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Bruce Lee’s Philosophy

Bruce Lee is perhaps the most quote worthy martial artist ever. I find myself regularly sharing his words of wisdom throughout this blog. For those interested in more, the three part video series below is filled with classics. Any fans of Bruce Lee will surely enjoy them…


There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level. – Bruce Lee

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18 Comments so far

  1. Charles Knapp April 23rd, 2012 12:17 pm

    That’s because as great a fighter as Bruce Lee was, he was an even greater philosopher. It is the thing that I love the most about him. As much recognition that he receives for his physical prowess and training, it is his highly educated fighting mind and his understanding of how the mind, spirit and body all work together that appeal to me the most.

  2. The Way April 23rd, 2012 1:14 pm

    I didn’t know Lee was a zen follower.
    If you are interested in this kind of philosophy, (which is acutally ancient psychology) then I can only recommend the translations of the old zen masters’ sayings and comments, by Thomas Cleary.


  3. Eric April 23rd, 2012 2:19 pm

    Yeah but could he really beat Chuck Norris? teehee. Like Charles Knapp I admire Lee as a great philosopher more so than his great “physical prowess.” Seriously I feel Lee was a physical marvel who carried obscene power in his rather tiny frame of about 5’7″-5’8″ and about 135-140lbs. Think about it, Bruce Lee was about the size of the average 8th grader and yet he probably had the power and surely the quickness to dismantle the average 200lb guy with ease. While Lee beat Norris in a REEL fight, I honestly don’t know if he would’ve been able to take Chuck in a REAL fight though. As much as I admire Lee’s physique, philosophy, and spirit, I do think that sometimes people make him out to be some sort of supreme being. I really don’t know anything about whether or not Lee had a competitive background in tournaments or what not competing against other martial artists/kick boxers etc., so I still think of him as a martial artist who became an actor. I do recall reading an article about kickboxer Joe Lewis turning down the role played by Norris because Lewis felt that there would be no way Lee would beat him in REAL life so why let Lee beat him in REEL life. After all Joe Lewis was a heavyweight and a world champion in kickboxing at that.

  4. svilen April 23rd, 2012 2:38 pm

    I’ve read all of those sentences with no exceptions in Zen books already, however “living” those quotes and thus spreading them with own being makes Bruce Lee so special!

  5. chente umanzor April 23rd, 2012 6:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing!!!!

  6. Charles Knapp April 23rd, 2012 10:22 pm

    And your point is? Joe Lewis has a big ego? It’s a Bruce Lee film, did you expect him to lose? Not in his character at all. Nor is it to not go as full throttle as possible. And fighting a 6 time champ you know that Norris has the control that Bruce is looking for.

    That being said, I don’t think of Bruce Lee being a super human fighter. He did a ton of “revolutionary” things in martial arts, fighting, health, training, and acting. The mystique with Bruce Lee is that there are no records of his losses. Every fighter losses but Bruce Lee to common knowledge got beat up a little but never really lost. So that makes him “unbeatable.” I heard Ras Buton’s critique of Bruce Lee’s fighting, and I do agree with it. If he were to fight in MMA as it exists today, he’d be maybe 50-50 and have to work on a lot. On the street, Lee every time.

  7. Josh April 24th, 2012 11:46 am

    I know it’s cliche, but he really did change my life. Was bullied at school and overweight. I read a biography of him, started doing Kali Arnis Eskrima and Panantukan, weight lifting and all manner of insane things and I haven’t looked back. Wish he was still alive today.

  8. Eric April 24th, 2012 2:28 pm

    I’m a BIG fan of Bruce Lee. But everybody knows only Chuck Norris can beat Chuck Norris, and even then it might be a draw.

  9. Soul Ja April 24th, 2012 9:19 pm

    Mr Lee was an artist of life.

    The aim of art is to project an inner vision into the world, to state in aesthetic creation the deepest psychic and personal experiences of a human being. It is to enable those experiences to be intelligible and generally recognised within the total framework of an ideal world.

    This blog including combat and physical expression as a main theme, ya’ll may want to hear the thoughts of Sugar Ray Leonard and Dana White, as well as many other famous people that are not necessarily from the martial arts, but do offer examples in different areas.

    “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
    ― Bruce Lee

    Areas covered include: philosophy, breaking stereotypes, martial arts, physical fitness, attitudes in china, action movies, music, branding

    check out the documentary

  10. L H April 26th, 2012 4:43 am

    Over the years, the way I’ve looked at Bruce Lee has changed, although the admiration and respect has remained.
    When I was young, it was all about him being an amazing martial artist. You know, all those stories you hear; the one inch punch, being lightning quick, two finger pushups.
    Now that I’m older(and a little wiser), I’ve learned more about his philosophy. It’s very interesting stuff, and I’ve come to see that his physical accomplishments would not have been possible without his mental strength.
    I still have much to learn from him, and I always enjoy finding out new things. Thanks for the great post!

  11. Mia April 26th, 2012 5:19 am

    The debate over whether Bruce Lee could win in MMA or otherwise is completely missing the point. This is exactly the type of ego-obsession that he cautioned against. Who cares if he could or could not beat x-y-z person in a fight? That was not his end goal, and to be honest, those that measure their self- worth solely against some external “qualification” have small minds. He didn’t seek to be the world’s best actor, martial artist, or philosopher, but was an amalgamation of all three. He defied stereotypes and classification, which resulted in a unique and long-lasting legacy. The story about the overflowing cup is a poignant one because it illustrates how we all walk around with these preconceived ideas of what is “the best” while neglecting to keep an open mind and accept things that don’t always fit within our worldview.

    “Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee

  12. Eric April 26th, 2012 6:23 pm

    I’m a BIG fan of Bruce Lee and Rocky Marciano, especially Marciano. Both of these tremendous physical specimens inspired me early on in my beginning stages of getting involved in working out. Matter of fact I think the four biggest influences that got me started working out were Bruce Lee, Marciano, Billy Superstar Graham, and Robert Blake aka Baretta. I vividly recall seeing Blake star in the 70′s flick “Electra-Glide in Blue curling dumbbells, doing chins, and swigging raw eggs 3 years before Sly pulled it off in Rocky. Very underrated flick by the way. Anyhow regarding Marciano and Lee, although I admire both men immensely I feel the legends have far outgrown the men. While Marciano was a FANTASTICALLY conditioned punching machine, he would have been hard pressed to beat the larger heavyweights like Sonny Liston and after. Regarding Lee I’ve heard tales of this 135lb man holding a barbell weighing 125lbs out at arms length, and yet he did squat workouts with a 95lb barbell????? It would take an immensely strong man to hold a 125lb barbell straight out at arms length. And then you have the side kicking a 300lb heavy bag up against the ceiling rumor. I’ve seen clips of the powerful Marciano hitting a rather large heavy bag(it was said Marciano had a custom made 300-pounder) and he wasn’t moving the bag that much. And you’re going to tell me Lee would kick the same bag towards the ceiling and actually hitting it.

  13. tennis court April 27th, 2012 12:33 pm

    I love Bruce Lee, he has great words of wisdom!

  14. Eric April 29th, 2012 10:58 am


    I TOTALLY agree with you. My point is not to blast or slander Bruce Lee but rather some of the insane rumors about his physical capabilities. It’s the Bruce Lee fanboys who basically treat Lee as an almost God-like mythical figure instead of the fantastically conditioned, intelligent, and I think most importantly person of good will that he was and should be remembered as instead of some Christ-like figure. I remember a quote by some author given about Paul Anderson who was featured on a recent blog by Ross, I’ll paraphrase it since I can’t remember it word for word but it went something like this, ‘Paul Anderson is the strongest man I know, and he also lifts weights.’ Anderson like Lee was one of those rare truly GOOD people that seem to come along much too rarely and I personally would respect Lee and Anderson even if one wasn’t a fantastic martial artist, or the other one of strongest human beings ever. Of course I’m sure Anderson and Lee like every other human had their faults, and skeletons in the closet, so while I definitely respect both men on just what I’ve read about them, I certainly can’t judge them from personal experience. And unfortunately we can’t always judge people on what we’ve read or heard about them from other people, because human nature being what it is, often some with a vendetta or grudge can write untruths, or someone who looks to curry favor for whatever reason will make their subject seem like the second coming of Mother Teresa.

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  16. h2h combat training May 18th, 2012 6:27 pm

    Bruce Lee is a brilliant man. I strongly believe that his character was shaped by the fact that he is into martial arts. No one could have said those quotes better than him.

  17. Marsha September 11th, 2012 11:03 am

    Love these! What a great compilation of his inner being. I have to say, when it comes to the Art of Living, Bruce Lee’s words feed my soul. I believe when one conquers themselves, they truly have conquered the Universe.

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