Bruce Lee was a Chinese American martial artist and actor who is widely regarded as one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century.
Bruce Lee blazed across movie screens with charisma and lightning speed, introducing martial arts to mainstream America and changing the way Asian American men were portrayed in films. Using his background in dance, Ti Chi and Gung Fu (commonly called Kung Fu), he broke down the rigid structures of traditional martial arts and added Bruce Lee’s philosophy, western boxing, and fencing to craft Jeet Kune Do, a style that concentrated on “practicality, flexibility, speed and efficiency”.
Speculation and controversy surrounded Lee’s untimely death as it did for most of his career. He frequently faced opposition and criticism for his unconventional style of martial arts -often being challenged to duels and even rumored to being targeted by the Triad, a powerful Chinese gang. Bruce Lee lives on as one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century and a Chinese American icon.
As an exceptional martial artist, Lee’s ability to synthesize various national martial techniques sparked a new trend in unarmed combat martial arts films. His talent shifted the focus from martial arts director to martial arts actor. Since 1973, the year Bruce Lee died and his famous motion picture Enter the Dragon was released, movies have been the single most influential factor behind the growing popularity of martial arts.
In death Bruce Lee became legendary. Today, he is not a simple movie star. It can be said that he is a hero to the people to this very day. Continuing to this day, his legendary skills are often seen on TV, in movies, and in dramas. Many actors and films emulate his style, and the style in itself is always easily recognizable. In bookstores, his new biography is being sold. What made him a hero were not only his Kung Fu skills, but also the historical background that his works represented. He often played a character fighting against the Japanese or White society, therefore triumphing the Chinese people over their enemies.
Lee’s cinematic success spawned a global industry of the martial arts, and schools opened and flourished worldwide. During the 1970s more students took up the study of martial arts than at any time before or since.