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A man must constantly exceed his level!

This inspiring story is about Bruce Lee, a legendary martial art master.

“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.”

Bruce Lee

 Bruce Lee

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 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.”

From The Art of Expressing the Human Body
By Bruce Lee, John Little

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Sonny Crockett April 22, 2013, 12:57 pm

    Great article……Bruce Lee was one of, if not THE greatest martial artist to ever live and certainly was one of the greatest athletes of our or any time.; yet his greatest gift to me, was his life philosophy. His death, while tragic and SO unbelievable for someone his age and at that level of fitness is truly hard to digest. But the sad fact is, he died from an allergic reaction to a pain killer that caused his brain to swell. He fell ill a few months earlier and almost died then, yet he was examined afterwards in Los Angeles by a team of doctors and was found to be extremely fit and had the youthfulness in his body of an 18 year old. Tragic as it was, he left so much. You don’t have to be a martial artist to practice Jeet Kune Do principles to exceed your limitations and succeed in life.
    “Walk bravely on, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

  • Valerie April 16, 2013, 10:41 am

    I heard CHANGE, SELF CONFIDENCE, CHALLENGE, OVERCOMING, GROWING. Lastly, I heard, Bruce Lee’s power of believing and achieving. We all get something out of a story told yet it is different for all. Bruce Lee was an amazing man.

  • RAGHUL November 3, 2012, 3:29 am

    Mr Vince Mars: Bruce Lee did not die because of heavy practice of kungfu. He died because of brain fever. It was due to over weight or thinking more about one thing, kungfu, a huge pressure on brain only gym exercises create the problem, not martial arts.

  • Vince Marc September 13, 2012, 10:29 pm

    I admired Bruce a lot. But this comment coming from a guy who died at age 33 exactly BECAUSE he lived the way he said. Our bodies DO have limits, like it or not. I am a martial artist myself. Age 54. If you dont respect your body when its “talking to you either thru pain or worry or something just feels off, your body will increase your pain or decrease your quality of life until you DO listen to it. Your body is not something you master like a dog. It is your friend. Your best friend, and should be listened to very carefully…like your best friend. If you insist on doing something and your body tells you no, well just keep on doing it anyway,do things like Bruce did to ‘enhance” his body and you will wind up like Bruce. How about all the boxers who didnt give up and spend their entire lives drooling and slurring their words. People who go out and shovel snow and never come back into the house. I just finished watching the Terry Hitchcock story about a man who ran 75 marathoins for 75 days straight with no training and survived! He deserves a movie. Why? Becuase the odds of surviving that ordeal would be less than 5% FOR ANY OTHER 57 YEAR OLD MAN IN HIS SHAPE. He admits even years later his body “reminds” him of what he put it thru. I dont say, dont shoot for the stars, but sometimes you need to take a slow bus, not a jet to get there. I myself at 54 have been frustrated by a lifetime of physical limitations. Did I give up? No. Am I respecting my body so I can live to tell my tale. You bet! Also, everyone has some physical limitation. Even the great Michael Jordan can never be a jockey if he put 500 years into training for it. As Clint Eastwood would say “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” How about all these drug dealers we hear about that make millions of dollars and feel invulnerable, and then do life in prison because they got unlucky once. Remember, in physical pursuits, your heart or cancer fighting cells only need one day when they really need to rest and you don’t let them. But after all is said and done, exercise is one of the best anti-depressants known to man. But not if you are using it to judge your self worth! Oh….you all still don’t really believe Bruce died of some mysterious brain anurism or unknown cause, do you? He didn’t! No one in his shape with his life just dies. Dont believe it.

  • Fasih Ahmed June 5, 2012, 5:19 pm

    Amazing. I always feel I can’t do my best in my life but after read it, feeling like something strong a fool person some time better than wise person… 🙂

  • Solomon Onokere April 18, 2012, 11:51 pm

    You want to be different in life? Then take an unusual step. Stop doing what people has always done. Try something that other people would like to try.

  • Bho March 28, 2012, 7:01 pm

    Don’t limit your challenges,
    challenge your limits..

  • abs March 21, 2012, 9:00 pm

    Life is a continous process and journey. If you’re gonna put limits in things that you do, how can you experience the process and the beauty of your journey.

  • Ali March 6, 2012, 1:49 am

    No one can beat Bruce Lee 🙂

  • Neeraj jain March 5, 2012, 4:04 am

    This shows the determination of the legendary “lee”

  • Neeraj jain March 5, 2012, 4:01 am

    This story shows the strong will and determination of the man, which made him the legendary figure called “bruce lee”

  • Sanjay Sabunkar February 26, 2012, 12:04 pm

    The story of bruce lee the man constantly exceed his level, its superb yaar. This storys is like KAIZAN it means continuous improvement.

  • Manali February 17, 2012, 3:01 pm


  • Malck February 7, 2012, 5:32 pm

    Limiting yourself in life, draws you back. So face your dreams and the sky is your stepping stone. Never give up in life.

  • Suman January 30, 2012, 4:58 am


  • Kushal January 21, 2012, 5:09 am

    I think it is really true … we should never build a wall of limit in our dreams !

  • Vishal Sawant January 13, 2012, 3:39 am


  • Prasad Jachak January 8, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Great one…

  • Sam Patel December 29, 2011, 6:26 am

    It’s a great one…..

  • Asma December 21, 2011, 12:23 am

    Wow! so touching it teaches me that really if u build a wall in front of your dreamz, you will never cross it, but the ONE who destroy all the obstacles, starting within himself.

  • Ifedimma December 10, 2011, 10:02 pm

    This is great! Trainers should tell this story to those who are trying to lose weight but always put limits to themselves

  • Mpemba November 24, 2011, 2:18 am

    I appriceate that!

  • Santos. November 4, 2011, 3:48 am

    Thanks for this great one. I’d rather try to apply in my soul than thanking u for the story.

  • Zepuz November 2, 2011, 12:10 am

    Its a nice read.. Inspiring “no limits” yeah that’s true…
    No matter how hard it may be… just like “if you holding in the word LIMIT you will FAIL”
    LIMIT does not exist to a person have a courage…

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