As a kung fu practitioner, Bruce Lee disliked using grappling moves, but changed his mind after an incident on the set of Green Hornet.
Bruce lee originally did not use wrestling moves, but he changed his mind after an incident that took place on the set of The green hornet. Although Lee has a reputation for being a kung fu practitioner, the martial arts icon has never been stuck on just one style. Lee was known for his willingness to adapt and grow as a fighter by borrowing from other types of fighting.
Before Lee came to Hollywood, he had a solid background in Wing Chun, a form of kung fu that he learned while training with Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man in Hong Kong. Some time after moving to Los Angeles, Lee decided to use his skills to open his own kung fu schools. He became an instructor for countless students in the area, some of whom were Hollywood celebrities. But while Lee was certainly an incredibly talented martial artist at this point in his career, he didn’t stop learning and continued to develop his fighting style.
Lee added wrestling to his arsenal while filming ABC The green hornet spectacle. Some of the stuntmen he worked with reportedly took issue with the fact that Lee was a bit rough, which led professional wrestler and Hollywood stuntman Gene LeBell to teach Lee a lesson. [via South China Morning Post]. At The green hornet together, LeBell grabbed Lee in a headlock and managed to put the actor on his back. Lee, who was taken by surprise, was unable to free himself. Lee shouted: “Put me down or I’ll kill you! “, but the stuntman continued to carry it to the set. Although Lee was furious at the time, it served as a teaching moment for the martial artist. What LeBell was able to do made him realize to Lee that he could benefit from incorporating grappling moves into his Jeet Kune Do fighting style. Plus, he wanted to know how to properly defend against them so that someone like LeBell couldn’t catch him like that anymore. .
As a result, Lee befriended Gene LeBell and the two began training together. Lee taught LeBell some of his kicks, and in turn, LeBell gave Lee lessons in judo and wrestling. From LeBell, Lee learned several finishing touches and grappling techniques. Years later, this element of Lee’s fighting style was translated to the big screen. Lee made his characters use wrestling moves in his fight scenes with Sammo Hung and Bolo Yeung in Enter the Dragon, Chuck Norris in The Way of the Dragon, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game of death. According to LeBell, Lee told him he used one of the stuntman’s takes in Enter the Dragon.
Due to Lee’s experience with wrestling and judo, grappling became a part of Jeet Kune Do, the style of martial arts he founded. Due to Lee’s adaptability and his “being water” philosophy, his fighting style encompassed all kinds of different ideas that came from outside the realm of Chinese martial arts. He also worked in Muhammad Ali’s footwork and Norris karate high kicks. Bruce leeArguably the backbone of what made him such a talented fighter was his open-minded approach to the martial arts.
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