Who could defeat Bruce Lee?

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Have you ever watched a Bruce Lee movie with your friends or any other group of people? Chances are that at least some of you are martial arts fans, right? Well, no doubt in my mind that among the questions that might arise "who could defeat Bruce Lee" is among the top three.
So, without further beating around the bush, let's jump right into it.

Why even bother asking "Who could defeat Bruce Lee"?

One might or might not be Bruce's fan but beyond anyone's personal opinion Lee's incredible career, passion, and legacy that he left behind nowadays cannot be ignored. Appearing in at least 20 movies, his moves are remarked on and studied to minimal detail by his followers and fans of all ages. Some are so young that they learned Nunchaku before they could even write, like in the case of the little Dragon Riusey.
In short, there is no doubt that Bruce continues to have a very strong impact till nowadays, and that's also the reason why many people ask this question.

Bruce Lee vs Muhammad Ali

Let's start with the elephant in the room - Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali, could he defeat Bruce?
This imaginary scenario is particularly interesting since we can rely on Bruce's personal opinion about it: in the book The Making of enter the Dragon (1987) the director Robert Clause describes a dialogue between Bruce Lee and the crew about who would possibly win the fight, Lee or Ali.

The story goes as follows:

Another time Yeung, aka [Bolo] went to see Bruce at Golden Harvest Studios. Bruce was screening a Cassius Clay [Muhammad Ali] documentary. Ali was world heavyweight champion at the time and Bruce saw him as the greatest fighter of them all. The documentary showed Ali in several of his fights. Bruce set up a wide full-length mirror to reflect Ali's image from the screen. Bruce was looking into the mirror, moving along with Ali.
Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali

Bruce's right hand followed Ali's right hand, Ali's left foot followed Bruce's left foot. Bruce was fighting in Ali's shoes. "Everybody says I must fight Ali some day." Bruce said, "I'm studying every move he makes. I'm getting to know how he thinks and moves." Bruce knew he could never win a fight against Ali. "Look at my hand", he said. "That's a little Chinese hand. He'd kill me".

In fact, Bruce might be onto something: Bruce was 170 cm high (67 inches) high and weighed 65 kg (143 lbs) compared to Ali's 190 cm (75 inches) and more than 90 kg (198 lbs).

About Michael Jai White's statement

As Michael states in the following video, one thing he could do, if he could travel back in time, would be to never state that he could defeat Bruce Lee. In fact, he felt very misunderstood by Bruce's fans, but he also understands that he somehow criticized a legend.
As Michael explains, weight is a key factor when it comes to fighting and even as little as 2 kilos (5 lbs) can make a huge difference. Micheal himself is a great fan and admirer of Bruce and he also considers him one of the most advanced martial artists ever.

Micheal Jay White on Bruce Lee gravestone

However, physics is not an opinion, and also here the huge weight difference cannot be ignored. Micheal weighs more or less 100kg (225 lbs), which makes him a lot heavier. Therefore, for this reason only, Micheal says he would have a great advantage.

Bruce Lee vs Wong Jack Man

The fight that happened between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man is for sure one of the most controversial and disputed Bruce's fights. Not only because it is the only real-life-fight that we have a track of, but also because of the mystery that surrounds its development and outcome.
According to some sources, the fight happened because Bruce's open-mindedness to teach Kung Fu to non-Chinese people was badly regarded by the Chinese Community. The scandal was so huge that the Chinese community challenged Bruce with its best fighter: Wong Jack Man.

Wong Jack Man and Bruce Lee

The fight happened in California in 1964 when Bruce was 24 years old and Wong Jack Man was 23. Bruce had already a good level in Wing Chun, thanks to Ip Man's teachings back in Hong Kong. Since he was trying to boost his career, Bruce would teach his martial arts knowledge in his school and to many Hollywood stars too.
The point of the fight was simple: if Wong Jack Man wins, Bruce has to close his school and stop teaching for good. On the other hand, if he wins, he can go on teaching.
Wong Jack Man actually stated that he had absolutely no problem with Bruce teaching Kung Fu to non-Chinese people, for him the fight was personal since Lee would have challenged Chinese Kung Fu masters in a theater in San Francisco.

Bruce Lee

The outcome of the fight remains mysterious since the attendance to the fight was of very few people, and everybody has a different version.
According to the Tai Chi Master William Chen, the fight ended in a tie and Wong kept his promise of not using his Shaolin kicks because they were very dangerous.

A different story is told by Linda Cadwell, Bruce's wife, who states that Bruce had the better ground right away in the first minutes and that Wong ultimately tried to escape from the fight.
Wong Jack Man's version of the story sees Bruce unfairly and very aggressively attacking him, only to finish after twenty minutes because Bruce was out of breath.

The Stuntman who "challenged" Bruce Lee

If you have seen Tarantino's movie "Once upon a time in Hollywood" you certainly remember the scene in which a controversial fight between Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and the stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) takes place. The scene caused some tension between Tarantino and Lee's family, fans, and friends because of the arrogant depiction of the hero. But beyond that, did you know that the scene was loosely inspired by a real-life event?

In fact, during the making of The Green Hornet in 1966 Bruce was being a little bit harsh with the other stuntman. The annoyed stunt coordinator has had enough and called for Gene LeBell, who in addition to being a stuntman was also a passionate practitioner of martial arts.
Gene would grab Lee, pick him up and carry him around the set.

Of course, Bruce was very annoyed and he would yell at him all the time to put him down otherwise he would have killed him. Gene replied, "I can't put you down or you'll kill me!".
LaBell held Bruce on his shoulders for a little bit longer and only after a while he put him down.


Even though such an experience must be very confronting for one's ego, Gene said that Bruce's reaction to the incident is what makes him a "true world-class martial artist". In fact, Lee understood a fault in his Jeet Kune Do when it comes to grappling. After the film, Gene and Bruce would train together in his school since Bruce wanted to learn from the experience and knowledge how to defend against grappling and extend his martial art.

Wong Shun Leung: the master that Bruce couldn't defeat

We've saved this one as the last since it created a little bit of controversy among Bruce Lee fans.
It is known that Bruce learned Wing Chun to a fair extent while he was still in Hong Kong, under the famous master Ip Man. In those times martial arts schools worked a little bit differently than they do nowadays: in fact, only advanced students would learn directly with the main master.

Before that moment, the practice and teaching were under the master's best students.
Bruce was no exception, and at that time he trained under Wong Shun Leung, also known as "The King of Talking Hands" referring to his ability to fight.

It seems that Wong's combat abilities were so great, that Bruce was never able to beat him in sparring. Of course, many Bruce Lee fans disagree with that, but we're not trying to protect a legend here, but rather observing the facts.
Learn more about it here: Bruce Lee and the Master that he couldn't defeat


Did we miss any fights or any potential opponents? Let us know in the comments below!
Wish you a great day and an even greater Wing Chun :)


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2022-08-12 14:58:44
Interesting post

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2022-08-13 13:24:34
Bruce Lee was a great actor and a average at combat sports, one can see this in Bruce Lee black and white videos You Tube. If you see Enter The Dragon, you can see Bruce Lee fatal mistake, against O'Hara when they bow at the beginning of fight Bruce Lee takes his eyes off O'Hara and looks at the ground

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Peter Masuku
2022-08-24 22:08:15
I am a martial artist too though I'm not an actor. I have learned a lot from Bruce's moves and from his teachings. The Bruce was open minded he didn't stick in one style and he was Keen to learn from others. So for me I can't agree that it was going to be an easy thing to win a fight against the legend. Though I am not saying no one could not win if could have a fight with Bruce Lee if he was still alive . I have even learned that there were many masters who were also the best . What master Michael Jai White says it's very true,but as long as a chance can avail , otherwise it could be a hard target . Even what Mr Peter is saying about the bowing of Bruce, myself I learned it from him that I should not remove my eyes from my opponent. Advanced martial artists like Master Bolo Yang they don't set their eyes on you ,just for you to think otherwise and get beaten easily.

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Rosen Jordan
2022-10-04 20:51:16
Better to just respect each other's skill and not worry who can beat who.

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