Celebrity Buddhist - the Late Bruce Lee
Once of the most influential Buddhists in modern times is the late Bruce Lee,
who introduced martial arts (or Kung Fu) to Hollywood in the 60's and single handedly
started the whole Kung Fu excitement in the United States.
He was borned on November 27, 1940 in San Francisco, of a Chinese actor and actress
parents who were traveling in the USA performing Cantonese Opera in China Town.
He spent his childhood back in Hong Kong where he went to La Salle College for
his high school education.
At one time during his childhood, after he was beaten up by a street gang, he
began to learn Martial Arts. But that lead to more street fights. He father, worried
about his safety, sent him back to his place of birth, USA, for his College education.
He went to the University of Seattle to study philosophy, and started to teach
martial arts to non-Chinese Americans on a part time basis. He even invented Jeet
Kune Do, or the Art of Intercepting Fist over the years as a teaching Master.
However, he had little luck during his early acting career. Although he signed
on as a supporting role in the TV series the Green Hornet, the American entertainment
industry was not very friendly to non-white actors and actress those days. Although
the show was popular among Asians, main stream America was cold to him. The show
lasted only one session, and in 1967, after the last episode of the Green Hornet
was made, he returned to teaching Kung Fu to Westerners, his students included
Chuck Norris and Steve McQueen. It was during this time that he re-designed many
of his martial arts movements to suit the camera, taking advantage of his dancing
On a return trip back to Hong Kong with his family, he was surprised that he was
mobbed by fans everywhere. Golden Harvest Co. signed him on to make three films
that had shakened Asia by storm: - The Big Boss (or Elder Brother from China),
Fist of Fury and The Chinese Connection. While he was making the fourth one, the
Game of Death, he was invited back to the States by Hollywood to make Enter the
Dragon. Immediately, he grisped the chance, put down his work in Hongkong, and
flew back to Hollywood.
Making of Enter the Dragon at Hollywood was very very hard work indeed. Rumour
was that he suffered internal injuries because of the action - but it was the
first ever Hollywood movie that used a non-white actor in a leading role. When
filming was completed, he immediately returned to Hong Kong to continue with the
Game of Death.
That movie, however, was never completed - he was found unconscious in the home
of a local Hong Kong Actress Miss Ting Pei on July 18, 1973. He was taken to the
hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Finally, he was famous internationally after the film Enter the Dragon held its
premiere in the United States. He became a legend.
NOTE: Martial arts is generally atttributed to the Indian Monk Bodhidharma who
came to China to start Zen Buddhism. It is said that he had meditated for seven
years in the Shaolin Buddhist Temple, which is considered to be the birth place
of Kung Fu.