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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Martial Artist Bruce Lee

The Lethal Physique of Bruce Lee

By John Little
Introduction by Mike Mentzer

It is absolutely amazing how much of an impact that Bruce Lee's strength and physical development have had on athletes, bodybuilders and average men all over the face of the globe. As a young boy in high school, I can clearly recall all of the talk among my friends about the great Bruce Lee; they all were intimately familiar with Bruce's films; and they would discuss not just his epochal martial arts skills, but, also, his incredible strength and lean, shredded physique.

Joe Weider remarked on the astounding muscular refinement and definition of Lee's physique, especially the master's abs.  Bruce Lee's physique had a remarkable influence on some of today's top physique champs. Bodybuilding luminaries, including Lou Ferrigno, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Rachel Mclish, Lenda Murray, Flex Wheeler and Shawn Ray have all spoken on record concerning the enormous impact the physique of Bruce Lee had on them. 

Why would the physique of the mighty mite, never massively developed along but described by some "as the most defined physique in the world."  

Lee used weight training to develop efficiency and strength.

John Little wrote this article, which is excerpted from one of the 11 books he's written on Bruce Lee. I first met John Little at Eaton's department store in Toronto where Arnold, Franco and I had made an appearance for Weider and the IFBB, in 1979.

In 1992, that Joe Weider brought John to Los Angeles to write for Flex. This only lasted three years, as John was more interested in writing freely about his passion, namely - philosophy, martial arts, the philosophy of Bruce Lee's, who, too, was a fervent student of philosophy, his personal library packed with philosophy books that extended from the floor to the ceiling and spanned the length of the room. His quest for the truth saw him avidly studying philosophies ranging from that of Krishnamurti's to Ayn Rand.

Mike Mentzer

"If you're talking about combat -- as it is -- well then, baby you'd better train every part of your body!" -- Bruce Lee (from the video, Bruce Lee: The Lost Interview)

It's fascinating that decades later, people are still talking about Bruce Lee.

Certainly his following exceeds that of any bodybuilder of a similar vintage. And even more fascinating is the fact that almost everyone gets something different out of Bruce Lee. 

 Martial  artists revere his physical dexterity, power, speed and the genius he displayed in bringing science to bear on the world of martial arts.   Moviegoers are impressed with the man's screen presence and animal magnetism.  He popularized a new genre of action film opening the door to Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan who followed in his footsteps.  Philosophers are impressed with Lee's ability to bridge philosophies of East and the West. 

There exists another pocket of humanity that sees in Lee something else -- although not entirely unrelated -- the bodybuilders. Bodybuilders, young and old, know from one quick glance at Lee's physique exactly how much labor went into its creation.

Ironically, bodybuilding luminaries of no less stature than Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, Rachel Mclish, Lou Ferrigno, Lee Haney, Lenda Murray and former Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates -- that is to say, the best in the business - have all spoken on the record regarding the impact the physique of Bruce Lee had on their bodybuilding careers. 

Bruce Lee was only 5'7" tall and checked in at a weight that fluctuated between 126 to 145 pounds. What could a behemoth like Dorian Yates, for example, see in Bruce Lee's physique that would give him grounds for any form of inspiration?  

Every muscle group on his body stood out in bold relief from its neighbor -- not simply for show (unlike many bodybuilders) but for function. Lee was, to quote his first student in the United States, Seattle's Jesse Glover, "above all else, concerned with function."

During his famous "Lost Interview" Lee referred to his approach to training as "the art of expressing the human body." Indeed, lightening fast reflexes, supreme flexibility, awesome power, feline grace and muscularity combined in one total -- and very lethal -- package. On this basis, according to those who worked out with Lee from time to time such as martial arts actor Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee -- pound for pound-- might well have been one of the most powerful men in the world.

Lee's background in physiology and kinesiology helped him to discern a useful exercise from an unproductive one so he was able to avoid the obstacle of wasted time in his workouts. 

Lee believed that the student of exercise science should aim at nothing less than physical perfection, with all that it implies in its totality; he should want great strength, great speed, great coordination, and exuberant health. 
To Lee, the whole secret of success in bodybuilding lay in the principle of progressive resistance and   persistence.

Although Lee is no longer with us, his teachings and his example live on. Certainly this is so in the realm of exercise science. Lee epitomized the athletic ideals of diligence, hard work, bearing up under adversity and refusing to short-change either oneself or one's potential. 

"Low aim is the biggest crime a man can commit," he once told Tae Kwon Do Master, Jhoon Rhee. "Remember, Life is a journey, not a destination."

The Roman philosopher once said that,
 "Life, if thou knowest how to use it, is long enough." 
Bruce Lee's commitment to excellence in his approach to training created a positive legacy.

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