Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

My father was born in 1940 in the year of the dragon and in the hour of the dragon, so he was a dragon through and through. November 27 Sagittarius.

Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

My father was raised in Hong Kong. He was part of a showbiz family. His very first on-screen appearance is when he was an infant but he went on to act in over 20 films before the age of 18.

My father started training in Wing Chun Gongfu at the age of 13. So he would be in school during the day, acting at night, studying Wing Chun Gongfu with his Sifu Ip Man.

Bruce Lee (Martial Artist, Martial Arts Instructor, Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Producer, & Philosopher):

perform… some imitate a crane, a monkey, a praying man

Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

He would walk down the street with weights in his hand and punching the air and just always trying to figure out how to do things better, how to be faster and he got really good really quickly to the dismay of a lot of the senior members in the school. He also became the cha-cha champion of Hong Kong. He was the crown colonies champion. He had a lot of fire and he was always moving. His nickname was Mo Si Ting, which means “never sit still”.

At the time, it was really against tradition to teach Chinese Gongfu to anybody who was not Chinese. He was actually kicked out of Ip Man’s school at one point because they found out that he wasn’t 100% Chinese.

Bruce Lee (Martial Artist, Martial Arts Instructor, Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Producer, & Philosopher):

Most of them, they are so doggone, stubborn. Learning it’s a constant discovery.

Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

He had been getting into a lot of trouble participating in these illegal rooftop matches, where different Gongfu schools would come together and go up against each other to see who was better. So he was competing in these and if he wanted to claim his US citizenship, he had to come back before he turned 19. And so his parents put him on a ship and sent him to the United States.

Most people think of Bruce Lee as being from Hong Kong but actually, he’s American. His mother is half-German, so he himself is a quarter European.

Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

When my father came to the United States, his training had been in Wing Chun. And then when he started teaching, he called what he taught Jun Fan Gung Fu because Jun Fan is his given name. So it was like Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu. But it was essentially Wing Chun. His first student was Jesse Glover. He was an African-American man, Taky Kimura, who was a Japanese man. He really took on anyone who had a real desire to learn. His school was very revolutionary in that way.

In early 1965, he had opened his second school in Oakland. He was part of a community of martial artists who were really interested in playing with tradition and really talking more about what works as opposed to staying within the lines of form. Already he had Jun Fan Gung Fu, so he was going around touting this all the time. And he had an open door policy and was teaching this to anyone. The San Francisco Chinatown community did not appreciate that. They were the old guard and they wanted to shut him down. They issued a challenge to him and they said we’re going to bring over our champion and we want to fight you. And if you lose, you have to stop teaching.

I have no fear!

I was born in Oakland’s Chinatown and I started to study Kung Fu at a very young age and the master Jack man Wong had this mythical fight with Bruce Lee. So I remember hearing people say our teacher fought with Bruce Lee, you know that was really just mind-blowing.

Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

After the fight, even though he had won, he was very disappointed. He was winded and his traditional rigid training had not prepared him for a fight of this nature. Out of that, he decided to do away with his traditional training and he literally studied Boxing, the simplicity of it, Fencing for the ability to bridge the gap quickly, but also newtonian physics. He studied biomechanics and kinesiology. And so he was really revolutionary in just looking at the human body and saying if I want to optimize this for combat, what do I do?

Bruce Lee (Martial Artist, Martial Arts Instructor, Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Producer, & Philosopher):

Maybe you better train every part of your body.

Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

One of his students was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was, you know, over 7 ft tall and from working with him and training with him, he gained a huge new perspective in how he would have to change his approach to encounter someone like that and then how to also teach someone whose body is that way. I can show you what I know but ultimately, you have to test it and figure out what works best for you.

Bruce Lee (Martial Artist, Martial Arts Instructor, Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Producer, & Philosopher):

To move you’re moving and when you move, you are determined to move.

Shannon Lee (Actress, Martial Artist & Businessperson):

He really saw himself as an individual guide to his students to say how do you want to express yourself as a fighter.

Bruce Lee (Martial Artist, Martial Arts Instructor, Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Producer, & Philosopher):

…do it man and I’m gonna do it.

You see you wanted to bridge the gap between thought and action to be so in tune with your instincts that you are expressing yourself honestly right now. Personally, smart fighter. It’s not just a good fighter because I think in martial arts, some people train so hard to be strong but they don’t know actually in a fight, it’s the mind that needs to be better than the skill.

Bruce Lee (Martial Artist, Martial Arts Instructor, Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Producer, & Philosopher):

People are different, you know.




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