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Why I Like Bruce Lee’s “Commentaries on the Martial Way” In Its Original Format

I like the Bruce Lee books that have been published by Tuttle Publishing (and were edited by John Little). However, I have to say that I wish the martial art material could somehow have been left more in its original multi-volume format as opposed to being all thrown together in a single book -- (Volume Three – Jeet Kune Do). I realize that this was a publishing decision and applaud John for the fantastic work he did in editing the material and moving it into the form that was required.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have copies of Bruce Lee’s seven-volume “Commentaries on the Martial Way” (both original and typed versions). I was given my copies of the volumes many years ago by my teacher, Sifu Dan Inosanto, and they are among my most cherished possessions.

Volumes 1-6 are comprised mainly of notes drawn from various research sources such as boxing and fencing books. There are also pages that are blank but which contain a single heading such as:

• Successive parries in combination

• Defense in filling the gap

• Counter to a close range fighter – in R stance

As well as pages (also left blank) headlined with a question such as:

“What is my counter for a right-hander’s left cross that falls short?

Volume 7, however, is much more of a personal training journal with various comments and observations written out with dates before them, such as “Remember on Monday, Dec.8th…” I think that this volume gives the reader wonderful insight into Bruce’s thought processes concerning his martial investigation and research methods. To help you get a clear picture of what I mean I’d like to share some of Bruce’s notes that are taken directly from Volume 7 --

“Research Notes for November 12 (Thurs.) 1970”

# Specialized All-in Fighting 1) poking eyes 2) pulling hair -- as immobilization, as release, as assist 3) biting -- as release to disable and to attack in close 4) practice forearm pinching to hurt 5) grabbing groin 6) specialize in under belt attack with kicks, strikes, punches, and grappling

# Let “body feel” on the forearm as a destructive weapon (use as loose club snap or club) alongside with elbowing.

# Look into breaking the joint and limbs: breaking by a) directed kicking -- thrust kick, push thrust, snap kick b) directed striking c) limb locks by pressure

# Practice relaying inverted bottom fist to groin or “downed” opponent alongside

# Practice relaying snapping forearm smash -- add to tools possibility

# Investigate into butting:- 1) with head 2) with hips and buttocks 3) with shoulder

# Investigate -- a) elbowing b) kneeing

# Investigate into fighting from ground -- 1) as attack into opponent 2) as counter 3) using legs mainly 4) using legs and hand

(develop such mastery that one can fight safely from the ground)

# Investigate into clawing with attempt to tear apart the a) throat b) groin c) hair

#How can I be a master of “side kick” (1) technique - must have a sense of “delicate ease”

(2) supplementary training & training

# How can I be a master fighter?

Obtain “direct body feel” of devastating:- a) throwing b) left side kicking and punching c) ground fighting d) hara in changes

Notes for Nov. 17(Tues.) 1970

Question:-- get power in kicking during:-

(a) on the spot same leg combination – high/low hook & shin/knee side, high/low and angle in hook kick (b) alternate leg kicking, on the spot (c) extended reaching, hooking reaching, close range thrusting [Note: investigate into making a close range side kick always downward so as to avoiding jamming as well as adding a powerful tool]

Consider (c) in regards to range of “relaying kicking power” – consider kneeing in close range & stomping [balanced posture!]

Notes – Jan. 28 1971

To make PIA with leg more effective: TRY: (d) (1-“one”), the first attack is deep, sudden With opponent), economical, well-covered (with self) and above all, well-balanced.

(e) (1/2 – “and half”) the second halves must be (1) selecting those kicks that are fast and powerful (2) also those that do not deviate too much from on-guard as in-fighting can be initiated.

The above are but a few examples of how the material is laid out in the original volumes. And this material is available to everyone in the Tuttle books. However, as I said, I think it would have been nice for people to see how Bruce’s notes were originally organized.

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