Tag Archives: Martial Art

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