By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013 —
“It’s like a finger pointing away at the moon. If you concentrate on the finger, then you miss all of the heavenly glory.”
This is one of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes, from the movie “Enter the Dragon.”
I was watching the flick on TV the other day and was reminded how strongly Lee has influenced my life.
I’d never really stopped to think about it before, but he is one of the original reasons for my interest in the religious traditions of China.
Martial arts and religion, you say? Go on!
Lee accomplished much in his life: pioneered his own style of martial art, acted, produced, taught and wrote.
But underlying this all was his belief in yin, yang and the concept of chi.
Yin and yang, dark and light, is exactly what the symbol represents: the complimentary and opposing forces of reality bond together in a semblance of harmony.
Within this dichotomous belief structure there is the idea of chi, or the body’s internal energy or breath.
Lee harnassed all of these Daoist concepts in every facet of his life, especially when it came to his martial arts.
Most consider Bruce Lee as an actor, but many remember the martial arts demonstrations the man used to put on to demonstrate his own personal take on kung fu. He termed this style “Jeet Kune Do,” which is Cantonese for the “way of the intercepting fist.”
I would love to explain more about Jeet Kune Do, but I know next to nothing about it aside from its core tenent: strike before you can be struck.
However, I would like to talk more about chi and how Lee utilized it.
Go on Youtube and search for some of Lee’s demonstrations. They’re far more impactful to see, quite extraordinary really.
From a position standing still, Lee could throw a side-kick capable of tossing a man across a room.
Lee was also famous for his one-inch punch: with but an inch of space between his fist and the target, without reaching back his arm, Lee could deliver a punch that would launch a man into the air.
In his movies, more often than not the editors had to slow down the action sequences just so the audience could see what Lee was doing.
Lee believed that he could do all of these feats because of the power of harnessing one’s chi.
Demonstrations aside, what sealed the deal on my fascination for Lee was his take on Chinese philosophy.
“Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You pour water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or drip or creep or crash. Be water, my friend...” Lee was quoted in an interview.
When I first heard this, in high school, something clicked into place for me.
The saying resonated with me, voicing something I believed in, but didn’t know at the time.
I found similar resonances in the “Dao De Jing” once I read it in college.
All of this because of my interest in a movie star and my belief that the actor could be so much more than that.
Thanks for showing me “the style of no style,” Mr. Lee. I’ll never forget it.