The Way of the Dragon

What is potentially misleading about Bruce Lee’s brainchild Jeet Kune Do is its name. But it’s literal meaning, ‘the way of the intercepting fist’, is not the issue. Jeet Kune Do is considered a self-defence philosophy not fixed or patterned, but one might argue that it is fixed and patterned because it is labelled. Nevertheless, Lee understood perfectly well the problem of limiting oneself to one style. ‘If there is such a thing as a martial art, then there are other martial arts, and to refuse any effective technique at one’s disposal is potentially fatal’. Jeet Kune Do, expressed as Lee’s viewpoint in the book Tao of Jeet Kune Do, is itself eclectic and hybrid: therefore, because ancient scriptures to this day require an unwavering attachment to their set irreducible of beliefs, and are generally unchangeable, here we will use Lee’s philosophy to deconstruct religious dogmatism.

Lee once said that he ‘does not really believe in god’. But taking into account his flexible approach to martial arts, he is better described as irreligious than atheistic. Despite the enduring absence of proof, the existence of god is still doubtless according to most religions. But more consequential than their blind faith is that most assert themselves as the one true religion which is contradictory. A one true religion as a one-true-way-of-life should not have to assert itself as such, nor even as a religion for that matter, because it is unnecessarily hostile to the others to which it belongs, that is, in terms of concept. A one-true-way-of-life should be able to accommodate a number of ways and universally clear without conceptualisation which really means that it cannot be a religion. To have to tell people that a religion is the one true way insults their intelligence, however feasible that may turn out to be.

‘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. Water can drip, it can crash. Become like water my friend.’

Bruce Lee: Wednesday 27th November 1940 — Friday 20th July 1973