In February 2022, the Anxiety Freedom Today Facebook page posted a questionable quote that read: “Bruce Lee once said: ‘Instead of buying your children all the things you never had, you should teach them all the things you were never taught. Material wears out but knowledge stays.'” The picture in the quote meme showed Lee, a former martial arts actor, and his son, Brandon.
Most parents might agree with the sentiment of the quote about teaching children rather than buying them things. However, we found no record of Lee ever having said these words. A blog named Sourcing Bruce Lee also came up empty when looking for the origins of the quote in 2020.
We reached out to the Bruce Lee Foundation to find out more about this quote and will update this story’s rating should we receive a response.
On Feb. 18, the quote meme with Lee’s picture was shared more than 111,000 times.
Quote Websites, Twitter, and Reddit
Instead of buying your children all the things you never had, you should teach them all the things you were never taught. Material wears out but knowledge stays. ⭐️
– Bruce Lee pic.twitter.com/eP1J2JuqwH
— Ken Rutkowski (@kenradio) October 4, 2019
It has also been featured multiple times on Reddit. More than 99 percent of the comments in these Reddit threads didn’t appear to question the quote’s authenticity. However, one user named u/zacharius55 asked of the quote, “Did Bruce Lee really say this?” Another person responded with a joke quote that was attributed to former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, saying, “You can always trust what you read on the internet.”
We previously reviewed another quote that had been attributed to Lee. It read: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
We also fact-checked a picture that supposedly showed Lee posing with Elvis Presley in a dojo, a video of Lee purportedly playing ping-pong using nunchaku rather than a paddle, and a claim about whether Lee was an American citizen. Additionally, we looked at the facts behind Lee’s death and the theories about his missing sweat glands.
In sum, it doesn’t appear that Lee ever said: “Instead of buying your children all the things you never had, you should teach them all the things you were never taught,” nor did it look like he said, “Material wears out but knowledge stays.” However, again, we reached out to the Bruce Lee Foundation for assistance and will update this story if we hear back. For now, we have rated this claim as, “Research In Progress.”
Sources:“Brandon Lee.” Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Brandon-Lee.“Bruce Lee.” Brittanica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bruce-Lee.Bruce Lee Foundation. https://bruceleefoundation.org/.Martial History Team. “Instead of Buying Your Children…” Sourcing Bruce Lee, 27 Oct. 2020, https://sourcingbrucelee.blogspot.com/2020/10/instead-of-buying-your-children.html.