#39 Experience and Imagination


Taky Kimura once wrote Bruce Lee a letter saying that the students at Bruce’s Gung Fu studio were asking for more techniques. Bruce wrote back that they didn’t need “more” but to go deeper into the practice and expand the students’ imagination:

“First and foremost I would like to impress a most important rule of teaching in your mind and that is the economy of form. Follow this rule and you will never feel like you have to add more and more so-called sizzling techniques to keep your students interested.”

“I hope I have impressed in your mind a most important rule of our style. Stick to the program I have given you, use variety, and do not worry too much that your student need more and more to stay with you. True only if they can do perfectly all that you’ve taught them. Remember, the idea that one has to come in thousands of times in order to perfect one judo throw. And of course, use your own experience and imagination, and you will do well. I have faith in you, Bruce.”

Bruce was trying to communicate the difference between experience and imagination or another way he expressed this ideas was knowledge and knowing.

“Knowledge is from a source, from an accumulation, from a conclusion, while knowing is a movement, is a constant movement. Therefore there’s no static state, no fixed point from which to act. Knowledge is binding but the movement of knowing is not binding.”

“An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind, its not satisfied with explanations, with conclusions. Nor is it a mind that believes because belief is again another form of conclusion.”

When you’re stuck in a set pattern, this is where imagination comes in and asks: What if this is not true? Where can this lead instead? Imagination expands the experience to infinite possibilities. The experience is the seed and the imagination is the blossoming. Imagination can feel really big or fantastical, but just in the questioning of something you are using your imagination and seeing something that wasn’t there before.

“There are two ways of learning. In the first, you get information. You get someone to tell you what concepts will be useful, what the world is like. Then you feed this into your computer and you play the fitting game. Does this concept fit with these other concepts? However, the best way of learning, is not through computation of information, learning is discovering. Uncovering what is there in us. When we discover, we are uncovering our own ability, our own eyes. In order to find our potential, to see what is going on, to discover how we can enlarge our lives, to find the means at our disposal that will let us cope with a difficult situation. And all this I maintain, is taking place in the here and now. Any speculation about things, any attempt at getting information and assistance from outside help, will not produce maturation. So anyone who works with me has to do it with a continuous account of the now. I am experiencing this, now I feel this, now I don’t want to work anymore, now I’m bored. From here we can go on to differentiate what of the now experience is acceptable to you. When you want to run away, when you want to suffer yourself, when you feel your self being suffered, and so on. The ability to really see is health and consequently the world is opening up.”

Bruce originally dreamt of having many martial arts studios, but soon realized that building up a large institution went against his own philosophy. He always advocated for the individual over the institution so he eventually decided that entertainment was a better vehicle to personally teach his philosophy to as many people as possible.

“Above all a teacher does not depend on a method and drill systematic routines. Instead, study each individual student and awaken him to explore himself, both internally and externally, and integrate him with his being. Such teaching requires a sensitive mind with great flexibility and it is difficult to come by.”

“If you learn concepts, if you work for information, then you don’t understand, you only explain. When a man is thinking, he stands off from what he is trying to understand.”

Go ahead and learn the knowledge—even master the knowledge, but also apply it to the real world, test it out and see how you can modify it to fit your own needs. Cut away all that is not essential until it fits you perfectly.

Bruce Lee always customized ideas or practices to fit his own mind body and spirit. We should all add personal customization to the ideas and practices in our lives, nothing is a one-size-fits-all. It’s a very creative act to combine ideas and teachings for what works specifically for you.

“Remember, I am no teacher. I can merely be a signpost for a traveler who is lost; it is up to you to decide on the direction. All I can offer is an experience, but never a conclusion. So even what I have said needs to be thoroughly examined by you.”

Take Action:

Test a formula or conclusion that you have. How can you customize it? Can you imagine a different conclusion? Also, where are you finding yourself bored? Inquire as to why you’re bored.

If you’d like to share how you’re doing with this action item you can email us at hello@brucelee.com.


(Awesome Asians and Hapas)

Inbee Park

This week our #AAHA is Inbee Park who is a South Korean professional golfer who plays on the LPGA Tour and the LPGA of Japan Tour. In 2013 and 2014 she was ranked #1 in the world and has won seven major championships in her career. She is the youngest player to win the Women’s US Open and the second player to win the Women’s PGA Championship three years in a row. In 2016, she won the first Olympic gold medal since 1900 in the women’s individual tournament. Inbee you’re killing it, and we think you’re awesome!


This week’s #BruceLeeMoment comes from Ven:

“Hello Shannon and Sharon,

After hearing your podcast on Bruce's Lee poetry I simply had to write to you both. I remember you both mentioning the importance of expressing yourself to the ones you love. Whether that be through writing a poem about that person, reading aloud something beautiful that reminds you of them, or just generally breathing life into the feelings you have inside about them in some way.

Well for me, I wrote a song about my long-time girlfriend of four years, LeCreshia. In fact, we just celebrated our four year anniversary not too long ago, December 7th. I released the song on my social music sites (Soundcloud and YouTube) in honor of my true and genuine appreciation for her for sticking with me all these years.

I wanted to share it with you both as I have with her. Since releasing it I've got to say that it's very liberating sharing with her something that I've always felt and something that she's always known about me. And you two are right, there's something different and magnificent about breathing life into the feeling of love, such as watching a bird take off in flight.

Thank you for all that you two are doing, I love the podcast and peace be unto you.


By the way, she loves the song.”

Share your #AAHA and #BruceLeeMoment recommendations with us via social media @BruceLee or email us at hello@brucelee.com.


Lydy Walker30