I restore the Balance
Posted On:7/02/2004 3:31pm
Style: I wear pants
(Edited for easier reading by Kungfoolss. The complete 'Be Water' article can be linked to at bottom of this post)
By Brandon Clarke,
(with extensive input and influence from Bruce Lee)
Recently I was watching late night TV and saw what I now believe is possibly the definitive guide on how to play Diplomacy well: "Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey". If you haven't seen this documentary, find it and watch it.
"Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey" is a hybrid production, half Bruce Lee's life story and half a presentation of 35 minutes of footage from the unfinished movie "The Game Of Death" which Lee had been working on at the time of his death in 1973. Bruce Lee was very interested in philosophy, and in particular how philosophy could be applied to martial arts. Martial arts often are a framework for living one's life within. The discipline of a martial art gives structure to one's life. The martial art shapes the way you eat, the way you interact with other people and the way you interact with your environment. The martial art becomes your way of life.
Bruce Lee was a bit of a renegade in the US martial arts scene in the 1960's and early 1970's. It was common then for people to follow one style of a given martial art... some styles concentrated on kicks, some on throwing, some on punches, some on evasion... there was a lot of tradition, and a lot of honouring of the 'correct' way to do things. Now I am not an expert on any particular martial art, or on the history of martial arts, but from what I understood watching "Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey" Lee basically came to the realisation that these styles, or "ways", were stifling and claustrophobic. He advocated the use of whatever style best fitted the situation, putting emphasis in the value of flexibility.
Flexibility is the key.
Lee dismissed doctrine and adherence to tradition for tradition's sake, and instead taught his followers to use all styles whenever appropriate. He said martial arts should be about expressing yourself, getting in touch with the real you and letting you instincts flow through your body. He set up three schools in San Francisco, L.A. and San Diego where he taught his new approach to Gung Fu (which has been anglicised to Kung Fu) which he called Jeet Kune Do, or "The Way Of The Intercepting Fist"... the premise of which is that the best way to overcome your opponent is to use the intercepting fist... when your opponent moves against you you intercept their strike, and turn it against them... the concept is they are most vulnerable when in the motion of attacking... and if you intercept a strike with a devastating counter strike, perfectly timed, placed to the most vulnerable spot when your opponent is most over committed and most off balance, this will result in the best attack you can make.
Jeet Kune Do, as I understand it, centred around reacting to your opponents moves... reading their body language and whatever other signals they give out to predict what would come next, and then using whatever style, way or move that was best suited to intercepting their strike.... In a 1971 episode of "Longstreet", Bruce Lee is playing a martial arts instructor teaching a colleague of detective Longstreet's how to protect himself:
"Now what exactly is this thing you do?" says the colleague.
"In Cantonese," replies Lee, "Jeet Kune Do, the way of the intercepting fist".
"Or foot", adds Lee. "Come on, touch me anywhere you can". As his opponent steps forward to throw a punch, Lee snaps out a low side-kick to his kneecap. "You see", explains Lee, "To reach me, you must move to me. Your attack offers me an opportunity to intercept you. In this case I'm using my longest weapon, my side-kick, against the nearest target, your kneecap. It can be compared to your left jab in boxing, except it's much more damaging". "I see", says the friend, "Well speaking of a left jab!!!" But Lee blocks the sudden punch, having read the intention a split second before the punch is thrown. "This time I intercept your emotional tenseness. You see, from your thought to your fist, how much time was lost".
Bruce Lee said there were no boundaries to the disciplines of martial arts. In addition to studying a wide range of writers in philosophy he studied boxing, greco roman wrestling and fencing to find things which he could use to improve his art. This was something that previously was just not done in martial arts which tradition dictated were purely 'Eastern'.... Lee believed in reading and researching as many subjects and disciplines as he could and bringing them all to bear.
Later, Bruce Lee abandoned "The Way Of The Intercepting Fist" and closed down his three schools because he realised it was merely another Way, or Style, and it therefore suffered, or would suffer from the same doctrinisation problems, the same traditions and other weaknesses that he found so frustrating with other Styles... so then he professed the Way of No Way...
This is what Lee's final movie, "Game Of Death" was about. It's climatic scene involved a 5 level pagoda with a guard on each level, and the big prize at the top... Lee and his accomplices had to fight their way to the top level and retrieve the treasure there (there's actually a whole lot of plot around the 'why' of this, but it's not relevant for this discussion). Each guard on each level specialised in a certain style (or way). Bruce Lee was dressed in a yellow one piece track suit... it was yellow on purpose, to demonstrate no affiliation to any established 'way', and it's one piece was to allow for maximum flexibility (The Way Of No Way). He fought his way to the top using all sorts of different approaches on each level, along with some very prophetic soliloquies about flexibility, philosophy, and the power of The Way Of No Way, which was startlingly displayed on the top level of the pagoda when 5'7" Lee fought 7'2" Kareem Abdul Jabbar. At the end of "Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey" there is a sequence showing these scenes in the pagoda from A Game Of Death as Bruce Lee intended it to be shown.
Water is infinitely flexible. It can be seen through, and yet at other times it can obscure things from sight. It can split and go around things, rejoining on the other side, or it can crash through things. Water is the embodiment of 'The Way Of No Way'... It can erode the hardest rocks by gently lapping away at them... In the episode of "Longstreet" discussed above, and in numerous other interviews in the later part of his life Bruce Lee gave what is, I believe, the ultimate Diplomacy quote:
"Empty your mind. Be like water.
Put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.
Put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.
Put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.
Water can flow, it can creep, drip or crash!!!
Be water, my friend. "
Posted On:7/02/2004 3:42pm
As an aside, I saw this Bruce Lee documentary on cable yesterday so I can confirm everything the author of this article has stated. ->
Posted On:7/02/2004 3:46pm
Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Not to hijack this bitchin' thread or anything, but look at this...
Brings new meaning to the word "pwned".
Posted On:7/02/2004 3:47pm
Style: strength, judo, kyokushin
blah blah blah.
Posted On:7/02/2004 3:50pm
Originally posted by keinhaar
[B]Not to hijack this bitchin' thread or anything, but look at this...
You must be a JKD enthusiast, sorry if I made you upset with the truth.
Kungfoolss, Scourge of the theory-based stylists, Most Feared man at Bullshido.com, and the Preeminent Force in the martial arts political arena
Posted On:7/02/2004 5:51pm
Tend to agree.
Taking a break
Posted On:7/02/2004 7:11pm
Yup.. that article is a fair representation of the information in the documentary. Do you want a biscuit now?
Taking responsibility for my actions since 1989
Posted On:7/02/2004 10:21pm
Style: JKD, BJJ
I suppose my question would be why is widely available, long acknowledge material being portrayed as any kind of shocking truth?
Everyone knows this already. It's pretty old news.
Chuckles must be having a bad day.
Monkey Ninjas! Attack!
Lord Of the Rhymes
Posted On:7/02/2004 11:34pm
Style: Pimpin/Tango-thanks Xango
I donŽt know why everyone wants to be like water.
IŽd like to be like plutonium: Dangerous, atractive to certain sectors and a hit on the eastern european markets.
These women can do back flips right over my head and still land on there feet .GRrrrrrrr!
THAT'S NOTHING, I USED TO KNOW SOME 12 YEAR-OLDS WHO COULD FIT INSIDE A SUITCASE AND STAY ALIVE FOR 7 OR WAS IT 6 HOURS
Posted On:7/03/2004 12:17pm
SCARS, of course, has existed during the whole history of mankind... although occasionally it was called Kung Fu San Soo.
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