Often times we forget the unique traits of a person by focusing too heavily of what lays on the surface. Our minds become constrained by the reoccurring sights, noise, sound, touch and smell – to the point where boundaries are formed, and movement comes to a halt. For many of us, we knew Bruce Lee through kung fu action films like Enter the Dragon where he’d whoop so many peoples’ asses with his fists and kicks, then go on to calmly unbuttoning his shirt just to unleash a pounding on his enemies with his signature yellow and black nunchakus. Yes, this is how most of knew Bruce Lee and envisioned as his authentic personality.
Reading the book Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly, to my surprise, I learned that Bruce Lee was so much more than a kung fu extraordinaire that violently fought to solve any and all problems, but one who took the Chinese philosophy of ‘chi’ or energy flow to heart. In other words, Bruce had no boundaries, whether it be mental, physical or spiritual. His movement in life was always constant, which is best explained by his famous phrase, “Be like water, my friend.” Like water, he had no edges and when you think all has come to a calm settle, movement never really stopped.
And so, the key element that stuck with me throughout this entire book was where this Chinese philosophy proved to be the Bruce’s greatest strength; not through his deadly one-inch punch, but instead his ability to express himself. Now, how we originally knew Bruce best was through kung fu as a physical exercise, however he explains kung fu as a “fine art. [Where] the core principle of gung fu is tao – the spontaneity of the universe.” So, no matter how physically or mentally strong a person can be, the greatest strength is utilizing the energy flow to follow through one’s movement – not coming to a stop when things get tough, but constantly finding a way to keep moving forward; just like water.
I believe that well-written books are able to directly connect to the reader to deliver a positive message, and because this book was specifically about the legendary Bruce Lee the stakes were high. After reading a good 500 in-depth pages on the time line of Li Xiao Long’s life, the memo of the story is to be someone who outgrows his mold he is placed in, and don’t change yourself for the benefit of others. But seriously, find an active interest to express the authentic person you are.
Unlike the format of other books where the story-line follows a traditional tiered format from beginning to end, the format of this book is like a tossed salad. The flavor is consistent with changes in texture. Overall, I found this book to be worth the effort and time to read. The text is rich with accurate historic facts and organized in a way where it’s easy to comprehend. Whether you’re a Bruce Lee enthusiast or more of a Chuck Norris type of guy, you will definitely find inspiration on becoming a better version of yourself by diving into the story.