#18 The Individual Over Any Established System
“Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.”
From a very young age Bruce Lee was a rebellious thinker with a keen awareness that established systems could restrict the full development of a human being.
One event that sparked this questioning was the discrimination he faced at his Kung Fu school in Hong Kong. He was ultimately kicked out of that school because he wasn’t 100% Chinese. He learned that the institution favored an arbitrary rule over his passionate devotion to study martial arts. This made no sense to him--even as a young man. Bruce Lee eventually called classical martial arts styles “organized despair” because he felt that the rigidity of the styles limited people from discovering themselves and their personal style of martial arts.
“Why do you as an individual depend on thousands of years of propaganda? Ideals, principles, the ‘what should be’ leads to hypocrisy.”
He said “you do not have to become a robot,” in any system. In the beginning stages, it is okay to figure out who you are, what you’re into. While doing so it is important to be your best self and be in harmony. Only then you begin to listen and become in tune to what truly speaks to your heart (not the system).
“Man is constantly growing, and when he is bound by a set pattern of ideas or ‘Way’ of doing things, that’s when he stops growing.”
After years of classical study, Bruce Lee developed his own martial way called Jeet Kune Do. Though Bruce enjoyed teaching others the discoveries he had made, he recognized that as soon as he defined the style to others, it was in danger of becoming dogma. Bruce Lee wanted every student of martial arts to discover what works for them and to develop their own styles. This approach requires one to spend a lot of time studying one's own thoughts, body and energy.
“In solitude you are least alone. Make good use of it.”
When you’re alone, you are with yourself and with your own thoughts. It’s when you’re alone that you can truly assess yourself.
Take Action: Try an exercise of being alone with yourself without distraction. Identify what systems you’re a part of right now, and are they serving you? What ideas, values, and interests come up for you when you’re alone? Write down the thoughts that come to you when you’re alone. Are your thoughts and values in sync with any institution you’re a part of?
(Awesome Asians and Hapas)
This week our #AAHA shout-out goes out to Yo-Yo Ma, the prodigious Chinese American cellist. He has won 18 Grammys in his career. Aside from classical music, he is interested in Blue Grass, traditional Chinese music, and tango Brazilian music. He has collaborated with many artists including Bobby McFerrin, and Quincy Jones, and movement artists such as Charles Lubbock Riley. Beyond music, Yo-Yo Ma is a United Nations Messenger of Peace and has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. So also he uses music as a way to cross cultures and bring people together. He has a film coming out soon called The Music of Strangers. Thank you Yo-Yo Ma! We appreciate your awesomeness and all the levels of your artistry.
This week we have an email from Youssef E.:
To the Bruce Lee Enterprise, foundation and family, As a follower and believer in the philosophies of Bruce Lee, and as a person who has looked up to this man and his teachings since birth, I just wanted to exhaust my opportunity to say thank you for continuing his legacy and for making sure that everything that I researched and grew up educating myself with from his teachings, to his lifestyle, and to his approach towards the way this universe ebbs and flows still exists to this day and onward. I am so gracious and thankful for how this is gaining momentum. I truly believe everyone can find peace and insight in learning from his philosophy in a way where they will take from it and incorporate their own flavor with it. Bruce Lee has always been a part of my life and I am excited for it to carry on when my family grows and the generations pass. All I hope for is the best for you all under the Bruce Lee umbrella and that I really hope you never lose momentum and keep on flowing. You honestly make my life easier day by day by giving more in ways of podcasts and knowledge and preserving the core messages of the OG himself. In tough times, I look to you for motivation, and you always lift me up. Thank you.