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52 Weird Facts You Didn’t Know about Bruce Lee

Bruce LeeSo rumor has it you know more about Bruce Lee than anyone you know, right?

That’s one thing every Bruce Lee fanatic in the world is good at, it’s hunting down as much specific detail about the man they idolize and finding out as much about him as possible.

But it doesn’t matter how much you know, there are so many other fans out there who managed to dig up some more crazy information on the the Little Dragon.

So I’ve spent some time scouring the web (from reputable sources) for some stuff you might not have heard before, some of it interesting, some obscure and some just plain weird.

So let’s get to it…

Bruce in Enter the Dragon

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Weird Fact #1: Bruce Lee voiced most of the English voices in his films! Yep, all the English speaking guys in Way of the Dragon (apart from the mighty Chuck Norris) and his other Hong Kong films released before Enter the Dragon were voiced by the main man himself. I’m not sure why, but a fact is a fact!

Weird Fact #2: Bruce was partly German. Bruce’s Grandfather was 100% German!.  This “non-pure” Chinese status prevented his acceptance into many Kung Fu schools back in the 50’s and slimmed his choices.  Lucky though, otherwise he may have never learned Wing Chun from Ip Man and William Cheung.

The deleted 'saw' shot from the big boss

Weird Fact #3: Bruce had a shot removed from the Big Boss where he cut into an opponents head with a handheld saw.  This is pretty common knowledge, but if you didn’t know this, all you have to do is go back and watch The Big Boss fight in the ice factory, you’ll see him attack the camera with a saw and skip past the resulting blow. This was removed because it was seen as being a little too violent for Hong Kong audiences.

Weird Fact #4: Apparently, he was a terrible driver! Many of Bruce’s American friends have said in interviews in the past that Bruce Lee wasn’t a ‘gifted driver’ and would occasionally ask his buddy Steve Golden to drive for him! This may have been due to the next fact…

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Bruce Lee glasses

Weird Fact #5: Bruce had bad eye-sight. Yep! Bruce was near sighted.  His bad eye sight is one of the reasons he appreciated Wing Chun’s contact style of movement because he could rely more on touch than sight.

Weird Fact #6: Due to his bad eye sight, Bruce Lee was  one of the first people to try contact lenses.  They were very uncomfortable back in those days however, so Bruce stuck to his ‘coke bottle’ glasses instead. Which leads into another fact….

Weird Fact #7: Bruce Lee often wore his old, taped up ‘coke bottle’ glasses to remind himself of where he came from. Being the guy who likes to stay grounded and become the best version of himself, he held on to his old glasses and wore them regularly as a reminder to himself even after he found financial abundance –  that he was once poor and struggling.

You’ll see him wearing those glasses in Fist of Fury (pictured above).

Baby Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee as a baby

Weird Fact #8: His family called him “Little Phoenix”, they didn’t call him Bruce.  Bruce was an English sounding name given to him by a nurse when he was born in San Francisco.  It wasn’t until he moved to America that it became used very regularly! You can notice this in the film The Young Bruce Lee.

Weird Fact #9: Bruce was secretly filmed and included in his best friend’s feature film. In a film called Fist of Unicorn, Bruce Lee promised his friend Unicorn (‘Unicorn’?, ‘Little Pheonix’? very mythical names) that he’d help with choreography.  But the producers secretly filmed Bruce and included him in the film so they could promote his name and sell more tickets. Douchebags!

Weird Fact #10: Was a champion Cha Cha Dancer in Hong Kong! You probably knew that, but yes, he won a Cha Cha dancing competition when he was in high school.

Bruce Lee vs Muhammad Ali

Weird Fact #11: Bruce Lee hoped to ‘one day’ fight Muhammad Ali. Bruce thought of Muhammad Ali as a superior fighter with his speed and technicality. He used to watch footage of Ali constantly to learn his style and also adapt some of his footwork and movements – for that inevitable fight that would, unfortunately, never happen.

Weird Fact #12: Bruce Lee used to lie to get private Wing Chun lessons. Bruce used to ask for one on one sessions to advance his Wing Chun – but he was refused.

So to get the one on one attention he wanted he would wait outside class, tell people that the class was off and walk them to the bus stop.  He would then return and be the only student available and get his private session.

He got in some major trouble when his instructor found out though!

Ip Man & Bruce Lee

Weird Fact #13: Bruce Lee practiced 5000 punches a day! He was dedicated!  He did 5000 punches a day to master his art.  This explains why he was so powerful with his fists and had knock out jabs.

Weird Fact #14: Bruce Lee used to train to the Mission Impossible Theme. In martial arts training to music helps to develop a less predictable rhythm when fighting – so Bruce used to shadow box and train to the mission impossible theme!

Weird Fact #15: Bruce Lee used to puncture cans with his fingers. Yep, back in the days when cans weren’t soft aluminium, Bruce used to bust them open with fingers strikes.  He cut himself performing this on the set of the Big Boss though, so keep an eye out for the bandaids on his fingers during the movie!

Big Boss

Notice the band aid on his finger?

Weird Fact #16: Despite never formally studying Karate, Bruce was able to perform all of the Karate movements with tremendous accuracy! This is a man who can see the detail in movements and styles and bring it to his own training.  Crazy stuff!

Weird Fact #17: Bruce was crazily fast.  Not exactly a secret, Bruce used to demonstrate his speed by placing a coin in someone’s hand.  He would then snatch the coin and replace it with another before the person could clench their fist and stop him.

Bruce Lee man handling Jackie Chan!

Bruce Lee man handling Jackie Chan!

Weird Fact #18: Bruce beat up Jackie Chan in Enter the Dragon! Well, in a scene – he grabs him by the hair and snaps his neck.  Jackie also did stunts in some of Bruce’s other movies, including a fall for the villain in Fist of Fury’s final fight.

Weird Fact #19: Bruce was the inspiration behind a lot of big Video Game characters, such as Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat, Law from Tekken and Fei Long from Street Fighter II.

Weird Fact #20: Bruce proved his prowess many times in competition, becoming the Hong Kong boxing champion, knocking out all of his opponents including British boxer Gary Elms. Bruce also knocked out a Choy Li Fut fighter named Chung in a Seattle Full Contact match in 1958, refereed by Sheun-Leung Wong and another the same year named Uechi, in a match refereed by Jesse Glover.

This is additional to the famous Wong Jack Man fight in 1965 and numerous challenge matches he had both before and during his famous years!

Wong Jack Mann - The man Bruce Lee famous bea tup before devising Jeet Kune Do

Wong Jack Mann – The man Bruce Lee famously defeated before creating Jeet Kune Do

Weird Fact #21: Bruce lee wrote a film called ‘The Silent Flute’ which was never made in his lifetime.  It was later adapted and shot with David Carradine in 1978 and called Circle of Iron.

Weird Fact(s) #22: Bruce personally trained a number of celebrities, including:

  • Steve McQueen
  • James Coburn
  • George Lazenby
  • Kareem Abdul Jabaar
  • Joe Lewis
  • Roman Polanski
  • Mike Stone
  • Chuck Norris (they trained together)

Weird Fact #23: Actually, McQueen, Coburn and Norris were all pallbearers at Bruce Lee’s funeral! 

McQueen & Bruce Lee

Weird Fact #24: Bruce Lee chewed Cannabis. As a matter of fact the Cannabis was Nepal Hashish, which is an extremely strong form of Cannabis.

This is a cause of some controversy over his death, many pointing the finger at his Cannabis use. Bruce was a self-admitted Cannabis user and chewed the stuff for more than 10 years but changed suppliers recently before he died.

Weird Fact #25: Bruce was also was reported as having Epilepsy when he was a small child.

Weird Fact #26: Bruce Lee had his Sweat Glands removed from his armpits. Tired  of sweaty pits and the ugly look they bring about, Bruce Lee had his sweat glands surgically removed in 1972 (for aesthetic reasons). I didn’t even know you could get that done!

Bruce Lee in his childhood films

Weird Fact #27As a teenager, Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong “Child Star”! He was in 20 movies by the age of 18.

Weird Fact #28: Bruce failed a basic military physical in 1963 held by the US Army Draft Board. This was due to his poor eyesight – he managed to evade being shipped off to Vietnam because of that!

Bruce Lee Vs Chuck Norris

Weird Fact #29: Had an all night training session with Chuck Norris outside his hotel room. Chuck says it best (source):

“One time we were in New York, staying at the same hotel. As we went up in the elevator, we started sparring and kept doing so in the hallway of our rooms until 4 a.m.! I still wonder why we weren’t turned in to hotel security. (Maybe we were, but they refused to detain us!)”

Weird Fact #30: Bruce gave Chuck Norris his first job in the movies, but NOT in Way of the Dragon! It was earlier! Bruce 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.

Old Chuck ain’t so tough in this scene, he throws a bad kick and gets knocked out. It’s at the end (watch below), but don’t blink or you’ll miss it!

Weird Fact #31: Bruce wasn’t “handy”.  Need something done around the house? Don’t call Bruce.  Unless it’s a security problem.

Weird Fact #32: Bruce was so popular that he had a long list of imitators in film for years, creating a sub-genre called “Brucespolitation”. There are hundreds if not thousands of these ‘Brucesploitation” films out there, as filmmakers everywhere tried to ‘recreate’ Lee’s presence, failing at evevery turn.  More info on that here!

Weird Fact #33: Bruce Lee was quote a good sketch artist. He loved to draw!  Can you guess what he drew? Look below and you won’t be surprised.

Bruce Lee drawing 2 Bruce Lee drawing 3 Bruce Lee drawing 4 Bruce lee drawing 5 Bruce Lee drawing 6 Bruce Lee drawing

The images above were found here.

Weird Fact #34: Bruce Lee wrote a lot of poetry, including a lot of it in his book “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do“.  According to friends he loved the art of poetry and wrote it regularly.  The word artist definitely sums the man up!

Weird Fact #35: Bruce Lee was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Well he was pretty damn influential, we’re talking about him now and it’s been over 40 years since he died!

Weird Fact #36: Bruce worked with many extras and martial artists who would later go on to be stars in their own right, such as Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung (all three are in Enter the Dragon) and Chuck Norris.

Bruce waves "Hi" to Sammo Hung before hitting him with a spinning back kick

Bruce waves “Hi” to Sammo Hung before hitting him with a spinning back kick

Weird Fact #37: After his fame, Bruce was constantly challenged – just tap your foot three times! Bruce was seen as unbeatable, so in natural human screwed up logic, every fighter thought they’d try to prove themselves against him.  What a bunch of losers! Both in character in competition with him – he never lost a challenge match, however…

Weird Fact #38: Bruce Lee used to carry a .367 Magnum. When people everywhere want to fight you to prove themselves, you fear for your safety. Anyone with half a brain would be cautious, so Bruce carried a gun. Jesse Glover confirms that he was a crack shot!

Weird Fact #39: Bruce was born on the Chinese Year of the Dragon, on the Day of the Dragon, on the hour of the Dragon.  It’s fitting that he was commonly nicknamed “Little Dragon”.

Bruce Lee - dem lats!

Dem lats!

Weird Fact #40: Bruce Lee used to charge (and get) $275US an hour for private martial arts lessons in the 60’s – the equivalent of $1800US+ per hour by today’s (2015) currency!

Weird Fact #41: Bruce lead a gang as a teenager known as “The Tigers of Junction Street”.  As a matter of fact, he was very keen to start martial arts at this time after the thought occurred to him: what would he do if his gang wasn’t around to protect him?

Weird Fact #42: Way of the Dragon was going to be remade for the US. Bruce had shot Way of the Dragon specifically for Chinese audiences and intended on creating the movie in the US for English speaking audiences.

bruce lee and his father

Bruce learning Tai Chi from his father

Weird Fact #43: Bruce quotes his father as his first martial arts instructor, teaching him a bit of Tai Chi when he was growing up.

Weird Fact #44: Bruce’s death is still considered mysterious. There are countless theories from the Cannabis use above (as suspected by some of his doctors), a triad hit or poisoning from Triads, some believe Raymond Chow wanted him dead. To this day it’s all still debated among fans, friends and family alike.

Bruce Lee statue

Weird Fact #45: Bruce Lee’s life was just like his movies! Sorta Kinda. Bruce Lee got into a fight with the son of a triad boss in Hong Kong when he was young.  Bruce’s father’s reaction? He shipped Bruce off to the US.

Weird Fact #46: Bruce had an extensive library over over 2000 books.  Bruce read constantly, going through books cover to cover, highlighting sections and always searching for knowledge.  He has even been known to watch TV, read a book and curl a dumbbell all at the one time! Crazy stuff.

Bruce Lee library

Weird Fact #47: Bruce learned Judo and Grappling from Judo Legend Gene Lebell. Bruce worked with Gene on the Green Hornet and the two shared some antics.  Including Gene picking up Bruce and throwing him over his shoulder, walking him around the set.

Weird Fact #48: The Green Hornet, although cancelled in the US, was known as the Kato show in Hong Kong! Bruce’s Hong Kong brothers and sisters knew who the real star was!  Not surprisingly, this helped him get his role in The Big Boss.

Weird Fact #49: Bruce Lee couldn’t swim! Bruce’s younger brother Robert and sister Phoebe revealed that Bruce actually hated the water and couldn’t swim!

Nunchucks

Weird Fact #50: There is still a lot of unseen footage from Bruces movies in existence.  In a world where footage of Bruce is worth big bucks, there is still some around that hasn’t been used for some kind of profit.  There’s apparently 20 minutes of unseen Way of the Dragon  footage and a BBC interview with Bruce Lee on the set of Enter the Dragon, which has been confirmed by John Saxon (who was also in the interview). I wonder when the public will see this footage? (source)

Weird Fact #51: Bruce Lee’s car was protected by the Green Hornet! Yeah Bruce drove around with a bumper sticker that said “this car is protected by the Green Hornet”.

Final Weird Fact, #52: Fittingly, Bruce was once quoted as saying “If I should die tomorrow, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do. You can’t expect more from life.” Well done, sir.  Although tragic his death was at 32, you cannot deny the accomplishments of the man.

Katana Divider

Boyka saying 'Cool' in Russian

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  • AH Ontu January 30, 2015, 5:29 am

    nice append

    • Wade from Martial Arts Action Movies January 31, 2015, 9:14 am

      Thanks mate!

  • Peter February 1, 2015, 12:09 am

    “Weird Fact #3: Bruce had a shot removed from the Big Boss where he cut into an opponents head with a handheld saw.”

    Here’s another weird fact from the same movie, which also concerns a whole scene removed.

    Before the final fight with the main villain, Cheng (Bruce Lee’s character) returns to the brothel, and he pays for another Thai prostitute and makes love to her in bed. Afterwards, Cheng leaves all of his money on her belly and he picks the crackers from the table (yes, the same food he’s seen eating at the beggining of the fight).

    Apparently, the scene was meant to explain that Cheng thought he was going to die rather than get arrested, hence why he postponed his revenge plans in favor of enjoying his last pleasures in life.

    Also, this goes without mentioning that both Bruce and the “prostitute” were naked in the scene, and rumor has it that a longer, even more explicit version of it exists. Alas, it was featured only in the original 1971 Hong Kong debut, and aside from a few snippets in older trailers, it remains undiscovered.

    • Wade from Martial Arts Action Movies February 1, 2015, 3:20 am

      Wow! I had no idea about that, that’s a bit of corker too. I think a lot of that extra footage probably would have been tossed back then, I don’ think they knew how much people would want to see these cut out scenes.

      Thanks for extra info Peter, that was pretty interesting 🙂

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