Book Review: Bruce Lee by Matthew Polly

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  1. Practice. Bruce practiced all the time, and guess what? It made him the best. He would punch makiwara boards in his car, he would punch them on a plane, he would punch 5000 times a day. He worked out when he read and watched TV, he did takes dozens of times to get the action scene perfect so it stood up to the quality he expected of his brand. People who knew him said he was almost always sweaty. Are you almost sweaty because you work hard at your craft? How often do you practice anything? If any of us practiced even a tenth of what Bruce did I am sure we would all be a lot closer to achieving our goals.
  2. Self-experiment. Bruce had to pave the way, no one else had done it. His defiance, his aggression, his need to dominate, his focus, this all led to his creativity and expertise. The lesson I took away from his innovative spirit is how we sometimes need to figure things out for ourselves and this requires taking action.
  3. Defiance. While I don’t think it’s wise to always and forever defy authority and authority figures, after all we live in a society, but we should question experts and authorities more, even that authority is your own voice that believes in some core belief. Some of my journaling has consisted of writing down everything I think I know and questioning where those beliefs came from. In a sense, I have been emptying my cup.
  • It is easy to forget how young Bruce was. He was still an immature, young guy who had yet to reach the years of wisdom. We can’t expect a young man to be a paragon of virtue and correct-living. We shouldn’t try to emulate how he lived beyond a few simple things you can apply to your own life.
  • I found it very ironic that Bruce was dismissed from the draft because he was deemed unfit. Here we have one of the most fit persons to ever live and he is rejected by the army. For what, you may ask? He had some rare disease that caused one of his balls not to drop and it could mean he would be infertile or get testicular cancer.
  • Bruce may not have been able to handle the riches and fame he was coming into at the end and would have been continuing to get. He was having affairs, he had no discipline with his money, he was losing face with the media and making enemies, the public was souring on him. He was definitely being set up for a hard fall or blow up.
  • He was remarkably ahead of his time, with race relations, with martial arts, with movie-making and entertainment, and fitness. I believe this to be because of his insane perfectionist mindset, a mindset I do not condone.
  • It baffled me how much of Bruce’s success depended on the uniqueness of his circumstances. If he hadn’t been born in America, if his father hadn’t been an actor who survived the purges and WWII Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. Because of Bruce’s father’s wealth, and the gentleness of his mother, they were able to put Bruce into good schools and not give up on him, including sending him to America. If Bruce grew up poor he would’ve died an obscure gangster in Hong Kong. He was tornado that needed to be tamed and it took monumental efforts on behalf of the adults in his life to keep him from becoming too much of a problem. If it weren’t for his parents he would have gotten into real trouble after he beat up a well-to-do person’s kid who went to the police. If the cha-cha dance hadn’t been a craze in Hong Kong and then America when it did, and if Bruce hadn’t become enamored with it, Bruce wouldn’t have had a means to open his first classes in the U.S., giving him the eventual idea of opening a kung fu school since some of his cha-cha students were able to see him showing off his kung fu between lessons. There are many many more little things that had to be just right for Bruce to get to where we all know of him now and I find stuff like that amazing, especially because one of my biggest questions going into this biography was how someone was able to pack so much into such a short life and leave such a lasting impact.



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Some serious and some satire articles. Only I know the difference.