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Why all of the Bruce Lee worship?



Okay fans, this is always a good thing: controversy. Bruce Lee passed over 50 years ago, and his name is still on the lips of millions of martial artists around the world. I say deservedly so. He has inspired millions with his charisma, and inspired millions more to begin training in martial arts.


Alright, the buck sorta stops there. I think that there is way too much hero worship of Lee and his accomplishments. From what I have understood, and having spoken to people who trained with Lee, he was an excellent martial artist. He had superior quickness, and was considerably stronger than most athletes his height and weight. But since most of us have never met Lee, we have likely been influenced by the tales of his prowess which go from inspiring to laughable.


First, of all, we need to remember that there is nothing new under the sun. Bruce Lee did not invent anything new, or create anything that was previously unexplored. What I will give Bruce credit for, was having the courage to defy his Chinese lineage by teaching foreigners. As far as I know, he was the first person of Asian heritage to do that on an international scale. I give him credit for standing up to the pressure from his culture and perhaps even some of his peers. So in my book, the man gets two thumbs up.


But let us look at a couple other things that we have undoubtedly heard about Lee. First let's start with his "inch punch." Lee did NOT invent that. If you would like a little proof, check out a biography of Muhammed Ali. He knocked down Sonny Liston with a similar punch in their second fight. More importantly, Ali credits Jack Johnson, legendary heavyweight boxing champion for teaching Ali how to do it. Now, I would go as far as to say that it existed before then as well, but we know for sure that the technique was around at the latest during the early 1900's.


Second on our list was the fact that Lee created the concept of cross training in different martial arts. Now this is interesting. It is true that Lee was an avid fan of boxing, fencing and wrestling. And while the Tao of Jeet Kun Do ( his best-selling book) did encourage many people to look into training in other systems, it is not a unique stance. Fact is, that in China, many great teachers created systems that unified the techniques of northern and southern China. More recently, the legend himself, Masutatsu Oyama had black belts in both Shotokan and Goju Ryu. The founders of karate and Judo, Funakoshi and Kano, both spoke highly of the others art. They recommended that their students learn from the other schools. I will say that Bruce Lee was the first person of the modern martial arts era to use his fame to speak about cross-training. But has he done anything new? No, he hasn't.


Now I could probably go on and on debunking myths and all of that, but I think that you see my point. There is really nothing new under the sun, just new packaging. So before you guys deify anyone, just learn the facts and go from there. You will sleep better, seriously. I would recommend that you do some research into older martial arts text before you decide that something you have "discovered" is new. And with that, I am out of here. I have some isometric drills to do :)

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