7 LESSONS from BRUCE LEE (that’ll make YOU a better trainer)

May 21, 2012 9:05 pm 0 comments

by Nick Tumminello.

In addition to being a legendary martial artist, Bruce Lee was an inspiring philosopher and a passionate learner. In fact, Spike TV has been running an amazing documentary on Bruce Lee that’s a must watch!

I am BRUCE LEE. (click to watch video)

If you’re a Bruce Lee fan, you may have already realized that much of the philosophical basis for the Hybrid Strength Training & Conditioning concepts we use at Performance U are founded on principles we’ve have adapted from Bruce Lee.

I strongly believe the reason why we’ve been able to celebrate so much universal success with such a wide range of individuals we’ve worked with is because our Hybrid Fitness Training approach has evolved from this philosophical basis, which has empowered us with the ability to connect with our clients & students on a different level.

In this post I’m going to share with you 7 lessons we’ve learned from Bruce Lee that have made us better trainers, teachers, learners and lovers of life. And, I’m confident they’ll do the same for you. That is, if you have openness to embrace them, and the discipline put them into action?

My FAVORITE Bruce Lee Book!

The State of the Fitness Industry!

Everyday more training & conditioning information (most of it free through blogs, articles, Youtube, etc.) is handed to us on a silver platter. Yet, fitness professionals and exercise enthusiasts are growing more confused about what they should (and shouldn’t) do to optimize their programs. This really comes as no surprise with all the different training approaches, certifications, methods and tools (many of which conflict one another) being sold to us as the missing piece to our training puzzle.

An identity crisis has also come along with this confusion. In that, not only are we unsure of what to do, we are also unsure about how we should “label” ourselves to properly represent what we do, what we believe and the affiliations we hold.

Additionally, when we do find training concepts that strike a chord in us. And when we do decide on how to “label” ourselves – We become divided and continually frustrated with one another as we cross our arms, stand firm and engage in intellectual battle to prove OUR WAY, while trying to convince everyone else that folks who don’t agree with US “just don’t get it” or that they are simply “misinformed.”

The Solution to the Confusion & Conflict (and it isn’t training related)

We believe the ever growing amount of industry confusion & separation does not stem from a lack of technical information. We feel it stems from a lack of a philosophical outlook.

Put simply, when you change the way you look at things, things look differently to you.

The philosophies we’ve adopted from Bruce lee have helped us to see things differently and quite the noise that’s always surrounding us. They’ve empowered us with the ability to see through the confusion created by conflicting information and different opinions, helped us to avoid getting caught up in debating why we should or shouldn’t do this or that technique. And, given us a crystal clear view of who we are, what we do and why we do it.

It’s from this clear vision that we’re able to be the BEST at what we do, which is probably why you’re reading this blog to begin with

If you’re ready to become the best at what YOU do, establish a clear cut identity of who you are and how to cultivate what makes you unique and special. And, establish a solid philosophical base that doesn’t get you caught up with trying to “prove your way”, or allow you to become bogged down by conflicting information & industry noise – These 7 Lessons from Bruce Lee will make you a bullet-proof fitness philosopher!

7 Lessons from Bruce Lee (that will make you a better trainer)

These 7 lessons can really be applied to anything in life. But, since this is a fitness site, I’ll be relating Bruce Lee’s words of wisdom in regards to martial arts to our world of fitness training.

As you’ll see, the problems Bruce Lee faced in the martial arts world 30-40yrs ago are the very same issues we face today (as I mentioned above) in the fitness training & conditioning world.

In other words, we have a new industry that’s suffering from old problems, which Bruce Lee developed these brilliant philosophies to solve. And, he obviously did a great job. All we have to do is listen, learn and apply!

To help you better related to these Bruce Lee quotes – Whenever you see him use the term Martial Arts, substitute in Fitness Training instead.

Here’s a few more words to exchange that’ll make the following quotes more applicable to Fitness Training;

Fighting = Training (i.e working out)

Fighting Styles = Training Styles

Opponent = Client

Instructor = Trainer or Coach

Jeet-Kune-Do = Hybrid Training

Lesson #1 – ALL Styles & Systems are limited! Use a SYSTEMLESS training system and have NO Style as your Style.

“To reach the masses, some sort of big organization (whether) domestic and foreign branch affiliation, is not necessary. To reach the growing number of students, some sort of pre-conformed set must be established as standards for the branch to follow. As a result all members will be conditioned according to the prescribed system. Many will probably end up as a prisoner of a systematized drill. Classical methods like these, which I consider a form of paralysis, only solidify and constrain what was once fluid. Their practitioners are merely blindly rehearsing routines and stunts that will lead nowhere.

“Styles tend to not only separate people because they have their own doctrines and then the doctrine became the gospel truth that you cannot change. But if you do not have a style, if you just say: Well, here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely? Now, that way you won’t create a style, because style is a crystallization. That way, it’s a process of continuing growth. “

Many styles claim totality. They say that they can cope with all types of attacks (i.e. training situation); that their structures cover all the possibilities. If this is true, then how did all the different styles come about?

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.

The highest technique is to have no technique. In sparring (i.e. Training) there’s no exact path or method, but instead a perceptive, pliable, choice-less awareness. ”

Lesson #2 – Hybrid Training isn’t a specific style or system. It’s a concept!

“I have not invented a “new style,” composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from “this” method or “that” method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see “ourselves”. . . Jeet Kune Do (i.e. Hybrid Training) is not an organized institution that one can be a member of.”

“A Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive.

Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do (i.e. Hybrid Training) is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one’s back.”

Lesson #3- The BEST trainers & coaches are observant, adaptive and responsive to the uniqueness of each client.

“A good teacher can never be fixed in a routine… each moment requires a sensitive mind that is constantly changing and constantly adapting.”

A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favorite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student’s vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being.”

A martial artist (i.e. trainer or coach) who drills exclusively to a set pattern of combat is losing his freedom. He is actually becoming a slave to a choice pattern and feels that the pattern is the real thing. It leads to stagnation because the way of combat (i.e. training) is never based on personal choice and fancies, but constantly changes from moment to moment, and the disappointed combatant will soon find out that his ‘choice routine’ lacks pliability. There must be a ‘being’ instead of a ‘doing’ in training”

“If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.”

My technique is a result of your technique; my movement is a result of your movement. One should not respond to circumstance with artificial and “wooden” prearrangement. Your action should be like the immediacy of a shadow adapting to its moving object.”

Lesson #4 – Less is always more! And, the simplest, most direct way is the right way!

“Don’t indulge in any unnecessary, sophisticated moves”

“In JKD (i.e. Hybrid Training), one does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. In building a statue, a sculptor doesn’t keep adding clay to his subject. Actually, he keeps chiselling away at the inessentials until the truth of its creation is revealed without obstructions. Thus, contrary to other styles, being wise in Jeet Kune-Do (i.e. Hybrid Training) doesn’t mean adding more; it means to minimize, in other words to hack away the unessential. It is not daily increase but daily decrease; hack away the unessential.

The easy way is also the right way. Efficiency in sparring and fighting (i.e. training) is not a matter of correct classical, traditional form. Efficiency is anything that scores. “


Lesson #5 – Good at Exercising doesn’t mean good at sports!

“You can’t learn to swim on land”

“Let me give you a bit of warning: just because you get very good at your training it should not go to your head that you are an expert. Remember, actual sparring is the ultimate, and the training is, only a means toward this.”

Lesson #6 – Human movement can be taught, but it CAN’T be standardized.

“I believe that the only way to teach anyone proper self-defence (i.e. Functional Movement Patterns) is to approach each individual personally. Each one of us is different and each one of us should be taught the correct form. By correct form I mean the most useful techniques the person is inclined toward. Find his ability and then develop these techniques. I don’t think it is important whether a side kick is performed with the heel higher than the toes, as long as the fundamental principle is not violated. Most classical martial arts (i.e. fitness training) are a mere imitative repetition – a product – and individuality is lost.”

Lesson #7 – Don’t turn your education into imitation. Be YOURSELF!

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you‘re not in this world to live up to mine”

Knowledge in martial arts (i.e. training) actually means self-knowledge

In Conclusion…

I’ll leave you with this fake Grave Stone Bruce Lee had made to put on his desk as a powerful daily reminder.


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