I've done a fair amount of bushwacking over the years, including a good bit in chaparral and manzanita. It is much easier to slip through the vegetation (there is a kind of zen involved) than to get out a tool and whack the poor little bushes. If you are clearing out a trail, good pruning shears and a lightweight saw are effective gadgets.
War story time. We once had occasion to clear a LZ so a helicopter could come and retrieve the body of a frozen hiker - the alternative was a long operation - getting a stretcher crew up the hill and a long, arduous, even potentially hazardous day.
Smack in the middle of our clearing sat this lovely 6-8 inch diameter pinyon tree, just perfect for a rappel anchor - nice and stout. I started to chip away at it with a very small hatchet I carried. One of my companions averred that we could just uproot the tree. The three of us went to work with a will and actually topple the poor pinyon, thereby allowing the helo to come in and solve our problem. I was really surprised - the tree could have been such a good rappel anchor.
Motivation is the best tool of all.