Skip to Main Content

Facts You May Not Know About Bruce Lee

Original Post: 05/09/2017

While he was also known for his time as an actor and director, Bruce Lee is most famous for his work as a martial artist. He had a trademark fighting style that involved lightning-quick movements, paving the way for many of the moves you’ll find in the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene today. The more facts about Bruce Lee that people learn, the more they begin to realize just how iconic he was as a man, an actor, a martial artist, and a philosopher.

Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940 to his parents, Grace Ho and Lee Hoi-chuen. While some Bruce Lee facts are common knowledge, you may be surprised by other interesting details from his life. Learn more about the founder of Jeet Kune Do who also starred as a legendary pop culture icon with this list of unique and intriguing details.

Top Bruce Lee Facts

1. In Enter the Dragon, Bruce Faced Off Against Jackie Chan

One of the more interesting facts about Bruce Lee involves Jackie Chan before Chan was the famous actor he is today. In the film Enter the Dragon, Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee battled in a couple of iconic fight scenes. On two different occasions, Jackie Chan got beaten up by Bruce during the movie.

Top 15 Bruce Lee Facts Everyone Should Know About Him - 1_Jackie_Chan

"Jackie Chan" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

At one point during the filming process, the injuries were more than just acting, which Jackie Chan later admitted is his favorite story ever. It turns out Bruce Lee accidentally hit Jackie Chan in the face with a stick. Jackie recently recounted the story in a video interview on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

2. Time Magazine Says Bruce Is One of the Top 100 Most Influential People of His Century

According to Time Magazine, Bruce Lee was one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Mentioned under the section for heroes and icons, his name resonated with other famous people like Muhammad Ali, Anne Frank, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Charles Lindbergh, and others.

3. Bruce Charged Hundreds of Dollars for Private Lessons

Would you pay someone $275 for an hour of martial arts training? What if that teacher was Bruce Lee?

Back in the 1960s, Bruce Lee charged a whopping $275 per hour to give people private lessons. Based on inflation, the amount of $275 in the 1960s would be the equivalent of $2,500 in 2020. It wasn’t surprising that there were many people who were more than happy to pay top dollar for a martial arts class with him.

4. He Owned Thousands of Books

Considering how much time he spent on working out and practicing martial arts, it is amazing Bruce had time to do anything else. One of the lesser-known Bruce Lee facts is how much he loved to read.

In total, Bruce had more than 2,500 books in his personal library. As a voracious reader, he had books on a range of topics such as Sun Tzu’s Art of War, Herman Hesse’s Beneath the Wheel, Chang Chen Chi’s The Practice of Zen, Rene Descartes’ Meditations, and Tsai Lung-Yun’s Fundamental Training on Martial Arts.

His love of reading and self-learning was so great, he even dreamed of owning a bookstore before he became famous as a martial artist. 

5. Bruce Lee Had No Regrets

In one of Bruce Lee’s many popular quotes, he once said, “If I should die tomorrow, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do. You can’t expect more from life.”

By living life to the fullest, Bruce was never scared of death. This mindset has since become a staple of the person he was.

6. Bruce Lee Kicked Too Fast for Cameras

With amazing advancements taking place every year, we are used to dealing with technology that is more powerful than we are. In chess games, supercomputers have beaten the world’s greatest chess masters. But when it comes to technological innovation, even the best cameras in the world couldn’t keep up with Bruce Lee.Top 15 Bruce Lee Facts Everyone Should Know About Him - 2_Bruce_Lee_Star

"Bruce Lee!" by ncole458 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When he filmed Enter the Dragon, the filmmakers said he had to redo scenes because his kicks were too fast. The speedy kicks were so quick that they made the shot look fake, so directors had to reshoot the scene in slow motion at 34 frames per second.

7. His Reaction Time and Punching Speed Was Untouchable

Another one of the best Bruce Lee facts is his impressive punching speed. When Bruce Lee was at a distance of three feet away, he could react and punch in just five-hundredths of a second.

That is 0.05 of one second.

Bruce had to slow himself down on screen because the cameras couldn’t even detect his speedy punches. In early footage of him in the Green Hornet, many scenes had to be completely redone so his fellow actors could react more efficiently for the scenes. When they were initially played back, Lee’s punches were so fast it looked like his opponents simply fell over for no reason.

8. Chuck Norris Said Bruce Would Win in a Fight

For a while, there were a lot of Chuck Norris jokes and memes going around about how no one could ever beat him. But it turns out even the legendary Chuck Norris knew there was at least one person who he couldn’t take on. When someone asked who would win in a fight to the death between him and Bruce Lee, he said, “Bruce [Lee] of course, nobody can beat him.”

9. He Could Do 50 One-Arm Chin-Ups

One of the most incredible physical facts about Bruce Lee is that he could do 50 one-arm chin-ups. There are also stories of Lee doing push-ups with 125 pounds of weight on his back, which is even more remarkable since he only weighed around 130 pounds.

10. Bruce Was Part Dutch

While he rose to fame as a martial artist from Hong Kong, his family ancestry was more diverse. His great-grandfather, Mozes Hartog Bosman, was a Dutch Jewish businessman from Rotterdam who was once the Dutch Consul to Hong Kong. Because of this, Bruce Lee had some Jewish and Dutch heritage on his family tree.

11. Many Fighters Still Call Him the Greatest Martial Artist of All Time

There have been hundreds of famous martial artists to shine in the spotlight since Bruce Lee passed away back in 1973. But even today, most of these individuals still call him the greatest martial artist of all time.

The list of people who have said this includes champion fighters like Mike Tyson, Anthony Pettis, Randy Couture, Anderson Silva, Manny Pacquiao, and more.

12. Bruce Lee Was an American Citizen

Another one of the most interesting facts about Bruce Lee is that he was an American citizen. Since he was born in a Chinese hospital in San Francisco, he was able to emigrate back to the United States right before he turned 18 to legally claim his American citizenship.

Top 15 Bruce Lee Facts Everyone Should Know About Him - 3_master_Bruce_Less

"Master-Bruce-Lee" by @Peta_de_Aztlan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

13. His Son Became a Martial Artist Too

Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, ended up becoming a famous martial artist as well. He trained under his father in the special art of Jeet Kune Do and was truly gifted at it. Brandon also followed in his father’s footsteps and became a talented actor.

Unfortunately, Brandon passed away at a young age as well. While Brandon filmed his breakout role in The Crow, he was killed when a prop gun was shot with improperly deactivated bullets.

14. Bruce Lee Studied Under Yip Man

When he was 13 years old, Bruce Lee began studying Wing Chun Gung Fu under the legendary Yip Man (Ip Man). During his five years of study with Yip Man, he revered his master as a wise man and master teacher. Later in his life, Lee returned as an adult to visit him.

15. Bruce Lee’s Cause of Death is Still Uncertain

Over the years, there have been many rumors about how Bruce Lee died. While some believe he was killed by the Chinese mafia, others swear he was killed by an ancient curse. At the time of his death, doctors believed his cerebral edema (brain swelling) was caused by a reaction to an Aspirin painkiller he took for a headache.Top 15 Bruce Lee Facts Everyone Should Know About Him - 4_Graves_bruce_and_brandon

"Graves of Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee" by Tony Fischer Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0

More recently, medical professionals have even hypothesized that heatstroke was his true cause of death. While this theory appears to be well supported by facts about Bruce Lee at the time of his death, it is still all speculative information.

Bruce Lee’s wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, has constantly invited people to view the other side of this situation. She has said, “All these years later, people still wonder about how Bruce died. I prefer to remember how he lived.”

The Origins of Kickboxing

Originally posted on 12/29/2014 When most people think of kickboxing, they imagine some type of combination between American boxing and martial arts kicking. Surely, that’s what it can look like to an untrained eye, as it takes...

Is Jeet Kune Do the Best Self-Defense for You?

Originally posted on 03/27/2019 By Jessica Militello In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of the four locations of New York Martial Arts Academy, passersby regularly stop and take out their camera phones to capture an image of the massive,...

What Is Grappling in MMA?

Original Post: 01/06/2015 MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, is a popular sport. Few people understand that it typically involves striking, wrestling, and grappling - basically fighting on your feet, getting your opponent to the ground, then...

Using Jeet Kune Do Footwork to Avoid Getting Punched

The art of Jeet Kune Do created by Bruce Lee integrates all facets of combat. Various styles are borrowed from boxing, fencing, and other types of fighting. But one of the things that makes it truly unique is Jeet Kune Do footwork. If you...

The 5 Most Effective Types of Takedown Defense

If you want to achieve success as a martial artist, you need to improve your takedown defense as a way to avoid being brought to the ground during a fight. When mixed martial arts (MMA) first started, skilled grapplers won many of the first...

Helpful Head Movement Drills for Self Defense

There’s a saying in the martial world that says, “Either you move your head or he’s gonna move it for you.” Effective head movement is used to avoid oncoming attacks and also to set up strong counter moves. It can...

The 3 Benefits of Martial Arts Wellness Programs

Attracting talent to your organization is more difficult now than it has been. With more flexibility favoring employees, you must offer a fully laid out benefits package. This approach may appear costly, but it will help you attract and retain...

The 4 Main Benefits of Martial Arts After School Programs

Children have so many options for what to do with their time after school. After so many hours focusing on schoolwork, it is a lot to ask for them to continue that level of attention. Students that participate in afterschool programs, even those...

Everything You Need to Know About Martial Arts Belts

  For years, those who practice martial arts like Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, and others have taken part in classes where one of the most significant signs of their skillset is represented by a thin piece of fabric wrapped...

A Martial Arts Journey to Health and Fitness

Written By Jessica Militello When Chris Shea first joined New York Martial Arts Academy in 2017, he had just embarked on a serious commitment to revamp his health and fitness habits. Two years later, his determination and discipline to making...

Why Every Woman Should Do Martial Arts

Many physical activities from sports to adventure hiking tend to get branded as masculine things to do. This limited perspective ignores the benefits that any person can enjoy from these activities. Martial arts provide many opportunities for...
Page: 1234567 - All

The Best MMA Documentaries to Watch

By Jessica Militello There’s a lot of great documentaries on interesting and inspiring stories from the world of combat sports and the incredible stories of the fighters who are brave enough to step inside the ring. It’s hard not to...

Francis Ngannou Fighting Technique

By Jessica Militello Francis Ngannou most recently defended the title for the heavyweight championship on February 22 at UFC 270 against the interim champion Ciryl Gane. Ngannou is known for being a knockout artist with punching power equivalent...

Bruce Lee: The Greatest Martial Artist of All Time

Originally posted on 05/29/2020 It is widely accepted by fighters and other people around the world that Bruce Lee was the most influential martial artist of all time. From his famous action movies to his unique martial art of Jeet Kune...

Five of the Biggest Upsets in UFC History

By Jessica Militello Throughout the three decades of the UFC, there have been tons of historical moments and unforgettable upsets that shocked fight fans everywhere. These days, if you ask anyone what their favorites were, you’ll probably...

Sean O’Malley’s best fighting tactics

By Jessica Militello “Suga” Sean O’Malley’s career has been on the rise since he first got on the UFC’s radar back in 2017 on Dana White’s Contender Series. Since then, he’s had an impressive record of...

Looking back on the UFC-then and now

By Jessica Militello The UFC recently marked the 28th anniversary of their first fight card on November 12, 1993. At the time, the promotion had entirely different owners and was a fight to the death with virtually no rules in a quest to see...

How to Fight Like Nick Diaz

By Jessica Militello One of the UFC’s most legendary and respected fighters made a very long-awaited return to the octagon at UFC 266 for a rematch with Robbie Lawler that was 17 years in the making and many couldn’t even believe it...

Boxers Who Fight with Their Strong Side Forward

By Jessica Militello Most fighters that you watch from boxing to MMA adopt a stance that is either orthodox or southpaw. In these combat sports, it has always been a tradition to stand with your less dominant side forward and your lead hand...

Should the Oblique Stomp be Banned from the UFC?

By Jessica Militello Every once in a while the MMA community revisits the debate of whether or not moves like the oblique stomp should be made illegal in the UFC. The question has been getting attention again lately after viewers watched the...

Best Martial Arts Styles for Kids

By Jessica Militello If you are looking for a martial art to enroll your child in, you may be wondering which style is the best for them to learn and have fun while still being appropriate for their age. Every martial art has a list of benefits...

How do I choose a martial arts school for my child?

By Jessica Militello There are several criteria that are a good idea to look for when choosing a martial arts school for your kids. Obviously anytime you are investing time and money into something, you want to make sure it’s the right...

Should I Put My Kids in Martial Arts?

By Jessica Militello With all of the many choices of hobbies and sports to enroll your child in, it can become a little overwhelming to find the best one that both you and your child feel most confident about signing up for. Martial arts is a...

Can Martial Arts Help Kids Dealing with Anxiety?

By Jessica Militello Anxiety can be very uncomfortable and scary for anyone to deal with, but for parents who have children who deal with anxiety, it can feel frustrating to watch your kids struggle with it, especially if you are unsure of how to...

Cobra Kai Characters We Love and Hate

By Jessica Militello Warning: This article may contain spoilers if you have not completed the first three seasons of the show Cobra Kai. While fans of Cobra Kai anxiously wait for season 4 after a pretty intense season 3 finale, it’s...

Some of the Most Vicious Knee Knockouts in the UFC

By Jessica Militello Some of the most brutal and historic moments in the UFC have been from fights finished with knockouts using knees. Fans have a tendency to look at a fighter’s grappling, striking, and kicks, and can tend to overlook...

Using Jeet Kune Do Footwork to Avoid Getting Punched

The art of Jeet Kune Do created by Bruce Lee integrates all facets of combat. Various styles are borrowed from boxing, fencing, and other types of fighting. But one of the things that makes it truly unique is Jeet Kune Do footwork. If you...

The 5 Most Effective Types of Takedown Defense

If you want to achieve success as a martial artist, you need to improve your takedown defense as a way to avoid being brought to the ground during a fight. When mixed martial arts (MMA) first started, skilled grapplers won many of the first...

Helpful Head Movement Drills for Self Defense

There’s a saying in the martial world that says, “Either you move your head or he’s gonna move it for you.” Effective head movement is used to avoid oncoming attacks and also to set up strong counter moves. It can...

Why Martial Arts Is More Than Just Kicking

  Martial arts was initially seen as combative and puzzling. It was mostly learned and practiced by adults and was chiefly about self-defense. Martial arts has ever since grown from that stage of tiny dirty schools to schools teaching...

Fencing without a foil?

Bruce Lee often called his art of Jeet Kune Do, fencing without a foil.  In this entry we will be discussing what he meant by that statement.   If you take a look at fencing and Jeet Kune Do, you will not a few similarities.  One of...

Finding a Little Bruce Lee in All of Us

A slew of Bruce Lee types, embracing both men and women, could soon be making their way through the streets of New York--but with an added physical dimension; expertise in rough, tough and often savage street fighting.  In brief, those bad...

Doing Your Own JKD Thing

By Cass Magda   JKD has its own identity and follows a design with a purpose. It is a system. A JKD man's movement is definitely different and distinguishable from other martial arts such as Thai kickboxing, wing chun, or karate. The physical...

Getting To The Roots of JKD

By Cass Magda   In the Tao of JKD Bruce Lee said, "I hope that martial artists are more interested in the root of martial arts and not the different decorative branches, flowers or leaves. It is futile to argue as to which single...

Jeet Kune Do: The Way of The "Stopping Fist"

Jeet Kune Do is training and discipline toward the ultimate reality in combat. The ultimate reality is returning to one's primary freedom, which is simple, direct, and nonclassical.  A good Jeet Kune Do man does not oppose force or give way...

Jeet Kune Do's Five Ways Of Attack

1. SDA (Single Direct Attack) A direct attack is composed of a single movement. The objective is to go to the target by the most direct route. Although it is the simplest of the attacks, it is the hardest to complete successfully because the...