Reed Harris: Bruce Lee changed my whole life

by Kirik Jenness | source: mmajunkie

If there was no Bruce Lee, there would be no UG.

I was 13 years old, and spending the summer with pops in the Kingdom of Lesotho. I went to the movies by myself at the Holiday Inn, and Enter the Dragon was playing. Two hours later I tried to kick several dogs during the walk home, and I had a life mission. It never changed.

There were two Korean 6th degree black belts providing technical assistance to the Lesotho Police Mounted Unit (a paramilitary force) and pop got me into training with them. When I went back to Cambridge, Mass to live with ma, and checked out local martial arts studios.

Ma took me to an Aikido studio; too hairy. We went to Tohoku Judo in Sommerville; too hard to get to by bus. Then we went to the Suk Chung Institute of Tae Kwon Do in Harvard Square; when you walked in, there was a big image of Mr. Chung and Bruce Lee, arm in arm, and I was all set.

That was 1973.

In High School I had an entire wall of Bruce Lee posters and got the Tao of Jeet Kune Do for Christmas in 75, which I read 100 times or more. I did martial arts through college and opened a gym full-time when I graduated.

UFC 1 came along ten years later and I did a do over, and finally started doing what Bruce Lee had always called for. I finished a book on MMA in 1998 and some friends built a website to promote it. Skillrules, who owned that we partnered, suggested calling it "The Underground."

No Bruce Lee I would have been a cop or an architect or something, and there would be no Underground.

In an interview with the ever awesome MMAJunkie, UFC Vice President of Community Relations Reed Harris relates a similar path, from Bruce Lee to furthering MMA, perhaps most notably by co-founding the World Extreme Cagefighting with Scott Adams, and then being a top exec at the UFC.

"When I was in high school in Illinois, we heard about this movie called 'Enter the Dragon,' and we went and saw it at the Glen Art Theatre in Glen Ellyn, just outside of Chicago," said Harris. "Literally, it changed my whole life. I was playing football, and a couple of days later, I sought out the only martial arts studio in the whole area, and I started training tae kwon do."

"I would watch all of his movies over and over to see his techniques. It completely changed the direction of my life. I became a lot more disciplined, and I would train all the time and work on doing the techniques properly."

"He was Hong Kong's native son, and he really was the father of MMA. During his movie career, and even since he's passed away, Bruce Lee had a big impact in Hong Kong, so when we came to Macau, we thought it would be great to be able to honor him.

"Again, he was the founder of entire sport. He was cross-training in all these different disciplines. Up until not that long ago, people like me would do one discipline all their life because it was almost disrespectful to your art and your teacher to study another martial art. But that's kind of all gone away now."

"In some markets we go to, people say it's violent and don't really see it as a sport. Here though, they seem to see the sport part. I just think they haven't really been exposed to it enough to embrace our stars. Once they see these guys and watch them fight and watch them perform and embrace guys like Tieqaun Zhang, then I think it's going to blow up here, just like it has everywhere else."

"Look at Brazil. Three of four years ago, I had people in Brazil telling me to be careful because while jiu-jitsu was accepted and popular there, MMA was not. Now look what's happened. I think the same thing is going to happen in China. Once they understand that the traditional martial arts are part of our sport and that it's really about taking those arts and expanding the knowledge base, they'll see it's really what Bruce Lee wanted.

"Bruce Lee created his own art, Jeet Kune Do, because he didn't like the limitations of these singular martial arts in their own little silo. He wanted to combine them all and improve those techniques, which is exactly what our fighters do."

Read entire article...

If anyone on the UG has a Bruce Lee changed my life story, post below. You are not alone!


tags: UFC Macao   Bruce Lee   Reed Harris   

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672 site profile image  

11/10/12 6:12 PM by 672

As a ghetto kid from Brooklyn watching the Green Hornet for the first time as a 9 or 10 year old.I was amazed OF BL swagger and stage presence.His footwork also amazing he had soul and flavor.I had the martial arts bug since 1966 and knew back then after reading all his books that MMA,take what is useful and get rid of what isn't,would be the reality of combat.Many of his principles are present today,look at Jon Jones and his intercepting others advance as he checks the lead leg with a side kick.I'm 55 I'VE been in the arts 25 years teaching.I retired from L/E at 45.I play bball full court with the young bloods,roll,box, mma.I THANK BRUCE LEE FOR PLANTING THAT SEED OVER 45 YEARS AGO FOREVER IN MY HEART PEACE

ChaosOverkill site profile image  

11/10/12 3:45 PM by ChaosOverkill

Anything Bruce did had an authenticity to it that is unmatched to this day. Choreography couldn't lessen how truly amazing he really was

Radio Raheem site profile image  

11/10/12 3:42 PM by Radio Raheem


Soup Nazi site profile image  

11/10/12 4:55 AM by Soup Nazi


CindyO site profile image  

11/10/12 3:23 AM by CindyO

Cindy <3 Reed;)   Cindy

Melissa site profile image  

11/9/12 4:41 PM by Melissa

Never seen a Bruce Lee Movie (I should really do something about that) but Reed is flipping awesome and I thank him for everything.

I AM A MOFO site profile image  

11/9/12 4:22 PM by I AM A MOFO

"If anybody has a Bruce Lee changed my life story"I do, and am sure many many others here as well. I'm not a gifted writer though, and aside from that, I think most of them can probably be boiled down to practically the same thing..."I never thought much/paid attention to martial arts. Then...Bruce Lee."Though I guess my uncle, who had a brittle bone disease and trained Judo and Jiu Jitsu in the early/mid 90's cause he didn't give a fuck like that (though it did end badly) deserves some credit for putting that shit in the VCR and watchin it with me when I came over.Been obsessed with all things MA/fighting ever since.Great thread/OP though. Thanks for posting.

JosselEmin site profile image  

11/9/12 3:42 PM by JosselEmin

I wasn't born yet when Bruce lee times but i come from a family of martial artists and all of them praises Lee as a master, so there should be something real special about Bruce besides his movies that plenty of ppl admire him for.

Dong Johnson site profile image  

11/9/12 3:33 PM by Dong Johnson

"Bruce Lee had nothing to do with MMA because he didn't have any documented fights DERP DERP"  - UG warriors   Kirik, Dana White, Anderson Silva, all Bruce Lee fans.

Another Foob site profile image  

11/9/12 3:28 PM by Another Foob

Nice post. I cannot overstate how much martial arts motivation I got from Bruce when I was a kid. And, I too read The Tao of Jeet Kun Do like a zillion times. I even named my hamster "Little Dragon". :)