For a martial artist as famous as Bruce Lee, there’s surprisingly little footage of him from competitions or real fights. As it stands, there’s only one clip of Lee putting his kung-fu to actual intended use, and it’s just appeared online in restored form. The video shows Lee fighting one of his own pupils, Ted Wong, who was reputed to be one of Bruce’s best students.
That didn’t stop Lee from cleaning the mats with him, and it’s nothing like many of the ridiculous martial arts demonstrations you’re used to where a master tosses his students around.
The footage starts off with two men clad in protective gear from head to toe (as was the law back then) circling each other until one darts in and gets smoothly kicked to the face with a lightning fast kick. The person who kicked, the video then helpfully explains, is Bruce Lee. Lee then eschews the traditional hands up posture, instead holding one hand far out in front of him.
You still see this in recent MMA, where it’s used to measure distance and keep an opponent from being able to rush in. Several effortless counters later, and Bruce wraps his arm around his opponent’s neck and trips him to the ground.
What’s most remarkable to note in the video is Bruce Lee’s speed and impeccable timing. Every time Wong tries to engage, Lee is ready and fires off a response that completely nullifies his attack. When Wong tries to throw a spinning kick, Lee manages to kick him in the ass and push him off balance.
A lot of the footage wouldn’t seem out of place mixed into today’s UFC highlights, which is extra impressive considering it took the UFC 25 years to get to the level of martial arts we see in the cage today.
That just makes it all the more tragic that we lost Lee at the young age of 32 back in the early 70s. It’s almost criminal that this is some of the only footage of the martial arts legend competing that we have.