Bruce Lee On Coaching

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bruce lee teaching 2I recently received a presentation on coaching and training that included the above quote from Bruce Lee.  As you can tell from the fact that you are reading this, I really like it.  I did a little research and found some more of his teachings that I think are worthy of thought and discussion.

“A teacher, a really good sensei, is never a giver of “truth”; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that the student must discover for himself. A good teacher, therefore, studies each student individually and encourages the student to explore himself, both internally and externally, until, ultimately, the student is integrated with his being.”

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

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

“When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity. The classical man is just a bundle of routine, ideas and tradition. If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow — you are not understanding yourself.”

“In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all your preconceived and fixed ideas and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is useful? Because it is empty.”

There are many other quotes, with citations, here and here.

As a final thought on the topic, Lee apparently liked to quote the following Zen parable.  I think this is as good a theme for this blog as any other quote I can think of.

A learned man once went to visit a Zen teacher to inquire about Zen. As the teacher talked, the learned man frequently interrupted to express his own opinion about this or that. Finally, the Zen teacher stopped talking and began to serve tea to the learned man. He poured the cup full, then kept pouring until the cup overflowed. “Stop,” said the learned man. “The cup is full, no more can be poured in.” “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions,” replied the Zen teacher. “If you do not first empty your cup, how can you taste my cup of tea?”

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  1. If you want to go further down the Bruce Lee/Zen path, and haven’t already checked them out, I recommend the book The Tao of Jeet Kune Do and the film Circle of Iron. Yes, the former is a martial arts book, but has some very interesting philosophical elements. The latter is based on a screenplay Bruce was involved in developing (I think the original title was The Silent Flute). It was filmed after his death, with David Caradine featured.


  2. Reading other posts by Mark, made me read Phil Jackson, which in turn made me read a little bit of the Zen stuff – which given my cup-is-allmost-full-western-mind is no easy thing to do. But for what I understand, the point is not so much to empty your mind or have an empty mind (how on earth should that be accomplished anyway?) before starting to learn, but rather become conscious of ones own preconceptions and current thougths, without being judgemental about any of these.
    Second, regarding the implication of the Bruce-Lee-quotes for coaching volleyball, it pretty much resamples the basic idea of constructivism as a learning theory as put forward by Piaget, Dewey, Vygotsky and others.Don’t you agree.
    Third, thanks for posting the quotes! As you can see, I found them quite thought-provoking!

    Liked by 1 person

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