How Bruce Lee influenced Kobe Bryant

Athletes are always looking for a competitive edge. That's why a number of people who play sports adopt alternative training methods that have nothing to do with the games they compete in. It's not uncommon to hear about football players taking ballet to improve their agility and balance, or guys across a number of sports taking up mixed martial arts as a way to stay in shape, get stronger and develop physical toughness.

However, martial arts training can also help athletes become better in their chosen sports. Studying taekwondo or karate requires both a mental and physical investment. Students will not only need to become flexible enough to perform certain moves and counters, but they also need to develop a mental focus that allows them to react without thought, block out pain and still perform at a high level.

For schools looking to increase their enrollment numbers, instead of focusing on the training of specific self-defense disciplines in their marketing efforts, they should also sell potential students on how martial arts can help them excel in the other sports they enjoy competing in as well.

Kobe Bryant studies Jeet Kune Do
Bruce Lee is often regarded as the greatest martial arts master of all time. His mastery of several different disciplines allowed him to create his own: Jeet Kune Do. In the NBA, Kobe Bryant is one of basketball's most famous and accomplished players. Often lauded for his skills on the court, Kobe is also praised for his mental toughness and ability to perform while battling physical maladies that would slow lesser players.

Several years ago, it was revealed that Bryant incorporated fundamentals of martial arts into his basketball training. In an interview with the Global Times cited by NBA fan blog The Basketball Jones, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar revealed how Bruce Lee influenced his training regimen.

"It seems Bruce Lee has nothing to do with basketball. To me it has everything to do with basketball. There are a lot of similarities," Bryant told the Times while touting Lee's philosophy of engaging in combat without being rigid in the approach to battle.

"By doing so, no one knows what you are going to do next, therefore, they don't know how to fight back," he said. "I've been working hard to infuse his principles of utility, agility, speed and efficiency to my own training."

Selling athletes on martial arts training
Basketball trainer Ganon Baker wrote in a separate article that Jeet Kune Do essentially focuses on how to react quickly and efficiently while exerting minimal physical energy. This may seem oxymoronic because sports are primarily about physical exertion. But by understanding how to not waste energy unnecessarily, athletes will essentially become better at the games they play.

One of the primary selling points for martial arts schools looking to attract new students is to highlight how training in karate, taekwondo and other disciplines can help people in other areas of their lives. A common misconception about self-defense classes is that they only teach people how to not get beat up in a fight. But this is categorically untrue. This information should be communicated to those expressing an interest in martial arts, as it could keep them motivated enough to complete their training and master the discipline.

Running a martial arts school isn't easy. There will be times when classes are full and others where only a handful of students will show up for instruction. However, by reminding people of the ways in which self-defense classes can greatly enrich their lives beyond simply winning a fight, owners can benefit.