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Book Title: Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit|
The author of the book: Bruce Thomas
Edition: Pan Books
Date of issue: February 7th 1997
ISBN 13: 9780330349307
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 991 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.6
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Oh how we "love" an untimely death of a celebrity... I mean, even an expected death can turn a celebrity into a cult icon (see Steve Jobs), but if we take it a step further - a star struck down in the prime of his life out of the blue? - well, that's where you get a James Dean, a John F. Kennedy or a Bruce Lee. A revered Idol. Those are the best, because you can romanticize about them and wrap them in myth. They left us before fucking up and falling from our graces: smart move!
But as the years pass after their death, people turn them into cultural symbols, lift them on pedestals so high that it becomes increasingly hard to dig through the bullshit and get to know the real person underneath the layers of fiction. This book really gives you a glimpse of Bruce Lee the human.
Before he became the patron saint of martial arts, he was a cocky and arrogant young man. Plus, if he grew up today, he would probably be diagnosed with ADHD in his teen years. Reading through his adult years, I think it was pretty obvious that he had a tremendous ego with a good deal of vanity and pretentiousness. These last few sentences I wrote may sound like insults, but on the contrary - I LOVED that Bruce was arrogant, vain and had an ego. Those are normal human traits and they helped me separate "Bruce Lee the person" from "Bruce Lee the legend". All of us have these flaws and I consider vanity to be a useful tool. Some of the greatest people in history were vain - that is is what fueled many of them. Michael Jordan. Vain. Muhammad Ali. Vain! Michael Jackson. Vain as fuck. For example, I was way happier to read that Lee ordered a gold Rolls Royce for himself after filming Enter the Dragon (1973) - because that is what a real human being would do, as opposed to a martial arts demigod, who'd build an orphan shelter on top of a snowy mountain.
The book had it's flaws, though. The main thing that surprised me was that Bruce's early years were covered far better in terms of a biography than his few fame years in the 70s. Starting with the film The Big Boss (1971) the book turned into a "making-of" recap for all his following projects - with very few details on his personal life during stardom.
Also, the author is a self-confessed Bruce Lee fan. So there were certain parts of the book that lacked traditional journalism and focused on hearsay or spirituality. I mean, I try to be as openminded as the next guy, but when he started discussing Lee's death from the point of view of energies, dark forces and chi, that was a bit too much woo-woo for me.
Still, I doubt that at this moment there is a better and more complete biography of Lee. The information provided here was enough for me to form my own opinion of this almost mythical creature - and, after stripping away the fiction and bullshit, this is what I think of Bruce Lee the mortal:
1. Bruce Lee the philosopher.
A lot of people, especially martial arts enthusiasts, like to quote Lee and recite his wisdom. Truth of the matter is, very few of "his quotes" are actually his. Bruce studied philosophy at the University of Washington and read many a philosophy book - no doubt he was very interested in the subject, but a lot of words attributed to him are actually borrowed from notable figures like Goethe, Krishnamurti or writings like Tao Te Ching. This book even noted, that his own girlfriend, told Lee that he doesn't always practice what he preaches: he quotes philosophers, but at the same time drives luxury cars, wears mink coats and carries handguns. That is a bit pretentious. Sorry, but I don't consider him a philosopher.
2. Bruce Lee the martial artist.
That is a tricky topic. He never fought in competition, so everything we assume is based on witness testimony, hearsay and your own imagination. What we do know, is that he was held in very high regard by people who did compete on the highest level and who's skills are legitimate, like Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris. Put it simply, that if he was a fraud and had nothing to offer, they wouldn't give him the time of day. Several things are obvious: Lee had a talent and hunger for learning; he had discipline and incredible speed.
I am a big mixed martial arts (MMA) fan and a fan of UFC in particular. Today, he is thought of by many as the original mixed martial artist - on some level, the patriarch and inspiration for this young sport. Could a prime Bruce Lee enter the Octagon in 2015 and hold a championship at 125-145 pounds? No, don't be silly - he would be destroyed by any of the top five fighters in a heartbeat. But if the timelines were to be different and Bruce was born in the late 80s, started training MMA right from the start - it would be an incredible thing to witness him beating the bejesus out of a Demetrious Johnson, for example. All in all, the man was very special, but I think that we need to separate Lee the person from Lee the martial arts symbol. As a person, he was a motivated and charismatic athlete, but flawed in many human ways. As a symbol, the hero worship surrounding his name is warranted, because Bruce the fictional character has millions of people around the World aspiring to greater things.
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