Whenever I'm paid $200,000 to demonstrate my martial arts abilities and give a short speech to a gathering of young people, I always speak about the same thing: the epidemic of violence we see in our society today. Why do so many kids think using their fists is the answer to all of life's problems? Where do they get these ideas? That's why I'm using my status as the world's most famous martial arts movie star to teach children an important lesson.
Never, ever take a fist to another person unless you're profiting handsomely from it.
I was a child once, and I know what it's like to want to settle your differences with a fight. There were many times I dreamed about giving a swift roundhouse kick to the bullies who tormented me. And I could have, too. I was trained. Ready. But when I entered the Peking Opera School to learn kung fu, my master Yu Jim Yuen told me that the true warrior must never strike first. He must sit and wait—at least until he has secured a three-picture deal with Warner Bros. and has fully developed his persona as a highly marketable, family-friendly Bruce Lee.
Only then can you justly throw a large jug to someone to catch and then kick them in the face, shattering the jug, and their face.
I recall one bully who used to taunt me when I was growing up in Hong Kong. He would call me horrible names and try to egg me on, but I always stuck to my principles. "My friend, I have no quarrel with you," I would say. "I will not fight you unless I'm given $5 million up-front, 3 percent on the back end, and first rights to star in any sequels."
The bully would beat me soundly, of course, but there's a lesson here: Unless you're getting a good cut of the profits, you must turn the other cheek. If and only if the person fighting you is a trained martial artist or an actor, and only if you're on the set of your 12th blockbuster film and your performers' union is not on strike, only then should you grab hold of your enemy's arm, spin him and swing him around behind you to take out five other extras playing henchmen, slide down a tapestry, crash through a glass wall, quip a disarming one-liner, and finally set your sights on taking down the mafia boss character who is trying to turn your native village into a lucrative casino.
Remember: The wise fighter knows that violence may only need to be used once in an entire lifetime, especially if you have a good agent and can make sure the studio is giving you at least what they're paying Chris Tucker.
Using force should be avoided at all costs, so it is important to pursue all of your options when faced with an opponent. If they strike you in the stomach, try to talk it out. If they kick your chest, suggest taking some time apart to cool off before coming together to work through your differences. And if they have stolen a Ukrainian warhead, and you catch up to them at an abandoned warehouse, and they start throwing tables and chairs and anything in the vicinity at you, and the director has said, "Action," consider grabbing a nearby stepladder, swinging it around your back, and roundhousing them all in the face with its legs before twirling it around your neck, throwing the ladder up in the air to land over the biggest guy, and—while he's disoriented—punching him through the rungs. At least, that is what has always worked for me.
Sadly, I have seen many a young man fall victim to an obsession with his own power. This is why one must be always wary of self- serving thoughts. You may have a swift right hand and foot, and be able to knock your foe to the ground with just one punch, but what will you do when he rises up against you with three or four others? If you meditate on this, you will see the error. You have involved yourself in a group battle, and no one is filming it. You may have won the fight, but you have lost millions in box-office receipts, DVD sales, action-figure licensing deals, maybe even a very popular series of video games.
There is no honor in violence that doesn't make $67 million its opening weekend.
For now, I will leave you with this thought. If I have learned anything from my long and profitable career as a martial artist, it is that spitting a mouthful of industrial alcohol onto an opponent wielding a hot glass rod to make him catch on fire—even if it's being filmed for your smash hit, Drunken Master II—is wrong.
You should save a move that good for later in your career, when you're an established name and can command a larger percentage of the box-office gross.