Bruce Lee Teaches You How To Be A Better You

brucelee-infgraphicWhen people talk about Bruce Lee they mostly talk about his amazing skills as a martial artist, how great his movies are or maybe they quote one of his witty philosophical phrases. They may also talk about what a great teacher he was or his influence in their life.

May I suggest we look at one other attribute that Bruce has that we can all learn from. Bruce was an amazing student and I believe that this was a key to his amazing achievements. Every journey has its beginning and its path. Somehow you need to get from point A to point B. I do not believe that Bruce’s achievements were in accident or a lucky break or even his destiny.You may argue that there was something special about Bruce Lee and that very well may be true. But he was not always a great martial artist or philosopher and a movie star. But he was someone with a lot of dreams and aspirations someone who knew where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do.

I have been a martial artist for over 20 years and have followed Bruce Lee and his philosophy for much of that. I’ve had the privilege of meeting several of Bruce Lee’s friends and students. And I’ve had the privilege of studying under some of his students. Every one I’ve ever talked to that knew him personally had a tremendous amount respect for him. He was the real deal.

One of the things that has always stood out to me was that he was always learning, studying trying to improve and wanting to be the best. You could never say he was complacent, content or satisfied. Bruce worked hard to become who he was and always working to be better.

I love the quote used in this image absorbed was useful project was useless and added what is essentially your own. This really sums it up. There is no doubt the Bruce Lee had some great teachers and surrounded himself with great people. Bruce had a foundational knowledge of martial arts but there was one thing that stood out. He was always looking for ways to improve himself as a martial artist,  Bruce was constantly reading and always questioning what he knew. He did not limit himself by staying within one style, martial arts system or one way of thinking. He was a consummate student when he found something didn’t work he quickly moved past it and looked for something that did making it his own. He also believed that his truth may not necessarily be someone else’s truth meaning everyone’s different we will need to find our own path with our own experiences and knowledge. If you look at Bruce Lee’s students today you won’t find another Bruce Lee he did not teach them to be him, he taught them to be the best self they could be. Not a bunch of Bruce Lee clones but independent thinkers and independent students on their own path.

So in short if you want to find the next level, that better you. The 1st thing you need to focus on is becoming a great student.

Here’s another great quote by Bruce Lee I think is pertinent.
“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and 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.”

Here is a related blog about that quote. Empty your mind…

Knowledge is not a passive thing

4k4mUSo true. This quote, to me is pointing out the fact the knowledge is not a passive thing. It is born out of action as all growth and achievements are. To learn we must observe, practice and get feedback.  In Martial Arts and in other sports we often refer to a thing called muscle memory. This is when we have practiced a movement enough that the muscle knows what to do instinctively without the brain having to walk us through. Without mind! Bruce Lee once said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” We should always be students approaching life with an open mind and willing to put effort into something we have been exposed to so we make it our own.

~Jeff

Free at last! Free at last!

I Have a Dream

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

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We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
martin-luther-king-being-arrestedMy country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Empty your mind…

i-heart-water“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into 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.” ~Bruce Lee

This is one of my favorite quotes by Bruce Lee. It is based on a basic Zen philosophy but it could be applied to any belief system. I guess that is the primes of the message. You can apply the above philosophy to anything you wish, religion, politics, people or of course martial arts.

I could shape the message of the quote to many things but my thoughts today have me thinking about people and our wonderful differences. These days it seems there is so much negativity around us it is often difficult to stay positive. An open mind is one way to change this. I believe it is also a healthy approach to life.  It starts by first recognizing and accepting the differences in others. Most of us believe what we believe because of the path we have walked. Everything we have experienced makes us who we are today. That said, the same with the people around you. We have not walked in their shoes and therefor, how can we completely understand why they believe the things they believe. First we must empty our minds allowing us to listen and look at them with an open mind free from judgment.  Now that is the empty your mind part.

The second part is the adaptive part. Let’s call this compassion. Everyone has had their own struggles in life, pains and hardships and lessons learned. These things make us who we are. If we look at others in this adaptive way we start to see they are more like us than we may initially thought. We are all going through life trying to find peace and happiness. We are all basically walking the same path. The path is life.

The last line of the quote is where we become powerful. Looking at others in this way will free you of hate, prejudice, greed and arrogance. I believe these flaws have the potential to destroy humanity and most of all keep you from becoming a better you!

Peace and love,

~jeff