“In JKD, one does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum. It is the halfway cultivation that leads to ornamentation. Jeet Kune-Do is basically a sophisticated fighting style stripped to its essentials.”
I don’t practice martial arts. There was a point in the past where I trained with my college roommate, but that was short lived. In his quote, Bruce Lee is describing one of the fundamental philosophies behind Jeet Kune-Do, but he is actually touching on a more fundemental aspect of the mind.
Sophistication comes from simplicity. Sophistication doesn’t need to be complicated. I believe in this, but I didn’t quite know how to put it words until reading this quote from Bruce Lee. It came partially from my habit of being lazy. But it’s not lazy-ness in the bad sense – I still have goals I want and will achieve, but I always prefaced it by thinking to myself – what’s the most quickest, efficient, and sustainable way of getting there? What’s the least complicated way of doing this? What’s the minimum amount I need to do in order to achieve the desired results? Complicating things only complicates your life, so why bother?
During my day to day activities outside of work, this is a fairly powerful state of mind. Not long ago, I realized several things:
- I could do more with less
- I could be happy with less
- Having more only made things complicated
- Doing or having fewer things of quality makes a bigger impact than have more quantity of lesser quality (the latter results in #3)
Simplifying aspects of my life lead to more self-awareness; which forced me to look more closely at myself. Whether it be my thoughts, actions, habits, etc…, simplifying my life allowed me to focus on the process of continuing growth.
Obviously I wouldn’t know if this is what Bruce Lee had intended to communicate, but I can say for certain that his JKD is meant to help an individual understand themselves more and help them grow, which ultimately will allow a human being to truly express him/herself. The body follows the mind, so it only makes sense to start at the mind.