Inspirations – pt.III: Bruce Lee

29 01 2010

I love Bruce Lee as much as Akira and therefore the section devoted to this great fighter will be huge!

As a young man, as a student, Akira watched the movie Bruce, Enter the Dragon (Enter the Dragon) and was impressed and fascinated that he spent ten days in a row going to the movies to watch. A penalty was that this was the last film of Bruce, who died three weeks before the premiere.

After the Operation Dragon kung fu undergone significant changes (for worse, with no real fighting…). That’s when Akira watched the film The Invincible Master (Drunken Master) and was glazed. Watched this movie about 200 times and your editor discovered his passion for kung fu. So Akira began working on his new story, kung fu.

Well, let’s direct influences!

Inspiration # 1: You may ask yourselves why so many fight movies have the traditional martial arts tournament. I say: they are all copies or at least attempt to be a copy of the movie Enter the Dragon. The film that Bruce introduced to the West the idea of a true tournament, with real combats (before was just “fake battles”, with no touches) and also introduced the idea of a big tournament gathering the bests fighters of the world to Hollywood industry, that started making many martial arts movies. We can see Dragon Ball also followed the idea with Tenkaichi Budoukai.


Inspiration # 2: During Red Ribbon Saga, in one of the fights against the red army, Goku enters in one of the famous constructions of the series: the Muscle Tower. That’s where Goku meets and befriends Android n° 8, dubbed by Goku as Either (Ha-chan). Imagine how creative Akira was by creating such tower, with different enemies on each floor, each one with a different fight style. I say: inspired on Bruce Lee, in the movie “Game of Death”.

In Lee’s movie, Muscle Tower is a pagoda, with one fighter on each floor, and on the last floor he would fight the big boss, the best fighter of the tower. Bruce filmed less than half of what he planned for the film, most part just fight scenes, but he died before completing the film.

In Dragon Ball we see a clearly resemblance. On each floor there is an enemy. We have:

– First floor: four thugs
– Second floor: Sergeant Metallic
– Third floor: Ninja Murasaki
– Fourth floor: Monster Buyon
– Fifth floor: General White

The difficulty increases when Goku walks to the highest floor, although General White is not the most powerful. Goku found harder to deal with Monster Buyon, that “adapted easily to his opponents” (I’ll talk about it later, in the category The Biggest Fight), making clear reference to the enemy on the top floor of the pagoda, in Bruce’s movie, who adapted to his enemy because of his fighting style.

3rd floor

4th floor

5th floor

Inspiration # 3: Speaking of fighting styles … which fighting style is predominant in Dragon Ball? Kung fu? Well, I can affirm that when Goku was a kid, Son Gohan trained him with the fight style of kung fu, as we can see in the first episode, when Goku moves as a practitioner of this martial art style. However during the series it appears that our heroes are no longer fighting using kung fu, they’re fighting with a particular style, fighting different opponent to opponent. It makes me think about another influence of Bruce Lee: Jeet Kune Do (The way of the intercepting fist).

This “style” created by Bruce is the “style of no style”; according to Lee, the fighter should be like water:
“The fighter should behave in a fight like water – insubstantial *, flexible. And, like water, a match cannot have definite shape.

* Bruce defines water as insubstantial because you cannot grab it, cannot punch it and hurt her.

Bruce’s philosophy was to be like water and adapt to the enemy, without a defined style – kung fu, karate, boxing, etc.

When Goku trained with Master Mutenroshi, we see that Goku wanted to be trained and learn a style but Master Roshi only trains him physically and mentally. The training provided by the wise teacher was to prepare the body and mind of his disciple to fight and when that happened, Goku would certainly adapt and see the best option to make during the fight in order to win the battle.

Inspiration # 4: About the middle of DBZ, the trainings are to be totally heavy, especially with the help of artificial gravity chamber, built by Dr. Briefs, Bulma’s father and the owner of Capsule Corp. We see Vegeta training in a 300G gravity, performing pushups that everyone would say are impossible for humans. I say it’s not impossible to Bruce Lee!

Bruce’s trainings were as heavy as the saiyan’s, but made under Earth’s gravity, of course. The famous Vegeta’s two fingers pushup (which is one of three backgrounds to load the game Dragon Ball Sparking Meteor) was based on Bruce’s two fingers pushup, shown in a karate tournament.

 Inspiration # 5: Bruce also had a direct tribute, just like Jackie Chan with the secret identity of Master Mutenroshi, Jackie Chun. In the first movie of Dragon Ball, Shenlong no Densetsu (神龍の伝説), we see a brief scene that appears a masked driver. This driver is Bruce Lee, in the role of Kato, from the TV series The Green Hornet. What a great tribute!

Now I leave you a question in a poll: who influenced more Dragon Ball? Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan?

Unfortunately I couldn’t show impartiality about this, since my post about Bruce Lee ended much larger ther the one about Jackie, but… vote!

Just for curiosity, these videos of Bruce Lee are a demonstration of his famous “One-inch punch,” a punch given from a distance of one inch from the opponent. Close? Yes. Weak? Not at all!




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