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MMA-rianas: No Way as way Part II

Transcendingconventional martial arts thinking

IN today’s MMA-rianas, we pick up where we left off from last Friday’s No Way as Way Part I—discussing Bruce Lee’s philosophy of “no way as way” as a means to transcend the limitations of conventional martial arts thinking.

Bruce LeeBruce Lee

The most prominent conventional martial arts ofLee’s time (1960s-70s) were traditional styles like Karate, Kung fu, Boxing,Muay Thai, Wrestling and Judo. Any knowledgeable mixed martial arts practitioner or fan of today would see those styles mentionedin succession and immediately recognize them as MMA if practiced conjointly.

However, Lee lived during a very different era of thinking. What is now considered archaic by modern day standards was once widely accepted as the norm.

Many practitioners back then were strongly opposed to the notion of mixing martial arts styles in one setting.

Lee challenged this sentiment adamantly and felt that it did not matter where a martial art originated from or who thought whose style was superior. To him, no style was superior or invincible. All styles had their own limitations if only practiced exclusively. A grappling art that lacked strikes left its practitioner vulnerable to striking attacks; a striking art that lacked grappling left its practitioner susceptible to being submitted. Lee desired to transcend this limitation by not adhering to such rigidness.

Lee believed that in order to be truly effective in any given combat situation, especially in a dynamic environment, a martial artist had to be well versed in multiple techniques. Not every single technique, be it on the ground or standing, could be found in any solitary martial art of his day.Thus, Lee ventured forth to study what he perceived as the bestfundamentals from different arts which were proven most effective.

Lee took elements from boxing, karate, Thai boxing, western fencing, taekwondo, wrestling, Filipino Escrima, judo and even his original martial art of Wing Chun kung fu and formed JeetKune Do. One could argue that this was the blueprint or predecessor to MMA as we now know it. In addition to studying non-Chinese martial arts as a Chinese person, Lee even went as far as opening his doors to non-Chinese students. This was something that was regarded as expressly taboo by many of his fellow Chinese. And yet, he did it any way.

The ultimate goal that Lee had in mind was to create a physical manifestation of his belief that by having no way, a martial artist could be limitless in combat. Today, Lee’s dream seems almost fully realized. Incredibly well-rounded and versatile mixed martial artists like Anderson Silva and Demetrius Johnson have become all-time greats and the new faces of the sport like Yair Rodriguez even fight very Bruce Lee-like in their movement.

While it is safe to say that Lee finally has the last word and the majority of today’s martial artists embrace his philosophy, the best way to honor his legacy would be to keep the ball rolling.

Modern day MMA is comprised of essentially base striking arts—usually boxing, karate, Muay Thai or kickboxing and base grappling arts—Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, judo, wrestling or sambo. But it should not end there. There are quite a few MMA fighters of the current era who are seeking to expand on the groundwork that Lee laid downand take things to an even greater level.Many of them have incorporated elements from gymnastics, Capoeira, and even strongman training to add depth to their regimen.

There was a sincere method to the concept of Lee’s no way approach. Towards his final days, he even slightly regretted constructing a martial art in Jeet Kune Do because he felt that, in principle, it was contradictory to the point of having a formless or way-less art. Even then, what matters most now is expanding upon and evolving from his blueprint.

Lee may not have been the only brilliant martial mind to originate such groundbreaking ideology, but he was certainly one of the most influential. Because there is no definitive right or wrong in terms of what direction his no way style goes from here—with the exception of stopping and growing stagnant—that is why we must keep it moving.Like water in a river or the ocean, forever in motion.