Bruce Lee's legacy lives on

Bruce Lee's legacy lives on

Long after his death, the iconic martial artist is still celebrated

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Bruce Lee stars in his classic martial arts film, Enter the Dragon
Bruce Lee stars in his classic martial arts film, Enter the Dragon
Martial arts legend Bruce Lee has been dead for 40 years, but his daughter, Shannon, can still vividly remember those blissful moments when she basked in her father's warm affection.

"What I remember the most was the feeling of his energy and presence," she recalls. "When he focused his attention on you, you'd feel that energy and love. I just loved that energy."

Shannon still cherishes the memory of the days in Kowloon Tong she spent with Lee, who was born in the US but raised in Hong Kong. Lee died suddenly at the age of 32, reportedly of an allergic reaction to a painkiller on July 20 in 1973.

He left behind an enduring legacy: the teaching of his fighting skills, his philosophy, and not least his adrenaline-fuelled action movies.

Despite Lee's continued influence, young people may find it hard to relate to the long-dead icon.

That's why Shannon, who is president of the Bruce Lee Foundation, wants to promote the work and views of her father, especially among youngsters.

"There are a number of books that are really great, like the Tao Jeet Kune Do or Artist of Life," she says. "These are all his own writing."

To step up efforts, her foundation has joined hands with the Hong Kong Heritage Museum to hold a five-year exhibition, Bruce Lee: Kung Fu, Art, Life, where more than 600 rare items are on display. The aim is to reconstruct the defining aspects of the great martial artist's life.

The foundation has made about 400 items available for display, while the rest have come from individual collectors.

The exhibition opened last Saturday, on the 40th anniversary of Lee's death.


The iconic yellow suit worn by Lee in Game of Death is one of the many items on display at the exhibition Photo: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP

It features Jeet Kune Do, the new martial art form Lee invented after years of practising Wing Chun.

There are also essays about his research, photos of significant moments during the founding of Jeet Kune Do, and the equipment he used for practice as he went about developing his own fighting style and philosophy. An animated life-size Bruce Lee, created by animation artist Shannon Ma, helps the icon come alive for visitors.

Another section on Lee as a TV and movie star will let you in on some secrets of his acting career. Photos chart Lee's progress from child actor in movies like The Kids to his famous roles in The Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon.

Another highlight comes from Perry Lee's unique collection of memorabilia associated with the US television series, The Green Hornet, in the 1960s. The American collector has lent the museum some 150 special items, including the eye mask worn by Kato, the Hornet's assistant played by Lee in the hit show.

The superstar continues to have a devoted global following decades after his death. He was the focus of this year's Hong Kong Book Fair. The Chinese version of Lee's Fighting Method, written by the martial artist and his students, was especially popular. During a panel discussion at the fair, guests talked about Lee's enduring influence on martial arts and action thrillers.

Lee is also taking to social media. Shannon Lee says young people learn about her father's teachings at bruceleefoundation.org and brucelee.com.

"Even on our Facebook page, we post lots of pictures of him and discuss his philosophical views," she says.

The iconic martial artist and Hong Kong's famous son lives on.


You might also like:

- Our junior reporters learned all about Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do at Ngong Ping's 360 Martial Arts Extravaganza

- As a tribute to Hong Kong's martial arts icon, we asked our readers for their favourite Bruce Lee quote

- Lui Ming-fai has been practising wing chun since his early teens and is now passing on his knowledge in a new documentary

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