During his lifetime, Bruce Lee became famous for starring in many martial arts films such as Enter the Dragon and The Game of Death. In these movies, Lee displayed martial arts techniques, that at the time, the world hadn’t seen before. His speed, technique, and ripped figure made him a huge star across the world. But Lee’s martial arts prowess featured on the silver screen wasn’t all just show; the Hong Kong American’s fighting talents were very real.
Believe it or not, Lee did more than just make cool movies; he also made some major contributions to modern mixed martial arts. Although MMA wasn’t a widely known sport during his time, many of the ideas from his teachings would later be applied by MMA fighters long after his death.
Let’s take a look at three very important contributions Bruce Lee made to modern day mixed martial arts.
1) Jeet Kune Do
The philosophy of Jeet Kune Do is the founding principle of modern mixed martial arts. That is: style without style. The point is to take different techniques from various forms of martial arts and use only the ones that are effective in a real fight. Other forms of martial arts are traditional in the sense that they only use certain techniques from their particular style. Jeet Kune Do follows no single tradition and does not prefer any one martial art over all others.
2) Modern Fitness
Very much like his philosophy from Jeet Kune Do, Lee was not shy of exploring different methods of training to enhance the physical abilities of his body. He rejected the idea from many traditional forms of martial arts that only training in techniques of a specific style was all one needed to do. Lee valued the perks of strength and conditioning exercises and dieting. In addition to perfecting his technique, he pushed his body to its furthest limits for years by constantly training to increase his speed, strength, stamina, and agility, something that MMA fighters strive to do today.
3) Being Open Minded
Bruce Lee’s greatest contribution to mixed martial arts, and also the world, was an attitude of open-mindedness. He disregarded traditions and rigid rules he found to be outdated and looked at the world through a more practical lens. However, his tolerant ways were not loved by all. Lee faced a tidal wave of criticism from many other Asian martial artists for teaching his techniques to Caucasians and other non-Asians. But Lee remained undeterred in his efforts to spread his teachings. He cared little for race and rigid traditions. He valued humanity above all else.