The Tragic End of the Little Dragon
I remember when Bruce Lee Died. It was a shock that went through the soul. Here was an icon,the best martial artist in the world, in perfect physical condition…dead.
How? Why? What happened?
Interestingly, one of the first theories I heard as to the cause of his death came from a friend who was studying Tai Chi Chuan. The one word summation was: balance. And, the one sentence explanation was Bruce Lee was lacking balance.
I tucked this opinion away, collected facts, but it was literally decades before I matured enough as a martial artist to understand, and to accept, this opinion over the facts.
Let me say, before I continue, that I like facts. It could be said that only fools deal in opinions, and in most cases, this would be correct.
The person offering this opinion, however, was basing his opinion not on the facts of Bruce’s death, but upon the facts of the martial arts. It wasn’t until I was firmly matrixed in my approach to the martial arts that I understood this.
One of the facts that I continuously came across was that Bruce had an allergic reaction to marijuana, which was in tea he had drunk.
This is interesting, I have never read a study on this, is there marijuana in Chinese tea?
Another fact I came across is that Bruce had, again, an allergic reaction, this time to aspirin. But I think that the aspirin was given to him after he complained of a headache. And, I know it’s possible, but I just don’t hear of a lot of people, or any people, dying of allergic reactions to aspirin. Doesn’t mean it’s not possible, but…hmmm.
And, the third of these ‘facts,’ Bruce had a reduced fat content in his body. Now this is dangerous. And this could result in death. And this has much more substantiation in fact than the previous two theories.
Mind you, in saying this I realize that it is still opinion, and the only real fact we have is that we will never know. But this one fact, considered in light of the theory of ‘balance,’ really resonates with me. What was Bruce Lee doing that would result in a loss of balance, and which could possibly result in death? For the answer to that let’s consider how the martial arts are accumulated.
In matrixing one isolates the specific arts, and simplifies them to workable levels, and does not mix martial arts. In matrixing one studies the smaller pieces of the individual martial arts until they (eventually) blend into a larger and comprehensive whole.
Bruce, on the other hand, was doing a hybrid of the martial arts; he was doing, for one specific example, Wing Chun and Boxing.
I know, there was a lot more, he had 26 different arts at one count.
But consider the differences between just those two martial arts. Wing Chun controls the centerline and works on straight punches. Boxing moves laterally and has roundish punches.
Yes, a simplification, but bear with, for there are different concepts of chi power here.
In boxing, there is no focus on chi power, everything has to do with muscles.
In Wing Chun, hoever, the focus is on chi power, and there is major emphasis on generating energy from the tan tien.
Could this mix of martial training, taken to the extremes that Bruce took them, result in an imbalance in the body? Could this have resulted in Bruce’s death?
Unfortunately, as with the other theories, there is no proof, and likely never will be, and we all never know. But it is something to consider.
The mix of the martial arts you study is definitely worth considering. Not because of the risk of death (Bruce was a singular and extreme case), but because mixing the various martial arts, and especially without simplifying them through the matrixing process, causes confusion, and results in a slower learned and less effective martial arts.
In closing, the point of this article has been to ask, not to state definitively, and that in an attempt to understand Bruce Lee. It is only through understanding, not through mindless worshipping, that we are going to reap the true benefits of this incredible person’s martial arts and existence.
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