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Friday, September 30, 2005 

The Art of Fighting Without Fighting

Before poker, there was one thing i was really really into. Since high school, i was studying martial arts, specifically Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee's "martial art" if you could call it that. i was also a big fan of boxing, a student of the game you might say. When i was in my peak form, man, i can only dream of doing those things now hehe. i was a lean mean fighting machine then!

one thing i loved about JKD is, other than that it is really practical and doesnt beat around the bush with fancy schmancy forms and "techniques", is that Bruce Lee made it more interesting by giving it a philosophical approach. He best described JKD as a tool NOT for violence, but as a personal expression of oneself, hence, JKD is not really a rigid, fixed "martial art" but rather an expression of the individual. Looking back, and reading about it again, i was surprised to see how JKD can be related to the game of poker. i am posting the best quotes i could get from the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and see for yourself how much it can be compared to the Game. Just replace JKD with NLHE. hehe. see for yourself.

"Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is essentially your own." i think that quote said it best. Lee even said that "if people say JKD is different from this and from that, then let the name "JKD" be wiped out, for that is what it is, just a name."

"The highest technique is to have no technique. My technique is a result of your technique; my movement is a result of your movement.A good JKD man does not oppose force or give way completely. He is pliable as a spring; he is the complement and not the opposition to his opponent’s strength. He has no technique; he makes his opponent's technique his technique. He has no design; he makes opportunity his design.One should not respond to circumstance with artificial and "wooden" prearrangement. Your action should be like the immediacy of a shadow adapting to its moving object. Your task is simply to complete the other half of the oneness spontaneously. "

"In building a statue, a sculptor doesn't keep adding clay to his subject. Actually, he keeps chiselling away at the inessentials until the truth of its creation is revealed without obstructions. Thus, contrary to other styles, being wise in Jeet Kune-Do doesn't mean adding more; it means to minimize, in other words to hack away the unessential.
It is not daily increase but daily decrease; hack away the unessential"

And, of course, mastery in JKD, as well as Poker, requires the most important thing. Repetition, repetition, and repetition. Bruce Lee did not teach a "learn in 3 easy steps" way of mastering the art of fighting, so it is the same with mastering the art of No Limit Texas Holdem. Just as it takes THOUSANDS of repetitons of the same movements day in and day out to achieve the optimum reaction time and muscle memory, Poker requires you to play hundreds, if not thousands of hands before you can call yourself a "master".

Mastery of both arts mean that you have to learn as much as you can, take what is effective FOR YOU personally, discard what you think is unnecessary, and not have a rigid "fight plan" but rather be a mirror to your opponent, responding like an echo.

"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."

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  • The best poker I've ever played has always entailed peace. A relaxed comfort. Eyes open, ears open, radar up. Absorbing my opponent's every message. Taking them as they come. Not mixing what those messages are with what I want them to be. It's like an aerial view. A view from above the myriad luck-dependent reactions of those many people who never gain such a peace. And when you gain that view, that peace - when you'd rather have the truth, no matter how disappointing, over a false hope, no matter how desirable - then you're a player. The hand you're on slips into a stream of thousands of other hands, no one of which, because of your lofty view, seems unduly important, no false fearful emotions rise within you. When you gain the peace of lofty perspective, you're a player, and when you're a player, you're free.- from "King of a Small World" by Rick Benett
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