The transcript below is from the video “How Good Was Bruce Lee? UFC Champion Potential???” by Gabriel Varga.

Gabriel Varga:

Alright guys, today we’re talking about Bruce Lee, one of the most famous martial artists in the history of the world. I’m going to start this episode off and say I always like to keep things positive. But I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to somebody being labeled a martial arts master but I cannot find any footage of them actually in a real fight with somebody trying to full on knock them out. If I haven’t seen that, I’m always gonna question how good they really were. So, what I want to do today is I want to look at some other YouTube clips that I’ve found, where people are just blown away like Bruce Lee’s speed unreal Karate champion can’t block it. And I want to see if what these other guys are saying are legit. Plus, I want to dive in on his one-inch punch and talk about how realistic that is and the one sparring clip I found. I want to talk about my assessment and my notes from that. And then to round it out, I want to look at Quentin Tarantino because recently he put out a little segment in his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” movie where Brad Pitt’s character kind of throws around Bruce Lee and makes him look a little arrogant but not as skilled as he’s portrayed by many to be. So, we’re going to talk about that at the end of the episode as a conclusion, a wrap up to everything.

Gabriel Varga:

Now, I want you guys to remember that there are martial artists and there are fighters. Now, some people are both. I like to think of myself as a fighter but more importantly, a martial artist. And there are many martial artists out there who have never really fought in real competition but are probably very good, very dangerous individuals. And that’s kind of the issue here. Bruce Lee was a martial artist but there’s no real fight footage, no real stats backing him up saying he could actually do anything in a real fight. And then, we have people saying “oh, Bruce Lee could defeat Mike Tyson in a ring fight”, and it does not matter what you believe about Bruce Lee. I can tell you 100% he would not beat, never beat Mike Tyson. And that’s not opinion guys, that is just a 100% fact. If we’re talking about a Boxing fight, if we’re talking about a street fight, I would say that there’s 99.9% Mike Tyson wins and Bruce Lee has that tiny little sliver of a chance, maybe, if he was as incredible as everybody says he was. But in a Boxing fight when people were like, oh, who would win in a fight? If you cannot wrap your head around the fact that Bruce Lee has no chance against Mike Tyson, this video is not for you.

Gabriel Varga:

Now, what I want to do here is I want to bring in Bob for this little demo and I want to point out to you what I saw when I was watching this clip where somebody was describing how fast Bruce Lee is, how incredible it is that this world champion is not able to block a punch that Bruce Lee throws. So, let’s go through the rules first.

Bruce Lee is standing back here and the world champion of Karate is standing here with his hands down and he basically has to get his hands up in time to block before Bruce Lee comes in and flicks his shot out. And if you look at the footage, you might go wow. Bruce Lee snaps his hand out as he’s re-chambering, the Karate guy’s getting his hands up. So, you go, oh my gosh, Bruce Lee’s so fast! This Karate guy has no chance of stopping him. But when you employ a bit of skepticism and you stop and you slow-motion the video which I did, and I’ll share with you guys now. The first thing you’re going to note is Bruce Lee’s distance. He’s way back here. Now, when he throws his shot up, he’s about this far away, if not more, from his opponent’s head. And there’s a very big difference between me throwing my shot, way out here. And me going here.

Gabriel Varga:

What is the difference? Well, the difference is the Karate guy, instead of having to bring his hand up to his face and just parry, he has to end up reaching out. And now, even by the time he reaches out, and we’re talking about distance, the distance from here to here is much less than here to here, plus you are basing everything off this guy moving first. So, if my hands are down and this guy instead of coming all the way from way back here to here and me only having to travel this far, if we change that like the video is, this guy’s only coming to here and I have to reach out the same distance. But I have the disadvantage of moving after this guy reacts. It’s basically an impossible task. This guy was set up with an impossible task of blocking Bruce Lee’s punch.

If Bruce Lee would have gone instead from here, all the way to here and landed, I would have gone wow, that was legit! This guy can’t block it. But that was not the case. And people get so wrapped up in mysticism behind people, they don’t even employ critical thinking and go okay, yeah, this video looks impressive. But wait, it’s not really that impressive. That’s the first thing I noted when I started looking at videos of Bruce Lee because honestly, I’ve only seen a couple movies and I don’t know too much about him, aside from some facts I’ve researched before this video to see what he accomplished. You know, he started Jeet Kune Do – impressive! He was one of the first martial artists to take pieces of other martial arts and employ them into that style – also very impressive, because many people are stuck and you know, this is what my instructor taught me and that’s all I’m gonna do instead of reaching out and going to different styles, different gyms. That’s how you become a better martial artist. So, Bruce Lee was definitely on the right track. But was that enough to make him somebody who nowadays could be a UFC champion? Well, I hope I’ve already pointed out to you that yes, even though he was fast, the videos that you see online are creating extra hype about him without really being realistic or really putting his skills to a true test.

Gabriel Varga:

Now, next I want to talk about the one sparring clip. I could find the one thing about him actually working with somebody who’s not doing exactly what he wants. Now, I want you guys to remember something, very often when I go and I find out I’m competing against somebody, I look at their video. I watch all their videos and right away within about 60 seconds, I’m able to go okay, this guy is going to be an easy fight, fairly difficult fight, oh my gosh, this guy is going to be a crazy hard fight. 60 seconds – that’s all it takes me to make that assessment.

Now, when I looked at Bruce Lee’s footage of him sparring this guy, whatever his opponent was in this clip, I went, oh my gosh, this guy is not very good. This is not a great martial artist. He telegraphs. He’s not incredibly fast. He walks straight in with his hands down. He’s an easy target to hit and Bruce Lee looks very good working against him but the guy is not spectacular. And I would be very surprised if he was a world champion in any regard even back then. So, for somebody to watch this video and go whoa, Bruce Lee is schooling this guy. Sure, he might be but what’s the skill level of the guy? That’s always something you really have to look at. We’ve seen this time and time again with many fighters, especially in Boxing. Guys ramp up their records through like 20-0.




Gabriel Varga:

People go whoo, those guys must be really good. And then they finally get put up against a legit opponent, they get knocked out. Everybody goes whoa, what happened? But anybody who knows anything about martial arts, would just say, yeah, the guys they were fighting weren’t good. So, that’s no indication of how good they were. And that would be my question with Bruce Lee. I’d want to see him go up against somebody who was legit, who was really good. And then if I made the assessment that his opponent was really good and then he picked him apart, then I go oh, okay, this guy’s next level. But with the lack of legit footage and everything being movie footage, it’s very hard to make an assessment how good he really was at actual fighting against an actual opponent. He was a very good martial artist, I will not take that away from him in any regard.

Now, guys, the next video clip I want to talk about involves Bruce Lee’s famous one-inch punch. And this is a very very interesting video because it actually has Joe Lewis who is a legit Karate world champion back in Bruce Lee’s heyday. And Bruce Lee are both punching a guy who has a pad right against his chest. The guy with the pad sets up, Joe Lewis goes to his fighting stance, hits him as hard as he can and then Bruce Lee comes up, does the same thing with his one-inch punch. And most people would look and go whoa, look at Joe Lewis hit this guy, he hardly moved. And then they’ll look at Bruce Lee and go whoa, he knocked him right back onto a chair. His punch looks like ten times harder. But let’s do an assessment here, once again with Bob.

Gabriel Varga:

A punch is not meant to move somebody back. If you don’t know that about fight sports, you have more research, you have more learning to do. Then moving backwards has nothing to do with the damage I am able to cause. I teach my students this all the time. I come up to them and I go, okay, palm to your chest but I push them backwards and I go, did it hurt? And they go no, that didn’t hurt. Like a good shove. This little guy’s not enough to knock them on their bum but enough to you know give them a little jolt backwards. Then I take my finger and I just go. Oh, did that hurt? And they go, oh, didn’t move them at all but yes, it hurts a lot more. And what we need to understand about this Joe Lewis versus Bruce Lee demonstration is when Joe Lewis comes up, he gets in his stance and he hits the guy. Joe Lewis is used to hitting something following an inch or two through and trying to get them to go down, trying to get his opponents to fall.

Gabriel Varga:

If Joe Lewis came up and went, hit and then followed through on a big push, his opponents would just end up laughing at him, or even worse, they’d end up countering him. But when Bruce Lee does his one-inch punch, he’s from here, he sets up, he starts with his arm bent and then he moves in. When you get to here now, you are able to stretch your arm out and send somebody back. Now, I’m not denying that him being able to utilize this to knock somebody right onto their back. It’s very impressive. Boom! That’s just me hitting a light dummy, a dummy that I can kind of push while I can’t push them over with one finger, but a dummy that’s fairly easy to move. To do that to your human is much more difficult. But I’ve tried this with my siblings, I’ve tried this with my dad. Before putting your fingers to somebody, getting some weight into it, coming to here, letting your hand collapse and then pushing through very quickly, it’s not impossible. It’s not even that hard.

Now, Bruce Lee makes it look very very impressive and no doubt, there’s a lot of force there. But would it hurt somebody? Is it something that if you went up to their face and you hit them, would it knock them out? Or would Joe Lewis’s punch that crack through an inch or two, be the punch that really hurts? That’s what people need to ask. That’s what they need to understand. Yes, a one-inch punch knocking somebody on their bum, okay, decently impressive. But if the whole point of martial arts is to defend yourself, then what good is a punch that pushes somebody backwards?

Gabriel Varga:

So, when I watch this video clip of Joe Lewis versus Bruce Lee trying to hit somebody in the chest and knock them backwards, I’m not blown away because I know it doesn’t have any actual application in self-defense. It’s a fun trick that makes people go oh, that guy must have a lot of power. But if you’re not fooled by it, you go ah, it’s not really an indication of how good this guy would be in a real fight. And it’s definitely not going to help you knock out Mike Tyson.

Now, talking of Mike Tyson, I also want to move into Muhammad Ali because apparently, there was a decent amount of talk when Bruce Lee was a Hollywood star, saying that he wanted to fight Muhammad Ali. And in Quentin Tarantino’s new movie “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, he depicts Bruce Lee as somebody with this massive ego, saying he would wipe the floor with Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). And then in the movie, Brad Pitt’s character comes in and sort of throws the Bruce Lee actor around and a lot of people were very very offended that Quentin Tarantino had the gall to say anything but spectacular things about Bruce Lee.

Gabriel Varga:

And I was just watching a clip of this movie the other day and it sort of inspired me to make this video. I went and I watched Bruce Lee footage- real Bruce Lee footage, not knowing if this episode would kind of take the path of Quentin Tarantino’s super disrespectful or… Quentin Tarantino, he kind of had a point. And I’m not really sure which way I go but I know I’m not in super awe of Bruce Lee being like oh my gosh, this guy would be a UFC champion, he would beat Mike Tyson, he was the greatest martial artist of all time. But I also don’t look at him because I don’t know enough about him, going oh my gosh, this guy was nothing but a movie star who couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. Definitely, I’m not taking either of these two sides, I’m kind of in the middle because again, I need to see real fight footage of somebody competing and seeing how they’d actually do when you have an opponent who’s not doing everything you want or who’s not a low skill level.

Gabriel Varga:

Anyway guys, what do you think about Bruce Lee? If he was in our time, would he have a chance of being a UFC champion? What do you think is the most impressive thing about Bruce Lee? To me, his speed is very impressive, yes. And his ability to draw martial arts together, take little pieces and show people you don’t have to pick Karate or Jiu-Jitsu or Judo or Aikido, you can amalgamate pieces together and make the best style for yourself – I love that! I think that’s just so wise.

Anyway guys, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I try to keep everything positive but yes, I’m a bit of a skeptic, obviously, about Bruce Lee or more particularly about his ability to be as amazing a martial artist or fighter as many people seem to think he would be nowadays. But guys, if you did enjoy the video, give it a like. If you have not already, join the channel and get subscribed. Train hard guys. I’ll see you back here soon for another video.




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