11/29/07 Daniel wrote:
Thanks for responding. I have no problem with your assertions, other than then "Bruce Lee, a great martial arts innovator and philosopher? No!" Specifically, the "great martial arts innovator...no!" aspect. Name 3 people in his era who were doing what he was doing back then - publicly questioning realistic martial training, tying it back to it's non-traditional roots. Back to laws of physics, etc. Who, other than a few in fencing and Western boxing, years earlier, were doing this in martial arts? "Everything [?] published about Bruce Lee’s martial arts philosophy was written by others after his death." I mean, you were there 24/7? Then, again, so what? So what, if that borrowed truth serves to liberate? No, his "plagiarizing" is not excusable. But we have no proof he intended to publish those "notes" in that form. No malice intended, by the way.
I know of no book published by Bruce Lee before he died. All the books about him and his philosophy were written by others after his death.
Nobody seem to know whether or not Lee intended to publish his notes in the form they were published (meaning them being his ideas and thoughts on the martial arts) but the fact is, they were published in that form and many people still believe the writings to be the revelations of a great innovator, not the thoughts of others that were “borrowed” by a movie star.
Although criticized by martial art “experts” of the time, and since, Bruce Tegner’s many, many published books in the 1960s and 70s put all types of martial art techniques and philosophies in the public eye. Seeing the martial art advertisements and books piqued the interest of many people who had never thought about the subject before, including me.
I have always been inquisitive and questioning; seeking to learn all I can about everything. Once I got interested in the martial arts in the 1960’s though these advertisements, I read everything I could find on the subject. I learned a lot from a few instructors through the decades, but I learned even more from the hundreds of book I read. In your lifetime, you can only train with a few instructors; however, though reading, you can learn the thoughts and concepts of thousands of instructors.
I once had a martial art library of over 300 books that I accumulated during my world travels with the Navy. After hauling them around the world during moves for decades, I have since thinned the collection to about 100 key books. It wasn’t too difficult to donate the excess books since most of them did not have any new information or original thought. As Lee did, I made notes from all the books I read and used them to teach others. I still have the notes so I hope no one publishes them after I die as all being my thoughts.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of books were published before Lee’s time. The authors all made notes and outlines as they wrote the books. We see their final products but not their notes. Just because we have Lee’s notes, it does not make the notes anything special.
There were many marital artists in the 1970s, and since, who have taught the same concepts espoused by Lee. Unlike Lee, they just did not have a Hollywood student who gave them a bit part in the Green Hornet and thus put them into the public eye. Lee was a great martial artist performer. Had it not been for this entertainment success, few people would know of or remember him. There have been hundreds of greater athletes, greater fighters, and greater philosophers than Lee, both before and after his lifetime, that are still relatively unknown because they were not movie stars.
Speaking of philosophy, you state that “So what, if that borrowed truth serves to liberate.” Is it your contention that the ends justify the means? Is it okay for me to take your things if I need them more than you do? This is a philosophy espoused by criminals and politicians. I once had a musician friend who spouted this philosophy all the time; then someone stole his guitar and music he had written. He was upset and grumbling about the theft. I said, “I thought your philosophy was that it was okay to steal something if you needed it more than the owner did. Maybe the thief needs your things more than you do.” His reply was, “That may be true for the guitar, but he did not need my music.” The words of a philosophy are easy to say, they are much harder to practice.