Tag Archives: John Little

Bruce Lee: Artist of Life by John Little

Summary
  1. “Basically, I have always been a martial artist by choice and actor by profession. But, above all, I am hoping to actualize myself to be an artist of life by daily actualizing my potentiality through soulful discoveries and daily exercising.” By artist of life he refers to the process of being an individual who, through the use of his own independent judgment, sought to fully actualize himself as a total human being (physically, mentally, spiritually)
Key Takeaways
  1. “My life…seems to me to be a life of self-examination, a peeling of my self bit by bit, day by day.”
  2. Bruce was a highly educated man because he never missed an opportunity for a “fact” or “situation” to teach him more about himself
  3. Multi-disciplinary thinker – finding a truth in one discipline and then applying that truth to an entirely unrelated discipline is a hallmark of Lee’s genius: he saw the connections where others did not (combined Krishnamurti’s and Alan Watts’ thinking on spirituality into martial arts)
  4. Only through process of coming to know self can we come to know anything
  5. Wu Hsin (no-mindedness)
    1. No-mindedness is not a blank mind that excludes all emotions; nor is it simply calmness and quietness of mind. Although quietude and calmness are important, it is the non-graspingness of the mind that mainly constitutes the principle of no-mindedness.
    2. The mind should be like a mirror – grasps nothing and refuses nothing; it receives but does not keep
    3. No-mindedness is not being without emotion but being one in whom feeling is not sticky nor blocked. It is a mind immune to emotional influences
  6. Gung fu – discipline/training toward ultimate reality of the object (master towards any objective, not only martial arts)
    1. Gung fu values the wonder of the ordinary, and the idea is not daily increase but daily decrease. Being wise in gung fu does not mean adding more but being able to remove sophistication and ornamentation and be simply simple. The closer one is to the true way of gung fu, the less wastage of expression there is
    2. A simple life is one of plainness in which profit is discarded, cleverness abandoned, selfishness eliminated, and desires reduced. It is the life of perfection which seems to be incomplete and of fullness which seems to be empty. It is the life that is as bright as light but does not dazzle. In short, it is a life of harmony, unity, contentment, tranquility, constancy, enlightenment, peace and long life.
  7. Art is the expression of the self; the more complicated and restrictive the method is, the less opportunity there is for expression of one’s original sense of freedom
  8. The measure of a moral man is his happiness
  9. On perfection – since perfection is an impossibility, you can never live up to it. You are merely in love with this ideal and there is no end to the self-torture, to the self-nagging, self-castigating. It hides under the mask of “self-improvement.” It never works
  10. Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. The difference between self-actualizing and self-image actualizing is very important. Most people only live life for their image
  11. On anxiety – thinking is rehearsing in fantasy for the role you have to play in society. And when it comes to the moment of performance and you’re not sure whether your performance will be well received, then you get stage fright. This stage fright has been given by psychiatry the name “anxiety”
  12. Maturation is the development from environmental support to self-support
  13. On Learning
    1. The best way of learning is not through computation of information. Learning is discovering, uncovering what is there in us. When we discover, we are uncovering our own ability, in our own eyes, in order to find our potential, to see what is gung fu, to discover how we can enlarge our lives, to find the means at our disposal that will let us cope with a difficult situation. And all this, I maintain, is taking place in the here and now
    2. You will find nothing develops your intelligence better than to take any question and turning it into a genuine statement
  14. On Resistance
    1. Once we are capable of understanding our reluctance to accept unpleasant experiences, we can get to the next layer, the phobic layer, the resistance, the objection to being what we are
    2. A choice method [toward liberation] is the cultivation of resistance, and where there is resistance there is no understanding. A so-called well-disciplined mind is not a free mind. A choice method, however exacting, fixes the mind in a pattern – a crystallization. This type of dead drilling is not an adequate response to the ever-changing moment in combat [or life]
  15. The self-willed man – A self-willed man has no other aim than his own growth. He values only one thing, the mysterious power in himself which bids him life and helps him to grow. The power can be neither preserved nor increased nor deepened by money and power, because money and power are the invention of distrust. When a man has confidence in himself, when all he wants in the world is to live out his destiny in freedom and purity, he comes to regard all those vastly overestimated and far too costly possessions as mere accessories, pleasant perhaps to have and make use of, but never essential. His only living destiny is the silent, ungainsayable law in his own heart, which comfortable habits make it so hard to obey but which to the self-willed man is destiny and godhead.
  16. Jeet Kune Do
    1. JKD is not about a more efficient way to subdue one’s opponent, but rather a more efficient way to subdue oneself; to rid oneself of hang-ups, insecurities, fears, and suppressed emotions – anything, in other words, that would bind the individual from becoming anything less than the fullest expression of himself
    2. True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns; freedom of expression occurs when one is beyond system
      1. When a system becomes “dogma” it becomes a crutch which limits and blocks the natural growth of a martial artist. Thus, any special technique, however classically correct or cleverly designed, is in reality a disease, should one become obsessed with it.
    3. There is no help but self help
    4. Accumulating fixed knowledge of oneself externally is not the process of JKD; rather, JKD is a process of discovering the cause of one’s ignorance and oftentimes involves a shedding process
    5. His physical movement is his soul made visible. Indeed, martial art is the direct expression of the human soul
    6. A good student is one who is able to enter a mold but not be caged by it, to follow the principles yet without being limited or bound by them. This is important, for a pliable, choiceless observation without exclusion is so essential in the cultivation of JKD. So what is important here is not to have an organized philosophy of combat, or, for that matter, a method of combat, but to observe neutrally what is taking place in actual combat, inwardly as well as outwardly
    7. A good JKD artists rests in direct intuition
  17. Efficiency is anything that scores
  18. On Understanding
    1. Understanding requires not just a moment of perception, but a continuous awareness, a continuous state of inquiry in which there is no conclusion. There is no thinking that is free – all thought is partial; it can never be total. Thought is the response of memory, and memory is always partial, because memory is the result of experience; so thought is the reaction of a mind which is conditioned by experience
    2. Awareness is never exclusive, it includes everything
    3. To bring the mind into sharp focus and to make it alert so it can immediately intuit truth, which is everywhere, the mind must be emancipated from old habits, prejudices, restrictive thought process and even ordinary thought itself
  19. The 3 Faults
    1. The invention of an empirical self that observes itself
    2. Viewing one’s thought as a kind of object or possession, situating it in a separate, isolated “part of itself” – I “have” a mind
    3. The striving to wiping the mirror
      1. Zen is not “attained” by mirror-wiping meditation, but by becoming fully in the now. Don’t strive to “become,” but be
  20. Learning to unlearn
    1. The knowledge and skill you have achieved are after all meant to be “forgotten” so you can float in emptiness without obstruction and comfortably. Learning is important, but do not become its slave. Above all, do not harbor anything external and superfluous; the mind is the primary (see Waitzkin’s The Art of Learning for more color on this process of mastery)
    2. To have no technique is to have all technique
  21. The 6 Diseases
    1. The desire for victory
    2. The desire to resort to technical cunning
    3. The desire to display all that you have learned
    4. The desire to overawe the enemy
    5. The desire to play a passive role
    6. The desire to get rid of whatever disease you are likely to be infected with
  22. True mastery
    1. True mastery transcends any particular art. It stems from mastery of oneself – the ability, developed through self-discipline, to be calm, fully aware, and completely in tune with oneself and the surroundings. Then, and only then, can a person know himself
    2. Remember well my friend that all styles are man-made, and the man is always more important than the style. Style concludes. Man grows
  23. Self-knowledge
    1. Only self-knowledge leads to freedom
    2. Through my own observation I am convinced that an absolutely honest and direct inquiry into oneself will lead to understanding
    3. Having gone through a lot of ups and downs, I realize that there is no help but self-help. Self-help comes in many forms: daily discoveries through choiceless observation, honestly, as well as wholeheartedly always doing one’s best; a sort of indomitable obsessive dedication and, above all, realizing that there is no end or limit to this, because life is simply an ever-going process, an ever renewing process. The duty of a human being, in my personal opinion, is to become transparently real, to simply be.
  24. Life is best lived, not conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems. Living exists when life lives through us – unhampered in its flow, for he who is living is not conscious of living and, in this, is the life he lives. Life lives; and in the living flow, no questions are raised. The reason is that life is a living now. Completeness, the now, is an absence of the conscious mind striving to divide the indivisible.
  25. We can see through others only when we see ourselves – Batesian mimicry (master knows the impostors)
  26. We have more faith in what we imitate than in what we originate. We cannot derive a sense of absolute certitude from anything that has its roots in us. The most poignant sense of insecurity comes from standing alone; we are not alone when we imitate. It is thus with most of us! We are what other people say we are. We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay
  27. In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit matters more than the object being pursued
What I got out of it
  1. Fantastic book! Great overview of Bruce’s life, philosophy and depth of thought

Bruce Lee: Letters of the Dragon by John Little

Summary
  1. A broad view of Bruce Lee’s life and personality through personal correspondence with friends and family.
Key Takeaways
  1. “Patterns. This is the most important thing to look for as you read Bruce’s letters.”
    1. Gung fu forming his character and ideas – practice as a physical culture, a form of mental training, a method of self-defense and a way of life
    2. Goal of planning and doing is to find the true meaning in life – peace of mind
    3. Never waste worries or energy on negative thoughts
    4. It is not what happens that is success or failure, but what it does to the heart of man. No man is defeated unless he is discouraged
    5. What I have found, after much soul searching, that deep down what I honestly value more than anything else is quality – doing one’s best in the manner of the responsibility and craftsmanship of a Number One
  2. There are two ways of making a good living. One is the result of hard work, and the other, the result of the imagination (requires work, too, of course)
  3. “I feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision. It is all these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with this dominating force which I hold in my hand.”
  4. The nature of water
    1. To be one thing and not to change, is the climax of stillness
    2. To have nothing in one that resists, is the climax of emptiness
    3. To remain detached from all outside things is the climax of fineness
    4. To have in oneself no contraries, is the climax of purity
  5. “My theory states, “1) learn the center, 2) keep the center, and 3) dissolve the center. Or, more generally, learn the rules, keep to the rules, dissolve the rules” (aka “smaller circles“)
  6. Simplicity – to express the utmost in the minimum of lines and energy
  7. Remember my friend that it is not what happens that counts, it is how you react to them
  8. Damn the torpedo! Full speed ahead – Bruce used this line a lot when perseverance and determination were required
  9. Remember my friend, everything goes to those who aim to get. Low aim is the biggest crime a man has. One will never get any more than he thinks he can get
  10. What you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become. Remember, success is a journey, not a destination.
What I got out of it
  1. Wasn’t my favorite Bruce Lee book so far but it gives you a feel for what Bruce Lee was like over an extended period of time with close friends and family

Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body by John Little

Summary
  1. This book describes in meticulous detail Lee’s ever-evolving workout regimens and favorite exercises
Key Takeaways
  1. The greatest talents that Bruce brought to realizing his dreams were intelligence and curiosity, dedication and perseverance and focus
  2. Jeet Kune Do, which is an all-encompassing approach to living life at the pinnacle of developed potential, naturally includes training the physical body to achieve its peak performance
  3. The essentials of training are overload and adaptation
  4. It is important to be systematic in your workout routines – track weight, reps, time, etc.
  5. Much of the book provides pictures, explanations, routines and the logic behind the workouts – isometric exercises, weight training routines, 20 minute routines, circuit training, abs, forearms, specifics for martial arts, stretching and more
What I got out of it
  1. Especially useful if you’re training for martial arts but this book is a great reference even for people just looking to get into great overall shape. More than that though, what I found important was seeing Bruce’s dedication to his pursuit, the ‘shedding’ or refinement of techniques and thinking over time to really hone in on what is effective and his open mindedness / disdain for convention when looking to achieve one’s full potential

Bruce Lee: Jeet Kune Do by John Little

Summary
  1. Bruce Lee’s commentaries on the martial way
Key Takeaways
  1. Witnessing a person in mundane day-to-day activities reveals their true character
  2. When Bruce wasn’t reading or training, he was writing
  3. Eliminate silos and aim for total integration – don’t bifurcate into “either/or” – take in the whole picture
  4. Art is a bridge to higher learning – the higher up the ladder of martial art mastery one climbed, the clearer the view became that art was simply a metaphor for life itself and that it was indeed possible to “see the world in a grain of sand” and for one who had truly mastered a martial art to be availed of a new and wonderful insight into the human condition
  5. There are no opposites, only interconnected facets of the existence of which all of us are a part
  6. All knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge
  7. Style concludes. Man grows
  8. Qualities of a great martial artist – natural, instinctive primitiveness, natural blending of stillness and sudden, violent destructiveness
  9. Choiceless awareness = total emptiness, the optimal way to live and be
  10. Direct intuition is a return to original freedom
  11. Observe. Deduce. Apply – do more of what works
  12. Golden principle – each movement of yours must correspond to those of the opponent
  13. Generally fatal to start a bout with a set plan
  14. Courage and decision are essential factors to success in fighting
  15. Final choice of attack should depend on opponent’s reactions, habits and preferences
  16. The attack has to remain as simple as possible
  17. Daily minimize rather than daily increase
  18. Alertness of foot will transmute to an alertness of mind
  19. The whole secret of hard hitting lies in timing and mental application
  20. A blow is never hit at a mark. It is driven through a mark
  21. The essence of fighting is the art of moving at the right time
  22. To find stillness in stillness, not stillness in movement
  23. It is not about how much one learns but how much one absorbs what he learns
  24. The ultimate goal of discipline in JKD is where learning gained is learning lost
  25. Economy of form should always be stressed
  26. 3 stages towards mastery – synchronization of self, synchronization with opponent, application under fire
  27. Freedom lies in understanding yourself from moment to moment
  28. To know totality one has to be a total outsider
  29. Like the candle, I fuel myself
  30. True meaning of life lies in achieving peace of mind
  31. Your mind is the result of a thousand yesterday’s – wipe all this away to be born afresh
  32. Meditation is a freeing of the mind from all motives
  33. There is no help but self-help
  34. True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns
  35. Freedom of expression occurs when one is beyond system
  36. Intelligence is the understanding of self
  37. Truth comes when your mind and heart are purged of all sense of striving and you are no longer trying to become somebody  it is there when the mind is very quiet, listening timelessly to everything
  38. The 3 faults – the invention of an empirical self that observes itself; viewing one’s thoughts as a kind of object or possession, situating it in a separate, isolated “part of itself” – “I have” a mind; the striving to wipe the mirror (totally purifying one’s mind simply through thinking and meditating – “mirror-wiping Zen”)
    1. Zen is not “attained” by mirror-wiping meditation, but by “self-forgetfulness in the existential ‘present’ of life here and now.” We do not “come,” we “are.” Don’t strive to become, but be.
  39. Intelligence is sometimes defined as the capacity of the individual to adjust himself to his environment, or to adjust the environment to his needs
  40. Simplicity is the end of art, and the beginning of nature
  41. The 4 idea principles – find a human need, an unsolved problem; master all of the essentials of the problem; give a new twist to an old principle; believe in your idea and act!
  42. The 5 step idea-getting process – gather materials; masticate the facts; relax and drop the whole subject; be ready to recognize and welcome the idea when it comes; shape and develop your idea into usefulness
  43. A choice method is the cultivation of resistance, and where there is resistance there is no understanding. A well-disciplined mind is not a free mind
  44. Affirmations – Bruce would carry these around with him at all times to inspire and remind him whenever he needed it
    1. Willpower – Recognizing that the power of will is the supreme court over all other departments of my mind. I will exercise it daily when I need the urge to action for any purpose; and I will form habits designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.
    2. Emotion – Realizing that my emotions are both positive and negative, I will form daily habits which will encourage the development of the positive emotions and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.
    3. Reason – Recognizing that both my positive and negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not controlled and guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims and purposes to my faculty of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.
    4. Imagination – Recognizing the need for sound plans and ideas for the attainment of my desires, I will develop my imagination by calling upon it daily for help in the formation of my plans
    5. Memory – Recognizing the value of an alert mind and an alert memory, I will encourage mine to become alert by taking care to impress it clearly with all thoughts I wish to recall and by associating those thoughts with related subjects which I may call to mind frequently.
    6. Subconscious mind – Recognizing the influence of my subconscious mind over my power of will, I shall take care to submit to it a clear and definite picture of my major purpose in life and all minor purposes leading to my major purpose, and I shall keep this picture constantly before my subconscious mind by repeating it daily!
    7. Conscience – Recognizing that my emotions often err in their over-enthusiasm  and my faculty of reason often is without the warmth of feeling that is necessary to enable me to combine justice with mercy in my judgments, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right and what is wrong, but I will never set aside the verdicts it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out.
What I got out of it
  1. The philosophical part was great and although I don’t practice any martial art, learning about his training protocols and some basic techniques was interesting

Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon by John Little

Summary
  1. A beautiful book based on the award-winning documentary, Bruce Lee: In His Own Words
Key Takeaways
  1. Yes, there is a difference between self-actualization and self-image actualization
  2. The past is history and only the future can give you happiness. So, everybody must prepare for their future and create their own future
  3. To bring the mind into sharp focus and to make it alert so that it can immediately intuit truth, which is everywhere, the mind must be emancipated from old habits, prejudices, restrictive thought process, and even ordinary thought itself.
  4. True observation begins when devoid of set patterns and freedom of expression occurs when one is beyond systems
  5. A good martial artist does not become tense – but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come
  6. Ultimately, martial art is the expression of oneself
What I got out of it
  1. A lot of rare and beautiful pictures of Bruce throughout his career and with his family. The text is mostly quotes from Bruce rather than text being interpreted by somebody who would likely distort at least part of the message

Bruce Lee: The Tao of Gung Fu by John Little

Summary
  1. This book is meant to serve as an introduction to Bruce Lee as a student of life, a designer of his own destiny. It goes into detail about Bruce’s development as a martial artist as well as his intellectual growth
Key Takeaways
  1. “To be effective in his [Bruce’s] arguments against the restrictions imposed by clinging to certain traditional martial art practices, it was first necessary for Bruce to gain a thorough understanding of the roots of these traditions. To his mind there was no unconditional acceptance of styles, forms, or rigid thought patterns, however it was only after he had achieved a high respect for the underlying principles of traditional ideas in martial art that he was able to free himself from being bound by the chains of unreasoned beliefs. Respecting some traditions as beneficial, rejecting others as stifling to personal development, Bruce was then free to liberate his own ideas, to expand his consciousness, to enter fully into his process of becoming a true artist of the martial way and a real human being.”
  2. “True gung fu values the wonder of the ordinary, and the cultivation of gung fu is not daily increase, but daily decrease. Being wise in gung fu does not mean adding more, but to be able to get off with ornamentation and be simply simple – like a sculptor building a statue, not by adding but by hacking away the unessential so that the truth will be revealed unobstructed…Art is the expression of the self. The more complicated and restrictive a method is, the lesser the opportunity for the expression of one’s original sense of freedom!”
  3. Ultimate desire for Lee’s martial art was equality for all people
    1. “Reality” of martial arts lies in simplicity, harmony and integrity
    2. Absorb the useful, discard the useless
    3. Fulfill utmost of physical potential to help identify who you truly are with humility and pride
  4. There are 3 stages of cultivation in gung fu – primitive stage, stage of art, stage of alertness
    1. Object of gung fu is health promotion, cultivation of mind and self-protection
    2. Yin / Yang is central – in reality things are whole and can’t be separated, things are balanced by their opposites
    3. Chinese character for quality is made up of other characters which signify good and bad
    4. Aim to be, “soft yet not yielding, firm but not hard”
    5. Learn the rules. Keep to the rules, Dissolve the rules
    6. Only one basic principle in self-defense – must apply most effective weapon as soon as possible to opponent’s weakest area
    7. Defend the center line – the core of your body
    8. Straight punch is the first thing to master
  5. Chi Sao
    1. “As soon as your mind stops with an object of whatever nature – be it the opponent’s technique or your own, the mode or the measure of the move – you cease to be master of yourself and are sure to fall victim to your opponent.”
    2. Give up thinking as though not giving up, having nothing left in your mind, the techniques are so ingrained that the body and limbs act as if independent of your conscious mind
    3. Don’t ‘localize’ the mind – let it fill the whole body
    4. The end of spiritual training is when the mind is nowhere for only then can it be everywhere
    5. No self means there is no foe. True understanding leads to a vanishing self and therefore a vanishing opponent
    6. Observe, deduce and apply – a successful attack includes a fine sense of timing, a perfect judgment of distance and a correct application of cadence
  6. Gung fu technique to train body and mind with Tao as the core – spontaneity of the universe
  7. Wu hsin (no mindedness) – one in whom no thoughts or feelings are sticky, total acceptance, mirror-like
    1. Concentration = quiet awareness of the here and now
  8. Wu wei – to let one’s mind alone, trusting it to work by itself
    1. Every action has to be done “unintentionally” without ever trying
    2. Entirely an action of creative intuition which opens the wellsprings within man
  9. Important to to strain in any way – flow and accept the spontaneity of the universe
  10. To know the eternal pattern is to be enlightened
  11. To change with change is the changeless state
What I got out of it
  1. Deep insights into gung fu as well as some history of martial arts

Bruce Lee: Words of the Dragon by John Little

Summary
  1. A compilation of Bruce Lee’s interviews from 1958-1973
Key Takeaways
  1. He simply knows what he wants and with a great deal of care, goes about achieving it
  2. In whatever he does, be it a small action or big decision, he reflects quality
  3. He is every minute of every day discovering new things, adding the essential, hacking away the unessential. Forever growing and expanding
  4. Walk on! – inspirational phrase he turned to often when he was bedridden with a back injury for many months
  5. Lee’s basic philosophy was to grasp the absolute necessity for honest self-expression. Understanding and striving for this is the key to fulfilling one’s potential
  6. The ultimate source of happiness, meaning, knowledge that we each long for from so many divergent sources ultimately resides within us all
  7. Gung fu = mastery in virtually any field
  8. The concept of oneness is expressed often, the Tao, the way. Firmness is concealed in softness
  9. One must learn to react rather than plan his movements
  10. On marriage
    1. The most satisfactory marriage is a friendship caught on fire. Romance dwindles and in its place must grow the day-to-day companionship that would endure throughout the couple’s life
    2. A successful marriage takes two halves which are more efficient whole than either half would ever be alone
    3. A husband and wife must simultaneously have both similar and different interests
  11. Only sober moderation lasts and persists through all time. Only the mid-part of anything is preserved because the pendulum must have balance, and the mid-part is the balance. The almighty oak cracks in the wind but the fragile and flexible bamboo simply bends and survives
  12. Each man blinds himself – the fetters are ignorance, laziness, preoccupation with self and fear.
  13. Gung fu is deadly simplicity which concerns self-defense and self-mastery, an empty mind
  14. Key life philosophy – look at things and draw from them the essence that made for its effectiveness
  15. Man is at his worst when he does not understand himself
  16. Victory gained by force is no real victory
  17. Worst opponent to face is one who’s aim has become an obsession
  18. Inability to adapt brings destruction
  19. “Self-actualization is the important thing. And my personal message to people is that I hope they will go towards self-actualization rather than self-image actualization. I hope they will search within themselves for honest self-expression.”
  20. Quality comes from never accepting less than your best. Quality > outcome
What I got out of it
  1. Good, broad overview of Bruce Lee’s career, philosophy and impact

The Warrior Within: The Philosophies of Bruce Lee by John Little

Warrior Within

Summary
  1. Bruce Lee is much more than just one of the best martial artists of all time, he is a philosopher who sought to integrate his beliefs into everything he did. Lee outlines a framework in order to grow spiritually, mentally and emotionally by living in accordance with Tao, the way or nature.
Key Takeaways
  1. Tao – the way of nature or the creative force governing the universe
  2. “…the height of cultivation should move toward simplicity. It is the halfway cultivation that leads to ornamentation…The process to simplify is like a sculptor who continuously chisels away all the nonessentials until he creates a masterpiece.”
  3. Lee’s quintessential philosophical belief of flowing and not forcing what comes your way can easily be related to how water acts – “Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, 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.
  4. Like water, very little in life is static. Learn to adapt and change and grow. “To change with change is the changeless state.”
  5. There is no experience to be extracted from, or who can escape from, experience. There is simply experiencing
  6. Ultimately one should be “purposeless.” … a state of purposelessness (which is also a state of fluidity, empty-mindedness, or simply the everyday mind), the spirit harbors nothing in it, nor is it tipped in any one direction; it transcends both subject and object; it responds empty-mindedly to environmental changes and leaves no track.”
  7. True masters never feel the need to prove themselves – “…I have learned that challenging means one thing, but how you choose to react to it means something else entirely…If you are secure within yourself, you treat it very, very lightly…”
  8. Lee’s guide to self-enlightenment consisted of 4 steps:
    1. Research your own experience
    2. Absorb what is useful
    3. Reject what is useless
    4. Add what is specifically your own
  9. The true meaning of life lies in peace of mind and the highest rung on the ladder of individual achievement is the commitment to honest self-expression
What I got out of it
  1. One of the most powerful ideas I got from this book is the idea of being completely honest to yourself and expressing that truest version of yourself in everything that you do. His belief in flow, purposelessness and simplicity are all concepts that resonate deeply with me too. If you only know Bruce Lee for his movies and martial arts, this is a side of him worth exploring.

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Body by Science by Doug McGuff and John Little

Body by Science

Summary
  1. Genius often lies in simplicity. That is what we find in Body by Science by McGuff and Little. This is a powerful and easy to read book on how to get healthy and fit through very focused and specific exercises that take 10-12 minutes to perform and only have to be done about once per week
Key Takeaways
  1. Perform 5 exercises to failure within 60 – 90 seconds (what the authors call time under load or TUL) and hold for an additional 10 seconds and perform these exercises once per week. This should be sufficient time for your body to recover and bump up weights and/or TUL every session
  2. Research has found that the effects of free weights versus machines is equally effective (Nautilus and MedX offer the best machines)
  3. The Big Five Workout – Machines (click link for video tutorial)
    1. Seated Row – make sure to keep your wrists and elbows in line and pull to your lower sternum
    2. Chest Press – do not let elbows get too low – just about as far as they could go if you were doing the press on the ground
    3. Pulldown – arms in front of you, using an underhand grip, with hands a little narrower than shoulder-width and bring down to the top of your chest and hold for 3-5 seconds and “slump” into the contraction (bring shoulders down towards hips in a linear fashion). As handles are heading back overhead, imagine moving hands outward in a horizontal plain – loads lats more effectively
    4. Overhead Press – move arms overhead with hands in front of you rather than at your side and with palms facing each other. Be cautious of arching the back and putting it in a vulnerable position
    5. Leg Press – the farther the angle is from linear, the less resistance you are moving. Should start in a position so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ceiling with knees bent as close to 90 degrees as possible. When pushing out, do not completely lock your legs and do not grip handles too hard as this can drive up blood pressure necessarily high
  4. The Big Five Workout – Free Weights
    1. Bent over barbell row – shoulder width grip, overhand grip (palms facing you) and pull so that it touches your upper abdomen and pause briefly in this position
    2. Standing overhead press – shoulder width grip, palms facing away, do not fully lockout arms at the top and lower to your shoulders
    3. Dead Lift – bend legs imagining that you are sitting in a chair, arms perfectly straight with shoulder width grip, with palms facing you or and over/under grip
    4. Bench Press – do not lock out arms at the top
    5. Squat – set the safety pins of the rack so it matches with a 90 degree bend of your knees – this is your bottom position, slowly raise up and repeat for your TUL
  5. Low-intensity, steady-state (“cardio”) activity does not tap the fast-twitch muscle fibers that  possess the most glycogen. Consequently, the muscles are never emptied of meaningful levels of glucose, with the result that the circulating glucose has nowhere to be stored – except as body fat
  6. Strength training is actually the best way to train the cardiovascular system because…it actually involves and stimulates all of the components of metabolism
  7. The center of metabolic health…is not the heart and cardiovascular system; it is the muscular system…because that is where everything that results in positive adaptive change occurs
  8. Maintenance is regression!
  9. The problem is not burning too few calories; it’s putting too many calories down the throat. You cannot use physical activity to negate excessive caloric intake
  10. A natural diet and non-processed helps with thermic cost of digestion (eating lean means, fruits and veggies forces the body to consume more calories to digest this food) and keeps insulin levels lower
What I got out of it
  1. Often the best ideas are shockingly simple and straightforward and this workout protocol falls into this category. These workouts are feasible in nearly any gym and result in the desired gains in strength, health and fitness. This is a workout regiment that will work long-term for nearly anybody regardless of age, goals  or other circumstances. I’d highly recommend to at least try this out for at least a month (only 4 workout sessions) and see for yourself. Most importantly, this workout allows you to consistently build strength without compromising your body and reducing wear and tear and other stressors as much as possible.
  2. *Update – I have been following this program for the past 6 months and have seen a great increase and strength while only spending 15-20 minutes weight lifting a week. No injuries, have been able to build pretty much every week and expect to continue this program for a while.

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