Even after twenty eight years of martial arts training, when I lookback at his movies and I am still impressed, I am impressed by his martial art, his philosophy, his whole life style and thinking. Whether you accept him or not, that was him. There is still none who can act like him or imitate what he did. Bruce Lee is Bruce Lee, the same as Jackie Chan is Jackie Chan. No one is better than the other. Bruce Lee studied Wing Chun under my Sigong (Grandteacher) Ip Man (also spelled Yip Man). Ip Man is Wing Chun's most famous master, who had a very high level of Wing Chun skill. Although Wong Shun Leung (who was one of Ip Man's senior students) actually taught Bruce Lee a lot of skill, he was still under the guidance of Ip Man.
Bruce was a very clever person. He knew what he wanted and did not waste his time. He trained himself very hard. I don't see that many people can train as hard as he did. Particularly today, young people just think about enjoying themselves and do not consider what will happen in the future. A lot of these people only want a short cut and to make money fast.
■ I ■ "Bruce Lee knew what he wanted. He wanted to be a good martial artist, and he achieved that. He did a lot of physical training, like weight lifting, running, sit ups, press up, etc. He used special training equipment to make him stronger, his muscles stronger. He even changed his diet to make him stronger, drinking high protein drinks with raw eggs and vegetables.
He made his muscles and body look good so whenever he took his shirt off everyone was impressed by him. He was like bodybuilders today. He looked very good and his definition was almost perfect. Most men would like to have a body like his. He drove everybody crazy and many people started to train their bodies. I remember, when I was a teenager, I did the same. Everyday I did running, sit ups, press-ups because I wanted my body to look like his. I used to look at myself in the mirror to check myself. Of course I never got it.
Punching and kicking was everyday training in Bruce's daily routine. Anything that would improve his power he would do. Stretching was also part of his routine. Everywhere he went he would try and train himself so he was prepared to fight at anytime. So each time he did a punch or a kick it was perfect. He could do them very fast and control his energy very well. You can see this in his demonstrations and in the film "The Way of the Dragon".
He also trained his fingers a lot. He could do two finger press-ups on one hand and these are very difficult to do. I have seen Shaolin monks do one finger press ups on two hands, even do one finger hand stands, but usually the performers are very young and have small bodies. This is not the same as the things Bruce Lee did.
Bruce knew that fists are powerful weapons, but not as powerful as the palms. Also, that the palms were not as powerful as the fingers. He knew that if someone was hit by the fingers it would damage them internally. This is something his teacher Ip Man told him about, because of Wing Chun's high level
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Bruce & his teacher Grandmaster Ip Man
Bruce & his teacher Grandmaster Ip Man
skill "Biu Zi" which means striking fingers. Also there is one "secret" Wing Chun skill which uses the fingers or the knuckles to hit the acupuncture points. If someone is hit like this it will damage them internally so that although they might not feel it at first, afterwards they would feel the pain and later maybe even die. Bruce kept training himself, even when he became famous and was making movies. He worked very hard.
On the tenth of May, 1973, one of his colleagues found him lying unconscious with his body shaking in the film studio. The staff did not know what to do so they called an ambulance and Bruce was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital which is in Hong Kong. Fortunately, he recovered very quickly. The doctors found an abnormality with his brain and told him he should take it easy.
Bruce wanted more tests to find out what the problem was, so he went back to America, as he felt that America was the most technically advanced country at the time. When the test results came back, the doctors said that Bruce Lee at 33 years old was as strong as a 20-year-old man. Of course, Bruce was very happy and he believed the American doctors report.
He went back to Hong Kong and held a press conference and told everyone he was fit and healthy. Bruce believed everything was all right and so he continued his training and his way of life. Then one month later, on the 20th of July 1973, at 11.30pm, he was found dead at a friend's home.
The doctors found that there was a problem with Bruce Lee's brain. His brain had swollen from the usual 1400g to 1570g. His skull showed no injuries and there were no bruises on his body and no bacteria in his brain. However, a vein in his brain was swollen and broken. The report on his death said it was due to hypersensitivity, which caused an acute cerebral oedema, and the court recorded death by misadventure. However, what created the problem that caused Bruce Lee to die? There are many things which can cause these types of problems.
Bruce Lee's training was too external and had no internal training and so it lacked balance. His daily routine involved training four times a day. Firstly, he would do ninety waist twists. Secondly, he would do sit up twists. Then he would do fifty leg raises, followed by fifty leaning twists and then fifty frog kicks. This is all external training, not internal training. He did no meditation or forms to balance it all.
If you practise this way every single day, you will build up too much fire in your body, and eventually, your body will become injured and your joints will be damaged. This happens because you do not allow your body to return to normal and recover from all the tension that has built up in the muscles and joints.
Today this kind of training only attracts young children and some beginners in the martial arts. More senior and higher level martial artists are interested in internal training and how to develop their Qi, get fit, develop good skills and become healthy. Any skill that does not last long is poisonous to the body.
There are some people who do not respect training forms and doing meditation. They think that this cannot help their martial art or fighting. This is completely the wrong concept. If a blacksmith wants to make a sword, he needs to heat the metal, then cool it down and then beat it with a hammer. After he has repeated this many times, he will eventually make a very nice sword. However, if he was only to heat the metal, just keep burning it, the metal would only melt and the sword would be lost.
Forms and meditation help you to balance any injuries and tension, smooth your Qi and improve your circulation. This helps your body to recover and become even better. Then when you train physically again, you will get even more improved results.
So, although we love him, his philosophy and his spirit, we also recognise the mistakes he made trying to make his martial arts skill better. So instead of just following what he was doing, we must learn by his mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes and we all learn through our mistakes _
by Michael Tse. Photos courtesy of Eastern Heroes.
Nearly everyone who practises a martial art has heard of Bruce Lee. But how many have heard of Krishnamurti? Not so many. Even fewer will be aware of the influence Krishnamurti had on Bruce Lee. The following article was written by Robert Coletand appears here with the permission of Inside Kung Fu magazine.
You cannot look through an ideology, through a screen of words, through hopes and fears, so says Krishnamurti. Applying this to the martial arts, Bruce Lee finds, "You cannot express and be alive through static put-together form, through stylised movement." So began Lee's profound revolution of the martial arts. Empty-hand combat would never again be the same.
Bruce Lee found in the teachings of Krishnamurti the foundations of Jeet Kune Do. Remember: we are talking about Lee's philosophy and its relationship to the martial arts. We are not taking into consideration the combat aspects of JKD. There has already been plenty written on that aspect of the art. Rather, we are concerned with the "mental" or "spiritual" side of JKD, which is how the style differs so dramatically from its counterparts. The foundation of traditional martial arts are kata (forms), where the practitioner uses singular movement to simulate a fighting technique. He imitates the kata until they become second nature. JKD differs from other styles because of the "absence of stereotyped techniques," as Lee succinctly put it.
Lee wanted "more." Traditional philosophy as an aid to martial arts development and as an avenue for spiritual growth was not enough. And this is where Krishnamurti came in.
Philosophy as a complement to the martial arts dates back to the sixteenth century, when the need lessened for fighting skills.
Philosophy (Zen) transformed the martial arts from combat-to-the-death tactics to spiritual growth. A practitioner of the martial arts thus gained not only fighting techniques but also character and enrichment.
Taking the sayings of Krishnamurti - just as Lee must have done - one can apply them to the martial arts through Lee's words. Of course, this is not to say that the teachings of Krishnamurti were the only source of Lee's philosophy. Lee also consulted the teachings of Zen and Taoism, among others. However, it is evident that Krishnamurti played a significant role in the formation of JKD.
The following quotes are taken from Krishnamurti's Freedom from the Known, unless otherwise stated. Bruce Lee's words show how he applied Krishnamurti's words to the martial arts in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do.
Krishnamurti: You cannot look through an ideology, through a screen of words, through hopes and fears.
Bruce Lee: You cannot express and be alive through static put-together form, through stylised movement.
K: We are those books, we are those ideas, so heavily conditioned are we by them.
BL: We are those kata, we are those classical blocks and thrusts, so heavily conditioned are we by them.
K: As long as I am looking at life from a particular point of view or from a particular experience I have cherished, or from some particular knowledge I have gathered, which is my background, which is the "me", I cannot see totally... I can see the totality of something only when thought does not interfere.
BL: You cannot see a street fight in its totality, observing it from the viewpoint of a boxer, a kung-fu man, a karateka, a wrestler, a judo man and so forth. You can see clearly only when style does not interfere.
K: Truth is not something dictated by your pleasure or pain, or by your conditioning as a Hindu or whatever religion you belong to.
The Spiritual Force Behind Bruce Lee
BL: Fighting is not something dictated by your conditioning as a kung-fu man, a karate man, a judo man or what not.
K: We accept a standard of behaviour as part of our tradition as Hindus or Christians or whatever we happen to be. We look to someone to tell us what is right or wrong behaviour, what is right or wrong thought, and in following this pattern our conduct and our thinking become mechanical, our responses automatic.
BL: The second-hand artist blindly following his sensei or sifu accepts his pattern. As a result, his action and,
"Through the teachings of Krishnamurti, Lee sought a fuller self-expression through the martial arts."
more importantly, his thinking becomes mechanical. His responses become automatic, according to set patterns, making him narrow and limited.
K: The man who is really serious, with the urge to find out what truth is, what love is, has no concept at all. He lives only in what is.
BL: The man who is really serious, with the urge to find out what truth is, has no style at all. He lives only in what is.
These examples are not a definitive comparative analysis of the two men, but what can be easily observed is the enormous impact Krishnamurti had on Lee. He became riveted by Krishnamurti's teachings and their application to the martial arts. He discovered that style was limited; it was merely a routine, a mindless repetition of set patterns, a form of conditions which offered no self-knowledge or freedom. For Lee, style was merely propaganda.
Through the teachings of Krishnamurti, Lee sought a fuller self-expression through the martial arts. From the time he took up Wing Chun at age fourteen, Lee grew, improved, and flourished in what was to become his first love. But still he wanted more. He was constantly "creatively discontented" with the state of martial art. He realized the limitations in every martial art, including Wing Chun. He shattered these limitations, challenged tradition and broke uncharted ground.
He had to tell the whole worldof his discovery. So he went to Hong Kong and made several movies. Then came his enduring masterpiece, Enter the Dragon.
His mission was complete. He revolutionized 'consciousness' of the martial arts. Through motion pictures he made the world and the martial arts community witness his discovery. He brought upon himself and the world a new vision.
And then he left as quickly as he appeared. But by then he had completed his process and yearned for peace. It came suddenly-too suddenly-but nevertheless he fulfilled his mission.
Just like the process itself, the martial arts go on, forever searching for fuller expression.
For those wishingto find out more about Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known and other titles are availablefrom larger bookshops or directly from the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust. Tel: 01962-771525.
by Robert Colet.
Photos courtesy of Eastern Heroes and the Krishanmurti Foundation
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