Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How has Bruce Lee affected your training?

Photo: Bruce Lee : The Divine Wind

Matt of Mat's Way has posed an excellent question at the Convocation of Combat Arts:

How has Bruce Lee affected your training?

Here's my answer:

Great question! Bruce Lee was, and still is, one of the biggest breakers of new ground in any area, I think.
Hmm. Let me start by saying that I was deeply affected in two ways:

In the beginning of my martial arts journey, I was affected as a kid by his intensity and the magic of his on-screen charisma. Like many then and now, I was impressed by his on-camera virtuosity, and the ability to turn "just a punch" or "just a kick" into something that looked like it could blast down a brick wall! That original inspiration led me and my brother to start screeching and beating each other up almost every day - something I'm very sure my parents appreciated! It got us started in the martial arts, and that has never ended for me, the magic.

Later, after receiving actual training in arts as diverse as TKD, Isshin-Ryu, Aikido, and starting on boxing and muay Thai, I went back and started studying what he wrote, read, and said about the martial arts, and was even more impressed. I had, by that time, dismissed MA flicks as junk and bunk. Later, after realizing what Lee actually did, I realized that his on-screen greatness just scratched the surface. Lee's "Way of the Intercepting Fist," Jeet Kune Do, was his embrace of what martial arts really is - many things. Martial arts are much more than punching and kicking, and yet just that. There is an obvious contradiction between training for something (conflict) which reduces the chance that it will occur! By facing violence, it's diminished. Lee was on the same path, in my opinion, as a Uyeshiba or Funakoshi, and transcended the specifics of how he got there.

On a purely technical level, I think the "Tao of Jeet Kune Do" is one of the finest tomes on martial arts ever, on a par with "The Art of War" or anything else out there. It's a look into the mind of a genius. The breakdown of technique, from boxing to Judo to Savate and muay Thai into their respective aspects of the approach to the problem of physical conflict shows that he really understood them. The illustration and ideas are fantastic. Just little tips like, "hand before feet, always" (a paraphrase), concerning the concept of being non-telegraphic with a lead are invaluable for building your arsenal.

To finish my long reply to your excellent question, I think his effect on my training is indistinguishable from my training.

What are your thoughts? If you have an answer, please head over to the Convocation thread and give your own answer! Reminder: non-members CAN post there!


MARKS said...

That really is a great question for an article! Well I was born a whole ten years after Lee died, and didnt start training untill about 1993. When I got serious about martial arts I started to buy books, and Bruce's books were some of my first in my collection. If I had bought a karte, or judo, or thai boxing book etc, I feel I would have been looking and studying at just one aspect of fighting, but becuase Lee's books outlined fighting as a whole, (standing, ground, weapons, street etc) I feel they helped me look at martial arts in that same way, rather than just on one aspect of fighting (just punches, just groundwork etc). Also as many people did, I had the posters and T shirts (and still do), and just looking at them inspired me to train hard and train with passion. Although I never met him or anyone close to him, I regard him as one of my teachers.

Nathan Teodoro said...

No doubt that influence is shared by thousands, if not millions. Thanks for the comments, and send me a shirt!

Lori O'Connell said...

Bruce Lee's commitment to the ongoing development to his understanding of the martial arts as always been a point of admiration for me, even if I don't agree with the "challenge fight" method of "proving" one's style.

Btw, I added your blog to my blogroll. :)