Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973)
Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco but at three months old his family moved back to Hong Kong. He started training in martial arts mainly to over come his fear of being humiliated in a street fight - as a teenager he got into more and more fights for no apparent reason.
If he did not win he was furious! He always considered himself a winner and losing even once in a while was unbearable to him. As a result of his continued fighting he was looking for an efficient martial art to defend himself. Then his friend William Cheung, student of Yip Man and presently a teacher in Australia, introduced him to the Yip Man Kwoon (school).
Under the guidance of Sifu Wong Shun Leung, he studied the system of Wing Chun kung fu and immediately showed natural talent, although at the beginning of their student/teacher relationship, Wong Shun Leung found Bruce Lee to be quite lazy in his approach to training. Consequently his progress in the art was relatively slow. However after witnessing first hand Wong Shun Leung's fighting skills, Bruce Lee began to take his training far more seriously and he steadily improved. As a result, Bruce Lee became a proficient martial artist, not to mention a feared street fighter.
Prior to being introduced to Wing Chun kung fu, Bruce Lee studied several different types of kung fu but eventually chose this one over all the others as he felt it to be the most effective. Bruce Lee had to stop his studies of Wing Chun in his fourth year and had to leave Hong Kong to take up academic studies in the U.S.A. Despite this, he remained in close contact with Wong Shun Leung.
Yip Man reminded him before leaving for America that the Chinese need kung fu techniques to defend themselves and to stay in good health, and that techniques of Wing Chun should not be taught freely to foreigners, (it was the typical Chinese traditional thinking of the old kung fu masters!). Bruce Lee promised to bear that in mind before leaving for the U.S.A.. However, on arrival he wanted to continue his training but could not find any school which displayed the efficiency of Yip Man's Wing Chun school. Therefore, he started up a gym, admitted students and taught them Wing Chun kung fu.
That was the beginning of Wing Chun's world wide spread, till then it was a closed door only allowing Chinese. Afterwards he used his Wing Chun knowledge to pursue a movie career in Hollywood.
Through his research into martial arts with the basis and concepts of Wing Chun, he developed his techniques into Jeet Kune Do / JKD, which he taught his own students (including the well known Guru Dan Inosanto) and for which he became famous.
Bruce Lee incorporated the theories of Wing Chun kung fu into his Jeet Kune Do / JKD and included some Chinese philosophies such as Taoism. Unfortunately at the age of thirty-two he passed away but left behind a legacy. During his life time, no other 20th century man did more to bring martial arts to the attention of the general public than Bruce Lee, a martial artist and a superstar.
Bruce Lee is gone, but his influence will remain forever.