The world was shocked 34 years ago today to learn that Bruce Lee had died. He was only 32, in what appeared to be perfect shape, and was dead.
My best friend Ed lived on a farm right across the road from a drive-in theater. One night that summer, we decided to sneak into the drive-in and watch a couple of kung fu movies. One of them was "The Chinese Connection" with Bruce Lee. We sat at the speaker and watched, laughing at the bad Chinese dialogue and acting, but mesmerized by Bruce Lee and his movements.
A week or so later, Bruce Lee was dead. I saw a very short article in the newspaper. A month later, Enter the Dragon hit the theaters. I was so impressed, I began studying kung fu. The martial arts schools were packed with students that year because of Bruce Lee. In fact, the first class I attended was so large, it spilled over into the driveway outside the building.
At my new office at the university, hanging above my desk, is a huge original movie poster from "Fists of Fury." The Ph.Ds that come into my office are surprised to see it. I don't have a diploma on my wall from Cornell or Duke but I do have a Bruce Lee poster.
Yeah, I'm still as big a fan as I was when I was 20. Those of us who began on our martial arts journey because of Bruce Lee (and David Carradine) owe a lot to Bruce for the inspiration he provided.