I first heard the words during a Tae Kwon Do class in my very early teens. They sounded mystical, almost, like they contained the greatest truths. I felt like understanding these words would instantly make me a master. My problem, unfortunately, was that I had no idea what they meant.
Well, I learned. In my mid-20’s I joined a Muay Thai gym with a friend. I was excited to learn a new style with new techniques.
Stylistically, there are key differences between Tae Kwon Do and Muay Thai. The former is designed with long-reaching kicks in mind (most designed for disarmed soldiers fighting mounted cavalry). The latter, Muay Thai, is designed for close range. It’s designed to break bones and rupture organs with hard, pointed strikes (lots of knees and elbows).
I was confident in the new gym, wih my old skills. Then, I had my first spar. It was against a guy whose skill was unquestionable. I still felt confident, though. I’d fought in Tae Kwon Do tournaments. I’d fought really skilled opponents. This guy would—
He floored me. Almost instantly.
The rest of the spar was me recovering, panicked, trying every technique I knew to overcome his aggressive and overbearing style. I got my ass kicked. Hard. And I left the gym wondering if I was a good martial artist at all.
It was then that Bruce Lee’s words came back to me. Using no way as way. Having no limitation as limitation.
Being a Tae Kwon Do practitioner, sparring only people of the same style, I fell into a trap without even knowing it. I didn’t think about knees and elbows because we didn’t train to use them. I didn’t think about leg kicks because they weren’t part of our repertoire. And I paid for this ignorance. Oh, how I paid.
I got better as time went on, though I never could beat that first guy.
(That guy later broke my nose. Now, this lesson is a constant, crooked fixture of reminding.)
I wish I could say that this lesson turned me into the next great martial artist of our time. It didn’t. It did something better.
I have a deep appreciation now for the viewpoints and opinions of others. I have the modesty to know when I’m bested, and the wisdom to learn from who bested me. I can see past the limitations of myself, and I can see the deep truth in others’.
It’s easy to get stuck into a single frame of thought. It’s easy to forget that there are other styles out there. Other cultures. Other people. Oher ways to do things. Other things to do. When you invest your time in one thing, you become very good at that thing. But you also become blind to everything else.
Have myriad hobbies. Take risks. Do things that excite you, and also do things that scare you. Seek out “opponents” beyond your comfort zome and learn from them. By doing this, you absorb things you may have never considered, and those things may just make you all the better.
You’ll never be able to go through life in one lane. Eventually, you’re going to have to take a turn. Either life will provide you with a reason, or you can choose the reason.
Train to be flexible. Adaptability is a skill, and it can be honed.
Use no way as way. Have no limitation as limitation. Learn to be as All, and you will be One.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this early-morning philosophy. Feel free to follow me on Facebook!