With relation to JKD, people need to stop regurgitating statements like, “None of us are Bruce Lee” -- “Only Bruce Lee could do that” -- “None of us have Bruce Lee’s speed”, etc. Very often the people who make such statements are simply repeating what they themselves have been told by someone else, or what someone else has written. I have heard and read these kinds of statements since shortly after Bruce Lee passed away, and personally, I believe it’s high time that they ceased. Why? Because they’re self-defeating and a total waste of time and energy. They don’t accomplish anything. Worse yet, they may end up stifling or killing the enthusiasm of individuals who may, as a result of continually hearing such things, never actualize their own potential. If you’re continually being told that what worked for the individual who developed Jeet Kune Do will not work for you because you are not blessed with the same physical attributes as that person, then why should you even bother to study the art at all?
I’ve heard some people say that Bruce Lee was one in a million and his attributes were one in a million, or that they were unique to himself. Therefore, they put forth the idea that what Bruce Lee taught or did himself either won’t work for you, or you will not be able to do it because you’re not one in a million. What they fail to take into account is that while Bruce Lee may well have made himself into such a one in a million-type person, he wasn’t born that way. He wasn’t born being as fast as he was, he wasn’t born being as powerful as he was. Quite the contrary, he trained very diligently and very, very hard to develop his attributes and attain the level of proficiency he achieved.
When it comes to martial arts, there are physical attributes and mental/emotional attributes. Physical attributes include such things as an individual’s strength, power, speed, endurance, neuromuscular coordination, etc. Mental and emotional attributes include such things as an individual’s willingness to engage an opponent, their ability to tolerate discomfort or withstand pain, etc.
When it comes to attributes, genetics can also be a mediating factor. While physiologically we are all essentially the same, it may be that some individuals simply aren’t wired for a particular attribute and spending all their time and energy attempting to develop it can end up resulting in frustration and failure for them. Genetics can also apply to an individual’s ability to commit themselves in such a dedicated fashion to neural development or skill training.
The fact of the matter is the only way you can find out what your personal attributes are and cultivate or develop them is through dedicated work and training. In a way, they kind of find you. It’s important to also keep in mind that you can only see your attributes in retrospect. That is, after you have developed or cultivated them. How can you (and especially anyone else for that matter) know how fast you are, how strong you are, how coordinated you can become, etc. until you’ve put in the work necessary to actualize your potential in each of these areas?
When it comes to attributes, it has nothing to do with whether you have the potential to reach Bruce Lee’s or any other martial artist’s level of proficiency. It’s about you actualizing your own potential as a martial artist.
So, whether you are a JKD practitioner or a JKD instructor (and especially if you are teaching others), remove any the aforementioned type of statements from your vocabulary. Utilize the principle of “Reject what is useless” and throw them away and focus instead on developing and cultivating your attributes and those of your students to their highest level.
That, my friend, is the attribute truth.