quarta-feira, 19 de abril de 2017

Bruce Lee e a «Montanha de Oiro»

Escrito por Chuck Norris

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«Some people, mostly close friends and family, call me Carlos, and it doesn't bother me in the least. The simple truth is that throughout all of my childhood, all the way up to when I got married, my name was Carlos. That's what everyone called me, from my mother to the teachers at school to all my friends. My birth certificate reads "Carlos Ray Norris". The Carlos comes from the Reverend Carlos Berry, my family's local minister back in Ryan, Oklahoma; Ray was my father's name. I came by the name Chuck while I was in the air force. One of the guys in my barracks in boot camp asked me what Carlos meant in English. I told him it was the same as Charles, and he immediately took to calling me Chuck. The nickname somehow stuck. I don't remember ever giving much thought to that slight change in my name. It didn't seem all that important, and when I came back from my tour of duty in Korea I brought home the new name in addition to my gi, my black belt, and my new sense of myself, which came with having achieved the black belt.

So I suppose you could say that that first black belt drew a kind of dividing line cross the early period of my life. On one side of the line was Carlos, on the other was Chuck; on one side was a young man whose future was still primarily in other people's hands - parents and teachers, employers and high-ranking officers, all kinds of people telling him what to do - and on the other side was a young man who'd finally learned to take hold of his future. Or maybe that's an exaggeration: I'd say that by the time I came back from Korea, I'd seen that it was possible to take hold of my life. I'd taken one step and was eager for more.

It didn't take long. Within a few years I had my own school, with a sign outside reading "Chuck Norris Karate". Then, in 1964, I began competing in karate tournaments. My goal was simple: to win tournaments and get public exposure in order to attract more students. I was twenty-four years old when I started and was thus older than most of the other competitors, and, of course, I was unknown. I'd drive to the site of the tournament, usually piled into a car together with a group of my students, get on line with the others, sign my name and register, and then pay my fee to enter the competition. By the time my name was called, I'd be concentrating, visualizing my next fight, so I never really heard whatever response those early crowds gave my name. Some people in the stands always applaud every name, just to be polite, and sometimes my students or other friends or family would call out encouragement to me, but I don't think I ever heard them or was really aware of the sound - at least not in the beginning, by which I mean the first few years.

But the time did finally come when the response to my name being called was audible, even to me, even through my wall of solid concentration. People knew who I was, strangers I had never seen let alone met were applauding my name. It's a strange sensation, and since I've always been shy and retiring, it wasn't easy to get accustomed to. And then the moment came when that first unknown someone stepped forward out of the background and asked for my autograph. I can't remember the first time that happened, but it was back when I was known only as a martial artist. Fans would come up before or after the match and ask me to sign the program or my school's patch or any piece of paper they happened to have, and, although I was sometimes embarrassed by the attention, I was always pleased. And I'd sign "Chuck Norris", which was the name of an up-and-coming karate champion, a well-known instructor with his own school and a following of black belts.

I was known for my kicks, particularly my famous spinning back kick. I was also known for my stamina and my stoicism, characteristics that may have attracted special attention because I was often competing against younger men. And I was also known for other traits and attributes. Along with applause, I began getting something else back from the spectators around me: a reflection of my personal self, a new "portrait" of the man known as Chuck Norris, a portrait I didn't always recognize at first glance.

I didn't always recognize it because I hadn't been aware of creating it. I've never been flamboyant or showy. In point of fact, I don't think I've ever done anything on purpose to make myself stand out, but there I was in that certain spotlight. I had wanted that attention, of course - I had set out to get it - and by winning tournaments I was indeed attracting new students, which had been my original goal. But I was also becoming a public figure, at least within the world of the martial arts, and that was something I hadn't planned on or even anticipated. People saw more than my kicks and my stamina when they watched me compete: They saw my movements and "read" them in ways I hadn't anticipated. What was to me only another kick, just part of my arsenal, was to them an expression of my character, a window onto some aspect of the person I am. If I joked with a competitor before a match or said something self-effacing, it would come back to me as part of that new public image: I learned I was considered forthright and easygoing. Some fighters, of course, exploit the situation and put on a show of being bellicose maniacs in order to intimidate their opponents and delight their fans while outraging others. It had never occurred to me to act a part or to change myself to augment my public persona; I was just being me (and trying not to get my nose broken too many times).

That period was an important lesson to me. I've always tried to live by my ideals, to live up to my ideals, to be the best I am capable of being and then to go beyond that. My ideals were also important to me as a teacher, since I wanted to give my students, especially the young ones, a valid and enduring role model, something they could look up to and believe in. In response to my fans, to the fact that people were watching me, I realized that I was coming to stand for something and that I was in control of what that something would be. In truth, I alone was responsible for what it would be.

There's a Zen saying according to which knowledge is the reward of action. My actions in karate tournaments rewarded me with a kind of self-knowledge, or at least an awareness of what that self had promise of becoming, and by the time I officially retired from tournament karate in 1974, after a decade of active competition, I had crossed what might be considered another line in my life. On one side was a man eager to achieve success; on the other was a man whose idea of success had expanded, a man eager to explore all possibilities

[...] Then Steve McQueen asked me why I hadn't tried acting, and the result was a new career.

It certainly wasn't easy, and certainly didn't happen overnight. Becoming Chuck Norris the actor seemed to mean leaving behind the karate expert and the teacher. My famous stoicism was itself a drawback. I had taught myself to quietly endure pain and tension, anger or elation, without giving away even the faintest expression of those emotions. Success on the mat often depends on hiding all such emotions from your opponent; success in acting usually calls for just the opposite, the visible and believable expression of one's emotions. When I started my career as an actor, I suddenly had to learn how to bring all those feelings to the surface and then manipulate them. It was hard and more than a little disconcerting.

Eventually, however, I found to use my skills as a karate expert in the creation of movies, and I did so by realizing that conflict is usually the basic essence of a dramatic scene, and conflict was something with which I was abundantly familiar. I also learned to apply my visualizing techniques to acting; just as I had once visualized a match, I learned to visualize each scene of a film.

In the end, I also didn't have to leave behind my experience as a teacher. Actually, you could say that I just expanded my classroom, since my goal as an actor has come to be much the same as my goal as a karate instructor: to give young people in particular a positive image they can believe in and follow. And, of course, I was the same person as an actor as I was in real life. Unlike many people going into show business I never considered changing my name. It wasn't just because I didn't want to lose any fans; I knew that as an actor I would always be Chuck Norris.

I based my version of a true American role model, a hero, on the movies I'd watched as a kid, in particular the Westerns starring John Wayne. In the 1970s, when I started my career in films, there weren't many heroes of that type on the screen; it was instead a troubled period of grim skepticism, a time without heroes, precisely because no one seemed to believe in anything anymore.

Except for me. I believed in what my life had taught me, in the knowledge I had been awarded through action and in the understanding I had come by through experiencing and overcoming pain and loss. Nothing has ever happened to me that could make me ever doubt the validity of what I was taught as a child, regarding both the larger ideals of this country and the smaller ones - the opportunities available to anyone who honestly strives to achieve his goals. Then, as now, I believe in those ideals, and I used them to break the long silence of the 1970s.

[...] As I say, some of my old friends and family stil call me Carlos. It's a form of affection, a gentle reminder that they knew me "way back when", back when few people knew who I really was, including even myself».

Chuck Norris («THE SECRET POWER WITHIN. Zen Solutions to Real Problems»).

«Karate grew slowly but steadily in the United States. It spread first southward from the East, then into the South-western states, and finally throughout the Mid-West. But still, relatively few Americans even knew what karate was, until the martial arts began to get some media exposure via television and the movies some ten or fifteen years after its introduction. Primary of course, to the rapid rise in popularity of the martial arts in America was the film and television work of the late Chinese martial arts superstar Bruce Lee.

So, in actuality, it was kung fu, and not karate, that began to stir the enthusiasm of the lay American. But Americans tended not to differentiate between the Chinese and Japanese martial arts: to them, kung fu meant karate, and vice versa.

With the increased exposure of the martial arts, karate and kung fu schools began to grow and flourish. Enrollment doubled and tripled in schools all over the country, and the term 'martial art' became synonymous with 'big business' in America.

Tournament karate also continued to expande when, in 1968, Jim Harrison, a Midwest black belt and karate pioneer, introduced the concept of 'professional karate'. His professional tournament featured prize money for winners, and prompted a similar tournament one year later on the East coast. This one, promoted by New York-based karate-ka Aaron Banks, is generally recognized as the first professional tournament. The event crowned champions in four weight divisions: heavy-weight (Joe Lewis), light-heavy-weight (Mike Stone), middle-weight (Chuck Norris) and light-weight (Skipper Mullins).

Tournament karate was later revolutionized buy Washington, DC taekwondo instructor Jhoon Rhee. Rhee developed safety equipment - hand and foot pads made from foam rubber - for karate-type fighting. Initially the equipment was intended for use in non-contact fighting, merely as a form of protection against accidental injury. But growing faction interested in full-contact sport fighting embraced the equipment as their own. This action more or less forced Rhee to further adapt gloves and foot pads which could be used in contact fighting. Since the inception of the Rhee equipment, a rash of other individuals and organizations have come out with their own full-contact gloves and boots.

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De cima para baixo, da esquerda para a direita: Ed Parker, Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis e Mike Stone.

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8 de Fevereiro de 1970: Bruce Lee na República Dominicana, na qual estivera com Jhoon Rhee.

Prior to the introduction of full-contact karate, however, a group of American karate-ka - weaned on American boxing and contact - began to hold what was termed 'American kick-boxing' matches. Patterned after Thai, and other forms of Oriental kick-boxing, the sport enjoyed a brief period of popularity, until it was finally pressured into obscurity by tradition-minded karate practitioners, who criticised it as being 'a desecration of the art'.

Kick-boxing all but disappeared from the American martial arts scene, but many American karateists still believed contact was the way karate should be played. In 1974, Oklahoma martial artist Mike Anderson founded the Professional Karate Association (PKA), and held his own version of the professional karate championships. The major difference between his event and Harrison's and Bank's was that now the competition was to be full-contact, to the knock-out or decision. The four champions established at that championship were: Joe Lewis (the only repeater from 1969), Jeff Smith, Bill Wallace, - all Americans - and Mexico's Isaias Dueñas...».


«Joe Lewis, Skipper Mullins, Ron Marchini and Steve Sanders were the toughest competitors I ever fought. Skipper and Joe were different type fighters. They had it all together, mentally, physically, psychologically. It's amazing how many fighters Joe psyched out. He scared the daylights out of so many fighters. My personality is not like that. I just wanted to get in there and see who was the best. In those days it was very friendly. You would walk into the ring and try and kill each other, but once it was over, you were friends again.

I started the use of the spinning back kick in competition. When I first started fighting in the early 60s, there were primarily Japanese and Chinese stylists, and not too many people had seen a spinning back kick, so it was my main weapon.

I beat Joe Lewis three out of the four times we fought, and I never scored the same point twice on him. The time he beat me, he got in a reverse punch. He grabbed me so hard it ripped my sleeve right off. He spun around and hit me in the kidneys and beat me 1-0. I like Joe. We were rivals, but we were still friends.

Skipper was a happy-go-lucky type of guy. He never analysed what I was doing to him... until the last fight at the 1968 Grand Nationals - three rounds for the grand championship. The next day I was doing a movie with Dean Martin, and Skipper always left some mark on me. I might win, but I always left bruised. So I said to him "Skipper, tonight I don't want you hitting me in the face." He said OK. So he bow in and then he fakes a round kick, which he has always done for five fights, and I would always block it and then come in. This time he hit me right smack in the eye. I knew it was going to swell up because I could feel it. The fight goes on and he is leading by three points going into the third round. And he is running out of the ring to stall and use up time. So while he was walking back in one time I said "Skipper, why don't you stay in the ring and fight like a man?" He didn't run out again and I beat him. After it was over I said "Your sure are stupid. If you kept playing that game you would have won." His pride got hurt and he stayed in there. He should have said "To heck with you. I'm winning."

My philosophy was I wanted to win and I felt I could, and I never thought I would lose. When I did lose, I never let it get to me. I always fought according to my opponent. If the guy wanted to play by the rules, I would. If he wanted to get tough, I would too».

Chuck Norris The Golden Years of Karate. The Fighters, the Fights, the Friendships That Shaped American Karate. Interviews conducted by Jim Rosenthal», in «Black Belt», World's Leading Magazine of Self-Defense, July 1987. Vol. 25, NO. 7).

Joe Lewis vs. Chuck Norris

Bruce Lee e Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis

Bill Wallace e Dominique Valera. Ver aqui

Bill Wallace. Ver 12, 34 e 5

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«Pour parvenir à dépasser la notion même de style, le petit Dragon a consacré une partie de sa vie à étudier la plupart des techniques de combat qui existent au monde: plusieurs écoles de Kung Fu, le Judo, le Karaté, la Boxe Anglaise, la Savate, la Boxe Thaï, la lutte, l'escrime philippine, le Taekwondo... Dans sa villa de Los Angeles, Bruce avait l'habitude de suivre à la télévision les grands combats de boxe ou de lutte. Il analysait chaque mouvement, répertoriait les différences techniques et prenait des notes. Au bout de quelques années, il était capable, avant même qu'un boxeur amorce un mouvement, de prévoir avec exactitude le coup que'il fallait porter. A Hong Kong, Bruce possédait une des bibliothèques les plus riches au monde en ouvrages d'arts martiaux. Elle comprenait des centaines de titres en chinois et en anglais, traitant de milliers en chinois des techniques différentes. En dehors de son travail, Lee aimait s'isoler dans son bureau pour consulter sa documentation. Il y découvrait des coups, les testait seul ou avec des amis pratiquants, et, s'il les jugeait efficaces, les introduisait dans son art, qui s'enrichissait ainsi constantement. Bruce ne craignait pas d'intégrer à son système des éléments extérieures aux arts martiaux: ainsi la musique l'inspirait beaucoup et l'aidait à découvrir de noveaux déplacements. Aux USA, Lee était devenu l'ami de champions américans tels que Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Bill Wallace ou Benny Urquidez. Ils avaient pris l'habitude d'échanger des techniques les uns avec les autres. Ainsi que Joe Lewis reconnaît volontiers que c'est grâce à Bruce Lee qu'il a découvert la Boxe Anglaise. Et inversement, on peut penser que le petit Dragon s'est enrichi au contact de ces prestigieux champions. Mais sans le génie de Lee, rien n'aurait été possible. "D'abord, c'était le garçon le plus doué que j'aie jamais vu, explique Ed Parker. Et puis, il avait une qualité: le don d'imitation. Il suffisait qu'il voit Joe Lewis ou Chuck Norris exécuter une technique: il la reproduisait. La première fois, aussi bien qu'eux. La deuxième fois, un peau mieux! Et la troisième fois, il modifiait cette technique en l'améliorant"».

Bruce Lee (in «Karate Bushido», Special 20éme Anniversaire).

«You see, in the years of my beggining in karate, there were no martial arts movies to misinform me, no overabundance of dojos to confuse me and few really accomplished men who could be called, without hesitation, masters of their craft. To me, Jim Harrison, still one of the nation's most respected martial artists, and Pat Burleson, who I believe to be the most under-rated fighter of all time, stood out as the men who epitomized what the martial arts were all about. They were tough but humble, strong yet adaptable. I thought they were phenomenal. They eventually became very good friends and remain so today. The bonds formed between martial artists in those days were strong ones indeed.

My list of heroes soon expanded, however, when, in 1964, I met Chuck Norris and, soon after, Joe Lewis. These men too were of the caliber that, even then, I knew would bring them great success. I later trained under these two men and from them learned some of the skills that would transform me into a powerful, effective martial artist and, ultimately, a better person.

Lewis was a conditioning fanatic. He developed awesome power and incredibly effective defensive tactics. You either got tough training with Joe or you got out. It was that simple. As the pioneer of the sidekick in competition, Joe stressed teaching me this technique. He also had a devastating reverse punch and the combination of the two was an irresistable force. For all his power, focus and conditioning, Joe wasn't a very versatile technician and, as a result, he taught me through negative means, meaning that he never gave a compliment, making you work harder and harder without the benefit of positive reinforcement. This was by no means a rare teaching approach in those days - and it worked. It was frustrating sometimes, but it worked none the less.

Chuck Norris, on the other hand, believed that attitude training was as important as physicall skill and stressed timing and flexibility as main ingredients to success. Chuck had the best timing I have ever seen. Using turns and combinations, he out-thought the competition time and time again. Chuck taught me combinations I couldn't even understand - moves that, although confusing, were to bring me success in the tournament world.

As time went on and my involvement in the arts became deeper and more dedicated, I began meeting more and more people, karate men and celebrities alike. It was during this time of growth that I met the legendary Bruce Lee, perhaps the most oustanding technician I have ever known.

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Bruce was a fanatic trainer and a brilliantly creative man. He invented techniques like no one else in my experience. He was brilliant and charming - egotistical as hell. I found him simultaneously charming and frustating and, like most geniuses, unique. In addition to being the most charismatic martial artist ever to hit the screen, I believe he was fully capable of being the lighweight world champion - point or contact. He was that good. I learned a lot from Bruce and will always remember him as the phenomenal martial artist that he was».

Bob Wall («Karate: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. A Look at The Hero-Filled Past, Exciting Present and Promising Future of Karate in America», in «American Karate», Vol. 3, NO. 16; July 1988).

«Apart from my mother, my only role models were the cowboy heroes I saw on the screen in the movie theater in Wilson. I spent most of my Saturday afternoons there when my mother could afford the admission price. The Westerns I saw starring men like Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, and Joel McCrea provided me with plenty of positive examples for proper and moral behavior. Each time I walked out of the theater after Saturday matinee, I felt empowered with the belief that there were such men and the dream that I might grow up one day to be like them. Some people today find fault with those old-time heroes and consider them corny, but the truth is they had a lot to offer a young boy eager for lessons in life. Their behavior in each film was governed by the "Code of the West": loyalty, friendship, and integrity. They taught me about not being selfish, about doing what is right even when the risk is great. Years later I would remember those Western heroes when I was trying to work out the kind of character I wanted to play as an actor, but in those days I was only a spectator involved in vicarious adventure.

[...] After school and on Saturdays I worked as a box boy for Boy's market, but my self-image then was still based on those movies I had seen as a kid in Oklahoma: I wanted to be a policeman. With that in mind, I enlisted in the air force after graduating from high school so I could get into the military police and gain some experience in police work. The air force sent me to Korea, and at the age of eighteen, I left behind a wife and an uncertain future.

Looking back, I realize that was the turning point in my life, because it was while I was in Osan, Korea, that I started to study martial arts. For the first time I began to see at least part of my childhood dream as a possible reality, and I had a consuming passion to learn something, although I had no idea then where it would lead. But, as the Zen masters say, the longest journey begins with the first step, and, unknowingly, I had taken the first step leading to my future.

At the start I was interested only in learning something that would help me as a military policeman. By the time I left Korea, I had a black Belt in tae kwon do, a Korean martial art, and for the first time in my life I had confidence in my ability to pursue something to the end: I had finally succeeded on my own in a truly difficult undertaking, and I had thereby gained some self-esteem.

After being discharged from the air force, I had to face the practical reality of earning a living for my family - our son Mike was born in October 1962 - so I took the only job I could get, working as a file clerk in records management at Northrop for a salary of $240 a month. But I still had the dream of changing the direction of my life.

To supplement my income, I began to teach karate in my parents' backyard to my brothers and friends. Soon, the word spread in the neighborhood that my karate classes were fun and the self-defense lessons learned might be useful in daily life. To earn a reputation for myself, and perhaps get more students, I started to compete successfully in karate tournaments around the state, and later around the country. As I had hoped, once I began to earn a reputation as a karate fighter, my school began to prosper. Soon, I had students enough to encourage me to open up more schools.

A pedido de Elvis, Priscilla Presley fora iniciada na prática do Tang Soo Do por Chuck Norris.

Ed Parker e Elvis Presley. Ver aqui e aqui

Ed Parker, o "Pai do Karaté Kenpo americano". Ver aqui.

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As I became more successful in karate tournaments, I realized that in order to be a champion - which would help me get even more students - I would have to learn more, so I began to study and share ideas with the masters active in the West Cost area and those I met on the tournament circuit. That, too, was an important step, for kicks and punches - details of technique - were only a small part of what I learned. My horizons were gradually expanding; I was becoming aware of my possibilities - not just possibilities for a better personal life but possibilities for taking a more active part in the larger world around me. Zen was an important aspect of this, for through those years of study, I came to understand that behind every martial art is a philosophy, usually Zen or a system similar to Zen. The philosophy is an integral part of the learning process.

The learning experience is subtle and gradual, because to truly learn a martial art requires as much of the brain as the body. The real lessons of martial arts aren't kicks and punches but rather the calm self-assurance that comes from feeling good about yourself, certain of who you are and what you hope to accomplish, and the way to reach your goal.

I can't present an overview of the important steps and events of my life without talking about the death of my brother Wieland, who was killed in action in Vietnam in June 1970. Wieland was my best friend, and we shared our dreams for the future, a future he would never had. More than any other event, his death made me aware of my real responsabilities to not just my own personal goals but to the hopes and feelings of the people around me, the members of my family and, in truth, the other people in this country. Wieland's death locked me into an awareness of contemporary realities, of the country in which we live and of this time in history.

Wieland died fighting for his country. He died in accordance with the values and ideals he and I brought up with, ideas we talked about and thought about together as boys. Those values and ideals have a solid meaning, a real application in this world. I knew that all along, of course, but Wieland's death forced me to overcome my natural shyness so that I could speak out loud. By the time I found myself acting in movies, I had determined what kind of hero I wanted to present, based on the cowboy heroes of my childhood. I knew the character I wanted do adopt in order to pass those values and ideals on to others.

The martial arts are only one aspect of that character; they're a vehicle for exciting action, for moving the story along. But the martial artist as a hero has something else to offer, a philosophy of life that includes a code of behavior and moral obligations to others. John Wayne and other Western heroes had a philosophy of right and wrong and the means to implement it, namely, their courage and their skill with weapons. Today's heroes need the same qualities, but with certain differences. In the final fight scene of a contemporary martial arts film, all the weapons - guns, swords, whatever - are knocked aside, out of reach, leaving the opponents with only their empty hands. It's a symbolism I like, because in the end that's how we all have to face the problems that beset us: When our hands are empty, what will decide the fight is what's inside our minds.

[...] The most exciting times of my martial arts career were the team competitions. That was back in the days before safety equipment (the gloves and padding that fighters wear today), and so, bad bruises, even broken bones, weren't all that unusual. Getting hurt was one of the hazards of semi-contact karate competition.

Over a period of years, my team, composed of myself as coach and competitor plus four of my black belts, fought twenty-six teams from all over the country, and we never lost, although we did once come close.

It happened in 1970 during the All-Star Team Championships in Long Beach, California. My team was ahead on points up until the last fight. John Natividad, our least experienced black belt, was scheduled to fight Joe Lewis, who, in addition to being a friend of mine, was also the world champion.

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Joe was a formidable opponent for anyone, and each of the members on our team had advice for John, but he said, "not to worry". However, we were worried, especially when the bout started and Joe came on like gangbusters, hitting John hard and often.

During a break in the match, I knew that John was getting angry and I told him to let it go. "You're letting him get your goat, which is what he's trying to do," I said. "You can't afford to get angry or you'll lose. Anger is self-defeating. I want you to clear your mind of anger and concentrate on why you are here".

I saw the anger in John's eyes dissipate. "You're right," he said. "He's trying to get me to beat myself."

The upshot of the story is that John did let the anger go, and went to win the match.

I began my competitive career in 1964, winning the professional middleweight championship in 1968 and retired undefeated in 1974 - and devoted myself to my schools. Early one morning in 1972, I got a phone call from Bruce Lee in Hong Kong, offering me a role in Return of the Dragon, a film that he was going to make in Rome. My good friend, Bob Wall, was also to have a part in the picture, which was to be his first as well as mine.

Bruce said that he wanted to do a fight scene with me that everyone would remember. I said, jokingly, "Great! Who wins?" He said, "I win. I'm the star." Our fight scene was to be in the Colosseum in Rome. Although Bruce and I had worked out the choreography to a tee, there were constant problems on the set - it took three days to film just that one scene - and most of the actors groused about schedules, retakes, and so on. As star of the film, there was more pressure on Bruce than anyone else, but somehow or other he seemed to retain his composure, although I knew that he, too, was occasionally upset.

One night while having pasta with Bruce at the Tavernia Flavia in Trastevere, our favorite restaurant, I asked him how he was able to keep all the stress from upsetting him.

"I have a system of ridding my mind of negative thoughts," he said. "I visualize myself writing them down on a piece of paper. Then I imagine myself crumpling up the paper, lighting it on fire, and burning it to a crisp. It may seem silly, but the system works, at least for me."

I have taken Bruce's system one step further. I actually write down on a scrap of paper whatever negative thoughts I have and then burn them. When I dispose of the ashes, the thoughts, too, are removed from my mind. I let them go.

[...] After I officially retired from karate competitions in 1974, I found myself without direction. I had no new goals. As hard as I tried, I could think of nothing new to strive for, and that gave me a sense of listlessness and emptiness. Then, at dinner one night with Steve McQueen, he suddenly asked me why I didn't try acting.

Since I am now an actor, since I'm now as well known as an actor as I am as a martial artist, someone writing a biography of me could point to that moment in that restaurant and claim that Steve's question was an important turning point in my life.

But it really wasn't. You can't live in Los Angeles for years, particularly if you're involved in a line of work that often involves actors - I'd had dozens as students - without thinking about possibilities of getting into acting. And by the time Steve asked me, I'd already had parts in two films, one with Bruce Lee. The notion of acting had crossed my mind, but that's about all.

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The turning words eventually came from Steve, all right, but they came a few months later, when I once again found myself talking with him about my future. I told him I had serious doubts about becoming an actor. After all, Los Angeles is full of unemployed actors (one excellent reason the town is full of good-looking waiters and waitresses), and I'd had no serious acting lessons and had no reason to believe I could ever become an actor.

Then he said, "Remember that philosophy of yours that you always stressed to students: Set goals, visualize the results of those goals, and then be determined to succeed by overcoming any obstacles in the way. You've been preaching this to me for two years, and now you're saying there's something you can't do".

That did it. Those were words I needed to hear. Steve jolted me back to an awareness of my own beliefs, reminded me of what I myself had been telling other people for years. In so doing, he gave me the goal I had been seeking, and once I had that goal I was on my own way. Something else might have come along to push me in the direction of acting - but maybe not, and maybe not as forcefully.

[...] The time came, back when I was competing in martial arts tournaments, when I could no longer surprise opponents with the techniques I had learned in Korea, so I decided to increase my repertoire. To do so, I studied with other leading karate instructors. One of the people I went to was Hidetaka Nishiyama, a famous karate instructor. Nishiyama began his karate training in Japan under Gichin Funakoshi - the man regarded as the founder of modern karate - and Funakoshi had in turn studied with Yasutsune Asato and Yasutsune Itosu. In a sense, the hand and foot combinations I learned from Nishiyama had been handed down from the beginnings of karate. I also studied with Ed Parker, one of the leading karate instructors in this country and the father of American kenpo karate. Parker was born in Hawaii, where he studied with William Chow; Chow leads back to his master, James Mitose, who in Japan had studied the Shao-lin kung fu originally taught by the fifth-century Buddhist priest known as Bodhidharma, who brought to China the combination of yoga and Indian fistfighting that became the Shao-lin system. My good friend Bruce Lee began his studies in Hong Kong with Yip Man, Grand Master of the wing chun style of kunf fu. Master Man began his kunf fu training with Chan Wah Shun at age thirteen. At sixteen he moved to Hong Kong, where he studied wing chun under Leung Bik.

There's a saying that "even the masters have masters." It may seem obvious, but the meaning runs deeper in the martial arts due to the particular way in which they are taught; teaching a martial art is far different from teaching an academic subject like political science or economics. In the broadest sense, the martial arts teacher doesn't so much teach as "hand on," and what he hands on to the student is not information, not intellectual data, but something deeper, something best described as spiritual. The kind of intellectual data a school-teacher teaches can easily be detached from the personality of the teacher himself, so that in time the student may well forget the teacher and remember only the information. In truth, any other teacher could have taught the same material. In the case of the martial arts teacher, what is taught - or handed on - is tied inseparably to the teacher. In a very real sense, your master is your art.

There are other ways in which the relationship between the teacher and student is different in the martial arts. In an academic setting, the teacher refers to books or other sources, in a sense doing his best to rework the information to make it understandable to the student. The martial arts teacher refers only to his own experience, for he is helping his student follow a path that he, the teacher, has himself followed, step by step. This makes for a close relationship between the student and the teacher.

Martial arts students are often astonished at how much their teachers seem to understand about them; it seems almost that the teacher already knows what the student will do, where the student will have difficulty, even what the student is thinking. And, of course, the teacher does know, for he has done and thought those same things in the same way. This closeness helps inspire the respect that students have for their teachers, and this respect is not just for the teacher, but for the discipline itself, for what is being handed on.

When competitors meet at tournaments, they frequently identify themselves by identifying the dojo where they studied and the name of their instructor. The basic truth is that the pratitioners of martial arts are performing skills they were taught. Although each martial artist may seek to perfect some technique and put his own stamp on it - like my spinning back kick - the art itself had to be learned from someone else.

People often remark on the fact that most leading martial artists are not just performers, not just competitors, but also teachers and quite often also the authors of books on their discipline. The urge to teach, to pass on the art, is very much an inherent part of the martial arts. In a very real sense, each student becomes a teacher as soon as he or she reaches a certain level because they have knowledge that can be passed on.

The fact is, however, that the student who is awarded a first-degree black belt is akin to a new college graduate: He or she is at the beginning again, ready now for advanced study. In essence, in all avenues of life we are always at the beginning, preparing to go foward, for when we start at the beginning our knowledge grows. The concept is pure Zen and shows up in the martial arts in the system of colored belts used to indicate the rank achieved, from the white belt of the beginner to the black belt of the teacher. This progression reflects the fact that early students of martial arts were prohibited from washing their belts; therefore they grew steadily darker over the years of sweat and soiling. But a black Belt doesn't stay black. With more years of use, it begins to wear away and fray, returning to its original whiteness as the master himself, through constant learning, finds himself ready to begin once again.

[...] The Zen masters believe that the way of the universe is a way of remaining in balance and in harmony with nature. Moving with and not against energy can open the creative paths of the mind. You will then be at one with the universe. In the truest Zen sense, you will be the center of the universe, no matter where you are or the circumstances you find youserself in.

This source of inner power, called ki, is an invisible life force that flows throughout the universe and that, given the proper training and practice, is available to everyone on demand. Ki flows through each of us, passing through an area of the body called the tai-ten, or "one point," which is the gravitational center of the human body and is usually about an inch and a half below the navel. By being "centered" - being focused and in touch with that "one point" - we can make use of this universal energy.

We all have that source of power within us, although most of us have never used it, but it is available on demand. For example, a child is pinned beneath a car, and its mother, a frail woman, is somehow able to harness the strength to lift the car up to set her child free. Under ordinary circumstances she could never do this, but in this instance, without even being aware of it, she used ki.

The fact is that everyone has ki, which is really little more than a technique of visualization allowing one to utilize the internal energy that we all have and letting it flow through the body, as the mother did when lifting the car.

Martial artists learn how to harness their ki under ordinary circumstances. Koichi Tohei, a disciple of Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido, tells of going to the mountains, where the temperature is in the low teens, with a group of adherents. Even though the water in the mountain rivers is nearly freezing, the group is able to stay immersed of several minutes at a time by mentally preparing themselves and projecting the ki. This is not a matter of ignoring the cold but of having the body and mind totally integrated.

In my library is an old film of Ueshiba, taken when he was in his late seventies. In it, he is attacked by several much larger and burlier men, and he throws them around as though they are children with simple movements of his hand using his ki. Sounds impossible? It's not. It's practiced use of ki.

[...] By using his ki, Bruce Lee, who weighed around 150 pounds, was able to knock a 250-pound man bakward several feet with a punch that traveled less than two inches. Bruce was a paradox, a small man who could easily defeat a giant with skill, speed, and extraordinary power. The power came from his highly developed use of ki.

[...] It's clear that learning a martial art involves coming into possession of a certain amount of powerful force. Looked at that way, you'd expect martial arts masters - the men who have dedicated their lives to perfecting that force - to be fire-breathing behemoths bending iron bars over their heads. Instead, they're often the calmest and quietest men in a room. Nor are they always large and muscular: Bruce Lee was certainly no stand-in for Hercules, but he was one of the strongest men I've ever met, and extremely knowledgeable about Zen. He was a true scholar».

Chuck Norris («THE SECRET POWER WITHIN. Zen Solutions to Real Problems»).

Bruce e Brandon Lee

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«Bruce en tira les principaux éléments à travailler tels que le dropstep et le vertical surge qui vont l'éloigner définitivement du style Wing Chun. L'utilisation de la force de gravité allait propulser son lead punch au rang de "coup de poing plus puissant que le coup de poing de karaté" (les tests et les mesures ont été effectués par l'intermédiaire de H. Nishioka à l'UCLA, Californie).

C'est dans les années 1966/1967 qu'il invita ce "Pan American Judo Champion" dans sa salle de Chinatown pour tester sa force de frappe et voir lequel des deux était le meilleur dans le contrôle de la distance. Grand adepte du Karaté Shotokan, H. Nishioka croyait savoir comment générer le maximum de puissance au travers d'un coup de poing. En regardant Bruce se placer, il pensa que ce n'était vraiment pas ainsi qu'il fallait faire et par conséquent le coup que cellui-ci s'apprêtait à lui donner n'allait pas être bien dangereux. En effet, Bruce Lee avait placé son bras tendu, le poing en contact avec la poitrine du judoka, plus lourd de 15 kg. Décollage immédiat! Soudain la poitrine du judoka sembla exploser alors qu'il s'envolait droit dans le mur pour retomber lourdement sur ses genoux et ses mains. Il se releva sans être blessé mais totalement abasourdi. "Que s'est-il passé?" se demanda le champion ahuri. Nishioka analysa plus tard ce qui avait pu produire un tel impact. Il pensa que c'était la façon dont Bruce avait placé sa hanche dans le coup, et en conclut donc que c'était la parfaite utilization de la biomécanique qui l'avait fait décoller. Ce coup n´était en fait qu'une simple poussé, bien loin du célèbre et destructeur one-inch punch.

Une autre fois, Bruce lui montra son grand bouclier de frappe et lui demanda de le tenir. Celui-ci était lourd et ajouté à son propre poids de 77 kg, cela représentait une masse importante à déplacer pour un gabarit de seulement 60 kg. Attention au départ... Cette fois, Nishioka décolla pour retomber deux mètres plus loin sur les dos: "Bruce avait soulevé mon poids plus celui du bouclier, j'étais stupéfait" confiait-il».

Special Bruce Lee («Il punchait plus fort que les Karatekas! Le mystérieux coup de poing de Bruce Lee», in «Les Dossiers de Karate Bushido Hors-série», n.º 2, 2005).

«America's third major problem is that government has failed to enforce our nation's borders. While the Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security have started making some progress, it is slow, late, and not enough. Our borders, ports, and airports remain nearly open runways for illegal immigrants, drug cartels, gunrunners, and potential terrorists. There is still a dire shortage of Border Patrol officers, and the Homeland Security Department is still trying to fill last year's 138 vacancies in high-level jobs - an employment crisis that it called "a critical homeland security issue that demands immediate attention".

Unfortunately the possible creation of a North American Union (with Canada and Mexico) and the so-called NAFTA Superhighways will, if they happen, only make these problems worse.

Enforcing our borders is about more than law enforcement. It's about preserving our nationhood as Americans and it's about national security. I believe threats of terror remain real and imminent. It is simply irresponsible to leave our borders unguarded, our national security unprotected, and our border laws unenforced.

Our Founders knew about terrorism from the Barbary pirates. Our nation's borders were often dangerous places. And the Founders struggled to find a balance between welcoming the poor, the downtrodden, and the persecuted, with preserving what they knew to be a unique American nation, united by a common language and culture. Before becoming our fourth president, James Madison challenged Congress on February 3, 1790, that when "considering the advantages that may result from an easy mode of naturalization, we ought also to consider the cautions necessary to guard against abuses."

[...] A few years ago I had the opportunity to fly along America's borders with my good friend John Hensley, who was the assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs. We flew on a Black Hawk helicopter and checked out locations along California border where there was heavy traffic of drug dealers and illegal aliens coming into the United States from Mexico.

As we were flying over the desert, we landed in the middle of nowhere. We stepped out of the helicopter and John asked me, "What do you see?" I replied, "Absolutely nothing but desert." As soon as I said that, up popped U.S. border agents, who were hiding in holes covered by beige tarps that blended in with the terrain. They were waiting for illegal traffic trying to sneak into our country. I thought, what dedication this takes to hide out here in this intense heat for hours at a time - just waiting.

There's no doubt Americans possess the resources and passion to close off our borders and ports from illegal immigration and contraband. If we can overthrow another country, we ought to be able to protect our own. Yet to this day, our national borders and ports of entry are like lattice work with plenty of holes through which illegals now come in.

I don't lay the blame on our dedicated border agents. But I do blame an overly bureaucratic government that still has not given agents the proper resources and permissions they need to get their job done. I also blame government for undermining national security by being more concerned with global commerce than national sovereignty. They would rather please the international masses than enforce our own laws.

Let's ask ourselves, why is Congress not securing our borders? Could it be they have grater global goals that will ultimately dissolve this Union? Whether intentionally or not, government has failed for decades to secure the borders. It is up to us to make sure it gets done... The time is now. And if we don't do our part, America as we know it will dissolve like a sugar cube in coffee. From the coastland to the heartland, we will lose our distinctions and no longer even recognize our country. As President Ronald Reagan said, "A nation without borders is not a nation."

[...] Friends, I am a patriot and an optimist at heart. I, as with many of you, believe that we can become a great nation again, known more for who are than what we have. But that's not going to happen by traveling down the same road we've been on. If America has lost its moral compass, the answer is to return to the old path, the path followed by our Founders who put God first, trusting in Him - not big government - to be our salvation. The most important action you and I can take is to do that in our own lives: to put God first and raise up a new generation of decent, law-abiding, people-loving, and God-fearing citizens.

And there is hope! A recent poll taken over nine countries (the United States, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Poland) concluded that America was "the world's most 'Bible-literate' people." Seventy-five percent of American's had at least cracked open a Bible over the last year. In the other nine countries surveyed, only 20 to 38 percent could affirm that. If Americans put God first, in the Judeo-Christian tradition of this nation, then they will put the golden rule first, and they will at least strive to be good fathers, good mothers, good neighbors, good friends, and good citizens.

Want to help America? That is the decision before us: to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. John Witherspoon said, "He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and unefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country."

To make America a better, more decent, more civil place, to become a nation that once again puts its faith not in laws and man, not in the big government solutions, but in the freedom and responsability of liberty safeguarded by morality, we need to make God first in our lives. To be faithfull to the Founders we need to be faithful to the Creator - the Creator they believed was the providential guide of our destiny.

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[...] I guess this would be the best time to tell you why I'm so passionate about writing this book and this particular chapter.

It goes all the way back to when I was being raised by my mom. My dad was an alcoholic and philanderer and was hardly ever around. We had to live on welfare for years, but Mom was always optimistic and would reassure me and my brothers that God will never abandon us. Mom was a strong Christian woman who kept us boys in church. I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at the age of twelve and was baptized. Mom constantly reminded us that without God, you will have empty lives, no matter how much money you make. I never knew how true those words would be until later in life.

After earning my black belt in the Martial Arts in Korea, I went on to a sucessful career as a fighter and instructor, leading me into the world of entertainment. I have done twenty-three movies and 203 episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger. During my twenty-five years as an actor, my faith would be tested and I would succumb to the sweetness of fame and fortune. It cost me my first marriage and, despite my driven and optimistic attitude, I drifted farther from my faith. I'm not saying I didn't still believe in God, but I moved Him from my heart to my head. I kept Him there so He wouldn't interfere with my decadent lifestyle.

[...] While I was filming the Walker series, I invited one of my best friends, Larry Morales, to Dallas to do a part on the show. While we were sitting out in the back yard of my house after filming all day, I was having drink after drink. Larry knew I was miserable, but trying hard to cover it up. Out of the blue, Larry said, "I have someone I want you to meet. She is a special lady and I think you would really like her. Can I invite her to Dallas? I Said, "Sure", only half listening. Gena came to Dallas and I was (to use a passionate term) smitten with her from the start. Little did I know she would become my beloved wife, best friend, and the instrument to renewing my spiritual life.

After Gena and I were married, she, being a very strong Christian, would read the Bible every morning. I would see her reading the Bible and she ask me if I would like to sit down and join her, but I would always find something else to do. Finally one morning I did sit down, thinking I would just placate her, but for some reason I kept doing it. As time went on God's Word was beginning to penetrate my heart. One morning I took the Bible from Gena and began reading to her. As I'm reading I look up and see this big smile on her face. As time went on I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "It's time to come back home, you've been gone too long". Then the most amazing thing happened: the hole in my heart was filled. That was nine years ago (at this writing) and I'm not leave home again.

You see, even though I thought I had everything: money, fame, etc., I had nothing but a huge hole in my heart. I finally understood what Mom told me over fifty years ago and our Founders told us more than two hundred years ago: "Without God, we will have empty lives"».

Chuck Norris («BLACK BELT PATRIOTISM. How to Reawaken America»).

Bruce Lee e a «Montanha de Oiro»

Segue-se um capítulo traduzido por Miguel Bruno Duarte, com origem num best-seller de Chuck Norris, intitulado The Secret Power Within. Zen solutions to real problems (Broadway Books, New York, 1997, pp. 67-71). Denominado Slow down to go faster, o título do capítulo foi, por iniciativa e lavra do tradutor, convertido num outro título mais sugestivo e simbólico, tal qual o acima mencionado. Ora, a «Montanha de Oiro» é, de facto, uma expressão chinesa para designar os Estados Unidos. Logo, tendo em conta que o carisma, o génio e a mestria de Bruce Lee lograram conquistar a atenção, a amizade e a admiração de muitos americanos (discípulos, actores, artistas marciais e outros mais), eis, pois, a razão de ser daquela conversão para destacar o texto de quem, indubitavelmente, admirou e foi um dos mais célebres amigos do «Pequeno Dragão». 

Em 1968, conheci, pela primeira vez, Bruce Lee no Madison Square Garden, onde então lutava, na categoria de pesos médios, para o Campeonato Mundial de Karaté. Venci, mas não sem antes pôr à prova os meus limites. Ao sair do Estádio, Bruce veio ter comigo para se apresentar e congratular-me. Já sabia quem ele era, tendo-o visto, alguns anos antes, a fazer uma demonstração deveras impressionante nos Internacionais de Long Beach, além de o ter igualmente visto na série televisiva O Besouro Verde.

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Bruce Lee e Dan Inosanto

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No decorrer da nossa conversa, demo-nos conta de que estávamos hospedados no mesmo hotel, e assim, em companhia mútua, para lá caminhámos. Era quase meia-noite quando chegámos ao hotel, mas nenhum de nós dormiria nessa noite. Em vez disso, treinámos num átrio do hotel, trocando e discutindo técnicas até às sete horas da manhã vindoura. Por fim, combinámos um novo encontro em Los Angeles, tendo em vista a nossa devoção às artes marciais. O que motivava Bruce era aprender, melhorar e superar-se interiormente. O que me movia era algo de similar, mas também o de me tornar campeão como meio de recrutar mais alunos para a minha escola.

Nos três anos que se seguiram, encontrámo-nos frequentemente no quintal da sua casa em Culver City ou no meu dojo, para partilharmos ideias e técnicas numa base duradoura. Desempenhámos, alternadamente, o papel de professor e aluno, e nessa mútua aprendizagem tornámo-nos amigos. Artistas marciais trocam, frequentemente, técnicas de luta e tipologias de treino, de modo que nem Bruce nem eu pretendíamos ficar limitados a um só estilo.

Quem se limita a encarar Bruce como uma estrela de cinema perde de vista o verdadeiro homem, posto ter ele sido também um autor e um estudioso: nas paredes da sua sala-de-estar e do seu quarto alinhavam-se prateleiras com livros de artes marciais, na sua maioria chineses, ou, na sua maior parte, relativos ao Zen. Bruce estava sempre activo, ora aparecendo em espectáculos televisivos ora ensinando na sua escola em Los Angeles; mas, na maior parte do tempo, dedicava-se, acima de tudo, a desenvolver a sua própria filosofia. Estava aberto a novas ideias, e essa predisposição era contangiante.

Dele aprendi várias técnicas de Kung Fu, e ensinei-lhe a dar pontapés, nomeadamente acima da cintura. O único treino estruturado de artes marciais que ele recebera fora sob a supervisão de Yip Man, em Hong Kong, de quem aprendera Wing Chun, uma forma de boxe chinês que incidia mais nas técnicas de mãos do que nas técnicas baseadas nos membros inferiores – a maior parte dos pontapés eram rápidos e direccionados à canela ou ao joelho do oponente. Em pouco tempo convenci Bruce de que os pontapés poderiam ser, efectivamente, dirigidos a qualquer parte do corpo, e ele ensinou-me muitas das técnicas de Wing Chun.

Nessa altura, como ainda hoje, a minha técnica favorita era o pontapé com o calcanhar em rotação lançado com força e velocidade contra o meu oponente, uma habilidade que aprendera na Coreia e usara com enorme vantagem quando competia nos torneios de artes marciais.

Um dia, durante um treino na residência de Bruce, acertei-lhe constantemente, não obstante as suas tentativas para bloquear os meus pontapés. Quando terminámos o treino ele entrou em casa e voltou com algumas laranjas. Sentámo-nos na relva debaixo de uma árvore e debulhámos as laranjas. Notei que, de um lado da árvore, faltava grande parte da casca e fiz referência a isso. Bruce riu-se. «A árvore é o meu alvo para pontapés e murros», disse ele.

Bruce tirou a sua T-shirt, e eu fiquei novamente maravilhado como sempre ficara ao deparar com o seu físico escultural; ele tinha músculos sobre músculos.

Assim que me sentei e desfrutava da calma e do silêncio no quintal, Bruce contava as flexões com um só braço. Após cerca de quinze, parou e dirigiu a sua atenção para mim: «Por mais que tivesse tentado, fui incapaz de bloquear os teus pontapés. O que fiz de errado?»

- «Tentaste antecipar os teus blocos», disse eu. «E o teu ritmo estava desajustado».

- «É o que acontece quando pratico chi sao contigo. Quando decides acelerar, acertas-me sucessivamente».

- «Se estou a apanhar o jeito, é porque abrandei, e é isso mesmo o que te sugiro. Encontra o teu ritmo, considera tudo a seu tempo, e acabarás por realizar o que, de outra forma, ser-te-á impossível se deres tudo por tudo a cada oportunidade surgida. Abranda e conseguirás ser cada vez mais rápido».

- «É um verdadeiro enigma Zen», disse Bruce: «Abranda para seres mais rápido», gosto disso.

Claro, Bruce tinha toda a razão, pois um tal conceito provém do Zen, ou pelo menos assinala o estado de consciência Zen. Mas a primeira vez que dei por isso foi há muito tempo, quando, ao procurar vencer a inépcia de alguns novos movimentos, treinava sozinho. Quando alguma coisa queda inoperativa, pomo-la de parte a fim de corrigi-la, o mesmo se aplicando às artes marciais. Quando algo não funciona, e de algum modo não nos permite alcançar os objectivos que esperávamos ou fomos ensinados a esperar, avançamos, passo a passo, para ver se podemos descobrir onde reside o nosso erro. Dominar um movimento de artes marciais implica praticá-lo com vagar, e eu descobri que, ao mover-me lentamente, podia sentir o que devia supostamente ser o equilíbrio interno do movimento, de modo a que cada estádio alcance a sua perfeição específica. Tendo sentido esse equilíbrio interno e aprendido a adaptar-lhe o meu corpo, bem como descoberto a importância de atender a cada movimento em particular, vi que podia acelerar à minha vontade os movimentos, executando-os ora rápida ora lentamente com a mesma precisão.

Desde então deparei-me com o mesmo conceito noutros domínios das artes marciais, nomeadamente no bojutsu, praticado por mestres esgrimistas japoneses. De todas as artes antigas, a da esgrima japonesa exige o maior respeito e consideração, na medida em que os seus praticantes estavam bem cientes de quão as suas vidas dependiam da sua perícia. Contudo, estavam também conscientes de que, em combate, a mestria técnica podia não garantir a sua sobrevivência, pois havia sempre a possibilidade de o próximo oponente ser ainda mais poderoso ou mais ágil.

A solução que encontraram foi, por assim dizer, abrandarem o movimento. Em vez de se precipitarem sobre um oponente, esperando quebrar-lhe a guarda, dependiam da intuição numa espécie de desapego interior em relação a si próprios e aos seus oponentes. Nela se firmando, ripostavam a cada estocada do adversário, delimitando o combate a cada uma das suas partes componentes e, quando necessário, ajustando-se a cada uma delas à medida da sua ocorrência, sem procurarem antecipar ou forçar um movimento que fosse. Tendo dominado a capacidade de ripostar intuitivamente a toda e qualquer investida, podiam então mover-se num abrir e fechar de olhos.

No início, o preceito de abrandar para poder acelerar pareceu a Bruce um tanto contraditório. Mas fê-lo conforme sugeri e rapidamente descobriu que eu estava certo. Obrigou-se a relaxar e assim expandir-se, para novamente relaxar. Os seu blocos e pontapés evoluíram.

Há, efectivamente, um certo pesar ligado a toda e qualquer história relativa a Bruce Lee. Ele era, de alguma forma, o James Dean do mundo das artes marciais: uma natural e autêntica estrela que, com apenas trinta e dois anos, morrera tragicamente jovem em resultado de uma reacção hiper-sensível a uma aspirina.

Eu estava em Los Angeles a tentar participar num filme quando fiquei a saber da morte de Bruce em Hong-Kong. Tinha-o visto quatro dias antes em Los Angeles. Ele viera à cidade para um checkup visto ter perdido os sentidos quando rodava um filme em Hong Kong. Comemos dim sum no seu restaurante predilecto de Chinatown, e ainda me lembro dele, numa primorosa façanha para a qual desafio quem quer que seja, a atirar um pedaço de pato de Pekim ao ar e a apanhá-lo com os seus «chopsticks», desafiando-me então a fazer o mesmo. Sabia que não o conseguiria fazer, de modo que recusei. Bruce contara-me que passara facilmente no checkup e que iria regressar a Hong Kong para rodar um novo filme. Foi a última vez que o vi com vida.

Mais de vinte mil fans consternados assistiram ao seu ritual funerário em Hong Kong em 22 de Julho, de 1973. O funeral decorreu alguns dias mais tarde em São Francisco. Para aí voei com Steve McQueen e James Coburn, que tinham sido alunos e grandes amigos de Bruce.

Penso muitas vezes em Bruce e no que poderia ter alcançado se tivesse vivido. No entanto, do que mais vivamente me recordo foram os nossos treinos em que aprendíamos um com o outro. Depois de ele trocar Los Angeles por Hong Kong e pelos filmes que o tornariam famoso, Bruce parecia estar sempre ocupado, percorrendo o mundo inteiro com o mesmo ímpeto com que se movia na arena ou na tela. Mas ele tinha sempre tempo para abrandar e partilhar algo com um amigo, nomeadamente laranjas e enigmas Zen.

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