Bruce Lee, Li Xiaolong (Little Dragon) aka Li Zhenfan November 27, 1940, San Francisco - July 20, 1973, Hong Kong - was a martial arts master , actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher and director. Founder of Jit Kung Do, Lee was the son of Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-Chen. One of the most influential martial artists of all time and a pop icon of the 20th century.
Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco's Chinatown on November 27, 1940, in the year of the Dragon and in the Dragon hour of the Chinese calendar (between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m.) during an American tour of his parents, Chinese opera comic actor Li Hoi-Chen and his wife Grace Lee. At three months of age, Bruce Lee and his parents returned to Hong Kong. He was introduced to his father's film industry and starred in several films as a child, mostly as a "troubled" child or a bullied street orphan.
At a young age, Lee won the Hong Kong cha-cha-dance championship. That's when he decided to take up kung fu in earnest. His first kung fu teacher recalled that Bruce came to him and said:
"Master, I know you're great at kung fu - and I'm the best cha-cha-cha dancer. So let's exchange our knowledge: you teach me kung fu techniques, and I'll teach you the cha-cha-cha.
Bruce turned out to be very talented, he mastered in just 3 days the movements of Tai Chi chuan technique, the basic training of which usually takes weeks. Since then, Bruce never left kung fu lessons for long and trained constantly. His main style of kung fu then became the Wing Chun style, which he studied in Hong Kong since 1956 under the master Ip Man. Later he also studied judo, jiu-jitsu and boxing. Then Lee developed his own style called Jit Kung-Do.
At the age of 18, Lee returned to the United States and in December 1960, he graduated from Edison Technical High School.
In March 1961, Bruce enrolled at Washington State University there and met his future wife Linda Emery. In August 1964 they married, Lee had two children with Linda Emery, Brandon Lee (1965-1993) and Shannon Lee (1969).
Bruce began starring in television series in the United States, demonstrating martial arts. He became popular and began to have students, which included many famous people.
He opened his own martial arts school, where he began teaching "Jit Kung-Do", private lessons Bruce Lee cost about 275 dollars an hour, which was very expensive and could ensure the financial independence of Lee for years to come. But he never got the leading roles in movies, which made him terribly unhappy. Out of frustration in 1971, Bruce Lee decided to leave the United States and return with his family to Hong Kong.
At the time, a new film studio, Golden Harvest (which later became very famous), opened in Hong Kong. Bruce Lee persuaded studio director Raymond Chow to give him the lead role in The Big Boss and allowed him to direct the fight scenes himself. The risk paid off - the film was an unprecedented success. Bruce Lee literally turned the idea of martial arts in movies. His sharp moves and naturalistic fight scenes appealed to Asian audiences, and then the wave was passed on to audiences all over the world. Chou commissioned Li to direct two more films (Fist of Fury and Return of the Dragon), this time with solid budgets. The films were even more successful and made Lee a superstar.
Bruce Lee died suddenly in Hong Kong in 1973, while working on another Death Game movie: he (according to one version) took a headache pill containing aspirin and meprobamate, which led to brain swelling, as the autopsy showed. No tests were taken, which casts doubt that he died from the pill. His death was a shock to all of Hong Kong - no one could imagine that this man, who spent days and nights perfecting his body, could die. After his death, rumors began to circulate that he died in the bed of his mistress or was killed by another master, but they were never confirmed. Bruce Lee's funeral turned into a citywide and then all-Asian mourning. Friends and thousands of admirers marched to pay his last respects. Then Bruce Lee's body was transported to Seattle, where his family said goodbye to him and where he was buried. Bruce Lee's grave is still visited by martial arts fans. And his last movie was filmed five years later with the help of understudies.