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Rodrigo Medeiros

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Bruce Lee’s most famous quotes

     
 

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Jeet Kune Do is extremely difficult to explain to those outside the JKD family. Maybe the best way to get the message across is to let Bruce Lee tell you himself. The following quotes were written or spoken by Bruce Lee and are divided in the following categories:
 

On JKD
On JKD not being a style
On martial arts styles
On adapting to each student
On creating your personal way of fighting
On the mental attitudes of combat
On the power of the fluid
On reacting to the opponent
On readiness
On simplicity
On form, no - form
On efficiency and flexibility
On the tools of the trade
On fitness
On toughness
On sparring

 


 

 

On JKD

 
Jeet Kune Do is training and discipline towards the ultimate reality in combat.
Jeet Kune-Do is the only non-classical style of Chinese Kung Fu in existence today. It is simple in its execution, although not so simple to explain. Jeet means 'to stop, to stem, to intercept,' while Kune means 'fist' or 'style,' and Do means 'the way' or 'the ultimate reality.' In other words--'The Way of the Intercepting Fist.'
 
 

On JKD not being a style

 
I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see "ourselves". . . Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don't, and that is that.
There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune-Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune-Do is simply the direct expression of one's feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is.
Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive.
Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back.
 
 

On martial arts styles

 
To reach the masses, some sort of big organization (whether) domestic and foreign branch affiliation, is not necessary. To reach the growing number of students, some sort of pre-conformed set must be established as standards for the branch to follow. As a result all members will be conditioned according to the prescribed system. Many will probably end up as a prisoner of a systematized drill.
Styles tend to not only separate men - because they have their own doctrines and then the doctrine became the gospel truth that you cannot change. But if you do not have a style, if you just say: Well, here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely? Now, that way you won't create a style, because style is a crystallization. That way, it's a process of continuing growth.
To me totality is very important in sparring. Many styles claim this totality. They say that they can cope with all types of attacks; that their structures cover all the possible lines and angles, and are capable of retaliation from all angles and lines. If this is true, then how did all the different styles come about? If they are in totality, why do some use only the straight lines, others the round lines, some only kicks, and why do still others who want to be different just flap and flick their hands? To me a system that clings to one small aspect of combat is actually in bondage.
This statement expresses my feelings perfectly: 'In memory of a once fluid man, crammed and distorted by the classical mess.'
 
 

On adapting to each student

 
I believe in having a few pupils at one time as it requires a constant alert observation of each individual in order to establish a direct relationship. A good teacher can never be fixed in a routine... each moment requires a sensitive mind that is constantly changing and constantly adapting.
A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favourite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student's vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being. Martial art should not be passed out indiscriminately.
 
 

On creating your personal way of fighting

 
Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle. In short, enter a mold without being caged in it. Obey the principle without being bound by it. LEARN, MASTER AND ACHIEVE!!!

Knowledge in martial arts actually means self-knowledge. A martial artist has to take responsibility for himself and accept the consequences of his own doing. The understanding of JKD is through personal feeling from movement to movement in the mirror of the relationship and not through a process of isolation. To be is to be related. To isolate is death. To me, ultimately, martial arts means honestly expressing yourself. Now, it is very difficult to do. It has always been very easy for me to put on a show and be cocky, and be flooded with a cocky feeling and feel pretty cool and all that. I can make all kinds of phoney things. Blinded by it. Or I can show some really fancy movement. But to experience oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly, now that is very hard to do.
 
 
 

On the mental attitudes of combat

 
Question: What are your thoughts when facing an opponent?
Bruce: There is no opponent.
Question: Why is that?
Bruce: Because the word ''l'' does not exist.
A good fight should be like a small play...but played seriously. When the opponent expands, l contract. When he contracts, l expand. And when there is an opportunity... l do not hit...it hits all by itself (shows his fist).
Any technique, however worthy and desirable, becomes a disease when the mind is obsessed with it.
 
 

On the power of the fluid

 
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.

 
 

On reacting to the opponent

 
The highest technique is to have no technique. My technique is a result of your technique; my movement is a result of your movement.
A good JKD man does not oppose force or give way completely. He is pliable as a spring; he is the complement and not the opposition to his opponent’s strength. He has no technique; he makes his opponent's technique his technique. He has no design; he makes opportunity his design.
One should not respond to circumstance with artificial and "wooden" prearrangement. Your action should be like the immediacy of a shadow adapting to its moving object. Your task is simply to complete the other half of the oneness spontaneously.
In combat, spontaneity rules; rote performance of technique perishes.
 
 

On readiness

 
Do not be tense, just be ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but being flexible. It is being "wholly" and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.
The danger of training with the heavy bag is that it doesn't react to one’s attack and sometimes there is a tendency to thoughtlessness. One will punch the bag carelessly, and would be vulnerable in a real situation if this became a habit.
 
 

On simplicity

 
In JKD, one does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.
Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum. It is the halfway cultivation that leads to ornamentation. Jeet Kune-Do is basically a sophisticated fighting style stripped to its essentials.
Art is the expression of the self. The more complicated and restricted the method, the less the opportunity for expression of one's original sense of freedom. Though they play an important role in the early stage, the techniques should not be too mechanical, complex or restrictive. If we cling blindly to them, we shall eventually become bound by their limitations. Remember, you are expressing the techniques and not doing the techniques. If somebody attacks you, your response is not Technique No.1, Stance No. 2, Section 4, Paragraph 5. Instead you simply move in like sound and echo, without any deliberation. It is as though when I call you, you answer me, or when I throw you something, you catch it. It's as simple as that - no fuss, no mess. In other words, when someone grabs you, punch him. To me a lot of this fancy stuff is not functional.
A martial artist who drills exclusively to a set pattern of combat is losing his freedom. He is actually becoming a slave to a choice pattern and feels that the pattern is the real thing. It leads to stagnation because the way of combat is never based on personal choice and fancies, but constantly changes from moment to moment, and the disappointed combatant will soon find out that his 'choice routine' lacks pliability. There must be a 'being' instead of a 'doing' in training. One must be free. Instead of complexity of form, there should be simplicity of expression.
To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.
In building a statue, a sculptor doesn't keep adding clay to his subject. Actually, he keeps chiselling away at the inessentials until the truth of its creation is revealed without obstructions. Thus, contrary to other styles, being wise in Jeet Kune-Do doesn't mean adding more; it means to minimize, in other words to hack away the unessential.
It is not daily increase but daily decrease; hack away the unessential.
 
 

On form, no - form

 
Too much horsing around with unrealistic stances and classic forms and rituals is just too artificial and mechanical, and doesn't really prepare the student for actual combat. A guy could get clobbered while getting into this classical mess. Classical methods like these, which I consider a form of paralysis, only solidify and constrain what was once fluid. Their practitioners are merely blindly rehearsing routines and stunts that will lead nowhere.
I believe that the only way to teach anyone proper self-defence is to approach each individual personally. Each one of us is different and each one of us should be taught the correct form. By correct form I mean the most useful techniques the person is inclined toward. Find his ability and then develop these techniques. I don't think it is important whether a side kick is performed with the heel higher than the toes, as long as the fundamental principle is not violated. Most classical martial arts training is a mere imitative repetition - a product - and individuality is lost.
When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.
 
 

On efficiency and flexibility

 
In primary freedom, one utilizes all ways and is bound by none, and likewise uses any techniques or means which serves one's end. Efficiency is anything that scores.
Efficiency in sparring and fighting is not a matter of correct classical, traditional form. Efficiency is anything that scores. Creating fancy forms and classical sets to replace sparring is like trying to wrap and tie a pound of water into a manageable shape of paper sack. For something that is static, fixed, dead, there can be a way or a definite path; but not for anything that is moving and living. In sparring there's no exact path or method, but instead a perceptive, pliable, choice-less awareness. It lives from moment to moment.
When in actual combat, you're not fighting a corpse. Your opponent is a living, moving object who is not in a fixed position, but fluid and alive. Deal with him realistically, not as though you're fighting a robot. Traditionally, classical form and efficiency are both equally important. I'm not saying form is not important - economy of form that is - but to me, efficiency is anything that scores. Don't indulge in any unnecessary, sophisticated moves. You'll get clobbered if you do, and in a street fight you'll have your shirt zipped off you.
 
 

On the tools of the trade

 
I refer to my hands, feet and body as the tools of the trade. The hands and feet must be sharpened and improved daily to be efficient.
It is true that the mental aspect of kung-fu is the desired end; however, to achieve this end, technical skill must come first.
The techniques, though they play an important role in the early stage, should not be too restrictive, complex or mechanical. If we cling to them, we will become bound by their limitation. Remember, you are expressing the technique, and not doing Technique number two, Stance three, Section four?
Practice all movements slow and fast, soft and hard; the effectiveness of Jeet Kune-Do depends on split-second timing and reflexive action, which can be achieved only through repetitious practice.
When performing the movements, always use your imagination. Picture your adversary attacking, and use Jeet Kune-Do techniques in response to this imagined attack. As these techniques become more innate, new meaning will begin to emerge and better techniques can be formulated.
 
 

On fitness

 
In Jeet Kune-Do, physical conditioning is a must for all martial artists. If you are not physically fit, you have no business doing any hard sparring. To me, the best exercise for this is running. Running is so important that you should keep it up during your lifetime. What time of the day you run is not important as long as you run. In the beginning you should jog easily and then gradually increase the distance and tempo, and finally include sprints to develop your 'wind.'
 

Let me give you a bit of warning: just because you get very good at your training it should not go to your head that you are an expert. Remember, actual sparring is the ultimate, and the training is, only a means toward this. Besides running, one should also do exercises for the stomach - sit-ups, leg raises, etc. Too often one of those big-belly masters will tell you that his internal power has sunk to his stomach; he's not kidding, it is sunk and gone! To put it bluntly, he is nothing but fat and ugly.

 
 

On toughness

 
A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.

Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life. Do not be concerned with escaping safely - lay your life before him.
 
 

On sparring

 
The main characteristic JKD is the absence of the usual classical passive blocking. Blocking is the least efficient. Jeet Kune-Do is offensive; it's alive and it's free.

The combatant should be alive in sparring, throwing punches and kicks from all angles, and should not be a co-operative robot. Like water, sparring should be formless. Pour water into a cup, it becomes part of the cup. Pour it into a bottle; it becomes part of the bottle. Try to kick or punch it, it is resilient; clutch it and it will yield without hesitation. In fact, it will escape as pressure is being applied to it. How true it is that nothingness cannot be confined. The softest thing cannot be snapped.

There is nothing better than free-style sparring in the practice of any combative art. In sparring you should wear suitable protective equipment and go all out. Then you can truly learn the correct timing and distance for the delivery of the kicks, punches, etc. It is a good idea to spar with all types of individuals--tall, short, fast, clumsy. Yes, at times a clumsy fellow will mess up a better man because his awkwardness serves as a sort of broken rhythm. The best sparring partner, though, is a quick, strong man who does not know anything; a madman who goes all out, scratching, grabbing, grappling, punching, kicking, and so on.

The first rule is to keep yourself well covered at all times and never leave yourself open while sparring around the bag. By all means use your footwork--side stepping, feinting, varying your kicks and blows to the bag. Do not shove or flick at it. Explode through it and remember that the power of the kick and punch comes from the correct contact at the right spot and at the right moment with the body in perfect position; not, as many people think, from the vigor with which the kicks or blows are delivered.
The old-fashioned punching speed bag teaches you to hit straight and square; if you don't hit it straight the bag will not return directly to you. Besides learning footwork, you can hit the bag upward too. Another important function is that after the delivery of the punch, the bag will return instantaneously and this will teach you to be alert and to recover quickly. The bag should not be hit in a rhythmic motion but instead in a broken rhythm. Actually fight the bag as if it is your opponent.

To develop proper distance and penetration against a moving target, use a partner equipped either with a body protector or an air bag. He can either stand still and take the brunt of the kick, or he can back away from the attack. The former teaches proper application of the kick, especially valuable in teaching beginners. The latter training is to teach penetration. As soon as your partner thinks you will attack, he tries to back away as fast as possible. This practice is valuable to both men; one learns to penetrate and the other to back away quickly. The body protector is sometimes used for sharpening the attack. The partner will not attack but will maintain a correct distance in a ready fighting pose. As you begin to attack, he will try to counter, block, or move away. You will have almost the actual feeling of hitting your opponent in a real situation.

 
   
 

More topics:

Was Bruce Lee a fake master?

Yip Man

Jeet Kune Do

 

Bruce Lee's biography

Wing Tsun

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris

     

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