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Bruce Lee, JKD and MMA (long)

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    Bruce Lee, JKD and MMA (long)

    I've read quiet a bit about Bruce Lee's work in both philosophy and JKD. I think that for his time he had a lot of the right ideas and definitely was ahead of his time. A lot of his assertions were proven in modern MMA. Now, with these things being said I am NOT saying that Bruce Lee would have done well in the UFC or was even a great fighter. I'm not saying I want to fight like him. I think as a fight-philosopher he was dead on on a lot of things and with the knowledge he had to work with, stemming from CMAs and other TMAs. I am have a wrestling, bjj, and muay thai background and what I have read on Lee's ideas about how a fight should be thought of and trained for are reasonably correct.

    In JKD, Bruce philosophized that JKD wasn't a 'style' that if it was ever said to be 'this or that' then the philosophy of JKD was lost and it should be disbanded. In modern JKD, this is what has essentially happened. Not much growing, and has turned into much of a hero worship of Bruce Lee, not wanting to stray from the things he did and in many cases not embracing MMA as a proving ground, which I think that Lee would have highly approved of (MMA as a proving ground).

    In JKD Lee philosophized that a martial artist should find the best way to express themselves. What he meant by this was to find your own physical gifts and strengths and evolve your fighting method around them. This is VERY apparent in modern MMA in that no two fighters are the same due to the very nature of the evolution of the game. All fighters basically train in the same things (those proven effective) boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and submission. Each fighter EXPRESSES this training differently. Chuck Liddell, a very accomplished wrestler, uses his wrestling skills to avoid takedown attempts and uses his natural KO power and strong chin to force a stand up fight and is very successful. Antonio Noguiera, who lacks KO power, uses polished boxing skills to close the distance, get the take down and work for submissions on the ground where he is strongest. Randy Couture uses solid boxing skills to close the distance, and uses his wrestling background to aid him striking in the clinch and to get takedowns, and uses his wrestling to out position and hold down other fighters and strikes them to a TKO. Although these fighters basically train in the same things, their strengths and weaknesses bring out their successful fighting style. As Lee said, there is no such thing as a Japanese way of fighting or a Chinese way of fighting (Or Brazilian or whatever) because unless a human being has 4 arms and 6 legs and is structurally different from us, there will only be 1 style of fighting. It is the way you express that style that makes it different. I believe that MMA is or has evolved into that 1 style of fighting, it has encompassed the best techniques that all MAs have offered. They are blended together into what has essentially become a singular style, albeit, performed differently by every fighter. In this way a person learning to fight isn't just imitating the instructor, as happens in TMAs, he is using what he is taught in the most efficient way possible for him, which the end result may look very different from the instructor.

    Lee's training ideas are also very sound in a number of ways. He preached relaxation, which any grappler worth his salt will tell you, is essential for endurance on the mat. He also said that the goal when learning to fight is to find 'natural unaturalness or unatural naturalness'. This means that you will learn an unatural movement (which is a technique) and drill and practice it until it becomes a natural movement and reaction for you. He was also very into the MAist as an athlete, which has become true in MMA.

    "Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. When you put water in the teacup, it becomes the teacup; when you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; When you put watter into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow-or it can crash. Be water my friend."
    This is definitive of the way the MMA fighter must face his opponent. You can see it in any of the top fighters in MMA when facing an equally talented opponent. In short, the MMA fighter adjusts his game to his opponent's weaknesses and strengths. When a fighter doesn't do this, he loses. Witness Robbie Lawler VS Pete Spratt: Robbie probably could have easily beaten Spratt if he focused on working him with GnP. However, through Ego, or just purely a bad game plan, he chose to stand with Spratt, who is an infinitely better striker.

    Here is another lesson from Lee. If you watch the film Enter The Dragon, in the beginning of the film there is a scene where Lee helps a student learn to kick. The basis of the scene is that you must not think when fighting, only do. When you ease the burden of your mind, the technique flows because you are not thinking about how it is supposed to be performed, you are just using the skill. At the end of that scene Lee says, "It is like a finger pointing to the moon, do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all of that heavenly glory." The idea is not to make form the end, or let emotional extreme be the deciding factor when facing adversity (like Lawler did). Instead you could say your opponent has 'caused' your response, as it has occurred almost involuntarily of itself.-not fixating on any one object or allowing any thought process to impede your ability to react spontaneously to whatever you experience. Lawler could not strike with Spratt, however, he could take him down. He let his emotion and ego drive himself to try to KO Spratt, which he clearly could never do.

    More to follow later...

    Mixing martial arts is nothing new, however, nor was it unique to Bruce Lee. All the styles found nowadays were never considered complete back in the day, they trained in multiple styles back then. It's just resurfacing once again.

    My Punching with Power article


      Be like water? Here's a lesson from the kickbox. What happens when you put water on a fire? It puts the fire out. JKD doesn't make the art better it puts it out. MMA is using the best of martial arts then putting them out. You loose the martial art. Now you have a competition with rules. The rules are based on what the consumer will pay for. The individual becomes a puppet of the rules. MMA fighters are puppets that go where the money is and do what the consumer tells tham to do. Everything is a circle, my friend. Bruce complained that a martial artist was just a robot, crammed and distorted with the classical mess. His ultimate expression of freedom is MMA, crammed and distorted by payoffs and cunsummer demands. Be who you want to be. Take advice but listen to no one, except God. Be like freedom my friend..


        I don't think you understand the meaning of it all, although I can't hold it against anyone if they haven't read the stuff. I'll post more when I get a chance.


          I know I'm kind of being a troll here. But all the philosophies Bruce brought to the US and made famous are actually the core of most kung fu systems and the most important philosophy of an art like Taiji. But he taught everyone, including the traditionalists, how to use and apply it to pretty much anything. Just because you train in an MMA doesn't mean that someone who trains in kung fu doesn't apply the same philosophies, because it is actually one of the purposes in its training. Bruce Lee was a gung fu man, and many things he quoted were from such teachings, his root was in Wing Chung. Even nowdays I hear "JKD IS THE LEET BECAUSE BRUCE LEE INVENTED IT" when the "style" it itself almost contradicts its initial philosophy. One of Bruce Lee's friends said that Bruce Lee regreted making it, because he knew it would probably be traditionalized into a "Style." The style that is taught now days, is actually a style of how HE fought. Nobody can replicate the way he fought, his speed, his focus, his philosophies, his way of thinking etc. He even describes the "Stages" of kung fu, which is true for ANY real traditionalist, first a kick is a kick etc. then it gets technical and it is no longer a kick etc. then again you are free and a kick is a kick again, only everything you have trained in is instinct and natural, so you can apply it however you want. There are many horrible McDojos claiming to teach some "secret" ancient art, who have the most unrealistic, BS system I have ever seen. Yet they that spring up SO fast in America (thanks to the Chinese government and contemporary wushu, in China too!). Hey we learned one form of kung fu/karate that I trained in for 6 months, lets start a school and make money!

          Really there are too many quacks and very few traditional masters, so all the negativity towards traditional MA's is understandable, especially in a site like this (that exposes the quacks). I see JKD as a good philosophy, but the art that his students have turned into...Meh I'd rather study an MMA or BBJ.
          Last edited by BaguaMonk; 1/15/2005 1:56am, .



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