He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

The road is long with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where, who knows where
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother 

~ US songwriters Bobby Scott & Bob Russell, 1969


I was a fan of Bruce Lee from a young age. The legend of Bruce Lee was introduced to me by my late grandmother, who brought me to watch one of his very first movies, The Big Boss.

When the kung fu icon passed away, it was widely rumoured in Hong Kong that a young Jackie Chan would soon take over the reign of pre-eminent martial arts master of the world.

Chan’s movies in the late 1970’s are legendary – Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master among so many were big hits all over Asia.

Jackie Chan's training regime in the movie Drunken Master (circa 1978)

Jackie Chan's martial arts training regime in the movie Drunken Master (1978)

The movie Drunken Master, also known as Drunken Monkey in the Tiger’s Eyes in parts of Asia, shows Chinese martial arts derived from the fighting style of animals such as the tiger, crane, snake and monkey. There is a comical element in the fight scenes but the depth of martial arts and fighting prowess of the actors is undoubted.

Drunken Master Movie Poster (Source: Seasonal Film (H.K.) Corporation. Used here for commentary and illustration purposes only)

I was captivated by the strict and uncompromising training regime that Chan was subjected to by his trainer.

In one scene, he was made to assume a squat position, known as the ‘horse stance‘ among martial art circles.

For the horse stance, Chan is squatting with outstretched arms, bearing weight rings on his wrists whilst balancing five bowls of Chinese tea – two on both his shoulders and thighs and one on his head.

It’s an arduous way to build strength and endurance.

There is also a lighted joss stick placed just below his bum to keep him honest in that position. If he faltered, his bum will get singed by the joss stick.

As he became stronger, Chan was eventually able to assume the horse stance with his master sitting on his shoulders.

In trying to mimick Jackie Chan, I did the horse stance at home and coaxed my younger brother to sit on my shoulders (Cover image above). Believe me, maintaining this stance for any length of time is extremely difficult.

But he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

Drunken Master training regime

Check out the video above that shows the grueling though hilarious training regime that was to build Chan into a ferocious fighting machine in the movie Drunken Master.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother is a ballad written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell in 1969. This song was a worldwide hit with the performance by English rock group The Hollies later that year.

In the 1970’s, this song became a source of inspiration for US soldiers fighting a raging war in Vietnam. Scenes of troops carrying fallen comrades ignited a spirit of brotherhood within the US army.

Indeed, this ballad kindles a sense of brotherhood among menfolk from all walks of life. And French poet and theologian Francois Fenelon, once wrote:

“All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers.”

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9 Responses to He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

  1. A lovely post and reminds us of some of our recent history – thanks.

  2. Al says:

    I just love this blog

  3. I love that first photo – it makes my day. :) I can’t imagine doing that pose with someone on my shoulders so you must have been very strong as a kid.

    Jackie Chan is amazing!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Maureen,

      I was scrawny as a kid and still am. On the contrary, my brother has grown to be a tall, strapping lad.

  4. Love the first photo! It’s not easy doing that pose, especially I see inscense 😛

  5. Raymund says:

    I loved those movies specially when I was a child, after watching them I tried those moves in our garage using what ever I can find :)

  6. Wow that first photo looks so difficult to do! I have the physical prowess of… the laziest animal out there so this post was a really cool read 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. Nice moves! And you have me wanting to settle down with several Jackie Chan classics this weekend!

  8. Juliana says:

    Such a cute picture, the first one…honestly I was not into this kind of movies…but I remember my brother and all the poses that he would make after seeing Bruce Lee movies…
    Hope you are enjoying your week :)

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