Bruce Lee and the big obstacle he could never quite overcome

Bruce Lee and the big obstacle he could never quite overcome

Although Lee was a master beyond martial arts, there is one aspect of his life that he could never master…
At the age of 18, Bruce Lee plucked up the courage to travel to the United States and do something with his life. Although the first years were hard for the teacher – it was even forbidden to imitate him in schools – in economic and labor terms, he ended up turning his destiny around. Thanks to his prowess in martial arts and acting, Lee became one of the world’s biggest stars. However, his success was due to his ability to achieve perfection in everything he did. Although Lee was a master at everything, there was one aspect that he could never master… What was the biggest obstacle for him?

Lee’s biography, “Bruce Lee: A Life,” by Matthew Polly, revealed a barrier of insecurity the teacher faced when he first arrived in the United States. Although he worked to improve it, he was never perfect at it.
Growing up in Hong Kong, Lee’s native language was Chinese. So when he came to the United States, he was fluent in English, but not fluent. To communicate in a foreign country, Lee had to mentally translate his message from Cantonese to English. Thus, language was Bruce’s biggest initial obstacle in America.

In Lee’s biography, his American martial arts student Jesse revealed that when Lee got excited, he would stumble over certain words and syllables. He recounted: “I don’t think I ever heard him say my name without a stutter” , and the student added: “I always had to repeat the ‘J’ several times before I could spit it out.” As a consequence, the stuttering made him feel conscious and insecure. Lee hated when people made fun of him. So none of his friends and students dared to make fun of him.
To head off his language problem, Lee spoke in English with his small group of friends. “Her sessions with her boys were a way of attacking the problem through total immersion,” explains author Matthew Polly in his biography. Speaking steadily, her English improved rapidly. However, she never mastered the language.

Aside from practicing spoken English, Lee did other things as well to perfect the language. The Bruce Lee podcast website reveals that when the teacher came to America, he wanted to learn the English language like he never had. So, while working on himself, he focused especially on learning English grammar and syntax.
Lee also wanted to communicate colloquially, which made him practice telling jokes. The teacher believed that the ability to understand humor in another language helps to communicate more naturally. In addition, Lee also practiced to perfect his penmanship, sentence structure, and his signature. The teacher worked hard because the quality of his communication skills mattered a lot to him.

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