The transcript below is from the video “What if Bruce Lee knew Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” by  Ramsey Dewey

Ramsey Dewey:

Hey! It’s Ramsey Dewey over here in Shanghai, China. Welcome to another edition of Q&A with the coach. And before I forget, shout out to the channel sponsor NOGIBJJgear.com. Go check them out for some awesome rash guards, spats shorts, and other training gear for. NOGIBJJ, submission grappling, MMA etc. Now onto the question.

Our next question comes from a friend, Harley Quinn, who says, ‘What do you think if Bruce Lee had found jujitsu and added it to his arsenal?’ To which another guy in the comment section says, ‘But he did.’ And this is a pretty common idea, because if you look through the uh, the ‘Tao of Jeet Kune Do’, there are 7 pages of doodles of grappling related content. And so, a lot of people assume that if Bruce Lee drew a picture of it, then obviously he was a Master of It. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ramsey Dewey:

And we can see evidence of that in the grappling he actually showcased in his movies and the grappling he showcased in the only filmed sparring session that we see, where he does a, he does a, I hesitate to call it an Osotogari, because it’s, it’s a really badly performed one. That is something beginners often do and it’s super easy to counter. When they attack from the front with no setup whatsoever. But Bruce is sparring against his own students. He knows their strengths and their own weaknesses. He knows in this case, this dude he is sparring with is not going to counter this, because he does doesn’t know how. But, um, yeah, not a great example of an Osotogari. So, that’s the only example of a live exhibition of grappling that Bruce Lee ever did that, which was caught on film.

Ramsey Dewey:

Now in his movies, he did a couple of these things that he doodled in this book. For example, on page 122 of the, uh, ‘The Tao of Jeet Kune Do’, we see Bruce doodling a bulldog choke right there, which he tried to emulate in ‘Game of Death’, when he’s fighting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s character. And it’s, it’s not as bad as Master Wong’s terribly, awfully, misconstrued versions of a rear naked choke. But it’s not going to be functional. And worst though, is, man, that arm lock that he did in ‘Enter the Dragon’, that opening scene where he’s having that, that MMA style fight with the big weird looking gloves with the fingers and they’re wearing speedos, and he finishes the match by submission with this weird, weird looking arm lock that, um, should not have worked. It should not have pinned the other guy down there. But it’s a movie and yeah, not made by grappling experts. So, yeah that was crap. I’m gonna put that out there. That was crap.

Ramsey Dewey:

And another example he does, he does a guillotine in the movie, ‘The Return of the Dragon’, or whatever you call that in your country, ‘Return of the Dragon’ with Chuck Norris, where they’re fighting at the, at the Colosseum, in one of those tunnels. And Bruce’s character finishes the match with a guillotine, which he is doing poorly, and it would not, and should not have worked like that in real life. And you might say, ‘Well, he just didn’t do it right because he did, it’s acting and they’re not trying to kill the other guy.’ And that’s nonsense because across the world today, there are millions of people, who do Brazilian jiujitsu every day, where they are using these techniques, using them correctly, doing them correctly against live, 100% resisting training partners and they’re not killing each other. Why? Because they tap out. And it is really easy to do fight choreography and show the moves correctly, in a functional way, without killing the actors. You can do that.

Ramsey Dewey:

You ever watch that TV show, ‘24’, where Jack Bauer is trying to save the world in 24 hours against terrorists. It’s a great show, really entertaining, but multiple times in every single season, Jack Bauer, who’s supposed to be this badass at hand-to-hand combat and a lot of other things, he finishes a bad guy, chokes them out with the rear naked choke, except he does it wrong every single time. And this was a really frustrating show to watch, because I found myself screaming at the TV, ‘NO! You’re doing it wrong. Ah!’ It’s almost as bad as Master Wong’s version.

How much jiu-jitsu did Bruce Lee actually know? That wasn’t really the question. He did train a little bit, a little bit, not extensively, but a little bit with Gene LeBell, who taught him some judo and some, some catch wrestling techniques. Now, a little bit of training, like a couple of training sessions, you know, that’s good, but it’s not going to make you an expert in anything. Nah. Not even a little bit of an expert, man. But going back to Harley Quinn’s question, ‘If Bruce Lee had found jiu-jitsu and added it to his arsenal, would I explore that?’ Okay. [Sighs]

Ramsey Dewey:

Now, I know some people are out there screaming or scream typing at me. ‘Bruce Lee was an expert in all things grappling. He was the greatest grappler who ever lived.’ Bruce Lee had a rudimentary understanding of grappling. He wasn’t ignorant of it. And to his credit, he wasn’t ignorant of it at, I won’t even say at a time when people were, because there were lots of grappling experts out there. There were plenty of expert catch wrestlers and Judoka out there in the United States, such as Gene LeBell, a contemporary of Bruce Lee, who lived in the same geographic area that Bruce Lee lived in. Gene LeBell’s students, the people that Gene LeBell competed against, were grappling experts. Those people existed. Those people were there. Bruce Lee hung around with the point karate crowd. Those are the people he surrounded himself with, the point karate crowd. The no-contact karate crowd. Those were the ones he was preaching to.

Ramsey Dewey:

And I was about to say, to his credit, he wasn’t ignorant or completely ignorant of grappling, but, as far as grappling goes, in the point karate crowd, he was largely the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Kind of, except there were also a lot of karate guys in that community, who were also Judo Black Belts, or who wrestled in high school or college, they certainly, you know, people who were way far ahead of Bruce Lee as far as grappling went. So, this, uh, romantic idea that Bruce Lee was this phenomenal grappler, it’s absolutely demonstrable, demonstrably false.

Now, for a guy who ran around in the circles of dogmatic strikers, who thought grappling was icky, yeah, he was ahead of his time. But as far as actual grappling, no, not really. I think, I think Bruce Lee would have thought that jujitsu, particularly Brazilian jiujitsu, was inconsistent with his goals. He might look at it and think, ‘Okay, well, that one thing, that what other thing,’ he might cherry-pick a few things that he liked, he might like to show in a movie or whatever, but, um, I think he would have got really preachy about it and said something dismissive about how, it wouldn’t work on the streets, because of reasons.

Ramsey Dewey:

Anyway, that’s what I think. The church of Jeet Kune Do has already excommunicated me a long time ago, so, I’m speaking my mind quite frankly, about the man, the myth, the legend, Bruce Lee and his grappling prowess or lack thereof. Next question.

Once again, shout out to the channel sponsor NOGIBJJgear.com. Use my code, RAMSEY10, for a 10% discount on everything. They make fantastic rash guards, spats shorts, t-shirts and more. Check them out. Fantastic designs for all your needs, in NOGIBJJ, MMA and submission grappling. Once again, that is NOGIBJJgear.com. Thanks for watching. Now get out there and train.




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