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Verily Allah has prescribed Ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things.
So if you kill then kill well and if you slaughter then slaughter well.
Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.
When it comes to self-improvement in our time Bruce Lee is the most famous example and most likely the gold standard, even though he died over 40 years ago.
He is commonly known as a superlative martial artist and an action movie superstar.
Less well known is his expertise as a philosopher and being a prolific writer.
Most important to you and I is his constant striving to not only achieve balance but to excel in every aspect of his life.
This made him an excellent husband, father, friend, teacher, and student as well.
His holistic self-improvement is rooted in a worldview based on Eastern philosophies like Taoism.
Whatever his beliefs what is relevant here, what we can learn from, is his action.
We Muslims know his actions as a manifestation of Ihsan – personal excellence.
Lee died in 1973 just before the release of “Enter the Dragon,” the movie which catapulted him into global stardom.
Today, his legacy is carried on by his daughter, Shannon Lee.
Lee died when she was 4, so she didn’t grow up around him.
When asked, she has few memories of him.
She was more exposed to his personality, his philosophy, and his person through his prolific writings and library.
She is as much a student of Bruce Lee as she is his daughter.
So, I’m always riveted when I hear her speak about him.
Recently, I’ve been going through episodes of the Bruce Lee podcast.
It is hosted by Shannon Lee and her Chief Marketing Officer, Sharon Lee (no relation.)
Each episode is marvelously pithy.
The podcast is what inspired this week’s post and podcast (I explain more in the podcast, which will be published tomorrow in shaa Allah.)
Two years ago, Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, gave an AMA (Ask Me Anything) interview on Reddit.
Since many people don’t use Reddit, or may not have come across this interview, I have compiled all the questions and answers here.
I have also categorized the questions.
So, this post is easier and much more enjoyable to read than a Reddit thread.
In this post you will see Shannon answer questions about:
- Bruce Lee’s personality and philosophy
- Bruce Lee’s fighting prowess
- Bruce Lee’s training and nutrition
- Bruce Lee’s family
- Bruce Lee’s friends and students
- Bruce Lee’s movies
- The Bruce Lee family business and Bruce Lee Foundation
- Bruce Lee: Enter the Game – a video game for smartphones
- Shannon Lee’s own life and career
- Miscellaneous off-topic questions
Why learn from the example of a non-Muslim?
The wise statement is the lost property of the believer. Wherever he finds it, he is more worthy of it.
This post took me 10+ hours to put together
I left the content as-is, except to correct grammar and spelling.
However, this post is not a simple copy-and-paste job.
Here’s what went into it. I had to:
- Scrape all the questions and answers into a spreadsheet
- Read through and categorize them
- Proof-read and edit them
- Write the introduction and conclusion
- Source royalty-free images and relevant video clips
- Script, record, and edit a podcast to go with this episode
I’m not saying any of this to impress you, but to impress upon you how much work goes into creating quality content.
The interview begins below the next image of Lee.
Bruce Lee’s Personality and Philosophy
Your father has been a role model for me and my question is what was his main motivation in life?
His main motivation in life was self-cultivation.
He wanted to “peel the onion” as it were.
He wanted to expose his true essence and then express it out into the world.
I think he was really successful at doing this and it’s the reason there will never been anyone like him.
He was quintessentially himself!
Shannon, you answered my question on Twitter and have responded on FB.
I appreciate how attentive you are to fans of your father’s work and of your work to make others aware of his lifestyle.
Question: Bruce said in an interview that he wasn’t a saint when asked about fame.
He seems almost superhuman.
Is there any aspect of life or personality that you would say he struggled with the most?
For example, I lack patience and am quick to anger.
It would be nice to know one of my heroes was definitely human in this regard too, even though he had many answers.
He was definitely human. He also had a temper. He was also quick to anger.
He wanted things a certain way and he had high standards and sometimes he could lose it.
But the good thing about him was that he was self-aware.
He knew when he had had a blow-up and he would recover and reset and apologize and work on doing better next time.
That was the thing with him – he was always in process and always self-improving and being the observer of his own behavior and trying to affect change.
He was pretty awesome that way!
Oh, and he was terrible at cooking, singing, and handyman type work! Ha!
What was his comfort food?
He loved Chinese food most of all – oyster sauce beef – but he loved my mom’s spaghetti (we all do to this day.)
He also liked to have an occasional root beer!
What do you think is the biggest misconception about your father or his image?
I think that a lot of people think he was arrogant.
But he was just confident and self-assured and (by the way) extremely knowledgeable and accomplished.
He was also extremely caring – he liked to help people out as much as he could.
I also think that people don’t realize the depth of who he was as a writer, creator, thinker, and innovator.
He was an amazing man.
It’s what I want people to understand. Thanks for asking 🙂
Thank you so much for doing this Ms. Lee.
May I ask; of all your father’s philosophies, which do you feel we can all learn from?
I am a huge fan of your father’s cinema, martial art form and of course his writings.
I feel we can learn from his philosophy on self-actualization.
I believe we are all still talking about him because he was so good at cultivating and expressing his true essence.
If we all did that, we would all be cultivating our uniqueness and we would all put something original and truly authentic into the world because it would emanate from deep within ourselves which a place that no one else can inhabit but ourselves!
What is your favorite quote that your father said? What is something that he told you that you will never forget?
My favorite quote is: “The medicine for my suffering I had within me all along.”
I just love that we all have the ability to change our perspective to change our world.
I try to remain open to life and change and all the possibilities.
Favorite thing about him?
His energy. I mean, wow.
That he was so self-aware and courageous.
That he walked his own path while at the same time, allowing for others to have their own experiences and beliefs.
That he didn’t judge.
That he just concentrated on his own journey.
And how hard he worked. Inspiring.
Bruce Lee’s Fighting Prowess
How good of a fighter was your father?
He was actually an extremely accomplished fighter.
For his size, he was extremely strong and extremely fast.
He practiced several hours every day and never let up on his training.
He sparred as often as he could and was challenged many times throughout his lifetime.
He sparred with the top fighters of the day as well.
He was truly dedicated to martial arts more than anything and he studied the science of fighting including the laws of physics and biomechanics.
He was the real deal.
Hi Shannon, I have had the great honour by being taught JKD by Tommy Carruthers here in Glasgow.
With Such great knowledge of the martial art from the likes of Ted Wong and Jesse Glover who have now sadly passed, do you ever have any fears that JKD may lose its Key Goals and Philosophies?
I don’t think JKD will ever lose anything.
I think the knowledge and the key elements are always there for anyone wishing to discover them. I think that JKD is a living thing and it may ebb and flow and flux but it will always be JKD.
It is sad to lose so many great students and teachers as time passes on but JKD is JKD.
It can always be discovered and rediscovered.
As we already know there have been many who have tried to interpret it, use it, practice it, study it, teach it, and there will be many more.
I don’t fear for JKD.
UFC fighters and as an organization gives props and respect to Bruce Lee as the founder of mixed martial arts.
I heard stories from older martial artists here in the Bay Area that he would ask to train across styles, particularly Judo.
I think he would’ve revolutionized martial arts even more than he was able to.
How do you feel about this?
I think my father was definitely on the cutting edge of martial innovation.
He believed that in order to be a complete fighter you had to be able to handle yourself in ANY situation (ground, stand up, etc).
He was an innovator and a free thinker and he was very good at distilling down techniques based on their effectiveness.
I really do think he would have further revolutionized martial arts, in particular, one’s way of thinking and approaching combat.
He was a true innovator and he truly appreciated studying and looking into other arts through his personal approach was freer than is sometimes understood.
Do you think anyone can become as accomplished a fighter as your father?
What was his diet and how much did he train to keep himself in top condition? Thank you.
I think that it is possible for fighters to be as accomplished.
He was dedicated and he worked hard and he never stopped.
He always wanted to be fight-ready.
I think that’s the difference. It was a way of life for him.
He didn’t just get ready for a particular match (in particular since he didn’t compete); he believed that he should always be ready for combat.
In fact, he often trained in his street clothes and shoes so that he could know what that was and feel accomplished in that way as well.
His diet was something he always working with. He did Juicing and protein shakes. He ate organ meat for minerals at times.
He had trouble keeping weight on because he exercised so much and so often and in so many different ways (cardio, weights, body weight, martial techniques, etc.)
Bruce Lee vs Muhammad Ali in their respective primes. Who would win a fight?
I don’t think this is truly a fair question because if my father was allowed to use his legs as well as his arms, then my father would win.
If he could only box, then (off the record) I think Ali would likely win.
Ali outweighed him and he was a professional boxer who did nothing but box.
But on the record? My father! Of course! Always! 😉
Bruce Lee’s Training and Nutrition
Bruce was so athletic and muscular, but thin.
Do you know what Bruce ever thought of guys like Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilder’s bodies?
And If Bruce was still with us, Do you think he would have agreed to be in those Expendables movies or would he not get along with so many Hollywood egos all in one film?
My father was very much into body building however he believed in training for function rather than size.
When he first started lifting he got too bulky and found that it affected his flexibility and speed so he changed his methods and experimented with isometric training and other types to better serve his martial needs.
As for the Expendables movies, I have no idea.
It’s hard to say where he would have been at that point but I have to say it’s hard for me to see him as anything but the kick-ass lead that he was.
Hard to picture him in a huge ensemble like that. But who knows. 🙂
Hey, Shannon. Do you know if your father had ever trained in Tae Kwon Do?
I know he originally came from a Wing Chun background but the fighting style and the spectacular kicks he showed on-screen definitely come from something else.
He did not train in TKD.
He was good friends with Jhoon Rhee and they discussed TKD often but the only art my father ever trained in was Wing Chun.
My father was extraordinarily coordinated and good at most things physical.
He was an extremely accomplished dancer as well and he knew how to fight for film.
This question was deleted by the commenter but it sounds like it was a question about Yip Man (his teacher) and Wing Chun.
My father didn’t but my mom did. She told me my father truly loved and respected Yip Man (that’s how my father spelled his name).
He was loyal to him as his only teacher and all throughout his life, he always kept his Wing Chun skills and basics honed even though his own martial journey evolved.
My father was thrilled to be able to introduce my brother to Yip Man and visited him every time he came back to HK before Yip Man’s passing.
He truly thought of him as a father figure and was grateful to him for the philosophical thinking he instilled in him at such a young age.
Was your father ever in the Shaolin Monastery? Did he learn from monks? If yes, could you tell us more about this? (If you know something) Thanks!
No. He never studied at the monastery.
Bruce Lee’s Family
I know Brandon’s death was an accident but was there ever a moment where you blamed someone ?
I blame the production for their negligence.
Many people were careless and all their small mistakes and substandard practices lead to his death.
It could have been avoided.
Thank you for doing this!
I’m so grateful for all you do to keep your father and brothers memory alive!!
What is your favorite memory of each of them?
I’ll tell you about my brother since I already mentioned some things about my father to another person.
He once threw an orange at me so hard that it stuck to my forehead and juice ran all down my face!
He loved cats and motorcycles.
His favorite book was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
He had a huge laugh and he had an incredible vocabulary.
He was like a walking dictionary. He was a great big brother.
I actually just downloaded the game yesterday ironically enough.
Anyone who hasn’t, check it out, it’s fun.
But my question is, what was your father like at home?
Glad you like the game!
My father was very active at home.
He was constantly training (even if he was watching tv).
We always had people over working out in the back yard.
My brother’s friends were afraid to come to our house as kids because there were always grown men beating each other up in the back yard!
My mom would be cooking or taking care of us kids.
We always had pets. My father loved animals. We had cats and dogs. It was lively household!
I love The Crow, and Brandon was incredible.
If they chose to remake the movie, who could you see as the lead?