Add KarateForums.com
Username:    Password:
Remember Me?    
   I Lost My Password!
Post new topic   Reply to topic    KarateForums.com Forum Index -> KarateForums.com Articles Archive
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
 See a User Guidelines violation? Press on the post.
Author Message

bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27757
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:00 pm    Post subject: Bruce Lee's Three Stages of Cultivation Reply with quote

The thought process of this article sprang from reading Teri Tom's "Jeet Kune Do Source" column in the May, 2009 issue of Black Belt Magazine, titled "The Stage of Art." Whereas Tom's article focuses on one of the Three Stages of Cultivation that are listed in Bruce Lee's "The Tao of Gung Fu," I am attempting to expand my understanding of all three stages, along with a few of Bruce Lee's quotes that seem to fit in with these stages.

Bruce Lee discusses the Three Stages of Cultivation in "The Tao of Gung Fu" on page 25. Prior to this, on page 22, he discusses the Three Stages of Development in the art of Gung Fu, which seems to echo the Three Stages of Cultivation. The discussion of these stages of cultivation leads to Lee's summation of this developmental process with this quote:

Bruce Lee wrote:
Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick.

The Three Stages of Cultivation Lee mentions are:

1. The Primitive Stage
2. The Stage of Art
3. The Stage of Artlessness

1. The Primitive Stage

Teri Tom states that in the first stage, one knows nothing of a particular art (for the sake of this article, the art of combat). One will attack and defend instinctively. To me, this melds with the first part of Lee's quote: "Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick." It appears to be just kicking and punching, in a sense.

Perhaps I am oversimplifying a bit, but if you have ever seen an untrained victim defend themselves, or seen an injury report of such incidents, it clarifies things a bit. One doesn't know enough of how to put things together to make them work coherently and efficiently. One will just react in an instinctive manner.

This corresponds to what Lee refers to as the first of the Three Stages of Development of Gung Fu. He describes it as a natural, primitive, no-holds-barred type of fighting (pg. 22). It was not scientific, he claims, but natural and free, without inhibition. "Primitive," perhaps?

2. The Stage of Art

In the second stage, The Stage of Art, one is learning all the system has to offer. The techniques are new, Tom explains, and in this phase one does not yet have the mastery of them to allow for the true flow and expression. Lee points out that although a scientific knowledge is gained, the original "self" and sense of freedom are lost.

Here, it appears that "After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick." Perhaps at this stage, we are so caught up in learning and working with the techniques, that they seem to become more to us than they are. We may tend to over-think things when using our techniques, which Lee wrote causes our minds to "stop at various movements for intellectual analysis and calculations," (pp. 25). Teri Tom calls this a dangerous stage in which "the proverbial brain fart can cost you valuable time in a real fight," (pp. 34).

Referring back to Lee's Three Stages of Development of Gung Fu, he describes its second stage as "finite and not as free and natural," (pp. 22). The primitive techniques were "intellectually" improved upon, but in becoming too scientific and philosophical, Lee claimed that the hidden recesses of the mind could not be reached. Many techniques contained "fancy motions" and "unnecessary steps;" it became a "complicated mess."

I interpret these circumstances in a few ways. The first is as the frustrated student who tries to make things happen instead of flowing with what happens, like in sparring. Secondly, it makes me think of the "talking fights" of some anime; "I'll obliterate your Iron-Toe-Boot-To-The-Head technique with my Inverted-Knuckle-Duster-From-Hell technique!" I don't know why, but this kind of scenario comes to mind. It's the choosing of a technique, rather than letting "it" hit.

3. The Stage of Artlessness

The last of the Three Stages of Cultivation is the one that is strived for: The Stage of Artlessness (not alertness…). This is the stage in which one has trained during The Stage of Art to the extent that one no longer has to think, according to Teri Tom. She quotes that this is the stage in which "it hits all by itself!" (pp. 34).

Lee says that now techniques are performed on an almost unconscious level without interference from the mind (pp. 25). Now things have come full circle, and "Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick."

Likewise, in the Third Stage of Development of Gung Fu, a "simplified" way of self-defense had emerged after "endless exhaustive experiments and profound thought on the original highly complicated method of combat" (pp. 22). Lee states that the techniques were stripped of wasted, unnecessary motions, down to their essential purpose, to a stage of simplicity.

It was interesting for me to read about what I think are parallel developments that Lee describes, in how he claims Gung Fu developed through what I interpret as the Three Stages of Cultivation that an individual practitioner would progress through in his/her own martial arts journey.

Doing this research has also helped me to see where Lee's "a punch is just like a punch" quote comes from and it gives me a more accurate interpretation of what it means. I hope that my musing here has created some sense of meaning in working toward "Artlessness."

References

Lee, Bruce, Ed. John Little "The Tao of Gung Fu: A Study in the Way of Chinese Martial Art" pp. 22, 25
Tom, Teri, "The Stage of Art," Black Belt Magazine, V. 47, n. 5, pp. 34, 36
_________________
www.haysgym.com
http://www.sunyis.com/
www.aikidoofnorthwestkansas.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Patrick
KF Administrator

Joined: 01 May 2001
Posts: 27039
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission, Brian.

Patrick
_________________
Patrick O'Keefe - KarateForums.com Administrator
Have a suggestion or a bit of feedback relating to KarateForums.com? Please contact me!
KarateForums.com Articles - KarateForums.com Awards - Member of the Month - User Guidelines
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger

Jeffrey
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 14 Jan 2010
Posts: 576
Location: Alberta
Styles: Wado Kai

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was well done Brian. I really enjoyed it. Made me think about things and I always like that.

Thanks.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14404
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice article...I enjoyed it a lot! I've viewed Bruce's saying that you quoted in a different way, but that's the beauty of the journey.

Still, a solid article across the board!!





_________________
**Proof is on the floor!!!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

KarateGeorge
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 21 Oct 2009
Posts: 646

Styles: Shuri-te Karate, Wing Chun

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great article! I quite enjoyed it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

sojobo
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 26 Jul 2010
Posts: 462
Location: United Kingdom
Styles: Wado-ryu Karate-do, Nihon Koryu Budo, Iaido, Kenjutsu, Traditional Jujutsu, Aiki-Jujutsu

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting read.

The Japanese have a similar “3 levels” when it comes to teaching. It is called Shu-ha-ri.

Shu = to embrace the kata (art)
ha = to diverge from the kata (art)
ri = to discard the kata (art)

Certainly what lee seems to be describing in the last two stages are similar to that of “shu” and “ri”.

Here is a fantastic essay on the subject by Takamura Yukio head master of the Takamura-ha branch of Shindo Yoshin-ryu.

http://www.shinyokai.com/Essays_TeachingShuHaRi.htm

It’s a bit wordy, but well worth a read as I would suggest it offers a little more depth on the subject.

Sojobo
_________________
I know violence isn't the answer... I got it wrong on purpose!!!

http://www.karatedo.co.jp/wado/w_eng/e_index.htm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27757
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the compliments, guys. I really enjoyed delving into it and writing the article. It made me really think, too.

Yes, sojobo, I do see the parallels there.
_________________
www.haysgym.com
http://www.sunyis.com/
www.aikidoofnorthwestkansas.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

tallgeese
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 6851
Location: McHenry County, IL
Styles: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bujin Bugei Jutsu, Gokei Ryu Kempo Jutsu, MMA, Shootfighting, boxing, kickboxing, JKD, Pekiti Tersia Kali

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great read!

I think, again, it shows Lee as a man ahead of his time. When you look at combatives these days, you see all sorts of emphasis placed on refining instinctual behavior to deal with threats (ala Blauer and others). This is really what Lee is referencing here to a certain level.

It's his movements away from over complicating that have set the stage for alot of what we see today. Including to a degree, the ongoing development of MMA as a singular style.
I think the cycle he implies is that everyone goes thru the middle art stage. I guess what we're seeing now is a movement to minimize that overcomplication process. The biggest debate really does not seem to be, from a combative standpoint, if it's best to do this but rather the best way to do it.

Great disection, bushidoman.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger

sojobo
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 26 Jul 2010
Posts: 462
Location: United Kingdom
Styles: Wado-ryu Karate-do, Nihon Koryu Budo, Iaido, Kenjutsu, Traditional Jujutsu, Aiki-Jujutsu

PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tallgeese wrote:
Great read!

I think, again, it shows Lee as a man ahead of his time. When you look at combatives these days, you see all sorts of emphasis placed on refining instinctual behavior to deal with threats (ala Blauer and others). This is really what Lee is referencing here to a certain level.


With the greatest of respect I don't think it does.

These stages of development have been around for centuries in traditional martial arts.

Not decrying what Bruce Lee did,his ma or indeed his technichal standing, but let's remember, he was but a student like the rest of us - and there were and still are people far more qualified to transmit these things.

Sojobo
_________________
I know violence isn't the answer... I got it wrong on purpose!!!

http://www.karatedo.co.jp/wado/w_eng/e_index.htm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

tallgeese
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 6851
Location: McHenry County, IL
Styles: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bujin Bugei Jutsu, Gokei Ryu Kempo Jutsu, MMA, Shootfighting, boxing, kickboxing, JKD, Pekiti Tersia Kali

PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Granted. The concepts, in general, have been around a while.

However, how many people were talking about this kind of thing in the 70's. JKD was a mindset movement that has continued to influence arts to this day.

Even now, I hear alot of ma-ist talk about mindset and combat efficicency. However, I see very little of it. Lee was the highest profile advocate of this highly important aspect of fighting. His classifications that bushidoman reviews above speaks to this.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    KarateForums.com Forum Index -> KarateForums.com Articles Archive All times are GMT - 6 Hours
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


< Advertising - Contact - Disclosure Policy - Staff - User Guidelines >