Bruce Lee was a legendary martial artist who made his mark in film in both the United States and Hong Kong during the 1970’s. Starring in films such as Enter the Dragon, Way of the Dragon, and Chinese Connection, he also co-starred in the tv series The Green Hornet, playing the martial art sidekick Kato. One of the most unknown facts about Bruce is that as skilled as he was as a martial artist, he was also skilled in other areas. Before his Jeet Kune Do days, he was a champion ballroom dancer.
In 1958, he entered and won the Hong Kong Cha-Cha Dance Contest. Bruce was known to excel at most everything he did. Always one who was looking to learn other styles of kung-fu and karate, he would trade dance lessons for martial arts lessons. There is currently a Bruce Lee exhibit in the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. This exhibit includes many personal items that belonged to Mr. Lee. In addition to the iconic yellow jumpsuit (from the film Game of Death), some of the items on exhibit include magazine covers, movie footage, and a personal notebook where he wrote down 108 cha-cha dance steps. Who knows if he could perform all 108 dance steps, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did know them all. Let’s be honest here, is it really that much of a stretch to imagine that someone as athletic, fit, fluid, and skilled in martial arts as Bruce, would not be able to participate in an activity that requires skill, athleticism, and fluidity?
While his ballroom dancing days were more back in Hong Kong, it was said that one of his first jobs in America when he returned at the age of 18 was that of a ballroom dance instructor (don’t forget that while Bruce was raised in Hong Kong, he was born in San Francisco and was a US citizen). Born November 27, 1940, Bruce Lee’s life was cut short on July 20, 1973, at the young age of 32 years. There were many rumors about his death but the official cause was acute cerebral edema. He was an intelligent man who enjoyed learning. Who knows what other contributions he could have made had his life been extended for more years.