Yifu Dong reviews a new biography of Bruce Lee
Today it takes most people quite a bit of imagination to see traditional Chinese martial arts – kung fu – as an effective style of fighting. Back in my Beijing secondary school, my classmates and I learned kung fu routines alongside calisthenics, as part of daily exercises. We swung our fists and kicked our legs simply for the sake of stretching. On Chinese TV, kung fu dazzles, but everyone knows what happens in real life when half a dozen enemies encircle a solitary fighter. In recent years, Chinese mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters challenged kung fu masters, and almost every fight ended within seconds with the man of tradition lying on the floor, or bleeding, or both. Even Shaolin Temple, a soi-disant holy site of kung fu in Henan province, has evolved into a commercialized tourist trap.