Bruce Lee was both a philosopher and a martial artist.
In fact, to him, they were one and the same.
I’ve pulled these quotes from Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do to paint a picture of the depth of his martial art beyond the techniques we cover in class.
1. The Artist’s Soul
JKD Quote #6
To express yourself through movement is to be fully present
There’s a difference between the way I play guitar (rote memorization of a song) and the way a master like Jimmy Hendrix plays guitar.
Through mastery of a discipline, you gain the freedom to fully express yourself in it.
2. Express In Freedom
JKD Quote #10
We can have moments where we feel completely engrossed in our experience and we express ourselves authentically.
Yet the next time we try to create the same experience it feels kind of flat or forced.
You must let go of yesterday in order to explore the new experiences that life has for you each new day.
3. To Know Is To Flow
JKD Quote #37
Knowledge is in the mind.
But “Knowing” is in the body.
When you express yourself in the present moment, that moment becomes all there is.
4. Don’t Deny Your Being
JKD Quote #31
In our effort to improve ourselves and reach our goals we can get so focused on our outcomes that we forget to pay attention to the process of reaching them.
The purpose of a dance isn’t to reach the end.
It’s to dance.
And the purpose of life is to live.
5. The Classical Approach
JKD Quote #26
Though we mustn’t be bound by doctrines or dogmas of the past, we can use our own wisdom to absorb from them what’s useful for us and to let go of the rest.
No one has the best answers for you but you.
So be open to learning in all things and make up your own mind about what has value to you.
6. The Height of Cultivation
JKD Quote #17
All learning begins with adding.
Adding to your foundation, adding to your knowledge, adding to your awareness of different possibilities.
But the height of cultivation comes when we move beyond this point and begin simplifying and hacking away the inessentials.
7. The Total Style
JKD Quote #21
All instruction is meant to serve as a guide, a set of signposts, to help you reach the point where you can freely express yourself.
When you kick, you’re not throwing a JKD kick, or a Kung Fu kick, or a Thai kick.
You’re throwing YOUR kick.
YOU own the technique.
8. The Tools of JKD
JKD Quote #8
Our ego can disconnect us from others, from life, and from the present moment.
Martial arts is one avenue for unplugging from the ego and becoming engulfed in the NOW.
9. Knowing Oneself
JKD Quote #34
It has been said that the training mat is a microcosm of the universe.
In it, we face our fears, out doubts, our pain, and everything we hide behind.
10. The Basis of Jeet Kune Do
JKD Quote #38
Jeet Kune Do
It’s really about self-knowledge.
The more you understand yourself, the better fighter you’ll be.
And, also, the better life you can create.
11. A Work of Enlightenment
JKD Quote #16
Jeet Kune Do is about freeing your mind.
It’s about trusting in yourself, being open to possibilities.
It’s about finding the cause of our own ignorance.
12. The Heart of Martial Arts
JKD Quote #1
True martial arts, at its heart, is something that can’t be taught.
It can only be discovered–and rediscovered every single day.
It is this path that we as martial artists walk.