Sunday, September 5, 2010

Education is relative

"Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own." - Bruce Lee

The late Bruce Lee was (and still is) a cultural icon renown for his martial arts prowess and his highly popular movies.  Devotees of Bruce Lee know that he created an informal martial arts style based on practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency.  He originally taught the style as "Jun Fan Gung Fu" ("Bruce Lee's Kung Fu"), but he eventually opted for the more elegant "Jeet Kune Do" ("The Way of the Intercepting Fist").

Without going into a rather long back story, the gist of the anecdote is that Bruce Lee found the Wing Chun techniques in which he was trained to be too rigid and formailistic for actual street fighting, so he worked on creating his own techniques.  He professed Jeet Kune Do to be "the style of no style."  His emphasis was on using what worked best - he borrowed from numerous styles and sports, even fencing - whatever worked was absorbed and whatever didn't was discarded, and the techniques were customized to match each student's unique physical and mental attributes.  The result was a fluid approach to martial arts that, in most cases, was quite superior to the traditional techniques and styles. 

The simple philosophy that Bruce Lee used to create Jeet Kune Do can be applied to any aspect of life and any endeavor undertaken.  The transfer of knowledge, especially practical knowledge, is relative to each student and their particular background and current mind set.  Some techniques are completely applicable, some will become applicable, and some will never be applicable - it depends on circumstances and conditions.

So, my advice is to take Bruce Lee's advice and tailor your learning to what works best for you and your circumstances.