Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Then die."

This is my favorite Bruce Lee story. It tells of an exchange between Bruce and his senior student Taky Kimura. At the time Bruce was a young man in his early twenties and Taky was in his forties like I am now. I used to tell my students this story years ago when I felt they weren't giving it their all. I'd like to thank Tom L. for bringing it to my attention once more. Hope you like it...

Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We'd run three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile. (Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a-half minutes per mile). So this morning he said to me "We're going to go five." He said, "When we get to three we'll shift gears and it's only two more and you'll do it." I said "Okay, hell, I'll go for it." So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I'm okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I'm tired, my heart's pounding, I can't go any more and so I say to him, "Bruce, if I run any more,"-and we're still running- "if I run any more I'm liable to have a heart attack and die." He said, "Then die." It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, "Why did you say that?" He said, "Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it'll spread over the rest of your life. It'll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level."


  1. I need to remember this more often than I do.

  2. Yes a great story! I read that one long ago.

  3. I agree with Nomad Rip. I need to remember this as well. I become too passive in my life at times.

  4. hi you guys' firstly' Is the human body realy meant for this sort of treatment'? now' IM 63years old 5'2 and in reasonable condition' Id like to follow a good training program and how long on average will it take me to train for tough mudder; PS'With all due respect you guys are Nutters! I do fitness alot but i dont come anywhere near being fit compared to you guys; Any help or tips; with regards and thanks;

    1. Push yourself like you never have before.
      A little today, more tomorrow, and keep it up.
      Track where you were and were you want to be.
      Set high goals that make you work.
      The story is simply about pushing yourself.
      You want to do 25 pull ups, 50 pushups, do a mudder, don't say you can't, and you will.