Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and host Joe Rogan delved into the profound influence of martial arts icon Bruce Lee in a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Podcast.”
Unpacking Bruce Lee’s philosophy: The conversation began with Johnson sharing a quote from “Enter the Dragon” to emphasize the importance of being present in the moment. Rogan, acknowledging Lee as a trailblazer, highlighted how his charisma and groundbreaking approach to martial arts captured the world’s attention:
“Bruce Lee was a bad motherf*cker. He was such a bad motherf*cker that people really don’t appreciate what he did…He introduced martial arts in an exciting way to the whole world. Everybody was wearing kung fu outfits, and everybody was f*cking taking martial arts classes. Everybody wanted to be like Bruce Lee; he was the f*ckin coolest guy that ever existed in movies. All of a sudden, you got this little ripped Chinese guy who’s f*ckin everybody up.”
Laying the foundation of MMA: After reminiscing about his early encounters with martial arts involving nunchucks, Johnson went on to ponder how Lee had shaped the landscape of combat sports.
“I feel like he was groundbreaking in a way, right? When he came over here, there was something about what he was teaching. Was it Jeet Kune Do
, right? So, he was the first, or he was taking a version of it,” Johnson said.
Rogan responded by explaining how Lee’s amalgamation of various styles laid the foundation for what we know today as mixed martial arts (MMA):
“What Bruce Lee said is, ‘Use everything that’s useful, everything that’s useful.’ And he put together a system of martial arts that incorporated everything he learned from grappling from judo and karate from Chuck Norris and Tang Soo Do and kung fu from Yip Man from Wing Chun. He put it all together with Western boxing and wrestling. He realized, like, there are so many different ways to fight, and the style is having no style; the way is no way…Figuring out how to adapt and move to every situation, to be like water. Be formless, and he taught that philosophy, and that philosophy eventually became mixed martial arts.”
Lee as a guru: Rogan continued by dissecting the evolution of martial arts culture, acknowledging the initial resistance to Bruce Lee’s eclectic approach. He praised Lee as a guru who, despite facing opposition, preached the philosophy of adapting to every situation, being formless like water.
“Bruce Lee was the first true mixed martial artist because he was the first true guru that was shouting it from the top of the hills to use everything that’s useful, everything from all styles, and put it together,” Rogan explained. “But back then, that was really frowned upon. Really, it was kind of dangerous. Like, people would go after you if you disrespected kung fu. [They thought] you were disrespecting their art, which was like literally a religion to a lot of people.”
Redefining martial arts: Johnson and Rogan went on to reflect on the modern era of martial arts, emphasizing the shift brought about by organizations like the UFC, breaking down the rigid structures that once defined martial arts.
“Martial arts are very cult-like, and when you get into a martial arts school, a lot of times, the instructor is almost like a cult leader. You think that person is invincible; they can’t be beaten by anyone. You have these weird ideas about your master; you even call them a ‘master,’ you know? And so, there’s this very rigid thinking that used to exist.”