Bruce Lee quotes
Birthdate: 27. November 1940
Date of death: 20. July 1973
Other names: 李小龍
Lee Jun-fan , known professionally as Bruce Lee, was a Hong Kong and American actor, film director, martial artist, martial arts instructor, philosopher and founder of the martial art Jeet Kune Do. Lee was the son of Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-chuen. He is widely considered by commentators, critics, media, and other martial artists to be one of the most influential martial artists of all time, and a pop culture icon of the 20th century. He is often credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films.
Lee was born in Chinatown, San Francisco, on November 27, 1940, to parents from Hong Kong and was raised in Kowloon, Hong Kong, with his family until his late teens. He was introduced to the film industry by his father and appeared in several films as a child actor. Lee moved to the United States at the age of 18 to receive his higher education, at the University of Washington, at Seattle and it was during this time that he began teaching martial arts. His Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim, sparking a surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West in the 1970s. The direction and tone of his films changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in the US, Hong Kong and the rest of the world.
He is noted for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Wei's The Big Boss and Fist of Fury ; Golden Harvest's Way of the Dragon , directed and written by Lee; Golden Harvest and Warner Brothers' Enter the Dragon and The Game of Death , both directed by Robert Clouse. Lee became an iconic figure known throughout the world, particularly among the Chinese, as he portrayed Chinese nationalism in his films. He trained in the art of Wing Chun and later combined his other influences from various sources, in the spirit of his personal martial arts philosophy, which he dubbed Jeet Kune Do . Lee held dual nationality in Hong Kong and the US. He died in Kowloon Tong on July 20, 1973 at the age of 32.
Quotes Bruce Lee
Context: There is no such thing as maturity. There is instead an ever-evolving process of maturing. Because when there is a maturity, there is a conclusion and a cessation. That’s the end. That’s when the coffin is closed. You might be deteriorating physically in the long process of aging, but your personal process of daily discovery is ongoing. You continue to learn more and more about yourself every day.
„Fluidity is the way to an empty mind. You must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying.“
Source: Striking Thoughts (2000), p. 25; Variant: Like everyone else you want to learn the way to win, but never to accept the way to lose — to accept defeat. To learn to die is to be liberated from it. So when tomorrow comes you must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying!
As quoted in Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey (2000)
Context: Like everyone else you want to learn the way to win. But never to accept the way to lose. To accept defeat — to learn to die — is to be liberated from it. Once you accept, you are free to flow and to harmonize. Fluidity is the way to an empty mind. You must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying.
Context: Whether or not we can get together, remember well that art “lives” where absolute freedom is. With all the training thrown to nowhere, with a mind (if there is such a verbal substance) perfectly unaware of its own working, with the “self” vanishing nowhere, the art of JKD attains its perfection.
„Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.“
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„Don't fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.“
Source: Striking Thoughts (2000), p. 121
Source: Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living
„Balance your thoughts with action. — If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.“
Source: Striking Thoughts (2000), p. 43
Variant: Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own
Source: Bruce Lee — Wisdom for the Way
As quoted in The Art of Expressing the Human Body (1998) edited by John R. Little, p. 23
Context: There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.
As translated by Katharine Lyttelton, in Joubert : A Selection from His Thoughts (1899)
Source: Striking Thoughts (2000), p. 121; this likely derives from the observation of Joseph Joubert: The goal is not always meant to be reached, but to serve as a mark for our aim.
Bruce Lee: Enter the Dragon (1973); In a conversation with an older member of the temple.
Context: A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract; and when he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, "I" do not hit, "it" hits all by itself.
The first is the primitive stage. It is a stage of original ignorance in which a person knows nothing about the art of combat. In a fight, he simply blocks and strikes instinctively without a concern for what is right and wrong. Of course, he may not be so-called scientific, but, nevertheless, being himself, his attacks or defenses are fluid. The second stage — the stage of sophistication, or mechanical stage — begins when a person starts his training. He is taught the different ways of blocking, striking, kicking, standing, breathing, and thinking — unquestionably, he has gained the scientific knowledge of combat, but unfortunately his original self and sense of freedom are lost, and his action no longer flows by itself. His mind tends to freeze at different movements for calculations and analysis, and even worse, he might be called “intellectually bound” and maintain himself outside of the actual reality. The third stage — the stage of artlessness, or spontaneous stage — occurs when, after years of serious and hard practice, the student realizes that after all, gung fu is nothing special. And instead of trying to impose on his mind, he adjusts himself to his opponent like water pressing on an earthen wall. It flows through the slightest crack. There is nothing to try to do but try to be purposeless and formless, like water. All of his classical techniques and standard styles are minimized, if not wiped out, and nothingness prevails. He is no longer confined.
„I have changed from self-image actualization to self-actualization, from blindly following propaganda, organized truths, etc. to searching internally for the cause of my ignorance.“
Context: I have come to discover through earnest personal experience and dedicated learning that ultimately the greatest help is self-help; that there is no other help but self-help— doing one’s best, dedicating one’s self wholeheartedly to a given task, which happens to have no end but is an ongoing process. I have done a lot during these years of my process. A swell in my process, I have changed from self-image actualization to self-actualization, from blindly following propaganda, organized truths, etc. to searching internally for the cause of my ignorance.