How Bruce Lee Changed Martial Arts Forever

In the early 1970s Bruce Lee burst into the western world. With Lee’s arrival came an explosive interest in both Chinese culture and martial arts. There was a fascination with Lee’s agility, speed and power and this fascination would change the way ‘martial arts’ was viewed forever.

Bruce Lee is commonly accepted as the greatest martial artist of all time, and although his skill and speed were unrivalled, it was not his ability to fight that earned him this title, but his philosophy: Jeet Kune Do.

Jeet Kune Do, or “The Way of the Intercepting Fist“, is a hybrid philosophy of martial arts focused on taking what makes one stronger while removing the rigid limitations and restrictions of old. This did not mean discarding traditional martial arts, but rather learning from all forms and taking the best from each. Lee himself learnt from dozens of different styles, even fencing. Bruce also believed in practical training, growing up in the hard streets of Hong Kong, the street became his Dojo. Lee would go on to claim non-contact events such as “Kata” were pointless, as one must have “no limitations”. However, Lee was not purely about the physical, his philosophy focused strongly on the mind and mediation. “Be water my friend” is perhaps Lee’s most well known saying and it resonates through both his fighting style and mental state.

Bruce Lee died tragically in May 1973 at just 32 years old. But today, he lives on. Xen-Do is focused on bringing martial arts into the 21st century and we draw from Lee’s philosophy to do this. By focusing on that which is most effective and building on our speed, power and agility, Bruce Lee lives on in each of us.

Bruce Lee changed martial arts forever by opening the door for eastern martial arts while teaching us to take in the useful and discard restrictions.

I will leave you with a quote from Bruce, “we learn through the things we love” and here at Xen-Do we follow this philosophy through both the teaching and studying of martial arts.

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