Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jeet Kune Do “Way of the Intercepting Fist”

Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee

What exactly is Jeet Kune Do which literally translates to “Way of the Intercepting Fist”, even after reading the Tao of Jeet Kune Do it can still be very confusing.

From a layman’s perspective looking in from the outside, the martial art of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) as a whole could seem confusing at first, because of all the different array of instructors and their background.

JKD really could be anything and everything depending upon the instructor their background and their personal preferences and choices in the material they choose to teach.

Let’s look at some of the history behind JKD, it was created by Bruce Lee in 1967 who claimed that it was not a style but more of a philosophy or concept.

The system itself is eclectic or hybrid meaning that it encompasses more than one art and is suppose to cover all ranges of fighting including kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling.

Bruce Lee’s intention was for JKD to be more than just another eclectic art form, his intention was for the individual to be able to express himself through the martial arts.

Bruce Lee’s personal Jeet Kune Do had a base in wing chun, but from my understanding this doesn’t always have to be the case as for example to me Guru Dan Inosanto’s base in Jeet Kune Do looks more like silat-kali than wing chun kung fu.

Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon

What about if I was to take up JKD and master/teach it we could say that my base in JKD would be karate, now wouldn't that be a doozy and something original never seen before, just imagine karate based Jeet Kune Do, it would probably have the great man rolling around where he rests.

What about if a judoka or savatore martial artist becomes a sifu of JKD I’m sure their base will be judo and savate respectively, so I’m sure your starting to get the picture now of how it works, that’s how I understand it.

So we know that JKD is not a style and more of a philosophy or concept, it really has no techniques of its own, and there is no set syllabus within it.

Since every instructor and individual student will choose to focus on different things, it really depends on the individual’s choices and preferences.

Some of Bruce Lee’s philosophy that makes up JKD is as follows in no particular order,

a.  Research your own experience.
b.  Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless.
c.  Add what is specifically your own.
d.  Explore the three ranges of combat
e.  Intercepting – stop hits and kicks
f.   Economy of motion
g.  Simultaneous parrying and punching
h.  No high kicks
i.   Fight with your strong side forward
j.   Express yourself through martial arts
k.  Using no way as way
l.   Having no limitation as limitation
m. All knowledge is self knowledge
n.  Be Like water...water poured into the tea cup becomes ......

Today as with every martial art there are more than one group of JKD practitioners around the world, but generally they can be broken down into two main groups, as described by martial arts instructor Kacey Chong in 1 and 2 below.
Martial arts instructor Kacey Chong refereeing at the national all styles.

Kacey wrote:

1. Original JKD, also known as Jun Fan JKD (OJKD) - this is promoted by organisations such as the Bruce Lee Foundation, of which Linda Lee Cadwell (Bruce Lee’s wife) is the Chairperson and Shannon Lee (Bruce Lee’s daughter) is the President.

2. JKD Concepts (JKDC) - this has been promoted by groups such as the Inosanto Academy.

Probably the best way of describing the above two points in my own words would be one (1) is original or traditional JKD and two (2) are those that have moved on from the traditional stage being No.1.


Jeet Kune Do (JKD)  is Bruce Lee's philosophy or concept of how the individual can gain freedom and personal expression of his/hers martial arts journey, JKD utilizes and incorporates any technique the student or instructor may find useful and effective from all the known martial arts into one big melting pot.

The individual after gaining some sort of base which doesn't necessarily have to be wing chun kung fu, is free to take any techniques from any martial art and use them in accordance with their own physical attributes, strengths and weaknesses, blending these techniques into their Jeet Kune Do concepts and philosophy.

The structure of JKD across the board is different depending upon the school and instructor you choose to train with, there is really no consistency in the material, since different instructors have different backgrounds and therefore different bases from which they teach JKD.

Depending upon the instructor/school and what its focus is, JKD students may need to cross train in other arts since it will be very unlikely the JKD instructor will be expert in everything.

If the student is interested in a particular area, for example, if they wanted to excel at throwing/grappling and their JKD instructor hasn’t got a judo, wrestling or BJJ background, then they may need to seek judo, wrestling or BJJ classes outside of JKD for improvement, this to my understanding is encouraged at JKD schools.

Bruce Lee martial arts legend, philosopher and movie actor.