Bruce Lee (Lee Jun Fan)
Bruce Lee's father, Lee Hoi Chuen, was an actor. In November, 1940, Hoi Chuen was traveling with his acting troop and pregnant wife in the United States. While they were in San Francisco Jun Fan (Bruce) was born. It was several months before the Lee family returned to Hong Kong.
When Bruce was growing up he had a lot of energy. This energy was focused into areas of a child acting career, dancing, and occasional street fights.
During his teenage years Bruce was introduced to Wing Chun Master Yip Man. It was thought that if Bruce focused some of his efforts into Wing Chun Gung Fu that he may be in less fights and bad situations. Over the next several years Bruce spent long hours perfecting his Wing Chun and developing his natural God-given talents as a martial artist.
While studying at Yip Man's Kwoon (school) Bruce developed a few friendships. One was with fellow student, William Cheung. Bruce and some other brothers at the school handled any school challenges from other Kung Fu schools and protected each other on the streets. It was 1959 when Bruce got into one fight too many. Bruce's parents made a tough decision. They decided to send Bruce to the United States so that he could escape any punishment from authorities and also save face for his family. Since Bruce was born in the U.S.A. there was no problem with immigration. At the age of 18, Bruce returned to the United States.
After arriving in America Bruce lived in Seattle, WA. He attended Edison Technical School during the day to earn his high school diploma. At night he worked and lived at Ruby Chow's restaurant. Bruce then attended the University of Washington where he majored in philosophy. During his time at WU Bruce was teaching Gung Fu to a few people and he actually opened up a small school, the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute. It was through his school that he would meet two important people in his life: Linda Emery, his future wife, and life-long friend Taky Kimura.
In Seattle Bruce was teaching a modified version of Wing Chun which he called Jun Fan Gung Fu. He named what he taught after his name. He did this not for vanity, but because he modified the Gung Fu he was teaching and he did not want to mis-represent or disrespect the Wing Chun tradition. After getting married Bruce and Linda moved to Oakland, CA. Before leaving, Bruce made Taky the Head Instructor of the Seattle School. Taky would be the first person Bruce Lee certified as an instructor.
When starting in Oakland, CA, Bruce and Linda lived at James Lee's (no relation) house. While living at Jame's house Bruce and Linda's son, Brandon, was born.
James was a close friend to Bruce and he also practiced Gung Fu. At this time James was learning from Bruce and he helped Bruce run a new Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in Oakland.
Several months after the school was opened a Gung Fu artist from San Francisco entered the school and challenged Bruce for the reason that Bruce was teaching non-Chinese people. Teaching non-Chinese people Gung Fu was still a "no-no" in the 1960s. The Gung Fu artist said that Bruce and he would spar and Bruce said no. Bruce told the Gung Fu artist that he could not enter his school and demand a challenge and then expect rules. There were no rules. The fight only lasted around 2-3 minutes. Bruce had pinned him to the floor and made him submit. That was the last time Bruce had trouble with the Chinese martial arts community.
After the fight Bruce was upset with himself. He thought that the fight should not have taken so long and that his conditioning should have been better. During the fight Bruce tried to use traditional footwork, stances, and positioning. It slowed him down. This challenge showed Bruce that more changes were needed to be made to his own personal expression of martial arts. The first developments of Jeet Kune Do soon followed.
In 1964 Bruce Lee was invited by friend Ed Parker to give a Gung Fu demonstration at Ed's 1st International Karate Championship. This event introduced Bruce to two more people that affected his life. The first was Jay Sebring. Jay was a Hollywood hair stylist and he later introduced Bruce to actor Steve McQueen and television producer William Dozier. The second person Bruce met was a student of Ed Parker. This student was to escort Bruce while he was in town for the demonstration and to act as a dummy for the demo. This student was Guro Dan Inosanto. After this meeting Guro Dan and Bruce became friends.
In 1966 the Lee family moved to Los Angeles. Bruce made James the Lee Head Instructor of the Oakland, CA kwoon. James Lee was the second person Bruce Lee certified as an instructor. Bruce soon opened up his third school in Los Angeles with Guro Dan Inosanto as his Assistant Instructor. During the Los Angeles years some of Bruce's students consisted of basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, actors Steve McQueen and James Coburn, producer Stirling Silliphant, and he would occasionally work out with Karate Champions Chuck Norris and Joe Lewis.