Bruce Lee has long had several legends being linked up with him which depict him as having superhero attributes. Though many of them may seem fanciful, they are mostly grounded in a solid base of reality. Facts about the great martial artist and actor include a remarkable record of physical feats, endurance, lightning speed, and many other amazing achievements.
Bruce Lee’s devotion to training both his mind and his body led him to master his power and strength in a way that would seem wild to any normal person. Lee also studied Eastern philosophy as martial arts masters were supposed to be wise and sage-like. Lee died at the young age of 32 when he was just about to become a star in the US. Because he had a short life and never grew old, his legends remained strong and he would always remain young in the eyes of his fans. His legends would remain unchallenged by time.
- Bruce Lee’s legendary ‘One-Inch Punch’ connected at an equivalent speed of 190 Km / Hr
Lee began training in Wing Chun at the age of 16. Wing Chun was a martial arts technique that was based on efficiency and simplicity and used the acceleration of the body rather than the muscular force to attack an opponent. Through this technique, Lee developed a very powerful move which came to be known as his ‘One-Inch Punch’. Lee used the technique to knock off a man in a demonstration in 1964 sending the man flying backward and hitting a chair, though Lee had barely moved his fist. The reason Lee’s punch was very effective was attributed to mathematical and scientific reasons. His ‘One-Inch Punch’ took every muscle and bone in the body working together to create the strike and allowing him to have almost superhuman strength in only one hand.
- Lee knocked out a Japanese Karate expert in 11 seconds
When Lee taught martial arts in Seattle in the 1960s, some practitioners were offended by his willingness to move away from traditional martial arts, develop his own style, and also accept westerners as students. One of these people was Karate practitioner Yoichi Nakachi who harassed Lee after challenging him to a fight. Though Lee was unwilling to fight him, he soon tired of Nakachi’s antics and invited him to a match at the YMCA. One of Lee’s students, Jesse Glover warned him not to injure Nakachi. Lee easily overcame all of Nakachi’s moves and within 11 seconds knocked him unconscious to the floor. He ultimately suffered from a fractured skull.
- Lee needed custom-made training equipment so that it wouldn’t break
Lee’s training workouts were legendary for their speed and power. According to reports, Lee could punch nine times in a second, do push-ups using only a finger, and jump up to 8 feet in the air from a standing position. Though it’s not certain that these facts were completely true, Lee’s physical strength was so powerful that it was true that he did need specially made equipment with which to train. He once destroyed a punching bag with a side kick and hit another one so hard that swung back and hit the ceiling. He then had to make a punching bag that was strong enough to withstand his kicks. To practice hand strikes, he made a dummy punching bag with hard wood and metal so that it could withstand his blows. For his practice of Jeet Kune Do and the protection of those training with him, he also needed custom-made equipment so that they wouldn’t get hurt. However, even having taken all the precautions couldn’t prevent those training with him to sometimes getting hurt. One of his assistants suffered a dislocated shoulder while holding a punching bag even though Lee claimed that he hadn’t hit so hard on the bag.
- Standard filming techniques weren’t fast enough to capture Lee’s moves
Lee began working on the American television series, ‘The Green Hornet’ as the character Kato. In the film industry, he had to learn how to make wider and flashier movements for the scenes to register with the audiences. Lee found it difficult as it was contradictory to his simple yet efficient techniques. He moved so quickly that the camera couldn’t record it and consequently appeared as a blur on the film. All that could be seen were people falling in front of him and it looked ridiculous according to him. Subsequently, the crew learned to run the film at a faster speed while Lee used slower movements to get the scene properly on film.
- An extra challenged Lee to a fight on the ‘Enter The Dragon’ set, and the extra lost
The legends surrounding Lee claimed that people challenged him to fight constantly. Many people also requested Lee to teach them martial arts, especially on the sets of ‘Enter the Dragon’ including a young Jackie Chan who Lee accidentally hit for real while filming a fight scene. There was another extra who kept heckling Lee and challenged him constantly. After ignoring him for a while, Lee accepted his challenge and fought the extra, easily overcoming him while fighting. In the end, Lee caused the extra’s teeth to break up and ended up all bloody and messed up.
- According to some stories, Lee came to America because there was a triad contract on his life
Lee was born in San Francisco in 1940. However, he was raised in Hong Kong. He was involved in many street fights because there was a lot of criminal activity near his home. Though Lee’s parents tried to prevent Lee from falling into this vicious cycle by transferring him to another school, he got involved in another street fight a few years later which was so severe that the police became involved. Lee still kept getting involved in street fights. He eventually beat up the son of a mafia member and the police were afraid that the mob would put a price on his life to be given to a contract killer. However, other stories said that Lee was expelled from his school and needed a change in his life desperately. Lee’s parents also believed a change of scene could make Lee disciplined and sent him to live with his older sister in San Francisco. After staying in San Francisco for a while, Lee moved to Seattle to finish high school and continued his study of martial arts.
- Lee beat up Sammy Davis Jr.’s bodyguard
Lee could be as lightning fast in beating an opponent in movies as well as in real life. Once, in Las Vegas with friends, Lee mistakenly thought the gestures of a large man waving his arms outside a casino to be a challenge to him for a fight. Lee went into action without a second thought and easily overcame the man. However, the man turned out to be the bodyguard of Sammy Davis Jr. He was only calling out to someone behind Lee and his friends. Lee apologized to the bodyguard profusely. Fortunately for him, the incident happened long before people in the US knew him as an ace martial artist and actor.
- Lee taught Steve McQueen and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to fight
In the 1960s, many big Hollywood stars hired Bruce Lee to teach them martial arts including James Coburn, Steve McQueen, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. McQueen, who was an avid race car driver and actor, and mostly did his own stunts bonded very well with Lee, taking him on joyrides and inviting him to his sets. They remained friends till Lee passed away and McQueen was a pallbearer at Lee’s funeral. Lee also had a friendship with basketball player and actor, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who also acted in Lee’s unfinished film, Game of Death. He cited Lee as an inspiration to him to work harder.