Bruce Lee encourages you to question all that you know about martial arts truth in this masterpiece from the September 1971 issue of Black Belt.
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Prolonged repetitious drillings will certainly yield mechanical precision, and security of that kind comes from any routine. However, it is exactly this kind of "selective" security or "crutch" that limits or blocks the total growth of a martial artist. In fact, quite a few practitioners develop such a liking for and dependence on their "crutch" that they can no longer walk without it. Thus, any one special technique, however cleverly designed, is actually a hindrance. Let it be understood once and for all that I have not invented a new style, composite or modification. I have in no way set jeet kune do within a distinct form governed by laws that distinguish it from "this" style or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my comrades from bondage to styles, patterns and doctrines. What, then, is jeet kune do? I am the first to admit that any attempt to crystallize jeet kune do into a written article is no easy task. Do remember, however, that "jeet kune do" is merely a convenient name. I am not interested with the term itself; I am interested in its effect of liberation when JKD is used as a mirror for self-examination. Silat for the Street is the title of a new online course from Black Belt Hall of Famer Burton Richardson and Black Belt magazine. Now you can learn the most functional silat techniques whenever and wherever you want on your smartphone, tablet or computer. There's no need to abandon your art. You can add these moves to your current system. Get more info here! Unlike a "classical" martial art, there is no series of rules or classification of technique that constitutes a distinct jeet kune do method of fighting. JKD is not a form of special conditioning with its own rigid philosophy. It looks at combat not from a single angle but from all possible angles. While JKD utilizes all the ways and means to serve its end (after all, efficiency is anything that scores), it is bound by none and is therefore free. In other words, JKD possesses everything but is in itself possessed by nothing. Therefore, to attempt to define JKD in terms of a distinct style — be it kung fu, karate, street fighting or Bruce Lee's martial art — is to completely miss its meaning. Its teaching simply cannot be confined within a system. Since JKD is at once "this" and "not this," it neither opposes nor adheres to any style. To understand this fully, one must transcend from the duality of "for" and "against" into one organic unity that is without distinctions. Understanding of JKD is direct intuition of this unity. There are no prearranged sets or kata in the teaching of JKD, nor are they necessary. Consider the subtle difference between "having no form" and "have no form." The first is ignorance, the second is transcendence. Through instinctive body feeling, each of us knows our own most efficient and dynamic manner of achieving effective leverage, balance in motion and economical use of energy. Patterns, techniques or forms touch only the fringe of genuine understanding. The core of understanding lies in the individual mind, and until that is touched, everything is uncertain and superficial. Truth cannot be perceived until we come to fully understand ourselves and our potentials. After all, knowledge in the martial arts ultimately means self-knowledge. At this point you may ask, "How do I gain this knowledge?" That you will have to find out all by yourself. You must accept the fact that there is no help but self-help. For the same reason I cannot tell you how to "gain" freedom, since freedom exists within you, I cannot tell you how to “gain” self-knowledge. While I can tell you what not to do, I cannot tell you what you should do, since that would be confining you to a particular approach. Formulas can only inhibit freedom; externally dictated prescriptions only squelch creativity and assure mediocrity. Bear in mind that the freedom that accrues from self-knowledge cannot be acquired through strict adherence to a formula. We do not suddenly become free, we simply are free. Learning is definitely not mere imitation, nor is it the ability to accumulate and regurgitate fixed knowledge. Learning is a constant process of discovery — a process without end. In JKD we begin not by accumulation but by discovering the cause of our ignorance — a discovery that involves a shedding process. Unfortunately, most students in the martial arts are conformists. Instead of learning to depend on themselves for expression, they blindly follow their instructors, no longer feeling alone, and finding security in mass imitation. The product of this imitation is a dependent mind. Independent inquiry, which is essential to genuine understanding, is sacrificed. Look around the martial arts and witness the assortment of routine performers, trick artists, desensitized robots, glorifiers of the past, and so on — all followers or exponents of organized despair. How often are we told by different sensei (masters) that the martial arts are life itself? But how many of them truly understand what they are saying? Life is a constant movement — rhythmic as well as random. Life is constant change, not stagnation. Instead of choicelessly flowing with this process of change, many of these "masters," past and present, have built an illusion of fixed forms, rigidly subscribing to traditional concepts and techniques of the art, solidifying the ever-flowing, dissecting the totality. Kelly McCann’s Combatives Self-Defense Course, a cutting-edge remote-learning program from Black Belt magazine, will help you fine-tune your street-defense skills using your laptop, tablet or smartphone! Start adding these street-proven techniques, designed to help you defend against empty-hand and armed attacks, to your defensive arsenal now. The most pitiful sight is to see sincere students earnestly repeating those imitative drills, listening to their own screams and spiritual yells. In most cases, the means these sensei offer their students are so elaborate that the students must give tremendous attention to them, until gradually they loses sight of the end. The students end up performing their methodical routines as a mere conditioned response rather than responding to "what is.” They no longer listen to circumstances; they recite their circumstances. These pour souls have unwittingly become trapped in the miasma of classical martial arts training. Pointing to the Truth A teacher, a really good sensei, is never a giver of "truth"; he is a guide, a pioneer to the truth that the student must discover for himself. A good teacher, therefore, studies each student individually and encourages the student to explore himself, both internally and externally, until, ultimately, the student is integrated with his being. A good teacher is a catalyst. Besides possessing a deep understanding, he must also have a responsive mind with great flexibility and sensitivity. There is no standard in total combat, and expression must be free. This liberating truth is a reality only in so far as it is experienced and lived by the individual himself; it is a truth that transcends styles or disciplines. Remember, too, that jeet kune do is merely a term, a label to be used as a boat to get one across; once across, it is to be discarded and not carried on one's back. These few paragraphs are, at best, a "finger pointing to the moon." Please do not take the finger to be the moon or fix your gaze so intently on the finger as to miss all the beautiful sights of heaven. After all, the usefulness of the finger is in pointing away from itself to the light, which illumines finger and all. Order Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition on Amazon and save money!