Our hero forever | South China Morning Post
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  • Mar 29, 2015
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Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was a Chinese American martial arts expert and movie star best known for films including Enter The Dragon and Game Of Death. Born on November 27, 1940 in San Francisco, he was the son of Cantonese opera singer Lee Hoi-Chuen. Lee returned to Hong Kong at three months old and was raised in Kowloon, where as a child he appeared in several films. In his late teens he moved to the United States where he began teaching martial arts, eventually moving into films. Lee is widely credited with changing the perceptions of Asians in Hollywood movies, as well as founding the martial art of Jeet Kune Do. Lee died in Kowloon Tong on July 20, 1973 aged 32 from acute cerebral edema.

Our hero forever

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 December, 2010, 12:00am

A self-made man

Every so often, people become cultural icons. Think about Mother Theresa, Princess Diana and Jim Henson, for example. They all left their marks on the world in their unique way.


Bruce Lee was one of these people. Like other idols, he rose above cultural and ethnic boundaries. Lee did this through his mastery of martial arts and unique talents as an actor.

He also broke down barriers. He decided to teach kung fu to foreigners, although that was against the tradition then.


Lee studied psychology at university. Perhaps the subject helped him look at situations from other people's points of view. To make his fighting style more appealing to Americans, he used the bouncing steps commonly seen on basketball players. This little change made a great impact on Americans.


Lee was born in America, but grew up in Hong Kong. He returned to America when he was 18 years old. He started teaching martial arts there in 1959. He became popular with students because of his special method of teaching.

He also achieved his goal of keeping troubled teens off the streets.

Fight philosophy

Lee compared his fighting technique to water. As he said: 'Be formless ... shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You pour water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, creep, drip or crash! Be water, my friend.'

Be the best

Lee's goal was to be the very best he could be. He set a wonderful example for the world. He worked hard and pushed his body to the limit.

Strenuous exercise was part of his daily life. Even while he was watching TV, he did sit-ups or crunches. He felt that the most important muscles to develop were those of the stomach. He was famous for his abs.

Healthy eating

Lee saw his diet as vital to his success. To develop a high-performance body, he believed it was important to eat healthy foods and avoid junk food. Fruit and vegetables were the main staple of his diet. He loved vegetable juices, especially carrot juice. He liked to eat much of his food raw.

Films and fame

His films put both Lee and Hong Kong firmly on the map. In 1971, Bruce played his first leading role in The Big Boss, which became a huge success in Asia.

The following year, he made Fist of Fury, which became another hit. Next came Way of the Dragon in 1972. Apart from starring in the film, Lee also choreographed the fight scenes.


Later in 1972, Lee began filming Game of Death. In July 1973, he had a bad reaction to medicine. He was 32. He died without finishing his new film.

Yet even during his short life, Lee had done it all. As he had said: 'If I should die tomorrow, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do. You can't expect more from life.'


Time magazine has named Lee one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Now do this

1 In which film did Bruce Lee play his first lead role?

a. The Green Hornet b. The Big Boss c. Fist of Fury

2 Which type of food did Lee prefer?

a. fast food b. healthy food c. junk food

3 Which subject did Lee take at university that helped him understand people better?

a. English b. psychology c. biology



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