Bruce Lee Quotes

80 Bruce Lee Quotes on Fighting, Life & Strength (Be Water)

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Bruce Lee was not only a renowned Kung Fu artist; he was also a philosopher.  He founded “Jeet Kune Do” (or Way of the intercepting fist), a style of martial arts based on the Chinese Taoist philosophy, especially the Tao Te Ching.  He emphasized that every situation, in both combat and life, is ever-changing.  To obtain victory or success, one must not be rigid or stagnant in mind.  One must be fluid and adapts to new situations and learn new knowledge—just like water that does not struggle but takes the shape of the container.

We feature 78 of his legendary quotes that can inspire you to cope with the ever-changing situations in life.


Be Adaptable, Be Like Water

1. “Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, 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.

"Be water, my friend." Bruce Lee

2. “All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”

3. “The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

4. “Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

5. “‘What is’ is more important than ‘what should be.’ Too many people are looking at ‘what is’ from a position of thinking ‘what should be’.”

6. “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

7. “The athlete who is building muscles though weight training should be very sure to work adequately on speed and flexibility at the same time. In combat, without the prior attributes, a strong man will be like the bull with its colossal strength futilely pursuing the matador or like a low-geared truck chasing a rabbit.”

8. 'Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.' Bruce Lee Share on X

9. “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.”

10. “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.”

11. “The second-hand artist blindly following his sensei or sifu accepts his pattern. As a result, his action is and, more importantly, his thinking becomes mechanical. His responses become automatic, according to set patterns, making him narrow and limited.”

12. “Flow in the living moment. — We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Open yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the total openness of the living moment. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.”

13. 'Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.' Bruce Lee Share on X

14. “When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”

15. “The idea is that flowing water never goes stale, so just keep on flowing.”

16.“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.”

Related: Buddhist Quotes on Change, Impermanence & Letting Go


Powerful Quotes on Fighting and Discipline

17. “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser focus.”

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser focus.” Bruce Lee

18. “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

19. “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.”

20. “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

21. “Only the self-sufficient stand alone – most people follow the crowd and imitate.”

22. “A powerful athlete is not a strong athlete, but one who can exert his strength quickly. Since power equals force times speed, if the athlete learns to make faster movements he increases his power, even though the contractile pulling strength of his muscles remains unchanged. Thus, a smaller man who can swing faster may hit as hard or as far as the heavier man who swings slowly.”

23. “Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.”

“Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.” Bruce Lee

24. “Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillful, swift, and steady.”

25. “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.”

26. “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.”

27. “It is futile to argue as to which single leaf, which design of branch, or which attractive flower you like; when you understand the root, you understand all its blossoming.”

28. “In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.”

29. “The best fighter is not a Boxer, Karate or Judo man. The best fighter is someone who can adapt on any style. He kicks too good for a Boxer, throws too good for a Karate man, and punches too good for a Judo man.”

Related: Hustle Quotes to Remember As You’re Grinding to the Top 


Wise Quotes about Success and Life

30. “Be happy, but never satisfied.”

"Be happy, but never satisfied." Bruce Lee

31. “Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

32. “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”

33. “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

34. “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

35. “ It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

36. 'The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks, and observes.' Bruce Lee Share on X

37. “If you think a thing is impossible, you’ll only make it impossible.”

38. “It doesn’t matter you were born as Legend. But what does matter is Legendary End. Think about it.”

39. “It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

40. “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.”

41. 'To hell with circumstances; i create opportunities.' Bruce Lee Share on X

42. “Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”

43. “Life is wide, limitless. There is no border, no frontier.”

44. “To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.” (More Quotes on Enjoying Little Things in Life)

45. “Never try to copy a successful personality.”

Related: Osho Quotes on Love, Life and Success


Inspirational Quotes on Fear

46. 'If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.' Bruce Lee Share on X

47. “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.”

48. “Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

49. “Remember no man is really defeated unless he is discouraged.”

Related: Motivational Quotes to Conquer Your Fear of Failure


On Freedom and The Mind

50.  “Obey the principles without being bound by them.”

“Obey the principles without being bound by them.” Bruce Lee

51. “The possession of anything begins in the mind.”

52. “As you think, so shall you become.”

53. “Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

54. “ A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.”

55. 'I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.' Bruce Lee Share on X

56. “Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”

57. “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

58. “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.”

59. “You will never get any more out of life than you expect.”

60. “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.”

Related: Enlightening Eckhart Tolle Quotes on Ego (to Free You from Your Mind)


On Love and Relationship

61.  “It’s not what you give, it’s the way you give it.”

“It’s not what you give, it’s the way you give it.” Bruce Lee

62. “To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”

63. “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.”

64. “Self-knowledge involves relationship. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Relationship is a process of self-evaluation and self-revelation. Relationship is the mirror in which you discover yourself – to be is to be related.”

65. “For it is easy to criticize and break down the spirit of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime.”

Related: 60+ Eckhart Tolle Quotes on Love and Relationships (how to be with an unconscious partner)


On Knowledge and Self-Awareness

66. 'Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.' Bruce Lee Share on X

67. “Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

68. “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

69. “Know the difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. To realize that it’s just an inconvenience, that it is not a catastrophe, but just an unpleasantness, is part of coming into your own, part of waking up.”

70. “Life is something for which there is no answer; it must be understood from moment to moment.”

71. “Life is better lived than conceptualized. This writing can be less demanding should I allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I’ve come to understand that life is best to be lived — not to be conceptualized. If you have to think, you still do not understand.”

72. 'Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.' Bruce Lee Share on X

73. “I am not teaching you anything. I just help you to explore yourself.”

74. “After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”

75. “The knowledge and skills you have achieved are meant to be forgotten so you can float comfortably in emptiness, without obstruction.”

76. “To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.”

77. “A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence.”

78. “If I tell you I’m good, probably you will say I’m boasting. But if I tell you I’m not good, you’ll know I’m lying.”

79. “Satori — in the awakening from a dream. Awakening and self-realization and seeing into one’s own being — these are synonymous.”

80. “Time means a lot to me because you see I am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing.”

Related: 80 Pema Chödrön Quotes on Hope in Uncertain Times (When Things Fall Apart)

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