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Bruce Lee, werkelijk een Übermensch?


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Deejay_Spike

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Introduction

Bruce Lee is the personality most associated with the martial arts. Both
martial art enthusiasts and non-practioners consider the deceased actor as the ultimate martial artist. Although he did not compete in tournaments or submit to any empirical conventions wherein his ability could be objectively assessed, he is frequently referred to as a superior athlete and the strongest fighter "pound for pound." A close examination of his exercise regime and personal character reveal a committed athlete and martial artist but not to the mythic proportions usually ascribed to him. This article will review Lee's physical strength, aerobic capacity, and individual character to assess whether he should be considered the "best of the best".

I. Physical strength.
Numerous persons have stated that Bruce Lee possessed
an incredible amount of strength. Based on his exercise program, it appears he was of below-average lower body strength. According to the strength training program Lee used during 1965 (Lee, 1989), he performed squats using 95 pounds with 10 repetitions. This would equate to an estimated 1 repetition maximum (1RM) of 130 pounds (Wathen, 1994), which would place him below the 25th percentile for the 121-140 pound weight class among adult males (Hatfield, 1993).
This type of estimation for the 1 repetition maximum is standard among
athletic trainers to assess the strength level of a wide range of athletes,
both professional and amateur.While some chart estimates may vary slightly from one to another, most are within approximately 10% of one another.
Some readers, who are accustomed to viewing Lee as possessing epic strength, may assert that Lee probably was not using his maximum ability at that time. It is therefore noted that this regime occurred prior to Lee's well-known back injury. Furthermore, if Lee was capable of performing the squat exercise with more than 95 pounds for 10 repetitions, one must question why this was part of his established routine or, alternatively, why he would be committing himself to a method of underachievement by using too low an amount of weight to stimulate the greatest strength gains possible.
To further demonstrate this below-average lower body strength, the estimated
130 pound maximum estimate would mean Lee was not prepared for plyometric training (a type of explosiveness exercise) which requires the ability to squat a minimum of 1.5 times the body weight (Allerheiligen, 1994).In other words, at an approximate body weight of 140 pounds, Lee would need to have squatted 210 pounds to engage in plyometric training based on recognized standards for training of athletes by today's standards.
Lee's upper body strength is another matter altogether and, when understood from a sport science perspective, partially explains his on-screen appeal. Once again, according to the program used during his 1965 stay in Hong Kong, Lee performed bicep curls using a weight of 80 pounds and 8 repetitions. This would equate to an estimated 1 repetition maximum of 110 pounds and would place him in the 100th percentile for the 121-140 pound weight class.From a training perspective, one must question how a discrepancy of this proportion, between his upper and lower body strength, evolved in Lee's training. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that his upper body strength was developed to its maximum potential.
Numerous observers of Bruce Lee, such as deceased Kenpo master Ed Parker, have stated Lee was perhaps the strongest "pound for pound" martial artist. Sport science can confirm this possibility. Numerous assessments of athletes throughout the past few decades have confirmed that smaller athletes are proportionately stronger than larger ones.This is due to the fact that a muscle's maximum contractile force is proportional to its cross-sectional area.In laymen's terms, this means that a smaller athlete has a higher strength to mass ratio than larger athletes.
Stated practically, as body size increases, body mass increases more rapidly than does muscle strength. In a colloquial sense, it could be said this is similar to the "law of diminishing returns." Certain martial art film stars such as Jean Claude Van Damme and Jeff Speakman may look better due to their mass, but their actual strength, in proportion to body weight, would be less than a relatively light person such as Lee.Incredible speed is inherent to superior strength at a low body weight.
Since Lee never weighed more than 143 pounds yet possessed superior upper body strength in the 100th percentile, this would account for the lightening speed he demonstrated on film. With more mass, he would not have been as fast and would not have appeared so on film.

II. Aerobic capacity.
Lee was known to advocate running as the best cardiovascular exercise (Lee, 1975) and is reported to have run 2 miles in 15 minutes or 6 miles in 45 minutes (Storm, 1986; Lee, 1989).In either case, this would mean an approximate pace of a 7 minute 30 second mile. This pace equates to a VO2 max of approximately 50 ml/kg/min (Noakes, 1991). The VO2 max is a method employed by sport scientists to estimate an individual's maximum capacity to use oxygen during extended exercise.
The average VO2 max among healthy young men is between 45 and 55. Lee's estimated value of 50, based on his running times, would place him squarely in the middle of average healthy young men. The values among elite runners and cross-country skiers is usually a range between 75 and 85 ml/kg/min. In other words, Lee's aerobic capacity was quite average. Once again, certain readers who are accustomed to viewing Lee in epic proportions may assert that Lee was not running his fastest and was capable of more. Considering his personality, if this were true it arguably would have been publicized somewhere.
In contrast to Lee's estimated aerobic capacity, a Canadian research study published in 1995 demonstrates that elite kickboxers possess a VO2 max of 62 (Zabukovec and Tiidus, 1995). In controlled laboratory measurements, elite kickboxers had recorded values of aerobic capacity that are comparable to a person who runs a 4:45 mile, or a 34 minute 10k foot race. It is a curious notion, therefore, that Lee was considered to be an aerobic phenomenon. Current elite kickboxing competitors register higher aerobic capacity than did Bruce Lee.

III.Personal Character.
The great karate master Gichin Funakoshi stated that martial artists should show great concern for family and relationships. "The mind of the true karateka should be imbued with (family) concern before he turns his attention to his body and the refinement of his technique" (Funakoshi, 1975).
In contrast, Lee is reported to have been involved in several extramarital affairs and, in fact, died in the apartment of a woman with whom he has intimately involved (Beeckler, 1996).
Lee also died without a will (intestate) which left his widow with almost a decade of legal battles to settle the matter of his estate. While some may argue that his early, unanticipated, death would have precluded finalizing a will, Lee was conscious enough of his own mortality that he purchased significant amounts of life insurance just months prior to his death.
And while Funakoshi admonishes martial artists to render honor to their families before refining themselves, when Bruce Lee did refine himself physically it was not in a wholly honorable fashion. In addition to the prescription medications Cortisone and Dilantin, he is also reported to have used anabolic steroids and diuretics to achieve his physique (Beeckler, 1996). It is also documented that he was a user of marijuana during the final three years of his life and it was discovered in his body during the autopsy.
 

Deejay_Spike

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Why the Best of the Best?
Bruce Lee did not compete in any sanctioned martial art events. He compiled no tournament record to demonstrate his ability as did other superstars of his generation such as Bill Wallace, Chuck Norris, Bob Wall or Mike Stone. Various anecdotes are reported regarding his superiority in street fights but is that a basis of considering anyone the best of the best in their respective sport or physical activity? Would the American public accept this reasoning if Pete Sampras said he was the best tennis player but refused to compete in Wimbledon? Or if Michael Jordan claimed to be the best basketball player but would only play in alleys and playgrounds, never on the professional hardwood court?
Today's martial athletes can demonstrate their abilities in an empirical
manner. For example, the IMPAX instrument records the total of punches and kicks delivered in a certain period of time and the total force of a strike or kick. The elite kick boxers surveyed in the earlier referenced study were objectively assessed regarding their aerobic and anaerobic capacity as well as maximum knee torque. In other words, the tools exist today to determine who is the best of the best among martial artists. For better or worse, Lee escaped objective evaluation.
It's tremendously subjective but Bruce Lee is arguably considered the most noteworthy martial artist due to his magnetism on film. Regardless of any opinion about his actual martial art talent, or lack of empirical
demonstration regarding his ability, he expressed himself on the screen in a manner that no martial artist has equaled. And, by combining his upper body strength and light body weight, he possessed uncanny speed that visually made believers of anyone who saw him in action.

Reassessing the Usefulness of the Bruce Lee Myth
In one sense, Lee is forever a tremendous asset to the martial art community as his image and myth draws people to the arts. These fledgling martial artists may then be retained for more noble and enduring reasons than a desire to emulate someone whose example is questionable upon closer examination.
Once a martial artist reviews the reality of Lee's strength, aerobic capacity and personal character, a sober question must be addressed: should Lee's myth be actively deconstructed among novice martial artists? Perhaps not. That may be a function of maturity and be better emphasized in the later stages of training and spiritual development within the arts. Instead, people need a visual image to connect to and, until they begin to see their own selves in growing competency, may need the myth of Bruce Lee to sustain their training efforts.






References

Lee, Linda (1989). The Bruce Lee Story. Ohara Publications, California. (70)

Wathen, Dan (1994). Load Assignment. In Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Human Kinetics, Illinois. (436)

Hatfield, Fredrick C., Ph. D. (1993). Fitness: The Complete Guide. International Sport Sciences Association, California. (119) .

Allerheiligen, William B. (1994). Speed Development and Plyometric Training. In Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Human Kinetics, Illinois. (321)

Lee, Bruce (1975). Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Ohara, Burbank, California. ( )

Storm, Mitch; Black Belt Magazine, The Editors (1986). The Legendary Bruce Lee. Ohara, Burbank, CA. (53)

Lee, Linda (1989). The Bruce Lee Story. Ohara Publications, California. (54)

Noakes, Timothy, M.D. (1991). The Lore of Running. Leisure Press, Champaign, Illinois. (42)

Tiidus, Peter M.; Zabukovec, Randy (1995). "Physiological and Anthropometric Profile of Elite Kickboxers". Journal of Strength and Conditioning research, (November) 240-242.

Funakoshi, Gichin (1975). Karate-Do: My Way of Life. Kodansha International, Tokyo, Japan. (102)

Beeckler, Tom (1996). Unsettled Matters: The Life and Death of Bruce Lee. Gilderoy Publications, Lompoc, California. (144; 182)






ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In addition to the martial arts, Mr. Hess is a licensed cycling coach who regularly works with successful endurance athletes with tiny vertical jumps. He is the author of Total Quality Martial Arts: Pathways to Continuous Improvement.



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aapie80

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bruce rulez the scene! :D
 

Juriaan

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Er bestaan echt mensen die erin geloven dat Bruce de sterkste ooit was, dat hij gasten als Vovchanchyn, Rutten, Randleman, Ortiz, Little en anderen zou verslaan :roflol:
 

AnaboliC

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Dat zullen we nooit weten... ;)
 

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