” Real living is living for others.” – Bruce Lee

  If you ask most fighters who their biggest martial arts inspiration is, the most popular possible response would, without a doubt, be Bruce Lee.

  Dubbed the “father of MMA” by UFC president Dana White, Lee has a special place in the hearts of most people involved with combat sports, but probably none more so than former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

  “The Spider” has often vocalized his admiration for the martial arts pioneer, and his style — a mix of deadly simplicity with a dash of flash — is an homage to the legendary actor. While Silva is a perfect model of Lee’s philosophy of the martial arts (that the best style is no style), the UFC star embodies the spirit of Lee in other, more important ways as well.

  In a recent interview with Brazilian magazine Trip, of which excerpts have been translated from by Fightland, Silva talks at length about a number of social justice topics. Like Lee, who was in many ways a pioneer for AAsians in America and around the world, the former UFC champ has decided to use his platform to speak out about causes related to racism, police brutality, and homophobia.

  “Racism is bad anywhere on the planet. It exists in the United States as well, even more than in Brazil,” Silva told Trip. “I think things are changing, people are learning that everyone is equal before God, independent of their color, their race. I tend to say that conflict is inevitable in man, that color is just an excuse to unleash that madness, that lack of respect people have for one another. I’m very well set on this racism thing. We’re living in a moment in which racism does not fit in the world.”

  Having experienced first-hand mistreatment from people in higher social classes in Brazil, Silva’s rise to prominence despite his trials and tribulations mirrors many of Lee’s experiences when he was breaking into Hollywood. The Chinese star had to break through many glass ceilings in order to overcome racism against Asians in America, and was still able to become one of the biggest icons in not just martial arts, but cinema and pop culture as well.

  Silva also seems to really take Lee’s focus on non-violence being the most effective martial art to heart.

   “I call it, the art of fighting without fighting,” Lee says to a challenger in the classic “Enter the Dragon.”

  In his interview with Trip, “The Spider” implored protesters to also practice non-violence, as he sees it as the most effective way to bring about change as well.

  “We’re entering an era in which we have the opportunity to make changes,” Silva says in the piece. “It’s important for people to have the conscience to exercise their rights, to protest without violence and aggression, to have objectives.”

  While many in America won’t hear his message due to the language barrier and mass underreporting of this story by most of the western MMA media, people in Brazil will definitely get a chance to hear it. As one of the country’s biggest stars, it’s important the Silva use his platform to give a voice to his fans, his countrymen. Brazil, like many parts of the world, is home many injustices that need to be talked about, and I applaud Silva for taking a stand.

  Like the St. Louis Rams standing up for their neighbors in Ferguson, Mo., “The Spider” is providing a ray of hope for the oppressed in his home country. Bruce Lee would be proud of Silva if he were here today.

About The Author

Staff Writer

Matt Juul is loving college life as he pursues a career in journalism and cinema. A writer and pop culture fanatic, his interests and expertise range from arts and entertainment to the rough and tough world of mixed martial arts. Matt’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston.com, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, and the New Haven Register.