Don't Mess with Bruce Lee

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Bruce Lee was synonymous with martial arts films and became the first martial arts star who rightly deserves all the credits for the rise of martial arts movies in the western world. Lee is also responsible for inspiring millions of people around the world to take up martial arts or working out. But just how strong was Lee? After all, he was no giant and certainly didn't have the frame of a bodybuilding strong man. In this video, we are going to take a closer look at Bruce Lee and see the power behind his body.
Let's jump into Don't mess with Bruce Lee.

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How strong was Bruce Lee?

We have all seen Bruce Lee in action on our movie screens with some of the most impressive and powerful moves ever. But we also know that these moves are all choreographed, usually by the man himself. So, is it all just pretend? Can this little guy really be tough enough to do all this for real?
In order to answer this question, we need to take you back to Bruce Lee's younger days.

Young Age

At the age of 13, after being involved in many street fights, Lee's parents decided that he needed to be trained in martial arts. This was the start of Lee's training in Wing Chun style of Gong Fu, also known as Kung Fu, under the tutelage of master Ip Man. He was also trained in boxing between 1956 and 1958 and went on to win the Hong Kong schools boxing tournament while scoring knockdowns against the previous champion in the final.
But the big influence on Lee was Hong Kong's street fighting culture, in the form of rooftop fights. In the 1950s and 60s, gangs from rival martial arts schools challenged each other to bare-knuckle fights on Hong Kong's rooftops. Lee frequently participated in these fights and combined different techniques from different martial arts schools into his own hybrid martial arts style.


Bruce Lee and the Master that he couldn't defeat

Bruce Lee's training took on a number of different fighting styles as he liked to mix things up a bit. One particular fighting style he became interested in was grappling and was soon being taught various Wrestling and Judo techniques by the national Judo champion Gene Labelle. The one thing you will notice in Lee's fight scenes on the big screen is just how fast he is. His moves are done with such speed that they are almost impossible for his opponent to block. But don't be fooled, there is no trickery involved here. This is all down to the man himself and knowing how to use his body.


Bruce Lee's Only Real Fight

Thanks to his intense training regime, which consisted of brief explosive bursts of power, Bruce developed incredible twitch muscle power that could be accelerated very quickly over a short distance. This is best seen in the amazing power of his famous one-inch punch. Since true strength is not from muscle but from the nerves that control the muscle, you don't necessarily need to be huge to contain great amounts of power. It's down to how the muscles contract.
Because the punch happens over such a short amount of time, Lee has to synchronize each segment of the jab. His twisting hip, expanding knees, and thrusting shoulder, elbow, and wrist with incredible accuracy. Each joint in Lee's body has a single moment of peak acceleration and, to get maximum juice out of the move, Lee must layer his moves so that each period of peak acceleration follows the last one instantly, so coordination is key.

Bruce Lee may not have looked like a big bodybuilder but he didn't need to. In fact, he had extremely low body fat and muscles that were more akin to those found in gymnastics, who are extremely strong. One very notable aspect of his muscle build was his massive lats, the muscles in his back that uniquely stretched from one side of his body to the other. These tremendous lats allowed him to transmit even more power from his lower body to his upper body. Take for example his amazing feats of holding a 75-pound weight outstretched in one hand, or doing reps of 50, one-armed chin-ups, and push-ups with only two fingers. All of which takes a great deal of muscle power that not many bodybuilders could achieve. So, although he had been a very small and slight man, his movements, techniques, speed, and skill allowed him to utilize his body to the fullest.


Bruce Lee Amazing Superhuman Speed

To achieve this power, Lee had to put himself through an extreme amount of training. This included muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. Lee even introduced classic bodybuilding techniques into his training routine in order to gain muscle mass for his martial arts. However, he also was very careful not to overdo it to the point where his muscle gain was getting in the way of his flexibility, or his speed. It was all about balance. His daily training consisted of aerobic exercises plus others which were patterned to develop his skill in fighting. He varied his exercises to avoid boredom. One of his favorite exercises was running four miles a day in 25 minutes, three days per week. He would change his tempo while running from constant, even strides, to a sprint and then back to constant strides.

Bruce Lee running

On the day he wasn't running, he would skip with a skipping rope for at least 30 minutes. Besides running and skipping, he also rode an exercise bike to develop his endurance, legs, and cardiovascular muscle. He usually rode full speed 35 to 40 miles an hour continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. Quite often he would jump on the exercise bike right after his running. Along with this came the workouts, focusing on his abdominal muscles. Better known as his six-pack which included side bends, leg raises, and sit-ups to name just a few. Several times a week he would do his practice sessions to keep his fighting fresh. This would include punching training, leg stretching, kick training, wooden dummy training, and form practice. Then, three times a week came his lifting routine, including clean and press barbell curls behind the neck, presses, barbell squats, bench presses, and barbell pullovers.

Along with the exercises, Lee felt very strongly about what he put inside his body. Nutrition was very important. Not only did he have to keep his body fat percentage low, but he also had to fuel himself enough to keep up with his rigorous training regime. As most of you probably already know, Lee preferred Chinese food due to its variety. His favorite dish was beef and oyster sauce as an extra source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. He also added organ meats into his diet, although he stayed well away from refined carbs. He did enjoy the high-quality carbs, such as rice and carb-rich vegetables. His favorite drink was green tea, particularly because of its antioxidant properties.

Don't mess with Bruce Lee

Looking at all the evidence, we think it's safe to say Bruce Lee was exceptionally strong, not only in his body but also in his mind. He had an extreme amount of endurance, self-discipline, and willpower, and he made the expression of the human body into an art form.
What do you think of Bruce Lee's strengths? Who is your favorite strong man?

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