Skillful martial arts choreography makes for a good action film, but the notable actors on screen offer more than their fluid movements. Greats like Bruce Lee and Tony Jaa have the acting chops to accentuate their punches and kicks, and all their drama and martial arts training comes with a good amount of wisdom.
Here's a look at recognizable quotes from a few of the most well-known martial artists in film:
"Don't try to be like Jackie. There's only one Jackie."
Chan spoke to the importance of carving your own niche. While it's great to admire inspirational figures and mentors, one must develop some unique aspects to his or her style. That same sentiment is evident in a quote where Chan expressed his feelings about Lee. As much as as Chan idolized Lee, he didn't want to be "the next Bruce Lee." Instead, he made his own name in the industry.
"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."
Becoming proficient in any martial arts discipline requires hours of practice. In his quote, Lee expressed how students must work at skills until they perfect their movements. While expanding one's skill set is good for overall growth, is hard to move on to advanced moves without mastering simple ones.
"Everywhere I go, I still have time to meditate."
Martial arts is a mental sport as much as a physical one. Many martial arts masters speak of the need to center oneself in all aspects of life, and Li believes there are many opportunities to do so no matter where you are. In fact, he said conversation can be part of meditation.
"I practiced until I could do the move exactly as I had seen the masters do it."
In this quote, the masters Jaa referred to include Lee, Chan and Li. Jaa emphasized the necessity of studying those who have achieved the kind of success you want. Moreover, taking an in-depth look at the styles of the greats and practicing their movements helps martial arts students develop their personas.
"Martial art is a form of expression, an expression from your inner self to your hands and legs."
Yen's statement echoes the message behind Li's quote. A student's performance is as much a reflection of skill as it is a sign of one's mental state. This fact is why all disciplines have some focus on building confidence and making sure the mind and body are in sync.