Jeet Kune Do

As a strength athlete I am no stranger to people who appear larger than life. Stand next to Worlds Strongest Man Brian Shaw for a moment if you ever find yourself needing to be brought back down to Earth in a hurry. The man is massive and powerful in every sense of the word. Born a few decades earlier a man of his dimensions would be traveling with the circus as regular employment being anything other than a plow horse would not be logistically possible. However when I was growing up there was one person that I found time and time again as powerful and impactful as any other that had come before him. He was a mighty little game changer going by the name Bruce Lee. His seminal work, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do is an amazing masterpiece that I am pleased to take a dive into today.

First order of business is to clarify that this book is in many ways an homage to Lee more than a work directly attributed to him. It is a compilation that was compiled and edited after his death. The profundity of the work speaks to the intensity of the man but the biggest take away for me is the fact that this amount of insight and enlightenment was attained by such a young man. One could be forgiven for attributing the work to someone of a much more advanced age. I am left to wonder what impact this man could have had on society had he been among us longer than 32 short years. He was empowering, inspiring, and progressive. Far beyond being a performer he had incredible gravitas, a commanding presence, and contagious energy that made him the consummate teacher sought by elite martial artists and celebrities alike. You will be hard pressed to find a more quotable person, always focused, deliberate, and engaging. “Be like water” “Using no way as the way, and no limitation as the limitation”. That’s good shit right there!!!! The ultimate inward locus of control!! These philosophies are so inspiring that they have seeded the Bruce Lee Foundation. The foundation uses the philosophies of self-expression and empowerment to engage with the youth and underprivileged. The Foundations website says that through his philosophies and inspiration “we can impact the world by giving people permission to follow their dreams, in harmony with their community”.  How powerful is that? PERMISSION! Not from the context that permission is being granted to the individual, it is from the perspective that we are the arbiters of our empowerment, and the our own guides to enlightenment.

At a time when the self-improvement genre was still at the fringes, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do was relegated to the bookstore under how-to Karate.

Mentor is a buzzword that permeates the self-improvement world these days, and while there is no denying the power of mentorship on the path to success the value of ultimate self-expression can not be overlooked. A true teacher or mentor has failed if they simply reproduce themselves in an effort to carry on a legacy. A true legacy that will stand the test of time is one of empowering the self with confidence to be an individual. Inspiration not replication. When a teacher empowers a student to achieve a fulfillment of the self, and achieve things that no one else has ever achieved before, that is true mentorship. If one was to try to illustrate the influence Bruce Lee has had it would be quite exponential. The fact that martial arts studios are commonplace across the entire country and that the martial arts film genre is one that has become deeply embedded in American culture are both just testaments to the ripple effect this man had on our culture. He was the original MMA pioneer.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

-Bruce Lee

This is the hallmark of the MMA philosophy and a powerful tactic to deploy in pursuit of self  betterment. Another observation that validates the impact Bruce Lee had culturally is that you see people crediting him with influence from sports and industries that could not be more detached from martial arts. His philosophy is inclusive and universal. It can be applied to any domain and be as impactful as it has been on the martial arts world. The term “kung fu” itself is often misappropriated to the martial arts. The true nature of the term is simply referring to a high level of mastery achieved through dedicated effort. When concepts are distilled to their underlying principles it is often the case that a certain universality emerges. The same dedicated effort and self-confidence that makes a proficient fighter also makes a funny comedian, a great chef, and a master artisan. These principles hold the same value for the martial artist as they do artists from any genre. An elite ballerina is as much a kung fu master as is an elite martial artist. But the most powerful thread connecting all of his principles are that we are all complete just as we are. Self actualization needs no additional ingredients. You are everything you need and will ever need to become your ultimate self-expression.


One thought on “Jeet Kune Do

  1. sfedis June 7, 2018 / 7:48 pm

    What a fantastic read, and powerful information.

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