Bruce Lee, the iconic martial artist and actor, is widely considered one of the most influential figures in modern pop culture. Born in San Francisco in 1940, Lee spent much of his early life in Hong Kong, where he began studying martial arts at a young age. Over the course of his career, Bruce Lee developed his own unique style of martial arts, known as Jeet Kune Do, and became a Hollywood star with his roles in films such as “Enter the Dragon” and “Fists of Fury.”
However, it was not just Lee’s physical abilities that made him a legend. He was also a deep thinker, philosopher, and writer who shared his wisdom through his many insightful quotes. From the importance of self-improvement to the power of perseverance, Lee’s quotes continue to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds around the world. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of Bruce Lee’s most profound quotes and the lessons we can learn from them.
Some of the quotes appear in the following video:
Best Bruce Lee Quotes
Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around 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.
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.
Be happy, but never satisfied.
I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.
Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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.
It is the life of perfection which seems to be incomplete, and of fullness which seems to be empty.
You can never invite the wind, but you must leave the window open.
Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.
Nothingness means “no thingness” — there is only process, happening. When we accept and enter this nothingness, the void, then the desert starts to bloom.
A fat belly cannot believe that such a thing as hunger exists.
You know how I like to think of myself? As a human being.
Most people can talk without listening. Very few can listen without talking.
An intelligent mind is one which is constantly learning, never concluding — styles and patterns have come to conclusion, therefore they have ceased to be intelligent.
To be humble to superiors is duty; to equals is courtesy; to inferiors is nobleness; and to all, safety!
A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.
The superior man lets himself be guided; he does not go ahead blindly, but learns from the situation what is demanded of him and then follows.
The method for health promotion is based on water, as flowing water never grows stale. The idea is not to overdevelop or to overexert, but to normalize the function of the body.
If I say that ‘everyone under the sun is a member of a universal family,’ you may think that I am bluffing and idealistic. But 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.
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 with life. Even though I, Bruce Lee, may die some day without fulfilling all of my ambitions, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do and what I’ve done, I’ve done with sincerity and to the best of my ability. You can’t expect much more from life.
Inspiring Bruce Lee Quotes
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.
The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.
Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
Obey the principles without being bound by them.
Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.
If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.
A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.
Real living is living for others.
As you think, so shall you become.
The possession of anything begins in the mind.
To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.
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.
Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.
If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.
To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.
Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.
Only the self-sufficient stand alone. Most people follow the crowd and imitate.
Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.
Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.
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.
For it is easy to criticize and break down the spirit of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime.
Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.
The doubters said, ‘Man cannot fly.’ The doers said, ‘Maybe, but we’ll try,’ and finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.
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.
Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.
All knowledge simply means self-knowledge.
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.
The more we value things, the less we value ourselves.
Choose the positive. You have a choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.
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 student.
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.
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.
A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.
Life is wide, limitless. There is no border, no frontier.
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 not teaching you anything. I just help you to explore yourself.
Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.
Famous Bruce Lee Quotes
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.
The spirit of the individual is determined by his dominating thought habits.
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.
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.
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.
Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are the weeds that strangle confidence.
The knowledge and skills you have achieved are meant to be forgotten so you can float comfortably in emptiness, without obstruction.
In order to taste my cup of water, you must first empty your cup.
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.
Be self-aware, rather than a repetitious robot.
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.
Endurance is lost rapidly if one ceases to work at its maximum.
Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.
The stillness in stillness is not the real stillness; only when there is stillness in movement does the universal rhythm manifest.
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.
The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.
If you don’t want to slip up tomorrow, speak the truth today.
A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence.
Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.
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.
Now I see that I will never find the light Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself.
Using no way as a way, having no limitation as limitation.
Time means a lot to me because you see I am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing.
If you think a thing is impossible, you’ll only make it impossible.
Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there.
In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.
Remember no man is really defeated unless he is discouraged.
Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skill full, swift, and steady.
In the middle of chaos lies opportunity.
The man who is really serious, with the urge to find out what truth is, has no style at all. He lives only in what is.
Simplicity is the shortest distance between two points.
Bruce Lee Quotes from Movies
Eat. This time you’re eating paper. The next time it’s going to be glass.
Chen Zhen, Fist of Fury (1972)
Whenever you’re ready, I’ll take on any Japanese here.
Chen Zhen, Fist of Fury (1972)
A good fight should be like a small play, but played seriously. A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit. It hits all by itself.
Lee, Enter The Dragon (1973)
Never take your eyes off your opponent, even when you’re bowing.
Lee, Enter The Dragon (1973)
Boards don’t hit back.
Lee, Enter The Dragon (1973)
My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.
Lee, Enter The Dragon (1973)
Don’t think. Feel. It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.
Lee, Enter The Dragon (1973)
Let it go. What must be done is being done.
Billy Lo, Game of Death (1978)
Interesting Facts about Bruce Lee
After you’ve enjoyed and got inspired by some of the best Bruce Lee quotes, here are some interesting facts about Bruce Lee that may surprise you. Enjoy!
- Not Fit for the U.S. Army – This may surprise you, but Bruce Lee actually failed a military physical for the U.S. draft board in 1963. Despite keeping amazing physical fitness all his adult life, it was an undescended testicle that kept him away from the U.S. military.
- A Great Cha-Cha Dancer – Way before Lee was known for his martial arts abilities and choreography, he was focused on the dance floor. When the cha-cha was introduced in the Hong Kong social scene, it was possible to sign up for more and more dance competitions. It seems that Bruce Lee was practicing Cha-Cha since he was 14 years old, and in 1958 he even won the Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship. He also kept crib notes of all 108 different Cha-Cha steps in his wallet in order to memorize them.
- Refused to Lose a Fight – In September 1966, the show The Green Hornet first aired with Bruce Lee playing the part of Kato, the Hornet’s lightning-quick sidekick. On a cross-over episode with the Batman show, Lee was asked to lose a fight to Robin, since the Batman show was way more popular. Lee refused and simply said he wouldn’t do that, before he walked off. So, the script was re-written and in the end, Kato does not lose in a K.O. to Robin, but instead it ends with a somewhat diplomatic draw. The Green Hornet was also Lee’s first big break in USA.
- Martial Arts Trainer – Bruce Lee’s goal was to be a big movie star in USA, but on the way to becoming a superstar, he also worked and made a living as a martial arts trainer to other actors and stars. Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski, James Coburn, James Garner, and Sharon Tate were only a few of his students. As for the cost of his trainings, they amounted to $275 per hour or $1,000 for 10 courses. McQueen and Coburn remained close friends with Lee until he died in 1973, with both of them serving as pallbearers at his funeral.
- Removing Sweat Glands – Bruce Lee’s roles required a lot of physical work, which caused him to become extremely sweaty, and Lee loathed the sweat stains that would show up on his clothing as a result. And so, in 1973, Lee surgically removed the sweat glands from his armpits in order to avoid the sweat stains to show up on camera.
- There’s a Footage of His Funeral in The Film Game of Death – At the time of his death, Bruce Lee was involved in various projects, with one of them being the movie Game of Death. There wasn’t a lot done with the film when Lee died, so the production company decided to hire director of the movie Enter the Dragon to complete the film. One of the things the director did, is quite chilling to say the least. In the movie, Lee was supposed to fake his own death, so the director simply used footage from Lee’s actual funeral, complete with waves of mourners, pallbearers, and even close-ups of Lee’s open casket.