“Bruce taught us that JKD was a means of knowing yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. His main theme was to seek truth and liberate ourselves. He stressed learning to depend on ourselves for expression rather than blindly following his instruction, to be creative and not bound by the principles of karate, or boxing, or wrestling. He always stressed creativity.
Bruce felt that knowledge in life and in the martial arts comes from oneself, but that it has to be awakened in you. He often said to me that I shouldn’t teach, but guide. In fact, that was one of his criticisms that he had of me. He said, ‘Dan, you try to teach too much. This is not karate. This is not kung fu. The best thing you can do for your students is to give them a feeling of success. Guide your students to find their own capabilities and their own talents. Help them grow, force them to do their own problem solving, by giving them frustration. Guide them to find the cause of their ignorance.’
This is the main thing Bruce tried to stamp into me. Give them learning experiences. Make them experience things that normally they wouldn’t experience fighting only against a Japanese stylist, or a Chinese stylist, or an Okinawan stylist.”
-- Dan Inosanto
"One of the reasons why he is so relevant today is that people have discovered him layer by layer," "... He led a life of significance and meaning."
- Linda Lee Cadwell
"He wasn’t really any different than the rest of us. He had his dips in self-confidence and struggled at times in terms of where his future was going. There were years of financial struggle and difficult times when he struggled with the path of his movie career. He also struggled with the issue of whether to mass-produce his martial art. There were many issues, personal issues of self-esteem. What made him different is that he never let those struggles get in the way of his drive toward perfection. He did something about it. He strived for perfection at every level. It was always ongoing -- he never peaked."
- Linda Lee Cadwell
“Unlike the movies, whenever I sparred with Bruce Lee he was very calm and almost motionless. A lot of people who watch Bruce’s movies think he was always bouncing around like Muhammad Ali.—Bruce only did that when he was having fun or if he knew his opponent couldn’t touch him. But when Bruce was serious, he was very relaxed and would at times stand perfectly still, and this always posed a problem to those of us who sparred him. I mean, if he moved around it would have been possible to attempt to time him in terms of some sort of rhythm, but this way, I had no idea of what he was going to do. And whenever I tried to make a move – bang! – he was right on top of me, shutting me down before I could even begin to execute. He gave no warning. He was always standing very, very still – and yet he could explode off from any one point…”
- Ted Wong
"I feel I've accomplished something if I can start the student on the road to self-discovery."
- Dan Inosanto
To cite a case, we were sidekicking: He said, "Dan, throw a side kick." I threw a side kick and he says, "No! No! You're just posing; throw me another, like you mean it." So I kicked again -- this time he was holding a bag. He said, "No, Dan, kick it hard. Think of something you hate." I kicked it without thinking of something I hate. Then he nonchalantly walked over, and -- WHAP! -- right across my face: he slapped me! For a second I forgot he was Bruce Lee and I came towards him. He laughed, "Okay, now kick the bag; that's what I want." And I kicked it; and he was right... I once saw him break, with one side kick, seven two-inch boards -- that's 14 inches!
-- Dan Inosanto
(Source: Dan Inosanto quoted from the magazine article entitled "Dan Inosanto Remembers The History Of Jeet Kune Do," by Alan Sutton, published in the magazine "Inside Kung Fu Presents," August 1988, plus Dan Inosanto interviewed by John Little, December 1993)
I've never seen anybody that could move like Bruce. He inherited a good neural system to start with and then he built his body and the parts of his body that he was going to use for his activity.
-- Jesse Glover
(Source: Jesse Glover in conversation with John Little, September 1993)
Bruce got his power in side kicking from having a very acute sense of body alignment and the ability to transfer force at the moment of impact. He used to tell me that "At the time you land you should be making contact with your target at the exact same time. If you land first, then all of your energy goes to the ground. You don't plant and kick, you do both at the same time.
- Ted Wong
(Source: Ted Wong, private student and close family friend, in conversation with John Little, December 1994)
Jhoon Rhee said to me. "You know what used to frustrate me? He [Bruce] told me to attack him and before I could do anything, that son-of-a-gun was right on me. I've been practicing martial arts for years and he stopped me right in my tracks every time."
-- Mito Uyehara
(Source: Mito Uyehara, owner and publisher of Black Belt magazine as well as student and friend of Bruce Lee, in conversation with John Little , June 1993)
His genius manifested itself in a broadmindedness that made him impervious to any narrow-minded restrictions, whether imposed on martial arts techniques or on social conventions surrounding them. He was the first to teach gung fu to non-Chinese, at a time when to do so risked criticism and even ostracism in the Chinese community.
- Doug Palmer (student of Bruce Lee in Seattle)
I would always marvel after every lesson I had with Bruce because each lesson was like philosophy in action. He wasn't just talking about "punch this" or "punch that" on a mechanical or physical level. He was always talking about the philosophical part that underlined it; for instance, the Yin/Yang or the Water Principle. He would place that principle clearly in your mind and then implement that principle in your action. This was a different approach to martial arts instruction. We studied philosophy with Bruce because he had philosophy as his underlying theme and direction. He was really my mentor in showing the linkage between philosophy and martial art.
- Daniel Lee
(Source: Dan Lee in conversation with John Little, July 1994)
I though Bruce was a brilliant, fine philosopher about everyday living, and I was very taken with his theories and approach to the martial arts. He was very much into finding out who he was. His comment to people was "Know yourself." Know yourself, I imagine, through the martial arts, which was some kind of extension of himself in everyday life. The good head that he acquired was through his knowing himself. He and I used to have great long discussions about that. No matter what you do in life, if you don't know yourself, you're never going to be able to appreciate anything in life.
-Steve McQueen (Legendary Hollywood actor and private student of Bruce Lee)
We'd work out for an hour, then we'd talk for an hour about a lot of things. Bruce always related everything to the martial arts, or the martial arts to everything. He didn't separate life from the extension in his arm. And he was the only one I know of that carried it to the point of real art. I imagine in the old days there when the martial arts were created there were a lot of artists. But Bruce was the only "martial artist" I know of.
-James Coburn (Legendary Hollywood actor and private student of Bruce Lee)
"People ask, 'How long did you train with Bruce?' -- To me it's not how long you've been with him. You could have talked to him for one day and it would change your whole martial arts -- You could watch him one time and your whole outlook was changed."
- Richard Bustillo (Original Chinatown student of Bruce Lee and Founder of the IMB Academy)
"What many do not know is that Bruce was a practical joker. He giggled a lot, he was like somebody you went to high school with. On the other hand, he was very philsophical. He compelled you to be in his presence."
- Jerry Poteet (Original Chinatown student of Bruce Lee)
"It wasn't until I started learning Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee, I found a style that was fast, powerful, deceptive. Bruce was able to take all the pieces of the karate puzzle I was wrestling with in my own mind and make them fit into an integrated system.
- Dan Inosanto (Source: Quote from "Jeet Kune Do is Fast, Powerful, Deceptive" article -- Karate Illustrated magazine -- May 1970)
"I can tell if a person is really a JKD student, or if he just picked up some techniques that Bruce used at one time. I can even see the difference between Bruce's JKD people and Danny Inosanto's students, or between Jimmy Lee's and Taky Kimura's students, who all lean more towards Wing Chun. That's because we all learned something different from Bruce. Bruce taught Danny a lot of the trapping hand movement, for instance, and with me he mostly worked on footwork timing and speed-power. Only Bruce could be everything.
-Ted Wong (Source: Quote from "Jeet Kune Do is Fast, Powerful, Deceptive" article -- Karate Illustrated magazine -- May 1970)
"JKD is adaptability, learning to move with the principles that your opponent fights under -- and attacking its weaknesses."
-Ted Wong (Source: Quote from "The Furious Pace of JKD" article -- Karate Illustrated magazine -- January 1975)