Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 Martial Artist Spotlight: Bruce Lee

I know many are wondering why Twinja Book Reviews, a book blog that promotes diversity, would spotlight a martial artist once a month.

It's taken us a bit of time to come to this idea, and we'd like to explain it better to you.

Growing up, Libertad and I were obsessed with martial arts films. It wasn't a very girly thing to obsess over, but growing up in the urban community, kung fu films were for many, entertainment that typically promoted diversity. We didn't even realize what the differences between race were back then, but martial arts films could be the reason why we don't personally see Americans and Asian born Asians as something different or separate. Because we've ALWAYS seen them in movies.

Many Americans credit that the only reason they don't a race different from their own as equal or the same, is because they don't know many or see many of them, and this is true when it comes to entertainment. But we've always sought out entertainers well known in Asia(since it is much more common to be well known there than in the United States).

Martial Arts films were our first taste of diversity. Seeing non-white, straight cis-gendered men be heroes, and not only be heroes, but to be the objects of affection. It may not be the most conventional way of finding diversity in films, but many martial arts actors have broken down racial borders that many don't credit them enough for.

This is why Bruce Lee is our first spotlight.

Many see Bruce Lee as just a martial artist, but he was anything but. If anything, he single handedly helped changed many of the stereotypes that held back the image of Asian, and Asian-American men for his time and now. He had a presence that was never weak, or second to another man, Asian or not, onscreen. 

Bruce Lee was an author, an actor, a teacher, founder of his own martial art Jeet Kune Do, and a philosopher. Many are familiar with his "Be like Water" quote, and it has inspired many, even people whom aren't martial artists. He was a man who lived his life by refusing to TRY, only to DO.

We read so many new great books out there with Asian male protagonists as love interests and main characters, that we often wonder would many even bother had it not been for such a great pop icon like Bruce to help see that being Asian and male wasn't some foreign, emasculated image set in place to make white men look better and stronger.

Bruce Lee's image, let alone his impact on us, has always been there as our love for reading grew. I think there will be people who can surpass Bruce Lee, as he was taken from the world so quickly at the age of 32. But will they ever be as well loved, highly regarded or as well known as he? We think not. To be honest, we wouldn't want them to be. 

For all that seek diversity, or have dreams that they deem impossible, research Bruce Lee. See that his life was anything but easy. With all the resources many of us have that many did not back then, anything will seem possible.


  1. Great post! However, I have to say that I'm not happy with "Enter the Dragon." Even if the martial arts scenes were great, Lee was reduced to a flat character that doesn't have much of a personality. I still see this stereotypical image for Asian kung fu stars when they are cast in Hollywood roles--one-dimensional, boring, and usually needing a white co-star/protagonist : (

  2. Hey Aya, thanks for chiming in!
    I do agree with you about his "Western" films vs The "Eastern" films. In fact as you mentioned, it seems to still be a challenge for actors and actresses of Asian ancestry to get casted in 3-Dimensional roles that don't involve being stereotypical or being an "aid" to a white co-star.

    I think the best thing we can do to counter this is support media and art that doesn't limit entertainers/artists to these dreadful stereotypes.

    My sister and I recently got into web series and gotta say that when actors/actresses of color have more control of how they're portrayed, there is so much more to the character. I'm looking into finding more web series that feature entertainers of Asian Ancestry, so when i compile a list, i'll be sure to write a post about it!!!

    P.S. I'm actually brainstorming on some ideas myself featuring actors/actresses of Asian ancestry, so stay tuned!!!!

  3. I am very interested in rediscovering Bruce Lee through your post, thanks for sharing! & he's an author, awesome :)


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