To those of us who are Bruce Lee fans, the thought of his son, Brandon, carrying on his legacy was taken from us due to an on screen accident. However his mark as an actor, martial artist and icon are with us forever.
I can recall some early articles about Brandon. I have a simple upper body template hypertrophy template as well. The following are bits and pieces from my memory.
During his rise to fame, several magazines interviewed Brandon. He was very open about his life, training and direction.
During his youth, when Bruce was alive, Brandon trained with his dad of course. This included Bruce’s supplemental training that included strength, flexibility, endurance and impact resistance work. After his death, Linda Lee wanted to provide a normal upbringing. Brandon entered private school and participated in Little League and other sports with occasional exposure to JKD through Dan Inosanto, Ted Wong and Richard Bustillo. Brandon kind of had a huge hurdle living up to the most alpha of males, his Dad. He bumped into Mike Vendrell, an old school gung fu practitioner and stuntman. This rekindled his interest in martial arts and he began training with Mike who supposedly did illegal, underground, fights at the time. Mike was the choreagrapher on many films and a friend of David Carradine who used Brandon in, Kung Fu: The Movie. Mike also was associated with Gene LeBell and Roddy Piper.
Brandon ended up doing, “Showdown in Little Tokyo”, with Dolph Lundgren. He mentioned that before the role, he wanted to have movement distinctive from the imposing Lundgren who was a Doorman, Swedish Military Operator and Kyokushinkai Champ. Brandon therefore trained gymnastics to add to his bag of tricks and physique. This is apparent when you watch the film. It was during this time that Brandon reconnected with the Inosanto and IMB Academy. He started classes in Jun Fan/JKD and Muay Thai. Brandon practiced grappling with Larry Hartsell and hung out with Rich Bustillo whom he rode motorcycles with. According to the Inosanto Academy, Brandon certified in both JunFan/JKD and Thai Boxing. The Thai certifications were done under the watchful and brutal eyes of Chai Sirisute.
During filming of Showdown in Little Tokyo, Brandon noticed actor Darryl Chan who appeared to be flexing his arms since they were apparent in all the scenes. He later cornered him and found out he was also a trainer and his arms looked like that in a relaxed state. Brandon hired him to train him for cosmetic impact in Rapid Fire. He also chose to do Muay Thai, running and jump rope for lower body training. This is not uncommon in film since there is only so much energy and the visual shots emphasize upper body development. As well, the stunts involve running and jumping and you either can or can’t. There is no bragging about your squat when you can’t run up steps, take after take at the end of a 12 hour day. Below is the template that Darryl Chan used for Brandon.
Monday: Chest and Triceps
Tuesday: Shoulders and Biceps
Thursday: Chest and Triceps
Friday: Shoulders and Biceps
So in addition to this hypertrophy work, Brandon trained with Jeff Imada, choreographing the stunts, then more Thai Boxing training that included ropework, bagwork and padwork for cardiovascular endurance and reduction of bodyfat.
Let me add something in closing. In one of the articles Brandon was fascinated by pushing muscle development during the more anaerobic phases of Thai Pad work or Rope Skipping. Like doing the endurance phase, but pushing the heart, lungs and the muscles into max levels. He felt that this type of training lent itself to martial activities.
When I write this I am sad. Seeing life taken at such a young age as in the case of Bruce and Brandon, it makes me want to savor life so much more. It’s hard to sit still and not keep trying or as Bruce said, “Keep on blasting”.