Most of us have weak links that are contained in one area of our lives, so as to not affect our daily lives. For instance, having horrible rhythm wouldn’t hinder your efforts in becoming a movie critic, but if you dreamed of becoming the next Lord of the Dance, then that would be something you must fix before you could move forward. We’ve all heard that we are only as strong as our weakest link, but how many of us actually address it?
Bruce Lee did.
In December of 1964, a then 24 year old Bruce Lee and another martial artist by the name of Wong Jack Man fought one another at Lee’s Oakland, California kung fu school. What follows is Linda Lee-Cadwell’s (Lee’s widow) account of how that fight changed Bruce Lee’s life from her book Bruce Lee: The Only Man I Knew:
The clash with Wong Jack Man metamorphosed his own personal expression of kung fu. Until this battle, he had largely been content to improvise and expand on his original Wing Chun style, but then he suddenly realized that although he had won comparatively easily, his performance had been neither crisp of efficient. The fight, he realized, ought to have ended within a few seconds of him striking the first blows – instead of which it had dragged on for three minutes. In addition, at the end, Bruce had felt unusually winded which proved to him he was far from perfect condition. So he began to dissect the fight, analyzing where he had gone wrong and seeking to find ways where he could have improved his performance. It did not take him long to realize that the basis of his fighting art, the Wing Chun style, was insufficient. It laid too much stress on hand techniques, had very few kicking techniques and was, essentially, partial. The Wong Jack Man fight also caused Bruce to intensify his training methods. From that date, he began to seek out more and more sophisticated and exhaustive training methods. I shall try to explain these in greater detail later, but in general the new forms of training meant that Bruce was always doing something, always training some part of his body or keeping it in condition.
Many people go through life not addressing their weak points at all, letting them lag behind while continuing on with their life. But what if your weak link stood between you and your life’s greatest ambitions? Bruce encountered such a challenge, and succeeded with flying colors. Not only did he identify his weakest physical link – his overall conditioning, but he also came face to face with the limitations of his current way of approaching combat. The rest, as they say, is history. If it weren’t for this fight that caused Bruce Lee to run smack dab into his weakest link, Jeet Kun Do may never have been created, and we may have been robbed of one of the most phenomenal human beings of our time.
Have you had your Bruce Lee moment, and if so how did you respond to it? If so, please share in the comments section. I will share mine tomorrow, along with videos.