Bruce Lee is often seen in caricature as a little man in a yellow jump suit, throwing lightening fast limbs, training Chuck Norris and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and throwing his foes across the room with naught-but-a one-inch punch.
But after learning a little more about Bruce Lee's life, love, and legacy, I realized that this martial arts virtuoso was a true renaissance man. He broke down racial barriers, revolutionized the way America saw martial arts in the 1960's, and impacted the world of on-screen action in ways never before thought of.
These accolades aside, the most intriguing contribution Bruce Lee gave to us was his proprietary form of martial arts known as Jeet Kune Do. this may sound bizarre, but this approach to combat was revolutionary outside the battle as well as within. In an interview, Bruce Lee described his style as a formless form - complete reaction to his opponent. Lee saw the martial arts of his peers as too rigid, formal, and unrealistic. He drew this comparison:
There is a great deal that everyone can learn from Bruce Lee's words, even though few of us will ever use them in the heat of conflict. I know that when I personally face challenges - physical, mental, bureaucratic, or otherwise - I am all-too-often conquered by my rigid convictions. Unwilling to consider any other solution than the one that I believe to be true, I put myself through so much angst until I finally realize that there might be a different way to look at the world. Then the solution to my problems appears before me.
We are faced with hundreds of challenges every day. If we could take advantage of even a portion of the hindsight that we always gain after these trials, I believe everyone would be much more content with themselves. If we could all just roll with the punches, go with the flow, and be like water, perhaps we could move beyond the differences we have with one another and actually become a better society.
To further extrapolate, what if the people who controlled our society were more like water? What if our political candidates were less attached to the rigid forms of their archaic party affiliations and more amenable to listening to their constituents? What if our leaders knew how to do something other than crash? What if our leaders wore yellow jumpsuits all the time?
It could be more awesome than the final scene of Game of Death:
Be like water, my friend.