This inspiring story is about Bruce Lee, a legendary martial art master. From: The Art of Expressing the Human Body. (Bruce Lee, John Little).
Here’s a few excerpts:
“Lee realized early on that in order for us to fulfill our physical potential, we had to approach our exercise endeavors progressively and fight against the desire to pack it all in and retire to the sofa and the television where we could escape from our ‘duty’ of self-actualization by partaking in its opposite – that is, shutting off our minds and allowing our muscles to atrophy. Lee wanted to learn as much about his mind and body as possible. He wanted to know what he was truly capable of, rather than settling for what he already knew he could accomplish. To this end, he viewed each training session as a learning experience, an opportunity for improvement to take himself to a new level. As a result, he had a keen eye for spotting people who were selling themselves short by either slacking off in their training or by underestimating what their true capabilities were.
Stirling Silliphant (a student of Lee’s) related an interesting story that perfectly embodies Lee’s attitude toward progressive resistance in cardiovascular training, as well as his refusal to let a person – in this case Silliphant – underestimate his own physical potential:”
“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the 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.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do 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) 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 into 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.”