The Soft and Tender Hands of Bruce Lee

Editor’s note:   This article is in continuation with the earlier post “Bruce Lee—An Enduring Legend”, jumped up quickly into the list of favorite posts. Both articles are about the interview given by Bruce Lee to a Chinese journalist Hui Fai. Ousting superfluous things from martial arts was the main theme of the talk.

Abdul Rahim

By Farooq Brohi – ([email protected]):

Bruce Lee was in a pleasant mood. During the interview, we got very frank with each other. I felt twice his hand, holding it for a few seconds. His fingernails were not clipped. But it was none too surprising, what caught me by surprise was the tenderness of his hands. I was expecting to feel a rock-hard palm but there was no sign of toughness and hardness.

Picture1I have met many martial artists; a number of them are close friends of mine. I have observed that the majority of them have coarse and steel-like hands. You may, by shaking hands with them, perceive that they have been practicing Hard Kung Fu (a form of Kung Fu). Some are more fearful, for example, Chen Hsing, a noted Kung Fu master. He had very coarse and hard hands. His blood-curdling countenance, as a matter of fact, described everything about him. But Bruce had a different aspect, he proved everything wrong. It was apparent by Bruce’s physique as if had not paid much attention to Hard Kung Fu. Doing too much of push-ups, Bruce had black marks on his knuckles. The scars looked beautiful on his hands.

I had wrong concept about hands before this meeting. I admit that I was in the dark about softness and hardness of the palms having the perception that the hands of a true martial artist should be hard. I have, however, now corrected myself. Shortly afterwards I observed some of my martial artist friends had no black marks on their knuckles at all. They had common hands though they were awesome fighters. I got a precious lesson from this meeting that not to let yourself taken in by the appearance of the hands of your opponent in a fight. That may cause you a great damage. Ridiculously enough, a number of martial artists love to do hundreds of knuckle push-ups daily, only because they want to grow black marks on the back of their fingers.

After the exchange of formal words, I put my first question to him. It was about the future and scope of Chinese Kung Fu (Bruce had recently defeated a Japanese karate expert in a contest managed by his university and had already attracted the attention of the people of U.S.A.).

Bruce replied that he was against the decorative and superfluous things in Kung Fu. Kung Fu and practical fighting is a same thing. Any art that lacks the capability of fighting cannot be called Kung Fu.

“Have you studied foreign martial arts?” I asked another question.

“Oh yes! Carefully. And found Kung Fu best of all. I, however, would like to add that old traditions, spiritualism and so many other absurd things have been entered in Chinese Kung Fu that have spoiled public image of this art. We have to be serious about the restoration and development of Kung Fu and have to make reforms.”

“What reforms?” I asked.

“Look, it is absolutely nonsense to practice techniques that are impracticable. Fighting techniques have to be functional. They have nothing to do with adornment. Does it make any sense to practice techniques you cannot apply in fights?”

I looked at him blankly because I could not find an answer. “You mean all the techniques and patterns that cannot be used in fighting should be ousted from Kung Fu?”

“Of course!” There was firmness in Bruce’s tone. He continued, “There is a difference between the present age and the past. We led a very simple and easy life in the past. People had plenty of time. A person had no significant problem to spend 8 or 10 years to complete prolonged courses of Kung Fu training. But as for now, it is almost impossible. We live in a very fast age. People have to face various problems in everyday life. Majority of the people is not able to spend so many years on learning useless and tedious techniques. We have to amend the ancient and prolonged methods. We have to get rid of the impracticable and meaningless things in Kung Fu.”

“Will you please point out some unscientific and impracticable things in Kung Fu?”

“There are too many things that can be attributed to unscientific, illogical and baseless.” Bruce replied.

“For instance?”

“For instance,” Bruce replied smilingly, “Internal Kung Fu (a form of Kung Fu deals with spiritualism and unnatural things) and Light Kung Fu. Both forms are often projected in Kung Fu novels with the touch of mythology and baseless plots. Kung Fu is a superb art and should not be produced like this. I have gone through the books; they are misleading and full of exaggeration. The authors should be realistic and not indulge themselves with decoration. (Continued………….

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  1. Tariq Hafeez says:

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