Philosophical Bruce Lee

Many know Bruce Lee as a Martial Artist, an Actor, the Founder of Jeet Kune Do(J.K.D), his moves with Nunchaku. But many do not know the Philosophical side of Bruce Lee. His posthumously published book “Tao of Jeet Kune Do” is an ultimate treasure of Philosophical thoughts not just for Martial Artists, but for everyone! Anyone who has read it are bound to agree with me. Here are some of his words,

Art is an expression of life and transcends both time and space. We must employ our own souls through art to give a new form and a new meaning to the nature or the world.

Here, the Legend, explains how important art is to interpret the world we see. Through art, it is possible for us to understand  the nature to live with it in perfect harmony. What art really employs is common sense and logic to explore. Sounds easy??? Just give it a try and see!!!

Turn into a doll made of wood: it has no ego, it thinks nothing, it is not grasping or sticky. Let the body and limbs work themselves out in accordance with the discipline they have undergone

This another set of words from the same book. We should let go of our ego and let our mind wander. If you really are disciplined and practiced hard, you will do the right things. When I read this quote, i always remember the scene in the movie “The Karate Kid” where a lady controls the movements of a Snake. As my friend Atul Bhat rightly observed, “her concentration and stillness made the snake obey her, rather than grab it and try to defeat it which could cost her life”

Now for the next quote. I am sure many have heard this directly told by Bruce Lee in an interview. Surprised that this is present in the Book as well? Well, here it is,

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

This is easily my favorite quote from the book. He is asking a simple thing, or is it really as simple as it sounds?? What he really speaks about here is adaptability. When you can a adapt to the situation waiting to take you down, you can easily come up with solutions that are practical and logical. Its funny when some of my junior Karatekas from my dojo come up to me to ask what did Bruce Lee mean when he said become like a bottle or a teapot!! It is easy to be mislead when you try to interpret Philosophical quotes literally!

So, as a conclusion, instead of me making any statements, I feel it is better to cite Bruce Lee’s word,

Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside all patterns.

Have fun interpreting!!

P.S: Tao of Jeet Kune Do is considered as the Holy Book of Martial Arts. So , do read it!


About Karthik S Vailaya

Martial Arts enthusiast, Karate Black Belt 3rd Dan, Earnest Reader, Out of the Box Thinker. View all posts by Karthik S Vailaya

5 responses to “Philosophical Bruce Lee

  • AtulBhatS

    Ha ha ha. Rightly Observed. Good one. That was my Favourite Part of the movie. The Music behind was just awesome. I still watch that scene when the movie is aired on tv 🙂
    And also, if you have seen Austin Stevens handle a snake you will observe the same principle. He handles the snakes without a Stick or safety. He carries a Cobra just by its tail and I admit its not calm at first, but once he gets the snake by its tail, he is so calm with the snake that it too becomes calm. And then he gets beautiful Photos of the Snakes.

    • Karthik S Vailaya

      Yes! Even i never miss an opportunity to watch that particular scene 🙂 And about Austin Stevens, he is too good with the snakes. What really amazing about this guy is that he is a Martial Artist as well. He even Practices regularly to have quick reflex when he is handling a snake.

  • khalkinised

    I have heard that Bruce Lee quote (spoken by the master himself) in a Hip Hop song. I never knew it was from a book though. The song btw is briiliant. Link below:

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