Bruce Lee was a Chinese-American martial artist, actor and director. He is one of the most recognizable names on the planet to this day. In this article we will try to discover which MBTI personality type he was.
Most MBTI websites have him typed as ISTP or listed among famous ISTPs, which seems about right, if you don’t put much thought into it. It was my first guess too, but lets get deeper into it.
Extrovert or introvert?
On the official Myers & Briggs page, extroversion is defined by being energized by the outer world, agreeing with sentences like “I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities” or “I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people”.
Bruce Lee was an action oriented guy. By the time he was 18, he had appeared in twenty films. This is much easier to do if you’re an extroverted, highly energetic person who likes attention. His college major was drama. In his teens he would get into many fights and almost end up in jail because of it. You probably didn’t know this, but Lee was also a cha-cha dancer, winning Hong Kong’s Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship. From his early years onward he was always in the spotlight, worked with people and had a super active life, which makes me think he was an extrovert.
Now, he was also a reflective person, which he got from studying philosophy, but overall I would go for a well balanced extrovert rather than an introvert.
Sensing or intuitive?
Bruce Lee has many philosophical quotes which lead people to think that he was an intuitive (N), but it’s not like people with a sensing preference can’t comprehend philosophy. At the University of Washington, Bruce Lee took philosophy and psychology classes, among others. Despite what Lee himself and many others have stated, Lee’s official major was drama rather than philosophy according to a 1999 article in the university’s alumni publication. His whole lifestyle was about performance and craft and even his philosophical quotes mainly emphasize the need for less thinking and theory and more action and living in the moment. This is why I think he was a sensor.
Thinker or feeler?
While Bruce Lee was a positive and pleasant guy, he didn’t seem to be a touchy-feely sort of person. This is why most people put him in the thinker (T) category. That said, it should be mentioned that men in general are less emotionally expressive and Asian men probably even less so. This is why many men get mistyped as thinkers, because a male feeler is less obvious in behavior. I also lean towards “thinker” but I’m not 100% sure about this one.
Judging or perceiving?
The Myers & Briggs website describes people with a J preference in these short notes: like to have things decided, task oriented, like todo lists, work before play, planner. And it describes perceiving people in these short notes: like to stay open and respond to what happens, appear loose and casual, like to mix work and play, work in bursts of energy, stimulated by a deadline. To be honest, Bruce Lee seemed to fit the first description more. Even though he was all about adaptability in martial arts (be water my friend), he had brutal discipline and work habits in his life. He didn’t work in bursts of inspiration. He worked like a horse, every day, relentlessly. To be fair, it’s not like all perceivers lack discipline. In fact, if a perceiver is in love with his/her work, he/she may develop the iron sort of discipline that Bruce Lee had. I think Bruce Lee was a well balanced person in this regard and it’s hard for me to tell if he was J or P. He does seem to fit the prototype of the artisan (SP) temperament so I’ll perceiver (P) on this one.
A website that relies on a visitor voting system has him typed as ISTP with these percentages for each letter: I 89%, S 90%, T 94%, P 95%. This is just popular opinion though. After reading his biography I would say he fits best into David Keirsey’s artisan (SP) temperament. He was all about performing and perfecting his craft. Even though most people type him as an ISTP, I would say he was an extrovert. The T-F preference is what I’m most unsure of. That said, I have heard some people typing him as an ENFP, which actually does make some sense when you think about it. ENFPs do like to perform and they are quite philosophical for feelers. If they’re doing something they like, they have the energy of 10 people. Bruce Lee’s college major was drama. That’s definitely a place where you’d find many ENFPs. So I guess ENFP is a possibility.
My best guess would be in this order:
5. Any other type
Some people even believe he was an INFJ. Sorry for not being completely sure and accurate. Look at it this way: Bruce Lee was like water. He could be anything he wanted. “You must be shapeless, formless, like water.”