“To obtain enlightenment in martial art….implies boundless expansion and, indeed, emphasis should not fall on the cultivation of the particular department which merges into the totality, but rather on the totality that enters and unites that particular department.” - Bruce Lee, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do
One of my favorite activities when I was in the temple was learning Dado, or the Way of Tea. The Korean Buddhist tea ceremony differs from the Japanese or the Chinese. It has its own unique character, but in the end, tea is made, and tea is drunk. I can in no way claim to be a master of the tea ceremony, but I thoroughly enjoyed the introspective process of handling to bowls, letting the water steep, and taking that first sip. I must confess it has been far too long since I have taken part in this meditation.
My Brazilian Jiujitsu studies have progressed, but have much farther to go. I am looking forward to starting Savate in the coming months as well as spending more time with Kuya Doug Marcaida and his senior students in developing my Kali. All of this is centered around the unified whole of the curriculum of the Jeet Kune Do Athletic Association, as designed by my Sifu, Harinder Singh. More than just progressing into these individual “departments” for my own development, as Sijo would call them, I then have to come back to the martial arts classes at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy here in Odenton, Maryland and having an understanding of them in order to pass them on to the students here. This isn’t something that can be rushed. Kuya Doug compares it to a stew. It has to be simmered for a long time in order for the flavors to merge and blend. Like tea, the water must be brought to the right temperature, it cannot be rushed. The leaves must be steeped for the right amount of time.
At the outset, it is easy to forget that we’re talking about boundless expansion. Each of these given arts has so much to offer. I could study Brazilian Jiujitsu by itself for the rest of my life and follow just that way. There is no doubt it would be a fulfilling journey, and if I put aside Kali, if I put aside Chinese boxing, and shooting, and just devoted myself to Jiujitsu, my progress along that path would certainly be quicker. Even in that case though, boundless expansion along a lifelong path of martial arts means no matter how good I get at jiujitsu, there will always be more on just that path.
So, I practice Jiujitsu. I practice Chinese boxing. I practice shooting. I practice jwaseon, sitting meditation. I practice the tea ceremony. Each of these could be a nice and neat little intellectual box. The departments would never need to meet each other. Some would even seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the other. What does pouring tea have to do with shooting or choking someone?
That is a good question.