There have been many martial arts practitioners in the movies, but if there is one individual who is associated with ferocious fighting systems more than any other it must surely be Bruce Lee.
Lee presented Western audiences with a style of fighting that most had never seen before, first as Kato in The Green Hornet and later in classic films such as Enter the Dragon.
Lee as Kato in The Green Hornet
His memorabilia has always highly coveted. Last year, a yellow jumpsuit from Lee’s last film The Game of Death (completed after his death) sold for $40,000 at Heritage and the value of his autograph has increased by 468.6% since 2000 according to the PFC40 index.
Lee’s tragic early death no doubt adds to the draw. Passing away aged just 32 from a mysterious swelling of the brain, he is remembered as being very much in the early summer of his career – similarly to James Dean and others.
In presenting an aspect of Chinese culture to America, and having spent parts of his childhood in each, Lee is idolised in both countries.
However the Kung Fu master was not merely a celebrity martial artist showing off a natural talent.
He was an innovator too, creating his own style: Jeet Kune Do, (‘the way of the intercepting fist’) which attempted to draw together the most useful techniques from other styles whilst remaining flexible in their use as Lee felt most schools were too stylised for the chaos of fighting.
For this reason, his books and writings on martial arts unrelated to those on the screen are also desired by collectors.
A year ago we sold a unique and fascinating Bruce Lee handwritten notebook with original martial art drawings to an eager collector.
Since then we’ve acquired his personal martial arts booklet, signed and annotated by the star many times. Click here to find out more.