Saturday, January 12, 2013


Without Fighting...

Bruce Lee said that among other things, that his was the art of “fighting without fighting”. I’ve always liked that phrase and I’ve heard similar versions in the internal arts, but what does this actually mean?

In the movie “Enter The Dragon”, Bruce is challenged by a bully to demonstrate what he means by “fighting without fighting”. They are on a boat and Bruce suggests they take another boat to a nearby island to fight there. Once the bully is in the smaller boat, Bruce lets the line go out and then hands the rope to a bunch of deck hands that the bully had been beating up. The bully is left yelling and impotent while being towed by the bigger boat. In this case “fighting without fighting” meant outwitting his opponent.

To me it can also mean engaging in the actions involved in fighting without being suckered into the me/him, win/lose, personal-emotional state of "fighting" with an external opponent. It’s a calm inner state where you do what's necessary without losing your inner balance. Obviously much easier said than done, but I think any steps in that direction are worth taking. Not only will you fight better and smarter, but you will recover sooner. I'm not a fighter and haven't been in any kind of real physical fight in decades, but I do know about this state in other life arenas and it sure is nice, if I have to be in a conflict, to not be caught up in it emotionally with my self-esteem or self-worth at stake.

Another way to look at it would be that it means to fight without struggling. To seek openings that go around my opponent’s strengths and find his weaknesses, or to short circuit his strengths before they get any momentum, or to use his own momentum against him. Again, easier said than done. I had a taste of how far this skill can be taken when I had the honor of taking some classes with Master David Harris in Seattle. He never fought me but he sure did defeat me.

Or it could be seen as not being there in the first place. You feel the fight coming and cross the street. Or you use your martial training to blend in and not be noticed. Or you use your training to project an image that doesn’t invite attack.

I'm sure there are other ways of looking at it too.

“Fighting without fighting.” An interesting and thought provoking phrase…

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