All types of knowledge are self-knowledge.
The students come, not so much to learn how to defend themselves, but to learn how to express themselves.
They pay me to show them, in combative form, how to express the human body.
Today is Bruce Lee's 79th birthday. It's easy for me to remember his age because he was born exactly a week before my mom, aka "the Other Little Dragon."
|The Other Little Dragons|
Lee is one of those people who really needs no introduction, at least in the martial arts world. Besides being arguably the greatest martial artist that ever lived, he was a philosopher who could kick you in the face and blow your mind at the same time.
Bruce Lee inspired countless martial artists of every genre and continues to inspire, through his art and his words, almost 50 years after his death.
|Inspired by Bruce Lee|
The following quotes are some of my personal favorites:
The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.
This quote comes to mind when people start preaching about whatever jiu-jitsu style or martial arts style they happen to prefer, or their political or religious beliefs. Without mentioning any names, there are definitely some people who believe jiu-jitsu should still be practiced as it was 100 years ago. But I also think of this quote when martial arts people get into a pissing contest about which style is better.
According to Lee, it's not about picking a style, eenie meenie minie moe, karate or TKD or??? It's about saying, as Lee himself put it: "Here I am as a human being; how can I express myself?"
Only when the individual frees himself from the need to adhere to a particular style can his martial art - and, dare I say it, his life? - become, as Lee put it, "a process of continuing growth."
I'm not in the world to meet your expectations and you're not in the world to meet mine.
This is deliciously self-explanatory, as are all Lee's quotes, but in the constant high school-esque peer pressures of the martial arts world, it's an easy one to forget.
Everyone has a different idea of who and what you should be and how you should train and fight and just generally be. If you get caught up in it, you're dead, or at least your jiu-jitsu is dead. No matter how good your jiu-jitsu is, if you allow people to get into your head - and believe me, they will try and try again - you will know defeat until you get them out of your head again.
Just play by IBJJF rules and let the haters hate. As Katt Williams says: That's their job.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
Jiu-jitsu is a rabbithole that sucks you in and it's easy to get lost in there. It's easy to become fascinated by the intricacies of the game and to forget that - at least theoretically - we are here to learn to fight.
You might know 1000 variations of the armbar from the guard but if you're hiding in the corner nursing a fake injury hoping that tough new blue belt doesn't ask you to roll, there's something wrong.
In the same way, you (I) might have theories about life, love, and jiu-jitsu, but until you put them into practice, nobody will care.
The problem is, fighting takes courage, whether you're fighting in a competition or fighting for your job or fighting for a relationship. It's so much easier, so much more dignified, to throw in the towel, to be a good sport, to give up the submission or whatever it is you care about because at least you won't look ridiculous when you try really hard and fail.
But then you're missing the whole point. Maybe trying hard and failing isn't ridiculous. Maybe spending your life trying not to look ridiculous is ridiculous.
There are no limits, there are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.
I don't know about you but for me, there is a point, in my training and in my workouts and in my relationships, that is the point I can go to and feel like I'm on familiar territory. I guess that would be called the comfort zone. And beyond that point is just utter blackness. I have no idea what's out there and I have not ventured beyond that point very many times in my life. Actually, I usually try to stay well below that limit.
My unconscious goal, I guess, has always been to excel inside the comfort zone. Only recently have I crossed the Rubicon, as it were, and it was exhilarating. I didn't die and I didn't get lost. And what I saw there, what I felt there, is my best jiu-jitsu. My best me.
When I was a blue belt, my teacher Ricardo gave me some noncommittal compliment - he's not a big complimenter - and he said, "There's something, I don't know what it is, that's holding you back. If you could get beyond that, you could be good."
I know now that I can go beyond that point with training partners I trust, which is like four people, including Robson. How do I do it with people I don't trust? Good question. Years ago, I was assigned to read an article entitled "In Trust We Trust." This article was just saying that basically there is nobody you can ever completely trust. Even the people with the best intentions can hurt you, either on or off the mat, because we all have different ideas about what hurts. The article was saying that we need to get to the point where we place our trust, not in other people, but in our own ability to handle whatever is thrown at us.
Using no way as a way; using no limitation as a limitation.
It's a balancing act, or that's what it seems like to me. It's a tightrope walk across this great chasm of life, love and jiu-jitsu. Nobody can guarantee that you're not going to fall but guess what; at the bottom of the chasm is a nice, springy mat. We all learned to breakfall on the first day of class, or at least, sometime over the past 11 years.
And really, if we never fell, if we never ended up flat on our backs, we wouldn't need jiu-jitsu. In judo, the fight is over when you're on your back. In jiu-jitsu, that's when the fight begins.
Only you can find your way, and every time you find your way, you have to be prepared to leave it when a better way presents itself. In the same way, every time you accept your limitations as limitations, you have to be ready to find a way to transcend them.
There's only one immutable rule on the great tightrope of life, love and jiu-jitsu: Don't look down.
Be water, my friend.