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Cultivate the "Educated Eye" and "Discerning Mind"


(Originally posted in Facebook December 2011)

Have you ever been with someone who, when they see a particular martial art technique, action, etc. immediately makes a comment like, “Oh, that’s no good” or “That won’t work,” but if you ask them to explain to you the reasons behind their comment, they’re unable to tell you, or all they can offer is some vague, nebulous answer. Whereas another individual can articulate exactly why they believe a technique or action to be ineffective and why they don’t think it will work. They can give you legitimate, clear reasons. The reason is that the second individual has cultivated what we refer to in Jeet Kune Do as the “educated” eye and “discerning” mind. What do these terms mean? The “educated” eye relates to the ability to look with eyes that can see what is functional from the perspective of structure and technique. The “discerning” mind relates to the capacity to filter out unrealistic concepts and theories, and ineffective techniques in one’s training. Both relate to having good judgment, understanding, and insight.

How does one go about cultivating the “educated” eye and the “discerning” mind? The answer is through time, effort, and training. The bottom line is experience. A person who has little or no martial art experience is going to be at a disadvantage in understanding, interpreting and evaluating techniques, movements, etc. Without any form of experience, how could they possibly hope to be able to discern what is useful or not useful, functional or ineffective? Experience that has been researched, evaluated and understood will inform your ability analyze techniques, motions, etc. The wider and broader your experience, the more you have to relate to.

Bruce Lee cultivated an educated eye and discerning mind through countless hours of not only physical training, but also in-depth research into the human sciences of kinesiology, anatomy, exercise physiology, all of which served as a foundation for him to examine things. This allowed him to analyze techniques and/or motions and answer such questions as:

1) Does it have a good delivery system? 2) Is it economical? 3) Does it have good footwork? 4) Am I well-covered while doing it? 5) Can it be delivered with speed, power, accuracy, etc.? 6) Can I use it under pressure?

Cultivating the “educated” eye and “discerning” mind can assist you a great deal in your personal development as a martial artist. They will allow you to look at the roots of combat and look for the common denominators in terms of human motion, force generation, etc. They will offer you the freedom to research, explore, and experiment. They can help you decide what you may personally choose to absorb or reject. They can help prevent you from being distracted and avoid detours and pitfalls that can end up wasting your precious time and energy.

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