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