8600 Foundry Street, Savage, Maryland 20763

Empty Your Cup

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Empty Your Cup

Last week, a man contacted Maryland Jeet Kune Do.  Before asking about who we are, how we train, or anything of that nature, he spoke of his twenty-eight years of experience in over a dozen martial arts styles, none of which were Jun Fan-related.  With this experience, he stated he had created his own system of Jeet Kune Do, and now was looking for a "new place to work out".

When asked, he said he was not interested in learning how we practice Jeet Kune Do, just for a place to work out, since he had already created his own style of Jeet Kune Do.

I asked if he was willing to empty his cup in order to train with us.

He stated he was not willing to do so, and so I informed him that we were not willing to offer him the opportunity to practice with us.

Rather than changing his mind and stating he was willing to empty his cup, this led to several threats of violence and racial comments from him, further confirming that he was not ready to actually begin following the path of Jeet Kune Do, for all of his experience.

There is a tale of Zen master Nan-in that is familiar to many involved in the martial arts.  Bruce Lee was fond of it, and quoted it in his essays "Toward Personal Liberation".

I'll quote here Bruce Lee's version:

"A learned man once went to a Zen master to inquire about Zen. As the Zen master talked, the learned man would frequently interrupt him with remarks like, “Oh yes, we have too,” etc. Finally the Zen master stopped talking and began to serve tea to the learned man; however, he kept on pouring until the tea cup overflowed. “Enough, no more can go into the cup!” the learned man interrupted. “Indeed I see,” answered the Zen master. “But if you do not first empty your cup, then how can you taste my cup of tea?”

Emptying your cup is the first step to actually beginning a Jeet Kune Do practice.  You must let go of everything else you have learned, all your preconceived ideas and notions, and begin to experience your training as it is in that moment.  It is a requirement for all new members of Maryland Jeet Kune Do, whether then are a first time martial arts student, or something with thirty years of experience.

Even someone who has been training at Maryland Jeet Kune Do for years must from time to time empty their cup in order to grasp a new concept or lesson.  It is a concept that must be grasped by every member of Maryland Jeet Kune Do, myself included.  I had already been training martial arts for thirty years, and JKD almost twenty when I began training under Burton Richardson.  He asked me to start from the beginning of his JKD curriculum, and I was glad to.

Where in your life are the things you think you know keeping you from moving forward on your path?

What can you do today to empty your cup?

- MuSsang


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