Strength or speed and flexibility?
Regarding the unsurpassed martial artist Bruce Lee , there are many stereotypes and opinions that, to put it mildly, are not entirely true. The reason for this is partly elementary ignorance, partly - forgetfulness regarding certain facts. In particular, it is generally accepted that, above all, in the training process, the legendary dragon put exercises on concentration of effort, dynamics, speed. Strength training allegedly was not in his honor. But the attentive viewer always noticed that, unlike many aces of martial arts, Bruce Lee's body could well be a visual aid to the study of the anatomical atlas in the part of the muscles - literally every muscle appeared on it in such relief. Is this possible without strength training? Unlikely.
And indeed, not so long ago it became known (from the personal archives of the famous athlete) that he was passionately addicted to not only karate; bodybuilding was also included in the sphere of his interests and the attitude of the master to him was more than serious. In addition to the purely sporting aspect, another point is also important here: in order to successfully appear in films (of the corresponding genre), the body must look spectacular - this is an important factor for success. Such entertainment is almost impossible without bodybuilding.
Therefore, the eternal debate about whether athletes whose specialization in martial arts is needed, hard strength training, or whether it is possible to limit themselves to the development of flexibility and dynamics, is clearly resolved from the point of view of Bruce Lee's example: they are needed, they are necessary. Objections to muscle enslavement, decreased muscle reactivity as a result of bodybuilding can only be partially accepted. It's all about a competent combination of strength and other exercises, the selection of the optimal training regimen.
We turn to the evidence, as they say, of eyewitnesses. John Lewis (one of the students of the invincible dragon) recalls how one day Bruce Lee weighed before starting a workout (his weight was about 70 kg), then he picked up two dumbbells, each of which was equal to approximately half its own weight (37 kg). The next step, he took the dumbbells, spread (very slowly) in the arms. In this position, he held training apparatus for twenty seconds. J. Levis noted to himself that not every bodybuilder weighing even about a hundred kilograms could repeat this.
Another American martial artist and their apologist, John Ree, claims that Bruce Lee really appreciated muscle strength. According to him, the dragon was very strong, Ri did not meet a similar strength in any of those with whom he was familiar. In the presence of John, Bruce did multiple push-ups from the floor (including on one arm and, finally, on one finger in general).
It is clear that Bruce Lee is a unique athlete with outstanding natural data. At the same time, arrogance was not characteristic of him in the least, and he attached great importance to constant training (and especially to strength training). This is evidenced by entries in the athlete’s personal diary. Another fact that speaks of Bruce Lee's attitude to strength exercises: the famous master owned a collection of posters, photographs with images of famous representatives of bodybuilding (among them are photos of Dave Drapper, Larry Scott and Arnold Schwarzenegger not too famous then).
Bodybuilding in the life and career of Bruce Lee
In a word, it is not difficult to conclude that the dragon was not a “stranger” at all in bodybuilding; on the contrary, Bruce was well versed in his intricacies and loved this mixture of art and sport. From open biographical sources it is known that the outstanding martial artist as early as 1969 "made friends" with namesake Jimmy Lee, who was seriously engaged in bodybuilding. Friends often trained together; Bruce in those days participated in training and, together with other fairly significant figures in the world of bodybuilding. At the same time, he showed awareness in theory and notable skills in practice. Now there is information that the dragon was previously fond of exercises that develop muscle strength. In particular, the new data indicate that in 1965 (not yet living in the United States), the athlete worked actively in the gym. Then he usually performed a set of twelve exercises (ten of them were performed using the superset method). However, at that time the athlete had not yet reached his best condition.
At the beginning of his career, Bruce Lee often felt a lack of stamina and strength, although from the outside it was mostly imperceptible. But the athlete’s wife, Linda, said that in fairly long fights, Bruce clearly felt a lack of energy for a worthy end to the fight; this fact greatly disappointed and upset him. Indeed, the final phase of the fight is the most important, decisive for the outcome of the battle. It was during this period that Bruce Lee turned to the help of bodybuilding. He carefully studies the theory of the issue on established literature and new publications (in particular, in the magazines “Bodybuilder and Strength”, “Mr. Olympia”), tries many methods and techniques in practice, chooses the most suitable for himself. Already moved to Los Angeles, again according to Linda's recollections, Bruce continued to search for literature of interest to various issues relating to bodybuilding (nutrition, training, regimen, recovery, etc.). After the tragic death of the famous master, his son inherited an extensive library of specialized literature, which included many works on martial arts and about one hundred and forty works on bodybuilding.
Also in the house of Bruce Lee were the necessary equipment for strength training - barbells, large-weight dumbbells, dumbbells in a set (total weight - 50 kg), stands for bench presses. The training regime of an outstanding athlete is now known: he was engaged (only in strength exercises) three times a week. In addition, there were daily aerobics and flexibility classes. Details, class schemes these days are easily available on the Internet or in special publications. Interested in Bruce Lee and methods to combat deposition of subcutaneous fat; he bought various drugs recommended in the literature and tried their effect on himself. Unfortunately, on these issues his findings remained unknown.
Own system of diverse training
Bruce Lee finally embodied his concept of the training process methodically by about 1970. Its basic position was the search for an individual approach based on trial and error, intuitive finds, confirmed by practice.
In the personal training system of an athlete, bodybuilding took its strong place, became an integral part of it, although a little earlier he acted as a temporary assistant in maintaining and developing muscle strength. Until the end of his life, the genius of martial arts invariably showed interest in new methods of strength training; on the basis of some of them, he improved his own training regimen. In particular, one of his characteristic methods was the use of the amplitude section, in which the muscles contracted as much as possible. Such a technique, according to Bruce Lee, perfectly contributes to the development of concentrated, "explosive" power.
According to Linda Lee, her husband achieved outstanding athletic performance as a result of regular bodybuilding. Stunning speed, lightning-fast reaction, masterful concentration of efforts, incredible physical strength, remarkable theoretical knowledge and the highest combat skill - these are the main components of the invincibility of the famous dragon.
Today, theorists see the main reason for the outstanding achievements of Bruce Lee in the fact that, unlike the great masters of martial arts, he took the liberty of somewhat escaping the traditions that have been established for centuries. The training system for the soldiers was fully developed already in the Middle Ages; she was sacredly revered and for a long time was absolutely unchanged. With all its merits, she clearly sinned with conservatism - everything in the world should develop. Bruce Lee was not afraid to “shake” some age-old foundations, expand their scope, improve on a worldview level. His genius manifested itself in conceptual approaches to the training process and allowed him to combine the strengths of bodybuilding and martial arts. This combination made him great and invincible. Information from Bruce Lee's previously classified personal training diaries fully confirms this point.
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