Category Archives: Martial arts

Fitness Zealots vs Bruce Lee

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One of Bruce Lee’s most famous quotes is “using no way as a way, having no limitation as limitation”.

It’s been used on Internet memes since before the creation of the Internet, inculcated into my martial arts training in Ninjutsu as well as my philosophy in life by my Sensei, the late Shihan Steven Petrus, Psy.D. Our training in Ninjutsu was about adopting everything we could that worked, as a group and individuals. For instance, my long-levered limbs make me a better stand-up fighter than a ground fighter, though I still worked on my ground game through flexible and mobile joints, where I lacked strength against a thicker, shorter opponent for instance, and used my limbs like tentacles 😉

As I am nearing the release of the 3rd part of Georges Hébert’s Practical Guide to Physical Education, its theme being functional training, or as Hébert called them, “indispensable utilitarian exercises” (closer literal translation), I realize more and more the simplicity and flexibility of his method. I also realize in my own personal ways, that being rigid, as I used to when I was a less experienced trainer, was my personal limitation.

Not too long ago, I read (and also witnessed in myself in the past, or others around me in not always pleasant situations) that intelligent people are the hardest to convince of a point that doesn’t align itself with theirs. When intelligent folk seek a certain education, and spend a certain amount of time, effort and money on a concept or system, they tend to adopt it as an absolute law and won’t budge to justify their education. Sense of pride, I guess, just like I did nearly 3 decades ago when I was in Shotokan, and taught it was the bee’s knees until I got my butt handed to me by a street fighter friend (friendly sparring session).

My rigid traditional ways had to make me open myself to Muay Thai training, until I got my butt handed to me by a friend in Brazilian JuJitsu, and so on. Lots of ass-kicking lessons to define my own way over time. And through that, I developed a sense of individual “style”. I recall my other fellow training partners in Ninjutsu who would later watch students spar and would be able to tell which “batch” came from me 🙂

It’s not a good, nor a bad thing. Ditto with some friends of mine who have their own methods of strength training, often critiqued by others as well, despite overall acceptance. Some would question them, others would embrace them without question. You can always find something of use in anything and everything.

Hébert’s “thing”, that he mentions, and I have mentioned it myself already in several blogs, is that he doesn’t focus on rigid form, technique or execution. He observes guidelines of safety and performance (some of which could be questioned today, honestly, some of which we ought to go back to, as we have had the luxury of over 100 years of research since to support or refute certain viewpoints).

Philosophically speaking, recognizing that nothing is forever, that a theory is only correct until proven wrong, and later proven right again, depending on whom theorized, with what starting point. Change is inevitable. Even lack of change is a form of change, as circumstances and events change around you, whether you change or not. Repetition is a form of change as well, because repeating the same thing over and over again inevitably changes things (think of your “reps” while curling a dumbbell, the repetition is geared at change, not entropy or homeostasis).

Remember to be open to your curiosity, do not reject anything, and follow your interests as well as opposing viewpoints. You will only discover interesting new vantage points.