While the expanded edition of Tao of Jeet Kune Do was still in production, Black Belt reached out to some of Bruce Lee‘s friends and colleagues and asked them to submit their thoughts about his most influential book. Richard Bustillo, one of the contributors, turned to his students and asked them what the Tao has meant to them. The following are letters from Bustillo’s students, expressing their own experience with the Tao, what it has meant to them, and how its shaped their lives.
From: Mic Clark
I first purchased and read the Tao of Jeet Kune Do in 1976. I was a 15 year old schoolboy obsessed with all things Bruce Lee and martial arts related. At the
time the only martial art available for me to study was wado ryu karate. I found that reading through Bruce’s notes and learning about his ideas on
martial arts that the system and methods of training used in my karate school were totally opposite to the methods detailed in the book. I thought Bruce was a genius – and still do!
I admit that a lot of the book was lost on me because of my age and limited experience at that time. However, what I did understand I absorbed fully
and began to apply in my karate classes. I clearly remember reading about the on guard position, the finger jab and the lead punch and then spending
hours in my bedroom after school in front of the mirror practicing those moves. Applying the on guard position during sparring at karate and later
during my tae kwon do studies, improved my sparring technique significantly.
Tao of Jeet Kune Do is a book I never tire of dipping in and out of, and every time I dip into it I learn something new even though I’ve had my copy for over 30 years.
I’m very proud of the fact that inside my copy I have my Sifu Richard Bustillo’s signature alongside that of Dan Inosanto and Ted Wong.
A great book that has been an integral part of my jeet kune do journey.
From James K. Tanaka:
“Knowing is not enough, one must apply.”
“Willing is not enough, one must do.”
“To know oneself is to see oneself in action with others.”
“The individual is more important than any established style or system.”
These are just a few or many excerpts from Tao of Jeet Kune Do that have helped shape and guide my life. Bruce Lee’s words set in motion within me the mindset that martial arts should always be a journey specifically your own. To do so one must always strive to be honest with oneself as well as with those he/she surrounds himself with, regardless of whether we are at practice, play or work.
From Kevin Lumsden:
My first exposure to the Tao of Jeet Kune Do was when I was very young and had just started taking karate. Like many, Bruce Lee was the influence that got me started in the martial arts. At a very young age, (I started at 7), I really didn’t understand what he was all about, I just wanted to be able to move like he did in the movies. It was not until I was a teenager and had read the Tao many times that I started realizing how different Bruce Lee was, and what he had to offer the martial arts world. If I could characterize the Tao’s influence on me in one word, it would be “freedom.” Freedom to adapt a style, method or approach to my abilities and interests. Freedom to question doctrine and teachings that previously would have been considered sacrilegious. Freedom to express myself in a way that worked for me. As I got older, I realized that the Tao’s approach was not only limited to martial arts, but it could extend to your entire life–your relationships, your career, your interests, etc. It helped me discover my “ignorance” and, hopefully has helped me address some of those weaknesses.
Thank you, Sifu.
From Rudy Lams:
When I started reading about the Tao of Jeet Kune Do I was already in the martial arts, already having a passion to be like Bruce Lee, which I am sure hundreds felt that way. However once I started reading Tao of Jeet Kune Do, I began to find my weaknesses and learn to strengthen them, that is where I started scouting to learn jeet kune do. I believe jeet kune do is a part of my life and who I am, and by that I mean I use it everyday in any aspects of my life and I try to pass it on to others.
Mainly through my martial arts classes, by teaching my students that what you put into it is what you will get out of it, always absorb what is useful and reject what is useless, at least for that moment in time. At the same time keep Sigung Bruce Lee’s name and art alive by educating my students and those that come through my path. Also through my collection, which I have had for more than 40 years and continue being a loyal collector and student and not selling myself.