by Sofia Adamson
Bruce Lee is and always will be legend.
Many are unaware, though, that in addition to his many accomplishments in martial arts and in cinema, he also had plans to publish a book that was near completion at the time of his ‘death by misadventure‘ in 1973, at just 32 years of age.
Bruce was an avid reader who kept a personal library with some 2000+ books on a broad range of topics including martial arts and philosophy. He had the aim of compiling his knowledge and personal perspective on his art, and the supporting philosophies which guided his personal practice and his life, into a book that would serve as a resource for martial artists and philosophers alike on their personal journeys of self-mastery.
In 1970, Bruce suffered a devastating back injury while lifting weights and was ordered by his doctors to give up martial arts. The damaged nerve in his back was so bad they were certain he’d never be able to kick again, and that he’d need assistance walking for the rest of his life. He lied on his back in bedrest for some six months in recovery and read profusely, beginning the notes and manuscripts that would become his one and only book.
Being Bruce Lee, however, he of course defied his doctors and forced himself to return to both personal training and teaching martial arts, even though he did so in extreme pain. His plans to publish the book in 1971 were interrupted by his successful film career, then sadly, Bruce Lee passed away before the book could come to fruition.
Ultimately, it was completed and published in 1975 by his wife Linda Lee (now Linda Lee Cadwell) and Gilbert Johnson, writer and close family friend of Bruce Lee. Carefully organizing and presenting Bruce’s vast body of notes and thoughts, the book came to be called as, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, and is remarkably the world’s best-selling martial arts book to date.
“He intended it as a record of one man’s way of thinking and as a guide, not a set of instructions… When you have finished this bok, you will know Bruce Lee better, but hopefully you will also know yourself better.” -Linda Lee Cadwell
Tao of Jeet Kune Do is a compilation of Bruce’s notes, drawing, favorite quotes, Chinese calligraphy, and personal revelations, and is both a thorough technical explanation of his system of martial arts,Jeet Kune Do, and an expression of the philosophies which guided him in life. It includes both advanced drills for high-level combative moves and practical exercise routines for beginners. Something that anyone can appreciate in their quest for personal transformation.
“Sometimes he wrote introspectively, asking questions of himself. More often he wrote to his invisible student, the reader. When he wrote quickly, he sacrificed his practicced grammar and when he took his time, he was eloquent.” – Gilbert Johnson
This is the intellectual gem that Bruce Lee was working to share with the world when he tragically passed away.
Here are 10 great quotes from Bruce Lee in his book, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, 10 things he wished to share with the world before he died.
- “I’m moving and not moving at all. I’m like the moon underneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking.”
- “Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make.”
- “Do not run away; let go. Do not seek, for it will come when least expected.”
- “Punches and kicks are tools to kill the ego.”
- “To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.”
- “Seeing takes place with the inner mind.”
- “We are proud when we identify ourselves with an imaginary self, a leader, a holy cause, a collective body or possessions… There is fear and intolerance in pride.”
- “The control of our being is not unlike the combination of a safe. One turn of the knob rarely unlocks the safe; each advance and retreat is a step toward one’s final achievement.”
- “In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued.”
- “A good fighter must sense rather than perceive his chance to strike.”
The power of philosophy to motivate and inspire one in personal transformation is unparalleled. Wisdom is medicine. Take a look and see if your local library has a copy of Tao of Jeet Kune Do, or find it, here.