- Bruce Lee
It was cold outside. I could see my breath as I walked from the parking lot to the school. When we got to the dojo the mats actually had frost on them. We shivered as we changed into our uniforms and lined up for class, shifting our weight from one foot to another as if that would lessen the chill on the bottoms of our feet. Our teacher stood in front; quiet, motionless - relaxed.
Within the first few minutes of warms ups and stretching, the windows had condensation on them and we were dripping in sweat. All thoughts of the cold disappeared. We were working - hard...I can recall this night as if it were yesterday...
But Bruce should know best...right? What does he mean?? Less effort??? Is he kidding????
My own training has been nothing but maximum effort all the time as far back as I can remember...
In the younger students I can always see the tension. It is especially evident in their shoulders, but often throughout their whole bodies. The movements are unfamiliar. Their minds understand the concept, but they are fighting their own bodies to get themselves to perform the motions the way their minds imagine them - it is like a puppeteer pulling the strings to get his puppet to open a door. Their muscles are so tense they cannot move smoothly or flow at all. They are disconnected from each other; disconnected from themselves. They have no responsiveness, no explosiveness. They get tired easily, because their bodies are like a clenched fist - permanently clenched... I shake my head and sigh to myself. "not yet...still much further to go...", I think.
Bruce means that to be good at martial arts - to be fast and powerful - you have to RELAX. This is especially important for the shoulders, but it applies to the whole body. The only time we should experience tension is at the instant of contact with a target, and then immediately release back to relaxation. In boxing I often see students who are flexed throughout the drills, teeth clenched, fighting themselves more than the pads or their partner.
I suggest meditation or yoga to help learn that to move well we need to move in relaxation. To be connected, which is ESSENTIAL, we need to be relaxed. Beyond this, in class it is important to deliberately relax the body before drills, especially those drills where you want to FLOW.
Bruce also means that rather than complex techniques, we should master our relaxed motion to be in the right place at the right time (which is always the wrong place at wrong time for our opponent). This means less effort to respond and end a confrontation. It means thinking ahead; being prepared. Having STRATEGY. If we rely on brute strength to overcome an opponent, then defeat is simply a matter of facing someone stronger (or several people). Less is definitely more when it comes to fighting.
This is not to suggest laziness in training. Rather, it means training SMART, so that we get the maximum benefit of training for the minimum effort of study and practice. We do not train things which are of no use, and we do not waste time in the dojo. We plan the work and work the plan. We learn and adapt and improve and EVOLVE the system so it becomes a living, growing expression of excellence.
But Bruce means more than this --- his words are also a metaphor for success in every aspect of our lives.
Some people you meet live their lives like a clenched fist - using the maximum effort for even the smallest step of progress in their jobs, their relationships, their careers. They are always their own worst enemy, constantly making their lives harder than they need to be, and suffering and becoming exhausted as a result.
The less effort (you use to succeed in your life), the faster and more powerful you will be.
- Leverage the LAW OF ATTRACTION. If you don't know about this, ask me.
- Make the most of HABIT, which can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
- Be Organized. Have a plan for everything. Write it down.
- BREATHE. It is the essence of Life.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. We are all connected.
- BE PURPOSEFUL, ALWAYS.
- THINK! (it's worth saying twice)
- Learn to let go of negativity --- embrace the positive energy that surrounds you. Let it fill you up.
- LOVE --- life is so much better when you do.
Work hard in the dojo, but work SMART, and master the concept that "less = more".
See you soon.