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Bruce Lee

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Continued from the Top: (Bio from Wikipedia)

"Post war Hong Kong was a tough place to grow up. Gangs ruled the city streets and Lee was often forced to fight them. But Bruce liked a challenge and faced his adversaries head-on. To his parents' dismay, Bruce's street fighting continued and the violent nature of his confrontations was escalating."

After being involved in several street fights, his parents decided that Bruce Lee needed to be trained in the martial arts.

It was during this time that the largest influence on Bruce Lee's martial development was begun: his study of the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. Bruce Lee began training in Wing Chun aged 13, under the famous Yip Man in the summer of 1954. Yip's regular classes generally consisted of forms practice, Chi Sao (trapping hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques and free sparring. There was no set pattern to the classes.

A year into his Wing Chun training, some of Yip Man's other students refused to train with Lee due to his ancestry, (his mother was a quarter German.) as the Chinese were generally against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians. However, Bruce showed a keen interest in the art, and continued to train privately with William Cheung and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.

Lee began teaching martial arts in the United States in 1959. He called what he taught Jun Fan Gung Fu, (literally Bruce Lee's Kung Fu,) and it was basically his approach to Wing Chun. Lee taught friends he met in Seattle, starting with Judo practitioner Jesse Glover, who later became his first assistant instructor. Lee opened his first martial arts school, named the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, in Seattle.

Jeet Kune Do originated in 1965. A controversial match with Wong Jack Man heavily influenced Lee's philosophy about marital arts. After about three minutes of combat, (although some say 20 - 25 min,) Wong Jack Man conceded. Lee concluded that the fight had lasted too long and that he had failed to live up to his potential using his Wing Chun techniques. He took the view that traditional martial arts techniques were too rigid and formalistic to be practical in chaotic street fighting scenarios.

Lee decided to develop a system with an emphasis on "practicality, flexibility, speed and efficiency". He started to use different methods of training, such as weight training for strength, running for endurance, stretching for flexibility and many others, which he constantly adapted. Lee emphasized what he called "the style of no style". This consisted of getting rid of the formalized approach which Lee claimed was indicative of traditional styles. Lee felt that even the system he now called Jun Fan Gung Fu was too restrictive, and it eventually evolved into a philosophy and martial art he would come to call Jeet Kune Do or the 'Way of the Intercepting Fist'. It is a term he would later regret, because Jeet Kune Do implied specific parameters, whereas the idea of his martial art was to exist outside of parameters and limitations.