Mike Moh began practicing martial arts as a young teenager after watching Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, and, of, course, Bruce Lee. Two decades later, he’s a fifth-degree black belt in Taekwondo — and the actor tasked with playing Lee in this summer’s Quentin Tarantino new flick, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
It wasn’t easy prepping to be Lee. Moh got the call to audition, then had just three months to prep. “I had to get really deep into not only who Bruce was, but how he ate and how he trained,” he says.
To become Bruce Lee, Moh didn’t call a celebrity trainer or hit the gym. Instead, he studied Lee’s martial arts training techniques himself, then revamped his own sessions to mimic Lee’s workouts. Lee was a big fan of boxing, Moh says, so he starts every workout with an exercise boxers frequently do, jumping rope. “Jumping rope is going to get your nerves and your joints and your muscles warmed up,” Moh says. “It’s also going to help with your timing and your footwork.”
Next up is pushups. Lee was famous for his one-finger pushups. Moh doesn’t touch those, but he does do standard pushups, archer pushups, and Superman pushups to prep to play the master. (Want to know how to do Superman pushups? Check out our tutorial here.)
Bruce Lee’s ab training was also legendary, with everything from V-sits to dragon flags. Moh readies his body to do those moves with hanging leg raises and windshield wipers. He finishes by honing his martial arts techniques with punches and kicks — and focusing on control. Brad Pitt is also in the movie, and the last thing Moh wanted to do was hurt his co-star. “For filming, we had to make sure that I was not only looking powerful and fast like Bruce himself, but also that my kicks were one-hundred percent controlled,” he says. “The last thing I wanted to do was break Mr. Pitt’s ribs.”
Moh wraps up the workout with some old-school (well, sort of) conditioning, the old-fashioned burpee. Just for spice, however, he throws in backflips after several of his burpees. Because hey, it seems like something Lee would do, right?
Mike Moh’s Bruce-Lee-Inspired Workout
Hanging Leg Raise
3 rounds, 3 minutes each
3 sets, 1 minute each
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