Bruce Lee Enduring Legend, Editor’s note: Farooq is one of my old friends. He has been a good martial artist and once ran his own karate club, but then all of a sudden he lost his interest in this art and separated himself from all of its activities. He grew beard and the habit of chain-smoking. He has the talent to write on every subject. He has written hundreds of articles published in different periodicals.
I finally persuaded him to write for The Olympic Sports regularly. We are honored having Frooq Brohi with us. This site is now ornamented by his beautiful articles. Abdul Rahim
Bruce was against the old tradition in martial arts. He opened the door to a new concept of fighting. He was of the view that there should be no style in martial arts. ‘’Fighting is a learning process that has no end. If you are following a style, you are limiting yourself.” He said.
This article, condensed from an interview given by Bruce Lee to a Chinese journalist, Hui Fai, aims to cover various aspects of Bruce’s life. Being a Chinese, Hui Fai translated the interview in broken English. Important portions of the interview are reproduced here after refining the language and narration.
Farooq Brohi. Email: [email protected]
For decades Bruce Lee has been an ideal for young persons. His agility and unique fighting style amazed everyone. In the world of martial arts he was the first person who revolted against the old and unnecessary techniques and traditions prevailed for centuries, especially in Kung Fu. He was against the long and tedious methods for learning Kung Fu. By race, Lee was a Chinese but born and raised in America. He had a revolutionary mind.
Strongly-built Bruce Lee was not only a martial artist or a mere good fighter but also a highly educated person with much foresight. He got his degree in philosophy from Washington University.
Being an extraordinary martial artist and a well educated person, Bruce had his own logical way about judging things. After deep contemplation and weighing up the pros and cons of the conventional techniques of Kung Fu, he broke with tradition because he found many of the techniques baseless. Also, he was against the teaching method of this art as he thought the training sessions outmoded and totally unnecessary.
He was of the view that learning those useless techniques in the modern age was mere waste of time. Accordingly, he created a new style in Kung Fu and named it Jeet-Konedo.
Bruce was anxious about King Fu’s future. He wanted useless and unnecessary things expelled from this ancient art of China maintaining that people do not have much time to spend on learning such things which are quite baseless. Bruce was the first person who defied and challenged the old theory of Kung Fu.
In the beginning his ideas threw Kung Fu masters and learners into a state causing great turmoil, but soon he found favour with a large number of people connected with martial arts. They were interested and inclined to support Jeet-Konedo.
In order to discuss the various aspects of Bruce’s innovative theories about Kung Fu, a discussion among martial arts experts was held in 1965 in Hong Kong. To participate in the discussion, young Bruce Lee arrived from U.S.A. Not missing the chance, a Chinese journalist Hui Fai, who himself was a Kung Fu expert, arranged for a separate detailed conversation with Bruce Lee.
During the conversation, Bruce advanced with effective and cogent reasons explaining his own created new form/style (Jeet Konedo) in comparison with Kung Fu. The journalist was very much impressed by Lee’s new thoughts about martial arts especially about Kung Fu.
Bruce Lee’s theory about Kung Fu is now half a century old but it appeared to be evergreen and compatible with the present age and epoch-making in the field of martial arts. We live in the era that’s busy and fast.
Things are happening with a very fast rate. People are now multifariously busy in every walk of life. Accordingly, Bruce’s theory keeps getting attraction. You may learn useful techniques in less time by practicing Jeet-Konedo.
Talking about Kung Fu, it is pertinent to mention that during the last century, many of the new styles had been introduced. One of the styles is called Wing-Chan, which is thought to be the best. It is self-defending, very simple and useful form of Kung Fu. With these appealing characteristics, soon Wing-Chan became popular among martial artists.
This form of Kung Fu was actually invented in the seventieth century but then gradually and mysteriously it went into the state of obscurity. Then after hundreds of years master Yip Man revived Wing-Chan in the early decades of the last century. It has now become so popular that majority of the martial artists love to learn it. Yip Man is known to be Bruce’s first teacher who taught him elementary techniques of martial arts.
Two of Bruce’s former masters namely Sifu Sin Hon-San and Sifu Chang Chin-ting were also present in the penal mentioned above. This interesting conversation between Hui Fai and Bruce Lee is reproduced here with rare pictures. The story seems interesting in Hui Fai’s own words:
I think myself lucky enough to get the chance to attend the discussion among martial arts experts in Hong Kong. The panel included Bruce Lee and two of his former teachers. I was the only journalist who had been invited. The meeting was held at the home of Sifu Sin Hon-San. The Sifu introduced me to Bruce Lee. I was shocked to feel the tenderness of Bruce’s hand as we shook hands. His hand was soft like a child!
Bruce was dressed with a dull colored jeans pant and a blue jersey. He wore boyish smile on his face. I feel no hesitation to confess that I was already awed by his theories about martial arts and got further impressed by the way he advanced with reasons. He talked in a charming manner making you feel comfortable. During the conversation he demonstrated some of his devised techniques with a dazzling speed.
I, being a journalist, would very much like to clear that I am not advocating Bruce’s ideas about martial arts. I only want to describe what we talked and what I saw there. This explanation of mine requires expediency because of the fact that there is still a circle comprising conservatives who still resist Bruce’s ideas to prevail. On various forums they express their displeasure about any change in the old training method of Kung Fu.
In those days Bruce Lee was not that famous in Hong Kong. People knew less about him. They knew only that he has been once a popular child actor. Bruce had started acting at the age of 8 or 10. Little Bruce was very popular among children. The Orphan (one of his childhood movies) had been a box-office hit.
It is a fact that Bruce exerted himself to learn Kung Fu’s techniques and studied its theory and its philosophical aspects with deep sight. I have met numerous beginners as well as masters of Kung Fu and I am of the opinion that too many mythological theories and beliefs are constantly being included in Kung Fu.
A large number of people still believe the so called queer stories and super human characters about Kung Fu. I regretfully add that some Kung Fu masters keep secret many of the techniques. They never teach these techniques to anyone, not even their brilliant and devoted students. Such attitude of Sifus will lead to nothing.
I am of the view that in the present age Bruce Lee is the only person by whom Kung Fu has gotten its right place and popularity. Bruce played a key role for the improvement and introduction to Kung Fu throughout the world. He took the liberty to expel all the nonsense things from Kung Fu and reproduced the ancient art in a useful form before the world.