The Sad Truth Behind Bruce Lee's Tragic Death
Image Source: Natgeotv

The Sad Truth Behind Bruce Lee’s Tragic Death

Bruce Lee is most certainly one of the most charismatic and emblematic icons of the martial arts, and one who has been able to breathe new life into the ancestral art of Kung Fu. Thanks to him, this martial art has been extremely popularized and many young people have discovered a vocation by watching one of his wonderful films. Having become worldfamous, the world had come to believe that Bruce Lee was definitely invincible, and surely immortal, or at least with nine lives like the cat he seemed to imitate in his many fights. It was therefore almost a planetary shock when the announcement of his death was pronounced publicly by the medical examiner, on July 20, 1973, from cerebral edema. However, this official version has long been decried, and many conspiracy theories have emerged. And if some of them are wacky and highly unlikely, others have the merit of digging deeper into Bruce’s life, to support the facts with real arguments. So, make yourself comfortable, because today we are going to discover the sad truth behind Bruce Lee’s tragic death! Let’s get started!

To try to shed light on the tragic end of one of the greatest fighters of modern times, we should first of all look back at his eventful life and his incredible destiny. Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940, in the Chinatown district of San Francisco in the United States, and as an ultimate omen, the year of birth of the man who would later be nicknamed the Little Dragon, corresponded to the year of the dragon in the Chinese calendar. His young parents gave him the name Lee Jun Fan, but the doctor who had given birth to him at the Chinese hospital in San Francisco would have decided, for reasons that are beyond reason, to give him the name Bruce, a Scandinavian first name far removed from his Asian origins. Although born in the United States, Bruce Lee will grow up in Hong Kong, his second homeland, and the cradle of his parents, and it is there that he will be initiated to martial arts. Having started practicing Tai chi chuan which he found too soft for his taste, little Bruce, then 13 years old, wanted to take it to the next level by initiating himself to Kung Fu Wushu, one of the most powerful and secret martial arts.

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Curiously, Bruce Lee had no trouble finding a teacher, and not the least, since it was the legendary Ip Man himself who took him under his wing and taught him the basics of Wing Chun, an ancestral martial art originating in southern China and intended for close combat. Under the aegis of Ip Man, Bruce Lee will become a formidable barehanded fighter but also an undisputed master in the handling of weapons, such as the famous nunchaku, which will later become his emblematic weapon. Thus, and before reaching the age of 19, Bruce will have learned thousandyearold fighting techniques that gave him incredible strength and power, and which he did not hesitate to use in his many street fights.

This was one of the reasons why his parents sent him back to America, precisely to get him far enough away from Hong Kong, which had become a real thug’s hideout as the city was more and more taken over by the Chinese triads, who ruled there. At this point in history, it is essential to tell you a little more about the history of the triads because Bruce Lee’s destiny will be intimately linked to them. Far from being heir to secret societies, the origin of the Triad goes back to the end of the 17th century and was founded by monks from Shaolin Monastery and fervent opponents of the Qing Dynasty then in power. After the destruction of their famous temple, the survivors became fugitives, condemned to live in hiding under false identities to blend in with the population. As in all secret societies, they developed mechanisms to demonstrate proof of membership by developing coded language, ceremonial rites, and other special signs of recognition. One of these signs is still done today in many Kung Fu schools: the closed fist with the open palm or by surrounding the fist with the other hand representing the four lakes and the five oceans, a symbol of fidelity to the Ming.

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However, the fighting disciplines inherited from the founding fathers, which were extremely powerful and dangerous, remained jealously guarded. These secret societies thus occupied a preponderant place in the political and economic life of the Middle Kingdom, before being outlawed by the new communist government of the People’s Republic of China, which of course did not want to share power with anyone. They then found refuge in Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan, and formed triads in 1949, although these triads are only a pale reflection of their glorious past.

Most of them focused on organized crime, to the detriment of their political objectives supported by their nobler ideals of yesteryear. For several decades, Hong Kong’s film industry was one of the three largest in the world and the triads were deeply embedded in this great economic field. Their influence manifested itself at all levels including the choice of script, actors, and contracts, and the vast majority of the films of the 70s and 80s were still about the history of Kung Fu, sometimes against a backdrop of rebellion, revenge or betrayal.

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