by Frank Gruber
Bruce Lee Quoted Out of Context
A lot of martial artists quote Bruce Lee. Some don’t even realize that they are doing so.
Other martial artists use Bruce-Lee quotes incorrectly.
Most of the time that these sayings are taken out of context is when martial artists use the words to defend their particular style. Often the quote is the need to express either an “anything can be considered JKD” attitude or that “there are a very limited number of martial arts moves, so what I am doing is OK.”
For these martial artists, a punch comes in, and they take it with a hard block across the body and either a counter punch or a kick counter. These guys lack all of the nuances that make martial arts what it is. Not what Bruce Lee had in mind, at all.
Bruce Lee on Limiting Movements
When martial artists quote about the limiting number of ways the body can move, this is usually their excuse for why they do the same ol’ same ol’ in martial arts. They continue blocking and then punching, often on wide angles, because they vaguely remember a Bruce Lee quote from The Lost Interview saying something about a limited way the arms and feet can move limiting the kinds of martial responses possible.
Note: If you watch the lost interview on Youtube, it’s the part where Bruce says, “Unless man has three arms or three legs …”
To me, using the quote to defend doing exactly the same techniques in the same way with the same timing and distance is akin to saying that chess is an easy game, because there are only 4-5 different ways that pieces can move on the board. (Obviously, chess is an extremely complex mental exercise.)
On the one hand, you only have two hands, two feet, three elbows (just making sure you are paying attention), and so on.
There are only a limited number of ways that the limbs can attack.
Martial Arts Like a Game of Chess
But when you factor in angles and timing, you have just added thousands of possibilities. Order of technique offers even more choices.
Considering the 5 Ways of Attack gives you a few thousand more strategic options. Not to mention distance.
And when you consider choices of response to these techniques, now you are getting every bit as complex as a game of chess.
One of the reasons that you read my articles each week is because you understand that martial arts is not just a “block-then-punch” response. No, neither is it a “block-then-kick” game either.
There is so much more. (And at the same time, it’s … just that simple … and sometimes “more” direct.
Keith Pascal is the author of the new ebook, How to End the Fight With One Hit: better street fighting.
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