on May 10th was brought on by cerebral edema- an excess of fluid surrounding the brain. Although the cause of this incident could not be discerned, Bruce Lee was prescribed Dilantin- a drug which calms brain activity. The collapse left Bruce Lee shaken, but it did nothing to diminish his work rate. Indeed, he began to work even harder. Some observers have stated that it seemed as though somehow, Bruce Lee knew he was having a race against time.

The premier of Enter the Dragon was set for 10th August 1973 in Hong Kong. Bruce Lee spent the intervening time working on another film, The Game of Death. He also made plans to move back to America with his family. One day, Bruce Lee suddenly turned to Linda and said, "I'm not sure how long I can keep this up".

On 20th July 1973 Bruce Lee was at his Kowloon house discussing the script of The Game of Death with Raymond Chow. Afterwards, they drove over to the flat of Taiwanese actress, Betty Ting-Pei, who was to have a major female role in the film. Raymond Chow went home to dress for a dinner he was having that night with Bruce Lee and 007 actor George Lazenby. Chow had hoped that they could persuade Lazenby to co-star alongside Bruce in The Game of Death. Bruce Lee, meanwhile, still at Ting-Pei's flat had began to develop a headache. Ting Pei gave Bruce a tablet of Equagesic- a strong asprin based tablet prescribed to her by her doctor. At around 7:30 Bruce Lee went and lay down in a bedroom.

At 9 o'clock Raymond Chow telephoned the flat to find out why Bruce Lee had not turned up at the Restaurant. Betty Tai-Ping said she could not wake Bruce Lee. Raymond rushed to Betty's flat and found Bruce Lee in an unrousably deep sleep. A doctor was called, arrived almost immediately and spent ten minutes trying to revive Bruce Lee. By 10 o'clock an ambulance had arrived and Bruce Lee was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Raymond Chow telephoned Linda and told her to go there straight away. When Bruce Lee arrived at the hospital, doctors rushed him into intensive care and began massaging his heart. This was quickly followed by an injection of stimulatory drugs directly into the heart as well as electric shocks. It was no use. Bruce Lee was already dead. He was just thirty-two years old.

There were two funeral ceremonies. The first was in Hong Kong, where there was a traditional Buddhist service. Outside the Kowloon funeral parlour a crowd of 25,000 fans wept. The second ceremony was a more private affair, held in Seattle where Bruce and Linda had met and where Bruce Lee had perhaps been at his happiest.

Bruce Lee's body was buried in the city's Lake View Cemetery. He was laid to rest wearing the traditional Chinese outfit he had worn in Enter the Dragon. The final tribute was spoken by James Coburn, "Farewell brother. It has been an honor to share this space in time with you. As a friend and as a teacher, you have brought my physical, spiritual and psychological selves together. Thank you." Bruce Lee's tombstone was simply inscribed, "Bruce Lee. Nov. 27, 1940 - July 20, 1973. Founder of Jeet Kune Do."

Almost inevitably, the untimely death of Bruce Lee was followed by wild speculation and outrageous rumors. Some claimed that the Triads had murdered Bruce Lee. Others claimed that Bruce Lee had been killed by jealous film rivals. Some claimed that Bruce Lee had been killed in a fight. There were even rumors of a drugs overdose! After a lengthy coroner's inquest in Hong Kong. A panel of medical experts eventually concluded that Bruce Lee had died from a hypersensitive reaction to a compound in the drug Equagesic. This hypersensitivity led to a swelling of the brain and resulted in Bruce Lee entering a deep sleep from which he never awoke. The coroner declared himself satisfied with the finding, and so did Linda Lee.

A few days after Bruce Lee's body had been laid to rest Enter the Dragon had its premiere in Hollywood. The film was an instant hit in the USA and soon took the rest of the world by storm. The worldwide theatrical gross for Enter the Dragon currently stands at over two hundred million dollars! Considering that the cost of making the film was relatively small, this makes Enter the Dragon one of the most profitable films of all time and certainly the most successful martial arts film of all time. Perhaps more importantly however, it helped to make Bruce Lee a legendary, semi-mythical hero who is admired and respected by many millions of people across the world.   

 

 

Bruce Lee: The Warrior Within. The Art Of The Soul.

 

Interview with Bruce Lee on the Pierre Berton Show, recorded on 9th December 1971 in Hong Kong

 

Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.

 

"Artless art" is the artistic process within the artist; its meaning is "art of the soul." All the various moves of all the tools means a step on the way to the absolute aesthetic world of the soul.

 

Creation in art is the psychic unfolding of the personality, which is rooted in the nothing. Its effect is a deepening of the personal dimension of the soul.

 

The artless art is the art of the soul at peace, like moonlight mirrored in a deep lake. The ultimate aim of the artist is to use his daily activity to become a past master of life, and so lay hold of the art of living. Masters in all branches of art must first be masters of living, for the soul creates everything. Bruce Lee.

 

Bruce Lee's whole work of synthesizing East with West through martial arts and Chinese culture was evident of his 2nd Degree Initiate status. His development of Jeet Kune Do as a synthesis of numerous martial arts is also sometimes overlooked. Bruce was a wonderfully spiritual guy, a deep thinking philosopher who touched the thinking lives of many many people.

 

Bruce Lee, Philosophy graduate of the University of Washington:

 

Know Yourself:

 

The core philosophy of Bruce Lee was to “know yourself.” It is clear that all the avenues Lee took in life were in pursuit of self-cultivation, which leads to the ultimate destination: self-knowledge. His art and philosophy were the vehicles he used to gain an understanding of himself, to feel and fully appreciate the experience of what it means to be a human being. To achieve that, he spent countless hours learning, training, reading and researching.

 

The biggest adversary in our life is ourselves. We are what we are, in a sense, because of the dominating thoughts we allow to gather in our head. All concepts of self-improvement, all actions and paths we take, relate solely to our abstract image of ourselves. Life is limited only by how we really see ourselves and feel about our being. A great deal of pure self-knowledge and inner understanding allows us to lay an all-important foundation for the structure of our life from which we can perceive and take the right avenues.

 

Fear comes from uncertainty; we can eliminate the fear within us when we know ourselves better. As the great Sun Tzu said: “When you know yourself and your opponent, you will win every time. When you know yourself but not your opponent, you will win one and lose one. However, when you do not know yourself or your opponent, you will be imperiled every time.”

 

Krishnamurti, the great philosopher who influenced Lee, said: “We must first understand ourselves in order to know anything and to understand and solve problems.”

 

Self-discovery and understanding are part of the process of learning and growth. You should be constantly learning because life and experiences are your teacher. Education, learning and training should encourage you to question and search. With each new experience, you learn something new about yourself—whether good or bad. The self-help material available today is invaluable for developing yourself and opening doors to the acquisition of knowledge about yourself. By developing self-confidence and honing a deep will, you will not only be able to know yourself as a martial artist, but you will also be aided in your everyday life.

 

By having a greater understanding of yourself, you will be able to recognize those areas of your life and your art that need improvement. You will be able to recognize your weaknesses and strengths. You will be able to know others and have faith in yourself when obstacles get in your way.

 

Lee was an astute philosopher. His art of jeet kune do was one of the paths through which his life revealed its secrets. For other martial artists, it can be a means by which they can understand themselves. Lee said that the important thing for him was to understand himself while using his body. That’s why his physical arts and philosophy are inseparable.

 

If you want to gain a true understanding of Lee’s philosophy, it is imperative to peer into the mind of this great philosopher. It is essential to study and read his works to gain a better understanding of him, for only then can you absorb what is useful and fully appreciate what Lee was trying to say.

 

Quotes of Bruce Lee:

 

·    To obtain enlightenment in martial arts means the extension of everything which obscures the true knowledge, the real life.

 

·    The way to transcend karma lies in the proper use of the mind and will.

 

·    The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action.

 

·    Jeet Kune Do favors formlessness so that it can can assume all forms and since Jeet Kune Do has no style, it can fit in with all the styles.

 

·    The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take it's course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.

 

·    The fancy mess solidifies and conditions what was once fluid, and when you look at it realistically, it is nothing but blind devotion to the systematic uselessness of practicing routines or stunts that lead nowhere.

 

·    Relaxation is essential for faster and more powerful punching. Let your lead punch shoot out loosely and easily; do not tighten up or clench your fist until the moment of impact. All punches should end with a snap several inches behind the target. Thus, you punch through the opponent instead of at him.

 

·    Hitting does not mean pushing. True hitting can be likened to the snap of a whip -- all the energy is slowly concentrated and then suddenly released with a tremendous out pouring of power.

 

·    The knowledge and skills you have achieved are meant to be forgotten so you can float comfortably in emptiness, without obstruction.

 

·    Jeet Kune Do is not to hurt, but is one of the avenues through to which life opens it's secrets to us.

 

·    Jeet Kune Do does not beat around the bush. It does not take winding detours. It follows a straight line to the objective. Simplicity is the shortest distance between two points.

 

·    The art of Jeet Kune Do is simply to simplify.

 

·    The man who is really serious, with the urge to find out what truth is, has no style at all. He lives only in what is.

 

·    If you want to understand the truth in martial arts, to see any opponent clearly, you must throw away the notion of styles or schools, prejudices, likes and dislikes, and so forth. Then, your mind will cease all conflict and come to rest. In this silence, you will see totally and freshly.

 

·    If any style teaches you a method of fighting, then you might be able to fight according to the limit of that method, but that is not fighting.

 

·    If you follow the classical patterns, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow - you are not understanding yourself.

 

·    Accumulation of forms, just one modification o conditioning, becomes an anchor that holds and ties down; it leads only one way - down.

 

·    You waste a lot of energy and even making yourself less effective by studying " set patterns " (kata), fighting is simple and total.

 

·    One of the most neglected elements of martial arts is the physical workout. Too much time is spent in developing skill in techniques and not enough in physical participation.

 

·    To understand combat, one must approach it in a very simple and direct manner.

 

·    Understanding comes about through feeling, from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship.

 

·    To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.

 

·    When, in a split second, your life is threatened, do you say, " let me make sure my hand is on my hip, and my style is 'the' style? " When your life is in danger, do you argue about the method you will adhere to while saving yourself? Why the duality?

 

·    Why do individuals depend on thousands of years of propaganda? They may preach " softness" as the ideal to " firmness, " but when " what is hits, " what happens? Ideals, principles, the " what should be " leads to hypocrisy.

 

·    The second-hand artist blindly following his sensei or sifu accepts his pattern. As a result, his action is and , more importantly, his thinking become mechanical. His responses become automatic, according to set patterns, making him narrow and limited.

 

·    Please do not be concerned with soft versus firm, kicking versus striking, grappling versus hitting and kicking, long-range fighting versus in-fighting. There is no such thing as " this " is better than " that. " Should there be one thing we must guard against, let it be partiality that robs us of our pristine wholeness and make us lose unity in the midst of duality.

 

·    There are styles that favor straight lines, then there are styles that favor curved lines and circles. Styles that cling to one partial aspect of combat are in bondage. Jeet Kune Do is a technique for acquiring liberty; it is a work of enlightenment.

 

·    Jeet Kune do uses all ways and is bound by none and, likewise, uses any technique or means which serves its end. In this art, efficiency is anything that scores.

 

·    To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.

 

·    No fighter uses his leg violently until he warms it up carefully. The same principle is equally applicable to any muscles that are to be used vigorously.

 

·    Springiness and alertness of footwork is the key theme. The rear heel is raised and cocked, ever ready to pull the trigger into action. You are never set or tensed, but are ready and flexible.

 

·    The primary purpose of Jeet Kune Do is kicking, hitting, and applying bodily force. Therefore, the use of the on-guard position is to obtain the most favorable position.

 

·    To hit or kick effectively, it is necessary to shift weight constantly from one leg to the other. This means perfect control of body balance. Balance is the most important consideration in the on-guard position.

 

·    Naturalness means easily and comfortably, so all muscles can act with the greatest speed and ease. Stand loosely and lightly, avoid tension and muscular contraction. Thus, you will both guard and hit with more speed, precision and power.

 

·    It's not daily increase but decrease - hack away the unessential!

 

·    The well-coordinated fighter does everything smoothly and gracefully. He seems to glide in and out of distance with minimum of effort and a maximum of deception.

 

·    A powerful athlete is not a strong athlete, but one who can exert his strength quickly. Since power equals force times speed, if the athlete learns to make faster movements he increases his power, even though the contractile pulling strength of his muscles remains unchanged. Thus, a smaller man who can swing faster may hit as hard or as far as the heavier man who swings slowly.

 

·    The athlete who is building muscles though weight training should be very sure to work adequately on speed and flexibility at the same time. In combat, without the prior attributes, a strong man will be like the bull with its colossal strength futilely pursuing the matador or like a low-geared truck chasing a rabbit.

 

·    Endurance is lost rapidly if one ceases to work at its maximum.

 

·    Too wide of a stance prevents proper alignment, destroying the purpose of balance but obtaining solidarity and power at the cost of speed and efficient movement. A short stance prevents balance as it does not give a basis from which to work. Speed results but at a loss of power and balance.

 

·    It is not wise at all to attack without first having gained control of the opponent's movement time or hand position. Thus, a smart fighter uses every means at his disposal, patiently and systematically, to draw the stop-hit. It brings the adversary's hand or leg within his reach and gives him the opportunity to gain control of it.

 

Famous quotes from Bruce Lee:


The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action. There is no fixed teaching. All I can provide is an appropriate medicine for a particular ailment.

 

The aim of art is to project an inner vision into the world, to state in aesthetic creation the deepest psychic and personal experiences of a human being. It is to enable those experiences to be intelligible and generally recognized within the total framework of an ideal world.

 

Art is an expression of life and transcends both time and space. We must employ our own souls through art to give a new form and a new meaning to nature or the world. "Artless art" is the artistic process within the artist; its meaning is "art of the soul".

 

The art of Jeet Kune Do is simply to simplify. Jeet Kune Do avoids the superficial, penetrates the complex, goes to the heart of the problem and pinpoints the key factors. Empty your cup that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.

 

When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity. The classical man is just a bundle of routine, ideas and tradition. If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow - you are not understanding yourself.

 

Truth has no path. Truth is living and, therefore, changing. Awareness is without choice, without demand, without anxiety; in that state of mind, there is perception. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Awareness has no frontier; it is giving of your whole being, without exclusion.

 

A Jeet Kune Do man faces reality and not crystallization of form. The tool is a tool of formless form. Self-expression is total, immediate, without conception of time, and you can only express that if you are free, physically and mentally, from fragmentation.

 

The Jeet Kune Do man should be on the alert to meet the interchangeability of opposites. As soon as his mind "stops" with either of them, it loses its own fluidity. A Jeet Kune Do man should keep his mind always in the state of emptiness so that his freedom in action will never be obstructed.

 

Jeet Kune Do, ultimately, is not a matter of petty technique but of highly developed personal spirituality and physique. It is not a question of developing what has already been developed but of recovering what has been left behind. These things have been with us, in us, all the time and have never been lost or distorted except by our misguided manipulation of them. Jeet Kune Do is not a matter of technology but of spiritual insight and training.

 

The tools are at an undifferentiated center of a circle that has no circumference, moving and yet not moving, in tension and yet relaxed, seeing everything happening and yet not at all anxious about its outcome, with nothing purposely designed, nothing consciously calculated, no anticipation, no expectation - in short, standing innocently like a baby and yet, with all the cunning, subterfuge and keen intelligence of a fully mature mind.

 

I hope martial artists are more interested in the root of martial arts and not the different decorative branches, flowers or leaves.

 

Art of the Soul:


The aims of art is to project an inner vision into the world, to state in aesthetic creation the deepest psychic and personal experiences of a human being. It is to enable those experiences to be intelligible and generally recognized within the total framework of an ideal world.

 

Art reveals itself in psychic understanding of the inner essence of things and gives form to the relation of man with nothing, with the nature of the absolute.

 

Art is an expression of life and transcends both time and space. We must employ our own souls through art to give a new form and a new meaning to nature or the world.

 

An artist's expression is his soul made apparent, his schooling, as well as his "cool" being exhibited. Behind every motion, the music of his soul is made visible. Otherwise, his motion is empty and empty motion is like an empty word--no meaning.

 

Eliminate "not clear" thinking and function from your root.

 

Art is never decoration, embellishment; instead, it is work of enlightenment. Art, in other words, is a technique for acquiring liberty.

 

Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.

 

"Artless art" is the artistic process within the artist; its meaning is "art of the soul." All the various moves of all the tools means a step on the way to the absolute aesthetic world of the soul.

 

Creation in art is the psychic unfolding of the personality, which is rooted in the nothing. Its effect is a deepening of the personal dimension of the soul.

 

The artless art is the art of the soul at peace, like moonlight mirrored in a deep lake. The ultimate aim of the artist is to use his daily activity to become a past master of life, and so lay hold of the art of living. Masters in all branches of art must first be masters of living, for the soul creates everything.

 

All vague notions must fall before a pupil can call himself a master.

 

Art is the way to the absolute and to the essence of human life. The aim of art is not the one-sided promotion of spirit, soul and senses, but the opening of all human capacities--thoght, feeling, will--to the life rhythm of the world of nature. So will the voiceless voice be heard and the self be brought into harmony with it.

 

Artistic skill, therefore, does not mean artistic perfection. It remains rather a continuing medium or reflection of some step in psychic development, the perfection of which is not to be found in shape and form, but must radiate from the human soul.

 

The artistic activity does not lie in art itself as such. It penetrates into a deeper world in which all art forms (of things inwardly experienced) flow together, and in which the harmony of soul and cosmos in the nothing has its outcome in reality.

 

It is the artistic process, therefore, that is reality and reality is truth.

 

On Zen:
To obtain enlightenment in martial art means the extinction of everything which obscures the "true knowledge," the "real life." At the same time, it implies boundless expansion and, indeed, emphasis should fall not on the cultivation of the particular department which merges into the totality, but rather on the totality that enters and unites that particular department.

 

The way to transcend karma lies in the proper use of the mind and the will. The one-ness of all life is a truth that can be fully realized only when false notions of a separate self, whose destiny can be considered apart from the whole, are forever annihilated.

 

Void ness is that which stands right in the middle between this and that. The void is all-inclusive, having no opposite--there is nothing which it excludes or opposes. It is living void, because all forms come out of it and whoever realizes the void is filled with life and power and the love of all being.

 

Turn into a doll made of wood: it has no ego, it thinks nothing, it is not grasping or sticky. Let the body and limbs work themselves out in accordance with the discipline they have undergone.

 

If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like and echo.

 

Nothingness cannot be defined; the softest thing cannot be snapped.

 

I'm moving and not moving at all. I'm like the moon underneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking. It is not, "I am doing this," but rather, an inner realization that "this is happening through me," or "it is doing this for me." The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action.

 

The localization of the mind means its freezing. When it ceases to flow freely as it is needed, it is no more the mind in it such ness.

 

The "Immovable" is the concentration of energy at a given focus, as at the axis of a wheel, instead of dispersal in scattered activities.

 

The point is doing of them rather than the accomplishments. There is no actor but the action; there is no experiencer but the experience.

 

To see a thing uncolored by one's own personal preferences and desires is to see it in its own pristine simplicity

 

Art reaches its greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make.

 

The perfect way is only difficult for those who pick and choose. Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear. Make a hairbreadth difference and heaven and earth are set apart; if you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease.

 

Wisdom does not consist of trying to wrest the good from the evil but in learning to "ride" them as a cork adapts itself to the crests and troughs of the waves.

 

Let yourself go with disease, be with it, keep company with it--this is the way to be rid of it.

 

An assertion is Zen only when it is itself an act and does not refer to anything that is asserted in it.

 

In Buddhism, there is no place for using effort. Just be ordinary and nothing special. Eat your food, move your bowels, pass water and when you're tired go and lie down. The ignorant will laugh at me, but the wise will understand.

 

Establish nothing in regard to oneself. Pass quickly like the non-existent and be quiet as purity. Those who gain lose. do not precede others, always follow them.

 

Do not run away; let go. Do not seek, for it will come when least expected.

 

Give up thinking as though not giving it up. Observe techniques as though not observing.

 

There is no fixed teaching. All I can provide is an appropriate medicine for a particular ailment.  

 

When Bruce Lee died in 1973, he did not leave this world without making an impact. Beyond his success as a martial arts actor, which was transforming enough to the movie industry in bringing the martial arts genre to life, he was a teacher. The man who played the role of Kato in The Green Hornet and starred in four and a half films was a martial arts instructor, and more he was a philosopher. He majored in philosophy at the University of Washington. A man who devoured books on a wide range of subjects, from Eastern philosophy to gung fu to psycho-therapy, he yearned for knowledge. As he put it, he wanted to express himself, and to express himself honestly. In order to express himself honestly, he had to know himself well. The idea should remind us of Socrates’ admonition, “Know thyself.”

 

“All knowledge ultimately means self knowledge,” said Lee in an interview. For Lee, “to be a martial artist means also to be an artist of life.”

 

In Lee’s pursuit of personal perfection, he walked a life of deep philosophy that urged him to seek answers and improvement.

 

The person who has no control, responds immediately. If you go up to him and tell him, "Your momma does this," or something similar he's going to get mad. He'll just lash out instantly, right? He doesn't have the self-control to think about it, to even question, 'What's this guy's motive? Is he really insulting my momma?' The person without control will just react immediately and go after the guy. What was different about Jesus? He went in the Temple and sees the money changers defiling His Father's house and it filled him with rage. The impulse, if he were not to have the control, he would have just started turning over tables right then on the spot. But no, what did he do? OK, so, at the second initiation you master the emotions. Now even after you pass an initiation you can slip back for a period of time because you aren't expected to be 100% perfect but you are expected to be polarized in the mind at the time. What do we mean by being polarized in the mind?

 

An example of this was Bruce Lee's dream confrontation. He was an initiate and was confronting his dweller. A famous scene that we saw in the movies where a character was faced with his *dweller was Bruce Lee where he kept fighting this monster in his dreams. I gave an example of me fighting this monster in my dreams. That wasn't really my dweller that was just a monster in my dreams. But with Bruce Lee's case I think that could have been a representation of his dweller. Bruce Lee was an initiate, an initiate in quite a few things. Maybe you've seen the Bruce Lee movie where he fights a demon all the time in his dreams. He may have not been ready for the third initiation. He could have been ready for the second.

 

*The "dream warrior" that haunts Bruce in "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story".

"Using no way as way, having, no limitation as limitation"

 

"Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend."

 

"When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity. The classical man is just a bundle of routine, ideas and tradition. If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow - you are not understanding yourself."

 

"Truth has no path. Truth is living and, therefore, changing. Awareness is without choice, without demand, without anxiety; in that state of mind, there is perception. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Awareness has no frontier; it is giving of your whole being, without exclusion."

 

"The aim of art is to project an inner vision into the world, to state in aesthetic creation the deepest psychic and personal experiences of a human being. It is to enable those experiences to be intelligible and generally recognized within the total framework of an ideal world."

 

"Art is an expression of life and transcends both time and space. We must employ our own souls through art to give a new form and a new meaning to nature or the world. "Artless art" is the artistic process within the artist; its meaning is "art of the soul"."

 

"Art reaches its greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make."

 

"Art reveals itself in psychic understanding of the inner essence of things and gives form to the relation of man with nothing, with the nature of the absolute."

 

"An artist's expression is his soul made apparent, his schooling, as well as his "cool" being exhibited. Behind every motion, the music of his soul is made visible. Otherwise, his motion is empty and empty motion is like an empty word; no meaning."

 

"Art is never decoration or embellishment; instead, it is work of enlightenment. Art, in other words, is a technique for acquiring liberty."

 

"Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul."

 

"Art is the way to the absolute and to the essence of human life. The aim of art is not the one-sided promotion of spirit, soul and senses, but the opening of all human capacities - thought, feeling, will - to the life rhythm of the world of nature. So will the voiceless voice be heard and the self be brought into harmony with it."

 

"The artistic activity does not lie in art itself as such. It penetrates into a deeper world in which all art forms (of things inwardly experienced) flow together, and in which the harmony of soul and cosmos in the nothing has its outcome in reality."

 

"It is the artistic process, therefore, that is reality and reality is truth."

 

"If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo."

 

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves."

 

"The perfect way is only difficult for those who pick and choose. Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear. Make a hairbreadth difference and heaven and earth are set apart; if you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease."

 

"Give up thinking as though not giving it up. Observe techniques as though not observing."

 

"Eliminate "not clear" thinking and function from your root."

 

"Voidness is that which stands right in the middle between this and that. The void is all-inclusive, having no opposite - there is nothing which it excludes or opposes. It is living void, because all forms come out of it and whoever realizes the void is filled with life and power and the love of all being."

 

"Nothingness cannot be defined; the softest thing cannot be snapped."

 

"The point is doing of them rather than the accomplishments. There is no actor but the action; there is no experiencer but the experience."

 

"To see a thing uncolored by one's own personal preferences and desires is to see it in its own pristine simplicity."

 

"Wisdom does not consist of trying to wrest the good from the evil but in learning to "ride" them as a cork adapts itself to the crests and troughs of the waves." This quote was plagiarized by Bruce Lee for an essay he submitted to the University of Washington at Seattle. The actual source of the quote is Alan Watts' book "This Is It" (1959).

 

"It's not daily increase but decrease - hack away the unessential!"

 

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” 

 

Bruce Lee. Philosopher.