Sunday, February 4, 2024

Enter the Dragon—Christian McCaffrey and the wisdom of Bruce Lee

It's Saturday morning and the grind of the your weekday routine in on pause. Weekends... sleeping in... free time, it feels like a luxury. You wake up and ask yourself: Do I go to the gym? It's cold outside and warm in bed. Who wins the battle? Someone, somewhere has created a list of why you should put your shoes on, pound the pavement, and pump some iron and get going. Thanks to ESPN, I found another one.

Last Saturday, I almost lost that battle, but the day's forecast forced my decision. I made it the sixth floor and it was remarkably quiet. I'm someone who prefers a crowded, but not packed house. I like talking to acquaintances, watching how hard some people push it and reminding myself I can always do a little better. I had to look to the TV screen up above for that support.

To my utter delight, I saw within one minute two of my favorite people: Christian McCaffrey and Bruce Lee. I couldn't look away.

SportsCenter updated a story about the influence the martial artist Bruce Lee had on the mental and physical training of Broncos great Ed McCaffrey and his son Niners running back Christian. 
Their input, their realizations, connections and reflections are so good, I'll let them speak for themselves. Furthermore, this profile put CMC in a new light. While watching the NFC Championship game, I couldn't help but notice the stretching, bending, and harnessing of energy which Lee models. The master's influence lives on!

I began teaching about Bruce Lee in Sports and Spirituality when I learned about his philosophy vis a vi his daughter, Shannon—the author of Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. In an interview on NPR, she said, "for those of you who are unfamiliar with this quote of my father's, it first came into understanding around the practice of martial arts, which we will use as a metaphor throughout this book for living one's most engaged life. But most important to me, the idea of being like water is to attempt to embody the qualities of fluidity and naturalness in one's life." Released during the lockdown of COVID, I found its message poignant to our times. CMC connects it to his style of play, his role on the team and approach to the game.

Several of Lee's teachings, as highlighted on the video are worth remembering, practicing and passing on.

  • The meaning of life is that it is to be lived.

  • Defeat is a state of mind

  • If every man would help his neighbor, no man would be without help.

  • Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.

  • Water keeps moving!

  • And of course, the best: Be formless, water. 
    You can read more, here.

If I meet an professional athlete, I try to offer a thoughtful or creative comment. I know I can always say "I'm a big fan" or "thank you for the 2014 World Series" but I try to make a connection. When and if I meet CMC, I know EXACTLY what I will say: Be water, my friend. Given the outcome of Super Bowl LVIII, I may add something else.

If I had not gone to the gym that morning, I would not have seen this video. In this year of the dragon, "Enter the dragon." 

Photo Credits
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