Trounce Tradition (if necessary)


When Bruce Lee began questioning many of the so-called martial art "master" as to why they did things in certain ways which he felt were ineffective or inefficient, the response he often received was, "How dare you? Who do you think you are to question three thousand years of tradition?" Asked why they trained in the manner they did, or used a particular technique, many of them couldn't offer sound reasons, and instead fell back on stock answers such as, "That's the way my teacher trained, and if it was good enought for him, it's good enough for me" or "Because that's what I was taught." It was statements such as these that spurred Lee to "trounce tradition" when and if necessary.

Bruce Lee believed that to be bound by tradition solely for the sake of tradition is the way of the mindless, the enslaved, but to be inspired by tradition to achieve further heights is the way of genius. He told my teacher, Dan Inosanto, who was his student and assistant, "If you want to improve at this [martial arts], Dan, youhave to be creative. You have to constantly break traditions."

There are many types of traditions, relating to such things as family, ethnicity, religious beliefs/affiliations, political beliefs, social groups, etc. And their is nothing wrong with tradition per se. Many traditions (such as Sunday family meal gatherings, certain holidy festivities, going to church or temple, etc.) are very positive and serve us well. However, some people allow themselves to become bound or restricted by tradition or custom. For example, if the generation before them says that something is wrong, then some people will automatically believe it is wrong. In doing so, these individuals fail to use their own mind to find out whether it's really right or wrong, functional or not functional, true or untrue. Tradition is not always a good criterion for truth.

The point is not to deny or decry tradition simply as a reaction. It doesn't mean that we should refuse to look at anything because it is new or because it has been done before. That is running to the other extreme. But if you find that folowing a tradition is preventing your personal growth or putting restrictions on you, it may be time to change or abandon it. Like Bruce Lee, we must be willing to "trounce tradition" if necessary.

Instead of allowing tradition to dictate, allow freedom to create!


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