A Teacher Is Never a Giver of “Truth”; He Is a Guide, a Pointer to the Truth

Bruce Lee? Apocryphal?

lee08Dear Quote Investigator: Would you please help me to trace a statement attributed to the charismatic superstar martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. The first phrase in the quotation presented Lee’s viewpoint on education and mentoring:

A teacher is never a giver of truth . . .

I have seen different versions of the full comment, but I have not seen a precise citation.

Dear Quote Investigator: In 1971 “Black Belt” magazine published an essay by Bruce Lee titled “Liberate Yourself from Classical Karate” which included his provocative remark about teaching. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

A teacher, a really good sensei, is never a giver of “truth”; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that the student must discover for himself. A good teacher, therefore, studies each student individually and encourages the student to explore himself, both internally and externally, until, ultimately, the student is integrated with his being.

The passage above was the earliest close match located by QI. A somewhat different version was printed in “Black Belt” magazine in 1988 which may have produced some confusion.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Teacher Is Never a Giver of “Truth”; He Is a Guide, a Pointer to the Truth


  1. 1971 September, Black Belt, Volume 9, Number 9, Liberate Yourself from Classical Karate by Bruce Lee, Start Page 24, Quote Page 27, Column 2, Published by Black Belt, Inc., Los Angeles, California. (Google Books Full View) link