Why Bruce Lee Didn’t Like Traditional Kung Fu

Despite being a master of martial arts, Bruce Lee did not like traditional kung fu. Here’s why he’s had such a big problem with it and how it’s used.

Although he is known for his mastery of martial arts, Bruce lee had a strong aversion to traditional kung fu. The hundreds of different types of kung fu that exist all over the world contrasted sharply with Lee’s philosophy of martial arts. In fact, what Bruce Lee practiced in the late 1960s and early 1970s is fundamentally different from what is taught in traditional kung fu schools.

Originating in ancient China, kung fu is a self-defense system that has existed for over a millennium. Over the years, fighters and monks have developed styles of kung fu too numerous to count. Many are linked to the Shaolin Temple, which is the oldest and most respected kung fu institution in the world. What most have in common is their use of specific punching positions and techniques, like tiger claw, crane beak, etc. Several of the best-known styles are based on animal movements, such as the monkey style, southern praying mantis, Fujian whooping crane, and more. While many have likely been lost in history, the principles and movements of many of these traditional styles of kung fu have managed to survive for centuries.


Related: What Drove Bruce Lee To Add Wrestling Moves To His Fighting Style

Not only is classic kung fu still practiced today in real life, these styles are commonly portrayed on the big screen. That being said, not all martial artists are their advocates. One of those critics was Bruce Lee himself, who questioned kung fu schools and their unwavering commitment to tradition. He believed that relying on tradition can hold a person back. According to Lee, strictly following these old positions and movements limits the fighter and prevents him from doing what needs to be done to win. [via Black Belt]. He didn’t believe these styles were practical for street fighting.

Lee has repeatedly argued that “rigidThe approach taken by classic kung fu styles was not what martial arts should be. It was for this reason that Bruce Lee gave up Wing Chun, the style of kung fu he learned from Ip Man. Having decided that a martial artist should be “informed”Lee developed Jeet Kune Do, which was a system that relied heavily on reactive measures, as opposed to strict positions and techniques. He wanted his students to be able to react appropriately to any situation and not be limited to a specific movement. To this end, Lee also incorporated concepts from outside of kung fu, such as the principles of boxing, wrestling, and judo.

What Lee really wanted was to invent an effective way to use kung fu in real-world fights, and he just didn’t think classic kung fu styles worked in those kinds of scenarios. This goal motivated Lee to challenge Chinese tradition and go against these long-held ideas. The founding of Jeet Kune Do was unprecedented at the time, but it is consistent with the beliefs he preached throughout his career, including his famous “either water” Quote. that of Bruce Lee the emphasis on adaptability and opposition to tradition were essential elements of his philosophy of martial arts.

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