Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Bruce Lee changed the world with his fists and his spirit

History Channel is running a bomb-ass documentary on Bruce Lee's influence on the world. When you consider he died at 32 after making only 4 movies and 1 TV show, this list of things he radicalized is pretty sick:

He invented his own Martial Art, free of form and rules, called Jeet Kune Do. He was also the forebearer of mixed martial arts and ultimate fighting decades before their time. Hong Kong's favorite son also brought Eastern philosophy and spirituality to the Western world on TV appearances and interviews, with sayings like "you must flow, like water."

Lee inspired free-running, or Parqore. He also invented custom exercise equipment decades before it became mainstream at sporting goods stores. Same goes for protein shakes and supplements that he blended and concocted on his own, decades before GNC came around. Lee also pioneered using electrical stimulation on injured or fatigued muscles, which is a standard in modern sports medecine!

Bruce changed the way martial arts movies where choreographed, shot and edited. He revolutionized stunts and fight scenes that had no special effects. Not only that, the soundtracks to his movies influenced not only film soundtracks but music in general, which brings us to ....

His lasting impression may be on pop culture: music, especially rap & hip hop, with devotees like the Wu Tang Clan. Comics and cartoons are no exception, with the likes of Afro Samurai and Marvel Comics' Iron Fist and Kung Fu Master citing Lee as a direct inspiration. Last but not least, video games check in with titles like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Double Dragon and a slew of Bruce Lee games for arcades, consoles and cell phones.

The man is a brand in every sense of the word. He's probably bigger than Donald Trump and Martha Stewart when you think about all the ways he influenced the U.S. and the world. What a shame he isn't around today to teach us more about spirituality and the one reality that binds the universe.

From his first gym in Oakland, to his house in Hong Kong, to his burial site in Seattle, I'm glad all of these landmarks are being preserved for the sake of history and reverence. Someday I hope to visit the new Bruce Lee Action Museum, or BLAM.

Check this bit of free running, which credits Bruce Lee as its inventor. Sears and JC Penny never looked so exciting: