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The 101 Ultimate Bruce Lee Quotes

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Bruce Lee.

Actor, Martial Artist, Icon, Legend.

Born Lee Jun Fan in San Francisco, 1940, he was nicknamed “Bruce” after the suggestion of an attending physician. The son of a famous Cantonese opera star, he returned to his parent’s native Hong Kong soon after.

Acting was in his blood, and his first appearance on screen was as a mere babe in arms. Throughout his youth he appeared in numerous Hong Kong movies. As he grew up, his other passions developed; dancing (Hong Kong Cha-Cha Champion 1958) and martial arts (Hong Kong Boxing Champion 1958). As well as boxing, he had been schooled in Taijiquan by his father, and, more famously, by the legendary Wing Chun kung fu teacher, Ip Man.

His martial skills continued to blossom, and after returning to the U.S. as a student, he founded his own style; Jeet Kune Do. Such was his ability that luminaries like Steve McQueen and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karate champions like Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris sought him out for instruction. Of course, it was through his incendiary fusion of martial arts and movie performance that he was to become famous.

Despite his early death at 32, just before the release of his most iconic movie, Enter the Dragon, Lee Jun Fan achieved more in his short years than most do in their whole lifetime. A blazing presence on film, Lee re-energised martial arts, and in doing so also became the first Chinese man to be portrayed as charismatic, sexy and powerful; a hero; in a western-made film. He literally changed world culture.

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Bruce Lee’s mastery of his own life and creation of his own legend is an example that we all can learn from, and all be inspired by.

On Doubters:

“The doers said,
‘Maybe, but we’ll try,’
And finally soared
In the morning glow
While non-believers
Watched from below.”

On Goals:

“You just wait. I’m going to be the biggest Chinese Star in the world!”

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward you goal.”

“Don’t fear failure – Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

“Remember, success is a journey, not a destination.”

“The possession of anything begins in the mind.”

On the Mind:

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities!”

“The spirit of the individual is determined by his dominating thought habits.”

“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.”

“If you think a thing is impossible, you’ll only make it impossible.”

“As you think, so shall you become.”

“Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are the weeds that strange confidence.”

“Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”

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“The unconditioned mind intuits truth – Bring the mind into sharp focus and make it alert so that it can immediately intuit truth, which is everywhere. The mind must be emancipated from old habits, prejudices, restrictive thought processes and even ordinary thought itself.”

On Philosophy:

“Because one does not want to be disturbed, to be made uncertain, he establishes a pattern of conduct, of thought, a pattern of relationship to man, etc. Then he becomes a slave to the pattern and takes the pattern to be the real thing.”

“Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.”

“Be self-aware, rather than a repetitious robot.”

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

“Flow in the living moment – We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Open yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the total openness of the living moment.”

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.”

“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

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“If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.”

“Using no way as a way, having no limitation as limitation.”

On Learning:

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

“Everything you do, if not in a relaxed state will be done at a lesser level than you are proficient. Thus the tensed expert marksman will aim at a level less than his/her student.”

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

“To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.”

“Time means a lot to me because you see I am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing.”

On Growth:

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.”

“Be happy, but never satisfied.”

“In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.”

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“I am happy because I am growing daily and I am honestly not knowing where the limit lies. To be certain, every day there can be a revelation or a new discovery.”

“The moment is freedom – I couldn’t live by a rigid schedule. I try to live freely from moment to moment, letting things happen and adjusting to them.”

“Life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, un-rhythmic movement, as we as constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.”

“The ideal is unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness. I mean it is a combination of both.
I mean here is natural instinct and here is control. You are to combine the two in harmony.
Not if you have one to the extreme, you’ll be very unscientific.
If you have another to the extreme, you become, all of a sudden, a mechanical man
No longer a human being.
It is a successful combination of both.
That way it is a process of continuing growth.”

“We have great work ahead of us, and it needs devotion and much, much energy. To grow, to discover, we need involvement, which is something I experience every day — sometimes good, sometimes frustrating. No matter what, you must let your inner light guide you out of the darkness.”

On Relationships:

“Self-knowledge involves relationship. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Relationship is a process of self-evaluation and self-revelation. Relationship is the mirror in which you discover yourself – to be is to be related.”

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“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”

“Linda and I aren’t one and one. We are two halves that make a whole – two halves fitted together are more efficient than either half would ever be alone!”

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”

“If you don’t want to slip up tomorrow, speak the truth today.”

“For it is easy to criticize and break down the spirit of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime. To take responsibility for one’s own actions, good and bad, is something else.”

“The more we value things, the less we value ourselves”

“I am learning to understand rather than immediately judge or to be judged.”

“Real living is living for others.”

“It’s not what you give, it’s the way you give it.”

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

“After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”

“Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you. I’ll not willingly offend, nor be easily offended.”

On Training:

“If you want to learn to swim jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you.”

“The world is full of people who are determined to be somebody or to give trouble. They want to get ahead, to stand out. Such ambition has no use for a gung fu man, who rejects all forms of self-assertiveness and competition.”

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“Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.”

“Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skilful, swift, and steady.”

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

“Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.”

“Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there.”

“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”

“Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.”

“The athlete who is building muscles though weight training should be very sure to work adequately on speed and flexibility at the same time. In combat, without the prior attributes, a strong man will be like the bull with its colossal strength futilely pursuing the matador or like a low-geared truck chasing a rabbit.”

“The attitude, ‘You can win if you want to badly enough,’ means that the will to win is constant. No amount of punishment, no amount of effort, no condition is too ‘tough’ to take in order to win. Such an attitude can be developed only if winning is closely tied to the practitioner’s ideals and dreams.”

“‎The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

“The martial arts are based upon understanding, hard work and a total comprehension of skills. Power training and the use of force are easy, but total comprehension of all of the skills of the martial arts is very difficult to achieve.”

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“To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.”

“When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”

On Conflict:

“Not being tense but ready.
Not thinking but not dreaming.
Not being set but flexible.
Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement.
It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.”

“The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action.”

“The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

“The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.”

“Emotion can be the enemy, if you give into your emotion, you lose yourself. You must be at one with your emotions, because the body always follows the mind.”

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

“A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.”

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“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

“In the middle of chaos lies opportunity.”

On Defeat:

“Defeat is not defeat unless accepted as a reality – in your own mind.”

“It is not a shame to be knocked down by other people. The important thing is to ask when you’re being knocked down, ‘Why am I being knocked down?’ If a person can reflect in this way, then there is hope for this person.”

“Remember no man is really defeated unless he is discouraged.”

“I treasure the memory of the past misfortunes. It has added more to my bank of fortitude.”

On Spirit:

“Satori – in the awakening from a dream. Awakening and self-realization and seeing into one’s own being – these are synonymous.”

“Art is the way to the absolute and to the essence of human life. The aim of art is not the one-sided promotion of spirit, soul and senses, but the opening of all human capacities – thought, feeling, will – to the life rhythm of the world of nature. So will the voiceless voice be heard and the self be brought into harmony with it.”

“If there is a God, he is within. You don’t ask God to give you things, you depend on God for your inner theme.”

“As long as I can remember I feel I have had this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision. It is all these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with this dominating force which I hold in my hand.”

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“Voidness is that which stands right in the middle between this and that. The void is all-inclusive, having no opposite – there is nothing which it excludes or opposes. It is living void, because all forms come out of it and whoever realizes the void is filled with life and power and the love of all beings.”

“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”

“The perfect way is only difficult for those who pick and choose. Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear. Make a hairbreadth difference and heaven and earth are set apart; if you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.”

“There is ‘what is’ only when there is no comparing and to live with ‘what is’ is to be peaceful.”

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

“to live content
with small means;
to seek elegance
rather than luxury,
and refinement
rather than fashion,
to be worthy
not respectable
and wealthy,
not rich;
to study hard,
to think quietly,
to talk gently,
act frankly;
to bear all cheerfully,
do all bravely,
await occasions,
hurry never.
in other word,
to let the spiritual,
unbidden,
and unconscious
grow up through,
the common.”

“It is compassion rather than the principle of justice which can guard us against being unjust to our fellow men.”

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“You cannot force the Now – But can you neither condemn nor justify and yet be extraordinarily alive as you walk on? You can never invite the wind, but you must leave the window open.”

On Limits:

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

On Life:

“The word ‘superstar’ is an illusion.”

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

“I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized.”

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

“I cannot blindly follow the crowd and accept their approach. I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation.”

“Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualization and self-image actualization is very important. Most people live only for their image.”

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

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Featured photo credit: http://wallpaperlepi.com/ via wallpaperlepi.com

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