Without a doubt, Bruce Lee is planet Earth's most famous fighter, but his influence extends far beyond the martial arts. Find out how extensive — and long-lived — it is.

A great artist is measured not just by his fame or even his achievements. He’s measured by his influence on others. Fame alone is nothing. An artist can be well-known for quality work or infamous for terrible work. Achievements are similar. A man can spend a lifetime creating technically amazing things, but his list of achievements is as inspiring as an accountant’s ledger. Influence is different. Great artists make people want to be artists. This is taken from literary theory — specifically, the work of literary critic Harold Bloom — but it applies to the martial arts, too. Just like Bloom’s “strong poets” who influence all subsequent poets, we have our collection of martial artists whose influence permeates certain arts. Examples: Karate was never the same after Mas Oyama created kyokushin, and the contemporary grappling arts are infused with the strategies and techniques of Jigoro Kano’s judo. In our time, only one martial artist has achieved an influence that spans everything: Bruce Lee.


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Bruce Lee’s influence is everywhere in the martial arts. It’s in everyone who studies a traditional art and chafes against its restrictions. It’s in our easy acceptance of cross-training. Indeed, it’s in our pluralist attitude toward martial truth that allows us to study different styles and learn things from each of them. Even when you turn your attention to sport fighting and reality-based self-defense, you can see Bruce Lee’s influence. It’s evident in the way MMA focuses on functional technique while still trying to be a martial art, and in combatives it’s evident because jeet kune do is part of the lineage of pioneers such as Jim Wagner.

Bruce Lee's Fighting Method: The Complete Edition brings the iconic four-volume Fighting Method series together into one definitive jeet kune do book. Click here to order.

But Bruce Lee’s influence extends outside the martial arts, too. In the film world, he embodies the fighting arts. For years after he died, Hong Kong moviemakers churned out pale imitations of Lee’s now-classic films. No Retreat, No Surrender took it one step further, making Lee’s ghost a major character. The influence of the “Little Dragon” showed up in mainstream films, as well. For example, Eddie Murphy said in interviews that he was imitating Lee in 48 Hrs. during scenes in which he’s stalking the bad guy. Bruce Lee also has been an enduring pop-culture figure. Sometimes it’s subtle — like Urge Overkill singer/guitarist Nash Kato borrowing the name of Lee’s Green Hornet character for the stage and calling one of the band’s albums Exit the Dragon.

Bruce Lee's Fighting Method: Basic Training and Self-Defense Techniques is a best-selling DVD featuring Ted Wong and Richard Bustillo. Get your disc here.

Sometimes it’s ironic — like Mark Wahlberg’s Bruce Lee-idolizing adult-film star in Boogie Nights. Lee’s influence is in all these things, but most of all, it’s in the millions of people who’ve seen his movies or read his books and said, “I want to do that!” His particular combination of martial arts, philosophy and kung fu theater was exactly what they were looking for, and it sent them on a million martial arts journeys. Influence like that isn’t necessarily benign, however.

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Bloom’s literary theory is about the anxiety of influence. That is, great poets inspire people to love poetry and write it themselves. But the great poets’ work is so powerful and compelling that it suppresses the creativity of new poets, and that’s why most poetry is derivative and weak. Only the strongest poets manage to create something original. Again, the martial arts are similar. You can see the humbling influence of Bruce Lee in all the eclectic styles that have been launched since the 1970s but never really went far. They all claimed to meld the best of many styles into one great style, but they wound up being less compelling than jeet kune do.

To download a free guide titled “Bruce Lee Quotes on Philosophy: An Excerpt From the NEW Bruce Lee Biography and Your Guide to Four More Bruce Lee Books!” click this link.

You also can see it in the would-be martial philosophers like me, people who try to write something compelling and original. Whatever seemingly new ideas or approaches we have, a little research usually shows Lee was there first.

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Only time will tell how long Bruce Lee’s influence will last in the martial arts. But while it does last, ambitious martial artists can’t avoid it. They have to find a way to extend or surpass the truths of jeet kune do. It’s what Lee had to do when confronted with the genius of wing chun. First, he developed a modified version and called it Jun Fan gung fu, but it was too derivative. So he further developed it into jeet kune do. Anyone who wants to be a great martial artist will have to overcome that edifice of deep thought and functional technique and build something even better. (“Bruce Lee” is a registered trademark of Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC. The Bruce Lee name, image and likeness are intellectual property of Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC.) Go here to order Keith Vargo’s book Philosophy of Fighting: Morals and Motivations of the Modern Warrior.
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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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