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by Robert Ciapparelli


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Sifu Bruce Lee

"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 gain totality."



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.
However ...
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 Bruce Lee 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 Bruce 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 enlightening.



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 of life!!
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 direct !!
It is therefore safe to say that JKD consists primarily of Wing 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 :
1. Simplicity
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 possible range.

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".


Jeet Kune Do Fitness

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 confrontation.

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 http://wulijkd.50megs.com/

More topics:

Was Bruce Lee a fake master?

Bruce Lee's biography

Yip Man


Bruce Lee’s most famous quotes

Wing Tsun

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris


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