Bruce Lee – Wing Chun’s Most Famous Student
Legendary martial artist, Bruce Lee (Lee Jun Fan) is without doubt, Wing Chun’s most famous and popular student. Born in 1940, Lee took started training at the age of 13 under Yip Man in Hong Kong.
Born in San Francisco, Bruce’s family returned to Hong Kong when he was only 3 months old. His father was an actor and trained Tai Chi which introduced Bruce to martial arts from a very early age.
Bruce Lee started Wing Chun with his friend Hawkins Cheung under Grandmaster Yip Man in 1953. Bruce’s mother was of Chinese/German ancestry which caused disdain amongst other students who believed Kung Fu should not be taught to Westerners.
Yip Man refused to bow to pressure from students who said they would leave if he continued to teach Bruce. Lee eventually left of his own accord and continued his training alongside Yip Man’s senior students Wong Shun Leung and William Cheung.
In 1959, having learnt the first two Wing Chun forms and part of the wooden dummy form Bruce decided to move to America where he would continue his academic and martial education.
It’s fair to say that the martial influences in the US would have been very different to those he experienced in Hong Kong. Exposed to different challenges, martial artists and people, Bruce started train and research a wide variety of fighting styles.
This coupled with his own personal experiences from fighting led to the creation of Jun Fan Gung Fu (Bruce Lee Kung Fu) and later Jeet Kune Do which utilise many core principles gleamed from his Wing Chun training. His ultimate aim was ‘combat effectiveness’ that was complete and flexible.
“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.” – Bruce Lee
It wouldn’t be right to talk about Bruce Lee and not mention the extreme physical and athletic training he believed and push himself to achieve. Lee as a massive advocate of physical conditioning that would finish a fight as quick as possible. Physical feats such as finger and thumb press-ups, 50 one armed chin ups and holding V-sits for up to 30 minutes.
Bruce Lee starred as Kato in the TV show ‘The Green Hornet’ and went on to make 5 big screen films, the most famous of which is ‘Enter the Dragon’ which went on to become one of the years highest grossing films. Scheduled for release on the 26th July 1973, Bruce Lee died 6 days before its release from mysterious circumstances at the age of 32.
Today Bruce Lee continues to be a household name and it’s fantastic that even our youngest students, born over 60 years later know exactly who he is and what he did. Bruce revolutionised martial arts, changed opinions, attitudes, philosophies and has inspired (and re-inspired) countless individuals worldwide.