Bruce Lee: The First Mixed Martial Artist

Bruce Lee is a martial arts legend. He pioneered the idea of cross-training in different martial arts in order to find the truth. At the time, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was scandalous and blasphemous to do so; he was hated by many people in the traditional martial arts community because his ideas were considered crazy. For Bruce Lee, he wanted only to incorporate techniques that truly worked in real life. He had a strong distaste for silly theory and techniques that only worked in a staged setting. In fact, he believed that 99% of techniques in traditional martial arts like Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo were complete junk. His argument was that traditional arts had not evolved with time and their training methods were ridiculous. He is famous for saying, "wooden boards don't hit back" at a time when Karate practitioners were breaking wooden boards to prove how devastating their techniques were. Bruce held the strong belief that every individual had to find his/her own path by uncovering what truly works and what doesn't work in real life. As such, he cross-trained in every martial art possible. He kept the techniques that worked for him and threw out the rest. Today, professional MMA fighters incorporate this exact same philosophy to succeed in the cage. It is no coincidence that, after 18 years of professional MMA and thousands of matches, the combination of martial arts that has risen to the top are Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, and Wrestling. They are all reality-based martial arts that only use techniques that work in real life.

Check out this clip from a few of his movies and you can see how Bruce Lee was already incorporating striking, clinching, and grappling techniques in his repertoire.

While he is best known as an action movie star, Bruce always considered himself to be a martial artist first and an actor second. Fans of MMA might find the flips in the above video clip to be a little far fetched. As a sequence from a movie, it is clearly not intended to be completely realistic. However, it is interesting to see the array of different technique (from different martial arts) that Bruce uses. It is also worth noting that, despite being a striker, Lee finishes the fight with a submission hold. In the 1970s, no one outside of Brazil was aware of the existence of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. In fact, the first time that an entire generation witnessed an armbar was in the opening scenes of "Enter the Dragon" when Lee uses the technique to force a training partner to tap. Lastly, those gloves in the clip are actually his own gloves that he had custom-made for his personal training. It is not a coincidence that the gloves looks almost like the ones used in MMA today.

At Evolve MMA, we believe in reality. Like Bruce Lee, we are very focused on techniques that work in reality. We only teach techniques that would actually work in a real self-defense situation. We also do not believe that a single system is the correct way. It is the blend of different, reality-based martial arts that creates the complete martial artist. Ultimately, our underlying philosophy in martial arts (and in life) is to evolve, to progress, and to improve continuously in everything that we do. We believe that martial arts is the journey of continuous self-improvement physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is one of the greatest vehicles in life to unleash the potential in human beings in every area of life.

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, and No Gi Grappling, Evolve MMA is the top martial arts training organization in Asia. It ranks among the best martial arts academies in the world.