Bruce Lee was a specimen of health. He trained every day and consumed only the proper food. He was a martinet who never let his work interfere with his training. Even when he was sent to India to find suitable locations for filming, he took along his running shoes. The following is an excerpt from Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition.
One of the most neglected elements of martial artists is the physical workout. Too much time is spent on developing skill in techniques and not enough in physical participation. Practicing your skill in fighting is important, but so is maintaining your overall physical condition. Actually both are needed to be successful in a real fight. Training is a skill of disciplining your mind, developing your power and supplying endurance to your body.
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Lee’s daily training consisted of aerobic exercises, plus others which were patterned to develop his skill in fighting. He varied his exercises to avoid boredom. One of his favorite exercises was running four miles a day in 24 to 25 minutes. He would change his tempo while running — after several miles of constant, even strides, he would sprint several feet and then return to easier running. Between changes in running tempo, he would also shuffle his feet. Lee was not particular where he ran: at the beach, in parks or woods, up and down hills or on surfaced streets.
Besides running, he also rode an exercycle to develop his endurance, legs and cardiovascular muscles. He usually rode full speed — 35 to 40 miles an hour continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. Frequently, he would ride his exercycle right after his running.
Another aerobic exercise that Lee scheduled in his routine was skipping rope, which you can adopt. This exercise not only develops your stamina and leg muscles but also improves you, makes you “light on your feet.” Only recently, physiologists have learned, by several tests, that skipping rope is more beneficial than jogging. Ten minutes of skipping rope is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging. Both are very beneficial exercises for the cardiovascular system.
Skipping rope properly is one of the best exercises for developing a sense of balance. First, skip on one foot, holding the other in front of you; then rotate your foot, skipping on the alternate foot with each revolution of the rope, from a gradual pace to a really fast tempo. Minimize your arm swing; instead, use your wrists to swing the rope over. Lift your foot slightly above the ground, just enough for the rope to pass. Skip for three minutes (equivalent to a round in a boxing match), then rest one minute only before you continue for another round. Three rounds of this exercise are sufficient for a good workout. As you become conditioned to skipping, you can omit the rest period and do the exercise for as long as 30 minutes straight. The best rope is made of leather with ball bearings in the handles.
Shadowboxing and Sparring
Additional endurance exercises are shadowboxing and sparring. Shadowboxing is a good agility exercise that also builds up your speed. Relax your body and learn to move easily and smoothly. At first, concentrate on your form and move with lightness on your feet until it becomes natural and comfortable — then work faster and harder. It is a good idea to start your workout with shadowboxing to loosen your muscles. Imagine your worst enemy stands before you and you are going to demolish him. If you use your imagination intensely, you can instill into yourself an almost real fighting frame of mind. Besides developing stamina, shadowboxing increases your speed, creates ideas and establishes techniques to be used spontaneously and intuitively. Going several rounds is the best way to learn proper footwork.
Too many beginners are too lazy to drive themselves. Only by hard and continuous exercise will you develop endurance. You have to drive yourself to the point of exhaustion (“out of breath” and expect muscle ache in a day or two). The best endurance training method seems to be a lengthy period of exercise interspersed with many brief but high-intensity endeavors. Stamina types of exercise should be done gradually and cautiously increased. Six weeks in this kind of training is a minimum for any sports that require considerable amounts of endurance. It takes years to be in peak condition, and unfortunately, stamina is quickly lost when you cease to maintain high-conditioning exercises. According to some medical experts, you lose most of your benefit from exercises if you skip more than a day between workouts.
This comprehensive edition continues to embrace all the photographs, illustrations and text from earlier versions of the individual works: Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method Volume 1: Self-Defense Techniques; Volume 2: Basic Training; Volume 3: Skill in Techniques; and Volume 4: Advanced Techniques. It maintains the explanations that give martial artists the jeet kune do techniques’ instruction necessary to take their skills to the next level … but with exclusive bonus material.