Bruce Lee appeared on the scene in 1959, here in the United States.
He was not a huge man when he came to Seattle. It weighs just under 130 pounds.
In fact, he was born a sickly boy with an undescended testicle and a female name. His mother … a very superstitious woman gave him the name Li Jun Fan so that evil spirits would not take it from him. (In Chinese culture, boys are more valued than girls.)
With all of this going against him, it’s almost impossible to believe that he would later become the proverbial: Charles Atlas’s cartoon character.
You know the one, they kick sand in his face, he starts working out, working out hard and before you know it … he’s got muscles and he’s taking care of himself at the beach!
Lee spent his entire life turning his fragile little body into a big weapon, but he did more than that. You see, most people did not see the Chinese as physically strong people, in fact, they were perceived as domestic workers and day laborers. A small and weak race was the American perception of the Chinese at the time. Most of the martial arts were still unknown, including the Chinese boxing style that Bruce was about to introduce to Westerners.
Kung fu was hitherto unknown to Americans. So when Bruce Lee burst onto the scene with these quick punches and high kicks, every nerd and underweight man had a new hero!
Many people wanted to learn kung fu and that’s why Bruce Lee’s training and coaching program started. Some of Bruce Lee’s most famous students were Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and many others. Soon all Westerners were learning: Jeet Kune Do. This is the name that Bruce Lee gave to his martial art, translated as “the Way of the intercepting fist”.
He loved to work out and was constantly trying to improve Bruce Lee’s exercise program. He was what you might call a fitness freak. He engaged in running, lifting weights, using isometric exercise, and electrical impulse to stimulate his muscles while he slept. (Bruce Lee even wanted to add speed and power while he slept.)
Bruce Lee was also very interested in proper nutrition and Bruce Lee’s diet consisted of taking vitamins, ginseng, royal jelly, steroids, and even liquid steaks (before the 1980s, steroids were legal in the United States).
Although Bruce Lee’s training was never intended to make him look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or even a professional bodybuilder, it’s easy to see that it was effective in building ripped muscle that most people today would love to have.
Unfortunately, Bruce Lee died at the age of 32 under strange and controversial circumstances at his lover’s house from a supposed cerebral edema. The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a strange reaction to a prescription pain reliever called Equagesic. What really stands out from Bruce Lee’s training and coaching is that through all of his many obstacles, he was still able to overcome them and achieve his goal of becoming a martial arts legend and movie star.