Ultimate Martial:

The orient has given us the awesome gift of martial arts through legends like Bruce Lee and Jet Li. Although both men are masters of their own art, but we can’t help but wonder what the outcome would be if these two took each other on. Unfortunately, we could not see these legends compete. However, thanks to the internet, we can get the next best thing.

Today, we’ll put Bruce Lee and Jet Li against each other in a tale of Jeet Kune Do versus Wushu. So, let’s begin the video. Before anything else, let’s look at who our fighters are and what each of them brings to the table, or more precisely, the arena.


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Although his parents were both from Hong Kong, Bruce Lee was born on the 27 November, 1940 in Chinatown San Francisco after his father got a chance to perform at an opera there. As such, the martial arts legend acquired both Hong Kong as well as American citizenship at birth. Since his father was already affiliated with opera as well as theater, Bruce Lee was introduced to the world of movies at an early age and he appeared in several films as a youngster.

In the film Golden Gate Girl, Lee got his first part as a newborn being carried into the stage. In 1950, he co-starred alongside his father in The Kid as a 9-year-old. He had appeared in 20 films by the age of 18. He had a reputation for being a bit wild as a child having been involved in several school fights. He was sent to St. Xavier’s College in 1956 owing to poor behavior where he would be coached by brother Edward, a teacher and coach of the school’s Boxing team.

Bruce constantly displayed restless and aggressive behavior, taking part in several street fights. In fact, Bruce’s street fighting habits were such a consistent occurrence that he once even defeated the son of a feared triad family in his late teens. His parents knew their son had a knack for fighting and had so tried to enroll him in martial arts training. After insistence, he was successfully enrolled in training in Wing Chun at famous grandmaster Ip Man’s academy. From there, Bruce Lee began to learn how to channel his anger and control his emotional display through physical, psychological and emotional conditioning under Ip Man’s watchful eye. This coupled with Bruce’s interest in Boxing to add another discipline to his name.

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Bruce even defeated the former champion, Gary Elms, in the final of the Hong Kong school’s Boxing championship in 1958. But Bruce’s cumulative skill not only limits itself to forms of martial arts but also to dance. Although this might not sound as much of a contributing factor to his fighting skills, it did in fact play a huge role in adding a gently and momentous touch to Bruce’s fighting techniques. This can be seen in action during his on-screen fights, especially in his leg movement. It was this mix of different arts that would all contribute to making Bruce Lee’s fighting style Jeet Kune Do, something Bruce invented himself.

In fact, after playing rounds as Kato in The Green Hornet, Lee was asked repeatedly by his director to give up Asian martial arts styles in his acting and take up more Western fighting stances for his role. Lee abruptly refused but it did give him a way to think about a possible fusion. Jeet Kune Do was eventually born in 1967 after Bruce was laid off post-filming one season of The Green Hornet. He founded the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute.

Bruce’s thinking regarding martial arts was impacted by his contentious encounter with Wong Jack-man. Lee felt that the fight had gone much too long and that he’d failed to use his Wing Chun techniques to their full extent. Traditional martial arts methods, he believed, were too inflexible and regimented to be useful in chaotic street fighting situations. And so, he combined everything he had learned to make Jeet Kune Do a hybrid fighting style that incorporated everything he knew so far, including Boxing, Wing Chun, street experience and even elements from cha-cha. The goal was to focus on practicality, flexibility, speed and efficiency. Jeet Kune Do therein influenced every single one of Bruce Lee’s performances and stunts and became a part of his personality. He went on to teach the form as well as its philosophy for years to come.

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With that all established, let us look at our other contender, Jet Li. First things first, Jet Li was born in Beijing on April 26, 1963. This means he was considerably younger than Bruce Lee. In fact, when Bruce Lee passed away, Jet Li was only 10 years old. His father died when Jet Li was only 2 years old and the family had to live in poverty.

Luckily, however, Li’s potential for Wushu was discovered when he was 8 years old while practicing at his school summer session. After that, he participated in non-sparring Wushu events before joining the Beijing Wushu Team which performed a martial arts exhibition at the All-China Games.

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Li competed against adults as a child and from 1975 to 1979, he was the national all-around champion. His established hand at Wushu meant that Li was already catching a lot of attention and it gradually paved his way into the film. Although he retired from Wushu at 18 years old due to a knee injury, he went on to make a place for himself in the Hong Kong and Chinese film industries, later moving on to Hollywood. In 1982, he made his acting debut in the film Shaolin Temple. He then went on to produce multiple films in China and Hong Kong. he then made his international cinema debut in 1998 with the film Lethal Weapon 4.

Li is an expert in a variety of Wushu disciplines, including Changquan, commonly known as the Northern Longfist. He also has a lot of other perfected punching styles incorporated into his Wushu practice, like the Tumbling Fist, the Praying Mantis Fist, the Drunken Fist. He’s also very proficient with several melee weapons, including the Broadsword and the Sanjiegun.

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Now that we know our contenders, let’s look at how well they’re pitted off against one another. Of course, this is a highly subjective analysis and we can’t be a 100% sure. With that said, we’ll still try our best to be as realistic as possible. Therefore, we will compare them across physique, training, estimated strength and adaptability.

PHYSIQUE

First off, let’s look at the physique. Bruce Lee stands tall at a little over 5 feet 8 inches, which is considered enough to put him on the better advantage side for this fight. That’s because Jet Li stands at 5 feet 5 inches, about three inches shorter. For his height though, Jet Li weighs an impressive 66 kg and most of that mass is pure muscle. Bruce Lee, on the other hand, was about 64 kg. Although this should essentially put Bruce at a disadvantage in terms of weight, his weight is still good for his height and so the 2 kg difference is somewhat negligible. So, in terms of physique, both men stand at a tie.

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TRAINING

Next up is training. In this domain, Bruce Lee received some of the finest training from the finest masters in the world, the likes of Ip Man. Not only that, but he also trained in multiple disciplines and even went on to create his own adaptive version. Jet Li, on the other hand, is proficient in only limited arts and does not have any exceptionally renowned trainers. Bruce gets the upper hand here. In terms of strength, given how gently is stockier than Bruce, we can be sure that he really packs a punch. Since most of Bruce’s fighting styles focus on lightweight and momentous strikes, Jet Li wins the domain for striking power. So far at 2 points each, we stand at a tie.

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ADAPTABILITY

Finally, in terms of adaptability. We know that Bruce has partaken in many street fights which does mean he knows his way around unregulated brawls. His own inventive style, Jeet Kune Do, is literally based around the ability to adapt and therefore, we can rightly say that his adaptability is a considerable level. Jet Li, on the other hand, has only fought in regulated environments. Moreover, his limited number of styles mean that he might have a tough time improvising in a real fight. As such, the final point is awarded to Bruce. With 3 points to Jet Li’s 1, Bruce Lee is clearly the winner.

Of course, all this was hypothetical. Do you agree with it though? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to like and hit the subscribe button for more amazing videos like this one. See you next time.




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