Sunday, October 16, 2011

Be Like Water?

Be like water? I’m sure many of you have heard the saying “Be like water” made famous by Bruce Lee. I’m here to tell you that using ambiguous statements such as “Be like water” can be very misleading and maybe not even be all that helpful.

Wujifa we say "Be like Li Bing"
Think about it for a moment… what does “Be like water” really mean? It’s like someone talking about achieving enlightenment, “Be like water,” most people misunderstand “Being” twisting the meaning ambiguously into something very different… fitting what they want into it’s meaning or bottling it up and selling their bottled flavored waters as some kind of method of special skill.

When I think of special skills I think of people like Li Bing. Be like water… this is why I say “Be like Li Bing!” If you have a few moments take the time to understand the practical application of Li Bing’s Dujiang Weir. Go ahead and google Li Bing and his Dujiang Weir if you will, you’ll find it interesting to say the least. 

"Dredge the riverbed when the water is deep and build low dykes when the water is low." - Li Bing

You see Li Bing constructed the Dujiang Weir to help the villagers and farmers living in Shu, Sichuan Province, China and shared his principles for the guidance of water “for the good of the people.” I recently watched a documentary about Li Bing and his weir and it dawned on me… “Be like water” or “Be like Li Bing” who applied his principles and used the water to both irrigate the fields and distracting the flood waters, protecting the people from disasters these waters can bring.

When the river flows in zigzags, cut a straight channel: when  the riverbed is wide and shallow, dig it deeper." - Li Bing

We need to recognize as human beings we have something very powerful that water doesn’t have and this power is in us, within our mind, our understanding, and our ability to apply function and principles to the real world.  You see, the human mind can be far more powerful than water. The human mind can also exist in a realm of possibilities and potentials, and as such it is not constrained in the way water is by habit and strict tendencies. It is this capability that can enable us, like Li Bing, to functionally harness the forces of nature... to create something new that has never been seen before and to apply it for the benefit of mankind.

Water may be able to wash over the mighty rocks with such power too wash them away. Li Bing was smart enough to understand how to apply this for the good of the people. Water may wear down even the hardest of rocks and Li Bing taught the people how they could maintain the Dujiang Weir for so many many years and making that area a cornucopia of food production.

“Be like water” Li Bing applied his principles to both allow and guide water flow. This is why I say “Be like Li Bing” and understand the concepts of principle and function, then apply your principles yourself to discovering how something can be influenced and used for the benefit of the people.

In Wujifa we aim to understand the “principle and function” of our art and then in applying ourselves to bring forth the expression of our understanding much like Li Bing shows us with his Dujiang Weir.


  1. "When the river flows in zigzags, cut a straight channel: when the riverbed is wide and shallow, dig it deeper." - Li Bing

    If you are like water, then you are controlled by the forces that know how to control water. If you are like Li Bing...

    When you hopscotch from practice to practice, collecting styles and forms, when your practice is wide and shallow, then it's time to dig deeper and...

    Nice post!

  2. Be like water.....The view always vary from person to person. For Bruce Lee it to be flexible, forcible, adjustable and unstoppable like water. So there is no reason to comment on that. If you think 'Be Like Water' means 'achieving enlightenment', then yes it is right too. But we can't deny or comment on other peoples believe. Always the meaning of a word differs from person to person as per their profession. We can't comment on any persons view as we are not perfect. As per the proverb "There are only two perfect peoples, one is dead and another is unborn ".