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MARTIAL DIRECT- The Directory of Martial Arts Schools & Instructors

"Bruce Lee Said What?"
   'Finding the Truth in Bruce Lee's Writings'

Part 1

(Page 2)

by Kip Brockett

             The Tao of Jeet Kune Do

     "Approach Jeet Kune Do with the idea of mastering the will. Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life! Do not be concerned with your escaping safely- lay your life before him!"

    Cited in D.T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture, (copyright 1959) is a commentary note in the book called Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai that reads:

     "Araki Matayemon [a great swordsman of the Tokugawa era] gave this instruction to his nephew, Watanabe Kazuma, when they were about to engage in the deadly fight with their enemy: 'Let the enemy touch your skin and you cut into his flesh; let him cut into your flesh and you pierce into his bones; let him pierce into your bones and you take his life!' "

    Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai (Hagakure meaning "hidden leaves" or "hidden by leaves") was written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo and first published on September 10, 1716. Again, there should be no doubt as to the original author. Bruce Lee changed the wording to suit his art, but the origins are clearly seen.


    And there is another instance I'd like to mention. This is stated in the book The Warrior Within, by John Little as:

             The Three Stages of Cultivation

                (Bruce Lee's words)
    "The first stage is the primitive stage. It is a stage of original ignorance in which a person knows nothing about the art of combat...he simply blocks and strikes instinctively..."
    "The second stage- the stage of sophistication, or mechanical stage- begins when a person starts his training. He is taught the different ways of blocking, striking,...Unquestionably, he has gained the scientific knowledge of combat, but unfortunately his original self and sense of freedom are lost, and his action no longer flows by itself...his mind tends to freeze at different movements..."
    "The third stage- the stage of artlessness, or spontaneous stage- occurs when, after years of serious and hard practice, the student realizes that after all, gung fu is nothing special..."

    In D.T. Suzuki's book Zen and Japanese Culture, (copyright 1959) he writes about Zen as it applies to swordsmanship. Look at the remarkable similarity!

    "To state it in terms of swordsmanship, the genuine beginner knows nothing about the way of holding and managing the sword...when the opponent tries to strike him, he instinctively parries it."
    "But as soon as the training starts, he is taught how to handle the sword,...and many other technical tricks- which makes the mind 'stop' at various junctures. For this reason whenever he tries to strike the opponent he feels unusually hampered; [he has lost altogether the original sense of innocence and freedom]."
    "But as days and years go by, as his training acquires fuller maturity, his bodily attitude and his way of managing the sword advance toward 'no-mind-ness,' which resemble the state of mind he had at the very beginning of training when he knew nothing, when he was altogether ignorant of the art. The beginning and the end thus turn into nextdoor neighbors."

Look at the similarities of the words used:
Bruce Lee D.T. Suzuki
1.)blocks and strikes instinctivelyhe instinctively parries
2.)begins when a person starts his trainingas soon as the training starts
3.)original self/sense of freedomoriginal sense of innocence/freedom
4.)mind tends to freezemakes the mind 'stop'
5.)spontaneous stage"no-mind-ness"
6.)after years of serious...practiceas days and years go by
    This is a Zen concept of learning and can be applied to almost anything. My point is the similarity in wording. The words of Bruce Lee have been published as though the idea of the three stages were his own creation. In The Warrior Within, John Little states about Lee:

             "...he drafted a fascinating philosophical treatise, which he called The Three Stages of Cultivation."

    And then goes on to describe them.

    Suzuki's book was published in 1959. It was a revised and enlarged version of a book published originally in 1938. Bruce Lee would not have even been born in 1938. (b. 1940) He would have just been arriving in the United States in 1959. The preface to Suzuki's revised edition is dated 1958, before Lee's arrival in the States. I think it is safe to say that Suzuki's work pre-dates Lee's.

    It should become quite obvious that these examples are not the original works of Bruce Lee. They have been presented to us, the public, as though they were Bruce Lee originals, when most are only copied or adapted personal notes, with a few exceptions.

    In Part 2, we will examine direct quotes taken from various sources and more borrowed philosophies of the "Little Dragon."

Page 1    Click Here to go to Part 2 of this article.


© Copyright 2001/2002
Kip Brockett
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