What is the Legacy of Bruce Lee, I hear you ask?
Personally, I think that answer differs amongst anyone who has heard of or read up about Bruce Lee. All I can tell you is how Bruce Lee inspired me and continues to inspire me.
Bruce Lees’ skills and martial arts prowess are well documented, let’s be honest, we all wish our Flying Sidekick or our One Inch Punch was as good as Bruce Lees’ but alas there is only one master. These surface facts alone are not what inspires me. It was the approach.
How Bruce Lee incorporated general fitness into his martial arts routine, watch the balcony scene from Way of the Dragon to see what I mean. How Bruce Lee branched out of Asian styles and began to adopt a more Western boxing style to his rhythm and movement. How Bruce Lee approached training in different Martial Arts styles with an open mind and heart.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own”
Bruce Lees’ philosophy is something I am only scratching the surface of understanding now as an adult. Here are some of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes and what they mean to me.
“Be Water”: Learn and adapt to any situation life throws at you.
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a personality and duplicate it”: Believe in who you are and not who you think you should be.
“To me, Martial Art means…honestly…expressing yourself”: Your shadow boxing or your form of fighting comes from within your own mind and creativity, therein becoming a form of self-expression.
“Running water never grows stale, so you gotta just, keep on flowing”: Keep moving forward, no matter what.
I find myself comparing Bruce Lee to Muhammad Ali, as far as being a cultural icon for his people.
Asia finally had a movie star they could champion, a man who was steadfast in his refusal to play the traditional Asian comic relief/subservient character, only taking roles in projects that showed Asian characters in a more positive and serious role.
A man who faced racism from his Asian countrymen as well as his American countrymen but never wavered in his conviction. A man who refused to be told he could not train Westerners because Martial Arts were culturally exclusive to Asians at the time.
Putting aside his movie career as that deserves an article all to itself. Films like The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon and the movie responsible for the global martial arts boom in the mid-70s Enter the Dragon are all iconic in their own ways.
When I think of Bruce Lee, I see a martial artist in his purest and most dedicated form.
I see a philosopher not constrained to ancient ways and mindsets.
I see a man unflinching in his determination, proud of his heritage, and a man who set an example.
And this, dear reader, is what I believe to be The Legacy of Bruce Lee.
“Knowing is not enough,
We must apply.
Willing is not enough,
We must do.”
By Sensei Matthew