Back to Bruce'iscs
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

The Bruce Lee Krav Maga Connection

To many people there has never been anyone like Bruce Lee. They collect magazines with photos of him on the cover, buy up every piece of trivia they can, put his poster on their wall, watch his movies, read his books, and meditate on his words. You would think they would get tired of this after a while but yet his allure continues more than thirty six years after his death.

OK, I confess, I am one of these people.

There is something about him, a movie star who plays himself, he is the movie star and he is the reality. He acted out his life, be brought his real life martial arts to the big screen, he was a big screen hero and a real life hero.

Not only was he the ultimate fighter but he was the fighter/philosopher we all dream of. He was the ultimate good guy. Every action was backed by honest intention, more so, unlike countless others, he was able to express it in writing.

Despite his untimely passing he left behind enough writings to keep us busy for decades.

As a beginning martial artist back in my Ninjitsu days with Frank Dux and then in Kyokushin Karate days with Shigeru Oyama, Lee was an inspiration, a motivation, a sensation, a declaration that if you wanted it bad enough all you had to do was train like crazy. Bruce was our friend, he was there saying, "You can do it."

In life and in martial arts Bruce was there to say, "No excuses, stop feeling sorry for yourself, look at me."

Bruce was small compared with Westerners, he had poor eye sight, sinus trouble, one foot was shorter than the other. He had flat feet and was turned down by the US army! He was an immigrant with poor English; had no money or contacts and his girlfriend's parents did not like him! The odds were stacked against him.

There had never been a Chinese movie star in America, and yet that is what he sought out to do. Can you imagine that! He was turned down for the part of the martial arts expert in the TV series Kung Fu, which was tailor made for a Chinese Kung Fu master like himself, but it went to the late great David Carradine; a white American with no Kung Fu knowledge (at the time).

Such was the movie industry at the time. A lesser man; a "normal" man, would give up. Not our Bruce.

Imagine you are looking for a career. Say every person who ever held a certain position was a tall, white, grey haired male over the age of 50. All were Harvard or Yale graduates, all connected via family ties. Now you are a foreign born, ethnic type, with poor English and no connections. All your friends are getting entry level positions at Target or Wall Mart but you say you are applying to be head of the Space Research Institute. What would your friends think of you?

I can tell you right now; Loony tunes, you need a reality check. Your grandchild has no chance at this job, but you keep believing you will land this job, and then you do. That's our Bruce, and you wonder why people still read about him?

OK, now to the point of this article. 

Bruce Lee was ahead of his time, he led the way to the Mixed Martial Arts revolution that rocked our world with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and led to MMA being a household word (Mixed Martial Arts). He also understood the nature of real life self defense and Krav Maga. He was knowing without knowing.

Let's look at some of the words of the Little Dragon, "More and more I believe in the fact that you have two hands and two legs, and the thing is how to make good use of yourself – and that's about it." (Jeet Kune Do, page 64, Commentaries on the Martial Way).

What is the Bruce saying? The same thing I try to say at every Krav Maga seminar. Someone grabs your arm, or your neck. You panic, you say, 'What can I do? He is bigger and stronger" Simply remember this; you have two hands and two legs – make use of it! That's about it. So he grabbed one arm, God gave you another, plus the legs, use them. No matter what someone grabs - you always have something available to you. Simply learn not to panic and use the free limbs. "and that's about it". Simple, am I right?

Repeat these words, "the fact that you have two hands and two legs"; we tend to focus on the trapped limb and forget all about the others. Remember what you have, and for God's sake, "Make good use of yourself" in self defense and in life.

Let's continue with another line, "It is easy to learn the mechanics of an attack, but to apply that attack in time with the opponent and at the correct distance takes a lot of practice." (ibid, page 66)

Again, this is back to basics; let's call it "Bruce'iscs". In Krav Maga most techniques are very simple, but you can not be lazy my friends. Don't let the simplicity lull you into a sense of "I don't need to work on this, it is so simple". The benefit comes from the practice, the repetition, going over it again and again, and then, again.

In our school we have a quote, "I do not fear the 10,000 kicks you have practiced 1 time. I fear the 1 kick you have practiced 10,000 times." This comes from the Shaolin Temple in China.

You see, when it all comes down to it, east meets west, reality is truth, and we all see eye to eye. I have met people from all over and when the masters speak martial arts, it is all one language. So Bruce Lee, Krav Maga, China, and Israel all come together in one great effort to better humanity.

As my friend Arthur Cohen says, stay safe everyone. And let's continue to grow.