This is two days late, but due to my traveling schedule I was unfortunately able to get this up on July 20th, but the 20th was 38 years since the passing of the legendary Bruce Lee. Lee was one of the first true martial arts pioneers who helped popularize martial arts throughout the world. A lot of great men, martial artists and entertainers came before him, but his style, charisma and the realistic choreography used in his films made him so entirely different and a breath of fresh air, Martial Arts films became accessible to a wider audience. The bulk of films featuring Martial Arts focused on theatrics and wire work before Lee's films, while Lee's films were more focused on close combat and the fights being incredibly realistic compared to the rest of the fare.
Sadly, Lee passed away before Enter the Dragon could be fully realized on the big screen and released to a wide audience, the film that made him an incredible superstar the whole world over. The film featured a tournament on an island, a concept that would be used almost entirely wholesale in the creation of the popular videogame franchise "Mortal Kombat" in the 90's, with the feature film created from it playing out like a mix between Enter the Dragon and Bloodsport.
The tournament format in sports, especially combat sports is very well known, but many have noted the distinct similarities between the concept of gathering the greatest fighters in the world for a marital arts tournament in Enter the Dragon and the concept behind Kazuyoshi Ishii's K-1 World Grand Prix. I can honestly say that without Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon, there is a chance that K-1 would not have became as popular as it was, nor would it have really caught my eye. I grew up as a huge Bruce Lee fan, respecting all of the obstacles he had to overcome, from racial prejudices, internal struggles within his own community of martial arts instructors to his own, personal struggles in dealing with his shortcomings and working around his ego to become a better person. Lee's philosophy has become almost as famous as his films have, with many of his teachings transcending the world of martial arts and bleeding into every day society.
His vision of martial arts also looked more at what was effective in a fight, as opposed to simply doing what was tradition. Katas were vital for perfecting certain techniques and practiced for ceremony and tradition a lot of the time, as opposed to practiced for being effective, and on top of that, techniques from other forms of martial arts sometimes perfectly complemented a form from the art you are practicing. Lee took a "Mixed Martial Arts" approach to fighting, with Jeet Kune Do not using a belt ranking system, nor did it adhere to one style. Bruce's base was Wing Chung Gung Fu, but he openly sampled from Japanese Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and Karate, utilizing whatever technique worked the best and was the most effective for any given situation. In a way, Jeet Kune Do opened the door to what we know as modern Mixed Martial Arts.
In a way, Bruce is really one of the fathers of modern Martial Arts and should be appreciated in that way. So, to pay your respects, check out what was filmed of his last film, "Game of Death" in this 30-minute climax scene that has now become legendary and enjoy.