Martial arts: Philosophy, Benefits, and the Legend of Bruce Lee

Two months ago, I started training in Jeet Kune Do (JKD), or also known as “the way of the intercepting fist,” meaning, to stop the attack before it even happens. It was created by the famous Chinese/American actor, director, martial artist instructor, and philosopher Bruce Lee and has referred to it as a “non-classical”, formless form of Chinese Kung Fu.

Being one of the first martial artists to learn multiple styles of martial arts to better improve himself and develop martial arts, Bruce incorporated those styles in JKD including Wing Chun Fist (the main style), boxing, karate, fencing, Jiu-Jitsu, and more as its progressed through the years. Bruce Lee’s reason for developing this style was because he believed other martial arts were becoming impractical, rigid, and too complex, therefore he wanted to create a style that was simple but as effective as possible for real-life situations. This hybrid fighting system is characterised by the fact that it involves constant self-improvement rather than stopping at the top level. Even though I am a beginner and have only been training for two months, I love it and have been picking things up quite easily, also training with my dad is great because I can put as much effort in as I can without worrying about hurting anyone (don’t worry I don’t hurt him, also he’s trained in MA before).

We have also been watching the series, The Legend of Bruce Lee, on Netflix, which is essentially his whole story from when he lived as a teen in high school in Hong Kong with his parents and siblings, to his life when he moved to America. Set back in the 1950s, it shows how China was very westernised, so Bruce was bullied by a fellow student and boxer Blair Lewis, with who he later became very good friends. For most of his teen life, Bruce got into a lot of street fights, therefore his parents decided he should be trained in martial arts to be able to defend himself properly. He began training in Wing Chun with Master Yip Man when he was only 16. However, this didn’t stop Bruce from looking for trouble… getting into fights with other martial artists and students from other clubs, although not just for fun, but to learn from them and their techniques. But this caused trouble for him and his family, so he was sent by his father to stay with his sister in San Francisco. A year later Bruce started teaching martial arts and was a student at the University of Washington studying in dramatic arts, Asian and Western philosophy, and psychology. Although the events of the show The Legend of Bruce Lee, may not be precisely accurate, I have learned a lot about the different types of martial arts and the philosophy behind it that Bruce created.

When training it helps for me to think about how Bruce does it, how he told his students that the more relaxed you are, the stronger you can be, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Put water into a cup, becomes the cup, put water into a teapot, becomes the teapot, water can flow or creep or drip or crash. Be water my friend.” I decided to take up martial arts because honestly, I want to be able to protect myself in any situation. As a woman (or womxn) most of us go through everyday looking over our shoulders, and not going to the bathroom by ourselves, or not being able to walk somewhere at night and not even being able to wear what we want to without something feeling self-conscious or threatened. There are hundreds of women all around the world that have been victims of assault and wished they did something about it. As I continue training in JKD I will be able to develop more confidence in myself, get some fitness and know that I can protect myself and others if need be. The club is so fun and has such a great atmosphere and really friendly people. I definitely recommend this martial arts for anyone who feels they need more confidence, more fitness, and for a feeling of safety.

Tagged in mental health, health and wellbeing, What messes with your head, martial arts