HONG KONG, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The man, the myth, the legend. Bruce Lee was all of these things and more. On July 20, 1973, the world lost one of its most iconic and influential figures when he passed away suddenly at the age of 32. Yet, 50 years later, his legacy lives on, larger than life and more resonant than ever.
Tourists flock to the Avenue of Stars along the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, a place of pilgrimage for Bruce Lee fans from around the world.
They pause at Lee's bronze statue to pay tribute to the martial arts master, often laying flowers at the base of the two-meter-high effigy that showcases Lee's classic Jeet Kune Do move, inspired by his final complete film, "Enter the Dragon."
Source: Xinhua Editor: huaxia 2023-20-07
Shin Yong-woo from South Korea is one such fan who has travelled over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to pay homage to his hero. He stood before the statue, dressed in black pants with his bare chest exposed, just like Lee frozen in frame by the monument. With a pair of nunchaku in his hands, Shin began his performance, twirling the weapons with fluid precision. A fan since he was nine years old, Shin credited Lee with inspiring him to learn Chinese martial arts.
Some pay their respects with a simple bow or a moment of silence, while others perform their own martial arts routines in front of the statue, channelling their inner Bruce Lee.
Unlike Shin, who reveres Lee's Kung Fu as a physical art form, Patrick Weber from Britain is more drawn to the deeper meaning and philosophy behind Lee's teachings. Weber held a 25-year-old "Enter the Dragon" poster as he took photos in front of the bronze statue. He also brought a thick album that documents his more than 50-year journey as a fan.
Lee's legacy includes a collection of inspiring and insightful quotes that have resonated with people of all ages and backgrounds. "The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering." "The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus." "Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one."
"I love his philosophy on life," Weber said. "And the multiculturalism he portrayed was exactly what the world needed at the time."
Born in San Francisco in 1940, Lee spent much of his childhood and formative years in Hong Kong, where his father was a well-known Cantonese opera singer.
It was in Hong Kong that Lee began to study martial arts. His passion for Kung Fu and his innovative approach to martial arts quickly earned him a following in Hong Kong, where he starred in several successful films and TV shows. His fame and influence soon spread to other parts of China and Asia, inspiring a new generation of martial artists and popularizing Chinese culture and philosophy around the world.
As one of Hollywood's most influential Chinese American actors, Lee introduced Chinese martial arts and its underlying culture and philosophy to the world through his films, and even brought the term "Kung Fu" into the English language. His confident portrayal of Chinese culture in martial arts movies continues to inspire people decades later.
"He's so cool!" said Sophie Uekawa from Japan as she looked at the statue, reminiscing about her teenage years several decades ago. "In 1973, Bruce Lee's movies became a sensation in Japan when they were first released. The queues for his films were so long that they stretched for several blocks, and 'Enter the Dragon' played for more than a year in one cinema before it was taken."
In recent days, a series of commemorative events in Hong Kong have confirmed the enduring influence of the Chinese Kung Fu culture that Lee represented. The "Bruce Lee: A Timeless Classic" exhibition opened at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, showcasing various books, stamps, and figurines related to the superstar from different eras. The museum also has a permanent exhibition introducing his life story.
Inside the exhibition hall, a wall of famous quotes presents Lee's philosophy: "Using no way as a way, having no limitation as limitation," "Success is a journey, not a destination," and more.
Wang Wei, who works in the education industry, included the exhibition as one of the stops for Chinese mainland students on their educational tour of Hong Kong.
"Bruce Lee is an important part of Hong Kong's pop culture and represents the Chinese spirit and character embodied by the people of Hong Kong," Wang said. "With a profound understanding of Chinese culture, he showcased the confidence of Chinese culture through Kung Fu."
The Bruce Lee Foundation is holding its first "Camp Bruce Lee" event in Asia at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, where about 30 primary school students from Hong Kong are experiencing Jeet Kune Do and learning about the star through various art forms over a few days.
"This movie is about the history of Japanese imperialism invading China in the last century ..." Inside the museum, the guide points to a still from the movie "Fist of Fury" and introduces the plot to the young campers while explaining the national history. The still captures the moment when Lee's character Chen Zhen kicks down the "Sick Man of East Asia" sign in the movie.
English Language Xinhua Article:
Feature: Enter the Dragon -- Bruce Lee's legacy still inspiring 50 years after his passing
The profound level materialises after years of training and ripens with age. It looks and feels very different to the manner in which other martial arts manifest and are manifested. It has more in common with Daoist martial expressions – but is reliant upon Buddhist mind expanding practices. There is a deep sense of peace emanating from within a profound and limitless void. Power manifests – and fades away in a cyclic motion. There is no rush and yet the power manifests according to the urgency of need – as if the required power is being extracted from the surrounding material conditions as the need arises. This lack of urgency coupled with the immediacy of the required power gives the false impression that a) nothing is happening and b) nothing will happen. These false impressions flash across the surface mind of the opponent and then there is the blinding flash as the power hits home. As there is the minimum of conflict – the highest levels of attainment seem very different to the more commonly available martial arts. Nothing is happening and yet everything is unfolding. Years of preparation generate the maximum conditions that dissolve as their function is performed. This process can repeat itself as many times as is required and in as many different ways as is needed. Winning is not the objective – but rather a cyclic survival. The feeling of a deep and permanent peace is similar to floating in space free of a gravitational pull and yet gravity is fully mastered and is under complete control. Seeing beyond that which needs to be created is the essence of being nowhere all at once. Freedom is a lack of artificially imposed barriers that have no place during the birthing or dying processes. Being at one with the empty mind ground is to be at one with empty space in all places and at all times. The mind expands because these (inner) false barriers are removed. As these (inner) false barriers are removed – there can be no (outer) false barriers. This reality is devastating for the opponent to encounter and ‘healing’ for the practitioner to attain.
'During the year 1915, an ageing Higaonna Kanryo (out of respect for his Chinese teacher) - instructed his disciple Miyagai Chojun - to leave Okinawa and travel to Fuzhou to seek out Master Gong (师公 - Shi Gong) and other eminent (and related) martial arts teachers (who had taught Higonna Kanryo decades before)! Whilst in Fuzhou, Miyagi Chojun was introduced to Master 'Wu Xiangui' (吴贤贵) who accepted him as a student. Master Wu Xiangui was a very well-known expert in Fujian White Crane Fist (福建白鹤拳 - Fu Jian Bai He Quan)! (Wu Xiangui eventually emigrated to Okinawa where he became a 'naturalised' citizen - taking on the Japanese surname of 'Yoshikawa' [吉川 - Ji Chuan]. Records suggest that 'Yoshikawa' died in Okinawa during 1940). Whilst in Fuzhou, Miyagi Chojun was introduced to a great number of very important martial arts teachers who were all willing to teach him on the grounds of the high regard and respect that the Chinese community held for the memory of Higaonna Kanryo! During this time, Miyagi Chojun studied and learned a set (套 - Tao) of martial movements collectively termed 'Six Weaving Open Hands' (六机手 - Liu Ji Shou). Later, after returning to Okinawa - Miyagi Chojun further developed this technique and renamed it '转掌' (Zhuan Zhang) - 'Turning Palm' or 'Changing Palm'.
In 1915, shortly after Miyagi Chojun returned to Okinawa, Higaonna Kanryo died of illness, and Miyagi Chojun inherited his martial arts school and became the head teacher in Naha.'
Miyagi Chojun O'Sensei
If a practitioner of traditional Chinese martial arts spends twenty, thirty or forty years perfecting his or her art – then such an individual will experience many different levels and layers of reality as the ageing process unfolds. Of course, much of this will be circumstantial and culturally conditioned (varying from place to place, country to country) - but the ongoing experience of observing the inward biological and psychological process will always possess a certain universal reality common to all human beings. This is true despite many modern people linking their physical activity to the notion (and vagaries) associated with modern sport, commercialism and entertainment, etc. Therefore, many people living in the modern age often think that any sustained physical activity should cease around the age of thirty years old – as the first glimmer of the ageing process begins to make its presence felt! This idea seems to advocate the passive ‘giving-in’ to the ageing process and simply settling for a body that can no longer function as does the body of an eighteen-year-old – and which gets less able as the decades pass due to a terminal inactivity.
A genuine martial artist seeking mastery of body and mind must acknowledge and accommodate the ageing process. As the inner processes and the outer structures of the physical body transform, the traditional Chinese approach has always presented the ageing process as a doorway to a higher form of awareness, perception and physical ability. The modern, Western approach states that the human body becomes weaker the longer it lives. The onus upon this thinking is that this is the most meaningful interpretation of the ageing process and that no other view of the ageing process is required. Linked to this idea of a decrepit body is an entire medical industry offering expensive mechanical devices that assist the body as it weakens – together with entire rafts of various medicinal treatments designed to lighten the ageing process. This is only for the wealthy, of course, and although the scientific alleviation of the ageing process may well be a valid and important one if it were not so exploitative – my point is that as functioning individuals – we are responsible for our own awareness as it functions throughout the biological body and permeates the physical environment.
There is nothing wrong with being ill, disabled or otherwise incapacitated. Ageing and illness are biological inevitabilities and should not be denied in anyway. The awareness capacity, however, as far as I am concerned (as I enter my 55th year of life) – is the only way a human being can adjust him or herself to the ever-changing circumstance that defines the ageing process. Not just being ‘aware’ in a passive manner but being ‘aware’ in a proactive manner that permeates the atoms and molecules of the physical body, and which strives to moderate behaviour throughout the physical body. Ironically, being ‘still’ in exactly the correct manner is an important part of traditional Chinese martial arts, which is the foundation of an enhanced (and evolutionarily) advanced ability to manifest the human body within the physical environment. This means that the manner in which the inner human body is perceived changes completely when the ageing process unfolds. Indeed, the ‘internal’ and ‘integrated’ methods of advanced Chinese martial arts practice are dependent upon being ‘old’ and the experience of getting ‘older’.
As the out of date (and ‘lazy’) habits of youth fall away, then ‘new’ and more ‘intelligent’ methods of generating stability and power must be cultivated. Extraordinary amounts of stabilising power must be generated and sustained with as little conventional effort as possible. Conventional effort is the driving mechanism of youth which changes as the ageing process advances. It does not ‘disappear’ as many think but transforms and evolves – but many remain completely unaware of this developmental process. This is where the shallow (commercial) culture of the modern West fails the very individuality it creates. This is exactly where the ancient ideas of evolving conscious awareness and physical abilities come into play. When striking the heavy bag, the torso and limbs feel simultaneously ‘light’ for speed and ‘heavy’ for stability. The body is ‘relaxed’ whilst the limbs and torso are positioned perfectly so that the dropped bodyweight can be effectively rebounded from the ground and channelled into the target through the centre of the bones (which feel ‘hollow’ when performing this function). Furthermore, the ‘weight’ of the heavy bag can be momentarily absorbed into the bones and joints of the attacking body (that is the ‘hollow channels’) – before being dramatically expelled back out and into the heavy bag itself – being added to the bodyweight and effortlessly increasing the all-round impact of the punches, kicks, elbows and knees, etc. Meanwhile, as the ageing process unfolds, a tangible sense of space is permanently perceived as existing throughout the inner body which is filled with an energy that is vibrant, full of light and is a combination of physical bodyweight properly used – and an enhanced sense of psychological ‘awareness’ (which also expands outward and into the physical environment). I believe that this is a preparation for old-age and the eventual dying process – whereby the physical body drops-away and the psychological awareness folds-in upon itself.
Advanced martial arts practice is ethereal even though it involves the movement of the body. In fact, moving the body is basic gongfu training, a mastery of which should be gained in one’s youth if possible. When the body ‘ages’ - a practitioner does not want the problem of mastering martial technique whilst coming to terms with how ‘ageing’ changes the mind and body. Knowing how to stand, fall, get-up, moving, kick, punch, block and evade, etc, are foundational issues that must be thoroughly absorbed into the deepest levels of the mind and body well before middle-age is reached. Of course, this is not always the case, as some people take-up the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts late in life – but with regards the more robust and rugged ‘external’ techniques – youthful practice is preferred. This is why many older people (with no previous experience) start their martial arts training through one of the ‘internal’ arts – which are a product of an ‘advanced’ and ‘mature’ mind-set.
On the other hand, if an individual is able to build 20-30 years of training prior to hitting 40-50 years of age – then the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and inner organs have all had time to experience a ‘hardening’ process over-time - and are far more ‘robust’ whilst the individual traverses into older age. Probably the greater reason for early martial arts practice is that the ability to produce massive (internal and external) impact power (with minimum) effort must be mastered before the body transitions into older age. This observation does not mean that older people cannot achieve this ability later in their life – but to already possess this devastating power is one less burden – particularly as we may also have far more responsibilities as mature people than the average young person. However, with the right type of instruction from a genuine Master, anyone of any age can ‘master’ gongfu regardless of circumstances. Motivation is the key to it all.
The mind must be ‘still’ and ‘expansive’. Its psychic fabric must be simultaneously ‘empty’ and yet ‘envelop’ all things without exception! Although there is much experimentation in the West with the physical techniques of the many (and varied) gongfu styles – very few practitioners are interested in the spiritual or higher psychological aspects of traditional Chinese martial arts. This is because gongfu has been taught the wrong way around in the West to suit the cultural bias of the fee-paying audience. Whereas in China kicking is learned before punching – in the West punching is taught before kicking (because of the influence of Western Boxing). Whereas in China a gongfu practitioner learns to stand still and to stand ‘solid’ whilst defending the ten directions – in the West students are taught to move around before being taught how to ‘stand still’ (this is because Western students do not understand the important of achieving inner and outer ‘stillness’). Whereas in China gongfu student learn to ‘relax’ before assuming postures – in the West students are taught to ‘stretch’ using yoga-like techniques (mostly unknown in China). Whereas students in China learn to ‘strike’ various wooden objects to condition the bones of the hands and feet – in the West, students are encouraged to hit ‘soft’ pads that give a false impression of what it is like to hit a ‘real’ body! In the West, the mind is ‘entertained’ as a means to secure continued fee-paying through class attendance – whilst in China the Master continuously looks for new ways of ‘testing’ the virtue of the student and for any reason to ‘expel’ them from the training hall!
All this ‘inversion’ must be remedied if the highest levels of spiritual and physical mastery are to be achieved. This has nothing to do with rolling around on a padded floor wearing padded-gloves – and everything to do with ‘looking within’ to refine the flow of internal energy. The awareness of the mind must permeate every cell of the physical body whilst the practitioner sits correctly in the meditation posture. What else is there? When advanced practitioners ascend to a certain age of maturity, reality has nothing to do with the ego pursuit of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in petty disputes that ultimately mean nothing. Most of the combat sports of the moment are fleeting and exist merely to make money – and they are ineffective on the modern battlefield and not practiced by the military! The final lesson is to ‘leave the body’ with the minimum of fuss when the time presents itself. In a very real sense, a genuine Master of martial arts has ‘already’ transcended the boundaries of material limitation whilst still living. This sense of ‘completion’ and ‘transcendence’ is what draws the already perceptive into his or her presence to receive instruction...
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.