"The art of Jeet Kune Do is simply to
simplify. Jeet Kune Do avoids the superficial, penetrates the
complex, goes to the heart of the problem and pinpoints the key
factors. Empty your cup that it may be filled; become devoid to
Many claims have been made over the
years with regards to the proper definition of
Bruce Lee's art of
Jeet Kune Do. To some it is a process of "Change"; others see it as
just a form of "modified"
Wing Chun. Many recognize Jeet Kune
Do to be simply a mixture of many different elements from
numerous fighting styles, all combined to hopefully, at a later
stage, form something meaningful to the individual concerned.
There is but ONE definition of Jeet Kune Do (As stated by the Jun
Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus) ... "Jeet Kune Do is the complete body of
technical (physical, scientific) and philosophical (mental, social
and spiritual) knowledge that was studied and taught by
during his lifetime. It is concerned solely and exclusively with
Bruce Lee's personal evolution and process of self-discovery through
the Martial Art, as supported by written record (personal papers and
library) and oral recollections (by those students who spent time
with and/or studied under him)."
A distinction is made between this body of work (Jun Fan Jeet Kune
Do), and the individual student's own personal process of self
discovery through the martial art, as each student is free to use
all, some or none of Bruce
Lee's teachings to assist him.
Jeet Kune Do accepts you as you are and is not about setting up
restrictions or "Ways" of doing things - It seeks to be a source of
inspiration and delight for those who possess an interest in
Lee, and the martial viewpoints that he created.
Jeet Kune Do should be considered as the "Root" that was established
by Bruce Lee, and NOT the ultimate goal of any practitioner, as
students are expected to modify, add, and delete all aspects of Jeet
Kune Do until they develop something that is uniquely their own (You
the individual become, through this process of self-discovery, your
own best teacher).
With this explanation still fresh in your mind I urge you to
continue reading through my web site - I hope my explanations and
ideas on this wonderful art and philosophy prove to be helpful and
THE ART OF JEET KUNE DO
This is my small
contribution and brief introduction to the art of Jeet Kune Do as I
understand it. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Sifu
Bruce Lee I continue to feel indebted to him for the changes his art
and Philosophy have brought in my life - changing me mentally,
physically and spiritually. I am hoping that this short passage will
make you want to explore all the aspects of this interesting art,
and so use it as a means of self-discovery ... Developing a NEW way
To begin with, Jeet Kune Do (abbreviated JKD from now on) means "The
way of the intercepting fist" and with this combat phrase in mind,
it is basically concerned with the interception of an attack, a
movement or even an intention by your opponent to launch an attack.
It is one of the most popular and well debated (due to each person's
understanding and application of JKD being different from the next)
martial arts in existence today.
There are two schools of thought in JKD practice today ... Jun
Fan/JKD practitioners, and the JKD Concepts practitioners. Jun
Fan/JKD practitioners concentrate on
Bruce Lee's original teachings,
training and fighting methods, while the JKD Concepts practitioners
use Bruce Lee's ideas and theories and explore and add techniques
from many other martial arts to their training - Whatever form of
JKD you choose to follow, it is really up to you to find your
own truth in the art of Jeet Kune DO !!!
Well, you might ask ....
What are the main theories, principles and techniques involved ?
What is the structure of this method ? What training methods are
used ? How can you get involved in the learning process ? .... I
will cover that in a little more detail shortly.
Although Wing Chun, a Southern form of Chinese martial art still
remains the nucleus of the JKD system, western fencing with its
non-telegraphic motions, footwork as well as attack and defense
theory were also incorporated.
Bruce Lee also liked the way that
boxers fought and so body mechanics, footwork and all the evasive
tactics were taken from boxing and also incorporated into his JKD
system. Bruce Lee, after researching several methods of kicking,
also came up with his own unique way of kicking - very fast and very
It is therefore safe to say that JKD consists primarily of
Chun, Fencing, boxing and Bruce's own unique way of kicking.
Learning the art of JKD is like putting together a large puzzle.
Each period of Bruce
Lee's life holds important pieces of the puzzle
- The more you learn, the more complete your puzzle becomes. It also
helps to learn as much about Wing Chun as possible so that you can
better understand the roots of the system - You will find that the
study of Wing Chun will really solidify your knowledge and
understanding of JKD (It is after all the real foundation !!).
There are three major areas of concentration in JKD :
2. Directness and,
3. Non-classical attitude
Simplicity means doing only what is necessary to complete a task as
quickly and efficiently as possible - This is by no means as easy as
it sounds and requires a lot of thought and practice through
continual drilling of all the basics.
Directness means to follow the shortest and safest possible route to
an opponent (normally a straight line) with non-telegraphic motions
and doing as much damage as possible. The principle of directness in
JKD can be found in the individual's ability to use his longest
weapon (usually his lead hand or leg) against the nearest target on
his opponent's body.
Non-classical means that all the techniques are delivered in a
practical manner, unlike the majority of "fancy" techniques that are
used and taught in traditional martial arts.
The first thing that must be considered is the fighting stance (Bai-jong),
or the on -guard stance which
Bruce Lee believed must have your
power side forward - In this position your most powerful weapons are
closest to your target. This stance is highly mobile with good
offensive and defensive capabilities ... Plus much much more!!
Mobility, more than anything else is highly stressed in JKD, as
combat is a matter of movements ... Footwork is light, quick and
economical. Good footwork is essential to close (bridge) the gap to
your opponent and attack powerfully, or evade and counter an
opponent's attack. The JKD fighter will use linear, lateral, angular
and circular footwork patterns, so as to put himself in the best
There are three fighting ranges
emphasized in JKD:
1. Long range
2. Medium range and,
3. Close range
Each of these three ranges must be
practiced. The fighter must
understand the tools applied in each range and how to use them
effectively. Long range is known as the fighting measure, and is the
most favorable position to maintain when you are not attacking. In
this long range you are basically very "safe" and it is from here
that you can test your opponent's reactions without being in too
much danger of being hit. You can test your opponent's reactions by
using feinting or probing attacks which appear to be real!!
Kicks, punches, trapping and grappling movements can all be used in
the medium range. As a general rule, by the time your opponent is
moving into the medium range you should have already intercepted him
and countered his offense with an attack of your own.
Once we get into the close range, head butts, elbows and knees can
now be used. This is generally where close quarter grappling occurs
(chokes, strangles etc.) and is a very deadly range due to the
serious nature of the natural body weapons that can be employed.
Physical blocking of an incoming blow is only used as a last resort
by the JKD practitioner ... instead he uses the four corner parry
which redirects the incoming force. The best defense in JKD is to
attack!! The next preferred method of defense is the simultaneous
attack and defense whereby you parry the opponent's attack while
delivering (at the same time) an attack of your own to the open
line. An even more effective form of defense is to fire a fast
powerful attack of your own into the same line as the incoming
attack, thereby deflecting the oncoming attack and landing
successfully on your target - This form of interception is called
the stop-hit; when using the foot for interception it is called a
stop-kick. When you have honed your interception skills, damage is
done immediately to the attacker, both mentally and physically.
The most important factor in JKD training is sensitivity training.
Every offensive and defensive movement will have a certain type of
energy and energy flow. Sensitivity drills that are used in JKD are
referred to as Chi Sao or "Sticking hands" and use of this drill
will enable the student to "sense" the opponent's energy quickly and
subsequently trap and counter him immediately. Chi Gerk or "Sticking
legs" develops the sensitivity in the legs for sweeps, deflections
and counter kicks practitioners.
Another area of vital importance in JKD is
Bruce Lee's five ways of
attacking. Bruce Lee realized that there are essentially only five
ways that you can attack an opponent and that every empty hand attack
ever conceived will fall into one of these five categories.
One of the most useful pieces of equipment for the JKD practitioner
is the Mook Jong or the wooden dummy (Refer to the last picture in
my photo album) from the Wing Chun
system of Chinese Kung Fu - This
piece of equipment allows you to train alone when no partners are
available. The wooden dummy consists of a head, trunk, two upper
arms, a lower arm and a lower (sometimes metal) extension that
represents the lead leg of an opponent ... All the offensive and
defensive moves can be performed on the dummy. Striking the dummy
and performing your defensive moves on it also conditions the arms
and the legs for impact - This was one of
Bruce Lee's favorite
pieces of training equipment !!
As you can see Jeet Kune Do is a very well rounded and balanced
martial art which has something special to offer everyone from a
mental, physical and spiritual point of view. It is, and will become
- If you let it ... "A NEW WAY OF LIFE".
Intense physical training is a must in JKD or any
other external Martial Art for that matter!!
Please excuse the brutality in what I am about to say, but the last
thing that you want to happen to you is to lose your life due to not
being prepared or not in a good enough shape to carry through with a
Bruce Lee emphasized fitness over and over again with all his
students - Cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training.
Cardiovascular conditioning can be accomplished through running,
cycling, rope skipping, running stairs, rowing, swimming,
shadowboxing and/or footwork mobility drills to name but a few ...To
just give you an idea of
Bruce Lee's physical prowess, he would run
four miles a day in 24 to 25 minutes, thereafter he would ride his
stationary exercycle full speed - 35 to 40 miles per hour
continuously for 45 minutes to an hour!!
Flexibility can be maintained by implementing a serious stretching
routine of at least two twenty minute sessions per day.
Strength training can be accomplished through the use of isometrics,
static contraction exercises, free weights, weight machines etc.
An important element that all JKD practitioners must experience is
lots of good, hard sparring with protective equipment - This brings
all the fitness aspects together, as well as conditioning your body
for impact, developing self-confidence, mobility, timing, power,
reflexes, range awareness and the endurance necessary to succeed in
an all out confrontation.
About the author: Robert Ciapparelli is a JKD
Unlimited practitioner and studies under Sifu Morne Swanepoel in
Johannesburg, South Africa. He is dedicated to the pursuit of complete
martial freedom, as well as to enhancing his unlimited potential within the
realms of combat and beyond. He can be contacted via his website