Be Like Bruce Lee And Control Your Mind With Movement

Bruce Lee was well known for his flow, ‘Be like water, my friend,’ he said, and to help him he drew on the ancient practice of Qigong, the forerunner to Tai Chi that’s known as ‘the seed of martial arts’. Bruce Lee was also a mash-up artist who took inspiration from wherever he could find it, but the movements and principles of Qigong can help anyone to better control their own mind. To prove it Katherine Allen, author of The Qigong Bible, has some tips…

Bruce Lee ‘The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be’

Katherine Allen ‘A lot of people ask why the moves in Qigong are so slow, especially the punching and pushing moves. The reason is because you have to go slow before you can go fast. Martial artists think differently to other people, and a slow punch or push teaches you control, physically and mentally. Muscle tension slows you down, so if you relax and start slowly you can build speed of movement and thought from there.’

Bruce Lee ‘The extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way’

KA ‘All martial artists learn the art of standing still, because you can’t begin to move if you don’t know how to stand. If you hold a pose for long enough any tension in the muscles will become excruciating – as will tension in the mind. To practise standing can build strength and will, and if you don’t have a root with the ground you won’t get far.’

‘There are no limits, there are only plateaus, and you must not stay there’

Bruce Lee ‘There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them’

KA ‘I had a pupil once who was putting up resistance: “I can’t do this, I won’t do that.” So I told him: “I don’t want to teach you – unless you can go away and learn to do the Seven Stars Stance for five minutes on each leg.” It’s hard for beginners, as the muscle control isn’t there yet. A month later he came back and held the stance, and he’s since won many gold medals in Qigong and Tai Chi. He learned self-discipline.’

Bruce Lee ‘As you think, so you shall become’

KA ‘In the East the brain is viewed as a tool, not where the real you resides. Qigong offers a path to greater self-awareness and inner peace. Our everyday thoughts are circular, in that we recall the same thoughts over and over again, and they won’t let us rest. These are referred to as ‘chattering monkeys’. Breathing is key, because once our breathing and mind are calm we can quieten the monkeys. The movements of Qigong are all about going beyond the limitations of the mind until we begin to know who we really are. As we develop, our sense of inner strength increases, as does our ability to deal with life without fear and anxiety.’

Bruce Lee ‘A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough’

KA ‘I once taught a martial artist in his early thirties. He wanted to improve his martial arts, and also to control his aggression and anger. He lacked rooting and mental resolve, so we started with standing postures. He also lacked flow in his body and mind, so flowing postures were invaluable. He became strong, rooted and better skilled at controlling his aggression.’

‘In the East the brain is viewed as a tool, not where the real you resides’

Bruce Lee ‘Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind’

KA ‘Your posture is for function, not looks, and it must be aligned and flexible to ensure it’s working effectively. This is mental as well as physical. The mind is in every part of the body – there are neurons everywhere feeding back to your brain like an instant messaging service. Improving and strengthening your physical adaptability will improve and strengthen your mind as well.’

WHAT NEXT? Can you hold the Seven Stars Stance for five minutes? Start in a shoulder-width stance, bend both knees, transfer 70-90% of your weight onto your right leg, and place your left leg forward with your heel on the floor. The back knee should be bent and the front knee should be slightly bent. Then place your left hand on your centreline, with your fingertips at nose height. Place your right hand with the fingertips pointing toward your left wrist. Relax your elbows and shoulders, and hold. Good luck!

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.