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‘Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick’—Bruce Lee

‘Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick’—Bruce Lee

‘Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick’—Bruce Lee
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By Manisha Lakhe  Jul 19, 2019 12:36:45 PM IST (Updated)

When you think of Bruce Lee today, remember this message as you go out and conquer the world: The possession of anything begins in the mind.

Remembering the legendary Lee Jun Fan, known and loved the world over as Bruce Lee, who died today. Bruce Lee has inspired so many of us, has been such an intrinsic part of our childhood that I just cannot imagine a world without Kung Fu. July 20 is a day when for years and years I have lit a candle for this magical man who taught me perseverance.

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‘I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once. I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.’
The world of the movies is still using what he gave us. Remember how the Bride emerges from the coffin in Kill Bill? The famous one-inch punch? A 150 pound man could fall 5 to six feet back on receiving the one-inch punch from the man who perfected this:

The man could one-inch punch in real life. If you were a can of Coca Cola, you had better be careful. Bruce Lee could put his fingers through a can of Coke without raising an eyebrow. You will read many lies about the legend. Even Chuck Norris (who studied under Bruce Lee and got certified a man lived his philosophy and his martial arts) lied about beating Bruce Lee in a fight. I mean, seriously Chuck? We will let the cat decide.
In real life, a sidekick from Bruce Lee, could break the 45-kilo punching bag easily. A record that stands unbeaten even today. He has nine such records that are unbeaten. He could produce a force of 16,000 pounds when using a nunchaku or the nunchucks. A punch from the great Mohammed Ali and Bruce Lee would have the same effect. Imagine Bruce Lee’s 130 pounds (58 kilos approx) punching with the same force as Ali’s heavyweight 260 pounds (117 kilos)! As astounding as his mind-blowing two-thumb and one thumb push ups which have no equal even today.
I treasure his book Jeet Kune Do which embodies his philosophy of life, his journey of self-discovery which he taught in his martial arts schools in the United States. It seems easy enough, but this is the most difficult way to be:
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Bruce Lee inspired many greats, and his effect on the movies is undeniable. The Hong Kong Kung Fu films, called Chop Socky flicks - with great love, I suppose - are all inspired by this one man. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Sammo Hung, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Yuen Biao, Gordon Liu all owe their successes to the great Bruce Lee.
Remember the magnificent fights in The Raid? Not only were they shot brilliantly (bows to the director Gareth Evans, the hero Iko Uwais and the fabulous, scary villain Yayan Ruhiyan)
As a child when you are fascinated by the bottles your dad puts away under lock and key, you are totally like young Wong Fei Hung who learns the skill from putting away copious amounts of booze like his teacher to become Drunken Master:
Although Jackie Chan made many movies, his first Drunken Master remains my favourite. Jet Li (bless his soul!) is suffering an illness today and dropped out from the scene has also made Wong Fei Hung a name with his Once Upon A Time In China movie franchise. He tells the story of Chinese Boxing or Kung Fu in his unique style. In the face of big, vicious opponent, he is always the calm, composed Fearless:
Of course, the fun Kung Fu films are a great watch. Who cannot resist watching Kung Fu Hustle again and again? You can almost imagine agents from The Matrix multiplying when you watch this scene:
Of course there are several kinds of Kung Fu, the aficionados will tell you. The grunt, the iron shirt, the singing have nothing over the beautiful martial arts film called The Shadow. Zhang Yimou makes the fights visually spectacular, and sends film fans into a silent rapturous frenzy:
They say that Enter The Dragon is perhaps the most amazing martial arts films, but Donnie Ip Man Yen is making us wait for the Enter The Fat Dragon which releases in August of this year. I can’t wait for the film to show up on our screens soon. Here is a glimpse:
It would be wrong of me to not mention how animation also did its fair share of homage to Kung Fu, Shaolin movies. From Donald Duck and shadow Ninja animation films to the best of them all: The dumpling eating awesomeness that is the Kung Fu Panda, we love them all.
We are all the exhausted Panda when we climb stairs but want to fight for the Dragon scroll in real life the way he does:
I hear he voice saying, ‘Jonathan, what have you done!’ whenever I have upset the apple cart in my real life. John Wick or Neo, Kung Fu will always be a part of my life. And no matter how far away from 1554 Lake View Cemetery (15th Avenue East in Seattle, WA if you wish to stand silently and pay homage to father and son interred side by side) I am, there will always be Bruce Lee in my heart.
He gave the world Kung Fu, and that way of life called Jeet Kune Do. Everyone knows that they slowed down the film in order to be able to capture Bruce Lee’s kicks and punches. Everyone knows that he taught the greats like Steve McQueen, Jame Coburn, Chuck Norris Kung Fu so they could find themselves. Everyone knows that he was the first Chinese American who could carry a movie on his own. He continues to inspire filmmakers across the world even today. From Quentin Tarantino to our very own Vasan Bala we see Bruce Lee in action…
No tribute piece to Bruce Lee can be complete without thanking his teacher Ip Man who turned him into a legend by teaching him the essence of Kung Fu. And Donnie Yen makes a perfect case for him here:
When you think of Bruce Lee today, remember this message as you go out and conquer the world: The possession of anything begins in the mind.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
Read all her columns here
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