Bruce Lee Once Called Fake Martial Artists ‘Cowards’ in Rare Phone Recording

An old phone call unearthed from 1972 has perfectly captured the timeless passion Bruce Lee had for martial arts.

Uploaded to YouTube back in 2016, Lee can be heard talking to a friend and martial arts student named Dan Lee in the audio clip.

The conversation took place at a point in Lee’s life when he was already feeling frustrated with his career in the United States, according to the South China Morning Post. At the time, he was reportedly considering leaving Hollywood to find better opportunities in Hong Kong.

“You know the reason I’m coming back,” Lee tells his protégé, “is that Warner Bros. wants me to do a Television series. But I don’t think I’m going to do it now. I’m going to concentrate in Hong Kong to do it.

During the interview, Lee also expressed his disgust for fake martial arts “cowards”:

“You saw the tai chi, the self-defense… well, I hate to tell you this. If you were there, Jesus, we were so embarrassed,” Lee can be heard saying.

“Joe Frazier is a man who is capable of using his tools and who is very determined in his savage, relentless attacks. Whereas those son of a b***** are cowards, turning their heads and swinging their punches. After the second round, they’re out of breath. I mean, they’re really pathetic looking, very amateur.”


“I mean before they contact each other, they do all the fancy stance and all the fancy movement. The minute they contact, they just don’t know what the hell to do. They slip and they fell on their a****.

“In Hong Kong, they really want to fight. That’s Hong Kong man, those guys see it that way. We’re losing the appreciation of the people here,” he added.

“Here it is. If you can move with your tools, from any angle, then you can adapt to whatever the object is in front of you. The clumsier, the more limited the object, the easier for you to punch on it. That’s what it amounts to.”

Lee then went on to explain the disadvantages of the low kicks that Muay Thai fighters often use in combat.


“I saw it in Thailand personally, the bantamweight champion with one of the stuntmen. The problem with them is that they are the John L Sullivan with their legs. No finesse,” he said, referencing American boxer John L Sullivan.

“Not all of them do that. You can do that when you are stationary but not when you are constantly moving.”

Continuing on with his critique, Lee dropped Sullivan’s name again: “The kick is too high, too obvious. There is no subtleness, no economy. John L Sullivan. That’s why 80 percent of knockouts are by hand. Put them in the ring, man, the boxer would just beat the hell out of them. That just goes to show you.”

Feature image via Getty

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