Bruce Lee’s Vision
If Bruce Lee had specifically written a vision statement for his businesses, it would probably look something like this: To integrate the East and West by promoting Chinese culture and ideas to the world through the teaching and practice of kung fu.
When Lee first arrived in the United States, he quickly realized that the country had little
knowledge of kung fu. “Bruce had a pretty clear idea of the kind of future he wanted,” his wife wrote. “[And he knew] how he was going to achieve it and how to reconcile his ambitions and dreams and whatever success came his way with the under- lying principles of kung fu.”
Lee felt that kung fu was not only superior to other martial art forms, but that styles like karate and judo actually originated from it. Given his ex- tensive training in wing chun under Ip Man, Lee believed he was the man to educate Americans about the ancient art. In a letter to Pearl Tso, he wrote:
"Kung fu is the best of all martial art; yet the Chinese derivatives of judo and karate, which are only basics of kung fu, are flourishing all over the U. S. This so happens because no one has heard of this supreme art; also there are no competent instructors . . . I believe my long years of practice back up my title to become the first instructor of this movement."
Moreover, for Lee, kung fu was not just about fighting, but rather a means to live a quality, meaningful life. It was both a martial art and a philosophy.
"One part of my life is kung fu. This art influences [me] greatly in the formation of my character and ideas. I practice kung fu as a physical culture, a form of mental training, a method of self- defense, and a way of life.
My reason in doing this is not the sole objective of making money. The motives are many and among them are: I like to let the world know about the greatness of this Chinese art; I enjoy teaching and helping people; I like to have a well- to-do home for my family; I like to originate something; and the last but yet one of the most important is because kung fu is part of myself."
But Lee, a product of both the United States and Hong Kong, eventually saw his mission, not just as spreading kung fu, but also as promoting the beauty of Chinese culture and art to Western
audiences. His goal was to bring two civilizations together and encourage Westerners to see Asian men as more than weak, sexless, and passive creatures. In her book The Life and Tragic Death of Bruce Lee, Cadwell wrote:
"He was the first oriental superstar to bridge the chasm between the East and West, to contradict the outrageous stereotypes represented on film and TV . . . and had therefore become a hero to millions in Southeast Asia who identified with him and saw him as their champion.
A lethal whirlwind of flying fists and blurring legs, his magic kick had taken Western audiences by storm as he spectacularly revealed mysteries known only to the Chinese for centuries. Single- handedly, he had made the whole world conscious of kung fu."