Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do: Paving the Road for MMA As We Know It

Todd Jackson@tjaxmmaSenior Analyst INovember 25, 2008

Who are the most unstoppable fighters in the world of MMA today?  What are their styles?  What are their disciplines?

One of those three questions are simple.  The other two, may prove more difficult to answer.  Who can be used as an example?  How about The Last Emperor, Rush, The Spider, maybe even The Prodigy. 

Unstoppable may be an exaggeration, but this is a small group of elite fighters, who anyone, even world class fighters, have a serious problem defeating, or even competing with in some cases.

What styles or disciplines do these fighters employ?  It could take hours to break it down.  There is no simple answer.  That is the point of this article.

There is a legend.  A legend of a Dragon.  A man born both in the year and even the hour of the dragon, according to the Chinese Zodiac.  A man destined to transcend history, and permeate the world of martial arts forever.  A man who may very well exemplify the true nature of MMA, more so than any other icon that can be named.

Lee Jun Fan, Bruce Lee as he is better known, was the pinnacle of what Martial Arts is all about.  He broke down centuries of theory, approach, and discipline.  He turned the world of martial arts upside down to both develop, achieve, and display his theories.

Many more traditional practitioners of martial arts, took serious offense at Lee's practices.  The teaching of non-Asians was thought to be sacrilege.  Lee paid this simple quarrel no mind, he taught whom he pleased. 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

The idea that ideals, disciplines, and forms that withstood centuries, were sub-par, limited, and obsolete was a slap in the face to both students and teachers of martial arts in the Asian community.  History would not allow for the questioning of their most respected practices.

The intention wasn't to discredit the historical arts, but to improve upon them.  Not just accept and learn, but to learn and expand upon the teachings.  To take what was taught to him, and make it better. 

Lee's entire existence was dedicated to the search of purity in combat.  Not just in fighting dominance, but physical superiority, nutritional knowledge, and most importantly, the search for spiritual enlightenment.  A perfect Chi. 

The true essence of conflict and its idiosyncrasies were his goal, but much more was involved than kicks and punches.  Lee discovered something very important on his journey.

"The highest art, is no art at all.  The highest form, is no form."  "Be formless... shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, and it can crash. Be water, my friend..." 

Lee had found that no one approach was superior.  To take that a step further,  most techniques were limited by boundaries.  Boundaries that most disciplines would disallow a student from exceeding or breaking.  Lee found this to be disappointing.  Lee developed his own theories based on his findings.

Don't limit yourself to one way of thought, or action.  Never accept one option, seek all alternatives.  Take only what you need and can use, discard the rest.  Combine what you find, become a mosaic of styles, become a fighting masterpiece. 

Do not allow yourself to become a slave to your own teachings.  Remember you are the teacher and the student; be both.  These are but a few of the ideas inspired by the teachings of Bruce Lee.

This ideal, this theory, this approach is seen throughout the world of MMA today.  Long gone are the days when a man could come to the fight with his respected fight style, the teachings of his school, his one-track approach and compete with any intentions for true success. 

Now one must be the mosaic, the eclectic grouping of many styles to become a complete mixed martial artist.  Bruce Lee was trying to tell us something a long time ago.  Be like water, change to your environment, move when you must, be strong or soft when called for. 

The best practitioners of MMA today exemplify this approach.  Georges St. Pierre is the prime example of what is being stated here.  One would have to imagine, GSP and Bruce Lee might make the best of friends.  GSP, may or may not realize it, but he epitomizes the theories of Bruce Lee's fighting style, Jeet Kun Do.

To learn so many styles, to practice so many disciplines, to train in so many theories, is simply amazing to say the least.  Like Lee, not only does GSP pursue all things fighting, he excels at them with a vengeance.  He is one of the most natural fighting talents the world has ever seen. 

The theories of Bruce Lee have permeated styles of the very best fighters known today.  It may not be their goal to be monumental examples of this ideal, but by naturally becoming the best fighters they can be, they have inadvertently become the prime examples of what Bruce Lee was trying to tell the world.

These fighters have become like water, they have no style to speak of, they have taken even what Lee advised and possibly made it better.

Bruce Lee would be proud of that indeed.  Surely he is smiling down at the world of MMA, knowing that his theories were not only being employed but improved upon in today's fighting world.

There is no doubt at all, watching GSP flow like water through a brook, only to become a Tsunami breaking on the shores of his opponent, that the Dragon is content that his roar has been heard, his flame felt, the beat of his wings echoing through time.

Xie Xie, Lee Jun Fan.  Thank you, Bruce Lee.  Much is owed to you and your superior fighting mind.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!