Bruce Lee: Legend or Myth?

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    Bruce Lee: Legend or Myth?


    Was this guy an okay martial artist and a great movie star or was he really the grandfather of MMA? I've heard some of the alleged stories about his street fights are BS or blown out of proportion. I read a thread on sherdog with a lot of conflicting opinions about his role in martial arts, the development of MMA, and his "no style is the best style" philosophy. But sherdog is sherdog, so what do you guys think?

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    Regardless of how good an actual fighter he was or how good of an actor he was... I think that he was the grandfather of MMA as his whole martial art paradigm was based on effectiveness. He didn't care where a particular technique or movement came from, if it worked for him then he made it part of his repertoire. JKD as Bruce Lee taugh can be summed up in these words (Bruce Lee's words) "absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and add specifically what is your own..."

    That is what MMA is all about.
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    Bruce Lee is a legend.
    Some people seemingly want to bad mouth him while others want to make him an individual of god like stature. The truth is simple, Bruce Lee was an amazing martial artist who took a revolutionary approach to martial arts and training.

    For people who want to dismiss Bruce Lee, I would suggest going and training with Dan Inosanto or attending one of his seminars. At 70+ years of age Inosanto is still incredible and he will state that Bruce Lee was amazing martial artist with unbelievable speed, vision, and power.
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    Bruce Lee was the best. You should watch some of his movies. "Enter The Dragon" is the best. There is also a documentry on him thats on cable a lot of times. I forget what channel but it is on a lot. The show the making of "Enter The Dragon" and a lot of other movies, thats not even half of what they include though. I don't think he would want anything to do with how commercialized martial arts has become today. Martial Arts were meant for self-defense not kicking each others ass in a cage!. Thats just dis-respectful to the arts and ignorant.
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    Nice response, Sikdogg. I like your answer. I was hoping you'd chime in too Size since I noticed you posted a few Bruce clips in the multimedia thread. Thanks.

    T-bone, I've seen "enter the dragon" and the special you're refering to which includes the portions of the Pagoda movie he was making at the time of his death. I don't care that much about his movies more his messages and role to the martial arts community.

    MMA is not a disgrace and posting something like this in the MMA forum was a strange choice. If your point is that with the popularity of MMA has led to the loss of some of the respect and discipline that martial arts have traditionally instilled, then you may be right to some extent. Your post doesn't read that way, though. MMA is a legit sport that maybe you should watch more of before criticizing it. To call MMA in 2007 just kicking each others ass in a cage is ignorant. The amount of training these guys do is incredible and anymore you really have to have a solid game plan. The level of competition has made this more of a thinking man's sport if one wants to reach the top levels and stay there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jas123 View Post
    Nice response, Sikdogg. I like your answer. I was hoping you'd chime in to Size since I noticed you posted a few Bruce clips in the multimedia thread. Thanks.

    T-bone, I've seen "enter the dragon" and the special you're refering to which includes the portions of the Pagoda movie he was making at the time of his death. I don't care that much about his movies more his messages and role to the martial arts community.

    MMA is not a disgrace and posting something like this in the MMA forum was a strange choice. If your point is that with the popularity of MMA has led to the loss of some of the respect and discipline that martial arts have traditionally been part of martial arts, then you may have a point. But MMA is a legit sport that maybe you should watch more of before criticizing it.

    You are right about the point I was trying to make. I'm sure its a legit "sport" but I just don't think martial arts should have been taken in that direction. Sanctioned martial arts tournaments are the only place where martial arts trained atheltes should compete. The way they fight in MMA is just not for me. Its like the fans of Monster Truck Rallys are now watching matial arts. Maybe a Monster Truck/WWE/Nascar combination crowd. Its just my opinion don't take it personal. I'm sure they are good fighters but if they want to fight and have my respect they should just do it differently. Its more like boxing or wrestling than like martial arts.
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    Ok. I see your point. MMA has attracted some of the NASCAR/... crowd for sure. The people who boo when the fight goes to the floor or are only there to see a knockout. UFC marketing attracts this crowd unfortunately.
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    Ok well now back to Bruce Lee. Have you ever seen his life story movie, where his son played him?. It is a pretty good movie about his life,

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    That element of fan, the Wrastling Truck types, is necessary for the growth of the sport, one can hope that they graduate beyond the stage of only appreciating knockouts, slams and GNP to appreciate the tactical finessee that distinguishes MMA from kickboxing, fake wrestling and Tuffman contests.

    It's a learning curve, some of us are further along, more will join us over time, some will never get it, they're at least good for contributing their $ to build a better sport by those in the know.

    Along these lines and Bruce Lee and the variations of Kung Fu, these types and some that should know better fail to appreciate that boxing gloves nullify the precision strikes that these arts are built on for real combat, a boxer may Ko a Kungfu guy in the ring, in a barroom the Jeet Kune Do guy may knifehand the boxer's windpipe.

    The evidence on Lee suggests, to me, that based on non movie clips and writings, that he was masterful and dangerous, unfortunately there does'nt appear to be much, if any, ring footage avaliable to assess his skill from, and if there is, hard again to judge his real fighting ability when eyestabs and the like are not permitted.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Bone View Post
    Ok well now back to Bruce Lee. Have you ever seen his life story movie, where his son played him?. It is a pretty good movie about his life,

    That's not his son. That's Jason Scott Lee. No relation. His son is the late Brandon Lee, the actor from The Crow. He also made a movie with Dolph Lundgren.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niko View Post
    That's not his son. That's Jason Scott Lee. No relation. His son is the late Brandon Lee, the actor from The Crow. He also made a movie with Dolph Lundgren.
    Yep my mistake. Strange how they both died an early death. Too bad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Bone View Post
    Its more like boxing or wrestling than like martial arts.

    FWIW, boxing and wrestling ARE martial arts.
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    I find it strange that anyone would think mma hurt martial arts. I think it gives it credibility. It shows what works and what is uselsess. I see no point in learning any fighting style if its not effective. LOL I remeber one dude thought he was bad ass because he took some form of martial arts. Tried to kick a larger dude. The guy walked through the kick so hong kong fue fell down. Obviously he didn't really know how to fight and watched to many movies. He tried to do a fancy back handspring to his feet and caught a kick in the face.lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jstrong20 View Post
    I find it strange that anyone would think mma hurt martial arts. I think it gives it credibility. It shows what works and what is uselsess. I see no point in learning any fighting style if its not effective. LOL I remeber one dude thought he was bad ass because he took some form of martial arts. Tried to kick a larger dude. The guy walked through the kick so hong kong fue fell down. Obviously he didn't really know how to fight and watched to many movies. He tried to do a fancy back handspring to his feet and caught a kick in the face.lol
    Well when I was a young'un I took karate and they always taught us about tradition. Its for self-defense only. These fights they have these days are strictly for enterntainment value. Tradition is something I value, and MMA makes mockery out of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Bone View Post
    Well when I was a young'un I took karate and they always taught us about tradition. Its for self-defense only. These fights they have these days are strictly for enterntainment value. Tradition is some I value, and MMA makes mockery out of it.

    I just realized I came off like alittle bit of an a-hole in my post. It wasn't intended that way. Even though I'm coming from a diffrent place I do see your point.
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    I see T-Bone's point and I agree. There is a strong emphasis on these modern MMA matches to please the crowd..which IS necessary, I understand..but it does tend to take away from the calm sanctity and meditative mindset that is supposed to infuse karate and martial arts and replaces it with pure aggression.

    The desire to dominate an opponent should technically be confined to the arena of self defense..the last possible option. But ring matches don't really teach that. Yes, they highlight the sport and the art for many to see and that is good, but if many of the fans are there to simply watch a man be beaten..what are they really taking away from that.

    I was a wrestler as a kid and gravitated into Harakurao Ju-jitsu for a short period. I would like to get back into it to stay limber, but I don't really have the patience to put up with the sorts of young male aggression I see at many dojos. In this respect, I think Bruce Lee's message and the message of many great masters has been ignored and that's kind of a shame.

    But, yeah, I like to see guys mix it up on occassion as well, lol...but I don't mistake that for a real dojo experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bioman View Post
    I see T-Bone's point and I agree. There is a strong emphasis on these modern MMA matches to please the crowd..which IS necessary, I understand..but it does tend to take away from the calm sanctity and meditative mindset that is supposed to infuse karate and martial arts and replaces it with pure aggression.

    The desire to dominate an opponent should technically be confined to the arena of self defense..the last possible option. But ring matches don't really teach that. Yes, they highlight the sport and the art for many to see and that is good, but if many of the fans are there to simply watch a man be beaten..what are they really taking away from that.

    I was a wrestler as a kid and gravitated into Harakurao Ju-jitsu for a short period. I would like to get back into it to stay limber, but I don't really have the patience to put up with the sorts of young male aggression I see at many dojos. In this respect, I think Bruce Lee's message and the message of many great masters has been ignored and that's kind of a shame.

    But, yeah, I like to see guys mix it up on occassion as well, lol...but I don't mistake that for a real dojo experience.
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    T-Bone,

    One of those reasons, the main I think, that people discredit the traditional arts is there are too many schools not doing hard sparring, doing katas plus no real street fighting experience is a recipe for severe trauma if you need it in a combat situation.

    One may have aquired fitness and the mental aspects of the arts that way, fighting skill?, don't count on and don't make big claims.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Drone View Post
    T-Bone,

    One of those reasons, the main I think, that people discredit the traditional arts is there are too many schools not doing hard sparring, doing katas plus no real street fighting experience is a recipe for severe trauma if you need it in a combat situation.

    Thats a shame, when I was younger we did Katas, and also we did sparring at the end of class. Everyone would get a chance to spar with everyone elese. After that we would sit down and have 2 people get picked to fight in front of the class with a ref would decide on points. Doing Katas is part of the art, and I don't really think people dicredit traditionalism of martial arts, they are disuaded by MMA and start to equate MMA with traditional martial arts. Street fighting is not really important in self defense. By this I mean most "thugs" on the street don't know how to fight and just carry guns. Let me ask you something...What is the first thing you do when someone pulls a knife on you?
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    Run, if possible. Fight, preferably, yes, with weapons, if necessary. This is not a hypothetical for me, I've been in that situation.

    When you sparred in class, was it padded full contact?

    I ask because when, years ago, I looked at Karate classes, they were making the moves short of contact for points, and that is a very bad way to teach the muscle memory of non contact and follow through for proper assesment of your true effect. I should add that hitting is the easy part, taking hits is the seperation.

    So I choose Muay Thai, after and still actively boxing.

    Agreed there is a large element of Gansta Wannabee types, psuedo toughs with gats, there's also a fair number of street fighters who can punch and wrestle. I'm of the latter, I'm more concerned with offense than defense when the situation warrants.

    Bio,
    It's a fight. Maybe if one is trained from birth to be a warrior like the Samurai or Ninja one can maintain calm sanctity and the mediative mindset in one, for the rest of us mere mortals,it's measured predatory rage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Drone View Post
    Run, if possible. Fight, preferably, yes, with weapons, if necessary. This is not a hypothetical for me, I've been in that situation.

    When you sparred in class, was it padded full contact?

    I ask because when, years ago, I looked at Karate classes, they were making the moves short of contact for points, and that is a very bad way to teach the muscle memory of non contact and follow through for proper assesment of your true effect. I should add that hitting is the easy part, taking hits is the seperation.

    So I choose Muay Thai, after and still actively boxing.

    Agreed there is a large element of Gansta Wannabee types, psuedo toughs with gats, there's also a fair number of street fighters who can punch and wrestle. I'm of the latter, I'm more concerned with offense than defense when the situation warrants.

    Bio,
    It's a fight. Maybe if one is trained from birth to be a warrior like the Samurai or Ninja one can maintain calm sanctity and the mediative mindset in one, for the rest of us mere mortals,it's measured predatory rage.

    Yes run was the answer I was looking for. Yes it was padded and we did hit each other, just not that hard. Those were the days, but I'm an old man compared to what I was back then. We also meditated in class.
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    I found a website from my sensi, well my sensi was a local guy, but I did test in front of Master Hidy Ociai, here is his website, and I wanted to copy and paste a quote I found relevent to his teachings, but it won't let me so I will link it,

    Hidy Ochiai Foundation - About Hidy Ochiai
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    I think the confusion here is that T-Bone and Bio are confusing Traditional Martial Arts that have a heavy emphasis on the arts, with MMA, which is more along the lines of boxing and wrestling. There is no emphasis on meditation in boxing and wrestling, other than staying calm for competition. All the traditional arts have basically been eliminated from the repertoires of MMAists. I guess Jiu-Jitsu is traditional, but the dominant form is Brazilian, which is a major sport in Brazil. Other than a few references to staying calm, and loose on the ground instead of grinding your opponent, I haven't heard any of the philosophical side of the arts from the outstanding blackbelt who is my instructor. Muay Thai does have a lot more tradition, but how long have big setting MT bouts been going on in Thailand? MT is also far removed from the millieu of the Shaolin temples.

    What other traditional arts are relevant in MMA? I can understand why a traditionalist might not like MMA, but I can't understand why a traditionalist would think that MMA has any bearing on what they do. That would be like a yoga practitioner being upset with a gymnast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Bone View Post
    Bruce Lee was the best. You should watch some of his movies. "Enter The Dragon" is the best. There is also a documentry on him thats on cable a lot of times. I forget what channel but it is on a lot. The show the making of "Enter The Dragon" and a lot of other movies, thats not even half of what they include though. I don't think he would want anything to do with how commercialized martial arts has become today. Martial Arts were meant for self-defense not kicking each others ass in a cage!. Thats just dis-respectful to the arts and ignorant.
    Bruce Lee was the best, But he was one of the first cats to commercialize martial arts. He was an outcast amongst traditionalist. Thats what made him great.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Bone View Post
    Yep my mistake. Strange how they both died an early death. Too bad.
    It is strange. I think it was the same age for both of them.

    Here's a great site for Bruce Lee fans:

    Bruce Lee : The Divine Wind
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    Validating bruce lee's greatness is simple, we speak of him now for no other reason than the possiblity of greatness. entertaining the masses is rare if your mainstream, but for a chinese immigrant to do it his way is like a salmon swimming up the niagra. I'd like to believe bruce is everything his movie made him out to be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by somewhatgifted View Post
    Validating bruce lee's greatness is simple, we speak of him now for no other reason than the possiblity of greatness. entertaining the masses is rare if your mainstream, but for a chinese immigrant to do it his way is like a salmon swimming up the niagra. I'd like to believe bruce is everything his movie made him out to be.
    I agree. Especially because he viewed his films as vehicles to display his martial philosophies. "It's like a finger pointing to the moon and all its heavenly glory." His impact was such that Jackie Chan, knowing he couldn't be the hero Bruce was on screen, chose the opposite route.
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    Nice post.
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    i read this whole thread and i like the points being made by both sides but I would have to say he was a martial artist above the rest. He was in the elite and im sure he could kick ass lol. His athletic ability is nothing short of amazing and even at his size i think his strength was probably way up there pound for pound. Speed=power as well.
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    One way to determine his greatness is to take a critical look at Jeet Kun Do. I'm no expert when it comes to Marial Arts but I took it for about 6 months back in college and spent a lot of time reading his books and others dedicated to the style. Its a wonderful style and i got hooked on the idea that you take in what is useful and discard what isn't. No that I'm taking JJ I find that when standing I use what i learned in those classes.
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    Have any of you ever read his books? He has quite a few that were published after his deat. I picked up one when I first got into martial arts. They are amazing and give me an entire new perspective on fighting. The guy really was an absolute genius.

    Also, being a Bruce Lee buff, he _really_ was as good as all the hype around him. Have any of you seen the footage of him doing drills, breaking bags, moving at damn near the speed of sound (exageration..), etc? They are increadible.
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    Tao of Jeet Kune Do Is an amazing book. And that reminds me, i need to grab off the bookshelf and have another go at it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Bone View Post
    Ok well now back to Bruce Lee. Have you ever seen his life story movie, where his son played him?. It is a pretty good movie about his life,

    "Dragon" was great (as told by his widow, mostly) - but Jason Scott Lee is NOT Bruce Lee's son. BRANDON Lee was "The Crow" - and is now dead, liek his dad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zbtboy View Post
    Its a wonderful style and i got hooked on the idea that you take in what is useful and discard what isn't.
    I used to think that was the way to go too, keep what is useful and discard what isn't. But the longer I've been in martial arts, I realized that's not the best way. Something may not work for you at the moment, but it doesn't mean it won't work for you later on. But if you discard it, you won't ever figure it out. I'm all about learning as much as you can and keeping it, because you never know when something you consider useless may come in handy.
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    I compare the legend of Bruce Lee with the legend of Rickson Gracie. Both are known for their amazing abilities, but they have reached mythical status because so few, if anyone, have ever seen them actually perform. We will never know the extent of their training and how well they would actually do, but they still both garner an insane amount of respect of intrigue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by drunk View Post
    I used to think that was the way to go too, keep what is useful and discard what isn't. But the longer I've been in martial arts, I realized that's not the best way. Something may not work for you at the moment, but it doesn't mean it won't work for you later on. But if you discard it, you won't ever figure it out. I'm all about learning as much as you can and keeping it, because you never know when something you consider useless may come in handy.
    I understand where your coming from. From my point of view, i dont mean discard in a way in which you dont bother learning something or you completely forget about it, I just mean I wouldnt use certain things that maybe i cant do effectively. I always looked at this motto as meaning if your certain Style doesnt handle something as well another style then use that other one instead of yours. Dont get stuck within the possible rigid nature of your style. Now with that being said, my knowledge is very limited so if i was to get jumped I would stick with what I'm good at and not bother (or discard for the moment) the things that I'm not strong at.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zbtboy View Post
    I understand where your coming from. From my point of view, i dont mean discard in a way in which you dont bother learning something or you completely forget about it, I just mean I wouldnt use certain things that maybe i cant do effectively. I always looked at this motto as meaning if your certain Style doesnt handle something as well another style then use that other one instead of yours. Dont get stuck within the possible rigid nature of your style. Now with that being said, my knowledge is very limited so if i was to get jumped I would stick with what I'm good at and not bother (or discard for the moment) the things that I'm not strong at.
    I understand what you're saying and I agree. You dont' want to work on your weaknesses in the middle of a fight. I guess I look at that motto and view it differently. I took a Tai chi class at a rec enter once and I learned the form but I didn't really get the martial application. The instructor was more about health and well being than the martial aspect. I felt like this wasn't for me. Then a few years later I met some people who did tai chi and they were just throwing me around. That's where I'm coming from. I discarded tai chi as useless for me, but then I learned it wasn't. I just didn't fully understand it at the time.
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    He was not only a legend, mma founder, and an actor...






    Bruce was a God, a Hero, a man of all men...
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    JKD is not a style but rather it is a process. This is something that is often confused. When most people say they study JKD, what is really meant is that they study Jun Fan Gung Fu or JKD Concepts.

    Many people who compare Bruce Lee to today's MMA fighters are missing a key concept. MMA fighters are training for sport fighting where rules exist. Somethings that are found within JKD Concepts simply would not be allowed(ex. eye gouges, groin kicks) because it was not being designed for sport fighting.

    Bruce Lee was a pioneer and his concepts live on today and continue to evolve though men such as Dan Inosanto and Larry Hartsell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BodyWizard View Post
    "Dragon" was great (as told by his widow, mostly) - but Jason Scott Lee is NOT Bruce Lee's son. BRANDON Lee was "The Crow" - and is now dead, liek his dad.
    Smart fella
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