Bruce Lee's Fighting Method: The Complete Editionby Bruce Lee, M. Uyehara
Vividly illustrating the techniques of a legendary innovator, this definitive examination explains how to survive attacks on the street, increase training awareness, and develop body movements. Originally compiled as a four-volume series, this revised edition breathes new life into a classic work with digitally-enhanced photography of jeet kune do founder Bruce Lee in… See more details below
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Vividly illustrating the techniques of a legendary innovator, this definitive examination explains how to survive attacks on the street, increase training awareness, and develop body movements. Originally compiled as a four-volume series, this revised edition breathes new life into a classic work with digitally-enhanced photography of jeet kune do founder Bruce Lee in his prime, a new chapter by former Lee student Ted Wong, and an introduction by Shannon Lee. This renowned compendium once again reclaims its place as an integral part of the Lee canon and a necessary addition for collectors and martial arts enthusiasts alike.
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Bruce Lee's Fighting Method
The Complete Edition
By Bruce Lee, M. Uyehara, Sarah Dzida, Jon Sattler, Jeannine Santiago
Black Belt BooksCopyright © 2008 Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC
All rights reserved.
The Fighting Man's Exercise
One of the most neglected elements of martial artists is the physical workout. Too much time is spent on developing skill in techniques and not enough in physical participation.
Practicing your skill in fighting is important, but so is maintaining your overall physical condition. Actually both are needed to be successful in a real fight. Training is a skill of disciplining your mind, developing your power and supplying endurance to your body. Proper training is for the purpose of building your body and avoiding activities or substances that will deteriorate or injure it.
Bruce Lee was a specimen of health. He trained every day and consumed only the proper food. Although he drank tea, he never drank coffee — instead he normally consumed milk. He was a martinet who never let his work interfere with his training. Even when he was sent to India to find suitable locations for filming, he took along his running shoes.
Lee's daily training consisted of aerobic exercises plus others, which were patterned to develop his skill in fighting. He varied his exercises to avoid boredom. One of his favorite exercises was running four miles a day in 24 to 25 minutes. He would change his tempo while running — after several miles of constant, even strides, he would sprint several feet and then return to easier running. Between changes in running tempo, he would also shuffle his feet. Lee was not particular where he ran: at the beach, in parks or woods, up and down hills or on surfaced streets, as in photo 1.
Besides running, he also rode an Exercycle to develop his endurance, legs and cardiovascular muscles, as in photo 2. He usually rode at full speed — 35 to 40 miles per hour continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. Frequently, he would ride his Exercycle right after his running.
Another aerobic exercise that Lee scheduled in his routine was skipping rope, which you can adopt. This exercise not only develops your stamina and leg muscles but also improves your agility, making you "light on your feet." Only recently, physiologists have learned, by several tests, that skipping rope is more beneficial than jogging. Ten minutes of skipping rope is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging. Both are very beneficial exercises for the cardiovascular
Skipping rope properly is one of the best exercises for developing a sense of balance. First, skip on one foot, as in photo A, holding the other in front of you, then rotate your foot, as in photo B, skipping on the alternate foot with each revolution of the rope, from a gradual pace to a really fast tempo. Minimize your arm-swing; instead, use your wrists to swing the rope over. Lift your foot slightly above the ground, just enough for the rope to pass. Skip for three minutes (equivalent to a round in a boxing match), then rest one minute only before you continue for another round. Three rounds of this exercise are sufficient for a good workout. As you become conditioned to skipping, you can omit the rest period and do the exercise for as long as 30 minutes straight. The best rope is made of leather with ball bearings in the handles.
Additional endurance exercises are shadowboxing and actual sparring. Shadowboxing is a good agility exercise that also builds up your speed. Relax your body and learn to move easily and smoothly. At first, concentrate on your form, as in photo C and move with lightness on your feet until it becomes natural and comfortable — then work faster and harder. It is a good idea to start your workout with shadowboxing to loosen your muscles. Imagine that your worst enemy stands before you and that you are going to demolish him. If you use your imagination intensely, you can instill into yourself an almost real fighting frame of mind. Besides developing stamina, shadowboxing increases your speed, creates ideas and establishes techniques to be used spontaneously and intuitively. Going several rounds is the best way to learn proper footwork.
Too many beginners are too lazy to drive themselves. Only by hard and continuous exercise will you develop endurance. You have to drive yourself to the point of exhaustion ("out of breath") and expect muscle ache in a day or two. The best endurance training method seems to be a lengthy period of exercise interspersed with many brief but high-intensity endeavors. Aerobic, stamina-type exercises should be done gradually and cautiously increased. Six weeks of this kind of training is a minimum for any sport that requires considerable amounts of endurance. It takes years to be in peak condition and, un-fortunately, stamina is quickly lost when you cease to maintain high conditioning exercises. According to some medical experts, you lose most of your benefit from exercises if you skip more than a day between workouts.
To warm up, select light, easy exercises to loosen your muscles and prepare them for more strenuous work. Besides improving your performance, warm-up exercises are necessary to prevent injury to your muscles. No smart athlete will use his hands or legs violently without first warming them up carefully. These light exercises should dictate as closely as possible the ensuing, more strenuous types of movements.
How long should you warm up? This depends on several aspects. If you live in a colder area, or train during the cold winter, you have to do longer warm-up exercises than those who live in a warmer climate. Longer warm-ups are recommended in the early morning than in the afternoon. Generally, five or ten minutes of warm-up exercises are adequate, but some performers need much more. A ballet dancer spends at least two hours warming up. He commences with very basic movements, gradually but consistently increasing the activity and intensity until he is ready to make his appearance.
Bruce Lee learned that certain exercises can help you greatly in your performance, and others can impede or even impair your execution of techniques. He found that beneficial exercises are those that do not cause antagonistic tension in your muscles.
Your muscles respond differently to different exercises. During a static or slow exercise such as a handstand or lifting heavy weights such as a barbell, the muscles on both sides of the joints operate strongly to set the body in a desirable position. But in a rapid activity such as running, jumping or throwing, the muscles that close the joints contract and the muscles directly opposite elongate to allow the movement. Although there is still tension on both muscles, the strain is considerably less on the elongated, or lengthened one.
When there is excessive or antagonistic tension on the elongated muscles, it hinders and weakens your movement. It acts like a brake, causing premature fatigue, generally associated only with a new activity that demands different muscles to perform. A coordinated, natural athlete is able to perform in any sporting activity with ease because he moves with little antagonistic tension. On the other hand, the novice performs with excessive tension and effort, creating a lot of wasted motions. Although this coordination trait is a more natural talent in some than in others, all can improve it by intensive training.
Here are some of the exercises that you can adapt to your daily training. For flexibility, place your foot on a railing or object, as in photos A and B, keeping your leg horizontal to the ground — it could be slightly lower or higher, depending on your flexibility.
For the beginner, do not attempt any strenuous exercise. Instead, after placing your foot on the railing, just move your toes toward you, keeping your extended foot flexed straight, as in photo A. After a few minutes, rotate your foot. In a few days, as your leg muscles are limbered, you can proceed to the next step, as in photo B. Press your knee to keep your leg straight and lean forward from the hip as much as possible without injuring your muscles. From this exercise, you then proceed to emulate photo C. Keeping your extended leg straight, push your hand downward. As you progress, you'll notice that you are also beginning to lean forward, putting more stress on your leg muscles. Finally, you are able to touch your toes, as in photo D. After some months, you may be able to wrap your hand around your foot, as in photo E, even with the support raised higher.
Other leg-flexibility exercises include leg splits and hanging leg raises, as in photo F. To do this exercise, use a long rope supported by a pulley. A noose encircles your foot. Pull the other end of the rope to the maximum height that your leg muscles will bear without hurting yourself. Try to keep your foot horizontally aligned throughout the exercise. This exercise allows you to execute high side kicks. You should rotate your legs in all these exercises.
Advanced students who like to do exceptionally high kicks can progress to trampoline exercises. In photo G, Lee uses two light dumbbells and jumps high to develop both balance and springy legs. Once he can control his body on a trampoline, he attempts leg splits, as in photo H; a high front kick, as in photo I; and a flying side kick, as in photo J.
Other limbering exercises include body stretches. After you have developed elasticity in your leg muscles, you should be able to stretch your body as far back as possible, then bend forward as far as possible, until your head is touching your knees, as in photos K, L and M.
No one could help but notice Lee's abdominal muscles. "One of the most important phases of fighting," he used to say, "is sparring. In order to spar, you must be able to take punches in your midsection." To do this, Lee concentrated on several exercises that you can also adopt. The most popular are the sit-ups on a slant board, as in photo N (see page 18). Secure your feet, bend your knees and, after placing your hands behind your head, lift your body toward your feet. Do as many as you can until you feel the strain around your abdomen. After reaching 50 to 100 repetitions, you can place a weight such as a dumbbell or barbell plate behind your neck and do your sit-ups.
Another excellent way of doing sit-ups is to sit at the edge of a bench, have someone secure your ankles and lower your body as far down as possible toward the floor. This exercise stretches your midsection much more, but it is more difficult to do. If you have a chinning bar (pull-up bar), you can also develop your abdominal muscles by hanging onto the bar with both hands and slowly lifting both legs until they are extended horizontally. Keep them in that position for as long as possible and try to beat your last record each time you do the exercise. Buy one of those kitchen timers to help you keep track of the time.
Another excellent exercise is the leg raise. Lie on the floor, keeping your back flat on it by pushing in your midsection and lifting your head slightly until you can see your feet. Keep your legs together and straight. Then lift them upward slowly and as high as possible. Then slowly return them to the floor.
To get the most out of this exercise, do not let your feet touch the floor — keep them about an inch above the floor and start to raise them again. Do as many repetitions as possible. If you have a weight-lifting bench, you can do the same exercise, as in photo O. This exercise is also good for your lower back muscles.
One advantage in doing an abdominal exercise is that it can be done while you are doing other activities. For instance, Lee used to watch television while lying on the floor with his head slightly up and keeping his feet spread out and slightly above the floor.
To toughen your midsection, get a medicine ball and have someone drop it on your abdomen, as in photos P and Q. To vary your exercise, you can also have someone throw it directly to your midsection. Let the ball hit your body before catching it. See photos R and S.
If you do your workout alone, you can use your heavy punching bag as a substitute for the medicine ball. Swing the heavy bag and let it hit your body. You can adjust the spot of impact either by moving forward or backward. If you want a heavier impact, swing the bag harder.
In your daily life, there's always an opportunity for more supplemental exercises. For instance, park your car several blocks from your destination and walk briskly. Avoid the elevator and use the stairs instead. While climbing the stairs, you can have a good workout either by running up or by skipping a step or two.CHAPTER 2
The On-Guard Position
The most effective jeet kune do stance for attacking and defending is the on-guard position. This semi-crouch stance is perfect for fighting because your body is sturdy at all times and in a comfortably balanced position to attack, counter or defend without any forewarning movements. It provides your body with complete ease and relaxation but, at the same time, allows quick reaction time. From this stance, the movement is not jerky but smooth and prepares your next move without any restriction. It creates an illusion or "poker body" to your opponent — concealing your intended movements.
The on-guard position is perfect for mobility. It allows you to take small steps for speed and controlled balance while bridging the distance to your opponent, and it camouflages your timing. Because the leading hand and foot are closest to the target, 80 percent of the hitting is done by them. Bruce Lee, a natural right-hander, adopted the "southpaw" or "unorthodox" stance because he believed that the stronger hand and foot should do most of the work.
It is important to position your arms, feet and head correctly. From the southpaw stance, the chin and shoulder should meet halfway — the right shoulder raised an inch or two and the chin dropped about the same distance. At this position, the muscles and bone structure are in the best possible alignment, protecting the point of the chin. In close-in fighting, the head is held vertically with the edge of the chin pressed to the collarbone and one side of the chin tucked to the lead shoulder. Only in rare, extreme defensive maneuvers would the point of the chin be tucked into the lead shoulder. This would angle your head and turn your neck into an unnatural position. Fighting in this position would tense the lead shoulder and arm, prevent free action and cause fatigue because you would lack support of the muscles and straight bone alignment.
The leading hand position could be placed slightly below shoulder height, as in photos A and A1 (close-up shot). In photos B and B1, pay close attention to the extension of both Lee's right and left hand. Photos C and C1 reveal another view of his stance from the back, showing his leading hand more clearly.
In photo Y, both fighters stand in the on-guard position incorrectly. The person on the left has his right foot too wide and reveals too much of his body. The person on the right has his right foot too far to his left, restricting his movement and keeping him off-balance.
Sometimes, but very seldom, you can adopt the low-line position without a lead because many fighters are not prepared for such a defense. This type of position may confuse your opponent and severely hamper and, to a certain extent, check his offensive assault. Your exposed head is now a target but can be protected by mobility and relying on being a safe distance away from him.
The rear hand is held four to five inches from your body in the on-guard position with the elbow protecting the lower ribs and the forearm gently brushing your body, defending the midsection. The rear hand is aligned with the lead shoulder and placed almost to the chest of that shoulder.
The lead foot dictates the position of the trunk. If the lead foot is properly in place, then the trunk automatically assumes the correct position. It is important that the trunk form a straight line with the lead leg. As the lead foot is turned inward, the body consequently moves in the same direction, displaying a narrow target to the opponent. If, however, the lead foot is turned outward, the body is squared, presenting a larger target. For defense, the narrow target obviously is more advantageous, but the square blends in better for launching some attacks.
Good form is essential to your stance. It allows you to perform in the most efficient manner with a minimum of lost movement and wasted energy. Eliminate the nonessential motions and muscle activity, which causes exhaustion without gaining any benefit. Both of your arms and shoulders must be relaxed and loose, to whip out and snap your fists like thrusts from a rapier. Keep your lead hand or both hands in constant "weaving" motion, but always keep yourself covered while doing it. The lead hand should be constantly moving, flickering in and out like a snake's tongue ready to strike. This threatening motion keeps your opponent in a bewildering plight.
Excerpted from Bruce Lee's Fighting Method by Bruce Lee, M. Uyehara, Sarah Dzida, Jon Sattler, Jeannine Santiago. Copyright © 2008 Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC. Excerpted by permission of Black Belt Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Bruce Lee was an iconic figure in martial arts who pioneered the concept of jeet kune do from his physical training, personal research, and formal education in philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle. He acted in several motion pictures, including The Big Boss, Enter the Dragon, Fists of Fury, and Way of the Dragon. He is the author of Tao of Jeet Kune Do. M. Uyehara is an aikido practitioner and the founder of Black Belt magazine. He served as the owner for more than 30 years and studied jeet kune do under Bruce Lee. He lives near Honolulu, Hawaii.
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