William Shakespeare and Bruce Lee are both revered as geniuses; Shakespeare in literary world, Bruce Lee in the martial art world. But what do these two men have in common? According Jonas Lehrer in his book “Imagine,” “… at the time Shakespeare was in London and developing himself as a writer, he was surrounded by other literary geniuses such as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, John Milton, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Francis Bacon, and numerous others. Shakespeare had a huge library which was very diverse and included respectable fiction, a wide range of popular romance stories. He drew from Ovid and Plutarch, borrowed from history books, read popular pamphlets which were the literature of the street, read Edmund Spencer and Chaucer as well as younger poets like John Dunne, and studied Thomas Wilson’s sonnets. Sometimes this literary approach got him into trouble. His peers repeatedly accused him of plagiarism, and he was often guilty, at least by contemporary standards. What these allegations failed to take into account, however, was that Shakespeare was pioneering a new creative method in which every conceivable source informed his art. He would analyze, deconstruct, and reconstruct. For Shakespeare, the act of creation was inseparable from the act of connection. Although Shakespeare was surrounded by literary geniuses, his genius remains unsurpassed.”
In his interview for the book, “Jeet Kune Do Conversations” by Jose Fraguas (Unique Publications, 2001) Dan Inosanto was asked about Bruce Lee’s quote “Absorb what is useful, Reject what is useless, Add what is specifically your own.” In his response, Dan stated that, “He [Bruce Lee] said that you had to capture the essence of each art. The essence is not the three thousand techniques you learn from white belt to black belt. Whatever he absorbed from a system, it had to fit in to his personal base system…”
There’s an old saying which states that “The more things change the more they remain the same.” As I look about the JKD world today I see various JKD factions or groups arguing and disagreeing about the very same things I saw groups arguing over thirty years ago. Things such as who is right and who is wrong about JKD, who is doing JKD correctly and who isn’t, who gets JKD and who doesn’t. It’s the same stuff, just a different year and a whole new crop of people.
Is JKD in danger of turning into simply another martial art “style”? I’ve been pondering this question for quite some time now, and my personal feeling is that there is a distinct possibility that such a thing might happen in the future. There are several factors involved in this.
The following is an excerpt from Chris Kent’s new book, LIBERATE YOURSELF - A Guide to Personal Freedom, which is currently available through Amzon.com or www.chriskentjkd.com.
When the first public Jeet Kune Do training facility opened in 1974, it quickly became the “Mecca” for anyone interested in learning about or studying Bruce Lee’s art and philosophy. Known as the Filipino Kali Academy (the words “Jeet Kune Do” didn’t appear anywhere on the outside), people came from all over the globe to train at the school. In my years of training and assisting at the Academy, I saw countless people whom I refer to as “Bruce Lee shadow chasers” come and go. I called them “shadow chasers” because they spent their time running after the image or “shadow” of Bruce Lee. These people believed that if they performed the exact workout that Lee did, ate the same food he ate, read the same books and listened to the same music Lee listened to, dressed the way he did, even cut their hair in the same style that they could literally become just like Bruce Lee. Some of these individuals would imitate every little nuance and action Lee did in his movies, from the way he held his hands, to shaking his head, to pulling up his trousers before kicking. They would mimic his facial expressions and even his cinematic vocal noises. These people adopted the persona of Bruce Lee instead of being themselves. What they failed to understand is that it wasn’t being “like Bruce Lee” that was integral to Lee’s success, but in his being Bruce Lee, in expressing fully the honest feelings, emotions, and nature of his innermost being.
The following is the first part of a multi-part blog series dealing with the art of teaching.
If you are a teacher, you possess the ability to change people’s lives through your teaching. As a teacher you can influence your student’s lives in many ways. Part of your job is to nurture the physical, mental and emotional progress of a student into one complete person.
When people ask me what I think of the new, re-published version of the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, I tell them that I like it, and that I think the company did an admirable job on it. What surprises many of them is that when they ask me what my favorite part of the book is, I tell them that it is, and always has been, the “Introductions” written by Linda Lee Cadwell and my friend and training partner, the late Gil Johnson.
The following transcript came from The Bruce Lee Memorial Issue magazine published by Black Belt magazine -- © 1974 by Rainbow Publications
Bruce Lee as seen through the eyes of students of Jeet Kune Do
My relationship with Bruce was as a friend and an instructor. As a friend, I don't think I've had anyone who has helped me as much as Bruce has. As an instructor, I feel I am very fortunate to have trained under him.
With over 35 years experience, Chris Kent is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on Jeet Kune Do. A full-time, professional martial art instructor, educator, author, and public speaker, he has gained international recognition for his knowledge and leadership in disseminating the art and philosophy developed by Bruce Lee, and is considered one of the few individuals in the world having total comprehension of all facets of Lee’s martial art.
Some of his accomplishments include:
- Youngest and final member admitted into Dan Inosanto’s fabled “Backyard JKD” group during Bruce Lee’s lifetime.
- One of the first students to be awarded the title of Full Instructor in the Jun Fan Martial Arts (Jeet Kune Do) by Dan Inosanto.
- Author / Co-author of 4 of the highest rated books on Jeet Kune Do.
- Featured in such books as “Jeet Kune Do Conversations”, “Jeet Kune – The Art and Philosophy of Bruce Lee” and “Filipino Fighting Arts – Theory and Practice.”
- Co-founded and for 5 years served as a Board of Directors member of the “The Bruce Lee Educational Foundation”.
With over 35 year’s experience, Chris Kent was the youngest and final member admitted into Dan Inosanto’s fabled “Backyard JKD” group during Bruce Lee’s lifetime, and was one of the first students to be awarded the title of Full Instructor in the Jun Fan Martial Arts (Jeet Kune Do) and the Filipino Martial Arts by Guro Dan Inosanto.
A full-time, professional martial art instructor and author/ co-author of 4 of the highest rated books on Jeet Kune Do, he has written and produced 2 series of training videotapes and DVDs which remain the standard of the industry. Plus he has been featured in such books as “Jeet Kune Do Conversations” and “Jeet Kune Do – The Art and Philosophy of Bruce Lee”, and co-founded and served on the Board of Directors for the Bruce Lee Educational Foundation for 5 years. Due to his exceptional background he has gained international recognition for his knowledge and leadership in disseminating the art and philosophy developed by Bruce Lee, and is considered one of the few individuals in the world having total comprehension of all facets of Lee’s martial art. He is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on the art and philosophy of Jeet Kune Do.
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