18 Great And Unusual Bruce Lee Quotes

If one man inspired kids to do sidekicks and carve their own “karate-sticks” more than any other man, it had to have been Bruce Lee.

Actor by profession, martial artist by birth.

And something of a genius, actually.

Sadly enough, most people don’t realize the depth of his martial arts side. Maybe becaus of his movies, I don’t really know. I never like them anyway (sorry!). In any case, I decided to collect some rare quotes (not your usual ‘Google quotes’ stuff) from Bruce, and present them here.

Because I know you love quotes.

But, beware of one thing that Bruce Lee’s wife once wrote:

“Memorizing and regurgitating Bruce Lee’s words does not increase one’s intelligence. However, adapting his thoughts for one’s own actions gives life to his words.” – Linda Lee Cadwell

Got it?


So, with that being said, here’s 18 great and unusual Bruce Lee quotes, written (or said) by him between the ages of 23 and 32 (the year he passed away). All of these can be found in an excellent book entitled ‘Bruce Lee – Jeet Kune Do: Bruce Lee’s Commentaries on the Martial Way’.


  1. “All martial arts is simply an honest expression of one’s body – with a lot of deception in between.”
  2. “Use karate, judo, aikido, or any style to build your counter-offensive. It will be interesting!”
  3. “Simplicity of expression rather than complexity of form.” [about sparring]
  4. “I personally do not believe in the word style. Why? Because, unless there are human beings with three arms and four legs, unless we have another group of human beings that are structually different from us, there can be no different style of fighting.”
  5. “If I tell you I’m good, you’ll say that I’m boasting. But if I tell you I’m not good, you’ll know I’m lying.”
  6. “To tell the truth, I could beat anybody in the world.”
  7. “To be bound by traditional martial art style or styles is the way of the mindless, enslaved martial artist. But to be inspired by the traditional martial art and to achieve further heights is the way of genius.”
  8. “More and more I believe in the fact that you have two hands and two legs, and the thing is how to make good use of yourself – and that’s about it.”
  9. “There’s only one basic principle of self-defense: you must apply the most effective weapon, as soon as possible, to the most vulnerable target.”
  10. “An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind. It is not satisfied with explanation, with conclusions. Nor is it a mind that believes, because belief is again another form of conclusion.”
  11. “You will never get any more out of this life than you expect.”
  12. “A quality martial artist is always ready for any move, and trains oneself invincible.”
  13. “If your opponent is at a distance, kick him in the groin. If he gets close, poke him in the eyes, bring up your knee, pop him with an elbow, dig a corkscrew punch to his stomach.”
  14. “Students should learn something new each class, but one or two new actions are enough for one session. Each lesson should reward the student with pleasure, satisfaction of achievement, and the sense of vigorous, joyous movement.”
  15. “Turn your sparring into play – but always play seriously.”
  16. “The three most difficult things in life are: 1. To keep a secret. 2. To forget an injury. 3. To make good use of leisure.”
  17. “Martial arts, like any art, is an unrestricted athletic expression of an individual soul.”
  18. “Today, your sidekick became a tool to unlock a spiritual gate. There was spiritual loosening along with physical losening, a sort of unconcerned immersion in oneself. The original sense of freedom was there. Congratulations! The sidekick took the place of the ego.”


A small untitled poem:

I wish neither to possess nor to be possessed.

I no longer cover 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.

It seems the image of the “self-destructive artist” applies to martial artists as well.

Inner torment feeds the creative spirit.

The curse of a genius.


  • “There’s only one basic principle of self-defense: you must apply the most effective weapon, as soon as possible, to the most vulnerable target.” Worst advice ever!
    • Saxon_Thor
      Worst advice every? Really? Are you being facetious?
        • Don't you win if you manage to escape? :) I think, if you're safe - you win. And whatever you have to do to keep safe, you do.
          • maulopez4
            On a self defense situation, you don't win or lose, you survive! You want a good advice: Don't get killed! Thanks Jesse, this is an incredible insight website.
  • Diego Romero
    *memorizes for future regurgitation*
    • Nooo! You bastard! :)
      • Diego Romero
        had to be done :D
        • Peter
          take the assailant out and go home to your family
  • Igor
    Again, an awesome thread!!! Thanks!
  • Ismael Hladek
    Excellent goods from you, man. I've understand your stuff previous to and you're just too magnificent. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you're saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart. I can't wait to read much more from you. This is actually a wonderful website.
  • warrioress
    Two or three good quotes in there, but I never liked Bruce Lee much. He just seems to be way too full of himself.
    • Captor
      That's the problem with societies at large today. You're looked down upon if you have a positive, eager view of yourself and your ability to navigate life and all obstacles therein. Boorish comments make me sad.
  • David Williamson
    "The best means of defence is not to be there!" - there is more than one way of not "being there" - physically, emotionally, etc or just turn agression into humour which is usually the thing that an attacker least expects or even wants /dbw
  • Jeremy
    Thank you Sensei for another great inspiring and thought provoking article. I've been enjoying your blog for a while now, and its always a welcomed addition when I see something new. I have a background in classic TKD and just recently began training in Okinawa Kenpo, and I'm very excited to continue on this journey!
  • Ray
    Self destructive? I'd say his self consuming is related to his self image, I.e. Ego, as opposed to destroying his true self. :)
  • There is the true complex person, than there is the public image. Bruce Lee is an example of the public image and perception has turned him into a God of martial arts. A master of martial arts. He nurtured that image when he was around. Then Linda seeded it to the iconic state it is today. When I only knew a little about martial arts, I was reading his books that she published after his death, and like most people, I thought he was the best martial artist of all time. I believed it all. Like many people I totally believed he beat wong jackman in less than two minutes, because Linda said so, and that because of that he abandoned wing chun, because two minutes is way too long to be in a fight and win. I kept studying him, his books, books about him from friends. Interviews with people that knew him. The things I learned about him, is he could fight. he was really fast, he was regularly challenged on movie sets and would often quickly beat them. If he felt like he could beat you, then he didn't respect you or your martial art. From people that really study wing chun, I found out that Bruce only knew the first two stages of wing chun. I also know he did not know any other types of Kung Fu. Though he is often credited as a Kung Fu master. The stuff he would do in he movies, like saying, Dragon whips it tail. is a taekwondo kick, he learned from teachers like Joon Rhea, not anything to do with Kung Fu. He knew some kali, from his friendship with Inosanto. He did not win the fight with Wong jackman at all. Wong jackman taught Kung Fu to non-chinese, but only took the fight, because Bruce would challenge people in the area to come and fight him. Wong got a scratch over his eye when Bruce tried to poke it out. Wong Jack man knew Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Northern Shaolin.
  • Frank Dux
    Bruce Lee was an inspiration to me when I was training for the Kumite.

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