With perfect poise, peak physical fitness as well as a mesmerising way with words, Hong Kong and American star Bruce Lee is regarded as one of the most prominent pop culture icons of the 20th century. After a series of cerebral edemas, Lee suddenly passed away in 1973 aged just 32, and was one of the many movie stars and celebrities who were taken from this earth far too soon.
As a martial artist, Bruce Lee featured in iconic Kung Fu films like Fist of Fury or Way of the Dragon, where he introduced the world to Chuck Norris, beating him pretty comprehensively in a fight. He was primarily an actor, though, and there is precious little footage of Lee fighting without a script or director present. That is, until now; a video has emerged of Bruce Lee in an official fight, and I have to say it’s pretty awesome.
In this never-seen-before footage of the legendary Bruce Lee, he takes on Ted Wong, one of his top students, in an MMA bout. According to the Beerdy – Bruce Lee Central YouTube channel (who restored the footage and adapted it to 4K), both combatants were instructed by state rules to wear protective gear, but I don’t think it hindered Bruce Lee too much.
While it’s not clear where this match took place, it’s likely the fight was recorded in California, where Lee met Wong and trained him in the art of Jeet Kune Do. In the video, Wong lacked no aggression when taking on his teacher, but as always, Bruce Lee remained stoic as he landed a series of devastating counter-attack blows on Wong.
Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist) is a martial art conceived by Bruce Lee himself in 1969, which focuses on removing the patterns that are present in many other martial arts. Lee described Jeet Kune Do as being “non-classical” or “the style of no style”, and encouraged students of the martial art to move outside of moulds or styles.
Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see ‘ourselves’ […] Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don’t, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way.
With the 44th anniversary of his death coming up next month, it’s astonishing to see the effect Bruce Lee has had on martial arts films in Hollywood, as well as Asian actors in general. Survived by his daughter Shannon Lee, who was born in 1969 and routinely shares words of wisdom from her father, this newly-released footage can help us to appreciate Bruce Lee for the martial arts legend he truly was.