Bruce Lee, one of the most well-known personalities in martial arts, was a staunch supporter of meditation. His meditation philosophy, in his words, was: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless–like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” In kung fu, internal development is deemed to be just as important as external development.
Bruce Lee’s meditation technique is referred to as the qigong, otherwise called chi kung, which revolves around the concept of the chi, which is believed to be the universal energy, or what Bruce Lee calls the “life force.” In meditation, chi is spread in every part of the body through breathing exercises and slow graceful movements involving the entire body, thus giving inner strength and developing mental concentration.
The most common meditation exercise is by means of breathing. You are to clear your mind of any thought and focus only on the chi. The process is done by inhaling and exhaling, and holding your breath. When inhaling, the tongue should be raised towards the upper palate, and when exhaling, the tongue should be on its normal position. First, you will need to inhale and visualize the chi entering your head and going down to just below your navel, and then exhale while visualizing the chi increasing in the navel area. It is a repetitive process done about 10 minutes daily to increase the “life force” inside your mind and body.
One of his meditation techniques is the “Circle of Fear,” in which you visualize a circle surrounding you, and the distance of the circle from you is about the length of your leg when you do a side-kick. This technique helps you control your fear because whatever it is you are afraid of, whether a person, thing or a situation, as long as it is outside the circle, you are safe from it.
Why It is Important
Meditation is important in martial arts because it helps improve one’s self-discipline. Since meditation promotes self-control through intense concentration and having the ability to listen to your inner self while at the same time being able to observe what is going on around you, it is considered very important and instrumental to attaining great martial arts skills.
The qigong is also known to prevent and cure illnesses based on traditional Chinese beliefs. Additionally, this particular type of meditation effectively helps reduce stress because it lowers the production of cortisol, the hormone that brings about stress, as well as the reduction of blood lactate, which is responsible for one’s feeling of anxiety.
References and ResourcesBruce Lee: Fighting Spirit: A Biography; Bruce Thomas; 1994
Tao of Jeet Kune Do; Bruce Lee; 1975