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Bruce Lee was not only one of the best martial artists of all time, but he was also one of the most modest. Lee was always striving to improve himself and gain mastery, which he felt could only be reached by continuing to work on oneself.

Being like water was one of Lee’s most well-known philosophies: when a young Lee punched the sea in exasperation, he was amazed not only by how fast the water calmed his rage, but also by how the water conformed to his renowned fist. 

Read these Bruce Lee quotes which will motivate you to be the best, most fighting version of yourself.

Bruce Lee Quotes

“‘What is’ is more important than ‘what should be.’ Too many people are looking at ‘what is’ from a position of thinking ‘what should be.’”

“…we have more faith in what we imitate than in what we originate. We cannot derive a sense of absolute certitude from anything which has its roots in us.

“A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.”

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

“A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence.”

“A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.”

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is unique your own.”

“After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”

“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”

“All knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. “

“Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.”

“Art is the way to the absolute and to the essence of human life. The aim of art is not the one-sided promotion of spirit, soul and senses, but the opening of all human capacities–thought, feeling, will–to the life rhythm of the world of nature. So will the voiceless voice be heard and the self be brought into harmony with it.”

“As you think, so shall you become”.

“Be happy, but never satisfied.”

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

“Be self aware, rather than a repetitious robot.”

“Because one does not want to be disturbed, to be made uncertain, he establishes a pattern of conduct, of thought, a pattern of relationship to man etc. Then he becomes a slave to the pattern and takes the pattern to be the real thing.”

“Boards don’t hit back.”

“But neither can you condemn nor justify and yet be extraordinarily alive as you walk on. You can never invite the wind but you must leave the window open.”

“Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”

Bruce Lee Quotes

“Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

“Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are the weeds that strangle confidence.”

“Do not be tense, just be ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but being flexible. It is being ‘wholly’ and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.”

“Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there.”

“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”

“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.”

“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

“Endurance is lost rapidly if one ceases to work at its maximum.”

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.”

“Everything you do, if not in a relaxed state will be done at a lesser level than you are proficient. Thus the tensed expert marksman will aim at a level less than his/her student.”

“Fear comes from uncertainty; we can eliminate the fear within us when we know ourselves better. As the great Sun Tzu said: ‘When you know yourself and your opponent, you will win every time. When you know yourself but not your opponent, you will win one and lose one. However, when you do not know yourself or your opponent, you will be imperiled every time.’”

“For it is easy to criticize and break down the spirit of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime.”

“Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life! Do not be concerned with escaping safely – lay your life before him!”

“I am learning to understand rather than immediately judge or to be judged. I cannot blindly follow the crowd and accept their approach. I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized. I am happy because I am growing daily and I am honestly not knowing where the limit lies. To be certain, every day there can be a revelation or a new discovery. I treasure the memory of the past misfortunes. It has added more to my bank of fortitude.”

“I am not teaching you anything. I just help you to explore yourself.”

“I don’t know what is the meaning of death, but I am not afraid to die – and I go on, non-stop, going forward.”

“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.”

“I wish neither to possess nor to be possessed. I no longer covet ‘paradise’. More important, I no longer fear ‘hell’. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, but I did not observe it, until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, consuming myself.”

“I’m moving and not moving at all. I’m like the moon underneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking. It is not, “I am doing this,” but rather, an inner realization that “this is happening through me,” or “it is doing this for me.” The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action.” 

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

“If anyone still believes in racial differences, I think he is too backward and narrow. Perhaps he still does not understand man’s equality and love.”

“If there is a God, he is within. You don’t ask God to give you things, you depend on God for your inner theme.”

“If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

“If you don’t want to slip up tomorrow, speak the truth today.”

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.”

“If you truly love life, don’t waste time because time is what life is made of.”

“If you want to learn to swim jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you”

“In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all of your preconceived fixed ideas and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is so useful? Because it is empty.”

“In order to taste my cup of water, you must first empty your cup.”

“It is not a shame to be knocked down by other people. The important thing is to ask when you’re being knocked down, ‘Why am I being knocked down?’ If a person can reflect in this way, then there is hope for this person.”

“It is not how much you have learned, but how much you have absorbed in what you have learned.”

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

“It’s not what you give, it’s the way you give it.”

“Its like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

“Know the difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. To realize that it’s just an inconvenience, that it is not a catastrophe, but just an unpleasantness, is part of coming into your own, part of waking up.”

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

“Learning is never cumulative, it is a movement of knowing which has no beginning and no end.”

“Life is better lived than conceptualized. This writing can be less demanding should I allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I’ve come to understand that life is best to be lived—not to be conceptualized. If you have to think, you still do not understand.”

Bruce Lee Quotes

“Life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, un-rhythmic movement, as we as constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.”

“Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.”

“Life is wide, limitless. There is no border, no frontier.”

“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.”

“Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.”

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”

“Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualization and self-image actualization is very important. Most people live only for their image.”

“Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.”

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”

“One should be in harmony with, not in opposition to, the strength and force of the opposition. This means that one should do nothing that is not natural or spontaneous; the important thing is not to strain in any way.”

“Only the self-sufficient stand alone – most people follow the crowd and imitate.” 

“Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.”

“Real living is living for others.” 

“Reality is apparent when one ceases to compare. There is ‘what is’ only when there is no comparison at all, and to live with what is, is to be peaceful.”

“Remember no man is really defeated unless he is discouraged.”

“Self-knowledge involves relationship. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. The relationship is a process of self-evaluation and self-revelation. The relationship is the mirror in which you discover yourself–to be is to be related.”

“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong, or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

“The athlete who is building muscles though weight training should be very sure to work adequately on speed and flexibility at the same time. In combat, without the prior attributes, a strong man will be like the bull with its colossal strength futilely pursuing the matador or like a low-geared truck chasing a rabbit.”

“The best techniques are the simple ones executed right.”

Bruce Lee Quotes

“The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action.”

“The doubters said, ‘Man can not fly.’ The doers said, ‘Maybe, but we’ll try,’ and finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”

“The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.”

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

“The knowledge and skills you have achieved are meant to be forgotten so you can float comfortably in emptiness, without obstruction.”

“The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

“The meaning of life is that it is to be lived, and it is not to be traded and conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems.”

“The moment is freedom. I couldn’t live by a rigid schedule. I try to live freely from moment to moment, letting things happen and adjusting to them.”

“The more we understand, the greater and deeper will be our contact with all that is around us.”

“The more we value things, the less we value ourselves.”

“The most poignant sense of insecurity comes from standing alone and we are not alone when we imitate. It is thus with most of us; we are what other people say we are. We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay.” 

“The possession of anything begins in the mind.”

“The second-hand artist blindly following his sensei or sifu accepts his pattern. As a result, his action is and, more importantly, his thinking become mechanical. His responses become automatic, according to set patterns, making him narrow and limited.”

“The spirit of the individual is determined by his dominating thought habits.”

“The stillness in stillness is not the real stillness; only when there is stillness in movement does the universal rhythm manifest.”

“‎The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

“The word ‘superstar’ is an illusion.”

“The world is full of people who are determined to be somebody or to give trouble. They want to get ahead, to stand out. Such ambition has no use for a gung fu man, who rejects all forms of self-assertiveness and competition” 

“There is no weapon more deadly than the will.”

Bruce Lee Quotes

“Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.”

“Time means a lot to me because you see I am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing.”

“To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.”

“To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.”

“Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.”

“Using no way as a way, having no limitation as limitation.”

“What you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become.”

“When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”

“You just wait. I’m going to be the biggest Chinese Star in the world.”

“You will never get any more out of life than you expect.”

A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.”

At this moment stop inwardly – when you do stop inwardly, psychologically, your mind becomes very peaceful, very clear. Then you can really look at “this.”

If you have any other Bruce Lee quotes, tell us in the comment section below.

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