While the expanded edition of Tao of Jeet Kune Do was still in production, Black Belt reached out to some of Bruce Lee's friends and colleagues and asked them to submit their thoughts about his most influential book. Richard Bustillo, one of the contributors, turned to his students and asked them what the Tao has meant to them. The following are letters  from Bustillo's students, expressing their own experience with the Tao, what it has meant to them, and how its shaped their lives.

—Editor Note


From: Mic Clark I first purchased and read the Tao of Jeet Kune Do in 1976. I was a 15 year old schoolboy obsessed with all things Bruce Lee and martial arts related. At the time the only martial art available for me to study was wado ryu karate. I found that reading through Bruce's notes and learning about his ideas on martial arts that the system and methods of training used in my karate school were totally opposite to the methods detailed in the book. I thought Bruce was a genius - and still do! I admit that a lot of the book was lost on me because of my age and limited experience at that time. However, what I did understand I absorbed fully and began to apply in my karate classes. I clearly remember reading about the on guard position, the finger jab and the lead punch and then spending hours in my bedroom after school in front of the mirror practicing those moves. Applying the on guard position during sparring at karate and later during my tae kwon do studies, improved my sparring technique significantly. Tao of Jeet Kune Do is a book I never tire of dipping in and out of, and every time I dip into it I learn something new even though I've had my copy for over 30 years. I'm very proud of the fact that inside my copy I have my Sifu Richard Bustillo's signature alongside that of Dan Inosanto and Ted Wong. A great book that has been an integral part of my jeet kune do journey. From James K. Tanaka: Sifu Bustillo: "Knowing is not enough, one must apply." "Willing is not enough, one must do." "To know oneself is to see oneself in action with others." "The individual is more important than any established style or system." These are just a few or many excerpts from Tao of Jeet Kune Do that have helped shape and guide my life. Bruce Lee's words set in motion within me the mindset that martial arts should always be a journey specifically your own. To do so one must always strive to be honest with oneself as well as with those he/she surrounds himself with, regardless of whether we are at practice, play or work. Much Aloha. From Kevin Lumsden: My first exposure to the Tao of Jeet Kune Do was when I was very young and had just started taking karate.  Like many, Bruce Lee was the influence that got me started in the martial arts.  At a very young age, (I started at 7), I really didn't understand what he was all about, I just wanted to be able to move like he did in the movies.  It was not until I was a teenager and had read the Tao many times that I started realizing how different Bruce Lee was, and what he had to offer the martial arts world.  If I could characterize the Tao's influence on me in one word, it would be "freedom."  Freedom to adapt a style, method or approach to my abilities and interests.  Freedom to question doctrine and teachings that previously would have been considered sacrilegious.  Freedom to express myself in a way that worked for me.  As I got older, I realized that the Tao's approach was not only limited to martial arts, but it could extend to your entire life--your relationships, your career, your interests, etc.  It helped me discover my "ignorance" and, hopefully has helped me address some of those weaknesses. Thank you, Sifu. From Rudy Lams: When I started reading about the Tao of Jeet Kune Do I was already in the martial arts, already having a passion to be like Bruce Lee, which I am sure hundreds felt that way.  However once I started reading Tao of Jeet Kune Do, I began to find my weaknesses and learn to strengthen them, that is where I started scouting to learn jeet kune do.  I believe jeet kune do is a part of my life and who I am, and by that I mean I use it everyday in any aspects of my life and I try to pass it on to others. Mainly through my martial arts classes, by teaching my students that what you put into it is what you will get out of it, always absorb what is useful and reject what is useless, at least for that moment in time.  At the same time keep Sigung Bruce Lee's name and art alive by educating my students and those that come through my path.  Also through my collection, which I have had for more than 40 years and continue being a loyal collector and student and not selling myself. Peace.
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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