Bruce Lee needs no introduction. We grew up on Enter The Dragon and idolized his razor sharp reflexes and unparalleled agility! We know him as the greatest exponent of Wing Chun and the progenitor of Jeet Kune Do, but do we know all about him?
Here are 20 lesser-known facts about Bruce Lee on his 75th birth anniversary!
1. Bruce Lee was partly German
The fourth of 5 children, Bruce Lee’s grandfather was a pure bred German Catholic. This actually worked against him as his “non-pure” Chinese status prevented his acceptance into some of the most prominent Kung Fu schools, back in the ’50s.
2. He was one of the first people to have tried contact lenses
Bruce suffered from near-sightedness, which explains why he favoured Wing Chun’s contact-centered movement as it allowed him to rely more on touch than sight. He was also one of the first people to have used contact lenses, but because they were uncomfortable, he discontinued the usage.
3. Was a cha-cha dancing champion
Now this comes as a bolt of shock for most of us! We all know Bruce loved the cha-cha, but did you know he also won a dance competition back in Hong Kong?
4. Practiced 5000 punches a day
Now that explains his prowess at ballistic, lightning-fast punches! Cry havoc and let slip, the fists of fury!
5. Punctured cola cans with his fingers
Back when cola cans weren’t made of soft, beaten sheets of aluminium, Bruce Lee punctured holes through them with two-fingers!
6. He had his sweat glands removed from his armpits
As twisted as this may sound, the legendary Wing Chun exponent did it purely for aesthetic reasons. Did you even know that this was possible?
7. He wanted to fight Muhammad Ali
“Great” pitted against “The Greatest” would have definitely been up there on the marquee, only if it had happened! Bruce was in total awe of Ali’s in-ring exploits, his speed and the diabolic blows he administered when he was on top of his game. He often used to watch video footage of Ali’s matches, trying to adopt some of his moves.
8. He inspired video game characters
Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat, Fei Long from Street Fighter II and Law from Tekken!
9. He showed exemplary artistic skills
In addition to being the best martial arts practitioner in the world, Lee was also an amazingly talented sketch artist. Here’s what he drew:
10. Bruce Lee carried a .367 Magnum for safety
Despite the fact that he was the most lethal fighter, he still carried a .367 Magnum in his holster for safety. Fearing for your life is common, if you have people wanting to fight you, just to prove themselves!
11. He had an extensive library
His insatiable quest for knowledge and learning, prompted him to have a library of his own, housing over 2000 books.
12. He was adept at multitasking
Legend stands testimony to the fact that Bruce Lee could read a book, watch television and do dumb-bell curls all at one time!
13. Lee couldn’t swim
Adept at land, Bruce was a failure at sea! He absolutely loathed water and couldn’t swim at all.
14. He fought NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar
His posthumous release titled Game Of Death (1978), featured him engaging in a duel with LA Lakers legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar! Kareem also trained in Jeet Kune Do under the master.
15. Charged $275 US dollars an hour for private lessons in the ’60s
Bruce Lee’s tutelage was pricey! He used to charge 275 dollars an hour for martial arts lessons – by today’s standards that is equivalent to 1800$!
16. He was a poet too!
Lee had a penchant for poetry too! Excerpts of his poetic genius made it to his book, which was titled “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do”. A master at the word game, indeed!
17. He kickstarted Jackie Chan’s acting career
The young Jackie Chan got to feature alongside his idol in Enter The Dragon . Trivia: Lee accidentally kicked Chan in the head, which allowed the young Chan to spend some quality time at the sets with his biggest influence.
18. Sparred all night with Chuck Norris outside his hotel room
“One time we were in New York, staying at the same hotel. As we went up in the elevator, we started sparring and kept doing so in the hallway of our rooms until 4 a.m.! I still wonder why we weren’t turned in to hotel security. (Maybe we were, but they refused to detain us!)” – Chuck Norris
19. Bruce loved cannabis!
He was known to chew cannabis, the potent ‘Nepali Hashish’ to be precise! Even his autopsy showed traces of herb usage, in the blood stream.
20. He lied to get one-on-one Wing Chun sessions
Lee used to ask for private Wing Chun sessions from his trainer- but was refused. So, in order to get one-on-one sessions, he would wait outside class, tell the other students that the class was off and walk them to the bus stop. Once that was done, he would return and be the only student in class!