25 Lethal Facts About Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in pop culture, and his posters have decorated (and continue to decorate) m...

Bruce Lee is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in pop culture, and his posters have decorated (and continue to decorate) millions of bedroom walls around the world. If anyone could properly represent the term “global icon,” that would definitely be Bruce Lee. But who was he really, and why is he so famous and beloved to this day?

Bruce Lee was an exceptional martial artist, actor, and filmmaker known for classic action flicks like Fists of Fury, The Big Boss, and Enter the Dragon. For that matter, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to claim he was the one who gave birth to the action movie genre and was the prototype of what we call today an action movie hero. As a martial arts master he created his own technique known as Jeet Kune Do. If, however, you already happen to know the above information about the legendary martial artist and actor, here follow 25 Lethal Facts About Bruce Lee that will enlighten you about the man who caused hundreds of millions of people around the world to embrace martial arts and combat sports more than anyone else in contemporary history.


Bruce Lee was born in the Year of the Dragon, on the Day of the Dragon, on the hour of the Dragon. Unsurprisingly, his nickname was Little Dragon.

glowing dragon

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Bruce Lee’s grandfather was one hundred percent German, which technically made Lee Eurasian. This “non-pure” Chinese status prevented him from being accepted into many kung fu schools in the 1950's due to discrimination and racism.

Bruce Lee family

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During his adolescence, he was a gang leader. The name of his group was The Tigers of Junction Street.

young Bruce Lee

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It might sound a little strange, but Lee’s early life was quite similar to the one portrayed in his movies. To make a long story short, he got into a fight with the son of a triad boss in Hong Kong when he was young, and his father shipped him off to the States the next day.

Bruce Lee

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He left for Seattle in 1958 with $100. While aboard the ship traveling to America, he gave cha cha lessons to first-class passengers to earn extra money.


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He was able to name every karate term and perform each technique with deadly accuracy even though he was never officially taught the Japanese art of self-defense.

Karate class

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Lee had bad eyesight, which was one of the reasons he appreciated Wing Chun’s contact style of movement as he could rely more on touch than sight.

fist bump

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Bruce Lee’s favorite habit (other than martial arts, of course) was reading. He had an extensive library of more than two thousand books and read daily.

book with pencil

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Contrary to the popular belief that Lee never participated in real combat competitions, he became the Hong Kong boxing champion, knocking out all his opponents including British boxer Gary Elms. He also defeated famous martial artist and teacher Wong Jack Man in a fight in 1965.

The dragon and the tiger

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Bruce Lee used to puncture cans with his fingers back in the days when cans weren’t soft aluminum. He cut himself performing this on the set of The Big Boss though, so keep an eye out for the Band-Aids on his fingers next time you watch the film.

the big boss bruce lee

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Time magazine named Bruce Lee one of the one hundred most influential people of the twentieth century. A few years later, in 2014, the Houston Boxing Hall of Fame voted him the Greatest Movie Fighter Ever.

Time magazine bruce lee

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He weighed only 160 lbs. at his heaviest and was around 125 lbs. when he died.

Bruce lee white suit

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He was capable of doing push-ups with a 250-pound man on his back. He could also do push-ups with only one finger.

one finger push up

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Lee was chosen by Goldsea Asian American Daily as one of the “100 Most Inspiring Asian Americans of All Time,” ranked second behind Daniel K. Inouye, the influential senator and Medal of Honor recipient.

Daniel K. Inouye

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In the popular Nintendo game series Pokémon, the fighting-type monster Hitmonlee is based on Lee.


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To mark the occasion of what would have been Lee’s sixty-fifth birthday (November 27, 2005), a bronze statue of a shirtless Bruce adopting a martial arts pose was unveiled in Hong Kong, effectively kicking off a week long Bruce Lee festival.

bruce lee statue

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UFC president Dana White considers Bruce Lee “the father of Mixed Martial Arts.”

UFC president Dana White

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Bruce Lee developed an amazing trick, which you can find on YouTube, for showing off his speed: a person held a coin and closed his hand and, as he closed it, Lee would take it and could even swap the coin for another.

bruce lee smirk

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Lee mastered a technique called “the one-inch punch,” where he could deliver a devastating blow with his fist traveling only an inch before striking his opponent.

one inch punch

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In his first and only meeting with composer Lalo Schifrin (they worked together on Enter the Dragon), Bruce confessed that he often trained to the Mission: Impossible theme.

Lalo Schifrin

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Despite rumors and reports to the contrary, Lee was never Chuck Norris’s instructor. They trained together, often trading techniques and ideas, but never had a student-teacher relationship.

bruce lee painting

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However, he was the one who gave Norris his first movie job, but it wasn’t in Way of the Dragon, as many people believe. Actually, it was before that, when Lee was a stunt coordinator in a film called Wrecking Crew starring Dean Martin. Bruce got Chuck one quick scene, which started with one line of dialogue followed by a fight scene.

Chuck Norris

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Film directors had to shoot Lee’s fight scenes at thirty-two frames per second instead of the usual twenty-four because he was so fast; they wanted to make them seem more realistic, especially his kicks.

bruce lee director

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At the peak of his stardom, Lee was challenged by so many people every time he was recognized in public that he used to carry a .367 Magnum. This is what happens when people everywhere want to fight you to prove their strength, I guess.


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Bruce Lee might be the closest a real human has come to a superhero, but he had his kryptonite too: water. Lee couldn’t swim to save his life according to his younger brother, Robert, who revealed that Bruce hated the water and couldn’t swim.

girl in swimming pool

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