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Did Bruce Lee Smoke Weed?

Bruce Lee and Marijuana

Bruce Lee is both an American pop culture Icon, and martial arts icon. In his short 32 years on this earth he is known for popularizing the modern-day, blockbuster martial art movie, and also revolutionizing martial arts. What is especially impressive about Lee was that, unlike some martial art movie stars, he was truly a martial arts legend who developed the practical, hybrid, martial art style of Jeet Kun Do. In his day, Bruce Lee had an almost superhero aura and many felt that he was invincible. Bruce Lee though wasn’t invincible, as sadly he died at the untimely age of 32.

The Bruce Lee Story

There are books and plenty of websites that cover the life of Bruce Lee. And, if you are reading this article, it is quite likely that you know about him. So, I am only going to briefly review the highlights of his life and at the end, I will give you some book recommendations that you can read if you have any interest.

Early Life

Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940, in San Francisco, California, in the Chinese Year of the Dragon*. His parents were quite well off and his father was in fact a famous Chinees Oprea star, who was well connected in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry, and his mother was of mixed European and Asian ancestry. Bruce Lee’s Mother’s Eurasian ancestry would be the reason for Bruce being discriminated against in Hong Kong and him having a hard time finding a martial arts sensei.

*People born under the Year Of The Dragon are said to be gifted, powerful, intelligent, and lucky.

Lee moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong when he was only three months old, and he did not return to the states until he was 18, in 1958. While in the United States, Bruce Lee enrolled to finish high school. Afterward, he enrolled at the University of Washington. At UW he soon developed an appreciation of drama and also philosophy.

Bruce Lee- A Legend Born

Early Years As a Young Man

Bruce Lee’s time in Hong Kong was difficult as he got into many street fights. Supposedly, after Lee was beaten up in a fight as a pre-teenager, his father enrolled him in a martial arts class. Bruce Lee, because of his Mother’s mixed-ethnicity suffered discrimination, as many martial arts masters did not want to teach anyone who was not of pure Chinese lineage.

Yip Man Lee’s Wing Chun, Gung Fu Sensi

Yip Man and Bruce Lee at 18

Lee eventually found his sensei, through the help of his childhood friend, William Cheung who introduced Lee (when was 15) to the Wing Chun, Gung Fu Grand Master, Yip Man. Lee studied under Yip man for a number of years.

Even though he was accepted by Master Yip Man, the other students refused to spar with Lee. This discrimination though had a silver lining as Lee received one on one instruction from Sensei Yip Man.

How Jeet Kune Do Became a Martial Art

As stated, Bruce Lee was a student of many forms of martial arts and was not married to just style of martial art as, along with Wing Fu, he studied tai chi and boxing. Lee used his hybrid style of fighting in his many street fights in Hong Kong.

Bruce Lee had the, had the God-given ability to physically learn different martial art styles. It has been said that other than Gung Fu, Lee never mastered any other style of martial arts, other than his own, Jeet Kun Do. Bruce Lee, took what was of value in a fighting style and discarded the rest.

Lee founded Jeet Kune Do, after studying numerous martial art forms and realizing felt that traditional martial arts did not properly train its students for real-world self-defense. As result, Lee founded Jeet Kune Do, which is translated to “The Way of Intercepting Fist”. Jeet Kune Do emphasizes fluidity and adaptivity to a variety of real-world combat scenarios. Jeet Kune Do borrows the effective techniques from all types of martial arts and melts them into one art.

Hong Kong, and Hollywood Acting

Acting Career

Many do not know this; but, Lee appeared in over twenty movies as a child and a young man. In fact, his first movie appearance was in 1941 when he was only a few months old in the movie Golden Gate Girl. His part, in this film though was not a stretch as he played an infant.

Green Hornet

The Green Hornet With Bruce Lee As Kato

In the ’60s the American public was first introduced to Lee with the Green Hornet TV show, as Kato. The Green Hornet only lasted for one year (1966-1967), with only 26 episodes.

Hong Kong

Even though the series was only on for a year, Lee likely thought that The Green Hornet was his big break. However, in the 60s Hollywood, because of discrimination and not wanting to take a chance, was reluctant to case an Asian as a lead actor in a movie. As a result, Lee did receive any acceptable, leading man, the movie offers from Hollywood, which resulted in him moving to Hong Kong to act.

His first major movie as a leading man was the 1971 film The Big Boss. His other Hong Kong movies were Fists of Fury and The Way of the Dragon. Those three movies led the way for his one and only Holywood film, Enter the Dragon.

Enter The Dragon

Bruce Lee received top billing for Enter the Dragon. Enter the Dragon had a budget of $850,000 and grossed $350,000,000. Counting for inflation, $350,000 is nearly a billion dollars. Unfortunately, Lee never was able to see Enter the Dragon’s success as he died before its premiere at the age of 32.

Bruce Lee’s Death

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Lee was a legend of both martial arts, and Hollywood. His fitness routine was fanatical and his ripped, muscular physique was quite impressive. He was thought of by many to be invincible. Because of this many could not conceive that Bruce Lee could have died, of natural causes, at only 32. As a result, there have been multiple conspiracies on just how Bruce Lee died.

These rumors ranged from him being assassinated by the Chinese Triad, to heatstroke. One conspiracy even said that steroids were a contributing factor to Lee’s untimely death. Any of these rumors could be true. But the reason that Bruce Lee died was likely the simplest explanation. Lee died from cerebral edema, which was caused by an allergic reaction to a prescription pain pill.

Bruce Lee- A Complicated Man Full of Contradictions

Bruce Lee was thought of by many to be superhuman and he was known by many to practice a fanatical nutrition and fitness regime. As a result, it is hard to believe that Bruce Lee would have partaken in drugs and/or alcohol. Bruce Lee though was not superhuman. He was a man. And like most humans, he was full of contradictions. The following are Lee’s rumored views on Lee’s illegal drugs and alcohol use.

Lee’s Type A Personality

Lee succeeded in almost any skill requiring athletic ability. As an example, while in high school Lee won a boxing tournament when had never trained in boxing. Also, Lee was an expert ballroom dancer who, at the young age of 18 won a dance competition in Hong Kong. He was so dedicated to that he even has a notebook that detailed the various, Cha Cha dance steps.

Another prime example of Bruce Lee’s tenacity was when he was bedridden for months because of a serious back injury. He was told that he would never be able to practice martial arts. Of course, Lee did not believe that diagnosis, and during this trying time, Bruce Lee concentrated on writing and developed his own method of healing.

Bruce Lee and Alcohol

Bruce Lee was known to be a non-drinker, which many assumed the reason was because of discipline, fitness, and an overall distaste of illegal drugs. However, at least according to this source, from Matthew Polly’s 2018 Biography, the reason Lee did not drink was that he suffered from Alcohol Flush which occurs in over 35% of those of Chinese ancestry.

Those suffering from Alcohol Flush, even after a few sips, are known to have nausea, a red flushed face, and a fast heartbeat. Instead of alcohol, Lee’s chosen vice was cannabis.

Bruce Lee, Cannabis and Hashish Habit

Lee’s cause of death and Bruce Lee, himself have become quite controversial and rife with conspiracies. Like all rumors, many rumors concerning Bruce Lee are frankly BS.

One, rumor, that has been proven, is that Lee did use both cannabis and also cannabis-derived hashish. First of all, Lee’s autopsy stated that he did have marijuana in his system. According to Syfy.com the actor Steve Mcqueen introduced Lee to cannabis and Lee soon fell in love with the soothing properties of weed.

Lee’s Temper- Main Reason For Smoking Weed

Many might assume that as Lee was was into philosophy, poetry, acting, and ballroom dancing that he would be patient and slow to anger. However, Bruce Lee was known to have had a nasty, hair-trigger, temper. For example, as a teenager, Lee also was a notorious street fighter in Hong Kong and at one time he even was the leader of a street gang. So, by no means, was Bruce Lee ever a Pacifist. Bruce Lee realized he had a terrible temper that needed to be controlled, and weed did just that it made him calm.

Bruce Lee also was a perfectionist, brilliant, and extremely driven for success And when you are a perfectionist and brilliant it is often hard to accept others who are not as driven or talented as you are.

This is the reason why many superstar athletes are failures as athletes. (I.E., Michael Jordan’s ownership of the Charlotte Hornets is considered to be, at best, substandard) Lee’s driven personality meant that he did not do anything half-A#$%#. And this 110% attitude carried through with Bruce Lee’s marijuana consumption.


Hash Brownies

Bruce Lee did occasionally smoked weed. However, as he did not care for smoking’s effect on the lungs he preferred hashish brownies. According to his close friend and the co-star on Enter The Dragon, Bob Wall, Bruce Lee, before he could act like a “normal person,” regularly ate a couple of brownies.


Hard Drugs

Recently, newly discovered letters, were sold at auction, from Lee to fellow actor Robert Baker that stated that Bruce Lee was also into hard street drugs like LSD and cocaine. These, expert authenticated letters show that Baker sold drugs to Lee from 1969 until his death. One letter indicated that Lee wanted large amounts of cocaine as it would help him prepare for an upcoming move. These letters do not surprise me as it is another indicator of Bruce Lee’s driven, type, A personality. Cocaine is damaging. However, it also can help with performance.

Conclusion

There were a few reasons that I decided to write this article. One reason is that I simply found Bruce Lee’s complicated existence to be quite fascinating. In Bruce Lee’s, short 32 years on this planet, he became a legend of both martial arts and cinema. More importantly, Bruce Lee, once again, disproved the fallacy that marijuana users are couch potatoes with zero ambitions. Just based upon what Lee accomplished before his death, it is evident that Lee was one of the most driven individuals of the 20th century.

Lee was a complicated man and extremely brilliant, which goes to show that smoking weed will not lead you down to a path of despair. Unfortunately, because of Bruce Lee’s untimely death, we will never know what would have become of Lee if had not taken that pain pill that ultimately killed him.