Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 60, The Style of No Style

What made Bruce Lee a remarkable martial artist was his openness to new techniques and ability to blend styles. He grew up doing Kung Fu, but was not bound by the rules of that discipline. When he found something that worked better, be it from the world of jujitsu, boxing, or street fighting, he incorporated it without complaint or clinging to his old ways.

This went for training too. He mixed Western bodybuilding and sports science freely with ancient Chinese strengthening techniques. He tried everything, even gimmicky gadgets from the back of martial arts magazines. He built his own weight lifting machines, designed his own protein drinks, and constantly asked if what he was doing was really the best way.

Eventually this all evolved into his martial and life philosophy, Jeet Kun Do, or "the style of no style." The emblem he designed for his school looked like this.

The Chinese characters read, "Using no way as way" and "Having no limitation as limitation." The arrows and yin/yang indicate the constant flux and malleability of reality, and by extension, of Lee's martial style.

This kind of open mind requires an enormous intellect. We use tradition and formality to bring a feeling of security into our daily lives. Clinging to a single tradition is, from this perspective, a kind of mental laziness. Someone is giving us all the answers and we follow them without question, usually out of sheer lethargy.

I am not a serious martial artist, but I run up against the same thing in the world of yoga. Yoga is just as splintered as the fighting world. Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Sivananda, Bikram, Anusara, Vini, Kundalini, these are all styles who, to an outsider look almost identical. But within the Yoga world there exists a certain distrust if not outright hostility to styles other than one's own.

So, it was with Bruce Lee's example in mind that I set out a few months ago to find a new stretching technique, outside of the world of yoga, to get me to the hanging splits I mentioned in Day 50. I've tried a lot of different things. I've queried kung fu teachers, ballet dancers, physicians, a reiki master, and tried all their techniques. I've dived down deep into the yoga sutras looking for clues regarding hip flexibility.

And after all that I've found a technique that I think is the best. I won't share it until I can definitively prove that it works, but, like Bruce, I will joyfully keep searching for better ways of doing things. That's where the fun of personal growth lies!

1 comment:

Amy said...

Non-attachment at its best!