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Bruce Lee Podcast

Mar 21, 2018

Broken Rhythm is Bruce Lee’s technique for creating an opening in combat.

“Ordinarily, two people (of more or less equal ability) can follow each other’s movements. They work in rhythm with each other. If the rhythm has been well established, the tendency is to continue in the sequence of the movement. In other words, we are “motorset” to continue a sequence. The person who can break this rhythm can now score an attack with only moderate exertion.”

The notion is that there are rhythms in fighting, and in life. In combat, Bruce’s form of disruption is to create an opening to strike. In life, we have our own habits and patterns, and if we can disrupt that rhythm then progression can be made and new things can be allowed into our life.

In the combat analogy, Bruce says you can break the rhythm though a small hesitation or a large unexpected shift or change. This way of disruption can be applied to life as a way to shift ourselves off of our plateaus and go to the next level. We all get stuck in patterns or loops in life.

If we are in our practice of wanting to level-up and grow, can we look at our lives to see where we are stuck in a pattern? How can we disrupt that pattern? How can we break that rhythm to move forward?

“Broken rhythm is meant to break the trance.”

“Running water never grows stale.”

When talking about injuring his back, Bruce says it is because his routine became stale. Bruce talked often of pattern and habit, and how he did not believe in them. He believed in living life and being fully present and engaged.

“Mirror repetition of rhythmic calculated movements robs you of your aliveness.”

In recent years, there is a self-help trend that promotes the creation of habits. The emphasis on creating habits is so you do not have to think about everything in order to increase your overall productivity or creativity. This can create robotic, unthinking motions and can take away your aliveness.

“Don’t think, feel.”

The “feel” is a part of your aliveness.

An easy way to practice disruption in your life is to break the rhythm of how you get dressed in the morning. How do you feel in the morning? Practice switching up your morning routine.

“Free yourself by observing closely what your normally practice. Do not condemn or approve, merely observe.”

Sharon is a professional disrupter. She’s hired by companies to come in and change up the routine. Back when she first started, disruption was unusual for the workplace and she often met resistance within the establishment when trying to implement changes. Now, disruption is often demanded in the workplace with companies using disruption to promote innovation and new ideas.

The point is not to disrupt for the sake of being disruptive, but to highlight areas that are experiencing stagnation and are no longer serving you.

There can be a willingness to disrupt in the mind, but not in the heart or the body because we are scared to disrupt our stability. What we want is stability and predictability, even though nothing is stable since everything is in flow and changes constantly, so a shift away from that idea of stability is scary.

“Pliability is life, rigidity is death.” 

The idea of stability and predictability give us a sense of security, but we are not experiencing our aliveness. To cultivate a sense of stability within instability is the true stability. Being grounded within oneself in the midst of a storm and to feel secure is the sense of stability that serves you well.

“The real stillness is the stillness in movement.”

Breaking the rhythm in small ways can be a good way to infuse aliveness back into anything that is feeling stale or where you’re feeling stuck. Notice where you are in routine and pattern and try to break that rhythm in a small way.

Find your fun in breaking the rhythm; it does not have to be a painful disruption to your routine. If you can infuse your shifts with a sense of play then it can be a fun break in your rhythm and you do not have to be fearful.

As a working mother, Sharon found that her mornings were often stressful trying to get the kids, her husband, and herself all ready for the day and out the door. As a small way to make those mornings more enjoyable she started listening to a 70’s funk playlist to infuse some fun into her morning. It was a small change to her morning routine, but has greatly changed how she feels about her mornings from feeling robotic to feeling fun and alive.

The way to break the rhythm is to become aware of the rhythms and patterns that you are in.

We are engaged in many small routines throughout our lives, from how we put or socks on in the morning to how we wash our hair in the shower. Try to change one thing about one of your small routines, just to see what happens.

Bruce Lee talked about timing, cadence, and rhythm as something that had to be felt and mastered as a psychological problem, even more than it being a physical thing. Noticing where we are and having awareness of the ruts we are in, is a noticing of your psychological state. To be able to disrupt or change that pattern, to insert play, is an issue of the heart and the mind. Aliveness is about the whole of mind, body, and spirit together.

Doing your duty can be something that pulls us away from our aliveness because duty creates a sense of obligation and is therefore outside of oneself. We should engage our aliveness whenever possible.

“Life is meant to be lived.”

If we can alter our internal framing where we are not doing something out of a feeling of obligation, but instead because you enjoy it and it makes you feel alive, then you will be more present and enjoy your life.

“If you meet a situation with a chosen pattern, then your reaction and your response will always be lacking pliability and aliveness.”

We would love to hear about your experiments in breaking the rhythm! Write to us at or tag us @brucelee on social media with #bruceleepodcast

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