Sunday, November 04, 2012

Bruce Lee, the father of MMA?

More than a quarter century before the UFC, the late martial artist and film star Bruce Lee described in great detail what ultimately would become the sport of mixed martial arts.

The UFC was founded in 1993, partly in an effort to determine which fighting style is best. But as Lee had pointed out years before, it is a mixture of styles, not simply one, that is the most effective fighting form.

"The best fighter is not a boxer, karate or judo man," Lee once said. "The best fighter is someone who can adapt to any style. He kicks too good for a boxer, throws too good for a karate man, and punches too good for a judo man."

Nearly 40 years after his untimely death at 32 in 1973, Lee's fighting philosophies are on display in cages around the world. Fighters who were born many years after his death idolize him nonetheless and credit him with shaping them as athletes.

UFC president Dana White calls Lee the father of modern MMA. While there are others who deserve to be in that conversation, there is no question Lee's impact upon the sport is still being felt.

The UFC will host its first card on Chinese soil on Nov. 10 at UFC on Fuel 6 in Macao, a gaming mecca near Hong Kong where Lee grew up.

To honor Lee, White had an image of the martial arts icon included on the official promotional poster for the event.

"It's pretty amazing when you look back at 'Enter the Dragon,' " said Lee's daughter, Shannon. "There he is in the opening sequence in the shorts and the fingerless gloves, ending it in an arm bar. It's almost as if he knew what was coming. But that all sprung from his belief about what it meant to be a complete fighter. He really believed fully that in order to be a complete fighter, you had to have many different things in your arsenal and be able to defend against and attack in whatever situation may present itself."

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