Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do concept, which is philosophically rooted in Zen, was and still is outstanding. The central aspect of it is to have no style, to avoid being limited by the confines of particular styles and to maintain a fully open mind with respect to everything. It is only with an open or empty mind that one can see clearly, without being blocked by the boundaries of particular ideas and ways.
Are All Styles Bad?
It’s not that every style is all bad. There are great techniques, training methods, and strategies in many styles. But in order for a style to be a particular style, it must be defined. It must be limited to particular ways. And those limitations become your limitations.
If the style you practice only trains striking, then you won’t know what do to if someone gets you into a clinch or on the ground. If the style you practice only trains grappling, then you won’t know how to handle someone who tries to strike you. If the style you train only involves techniques to certain areas of your body, then you will be ill prepared if your opponent attacks you in an area that is off limits in your style.
Some styles only train stand up, and some only train ground. Some styles only train strikes, and some only train locks. Some styles don’t train with weapons at all, and some only train with weapons.
In order to train real “self defense”, no single style is enough. Additionally, being limited by any single style is detrimental both mentally and physically, limiting what you are able to see and what you think about what works and what doesn’t work. Whatever you train or think operates in two directions. Your training and thinking influences how you see the world.
Breaking Down The Walls
This concept is also very important outside of self defense and martial arts. Limiting yourself to particular ways of thinking or to particular ideas and ideologies blinds you to the truth outside of them. You literally become a prisoner of your own imaginary walls. Anything outside of your walls becomes either bad, wrong, or must be ignored in order to maintain the validity of your walls. If you break down your walls, refusing to attach yourself to any ideology or way of thinking, then you open your mind to the truth regardless of where it originates. Reality and the truth exist beyond any ideology or system of thought. The only way to see as clearly as possible is to break down your walls.
This is far harder than it may seem, and very few people are able to come close to accomplishing it. In Zen, breaking down the walls is “enlightenment”…100% freedom of thought, not limited by anything other than physics and biology. Complete freedom requires destroying ALL of the imaginary walls. It means destroying your conception of self, who you think you are, and therefore how you think you need to act. It means severing all attachment to everything you have learned.
This does not mean that you should or even can forget what you have learned and experienced. But if you want to be able to see whatever truth exists beyond what you already think you know, if you want to see where you are mistaken and what that you think is incorrect, then you must sever your attachments to any knowledge, group, or ideology. If you want to see as clearly as possible, your mind must be free to do so. It must be unattached to style, ideology, and doctrine. The truth is beyond them.
The way you think determines what and how you think about everything. Breaking down the walls will not only allow you to see beyond the limitations of various self defense and martial arts styles, but also to live your life as freely as possible in every moment.
What imaginary walls have you built for yourself? This is worth seriously thinking about and applying to both your self defense practice and your life. It will make you a better and more satisfied person in every way.