Episode 143: Bruce Lee: Anatomy of the Dragon

Bruce Lee

This episode of the Sofa King Podcast is dedicated to the master and martial arts legend, Bruce Lee! Born in San Francisco, November 27th, 1940, Bruce Lee was originally named Lee Jun Fan, which meant “he who would return.” He was born in the hour of the dragon on the year of the dragon, and most people said this would make him grow up to be powerful and important. Maybe there was something to that…

Bruce Lee grew up in Hong Kong after World War Two, when the city was filling with war refugees and became an increasingly violent place. Lee ran with street gangs, got kicked out of schools, and was generally a bad kid with a bad attitude. In his teens, however, he discovered the legendary Yip Man, master of Wing Chung Gung Fu, and his life changed forever.

Lee was a natural fighter and a trained dancer, so learning moves and perfecting subtle movements was in his blood. According to legend, Lee beat up a Triad gang member’s son, and he had to move back to San Francisco to find safety. There, he developed his own style of martial arts (which would eventually come to be called Jeet Kun Do), and he perfected his martial prowess.

He found some fame when he attended the 1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships, where he displayed his infamous two finger push-ups and his notorious one-inch punch. From here, Lee opened several martial arts studios and eventually started training Hollywood stars before landing the role of Kato in The Green Hornet. This changed his life, making him a super star in China, where he eventually returned since he couldn’t find work in what turned out to be a racist Hollywood.

In China, Lee set record after record with his movies. His ultimate film, Enter the Dragon is considered the single best action and martial arts film of all time by many connoisseurs of the genre. Lee’s martial abilities in the real world, and his magnetic charisma and knowledge of cinematic fight scenes make him the bar against which all other movie martial artists (and real world martial artists…) are judged by.

He died in 1973, and rumors swirl from an assassination to drug use to a curse that eventually killed his own son Brandon Lee in a crazy way that Bruce’s films seemed to predict! If you don’t know much about martial arts, about that style film, or about Bruce Lee and why he is so important, give this one a listen.

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