I don’t know who needs to hear this, but there are things in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do that Bruce Lee didn’t actually write. I’ll go a step further and say that there are things that the Bruce Lee/Jeet Kune Do fanboys have been running around saying for years quoting their Lord and Savior, Bruce Lee, and believe it or not, Bruce Lee didn’t even say that stuff. So I was really surprised to learn that Bruce Lee never actually said this…
Now I know you’re saying “Okay, so what was it that Bruce Lee didn’t say?” but I have to take you on the journey of how all this happened. So I was going through my morning routine doing the I Liq Chuan Yijin Jing, zhan zhuang, and then practicing the Guang Ping Taiji form as a mobility routine. And after I go through my little morning Neigong routine, I walk anywhere from 3-5 miles. I do this every morning. So when I’m doing all of that, I like to listen to podcasts or audiobooks, mostly on martial arts and this particular morning, I was listening to my main man, Alex Richter, The Kung Fu Genius.
On this particular episode, Alex was talking about a comment he received from this very zealous member of the Fook Yeung fanclub who insisted that basically everything that Bruce accomplished in his life was all because of Fook Yeung. Now if you’re new here, and you don’t know who Fook Yeung is, look, I go into more detail in another video I posted 6 months ago, and I may devote an entire video to this stuff with Bruce Lee and Fook Yeung’s relationship, but to keep things short for this video, Fook Yeung was friends with Bruce Lee’s father, Li Hoi-Chuen. When Bruce came to America, Fook Yeung was the guy who gets him from California and the drives him up to Seattle.
Fook Yeung did all this Chinese Opera Kung Fu, and he taught at this Youth Center for Chinese kids. He also worked at Ruby Chow’s restaurant and he lived there, so he and Bruce spent a lot of time together because they worked and lived together. This was also the period when Bruce was trying to create his “super Kung Fu” style, so he would have been trying to sponge as much Kung Fu from Fook Yeung as his teenage mind could hold.
So like I was saying, Alex is on his podcast responding to this Fook Yeung fan’s claims that Fook Yeung was responsible for pretty much everything that made Bruce Lee famous. Fook Yeung was Bruce Lee’s real teacher who taught him for 8 years, and everything that made up Bruce’s philosophical views which became Jeet Kune Do, yeah, Fook Yeung taught him all of that stuff, too.
So Alex asked the guy what kinds of stuff did Fook Yeung teach Bruce Lee specifically, and that guy had no idea that he was being set up at that point because he provided the noose to hang himself.
And maybe it was a different Fook Yeung fan boy, but whoever it was, they’ve been making the same exact mistake claiming Fook Yeung taught Bruce Lee stuff that’s in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do which I’m about to expose in this video because Bruce Lee never actually said what they’re claiming Fook Yeung taught him.
Okay, if you follow my community feed here on YouTube, you may have seen a few quotes from the late Joe Lewis about how Bruce Lee didn’t write the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. And I’ve had some self-proclaimed Jeet Kune Do scholars get upset about that quote, and I’m not sure why because anyone with a working brain knows that Bruce Lee did not write the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. If Bruce had written it as a book, I’m sure he would not have called it “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do” because as John Little pointed out, saying “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do” means saying “The Way of The Way of the Intercepting Fist” which makes no sense.
Secondly, when you look at the Introduction written by Bruce’s widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, she says that for the 6 months Bruce was laid up due to his back injury from August 1970 until about February 1971, Bruce was working on a book, but there are scattered notes from before and after that period when Bruce was injured and he was unsure if he’d ever be able to practice Kung Fu again during that time.
The document was published, according to Linda, as a way for people to see how Bruce was thinking at various points along his journey, and it wasn’t intended to be a “how to book” or “The Gospel of Bruce Lee” as that goes completely against how Bruce Lee would have been thinking at that time based on things Krishnamurti was teaching, and we know that Jiddu Krishnamurti had a huge influence on Bruce Lee and his philosophical views that included his views on the martial arts. You could go so far as to say that The Way of The Intercepting Fist is Bruce Lee applying Krishnamurti’s views to martial arts
As Teri Tom, the author of “The Straight Lead” said in the “I Am Bruce Lee” documentary, “most of the writings in The Tao of Jeet Kune Do are Western influences and they come directly from fencing and Boxing books, and you can take most of the passages in that book and trace them to their roots verbatim. He might have changed fighter from fencer, but pretty much, it’s intact.” So here we have someone who is an expert on Jeet Kune Do and a Bruce Lee Historian saying that this book at one point considered to have been Bruce Lee’s magnum opus is not even originally his and I know that’s not going to sit well with the Church of Bruce Lee members. It’s like walking into a Sunday School class and telling people that Moses didn’t even write the Torah. But it’s true. This was just Bruce playing with ideas from various points in his development, and I’m of the opinion that Bruce wouldn’t have even wanted this thing published, had it been up to him.
And so that brings us back to the Fook Yeung fanboys claiming that Fook Yeung’s influence on Bruce Lee is what made him famous. It’s what went into creating Jeet Kune Do. They said that the idea to take what is useful and discard what is not is a concept that Bruce Lee learned from Fook Yeung.
Now I’m on my morning walk and I hear this, and my brain instantly goes back to all the comments from members of the Church of Bruce Lee who like to tell me how Jeet Kune Do means use everything, Be Like Water, Absorb what is useful and discard what is useless, like Wing Chun. And it’s funny because the Fook Yeung fanclub says that Fook Yeung completed Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun training, but then the Church of Bruce Lee says that Bruce Lee discarded the Wing Chun.
Meanwhile I’m asking what exactly did Fook Yeung allegedly teach Bruce Lee about Wing Chun that he didn’t already know, and the Fook Yeung people, they don’t know. And when I ask the Bruce Lee fanboys what Bruce Lee discarded from Wing Chun, well, they don’t know either. I think both of these groups need to spend less time repeating gossip on YouTube and go out and train something, but that’s just me. And I appreciate you guys watching and leaving comments because that makes me more money so I can go train.
So as I’m having this internal dialogue in my head, Alex is saying on his podcast that the whole “absorb what is useful and discard what is useless” thing was something hanging up in the Inosanto Academy and that Bruce Lee never actually said it. So if Bruce Lee never actually said it, but Bruce got the saying from Fook Yeung, then why is it hanging up in Dan Inosanto’s school?
Now remember earlier when I was saying how there are things in The Tao of Jeet Kune Do that were verbatim taken from other books? Well, this saying “Research your own experience; absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is essentially your own,” that’s in the dedication section of The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, like when you first open the book, that’s the first thing you read. And I guess that seals the deal, right?
Bruce Lee definitely said this, and maybe, just maybe Fook Yeung passed this on to him. So Alex is wrong, right? And I’m wrong for questioning it, right? Naturally, the Fook Yeung fan boys and the church of Bruce Lee members, they’ve all got it figured out, right? Well, I decided to post about this on Facebook because I have a few friends who are Jeet Kune Do instructors under different organizations, but at least one of my contacts that I have known for like a decade on Facebook is an actual student at the Inosanto Academy, and he spends a lot of time with Dan Inosanto. I was kinda hoping that he would chime in, but it turned out one of my shipmates from my time in the Navy provided a gem because he said “well, no Prince, Bruce Lee didn’t say that, that’s a quote from Chairman Mao.”
So in December 1936, Mao Zedong published an essay “Problems of Strategy in China’s Revolutionary War,” where he wrote,” All military laws and military theories which are in the nature of principles are the experience of past wars summed up by poor people in former days or in our own times. We should seriously study these lessons, paid for in blood, which are a heritage of past wars. That is one point. But there is another. We should put these conclusions to the test of our own experience, assimilating what is useful, rejecting what is useless, and adding what is specifically our own. The latter is very important, for otherwise we cannot direct a war.”
Now I think it’s possible that Mao Zedong took this idea from a much older source too, and if he did, well, I’m just saying, Bruce Lee was a philosophy student and an avid reader. If this came from some old Sun Tzu, Confucious, Taoism, or even Mohism, I think Bruce probably would have picked it up from those sources, just like everything else in his notes that made up The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. So no, I don’t think Fook Yeung taught this to Bruce. This idea is as old as Taoism. The late Fong Ha used to say “The Dao De Jing is a process of stripping away day by day while learning is a process of accumulation day by day.”
So in terms of Taoism, it’s basically all useless and should be discarded, and in the process you absorb nothing which brings you closer to the real meaning of the Great Tao. And I’m just going to say that I personally feel like Fook Yeung was not as big of an influence on Bruce Lee as this small group of vocal fans claim that he was, but that’s probably a topic for another video. So you might want to stay tuned for that discussion.
And I actually have spoken more in depth on Fook Yeung’s influence on Bruce Lee in a previous video, so if you want to check that out, it’s in my video on Bruce Lee and his history with Taiji. Like I’ve said before, my channel, this is more of a conversation as I myself am learning more about Bruce Lee, so I have a video planned on Bruce Lee’s opinion when it comes to Internal Martial Arts coming in the near future, that’s going to be an update to that Taiji video based on things I’ve learned since I recorded that and some questions that you guys have been asking me since that video. So stay tuned for when that one comes out real soon. And while you wait on that video, hey, keep training, remember to breathe, and I’ll see you next time.
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