Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do
Jeet kune do (way of the intercepting fist) is a martial art created by Bruce Lee during the 1960s. Neither a system nor a method, Bruce Lee didn’t consider his art a style but an aggregate of principles for developing the martial mind and body.
Although jeet kune do’s foundation lies in wing chun theory, Bruce Lee liberally borrowed from other kung fu styles: taekwondo, wrestling, fencing and Western boxing.
Building on the precept of self-knowledge through self-discovery, the JKD practitioner is prompted to absorb what ideas are useful and discard those that are not. The physical goal is perpetual development of physical speed, timing, footwork, coordination and power.
Since Bruce Lee’s death in 1973, two variations of jeet kune do have evolved: original JKD, which is promoted as the art Bruce Lee practiced; and JKD concepts, which applies Bruce Lee’s concepts to martial arts techniques drawn from various Indonesian, Philippine and Thai styles.
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 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).
Jeet Kune Do Techniques
The fighting stance, or on-guard position, of Jeet Kune Do is designed to be effective for both offense and defense. Practice your stance by positioning your strongest hand closest to your opponent. If you are right-handed, raise your right shoulder an inch or two and drop your chin about the same distance. Hold your fists in a manner that protects the center line and ribs of your body. The trunk forms a straight line with the leading leg, according to Lee.
Practice the shuffle, a way to move without crossing your feet or hopping. From the on-guard position, slide your front foot a half-step forward and immediately slide your rear foot up to regain the orientation of the on-guard position. Never let your feet get so close to or so far from each other that you become immobile or unbalanced. First move the foot closest to the direction you are moving. If you move backward, slide your rear foot first and make the front immediately follow. If you move left, move your left foot first.
To learn to use your hips to generate power, Lee recommended hanging a sheet of paper at about chest height. Stand about 8 inches from the sheet, keeping both feet parallel to it. As you pivot on the balls of your feet with your knees bent slightly, rotate your hips just ahead of your shoulders as you turn to the right. As you turn, raise your elbow to shoulder height and strike the target. Your weight will shift to your left foot. Keep your eyes on the paper. Execute the technique in the opposite direction, turning 180 degrees to the left, hitting with your right elbow. When you are comfortable with this drill, use your fists instead of your elbows.