Bruce Lee's Influence on Modern Mixed Martial Arts: Another Look

JP SmithCorrespondent IIApril 4, 2012

By now it’s no secret that Lee is held in high regard for having greatly influenced, some would say even pioneering, the modern sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

“He made a bold statement, quickly, when he first got to the states. A guy who’s been wrestling and boxing for a year can beat a martial artist who’s been training for 15 years. That pissed a lot of people off,” says Brazilian Jiu Jitsu prodigy, Eddie Bravo, founder of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.

To say that Bruce Lee was ahead of his time both philosophically and physically would be an understatement.

Lee was an actor, but above all he was an artist and a martial artist, who took every opportunity to express himself and bring his way of no way to the public eye during the short time he was alive. In doing so, Lee changed the way people think, fight, and live forever.

During a famous interview on The Pierre Berton Show in December of 1971, Lee said, “Actually I do not, you know, teach karate, because I do not believe in style. If you do not have style, you can just say, here I am, you know, as a human being. How can I express myself, totally and completely?”

In his quest for the ultimate expression of one's self, Lee created Jeet Kune Do, a philosophy more than a style of fighting, which means way of the intercepting fist.

According to Canadian martial artist and fight analyst, Paul Lazenby, Jeet Kune Do is “…the attitude that you build your own style using whatever works for you. That very thought right there is the cornerstone of modern Mixed Martial Arts.”

In celebration of Lee’s life and contribution not only to the world of martial arts, but to the world in general, Canadian clothing company Roots of Fight has released the second mini-documentary in a series of mini-docs about martial artists who have helped shape the world of modern MMA.