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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 3

by Kip Brockett

     …And here we are at the final segment of this article.

    Originally this was to be a short article on some of my discoveries. I had completed Part 3 and was ready to publish, when I changed my mind on how to approach it. Although the majority of comments I have received on this article so far have been positive, there are a few who have misunderstood my purpose. For clarification to all, this will be the bulk of this section.

    As promised, this section will wrap up with a look at one of Bruce Lee's ranking systems. I had intended on examining various comments that I have seen on the Internet to show the widespread effect that the subject of this article reaches, but decided to leave this out as I do not want it to appear that I am "picking" on anyone. We will also take a look at Bruce Lee's "My Definite Chief Aim" to examine the impetus of this writing. After that, I want to explain my personal viewpoints on the subject at hand.

    As stated in the previous sections, it is well-known that Western Fencing played a large part in the physical aspects of Bruce Lee's martial art. Not so well-known is how influential Eastern Fencing (i.e.- Japanese Swordsmanship) was on the philosophical side of his art.

    Although Bruce Lee eventually did away with his ranking systems and his commercial schools altogether, one ranking structure that he used is of particular interest to this discussion.


    In the book Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit by Bruce Thomas, it is stated:

    "The first rank was a blank circle, the original state of freedom and potential. The further ranks were represented by yin/yang emblems of various colors, signifying all aspects of life. The highest grade was again the blank circle: the return to the Source." (page 292)

    This is verified by Dan Inosanto in which he published "Bruce Lee's Ranking Systems" in Inside Kung Fu magazine whereby 2 of Lee's ranking systems are examined. It should be noted that the highest rank- reserved for the founder of the system, Bruce Lee- was again the blank circle.

    The Shinkage-Ryu, a school of swordsmanship that began in the Ashikaga period (1338-1568) of Japanese history, has a final certificate that you may find interesting.

    According to D.T. Suzuki in Zen and Japanese Culture,

    "The final certificate, for instance, which is given to one qualified to be a master of the school, contains nothing but a circle. This is supposed to represent a mirror bright and altogether free from film and dust…"



    "…the final stage of spiritual discipline… symbolized as a circle empty of contents- a circle with no circumference."

    To those familiar with Bruce Lee's writings, "circle with no circumference" should be a very familiar term.

    Seeing the amount of things already taken from D.T. Suzuki's book, it is not a large leap to assume that the idea of the blank circle as a rank structure was also taken from it.

    Now let's look at the affirmation paper that Bruce Lee wrote entitled, "My Definite Chief Aim." For those that have never seen this paper, it is a hand-written note on a single piece of paper with the word "SECRET" typed at the bottom. It reads as follows:

My Definite Chief Aim
    I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid Oriental super star in the United States. In return I will give the most exciting performances and render the best of quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve world fame and from then onward till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness.
Bruce Lee

    This affirmation comes from the 6 step program outlined by Napoleon Hill in his book, Think and Grow Rich. If you have never read this book, I encourage you to do so… it could change your life. And if you have read this book, read it again. Please don't let the title turn you away from it, the principles outlined in Think & Grow Rich are a culmination of 20 years of research of some of the most successful people in the world at that time and can apply to any goal- not just monetary.

    Briefly, the six steps are as follows:

  1. Decide exactly how much money you desire.
  2. Determine what you intend to give in return for this money.
  3. Establish a date to possess this money.
  4. Create a definite plan of action.
  5. Write a clear statement containing the above information.
  6. Read statement twice daily out loud.
    There are several keys included in the book that will show you that this was the inspiration of Bruce Lee's "My Definite Chief Aim". Obviously you can follow the steps and see where each is included in the writing. Also on page 55 of Think and Grow Rich, it is stated in a "Self-Confidence Formula":

    "I have clearly written down a description of my definite chief aim in life…"

    If you would like to research further, see page 71 under the heading, "To Stimulate Your Subconscious Mind."

    (The copy I have is a paperback version and the page numbers may not coincide with other versions of the book.)

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Kip Brockett
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