Letting Go of Your Life to Save It (Martial Arts in Odenton)

Approach Jeet Kune Do with the idea of mastering the will.  Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain.  Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life!  Do not be concerned with your escaping safely - lay your life before him! - Sijo Bruce Lee

            If we approach Jeet Kune Do with the idea of mastering our will, if we are going to forget about winning and losing, how are we going to learn how to protect ourselves?  Keep reading.  That quote from the Tao of Jeet Kune Do immediately flows into the words above, today’s lesson. 

            Mastering your will is learning how to protect yourself in a life or death situation.  Consider the gravity of Sijo’s words here.  In a true self-defense situation, the possibility of death is imminent.

            What does forgetting about pride and pain tell us about self-defense?  To define self-defense according to Jeet Kune Do is to completely remove our ego and take responsibility for the consequences of our actions.  A bar fight with someone who wanted to shove you around because you embarrassed him is not a self-defense situation.  That is a situation you could have avoided had you mastered your will, forgotten about your pride, and not gotten involved in a verbal altercation.

             To define self-defense according to Jeet Kune Do requires that you actually need to defend the safety of yourself or someone else in a situation where you are at a significant disadvantage.  If you aren’t at a disadvantage, why are you fighting?  Let go of your pride by mastering your will.

            Is your attacker much larger than you?  Stronger than you?  Were you ambushed, sucker punched, or otherwise caught off guard?  Are you out-numbered by multiple attackers?  Are there weapons involved and you are unarmed?

            Your physical safety, not your pride, must be at risk, and you must be in a disadvantageous situation, meaning, one where you cannot just walk away.

            The second part of this quote is derived from an ancient Daoist concept of reciprocity.  If someone does you good, do them greater good.  If someone does you evil, end the threat, but scale your response in relation to their action.  If all it takes is one punch to end the fight, then put your attacker down and walk away.  Don’t kick them when they are down.

             If the situation has escalated to something that is truly life or death, then mastery of the will is of utmost importance.  In the face of fear for your safety, fear of possible pain, you must be able to master your will, and act according to how you have trained.  You will only escape

            You will not perform better in a self-defense than you do in your daily training.  In each Jeet Kune Do session, you will go through drills and scenarios in which you must do what you would if your life were actually at risk.

            Developing the attitude of mastering your will is the most important thing.

            If you want to protect yourself in a life or death situation, approach Jeet Kune Do with the idea of mastering your will.  This attitude of mastering your will is more important than actually mastering your will!  If you do not have this attitude of mastering your will, you are failing to follow the path of Jeet Kune Do.

             You must train with the attitude of mastering your will if you expect your will to be there in a life or death situation.  Approach each Jeet Kune Do training this way and win the battle against yourself.

            As you follow Jeet Kune Do, as you kickbox and grapple and spar with sticks and training knives against other followers of Jeet Kune Do, you will learn what actual fighting entails.  Because of this, you will be far less likely to involve yourself in ego-based fights.  You will know the possible costs of fighting to yourself and to the other person.

            Approach each Jeet Kune Do practice with the idea of mastering your will.  Fighting to master your will is fighting to protect yourself.  Without this attitude, there is no Jeet Kune Do.

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