SELECTING A MARTIAL ART
Selecting a Teacher and a Method of Martial Art
Advice from Bruce Lee
From the "In Conclusion" section of The Tao of Gung Fu, pages 184-185
I sincerely give this advice to all readers who are about to take up martial arts -- believe only half of what you see and definitely nothing what you hear. Before you take any lessons from any instructor, find out clearly from him what his method is and request him politely to demonstrate to you how some techniques operate. Use you common sense and if he convinces you, then by all means go ahead.
" How does one judge if an instructor is good? Rather, this question should be rephrased to 'how can on judge if a method or system is good?' After all, one cannot learn the speed or power of an instructor but his skill. Thus, the soundness of the system, and not the instructor, is to be considered; the instructor is merely there to point the way and lead his disciples to an awareness that he himself s the one and only one to give true feeling and expression to the system. The system should not be mechanical and complicated but simply simple with no 'magical power.' The method (which is ultimately no method) is there to remind one when he has done enough. The techniques have no magical power and are nothing special; they are merely the simplicity of profound common sense.
" Do not, however, be impressed by instructors who have brick-breaking hands, invincible stomachs, iron forearms, or even speed for that matter. Remember you cannot learn his ability, but his skill. At any rate, ability to break stones, to take a punch in the body, to jump so many feet off of the ground, are but stunts in the Chinese area of Gung Fu. Of primary importance are the techniques. Breaking a brick and punching a human being are two different things: a brick does not give, whereas when being hit, a human being spins, falls, etc., thus dissolving the power of the blow. What is the use if one has no technique to bring home his so-called 'killing stroke?' On top of that, bricks and stones do not move and fight back. Thus, the system should be the thing considered and, as mentioned before, a system should not be mechanical, intricate and fanciful, but simply simple.
" What if the 'master' does not wish to show you his style? What if he is 'too humble' and firmly guards his 'deadly' secret? One thing I hope the readers should realize regarding Oriental humility and secrecy is that although it is true that highly qualified teachers do not boast and sometimes do not teach Gung Fu to just any body, the fact remains that they are only human beings and certainly they have not spent 10, 20, or 30 years on an art in order to say nothing about it. Even Lao-tzu, the author of Tao Te Ching, and the man who wrote 'He who knows does not speak; He who speaks, does not know,' wrote 5,000 words to explain his doctrine.
" In order to pass for more than their ability, the honorable masters, professors and experts (in America, especially) say little. They certainly have mastered the Oriental highest way of humility and secrecy, for it is definitely easier to look wise than to talk wisely (to act wise is, of course, even more difficult). The more one wants to pass at a value above his worth, the more he will keep his mouth shut. For once he talks (or moves), people can certainly classify him accordingly.
" The unknown is always wonderful and the '15th degree red belt holders,' the 'experts from super advanced schools,' and the 'honorable masters' know how to gather around them a mysterious veil of secrecy. There is a Chinese saying that applies to these people: 'Silence is the ornament and safeguard of the ignorant.'"
The Nucleus has restructured the mentoring/recognition policy in order to better realize the original purpose of informing the general public about qualified instruction in Bruce Lee's art. When the Bruce Lee Educational Foundation (formerly called the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do) was formed in January of 1996, its stated mission was the preservation and perpetuation of the art and philosophy that Bruce Lee was teaching and practicing during his lifetime. In order to answer inquiries as to where qualified instruction in Bruce's art can be found, we endeavored to compile a list of sources. Our initial idea was to give official Nucleus recognition to practitioners who are certified by their instructors to teach the full curriculum that Bruce was teaching. It is still our goal to provide information about sources of qualified instruction, but we will undertake it in a slightly different way.
The Bruce Lee Educational Foundation has now made an official change in the mentoring/recognition policy for the following reasons:
1. The Bruce Lee Educational Foundation is primarily an educational and historical organization providing information about Bruce Lee, his art and philosophy;
2. Certification to teach Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do is strictly between instructor and student, thus it creates a hierarchical relationship which is in opposition to the internal structure of the Bruce Lee Educational Foundation where each director has an equal vote on policy;
3. We seek to clarify the confusion that exists as to the difference between "certification" and "recognition."
Therefore, it will no longer be an official function of the Nucleus to recognize qualified instructors of Bruce Lee's art. However, in order to fulfill our stated goal in informing the public of where instruction can be found, actively-teaching Nucleus members will provide a list of their recommendations. Please see the instructors list on this page