“A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure, or hire a bodyguard.” – Bruce Lee

In America, where tall cowboys and cool cinema heroes like James Dean and Steve McQueen once ruled the day, it seemed unlikely that a skinny Chinese American kid born in San Francisco and raised in Hong Kong would become an American, and international film legend. Yet Bruce Lee did just that, rocking the film and the martial arts worlds in the process. Despite the years that have passed since his death, his larger than life presence can still be felt today.

Lee, who has several names in Chinese, including his stage name “Little Dragon,” comes from a powerful Hong Kong family, although he didn’t always enjoy the upper class privileges his roots should have provided him. When he studied Wing Chun, other students discriminated against him because he wasn’t Chinese by their standards (his mother was half Caucasian). Of course, this didn’t stop someone as determined as Mr. Lee from succeeding in life, although it seemed to have really pissed him off, as evidenced by his incessant street fighting.

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee

Lee got into tons of fights on the street and in the ring when he was a kid in Hong Kong. He even beat the tar out of the son of a reputed Triad gang member. In order to ensure his own son’s safety, Bruce’s father decided that he should go and live in the United States. Once in America, Lee moved from San Francisco to Seattle, completed his high school education, went to university, married, had children, and then moved back to California, where he eventually founded his own martial arts style, Jeet Kune Do.

From there, the sky was the limit. Lee wowed people with his physical prowess and his martial arts skills. He broke into Hollywood with the role of Kato in ‘The Green Hornet,’ and he pitched a show that would eventually become ‘Kung Fu,’ although the title role was given the very non-Chinese actor, David Carradine. Eventually Bruce returned to Hong Kong and began making martial arts films. On screen he fought Chuck Norris, and the towering American basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as many others. Off screen, he fought tons of men who wanted to prove that his fighting was only for show. Bruce’s challengers all learned a very painful lesson: Mess with Bruce Lee past a certain point, and he’d be more than happy to kick your butt.

Bruce Lee died shorty after the filming off his most iconic film, ‘Enter The Dragon,’ wrapped. Even though his career was cut short by an untimely death, Lee proved that a skinny kid from Hong Kong could become a hero to millions on both sides of the Pacific, and all over the world.

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