Using ‘No Way As Way’

At this point, it’s likely that if you have ever heard me speak, read anything I wrote, or watched me within my craft, you are probably aware of my affinity for the work of the late and great martial artist, and overall movement philosopher, Bruce Lee.

You see, it may not even be far-fetched to claim that Bruce Lee’s thoughts and ideas have shaped my own Form of Life, and have influenced my movement practice design, as much as the likes of Nikolai Bernstein and J.J. Gibson.

Bruce Lee, and in particular, the concepts which underpin his interpretation of the martial arts, Jeet Kune Do, live and breathe within my craft each and everyday. 

For this reason, at this year’s Sport Movement Skill Conference, I wanted to honor his work and influence in a more formal way within my Opening Address for the event (which will be available for all soon here at – which was centered around the fingerprint he has left on my approaches undertaken in facilitating adaptability within the skill of the athletes I work with.

Within the presentation, I discussed the major rocks of his approach which have translated into evolving the functionality of the movement skill of each NFL player that crosses my path. Though I won’t have time to rehash or exhaust them all again here in this blog post (or the other two posts to follow), I wanted to focus on a few of the major concepts and a number of the practical applications we can adopt from them.

Some of you out there may have heard the story of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) and how it came to be (such as Lee’s technical prowess in Wing Chun and his ultimate encounter with Wong Jack Man), but in short, one of Bruce Lee’s core beliefs, ‘Use No Way As Way,’ became a guiding mantra for JKD. This ultimately came down to JKD being a ‘style without a style’ (so it could fit/match-up to the opportunities present when facing ALL other styles!), where the martial artist wasn’t limited to just a singular way of thinking, doing, or behaving that was deemed to be correct over all others.

As Bruce Lee famously stated, “Man, the living creature, the creating individual is always more important than any established style or system.”

With this idea forming the major tenet of a JKD martial artist, it created the space for the individual, as Lee often put it, “to honestly and authentically express one’s self.” This, to him (and myself), was what movement within combat was really about it.

So, what are the implications of this to one’s craft and practice environments?

In case it’s not clear yet from any of his words that I have relayed above, I will use one more Bruce Lee quote to begin to answer that question:

“My followers in Jeet Kune Do, do listen to this: All fixed patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”

Talk about a mic drop moment as it pertains to movement skill acquisition!

Think now about the vast number of sport and performance coaches across the world who so tightly grip to a technical model of performing and executing any number of movement skills…

Could it be that you are over-constraining your athletes through this close adherence to a given execution (almost always tied primarily to carrying out some set motor pattern, with the intentions of hitting certain positions, all with the inevitably impossible goal of attaining biomechanical brilliance)?!

Do you chase this with an unrelenting ferocity, often directing the athlete’s attentional focus internally, while not allowing for the authenticity that comes with chasing the individual’s personal best movement model (e.g., execution which is different from all others)?!

Finally, what are some ways that you may be able to meet the athlete where they are, in guiding them to who they want to be, to ensure that the movement skill which emerges in sport is their art?!

Whether you fully embrace what Bruce Lee was advocating for in his innovative approach of JKD or not, I would implore you to at least allow his thoughts to begin to challenge your beliefs and art. I hope that the ideas briefly discussed above, as well as those which will be portrayed subsequently in Part 2 and 3, allow you to audit the whats, whys, and hows of what you do within your craft.

Speaking of meeting someone where they are and challenging one’s current line of thinking, these are actually some of the primary objectives of The Movement Academy (TMA) which we started back in January here at Emergence. With the second-ever cohort of TMA quickly approaching its start date in July, I would be amiss if I didn’t bring it up and advocate for every passionate Movement Professional out there to consider joining us in this journey. You can find out more about this endeavor HERE. If you have any questions whatsoever about TMA, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Learn more about The Movement Academy.

Shawn is the Co-Director of Education & Co-Founder of Emergence. He developed content for the educational brand, Movement Mastery, from 2014 till the formation of Emergence, with the sole purpose of helping to enable a deeper understanding of the processes involved in the acquisition of more masterful movement for athletes in sport. Shawn has served primarily as a Personal Performance Advisor & Movement Skill Acquisition Coach for National Football League (NFL) players since 2008, working with approximately 12 players each year.