He studied all the traditional philosophies, but then he began to form his own philosophy, and he came to the realization that you just can’t borrow another person’s philosophy. You have to learn about yourself and create your own philosophy, your own way of life. — Linda Lee (on Bruce Lee).
There is only one thing that I am more passionate about than natural physique training, and that is being a student of what I have come to call The Ronin Strategies (the collective philosophical writings of Bruce Lee, Miyamoto Musashi, Tao Te Ching, & The Way of the Samurai). I don’t know, the title of it sounded cooler to me than “just a bunch of shit from a bunch of different books that have helped me in almost every single aspect of life”.
If you are on this site, then you are probably most interested in the fact that these books have definitely helped me to become a better, more intelligent, more strategic, and more successful athlete. I always recommend them to athletes who seem to be stuck in a rut, are lacking in motivation or discipline, or have hit a plateau. I believe they can give you the kick in the ass you need to break on through to the other side.
Perhaps even more importantly, I believe these strategies have helped me to become a much better person. At the very least, they have helped me to find a little passion, purpose, and peace of mind in life.
I invite you to check out one or all of these books (you can click on the cover to read The Amazon descriptions). I hope you find a few strategies within them that help you as much as they have helped me.
STRATEGIES TO GET YOU STARTED
No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done. If one manifests the determination, he can move heaven and earth as he pleases. — Hagakure.
Some people use martial arts just to kick ass. Cool. But to some, it becomes a much deeper and defining influence in their lives. It is a gateway to gain self-awareness, confidence, and focus. And the lessons learned in the dojo can be used to improve in all other areas of life.
For whatever reason, physique training has been to me what martial arts have been to so many others. And I don’t mean the process of trimming the pubes, slapping on a fake tan and a dong thong, and prancing around on stage like Magic Mike. Nor do I mean flexing for professional photo shoots or annoying “selfies” like Zoolander. I mean the actual athletic process of disciplined dieting and training with weights to transform the physique. While it’s the body composition change that motivates us in the beginning, sometimes it’s the character change that ends up being the true transformation.
Maybe I’m just a hippie making it out to be more than it really is, but committing to some type of athletic lifestyle has provided me with a solid foundation in this chaos called life, and my journey in particular, which of course has been full of ups and downs, successes and failures, achievements and disappointments. I have always been able to find comfort, peace, escape, value, and a sense of purpose in the gym, regardless of whatever else was going on around me.
More importantly, the lessons learned in the gym (the strength trainer’s version of a dojo) — discipline, delayed gratification, sacrifice, commitment to a craft, and perseverance — have helped me in all other areas of my life. At the very least, it taught me how to put my energy (both positive and negative) into something constructive rather than destructive. I believe it can provide you with some of the same benefits.
Bruce Lee merged philosophy, and this mind-body-spirit connection, into his martial arts training. He saw something bigger in the sport, as a tool not just for physical conditioning, but also for self-awareness, self-help, and personal growth. I am in no way talented or knowledgeable enough to proclaim I can do the same thing in the fitness space. But I do get tired of talking about 6-packs, squats, spandex, and the same shit all of the time. And even the biggest of meatheads and fitness divas must know there is more to life than personal mirror reflection time. So we both must branch out to find a little balance.
And besides, if all you do care about is cosmetic change, there is something that many physique enthusiasts, athletes, coaches, and writers often overlook. Even the best, most scientifically based, most anecdotally proven programs on the planet are meaningless unless they are actually applied. Research and planning will only take you so far. It is implementation and execution that matter most. So we can all use a little kick in the ass from time-to-time in order to get shit done. That’s where warrior strategy comes in.
Below are some strategies and quotes that I believe can help get you started along the path of becoming a more strategic and successful athlete. Hope you dig them.
ON SELF HELP & TAKING PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
Having one’s own will – What does self-willed mean? Hell, isn’t it knowing above all, that, indeed, one is the captain of one’s soul, the master of one’s life? Now what causes such realization and, consequently, brings about a change in one’s behavior? To be real, to accept responsibility for oneself. ~ Bruce Lee
There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
There is no external help. The problem lies in asking somebody else to solve your own problem instead of asking yourself. ~ Bruce Lee
ON THE POWER OF PERSONAL MOTIVATION
The attitude “That you can win if you want to badly enough” means that the will to win is constant and no amount of punishment, no amount of effort, or no condition is too “tough” to take in order to win. Such an attitude can be developed only if winning is closely tied to the practitioner’s ideals and dreams. Experience shows that an athlete who forces himself to the limit, can keep going as long as necessary. It means that ordinary effort will not tap or release the tremendous store of reserve power latent in the human body. Extraordinary effort, highly emotionalized conditions, or a true determination to win at all costs will release this extra energy. Therefore an athlete is actually as tired as he feels, and if he is determined to win he can keep on almost indefinitely in order to achieve his objective. ~ Bruce Lee
First, you must choose a goal before you can achieve it, and second, the more difficult and dangerous your goals is, the more effort you must put into achieving it. All achievement starts with goals, and Musashi emphasized that you should be ambitious in setting them. Ambitious goals will help you focus your energies, abilities, and actions to maximum effect. ~ Samurai Strategies
The lesson to be learned from this samurai code is that one must be prepared to go all the way in achieving great goals. ~ Samurai Strategies
ON SELF KNOWLEDGE & SELF-AWARENESS
When you’re faced with looking at your own life with awakened eyes, you will have increased a bit in the knowledge of yourself (in other words, your mental and physical abilities will become clear to you), and knowledge of anything outside of yourself is only superficial and very shallow. ~ Bruce Lee
After all, it is most important to know your own self and apply yourself to your own self-mastery. ~ Bushido
When I look around, I always learn something and that is to be always yourself. And to express yourself. To have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. ~ Bruce Lee
ON THE DOWNSIDE OF DOGMA
So what these students are doing is merely performing their methodical routines as response rather than responding to “what is”. They no longer “listen” to circumstances; they “recite” their circumstances. These poor souls have unknowingly become a classical mess. They are the “product” of conditioning that was prescribed for them hundreds and thousands of years ago. ~ Bruce Lee
Oh I know we all admit that we are intelligent beings; yet, I wonder how many of us have gone through some sort of self-inquiries and/or self-examining of all these ready-made fact or truths that are crammed down our throats ever since we acquired the capacity and the sensibility to learn. ~ Bruce Lee
True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns; freedom of expression occurs when one is beyond system. ~ Bruce Lee
ON USING WHATEVER WEAPONS WORK
Musashi made it his practice to never depend on any particular form, even those that he had perfected. His approach was to change to any style that would give him an advantage. ~ Samurai Strategies
You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain…But with weapons, just as with other things, you should not make distinctions or preferences. Going too far is the same as not going far enough. Without imitating others, you should take what is appropriate to yourself and use a weapon you can handle. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
It does not look at combat from a certain angle but from all possible angles, and although JKD utilizes all ways and means to serve its end, it is bound by none and is, therefore, free from all ways and means…There is only one basic principle of self-defense: You must apply the most effective weapon as soon as possible. ~ Bruce Lee
ON CUSTOMIZING YOUR APPROACH
In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. Everybody has to think for himself. A right way for a big man may not be a right way for a small man. A right way for someone who is slow may not be a right way for someone who is quick. Each person must understand his weaknesses and his strengths. ~ Bruce Lee
He studied all the traditional philosophies, but then he began to form his own philosophy, and he came to the realization that you just can’t borrow another person’s philosophy. You have to learn about yourself and create your own philosophy, your own way of life. ~ Linda Lee (on Bruce Lee)
The essence of jeet kune do: 1. Research your own experience. 2. Absorb what is useful. 3. Reject what is useless. 4. Add what is specifically your own. ~ Bruce Lee
ON DIRECTNESS & STRAIGHT LINE PATHS
Even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about going at it in a long roundabout way. One’s heart may slacken, he may miss his chance, and by and larger there will be no success. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. ~ Hagakure
The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side paths. ~ Tao Te Ching
He (Musashi) seems to have had a rather straightforward approach to combat, with no additional frills or aesthetic considerations. This was probably due to his real-life combat experience. ~ Wikepedia
Nothing fancy is involved. You go straight to the heart of the matter and defeat the enemy. There is nothing else involved. You either do it or you don’t. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
ON FILTERING OUT THE FLUFF
Gung fu values the wonder of the ordinary, and the idea is not daily increase but daily decrease. Being wise in gung fu does not mean adding more but being able to remove sophistication and ornamentation and be simply simple – like a sculptor building a statue not by adding, but by hacking away the unessential so that the truth will be revealed unobstructed. ~ Bruce Lee
Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful…Do nothing that is of no use. ~ Musashi
Gung fu is satisfied with one’s bare hands without the fancy decoration of colorful gloves, which tend to hinder the natural function of the hands…Some “sophisticated” methods, on the other hand, tend to run to ornamentation and get carried away by grace and showmanship. ~ Bruce Lee
The rationale of my own school is completely different. The other schools get along with this as a performance art, as a method of making a living, as a colorful decoration, or as a means of forcing flowers to bloom. Yet, can it be the true Way if it has been made into a saleable item?…Can you understand how to win by these things? None of them are the unfailing way. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
ON EFFICIENCY THROUGH SIMPLICITY
A few simple techniques well presented, an aim clearly seen, are better than a tangled maze of data whirling in disorganized educational chaos. ~ Bruce Lee
Gung fu is so extraordinary because it is nothing at all special. It is simply the direct expression of one’s feeling with the minimum of lines and energy. Every movement is being so of itself without the artificiality with which we tend to complicate them. The closer to the true Way of gung fu, the less wastage of expression there is. ~ Bruce Lee
It is not how much you have learned, but how much you have absorbed in what you have learned – the best techniques are the simple ones executed right. ~ Bruce Lee
ON TAKING ACTION VS. TALKING
Many philosophers are among those who say one thing and do another, and the philosophy that a man professes is often quite other than the one he lives by. Philosophy is in danger of becoming more and more only something professed. ~ Bruce Lee
The end of man is action and not thought, though it be of the noblest. In this world there are a lot of people who cannot touch the heart of the matter but talk merely intellectually (not emotionally) about how they would do this or that. They talk about it, but yet nothing is ever actualized or accomplished. ~ Bruce Lee
In martial art, many instructors derive their techniques and principles from intellectual theories and not from firsthand experience. Instructors like these can talk “about” combat, and there are many master talkers, but they cannot really teach it. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
ON PRACTICAL APPLICATION VS. PURE KNOWLEDGE AQUISITION
Nevertheless, to learn these principles indoors, to study all the minor details and to forget the Way of the actuality, will likely be of little use at all. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
When you understand what I am telling you, apply what you have learned to your everyday life… I am not interested with your talk about my ideas. I am more interested in your applying them to your life. ~ Miyamoto Musashi
Balance your thoughts with action. If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. ~ Bruce Lee
In jeet kune do, it’s not how much you have learned, but how much you have absorbed from what you have learned. It is not how much fixed knowledge you can accumulate, but what you can apply lively that counts. ~ Bruce Lee.
ON FOCUSING ON THE TASK AT HAND
If a retainer will just think about what he is to do for the day at hand, he will be able to do anything. If it is a single day’s work, one should be able to put up with it. Tomorrow, too, is but a single day. ~ Hagakure.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do…Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. ~ Bruce Lee
ON CONSISTENCY & KAIZEN (CONSTANT & CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT)
Daily progress. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal…One must always strive to be better. The sky’s the limit. ~ Bruce Lee
Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men… With your spirit settled, accumulate practice day by day, and hour by hour. ~ Musashi
Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending. ~ Hagakure
Yagyu once said, “I know nothing about how to win over others. I only know the way to win over myself.” Your life is something you build every day. You must convince yourself that you have surpassed yesterday. And tomorrow you must feel that you have surpassed today. In this way there is no end to your mastery. ~ Bushido
One must edge forward like the inchworm, bit by bit. The gods and Buddhas, too, first started with a vow. ~ Hagakure
This world is very practical. You do more work, you get rewarded more; you do less work, you lose your rewards. There is only something for something, never something for nothing. ~ Bruce Lee
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. ~ Bruce Lee
There is a saying that great genius matures late. If something is not brought to fruition over a period of twenty to thirty years, it will not be of great merit. ~ Hagakure
ON ADVERSITY & PERSEVERANCE
People have to grow by skillful frustrations otherwise they have no incentive to develop their own means and ways of coping with the world… Without frustration you will not discover that you might be able to do something on your own. ~ Bruce Lee
Without frustration you will not discover that you might be able to do something on your own. We grow through conflict. ~ Bruce Lee
And no matter what some people will say, barriers are not the experience of any one person, or any one group of persons. They are the universal experience…Believe me that in every big thing or achievement there are always obstacles, big or small, and the reaction one shows to such obstacles is what counts, not the obstacle itself. There is no such thing as defeat until you admit one to yourself, but not until then. ~ Bruce Lee
It is not what happens that counts. It is how you react. Your mental attitude determines what you make of it, either a stepping stone or stumbling block. ~ Bruce Lee
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