Did Bruce Lee take his training seriously? "While Bruce was in Hong Kong filming in late 1971 or early 1972, he had his weight equipment and training gear shipped to him," says Ted Wong, who met Lee in 1967 and trained with him for more than six years. "He wanted to stay in shape. So we packed his bags, but...
Did Bruce Lee take his training seriously?
"While Bruce was in Hong Kong filming in late 1971 or early 1972, he had his weight equipment
and training gear shipped to him," says Ted Wong, who met Lee in 1967 and trained with him for
more than six years. "He wanted to stay in shape. So we packed his bags, but we did not send any
clothes because he said he could buy them cheap in Hong Kong. We just packed training
equipment. When he saw all the bags filled with training equipment, he laughed and said, ‘Now I’m
going to be able to do lots of training.’"
And train he did.
"Bruce considered training number one," says Wong. "He was constantly training. When he
watched TV or went to the movies, he conditioned his knuckles. When he was driving, he worked
the hand grips. If he walked to a bookstore and came to a hill, he always ran. He never wasted
Why was this man so obsessed with training? Several reasons.
First, according to Lee, training was important because you couldn’t perform up to your capabilities
if you weren’t in shape, Wong recalls.
"Lee felt you had no business being in the martial arts if you weren’t in shape," says Wong. "If you
weren’t in shape you couldn’t be 100 percent efficient."
Second, he had lofty goals.
"He wanted to be the best," says Wong. "He wanted to be the best martial artist."
And no one could dispute that he was.
Lee’s Thoughts on Strength
To get in excellent shape, Lee felt you needed strength, Wong notes.
"He considered strength training very important," Wong says. "He was constantly looking for ways
to improve, including weight training and isometrics."
Although Lee felt strength was important, he did not believe bodybuilding was the answer, Wong
"He felt it was important to have definition, but he did not feel you had to overboard," Wong says.
"He did not feel it was necessary to develop large muscles. On the other hand, strength and
definition enhanced certain functions, such as kicking and punching."
And Lee’s conditioning entailed more than hand grips, sit-ups, weights, running and conditioning
"A lot of the time he read books and analyzed different arts," Wong says. "He had a keen eye and an
analytical mind. He did a lot of researching."
While you may never develop Lee’s skills, you can certainly train the way the "Little Dragon" did.
Following are a few of the exercises Lee used to develop power.
Lee’s Strength Routine
This exercise strengthens your arms, forearms, shoulders, biceps, lats, triceps, chest and abs.
"This exercise works almost your whole body," Wong says. "It’s really good; it’s effective. But it is
also very difficult. Although Bruce lifted a lot of weight, most people can’t. I remember trying to
lift what he used, and I couldn’t even hold it."
To begin, stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Squat, grab the barbell with an
underhand grip and stand up. Keeping your elbows by your side, raise the weight straight out, hold
for a second, return and repeat.
Do three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. When you’re done, do three sets of 8 to 12 reps with an
Punching With a Dumbbell
This exercise improves your shoulder endurance, which is vital for sparring.
"Bruce did this drill a lot." Wong says.
Hold a five-pound dumbbell in each hand, assume a fighting stance and alternate throwing punches
with each hand.
"Do these moderately fast," Wong says.
To prevent an injury, however, don’t throw your punches too fast. Do two to three sets, 10 to 15
reps per set.
One-Hand Dumbbell Drill
This drill strengthens your wrist, which means your punches will be stronger. Lee used this exercise
to enhance his one-inch punch, Wong notes.
"When your wrist is strong, you get more power," he says. "And it’s good when you’re in close
range because there isn’t much room for your wrist to travel. This is a good drill for the one-inch
To begin, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and hold a five-pound dumbbell in your
right hand. Keeping your arm to your side and using only your wrist, raise the dumbbell as high as
you can and lower it as far as you can.
Do two sets of 25 reps. When you’re done, do two sets of 25 reps, moving your wrist from side to
side as far as you can.
"This is isometric training for power punching," Wong says. "It was one of Lee’s favorite drills
because it built speed and punching power at different ranges."
To do this, you can use a jump rope, a karate belt or a strand of rope.
To begin, assume a fighting stance and hold the rope in both hands. Pla