How tough was Bruce Lee

"Bruce Lee accompanies me every day"

09/12/2019 - by Stefan Kech

Ralph Fischer worked on a book about the martial arts legend for five years. This time and the work itself became a formative experience for the qualified sports educator.

He is a legend. Still today. Even for many people around the world who have little or nothing to do with martial arts. Bruce Lee, who died of brain edema in 1973 at the age of only 32 while filming the classic "The Man with the Death Claw". The charismatic martial arts icon has influenced and inspired entire generations in his far too short life.

Ralph Fischer is one of them. Today the 49-year-old runs the M.A.A.F. in Schwenningen, a technical school for martial arts, fitness and self-defense. And he can look back on a career spanning around four decades. This began with films by Bruce Lee. “When I was eight I saw Bruce Lee film posters on a cinema facade for the first time, and from then on I knew that I wanted to do something like that too,” says Fischer.

This first impression made such a huge impact that he consistently implemented this wish. And many years later he wrote a book about Bruce Lee, which he names today as one of the really big moments in his life. Between these two events lies a path that was shaped by these two events.

No martial arts offers

At first, however, little Ralph had to realize that the Far Eastern fighting styles are not so easy to learn in Germany. “There was simply no way to do it,” Fischer remembers today. But he still wanted to fight, and so he began to wrestle. It quickly became apparent that he must be an extraordinary talent, because although he only started wrestling at the age of ten, he was hired by AB Aichhalden only three years later.

It went even faster, because at the age of 14 he was already in the first team of this wrestling stronghold. “Some of my competitors in the second division were more than twice their age. I gave up, that was tough and exhausting,” Fischer still groans today. "But I did quite well and won half of my fights."

Despite these successes on the mat, his longing for other martial arts remained unbroken, and so he began with kickboxing. Also with success, because Ralph Fischer won various titles here and got his coaching license. And then he remembered his idol, Bruce Lee, although that Bruce Lee had never disappeared from his mind. "Fifteen years ago, I finally took a close look at Lee and his fighting techniques," says Fischer. A whole series of other trainer licenses followed, for example for Jeet Kune Do, Inosanto-Kali, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, MAA (Mix Martial Arts), grappling and bodycross fitness. But at that time he was still a long way from a book.

First collected material

This idea slowly matured, it wasn't until 2010 that Fischer started to play with the idea more seriously. “I started with the conception and collected material.” This early phase lasted nine months, then an encounter should give the final boost. "After reading a number of texts from me on my homepage, an experienced author approached me and said that I should bundle my various approaches in a single work," reports the martial arts expert.

And so he began to write. For five years. Of course not like a writer who can concentrate exclusively on his writing, Ralph Fischer had far too much to do for that. As head of the sports school, as coach of a successful team of athletes who won national championships and even became European and world champions. The fund he drew from was gigantic. From more than 5000 photos, he selected 300 for his book, and from his wealth of experience he put all his knowledge about martial arts and Bruce Lee into the pages, which in the end added up to the proud number of 283.

In 2015 it was done. The book was released under the title "Jeet Kune Doo - The Legacy of Bruce Lee". “A great feeling, a great moment. I used to collect his photos and now I have written a book about Bruce Lee, ”says a beaming Ralph Fischer. “A life's work for me.” This feeling remained permanent, especially since the reactions were consistently positive. "There was a lot of praise for me from experts, even grandmasters called it one of the best books, even the best ever, written on martial arts." And of course Bruce Lee.

The reader learns that Lee was involved in many street fights as a teenager in China and that there were death threats from unfriendly street gangs. His parents sent him to the United States for fear for their son. "There he studied philosophy and began to develop his own philosophical thoughts," says Fischer. The first fights and film roles followed, but the later hero met with a lot of skepticism at first. Eventually a kung fu grandmaster challenged him to demonstrate that classical martial arts were superior to Lee's creations.

Bruce Lee accepted the challenge and defeated his opponent after just a minute. "Despite this demonstration of his skills and the quality of his Jeet Kune Do style, Lee was not satisfied, he wanted to win the fight a lot faster," says Fischer. This success helped his reputation enormously, but Lee refrained from further sporting duels as these were carried out without physical contact. "He proved himself to be a visionary here too, because he predicted that there would be such contact battles in the future," said Fischer, acknowledging his foresight.

However, Bruce Lee was by no means a bully, rather he wanted to prevent the physical confrontation. And this solely through the certainty of being able to defend yourself in any situation. “Fight without fighting,” Lee called it.

Attack is followed by counterattack

In his book, Ralph Fischer describes in detail Lee's thinking on which his way of fighting was based: to stop every attack with a counterattack and not just to block it. This culminated in his motto "The way of the caught fist". Bruce Lee recognized in advance what his counterpart would do, says Fischer.

Fischer's assessment that Lee's technique is simple, fast, direct and without frills is surprising - at least for the layman. “In the movies, the spins look spectacular, but the basic movements aren't. But that's exactly where the strength lies. "

Bruce Lee was not only strong mentally, the experts also attest to his unbelievable physical abilities. "He did push-ups on one finger, and for quite a few fitness experts he was the strongest man in the world," says the qualified sports pedagogue.

Ralph Fischer never met his great idol, but a man who was one of Bruce Lee's closest friends and his training and film partner - Daniel Inosanto. The American teacher of Filipino martial arts is commonly considered to be Bruce Lee's successor. “I met Inosanto in Speyer with one of my trainers, he is the only one who has been certified by Bruce Lee. That was a special experience. ",

"Bruce Lee has influenced my life." With this statement, Fischer makes it clear what the martial arts hero means to him. And this goes far beyond the athletic momentum. “Take what is useful and discard what is useless.” Schwenninger tries to use formulas like these in everyday life. "If someone doesn't drive off at the green traffic light straight away, I don't get angry, but rather ask myself whether this person might have a bad day today," he gives a specific example. However, Fischer frankly admits, this is not always easy in everyday life. Who could contradict him? Probably not even Bruce Lee himself.

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