The Best Story Ever: Jackie Chan gets beat up by Bruce Lee

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I might be a little slow on the mark with this one. But for those of you, like me, who were misfortunate to not know this interview exists in the world … well, I had to share this here.

About two years ago now, The Best Story Ever segment on Canadian talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight featured Jackie Chan. And the story Jackie had to share would certainly be one of the best anyone would ever have the privilege to tell. Ever.

Before Jackie became a household name, he was working as a young stuntman and would-be martial arts performer in an assortment of martial arts films championed by the Hong Kong film industry. Some of the most notable films that saw his stuntman credit would be those starring Bruce Lee, including Fist of Fury (where in one scene, Jackie was the stunt double for the bad guy Suzuki when he was thrown through a paper door) and in Enter the Dragon (where he plays one of the unlucky henchman who runs into Bruce’s flurry of lightning-fast punches and kicks).

You could say Jackie received the short end of the stick by only landing film parts that would see him get beat up by one of the greatest martial artists in the world. But before this interview, not many knew it would take a fateful encounter with an actual stick to make one incredible story with his idol.

During his spot on the show, Jackie shares a literal blow-by-blow account of his memorable scene with Bruce on Enter the Dragon. For those who are unable to view the video, or for those who enjoy a running commentary, you can read Jackie’s interview below.

“When I was young and doing Enter the Dragon, fighting Bruce Lee … and I was behind the camera, waiting waiting,” Jackie said.

“I just see Bruce Lee – Pa-pow! Pa-Pow! Pa-Pow! Pa-Pow!

“And I just ran up and just ‘aarghh!’, then boom-pow!” Jackie recreates Bruce Lee’s move where he whips a wooden staff over his shoulder and cracks one of his enemies from behind across the face.

“Suddenly, my eyes all black because his one stick [hit] right on my head – Pow! He missed it.

“But I just … I do nothing. I just, ‘Argh! Pow!’ Jackie said, continuing to punctuate his wonderfully-appreciated sound effects with his fight moves.

“And I just felt –y’know – a little dizzy. But it’s okay.

“I look at Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee doesn’t do anything. He look at everybody and keep acting, turned around, back … until the director said ‘Cut!’

“Then he just throw the two sticks, just turned around … ‘Oh my god!!’

“He run to me and lift me up … ‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry!’

“And actually, I’m not [in] pain anymore because [a] young guy – me – very tough!

“But suddenly, I don’t know why, I just pretend [it’s] very painful…

Jackie grabs his head dramatically.

“‘Ohh! Ughh!’ – I just want Bruce Lee [to] hold me [the] longest he can. I’d say ‘Ohh! Ughh!’

“During the whole day, every time he look at me [Jackie would replicate Bruce silently pointing and saluting apologetically] … I said ‘Ohh, [I’m] okay!

“And I think that’s the best moment, and somehow he run to me. He said ‘What’s your name?’, I said ‘My name [is] Jackie’

“‘What style you learning?’, I said ‘Shaolin style’.

“‘Okay!’ And then he would talk to me … [points and nods knowingly] ‘Jackie, eh? Jackieee …. Okay!’

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Do You Know Bruce?: My trip to the US

Last week I returned home from a month-long vacation around the US. It was long overdue, and the itinerary had been set in stone for nearly a year in advance. During my visit, I travelled to five states and more than 10 cities. Los Angeles was first off the bat, and I was soon on a train heading straight for downtown Hollywood.

Though I had visited the US before, I never before had the chance to explore Los Angeles, except if you counted transiting through LAX (which I didn’t). I was a gratified tourist the day I walked down the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the first time, and stopping only in the historic forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre to see how well my hands and feet fit inside the prints left by iconic celebrities. My photos proved a common theme in who and what I thought was noteworthy on Hollywood Boulevard.

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Steven Seagal

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Though I was already entertaining the prospect of making an impromptu break from the itinerary to see the Do You Know Bruce Lee? Exhibition in Seattle, it soon occurred to me how important this chance would be to me if I did. So about a week before I was due to fly back to Australia, I booked tickets and a hotel in Seattle for my last few days in the US.

The first night I was in Seattle, I made my way to the Chinatown/International District to try and see the exhibit before the Wing Luke Museum closed. It was such a satisfying feeling once I realised that I was finally able to see this exhibit, after only reading about it for more than a year prior.

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Gratuitous blurry tourist photo.

 

Like many other fans, I was already aware of Bruce’s connection to Seattle. And it was the collection of film memorabilia, personal items, photos and letters in the exhibition’s chambers – otherwise representative of Bruce’s many different selves – that told a story of a single identity born not out of the successes in Hong Kong or the glitz of Hollywood, but in Seattle’s international community. So being there to experience this intimate exhibition first hand was remarkable.

Out of respect for the curators and staff at the Wing Luke Museum, I abided by the no-photos rule inside the exhibit. The only exception, however, being at the very end, where visitors are encouraged to leave messages, anecdotes and favourite quotes on blue strips of paper hung overhead. Surrounded by countless messages from fans from all over the world, I took a photo of the rain.

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After traipsing around downtown Seattle all of the next day, I was sitting in a Starbucks, siphoning some of the free wifi, while I googled how far Lakeview Cemetery was from my hotel. It turned out that already being downtown, I was already a few minutes’ drive away. And as it was New Year’s Eve, I wondered if it was worthwhile to gamble on the chance of visiting Bruce and Brandon Lee’s gravesite by leaving it to New Year’s Day, when taxis were few and expensive and most places were closed. So I bit the bullet, and in the same impromptu fashion that led me to Seattle in the first place, I hailed the first taxi I saw.

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An afternoon I spent to pay respects.

 

 

I don’t know if it was the fact that I was hating myself for not having anything already prepared to leave under their headstones, or just seeing their graves and realising how everything about it was surreal yet so unassuming … but I was overwhelmed. I felt emotional, but in such an unfamiliar way that it was almost confusing.

But mostly, I was thankful to have had the opportunity to visit the site in person. It was something that I never thought I would ever be able to do. I said my own little prayer under my breath and returned to the taxi with tears in my eyes.

Later in the hotel room, my boyfriend (who was on his own vacation in the Philippines) and I were emailing back and forth about the day that was. I felt like the biggest baby admitting to him that I cried at the cemetery.

“Well that’s okay,” he wrote, “That just shows how much he meant to you.”

But I still feel sad, I remembered thinking. So I knew that on my very last day, New Year’s Day, I was going to travel out to Chinatown once more. I wasn’t sure what exactly for, but it felt right to do it. Perhaps I could glimpse the building where he opened his first kung-fu school in Seattle. That seemed like a nice homage to pay.

So the next day, I found myself walking up and down Chinatown, expecting some sort of light bulb moment that will tell me what I was going to do here. Any die-hard Bruce Lee fan would have known exactly where this phantom building was, what street number, how many bricks made up its facade. But I had absolutely no clue. And for all it was worth, I suddenly couldn’t recall any of the “local” information relayed in the exhibit I had only visited less than 48 hours before. Total, utter mind blank.

I started feeling a little ridiculous, embarking on some sort of desperate pilgrimage to find something that could hopefully finish this vacation on a high. Then as I was walking back towards the light rail station, I looked across the road at a restaurant where a family, having had their fill of food, was filing out of its doors. It was a modest building, stark white with a moniker reading TAI TUNG in red lettering. The establishment was in no way modern looking, in fact, it looked like the rest of what Chinatown may have looked like back in the 70s and 80s. It shouldn’t have been a remarkable sight for me. But even though I wasn’t particularly hungry at the time, I soon found myself gravitating towards this restaurant’s green doors with a heightened sense of expectation. Though I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why.

Inside, I was greeted by a smiling waiter and a “Happy New Year”, before being ushered towards a group of booths behind him. He smiled as he took my order of oyster sauce beef and hot and sour chicken hotpot. And it was then when I couldn’t help but ask him, or anyone for that matter.

“Is there a reason why I decided to come to this restaurant today?”

He smiled again and placed a pot of tea in front of me.

“A lot of people come here. I guess it’s because we look more inviting for people wanting to find somewhere to eat good Chinese food … we don’t look intimidating … we make authentic Chinese, with fresh ingredients … we make our own sauces …”

And he waved my menu over his head.

“We’re also very tasty! That helps!”

I smiled and poured myself a drink. It wasn’t exactly what I was digging for, but he wasn’t wrong. It was a cosy place, and the smells from the kitchen were enough to make me feel ravenous. A few cups of tea later, a busboy from the kitchen came gliding out in his apron and presented me with my menu choices. The food proved better than “tasty”, it was actually exceptional. I think it was halfway through my mounding plate of rice and meat that the waiter came back to check on me.

“How is everything?”

“Amazing,” I managed to say through mouthfuls of food, “Thank you.”

We soon struck up small talk as he asked where I was visiting from and how long I had been travelling around North America. And then he asked me if I was enjoying my time in Seattle.

“It’s been so lovely,” I said after a breath, “But I really wanted to come here to see the Wing Luke exhibit on Bruce Lee.”

I blushed, “I’m a big fan of his, and I wanted to see his city.”

“Oh okay cool,” The waiter said, gathering up my first empty dish. “So I guess you know that this was his favourite restaurant?”

My face dropped.

“… What?”

He looked at me with an unfazed look.

“Yeah, you even ordered one of his favourite dishes,” he continued, gesturing to my remaining plate of beef. “Fans would come, sit in and eat his favourites: oyster sauce beef, sweet and sour pork and garlic shrimp.”

After a while he caught my dumbfounded expression and mild curiosity crept onto his face.

“You didn’t know?”

“I had absolutely no idea. I swear to god.”

He smiled at me again, wider this time.

“That’s really spooky.”

“You’re telling me!” He chuckled, his hand that wasn’t balancing a plate now on his hip.

“Yeah, I thought the staff would have mentioned at the museum? They’ve been sending quite a few people from that exhibit down this way.”

“No,” I said half-laughing and looked down at the table. “I mean it may have been written somewhere … there was a lot of info about where he lived, and where he used to work … I don’t remember reading anything about this place.”

I looked up again to find he was walking away, motioning to me to follow.

“You know, he has a table back on the other side of this restaurant. Do you want to see it?”

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The most humbled I ever felt sitting at a table.

 

 

The table was enshrined with Christmas lights, framed photographs, a signed portrait and a cardboard cutout of Seattle’s favourite son. But it was there where I sat with the beaming waiter and the maître ‘d who was eating his own dinner in a moment that I knew was a perfect end to my trip.

Aside from wanting world peace and a billion dollars in my bank account, I would say that if I could have one wish, it would be to have been able to meet Bruce Lee and to have taken the opportunity to get to know him as a person. But after finding myself in Seattle, dining and chatting at a table he once shared with his friends and family, I felt that I already had.

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A happy accident.

 

 

Fist of Fury (1972): My favourite martial arts film of all time

MOVIE: Fist of Fury

RELEASED IN: 1972

STARRING: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Feng Tien

WRITTEN BY: Lo Wei

DIRECTOR: Lo Wei

PRODUCER: Raymond Chow

FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHER: Yin-chieh Han

RATING: ★★★★★

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The fabled story about a student called Chen Zhen who exacted revenge against those who killed real-life wushu master Huo Yuanjia was inevitably destined for the big screen, launching an iconic character of Chinese modern folklore into Hong Kong martial arts film history. As it turns out, the first and one of the best interpretations of the tale of Chen’s ensuing vendetta became Fist of Fury, one of Bruce Lee’s most successful films and my all-time favourite flick.

Also known as The Chinese Connection (a name that was actually intended for The Big Boss but was mixed up in each of the US releases), Fist of Fury is a 1972 martial arts film written and directed by Lo Wei and starred Bruce Lee in his second major film role.

Much like in the stories that circulated the real Huo’s life, his death has been portrayed just as dramatically, and in Fist of Fury, the founder of the Jing Wu martial arts school dies from a mysterious illness. The school’s best pupil and the film’s hero, Chen Zhen, returns to the international settlement in Shanghai distraught and grieving on the day of his beloved master’s burial.

Like rubbing salt into an open wound, students from a rival Japanese bushido school from the Hongkou district gatecrash the eulogy, presenting the Jing Wu school with a framed banner in Japanese kanji calling the Chinese “sick men of Asia”, before taunting the students and challenging them to fight.

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While Chen’s subsequent encounter with the Japanese school on their turf saw their prideful, openly hostile members receive their comeuppance, Chen realised that in the wake of his attempt at settling the score, the tenacious school had retaliated even more aggressively – ransacking the Jing Wu school, attacking students and even enlisting the local authorities to try and throw everyone in jail.

Reluctant to hand Chen over to the police, the Jing Wu School devised a plan to help him escape Shanghai. But having discovered his teacher was actually fatally poisoned by the school’s cook and caretaker (played by Yien-chieh Han, the film’s fight choreographer and lead antagonist in The Big Boss), who were sent there to work covertly by the Japanese dojo master Suzuki, a newly-enraged Chen seeks to bring the murderers to justice.

However, the overarching influence of the Japanese authorities in the settlement who are baying for Chen’s blood, and the inability of the local inspector (also played by Lo Wei) to hold the Japanese school accountable for anything adds to the sense of foreboding tragedy that no matter what the outcome, it would be Chen and the Jing Wu School who will pay the ultimate price.

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So why does this movie remain my favourite of all time, bar none? It’s difficult for me sticking a favourite label on just about anything, and while it does star the incomparable Bruce Lee, any of the films exemplifying his famed martial arts career are just as praiseworthy.

But it is Fist of Fury that undoubtedly deserves the distinction of Bruce Lee’s most powerful cinematic performance, and serves as an engrossing exhibition of his skills both as an actor and as a martial artist. How could I not love this movie?

Each of the film’s iconic fight scenes easily managed to reach cult status in martial art cinema and even penetrated popular culture. One of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had across the entire genre would be watching the scene when Bruce Lee’s Chen visits the Japanese dojo for the first time and single-handedly takes on the entire school (and its instructor) in hand-to-hand combat.

Even when the Japanese students desperately attempt to grab at weapons or overwhelm him in numbers, Chen holds his own. Throwing down his shirt, he even manages to dispose of multiple, stumbling students in seconds as he introduced his enemies (and the world) to the brutal blows of his nunchaku in an expert, fearsome display of lethal ability.

Fist of Fury is the ultimate revenge film, with many emotions across the spectrum to swallow as Chen carries out his vengeance. There are intense confrontations and fight scenes to revel in, endless scheming on both sides of the conflict, a little subdued, romantic dalliance with love interest Yuan Li Er (played by Nora Miao) in the middle, and then more fighting and vigilante violence before a climatic showdown against Suzuki (played by Riki Hashimoto) and his right-hand man, burly Russian fighter Petrov.

Only a handful of films, no matter what the genre, are considered revolutionary and still worthy of our attention even decades after its release. Fist of Fury is a perfect example of this rarity. Combined with its emotive plot, electrifying fight scenes, as well as Bruce Lee’s own martial arts prowess and larger-than-life onscreen presence, this film is in a league of its own. While his first Hong Kong film, The Big Boss may have made Bruce Lee a star, Fist of Fury was the film that made him a legend.

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EXTRA BITS

[WARNING – SPOILERS]

  • Fist of Fury was actually one of the first of many major films that Jackie Chan worked on as an extra. He was even the stunt double for Suzuki in the scene where he is thrown through a shoji screen (paper door). Jackie would then go on to star in this film’s official sequel also written and directed by Lo Wei, New Fist of Fury (1976). Jackie plays young Taiwanese boy Lung, who would train under Chen Zhen’s fiancée (yep, Nora Miao again) to become Chen’s successor both in skill and in ideology.
  • Jet Li would eventually star in another incarnation of the Chen Zhen story in Fist of Legend (1994) as Chen. The story also continued with Donnie Yen in Legend of the Fist (2010). Coincidentally, Jet would then go on to play Chen’s master Huo in the film Fearless decades later.
  • Yuen Biao also made a minor appearance in Fist of Fury as one of Suzuki’s students.
  • I feel how the film addressing such strong themes as race and discrimination across social classes truly makes the central conflict resonate (shedding insight on the consequences of oppressive foreign occupation and suggesting the extent of how other races, considered upper-class citizens, could have influenced law and order). But interestingly the inclusion of this content was in fact a source of disagreement between Bruce and Lo Wei and because of these conflicts, Bruce quit working with him after the film’s completion.
  • Fist of Fury actually features some of the same Golden Harvest contract cast members as in Bruce Lee’s other films: The Big Boss, Way of the Dragon, and Enter the Dragon including Maria Yi, Little Unicorn, Chen Fu-Ching, Lee-Kwan, Lau Wing, Kam Shan and of course James Tien – a flagrantly familiar face across a range of martial arts movies from the late 60s to the early 90s.
  • In a poignant and very fitting finale, as well as to uphold the ideology that crime doesn’t pay, Bruce Lee insisted that his character had to die at the end, but die with honour – in a scene that to this day can almost move me to tears. Again! How could I NOT love this movie??

Happy Birthday, Sifu: 10 reasons why Bruce Lee kicks ass

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” – Bruce Lee

It must be blatantly obvious to everyone who knows me that Bruce Lee is my most favourite person who ever lived. That could perhaps be evidenced in how as a five-year-old, I literally cried when I learned that Bruce had already passed away long before I was born.

I remember my mother tucking me into bed one night and I asked her tearfully, “Mummy, did Bruce Lee really die?”

I guess in the interest of keeping her young daughter’s fragile sensibilities intact, she lied.

“No, baby. He’s an old man now with grey hair.”

“Mum, he’s not that old.”

She tutted.

“I know, but you’ve seen how strong and fast he is. How good at kung fu he is. He’ll live for a very long time; years and years and years.”

And I guess, in this regard, she was telling the truth. Though he died at such a young age, more than 40 years later, his influence on the martial arts world is still staggering.

His cinematic accomplishments may have stood the test of time, but it was the man himself – the actor, the martial artist, the writer, the teacher, the philosopher, the director, the producer, the choreographer, the husband and the father – who was immortalised through the sharing of incredible stories and first-hand anecdotes that help constitute his legacy.

In honor of Bruce Lee on what would have been his 74th birthday, I’ve made a list of 10 reasons why he was so deserving of the respect, admiration and accolades he received throughout his life and beyond, as both the greatest martial artist of the 20th Century and as a remarkable human being.

#10: Bruce Lee was a philosopher

Some people would think Bruce Lee was just an actor or just a martial artist who made movies. But Bruce was also a writer and a philosophical thinker. The dynamism and intensity of his fighting ability were often matched with his own ideologies about martial arts and life. It was at university in Seattle, US where he studied philosophy, while at the same time managing to hone his kung fu techniques. But while he found an invigorating passion in teaching and developing his fighting abilities, he was just as nurturing of the more studious, scholarly side of his character.

He read and wrote comprehensively about his thoughts on physical combat, the psychology of fighting, the philosophical origins of martial arts, and on personal motivation, self-actualisation and liberation of the individual. Tao of Jeet Kune Do is a significant expansion of his legacy, and is a manuscript I keep on my bedside table.

Bruce’s often deep and reflective views were constantly quoted throughout his public career, and even in personal letters to his friends and family or in diary-like notes to himself, his thoughts were quite profound and insightful.

#9: For Bruce Lee, punching bags were like goose feather pillows

Bruce Lee trained in several styles to develop his speedy but heavy-landing strikes, and would do so with the aid of a heavy punching bag. For the typical boxer or gym enthusiast, an average heavy punching bag needs to weigh at about 30-35 kilograms (70-80 pounds) to counter a strike, while the larger ones tend to weigh up to nearly 70 kilograms (150 pounds). Like the force of nature he was, Bruce Lee required custom-built punching bags weighing up to 140 kilograms (300 pounds) to meet his strength. Bags were also often made with metal sewn inside for weight and durability or otherwise the bag would quickly bust open or break apart. For a man who would only weigh at about 75 kilograms (165 pounds) at his heaviest, his power is truly astounding.

#8: Bruce Lee was a sophisticated fighter, on and off the screen

Bruce was one of the most entertaining fighters on the silver screen simply because of his fight scene hallmarks. Rather than depending on brute force, Bruce was able to demonstrate in his films that he was a clever fighter. One example would be his constant use of kiai in combat (often to help the breathing and/or exertion of force) and emulating shrill animal noises and taunts to unsettle his opponents.

Another example, and perhaps one that is for the benefit of the audience, would be ways to strike fear into the hearts of his foes by unnerving them. He achieved this by frozen stares or constant eye contact, nimbly side-stepping or dodging their attacks as if they were gusts of wind, throwing off his shirt to free up his limbs (revealing intimidating musculature no less), and – of course – tasting the blood from the fresh wounds inflicted by his attacker. In a typical Bruce Lee film, you would soon learn that when Bruce would reach down to his cuts to taste his own blood, s**t was about to get real.

Off the screen, Bruce had an insatiable desire to learn everything he could about any of the combative arts, building up an impressive personal library in the process. His knowledge of different disciplines saw him develop his own style: a mix of wing chun techniques he learned growing up in Hong Kong, as well as techniques he would adopt from an ever-growing repertoire of disciplines ranging from karate to boxing. But it wasn’t until an incident in 1964 when Bruce realised the significance of learning a more fluid, reactive style of fighting. Having already begun expanding his kung fu schools and taking on numerous students, Bruce was challenged by a group of kung fu men from San Francisco who protested against him teaching kung fu to non-Chinese students.

The terms of the challenge were that if Bruce was defeated, he would stop taking on non-Chinese students. The fight only lasted three minutes, ending with Bruce pinning his challenger to the floor. But what was a more surprising outcome was that Bruce was actually disappointed in his personal performance. Despite victory, Bruce was disheartened at his inability to defeat his opponent in a shorter amount of time.

This was an important milestone for Bruce and his growth as a martial artist, as he worked to emphasise techniques that were fast, flexible and practical, rather than adhering to the rigidity and formality of any individual style. This notion led to the development of Bruce’s own martial art, Jeet Kune Do, translated into English as “The Way of the Intercepting Fist”, that has seen schools spring up across the globe. His brand of intuitive martial arts also has a foundation in philosophy, with Bruce believing in the ability of fighting without fighting – a creed that was referenced in his last film Enter the Dragon.

#7: Bruce Lee perfected the one-inch punch

This is perhaps one of Bruce Lee’s most famous physical feats, and it’s rightly impressive. His punches were so powerful that he could land a devastating blow against a fully grown adult male standing just an inch (2.54 cm) away and send him flying. His technique was that effective that he could also break wooden boards from the same distance.

But Bruce Lee of course disliked stunts like board-breaking demonstrations, as he felt they gave no insight to actually defending yourself. In fact it was Bruce who said: “There’s no challenge in breaking a board. Boards don’t hit back.”

#6: Bruce Lee was too fast for film

While filming episodes of The Green Hornet, his strikes were so fast that in the film’s playback, it looked like Bruce hadn’t even moved. When Bruce purposely slowed down for the cameras, he would still show up as a blur. Because of this, his footage needed to be reshot at high speed and painstakingly edited so they could capture his techniques properly.

A common rumour about the extent of Bruce’s dexterity and superior hand-eye coordination was that even while he was eating a bowl of rice, Bruce Lee was showing off. In fact, as a means of improving the speed of his reflexes, he was said to be able to throw grains of rice into the air before catching them with his chopsticks as they were falling down. Whether or not this was true, the fact that many of us wonder about its plausibility should speak volumes.

A real trick Bruce was known for that he developed to demonstrate his speed was having someone hold a coin in their palm and instructing them to close their hand if they see him coming to grab it. Bruce would not only manage to swiftly snatch the coin from their palm, but would also sometimes replace it with another coin before the person’s hand snapped shut.

#5: Bruce Lee could do one-armed pull-ups and two-finger pushups

Bruce Lee performed a variety of movements as part of his rigorous exercise and training regime for years. Chin-ups were said to be one of Bruce’s favourite back-building exercises. Variations of this exercise included alternating between his chin and the back of his neck during the pull-up and of course, alternating the number of arms he would use to support his weight.

His immense strength also extended to his fingers, as Bruce had been known to be able to use two fingers (a thumb and pinkie) to do a pushup. This must be the undisputed mother of all gym feats.

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#4: Bruce Lee walked away from a potentially career-ending injury

In 1970, Bruce was rendered unable to walk or move his body without crippling pain after severely injuring his fourth sacral nerve (near the base of the spine) after performing a “good morning” exercise, where the barbell (in Bruce’s case with 57 kilogram / 125 pound weights) rests on one’s shoulders before bending straight over at the waist. He was confined to his bed for about six months and the prognosis saw Bruce never practicing kung fu again. The best case scenario would have allowed Bruce to only lead a more sedentary lifestyle after recovery.

But it was during his bed rest when he did a lot of writing for his books and personal journals, and later instituted his own rehabilitation program, where he gradually began walking again and building up his strength. Though the accident had since made Bruce more conscious of exerting his back when filming or training, he arguably emerged from this potentially career-ending injury as a much faster and stronger fighter.

#3: Bruce Lee was a champion dancer

I don’t see why this little bit of trivia can be surprising to some people. The fact that the man was so athletic and nimble on his feet, it makes sense that his talents would have made him both a great fighter and a great dancer.

Apparently, Bruce took up dancing a year after he started taking his wing chun lessons. Learning the cha-cha was initially an enjoyable hobby, but he soon became a pro. He discovered that practicing his dance moves could improve his balance and footwork, so he invested much of his time training in cha-cha as well as in his beloved kung fu. His progress was so amazing that when he was 18, he entered a dancing competition and came out as the 1958 Hong Kong cha-cha champion.

#2: Bruce Lee fought Chuck Norris, and Bruce won

According to the internet and popular culture, Chuck Norris is a bearded, terrifyingly dangerous human being, revered by everyone with amazing and usually nonsensical “facts”. But this is one fact Chuck Norris devotees didn’t count on: he never beat Bruce Lee in a fight.

chuck-norris-fact-bruce-lee-i-kicked-his-assThe final showdown in the film Way of the Dragon showed Bruce and the seven-time world karate champion square off against each other in a shadowy tunnel leading into Rome’s Coliseum.

Spoiler alert, but it was Bruce who came out on top.

Chuck recalls the time when Bruce explained to him what his part will be in Way of the Dragon, the film that Bruce wrote, directed and produced.

“‘I want you to be my opponent. We’ll have a fight in the Coliseum in Rome,’ Bruce said with excitement, ‘Two gladiators in a fight to the death! Best of all, we can choreograph it ourselves. I promise you the fight will be the highlight of the film.’

“‘Great,’ I said, ‘’Who wins?’

“‘I do,’ Bruce said with a laugh. ‘I’m the star!’

“ ‘Oh, you’re going to beat up on the current world karate champion?’

“ ‘No,’ said Bruce. ‘I’m going to kill the current world karate champion.’”

2013-07-19-bruce_lee_and_chuck_norrisThe scene took three days to film and, despite Bruce being directly responsible for the death of Chuck’s character, both Bruce and Chuck remained good friends and training partners. In fact, before making it big as a movie star, Bruce often trained with the martial arts world’s biggest stars. These men would eventually become celebrities in their own right. Chuck Norris was among that elite group and there were times when he and Bruce would spar in the ring, and trade techniques and ideas.

But when asked if he could ever take on Bruce in a real fight, Chuck was quick to avoid a direct answer.

“Would I have beaten Bruce Lee in a real competition, or not? You’ll forgive me for answering with another Bruceism: ‘Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.’” he said.

Sorry Chuck, but I think we all know the real answer to this question.

#1: Bruce Lee was unbeatable

The myth that still stands as truth today is that Bruce Lee was invincible, having never lost a fight in his entire life. This is otherwise true. Throughout his entire career, he was constantly challenged by film extras, fighters hailing from different styles and other men seeking to gain fame by beating him in combat. Evidently, no one had ever succeeded in defeating Bruce.

The only significant proof to the contrary are stories of street fights he would get into as a teenager in Hong Kong. It was because of these run-ins on the streets that eventually led him to start taking up martial arts training in the first place, and under the tutelage of wing chun master Yip Man no less.

The rest, as they say, is history.