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3 famous quotes from Bruce Lee applied to strength and fitness training

Bruce Lee touched the lives of millions around the world, and it was not restricted to only those who practice martial arts. As someone who was always breaking away from traditional ways of doing things, he was often used to starting out all alone and with little support. Then as people started to understand his approach, he started to gain followers. No wonder then that he still continues to be an inspiration even to this day to many around the world.

Yesterday (27th November) was his 71st birthday and I thought it was time that I shared some valuable lessons that he taught and how they can be applied to strength and fitness training. If you want to know more about Lee’s training then you can read my article on it and how you can adapt it to your own training, or hear this interview to learn more. So here are three classic quotes and teachings from the grandmaster Bruce Lee and how they can be applied to strength and fitness training:

1) “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks,
but I fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times”

While this quote was in reference to martial arts, it has a huge relevance in the gym too. How often have you seen someone start bench pressing, and then see him doing incline presses, decline presses, flyes, etc only another 2-4 weeks later? Did he really learn how to bench so soon that he moved onto so many more exercises? No, he did not. It takes a long time to really learn how to do an exercise well, and when you do learn, the results will be there to see. This is a lesson for those who tend to be too concerned with trying to entertain themselves with their workouts rather than focus on getting good. Remember too many weapons in your arsenal are worthless if you do not know how to use any one of them. Similarly doing too many exercises without getting good at any is worthless if you want to get stronger and fitter. So focus on getting good in a few basic exercises first, before you add more fancy stuff.

2) "Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
after I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
now that I understand 
the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."

This quote extends on the line of thought that was made in the first one. When you really get good at something, you will be able to do it without thinking. It will all seem so much simpler, just as when you began. For eg, to a beginner a weighted squat, is just simply squatting down, with a bar on your back. But once he starts learning, he learns more details about it like keeping an arch, not letting the knees come in, keeping the chest high, breathing pattern, etc. And when he becomes good at it, it all comes to him automatically and he can squat without thinking about the details. He is back to the first stage where the squat, is just a squat. 

You might have experienced this when you learnt driving. At first when you see others drive, it seems just a drive. When you start learning it, you understand all that needs to be done like gear control, etc and focus on them while you drive. However when you get good at it, you no longer need to think when you drive, and can do it automatically. The same goes with training, and that is why regular practice of the basics is so important, instead of changing and adding new moves too often.

3) “Absorb what is useful,
discard what is useless
add what is uniquely your own”

Probably the best known quote from Bruce Lee, and one that is the simplest to understand as it is very self explanatory. This quote can be used in any profession, business, and almost any sphere of life, as it is so correct. Bruce had a firm belief that knowledge should never be restricted and one should always be open to new knowledge and experiences. He however emphasized that one should only absorb or use the knowledge that is useful for him, and discard what is useless, and try to add what is essentially his own. For eg often I will see many in the gym do endless slow long distance cardio even when they see no change in their bodyfat levels, they will persist because a particular magazine told them that training at 50-60% MHR is the ideal “fat burning zone”. If only they could discard what does not work for them and add what does work, then they would be a lot better. Again, it is the results that matter. If what you heard and read does not produce results, then its not worth your time.

Besides his quotes one thing that I believe all of us can surely learn from him, is how to work hard to go after our goals. His success, knowledge, and experience was no fluke. It was the result of his endless hours and hours of hard work that he put in the martial arts, learning and reading philosophy, etc. So whatever goals you have, make sure you go after them with all you have got and never repent later that you could have done more. 

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