Today I wanted to write a little bit about Bruce Lee. Sure, he has been the subject of many praises criticisms in regards to his martial arts prowess. Just as well, his work was a large inspiration to me during my days of backyard martial arts training.
However, this is not today's subject. I wanted to highlight some of Bruce Lee's other philosophies and approaches that I think we can all learn from.
See we live in a world of information. Anything we want to learn, we can do it with the click of a button. Tons of studies, papers, notes, firsthand accounts on literally every subject exist now. There are advantages and disadvantages to having this kind of information access. This allows us the potential to learn and know more, which is huge. Knowing that something is possible can increase the realm of further possibilities. The downside is that we become reliant on our information and it keeps us from doing our own research.
Rather than trying something ourselves, the first order is now to see if someone else already did it and how they did. Though it is a painstaking process, there is a large merit to figuring things out for yourself. The appreciation and understanding you develop from it is priceless.
This is where Bruce Lee comes in. He did some pretty crazy stuff and was way ahead of his time for it. Before you could look at studies on how a group of sedentary individuals behaved a certain way you had to try things for yourself. Bruce did just that; he tried things himself. He did his own research by attempting all the possibilities and then taking what was useful from all of it.
I feel like this concept is lost on a lot of people today. I know from person experience, one of the things that helped develop my eye as a teacher was the lack of information I had available. I had to try something, try it differently and see the effect, or try to watch and analyze someone else do it at the times I had that option. Because I had no information to bias my judgement, I was able to keep a very open mind and learn all kinds of different techniques from various disciplines. The knowledge gained from this was immensely helpful in seeing how different people with different bodies and different movement backgrounds react to learning something new.
The fact is that knowing too much, or thinking you do can cloud your thoughts and actions to a large degree. This is why it is important to maintain beginner's mind.
This concept is especially important in training the physical arts since there is no universal technique that can predict how a body will behave. The concept of right and wrong is not so clearly defined. Every process must be individualized to see the reactions to different stimulus.
The lesson for today? Next time you see, read, or hear something do not take it as gospel regardless of where it came from. Try it for yourself to develop the correct knowledge, understanding, and frame of reference.