Bruce Lee is still a household name, even though he passed away almost half a century ago. To this day we idolize his exceptional speed, reflexes and movie star qualities! His unique capabilities and charm made the world fall in love with him. We have collected some facts that you might not know about this international star. Read on to learn 50 facts about Bruce Lee.
Fact 1: Bruce Lee was born in the year of the Dragon, on the day of the Dragon, and in the hour of the Dragon.
- He was born on November 27th, 1940. He was given the name Lee Siu Lung by his sister.
- This name means “Little Dragon”.
Fact 2: His Grandfather was 100% German. And his Mother was of Eurasian origin, making him a Eurasian too.
- This made him unpopular in Chinese Kung Fu schools.
- But in time his unpopularity paid off as he went to train under the legendary master, Ip Man. And was trained in the one on one Wing Chun style martial arts.
Fact 3: As a teenager, he was the Gang Leader of “The Tigers of Junction Street.”
- His life was similar in some ways to some of the violent movies he starred in. He grew up in a violent community.
- He once fought with the son of a Triad Boss, the next day he was shipped to the US for his safety.
Fact 4: When he left for Seattle in 1958, he only had $100 in his pocket.
- That money was the equivalent to $800 today. Still not enough to fund his journey.
- To earn a bit more money, he taught the ‘Cha-Cha’ dance, to first class passengers on the ship.
Fact 5: In the movie “Enter the Dragon,” his movements were too fast and they had to reshoot scenes just to capture his skills.
- At first, all they could catch was a blur.
- Scenes were reshot with a 32fps camera, and was slowed down in post-production to 24fps, so people watching could see what he was doing.
Fact 6: Bruce Lee’s Father was one of the leading Opera actors and singers in Hong Kong.
- His father often toured the US, and visited the large Chinese communities.
- His Mother on the other hand came from a very wealthy and powerful clan called “Ho-tungs”, which explains his privileged upbringing.
Fact 7: The movie, “Way of the Dragon” could be considered as his own masterpiece.
- While he was the main actor in the film, he was also the script writer, Director and Producer.
- On top of these roles, he also did the casting, choreography, and wardrobe selection.
Fact 8: Bruce Lee was named officially as “Lee Jun Fan” at birth. It was Cantonese for “to return again.”
- His mother felt that one day, he would return to the US to fulfill his destiny.
- The name ‘Bruce’ came from the doctor who gave him an anglicized name.
Fact 9: While his official birth name is Lee Jun Fan, he was also given the name Sai-Fon, meaning ‘small phoenix’.
- His mother was superstitious, so he was given a feminine name too.
- This was to protect him from evil spirits. Apparently, by giving your child a female name, it will throw off bad elements that could harm the child.
Fact 10: Bruce Lee used 4 different names in his life.
- Aside from his birth name, he also had a family name, Lee Yuen Cham.
- As a student in La Salle College, he used the name Lee Tuen Kam. He also used Lee Siu Lung as his screen name.
Fact 11: The film, “Fist of Fury” was a box-office hit, but it only had a budget of $100,000.
- This film propelled Bruce Lee’s popularity.
- It only took 4 weeks for this film to break box-office records.
Fact 12: He first studied Drama (or Philosophy depending on whose account) in college but later dropped out to open his own school.
- He first opened Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in 1960, Seattle. He provided his friends with lessons first to test the water.
- He later moved to Oakland and opened his second school, because of his growing popularity and different style.
Fact 13: Bruce Lee was afraid of swimming pools because of a childhood trauma.
- He once teased his sister that he would push her into the swimming pool.
- As a retaliation, she held his head underwater for a long time and made him promise never to do it again. He never did it again, and in fact, he avoided swimming pools from then on.
Fact 14: ‘Kung Fu’ was a term invented for Americans, to make pronunciation easier.
- The correct Cantonese term is ‘Gung Fu’.
- However, writer James Lee wrote it as ‘Kung Fu’ because Americans kept on mispronouncing it.
Fact 15: Although he was great at fighting, he was deemed unfit for military service by the Chinese Army.
- It was because of his undescended testicles.
- He was circumcised at the age of 22, on his father’s request when he went back to Hong Kong.
Fact 16: Bruce Lee had poor eyesight.
- His friends never allowed him to drive because he couldn’t see properly.
- Although he was one of the first few people to wear contact lenses, he still wore his taped up glasses from his youth as a reminder for him to stay grounded in life.
Fact 17: It was Bruce Lee who gave Chuck Norris his first acting gig.
- While Bruce Lee was working as a stunt coordinator for Dean Martin in his film ‘Wrecking Crew’, he suggested Chuck Norris for a scene.
- It was a quick one because he was knocked out immediately in that scene.
Fact 18: His students include Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Steve McQueen.
- Jabbar and McQueen were engaged in a legendary fight, which was overseen by their trainer Lee.
- In fact, McQueen had a close relationship with Bruce Lee, he was one of the pall-bearers during his burial.
Fact 19: Bruce Lee was involved in so many fights growing up, his parents decided that he should learn Martial Arts as self-defense.
- He started his training at the age of 16, with some of the Masters of Kung Fu.
- At this age he already showed promise, he won a tournament in High School where he knocked out the previous champion.
Fact 20: Bruce Lee was an all-round artist. He wasn’t only good in Martial Arts. He was also great at dancing, writing, poetry, and drawing.
- He was the ‘Hong Kong Cha-Cha Competition Champion’ in 1958.
- He also wrote various screenplays and poems.
Fact 21: Bruce Lee was known for his strength when fighting opponents. Sometimes he would hit someone so hard they would stumble back and injure someone in the crowd!
- He was known for his one-inch punch, where he would punch his volunteer without bending his arms.
- One of his volunteers fell hard onto the ground after this and had to miss work the next day.
Fact 22: ‘Jeet Kune Do’ was born because Brue Lee didn’t think he finished a fight fast enough.
- He once fought his fellow teacher and the fight lasted for about three minutes. It was too long for Bruce Lee, and he suffered from swollen arms.
- Seeing that as a sign of weakness, he created his own style removing the constraints of traditional Kung Fu.
Fact 23: Bruce Lee wasn’t too good at academic subjects.
- He attended La Salle College, an all-boys English secondary school in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
- He was kicked out because of his disruptive behavior.
Fact 24: His actual corpse was shown in his final movie, “The Game of Death.”
- He died while filming this film, so the writers rewrote the script to incorporate his real-life death.
- They used clips from his funeral and even showed close ups of his face in the casket.
Fact 25: Bruce Lee asked his ex-girlfriend Amy Sambo to marry him many times, but he was rejected each time.
- They dated for 3 years.
- The last time he asked was during the summer of 1963, before he went back to Hong Kong for a vacation. When she said no, they parted ways completely.
Fact 26: Bruce Lee would taunt his attackers by pretending to be effeminate after he knocked them down.
- Since he had a lot of attackers coming up to him, he would incapacitate them by hitting them in the groin.
- He would then cover his mouth and move effeminately away, basically telling the person that they just got crushed!
Fact 27: He had a shotgun wedding to Linda Emerg on August 12, 1964.
- When he returned to Seattle he secretly married his pregnant girlfriend.
- Since he was unprepared, he had to use James Lee’s wife’s wedding ring.
Fact 28: Bruce Lee did 5000 punches a day as part of his training.
- This would not only develop his strength, but his lightning speed movements.
- He once demonstrated his speed by taking a coin from a person’s open palm, before the person closed it. And to top it off, he actually placed another coin on the person’s palm.
Fact 29: He had his armpit sweat glands removed.
- This was purely for aesthetic reasons, he was conscious of how he looked.
- He once saw sweat marks on his shirt and he didn’t like it, so he opted for cosmetic surgery.
Fact 30: He once had a sparring session with Chuck Norris that lasted until morning.
- According to Chuck Norris, it happened when they were both staying in the same hotel in New York City.
- They were in the elevator when they started sparring and they lasted until 4 AM.
Fact 31: There is a statue of Bruce Lee in Mostar, Bosnia, because he was one of the people that every local liked.
- Since he gained international stardom, he was well known in all parts of the world.
- His statue was destroyed and vandalized by unknown people.
Fact 32: Bruce Lee was also great at Karate, although he never had formal training in this Japanese form of self-defense.
- He was able to name and demonstrate each move with accuracy.
- He learned about this style by watching movies depicting this form of fighting.
Fact 33: Bruce Lee had a personal library with more than 2000 books.
- Aside from Martial Arts, he loved reading books during his free time.
- He would read daily, sometimes bringing a book on set so he could read in between takes.
Fact 34: Bruce Lee participated in boxing competitions, and never lost a single match.
- He was known for knocking out all of his opponents, including the famous British boxer Gary Elms.
- He was also known for knocking out a famous Martial Arts teacher, Wong Jack Man, in 1965.
Fact 35: In the film ‘Big Boss’, there are some scenes showing Bruce Lee wearing band-aids on his fingers. This was because he cut himself while demonstrating how to puncture a can.
- Back in the days when Coca-Cola cans were made of aluminum, Bruce Lee was able to puncture it using only his fingers.
- He cut himself badly doing this and his fingers had to be covered in band-aids for days.
Fact 36: Even after his death, he was still acknowledged as one of the greatest fighters in history.
- Time magazine voted Bruce Lee as one of the 100 most influential figures in History.
- In 2014, the Houston Boxing Hall of Fame voted him as one of the greatest fighters in history.
Fact 37: Bruce Lee could do push ups using only one finger.
- No, it’s not one finger per hand, it’s literally one finger.
- If that’s not impressive, he could even do it with a 250lbs person sitting on his back.
Fact 38: ‘Hitmonlee’, a character from Nintendo’s Pokemon, is based on him.
- The character has impeccable fighting abilities: fast kicks and powerful punches.
- This was a nod of appreciation to Bruce Lee, for his contribution to the world of Martial Arts.
Fact 39: A bronze statue, of a shirtless Bruce Lee, was unveiled on his 65th birthday.
- On November 27, 2005, a huge crowd gather in Hong Kong to witness the public showing of this statue in his honor.
- This event kicked off the annual Bruce Lee festival, all his movies were shown to the public.
Fact 40: Bruce Lee once confessed that he often trained while listening to the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme tune.
- He once told this to the composer of the song, Lalo Schifrin, while they were working on ‘Enter the Dragon’.
- He liked the upbeat rhythm and the constant feeling of being in danger.
Fact 41: Bruce Lee was never Chuck Norris’ teacher.
- Yes, they trained together and were close friends, but they never had a teacher-student relationship.
- Instead, their relationship was one of best friends. Chuck Norris was also one of the pall-bearers during Bruce Lee’s burial.
Fact 42: Bruce Lee wrote, “My Definite Chief Aim” while he was bedridden in 1969, due to an injury.
- When he was 28, he vowed to be a huge international star, and to have $10,000,000 in his possession.
- He was able to achieve what he wrote in that manifesto before he died at the age of 32, only 4 years after he wrote those goals.
Fact 43: Although he grew up in a privileged family, he still experienced hardships growing up due to the war.
- Since China was under Japanese rule during the first few years of his life, when the Japanese left, there were many mainlanders who went to Hong Kong.
- This made the small city overpopulated and filled the streets with gangs.
Fact 44: Years after his death, several look alikes of Bruce Lee appeared in cheap films in Hong Kong.
- This is known as ‘Bruceploitation’, these people tried to cash-in on the popularity of Bruce Lee.
- After he died, his fame still lingered and people were still obsessed with him and his films.
Fact 45: Bruce Lee wanted to fight Muhammad Ali but it never happened.
- He was a huge fan of Muhammad Ali because of the latter’s speed and strong blows.
- He would always watch Ali’s fights on repeat to learn from his moves and techniques.
Fact 46: Bruce Lee always carried his .367 Magnum as his ultimate self-defense weapon.
- Although he was a very skilled fighter, he carried his gun just in case the fight was too much to handle.
- This was also because a lot of people on the streets would try to fight him.
Fact 47: He charged $275 per hour for a private training session.
- He was known to have a long list of celebrity and wealthy students who were serious about Martials Arts.
- This is the equivalent to almost $1800 today!
Fact 48: Jackie Chan’s career started because of Bruce Lee.
- The then young Jackie Chan, was in the film ‘Enter the Dragon’.
- Bruce Lee accidentally kicked Jackie Chan in the head. This led to Jackie Chan spending more time on set with Bruce Lee.
Fact 49: There was a rumour that Bruce Lee’s family was cursed.
- His older brother died when he was young because of a mysterious condition.
- His son, Brandon Lee, also died while filming, when a gun accidentally fired and hit his abdomen.
Fact 50: Bruce Lee’s death was labeled as an unfortunate misadventure.
- He was found dead after having a bad allergic reaction to a painkiller he took before sleeping.
- There were many conspiracy theories that he was killed by the Triad, or the Mafia but the reason is still unclear.