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Lot #894
Bruce Lee

EVERYBODY’S GUNG FU LEARNING: BRUCE LEE signs a membership certificate for his martial arts school

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EVERYBODY’S GUNG FU LEARNING: BRUCE LEE signs a membership certificate for his martial arts school

Legendary Chinese-American martial arts artist and actor (1940–1973) whose skill, charisma, and presence afforded martial arts films a new measure of respectability and popularity. Lee first came to widespread attention with his role as Kato on the television series “The Green Hornet,” which ran for a total of twenty-six episodes on ABC during 1966 and 1967. For most Americans, the show provided the first glimpse of Lee in (albeit TV-friendly) action; within the space of a few years, he would become a powerhouse film attraction. His untimely death “by misadventure” sparked all manner of speculation, including rumors of assassination, ancestral curses, and more—and would propel him into the realm of legend. Colorful partially printed DS, signed in black felt tip in Chinese characters atop his ink-stamped red chop, one page, 10.5 x 13.5 (affixed to a same-sized heavy card), November 27, 1966. A decorative certificate issued by Lee’s Tao of Chinese Gung Fu to George Lee, promoting him to second rank. In addition to signing, Lee has also filled in the date, George Lee’s name, the place “Richmond,” and the rank “second.” George Lee (no relation) was a close San Francisco friend and student of Lee’s. George Lee created a forearm-training “gripping machine” for Lee, noting, that “[Bruce Lee] used to send me all of these designs for exercise equipment, and I'd build them according to his specs. However, I wasn't altogether foolish. I knew that if Bruce was going to use it, it must be effective, so I'd build one to send to him and another for me to use at home!” In rejecting many components of traditional martial arts and adopting a more inclusive, holistic approach, Lee developed a system he originally called “Jun Fan Gung Fu,” a name that incorporated the Chinese form of his own name, Lee Jun Fan. Lee summed up the underlying philosophy of his style, later renamed Jeet Kun Do (“The Way of the Intercepting Fist”), as “simply the direct expression of one’s feelings with the minimum of movements and energy.” Lee operated a number of schools espousing his methods from 1967 until 1971, though he permitted his students to carry on his teachings on a private basis. The logo for the system, which appears on the certificate, incorporates a yin-yang symbol with Chinese characters indicating the principles “Using no way as way” and “Having no limitation as limitation,” along with arrows representing the endless movement and change of the universe. Mounting as noted (evidently done at the time the certificate was issued), and a subtle hint of toning at the extreme edges (which would be completely hidden when the document is normally displayed in a frame), otherwise fine, clean condition. A handsome memento of the martial arts icon! PSA/DNA Auction LOA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #333 - Ended May 14, 2008