Never orthodox, always the innovator, Bruce Lee had an indelible impact on both martial art world and the world film world. Sometimes referred to as “the Galileo of martial arts,” Lee broke down centuries of tradition and classicalism and changed the way people viewed martial arts and martial art training. As an actor, writer, producer, director, and stunt action choreographer, he changed the face of action films. In order to achieve these lofty goals, Lee understood that he couldn’t simply follow a path that had already been set by someone else,but instead had to blaze his own trail.
The definition of “trailblazer” is “a person who blazes a trail for others to follow; an innovative leader in a field; a pioneer.” Trailblazers point the way, take the risks, and change the environment. They have a vision to move forward, a faith that turns their dreams into reality, and a determination that cuts through barriers and obstacles.
In the same way, why not blaze your own trail rather than following one set by someone else? Blazing your own trail is about carving your own path in the world. It’s about being your own story and making your own mark. Make no mistake about it, the fact is that blazing your own trail requires courage. It means refusing to allow someone else to choose your path or mould you. It means forgetting about what others might want you to do or be and being who you are. It means separating yourself from the rest of the herd who are huddled together for security.
Blazing your own trail in no way disallows you from drawing inspiration from other people who are successful in their life or chosen field of endeavour. There’s nothing wrong in looking to people as sources of inspiration or to help motivate you. However, remember that their story is their own, and yours is your own. Keep in mind too that there is a big difference between being influenced by someone and imitating someone. I’m sure that every one of us has been influenced in some way by various people we have met, seen, or read about throughout our lives. I know I have. Usually, these people are individuals we have respect or admiration for. For example, my instructor, Dan Inosanto, has been a major influence on my development as a martial artist. So have other notable martial artists such as Bruce Lee and Rickson Gracie. My writing mentor, Anthony Yerkovich, and my close friend, John Little both influenced my approach to writing. However, while each of these individuals has influenced me in some way, I don’t want to imitate any of them or ‘be’ them. Imitating someone else will arrest your own spiritual and artistic development and prevent you from developing in your own process.
Finally, remember that there is nothing egotistical about insisting on blazing your own trail. One of the most important things I learned from my martial art instructor was, “Sing your own song, not your instructor’s song.” Instead of following a known and already cut path, afraid or refusing to venture off it, instead why not look at what comes next with curiosity and excitement, seeing it as an opportunity to grow and expand yourself?
In closing I’d like to leave you with two quotes from two world-renowned trailblazers, Bruce Lee and Steve Jobs --
When I look around, I always learn something, and that is to always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him…”—Bruce Lee
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice; and the most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
Be an original, not a copy. Create your own life. Blaze your own trail and make your own mark in this world!