Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, these were the most popular forms of martial arts and virtually the only ones we knew of in the West along with Aiki Do and Kendo to a lesser extent, until Bruce Lee came along in the late 1960s. He started a revolution in America and the world has never been the same since.
History began when God created the worlds and it was to follow the same course with little variation right up to 1973, when Hollywood gave us Enter The Dragon. After that, you couldn't get a part in a movie, unless you could do a few Kung Fu moves.
Kung Fu is as old as China, where it was developed. Oddly enough, the Chinese Martial Arts were as little known back in the 1960s as those from India still are to most of us, yet both are the most comprehensive systems from which many others either sprang or gained body. It makes sense insofar as China is the oldest most populous civilisation, and already had an organised way of life as such when some of its neighbours hardly had a steady language.
As it happens, culture is the most essential prerequisite of any Martial Philosophy, indeed its raison d'être, or ultimate purpose. From this viewpoint, the Martial Arts are more so anthropological in construct than military in origin and may be more safely regarded as a tool of physical evolution than treated as a better way of doing Street Fighting.
Combat is not an Instinct. The very Idea of Fighting was a startling revelation when it first occurred to Prehistoric People. As to Fighting Techniques, there is no way the Ape Men could conceive of it just by seeing Animals in a Fight.
Some aspects of Martial Activity certainly evolved no different than science, mechanics or chemistry —with time, practice, by adaptation and imitation. But the matter at core may not be tracked down by the usual chronology, as in, first came the stick and then the umbrella. True, Early People did get some idea about flight from watching the birds.
As to Martial Arts, however, it takes a little more than a vivid imagination to work out whether Squatting comes easier or more natural than Walking Upright —or is it as simple as saying that Man was first a Squatter, because he could not stand up proper? Someone had to cook up these kinds of questions in his head, before getting anywhere near the idea of Martial Arts.
Bruce Lee passed away the same year he achieved world status with Enter The Dragon, in July 1973. He was hardly 33 then (born November 1940) and this sudden departure caused profound mourning in crowds all over. His superlative ability as an exponent of the art caused a huge sensation on screen, not least on account of his unusually crisp stage presence. For he was supremely dynamic and literate no less —a crystal-clear person; rare attributes in an Athlete. Such Refinement of Power was bound to cause a big furore in martial circles and attract resentment. However, Lee had an interest in learning skills from everywhere, rather than settling for discord with anyone in particular. And everyone, including rivals, ended up deploring such early death. He was so young and had so much to teach.
Lee died while making The Game of Death. Such impact did he have in the Movie World, Hollywood went to unprecedented lengths to find someone worthy of finishing that movie, and carried on the extraordinary search for years, only to realise that no approximate resemblant could be found, for any kind of money. You had talented Martial Artists and excellent ones, but no one remotely fitting the profile.
Still today, no one has been able to be trained, or be made into the same personage, regardless of unlimited Special Effects.
The Little Dragon (Bruce Lee's Chinese nickname) created his own brand of Martial Arts by putting all his knowledge together for that purpose, just as a cook creates some Nouveau Cuisine; he never wasted time presuming he had invented anything at all. More likely, he enjoyed being on top of the world, and at that level of competition delusion is the last thing you want to do.
It is typical of Sagittarius to be a bridge-maker and an ambassador, and Lee certainly was a spokesman for his own culture and also brought East and West together for further talks. Others had been at it, long before him, trying to reconcile the worlds; Herman Hess lived for that purpose and so did Gandhi, Krishnamurti, Plato and so many more in between, all of them acclaimed as World Teachers —people Lee revered, too much to even compare to; he had no idea he would become one of them.
Only, he came out with Power God in his fist.
The other Divinities were impressed, all right. People suddenly sat around the table to work out their differences, even if they hated each other's guts.
Lee had a way of calling for a philosophical chat and you couldn't refuse it.
He was a World Teacher who believed that Your Opinion matters very much and above all, and he would want to hear you out, eventually.
When you see the man in his movies you might realise that being an intellectual can be a pretty dynamic thing, if you are going to be intelligent about it.
So much more to say...
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