Old School Jeet Kune Do (JKD)
(IMPORTANT NOTE: JKD is one of the main foundations of our Tactical Ninjutsu, Level 2 curriculum. Through training in Tactical Ninjutsu, students learn the principles, concepts, drills, and techniques of JKD. However, standalone JKD classes are also offered every Wednesday night, as well as in seminar format at least once a year by Tim Tackett, first generation JKD student and instructor.)
Jeet Kune Do, meaning "Way of the Intercepting Fist," and also written "Jeet Kun Do"and "JKD," is a system founded by Bruce Lee resulting from his martial artphilosophy. As such, there are 2 aspects to JKD. There is the JKD philosophy, or framework, and then there is Bruce Lee's expression, or "applied", JKD. The system that Bruce Lee personally expressed was his own personal JKD; tailored for himself. Before he could do this, however, he needed to first develop the "JKD Framework" process. Many of the systems that Bruce Lee studied were not to develop his "Personal JKD" but rather was used to gather the "principles" for incorporation in the JKD Framework approach. The uniqueness of JKD to Lee is that it was a "process" not a "product" and thus not a "style" but a system, concept, or approach. Traditional martial arts styles are essentially a product that is given to a student with little provision for change. These traditional styles are usually fixed and not tailored for individuals. Bruce Lee claimed there were inherent problems with this approach and established a "Process" based system rather than a fixed style which a student could then utilize to make a "tailored" or "Personal" product of their own. To use an analogy; traditional martial arts give students fish to eat (a product). Lee believed that a martial art should just teach the student to fish (a process) and gain the food directly.
There are many who confuse the JKD Framework (Philosophy) with what is being taught as JKD in most schools today, thinking them to be one and the same. There are also many other misconceptions about what JKD is and what it isn't. One such misconception is that Jeet Kune Do, Jun Fan Kick Boxing, and Jun Fan Gung Fu were all just synonyms for one another. This is not true. They all reflect the time period in which Bruce Lee was teaching.
Aside from the JKD Framework, there are primarily 5 versions of JKD being taught today (as a style or "product"):
In the spirit of actual JKD philosophy, none of the above is any more or any less JKD than the others. Some have considered Jeet Kune Do Concepts and Progressive Fighting System to be a bit further removed from what Bruce Lee taught in China Town, thus, not "real JKD". That being said, however, unlike more traditional martial arts, Jeet Kune Do is not fixed or patterned. It was never meant to be a static art but rather an ongoing evolution. Therefore, JKD Concepts and PFS do fit into the JKD Framework nonetheless. What Bruce Lee taught as a "fighting system" was his expression of the JKD philosophy, or framework.
SFC Combatives Tactical Ninjutsu incorporates both the JKD Framework as well as the actual applied concepts taught by Bruce Lee in China Town.
The following are philosophies and principles that Lee incorporated into Jeet Kune Do.
Jeet Kune Do (JKD) is the name Bruce Lee gave to his combat system and philosophy in 1967. Originally, when Lee began researching various fighting styles, he gave his martial art his own name of Jun Fan Gung Fu. However not wanting to create another style that would share the limitations that all styles have, he instead gave us the process that created it.
Bruce Lee said:
I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see "ourselves". . . Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don't, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune-Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune-Do is simply the direct expression of one's feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive. Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back. – Bruce Lee
Modern Jeet Kune Do Principles and Concepts
Lee believed that martial systems should be as flexible as possible. He often used water as an analogy for describing why flexibility is a desired trait in martial arts. Water is infinitely flexible. It can be seen through, and yet at other times it can obscure things from sight. It can split and go around things, rejoining on the other side, or it can crash through things. It can erode the hardest rocks by gently lapping away at them or it can flow past the tiniest pebble. Lee believed that a martial system should have these attributes. JKD students reject traditional systems of training, fighting styles and the Confucian pedagogy used in traditional kung fu schools because of this lack of flexibility. JKD is claimed to be a dynamic concept that is forever changing, thus being extremely flexible. "Absorb what is useful; Disregard that which is useless" is an often quoted Bruce Lee maxim. JKD students are encouraged to study every form of combat possible. This is believed to expand one's knowledge of other fighting systems; to both add to one's arsenal as well as to know how to defend against such tactics.
JKD students are told to waste no time or movement. When it comes to combat JKD practitioners believe the simplest things work best. Economy of motion is the principle by which JKD practitioners achieve "efficiency" describe in the three parts of JKD. Utilizing this principle conserves both energy and time. Energy and time are two crucial components in a physical confrontation that often leads to success if employed efficiently. In combat situations maximizing one's energy is beneficial in maintaining physical activity. Likewise minimizing the time to execute techniques because of traveling less distance is beneficial in that the opponent has less time to react.
This means intercepting an opponent's attack with an attack of your own instead of a simple block. JKD practitioners believe that this is the most difficult defensive skill to develop. This strategy is a feature of some traditional Chinese martial arts, as well as an essential component of European épée fencing (known in fencing terminology as the "counter-attack"). Stop hits & kicks utilizes the principle of economy of motion by combining attack and defense into one movement thus minimizing the "time" element.
When confronting an incoming attack, the attack is parried or deflected and a counter attack is delivered at the same time. Not as advanced as a stop hit but more effective than blocking and counter attacking in sequence. This is also practiced by some Chinese martial arts. Simultaneous parrying & punching utilizes the principle of economy of motion by combining attack and defense into two movements thus minimizing the "time" element and maximizing the "energy" element. Efficiency is gained by utilizing a parry rather than a block. By definition a "block" stops an attack whereas a parry merely re-directs an attack. Redirection has two advantages: It requires less energy to execute. It utilizes the opponents energy against them by creating an imbalance. Efficiency is also gained in that the opponent has less time to react to the nullification of their attack while having to worry about defending an incoming attack.
JKD practitioners believe they should target their kicks to their opponent's shins, knees, thighs, and mid section. These targets are the closest to the foot, provide more stability and are more difficult to defend against. However, as with all other JKD principles nothing is "written in stone". If a target of opportunity presents itself, even a target above the waist, one could take advantage of the situation without feeling hampered by this principle. Maintaining low kicks utilizes the principle of economy of motion by reducing the distance a kick must travel thus minimizing the "time" element. Low kicks are also more difficult to detect and thus guard against.
The ranges are categorized as short or close, medium, and long range. Long Range is defined as everything from far out to the rim of the fighting measure, or the range at which you can strike your opponent with your longest weapon to the nearest target using only a single step. Medium range begins at the rim of the fighting measure and extends to the point where you can strike your opponent using knees, elbows, and headbutts without stepping. Close range is any point closer than that.
Long range is generally used for probing the opponent's capabilities without taking many risks. At medium range, if you are not already attacking, you are wrong. At close range, the fight should be just about over if it is not already.
Some say that these terms are ambiguous and eventually evolved into the more descriptive forms of Kicking, Punching, Elbow/Knee/Headbutt, and Grapling Ranges. The problem is that these are categories of techniques, not true ranges. One can perform all of these techniques at medium range and most at close range. Under the 'new' categories, if one is at a position where one could perform any of these techniques, what range is one at?
The centerline refers to an imaginary line running down the center of one's body. The theory is to exploit, control and dominate your opponent's centerline. All attacks, defenses and footwork are designed to preserve your own centerline and open your opponent's. Lee incorporated this theory into JKD from Wing Chun. This notion is closely related to maintaining control of the center squares in the strategic game chess.
One of the premises that Bruce Lee incorporated in Jeet Kune Do was "combat realism". He insisted that martial arts techniques should be incorporated based upon its effectiveness in real combat situations. This would differentiate JKD from other systems where there was an emphasis on "flowery technique" as Lee would put it. Lee claimed that flashy "flowery techniques" would arguably "look good" but were oftentimes not practical or prove ineffective in street survival and self-defense situations. This premise would also differentiate JKD from other "sport" oriented martial arts systems that were geared towards "tournament" or "point systems". Lee felt that these systems were "artificial" and fooled its practitioners into a false sense of true martial skill. Lee felt that because these systems favored a "sports" approach they incorporated too many rule sets that would ultimately handicap a practitioner in self defense situations. He also felt that this approach to martial arts became a "game of tag" which would lead to bad habits such as pulling punches and other attacks; this would again lead to disastrous consequences in real world situations. Because of this perspective Lee utilized safety gear from various other contact sports to allow him to spar with opponents "full out". This approach to training allowed practitioners to come as close as possible to real combat situations with a high degree of safety. Lee objected to these "sport" versions of martial arts because of this emphasis on combat realism.
Bruce Lee did not stress the memorization of solo training forms or "Kata", as most traditional styles do in their beginning-level training. He often compared doing forms without an opponent to attempting to learn to swim on dry land. Lee believed that real combat was alive and dynamic. Circumstances in a fight change from millisecond to millisecond, and thus pre-arranged patterns and techniques are not adequate in dealing with such a changing situation.
"Absorbing what is useful" is perhaps the most confusing and least understood concept in Jeet Kune Do. This principle does not mean choosing, collecting, compiling, or assembling the best techniques from various diverse styles and slapping them together to form a new style. To do so is to miss the point of Jeet Kune Do. The concept of "absorbing what is useful" essentially means that a martial artist must find the proper skill set and traits that will be efficent for them. A technique or style that works for one person, will not necessarily be effective for another person.
Absorbing what is useful is about immersing oneself in style or system and learning and grasping its essence. It is only through a holistic approach that one learns techniques in their proper context. Styles provide more than just mere techniques; they offer training methods, theories, and mental attitudes to name a few. Learning all of these factors allows a student to experience a system in (what Lee would call) its "totality". It is only through its totality that one can "absorb what is useful". Applying what is learned in real combat training situations is what allows the student to figure what works or doesn't work for oneself. It is at this point that one can "discard that which is useless".
The most essential point of this concept is that the choice of what to keep is based on personal experimentation with various opponents and styles over time. It is not based on how a technique may look or feel or how well one can execute it. In the final analysis if the technique is not beneficial in combat it is discarded. Lee believed that only the individual could come to understand what worked for oneself based on critical self analysis and by "honestly expressing oneself; without lying to oneself". This concept is the foundation of Jeet Kune Do which is the basis for the modern day version, Mixed Martial Arts.