The Spiritual Dimensions Of the Martial Arts

“He who wishes to live in an oriental martial art, rather than to just practice it on a physical level, must so train his consciousness to attain a self-discipline that at last his conscious mind will merge into an identity with the very principle of life itself.“ – Maurice Zalle

Amongst the usual loud and predictable offerings at the Australian cinema box office last summer, the Hollywood movie The Last Samurai emerged as an interesting alternative for many curious movie-goers. We were presented with a unique perspective on the cultural interaction between East and West. The film deals almost exclusively with the philosophical, spiritual and martial differences between Japan and America, and presents in grand form the figure of the Samurai, and the way his martial practice has a powerful spiritual dimension to which the West cannot relate.

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Wing Chun is a foundational skill in Bruce Lee’s JKD

One of the most valuable assets it provides is the ability to stay firmly inside the boxers middle range, but just outside of the range of the elbow. The goal is to occupy and take possession of the inside position. Much like in Muay Thai where you want the inside control of the neck for the clinch to knee. 

That depth in Wing Chun can add another layer to your knowledge of range and timing. This is an video example of a foundational drill to gain the concept of this range known as the “Don Chi.” 

In the most basic terms using this example we can establish these ranges as kicking, out boxing, middle range boxing, Wing Chun and trapping, knees and elbows, clinching and grappling. Using Wing Chun as a great transitionary range it retains its functionality. It gives you something to use during the space and time between pugilistic and the efficacy of the elbow. 

In a sense it’s very singular in purpose, but I believe it has solid value in modern training methods. In today’s MMA one could be an incredible wrestler, or accomplished boxer, judo player etc. All of those are arts built on one specific range. That’s exactly how we can look at Wing Chun. A wrestler who dominates the field can take that one skill and own the UFC championship or defend themselves  and their family. However in a sporting sense, they could find themselves out of their depth if they don’t become well rounded in today’s modern JKD and MMA. In closing I think under the right circumstances and situations Wing Chun is an incredible tool. At the very least it enhances ones knowledge of ranges, the center position, and lends a solid guard position to defend the midsection.  This is just a handful of reasons why Wing Chun is still taught in our Jeet Kune Do class in Portland as well as other Inosanto affiliated schools around the world.


“A Challenge” by  Jeremy Arambulo

Jeremy Arambulo, a Filipino-American comic artist who lives in Los Angeles, says he basically came out of the womb knowing the legend of Bruce Lee, the kung fu king. “He’s like our Elvis,” says Arambulo. “If we didn’t have him, geez, who would we have? Charlie Chan? I don’t know. Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?”

Growing up on Long Island in the ‘80s, Arambulo felt culturally isolated on multiple fronts: There weren’t many other Filipino — let alone Asian-American — families near where he lived in Queens, and the pop culture landscape wasn’t exactly littered with Asian faces. 

So that’s why Bruce Lee stuck out to Arambulo. Lee’s presence was always there, usually shiny and shirtless (my superperceptive observation, of course) in work from the '70s, whether he was playing Tang, the triumphant hero in Way of the Dragon, or an antiques dealer in the TV show Longstreet. In each scene, Lee dispensed his flashy punches and kicks for the camera, distant versions of jeet kune do, the version of martial arts he pioneered and taught that maximized speed and minimized movement….” (npr)

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