Icon. There are superstars, there are legends, but to be an icon is a rarefied summit that only a few mere mortals reach. Arnold did. Ali did. And, right around the same time, so did Bruce Lee, the American-born, Hong Kong-raised martial artist who pulled kung-fu movies and training into the mainstream on the strength of his phenomenal skills, taut physique, spellbinding charisma, and everlasting advice. His death in 1973 at only 32, before his greatest fame, contributed to his enduring celebrity. In films and photos, he’s forever young, forever at his physical peak. But it’s his words that continue to inspire—eternal wisdom for anyone who exercises and everyone else, too. Bruce Lee, icon.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.”

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Bruce Lee mural
Bruce Lee mural, San Francisco / Reddit

“As you think, so shall you become.”

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.”

“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.”

Bruce Lee statue
Bruce Lee statue, Los Angeles / Yelp

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee statue
Bruce Lee Statue, Hong Kong / Wikimedia

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.”

“Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.”

Opening image: Warner Bros.

See also: Workout Inspiration: Ancient Greece and Workout Inspiration: Star Wars