-By Dan Inosanto
-By Dan Inosanto
-By Dan Inosanto
-By Cass Magda
-By Cass Magda
-By Burton Richardson
-By Burton Richardson
-By William Edgeworth
-Interview conducted by Jose Fraguas
-By Jerry Poteet
-By Tim Tackett
-by Guro Dan Inosanto
Cross training is a term that has been long used in the athletic community Coaches, whether amateur or professional, have long acknowledged the benefits of exposing their athletes to training methods, concepts and strategies of sports other than those they are training their teams or athletes in. From my early school days through my college sports, cross training was not only accepted, but encouraged. However, this was not the case in the very traditional and close-minded martial arts community of the 1950s and '60s. There were few martial artists who dared to look into arts other than the one they represented. Among those who did see the value of cross training was Mr. Ed Parker, my Kenpo karate instructor. My Sifu, Bruce Lee, was another. Decades ahead of his time in his fervent pursuit of martial arts knowledge, Sifu Bruce Lee literally left "no art unexamined and researched." Sifu Bruce had the most extensive martial arts library of anyone I have ever met. Not only did his collection consist of martial arts books, but also of body building, nutritional and philosophical publications. During my training with Sifu Bruce Lee, he was always introducing me to various books that would help my growth in the martial arts and in my personal life. One of these books was The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which contains many principles and concepts that are still valid today. In this book, Sun Tzu states, "Some people are intelligent in knowing themselves, but stupid in knowing their opponents and with others it's the other way around; neither kind can solve the problem of learning and applying the laws of war". If you only know yourself and the system you practice, you are only 50% prepared. Sifu Lee knew that, to understand and deal with combat, you must know what other styles and individuals practice and specialize. During my course in training with Sifu Bruce, he was always researching and experimenting with different tactics and modes of attacks. Sometimes Sifu Bruce would have me attack him in a method from a system or style he was unfamiliar with, to see what response he would instinctively react with. When I first started training with Sifu Bruce, he was in the midst of creating a "system" of combat that centered around a modified form of Wing Chun -- a blending of his modifications and ideas on the strategies of Western boxing, and then using the principles and tactics for Western fencing. He took kicking from different systems, including Chinese and non-Chinese systems, then customized it for himself.
He was into investigating every known system that he was exposed to during that time period. During this time, he even taught me different sets and forms from a few Chinese systems. He then moved away from this type of training. I have read in some martial arts publications that he didn't practice the Filipino martial arts such as Eskrima and Kali, and he therefore didn't integrate these arts into his personal system of Jeet Kune Do. While this is true, he was exposed to Filipino martial arts many times by me and, although he may not have put it into his personal system of combat, he did on many occasions practice with me the single stick, double stick and olisi toyuk (nunchaka). Many people say I taught him the olisi toyuk (nnunchaku), single stick and double stick. I like to say I shared with him and demonstrated and practiced with him. We also experimented with light sparring with single stick, double stick and olisi toyuk. So, in my opinion, he practiced the Eskrima and Kali on a small scale to research it, and to put elements of the nunchakas, double stick and single stick in his movies. You will also read in martial arts publications that Sifu Lee only used Chinese martial arts. Again, this is incorrect. Techniques he modified, equipment he used and principles and concepts he utilized were from many different disciplines and systems. The best eight examples where Sifu Bruce drew techniques, strategies, principles, concepts, tactics, training progressions and training exercises are: 1. Western boxing2. Western fencing3. French savate4. Japanese judo5. Japanese jiu-jitsu6. Western wrestling7. Muay Thai elbow and knee8. Head bun of Burmese bando An uneducated person may not recognize these elements in Sifu Bruce's personal system because he blended it so well for his personal expression of his Jeet Kune Do. To me, he is like one of those Smoothie juice drinks in a health food store. All you can see is the Smoothie and not all the vitamins, amino acids, or protein powder that might have been mixed into it. A martial artist may not recognize the Judo and Jiu-Jitsu element in it because he enters differently using the Western Boxing and Wing Chun to flow into the throws of Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Chin Na, and then flowing into the submission jocks and chokes. Sifu Bruce was constantly evolving. When I trained with him in 1964, he didn't possess the alive footwork that he later used. This came about through experimentation and constant practice. I remember when he coined the terms for his foot work, such as step and slide advance, step and slide retreat, etc. Sifu Bruce Lee practiced what he preached, living by his own creed: 1. "Jeet Kune Do utilizes all ways and is bound by none." 2. "Jeet Kune Do is finding the cause of your own ignorance. 3. "Using No Way as Way" and 'Having no limitation as limitation." 4. '"Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is specifically your own." It is important that a student in Jeet Kune Do have a good foundation in the Jun Fan method of Gung Fu before he expands, explores and "absorbs what is useful" for his own personal system of Jeet Kune Do. After a student has a good understanding of the Jun Fan method, I feel it is important for the student not to adhere strictly to the techniques, principles, concepts and strategies of Sifu Bruce Lee. Each student must depart on his own journey to find what is workable for him in philosophy, technique, tactics, strategies and principles in the Jun Fan method and then explore other methods that interest him.
You have often heard people quote Sifu Bruce Lee saying, "Jeet Kune Do is not the accumulation of knowledge, but hacking away at the unessential." But do they truly understand what they preach? For the accumulation of knowledge and hacking away at the unessential is not a product, but a process. It is a continual process that lasts our entire lives. We are constantly accumulating and eliminating, then again accumulating and eliminating. I practice arts other than Jun Fan and Jeet Kune Do -- such as Silat, Kali, Muay Thai, Savate, Shoot Wrestling, Bando and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu -- so I am criticized by people because they say this is accumulating, and that Jeet Kune Do is an eliminating process. You practice the entire system because it is part of the curriculum and it interests you, but you never embrace the entire system; you embrace what works for you in that system that you are practicing. In the words of my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, Rigan Machado, "You don't fit into the Jiu-Jitsu; you make the Jiu-Jitsu fit you." In other words, the entire Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu might not fit you so you must take the parts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to fit you. Remember that Bruce Lee was "a finger pointing to the moon," As he said, "Don't gaze on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory." I like to think that Sifu Bruce was a really good finger pointing to the moon. I'd like to close with my poem: We are all climbing different paths through the mountain of life andWe have all experienced much hardship and strife.There are many paths through the mountain of lifeAnd some climbs can be felt like a point of a knifeSome paths are short and others are longWho can say what path is wrongThe beauty of truth is that each path has its own songand if you listen closely you will find where you belong.So climb your own path true and strongBut respect all other truths for your way for them could be wrong.
-by Guro Dan Inosanto
Learning what is useful in the martial arts is not contained within the four walls of a dojo. dojang, gwoon, studio or academy Learning and absorbing usable knowledge is not located within the structure of your style or system, whether it is Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, Okinawan, Burmese, Filipino, French or whatever. Learning comes from all your contacts, experiences and all facets of your life. The assimilation of learning is called knowledge and the proper use of knowledge is called wisdom.Knowledge in martial arts can come from fields outside the martial arts. Knowledge can come from your peers, your elders, your juniors, your teachers, your students and even from your mistakes. Sometimes in a light conversation outside of a class room, you can become aware of a concept that a two-hour classroom lecture didn't reveal to you. Your friends in different martial arts such as Aikido, Jujitsu, Bando, Penjak Silat, Savate, street fighting, boxing or wrestling can help your growth if you empty your cup and taste their tea, rather than trying to convince them that your tea is better, and let it permeate your mind, body and soul. Both of your cups will be richer for the experience. In the early 50's and 60's, most martial arts were prejudiced against other methods or were too proud to learn another style. It is a pity, because I feel you can learn from every contact you make. I believe you owe your allegiance to truth, knowledge and personal growth. Some people give their alliance to their style or to their instructor. I feel this is a noble gesture, as long as it doesn't restrict your quest for total knowledge. I believe you owe your allegiance to personal growth as well as to a particular style, system or person.
I personally encourage my students to study and to look into other systems and other instructors, as long as they are respectful to all parties concerned. No art, person, culture or thing is intrinsically better than any other. A Porsche is no better than a hollowed out canoe in the jungles of the Amazon. I try to bring instructors from many different styles into my Academy as guest instructors to help my students grow. No system has it all. Each system has something to offer and together, they yield a better, more well-rounded martial artist. I think it is important for an instructor to remain a student at heart always-to constantly seek better ways of training and execution. It is important to be creative and to experiment and to seek help in areas where you lack expertise. Even a teacher with a doctor's degree in U.S. history needs to seek help when he needs information about Southeast Asia.I consider myself very fortunate to have so many wonderful guides to help me grow in this life. My father, my mother, my martial arts instructors, my schoolteachers and my many friends have all helped in my growth, self-improvement and development. The goal of martial arts is not for the destruction of an opponent. but to be used as a tool for self-growth and self perfection. The practice of a martial art should be a practice of love-the love for the preservation of life, the love for the preservation of your body the love for the preservation of your family and friends.
-by Guro Dan Inosanto
People are still trying to define JKD in terms of a distinct style, i.e. Bruce Lee's Gung-Fu, Bruce Lee's Karate, Bruce Lee's Kick-Boxing or Bruce Lee's Street Fighting. To label JKD as Bruce Lee's martial art is to miss completely its meaning; its concepts simply cannot be confined within a system. To understand this, a martial artist must transcend the duality of the "for" and "against" and reach one unity which is without distinction. The understanding of JKD is a direct intuition of this unity. Truth cannot be perceived until we have come to hill understanding of our selves and our potential. According to Lee, knowledge in the martial arts ultimately means self- knowledge. Jeet Kune Do is not a new style of Karate or Kung Fu. Bruce Lee did not invent a new style, or a composite, or modify any style to set it apart from any existing method. His main concept was to free his followers from clinging to style, pattern or mold. It must be emphasized that fret Kune Do is merely a name-a mirror in which we see ourselves. There is some sort of progressive approach to its training but, as Si Gung Lee said, "To create a method of fighting is pretty much like putting a pound of water into wrapping paper and shaping it." Structurally, many people tend to mistake JKD for a composite style, because of its efficiency. At any given time, JKD can resemble Thai boxing, or Wing Chun, or wrestling or Karate or any Kung Fu system. According to Si Gung Lee, the efficiency of style depends upon circumstances and range of distance. The important factor is not technique, but the range of its effectiveness. Just as a grenade is used at 50 yards, a dagger is used in close. A staff for example, would be the wrong weapon to bring into a telephone booth to fight, whereas a knife would be appropriate. Jeet Kune Do is neither opposed to style, nor is it not opposed to style. We can say it is outside as well as inside of all particular structures. Because JKD makes no claim to being a style, some people conclude that perhaps it is being neutral or simply indifferent. Again, this is not the case, for JKD is at once "this" and "not this." A good JKD practitioner rests in direct intuition. According to Si Gung Lee, a style should be like a Bible with principles and laws which can never be violated. There will always be a difference with regard to quality of training, physical make up. level of understanding, environmental conditioning and likes and dislikes. According to Si Gung Lee, truth is a "pathless road"; thus JKD is not an organization or an institution of which one can be a member. "Either you understand or you don't, and that is that," he said.
Martial arts, like life itself, arc a constant, non-rhythmic movement, as well as constant change. Flowing with this change is very important. Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says JKD is exclusively JKD is simply "not with it." He is still "hung up" on his own self-closing resistance, anchored down to reactionary pattern and, naturally, is still bound by another modified pattern and can move only within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that the truth exists outside of all molds and patterns. An awareness is never exclusive. To quote Si Gung Lee, "Jeet Kune Do is just a name, a boat to get one across the river. Once across, it is to be discarded and not to be carried on ones back." I feel that students should be taught experiences as well as technique. In other words, a Karate practitioner who has never boxed before needs to experience sparring with a boxer. What he learns from this experience is strictly up to him. According to Si Gang Lee, a teacher is not the giver of truth; he is merely a guide to the truth and the student must discover the truth for himself. The total picture Si Gung Lee wanted to present to his pupil was tat, above everything else, he must find his own way He always said, "Your truth is not my truth and my truth is not yours." Si Gung Lee did not have a blueprint, but rather a series of guidelines to lead you to proficiency Using equipment, there was a systematic approach in which you could develop speed, distance, power. timing, coordination, endurance and footwork. Jeet Kune Do, for Si Gung Lee, was not an end in itself, nor was it merely a by-product; it was a means of self-discovery In other words, it was a prescription for personal growth; it was an investigation of freedom-freedom to act naturally and effectively nor only in combat but in life. In life, it means to absorb what is useful, to reject what is useless and to add specifically what is your own. I believe to better understand JKD you must observe and better yet, experience Judo, Jujitsu, Aikido, Western boxing, some kicking styles. Chinese systems of sensitivity such as Wing Chun, the elements of Kali and Eskrima, with the elements of Pentjak Silat, Thai boxing, French Savate and Bando, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. It is nor necessary to study all of these arts, only to understand the high and low points of each, as well as the range, distance and effectiveness of each, it would be impossible to study every style in detail, but if you can get the essence, you can capture the style. Or, as Bruce used to say, "I hope martial artists are more interested in the root of martial arts and not the different decorative branches, flowers or leaves. It is futile in argue as to which single leaf, which designs of branches, or wich attractive flower you like; when you understand the root, you understand all it blossoming." In other words, there is a distance in which Western boxing is superior to any kicking style, whether it be Korean Karate or Northern Chinese styles of kicking. There is a distance and a time whereby Wing Chun can be superior to Western boxing; likewise where Western boxing is superior to Wing Chun; likewise where Tai-Chi Chuan can be superior to Wing Chun; and likewise where wrestling can offset Tai Chi Chuan. Neither art is inferior/superior to any other. This is the object of Jeet Kune Do; to be bound by no style and in combat to use no style as style, to use no way as way, to use no system as system. to have no limitation as your limit in achieving your goal. Neither be for a particular style or against one. in other words it just "is" as in the Zen maxim: "In the landscape of spring there is neither better nor worse. The flowering branches grow, some short, some long." Draw from everything with no boundaries to limit you. The principles of Jeet Kane Do can relate to any interest or vocation in one's life. Martial arts was the field that Bruce Lee was most interested in. However, his technique could be applied to any aspect of life. In addition, the knowledge derived from any one field can help the individual in every other field. In other words, the principles of Jeet Kune Do involve using certain ideas, techniques and approaches to life whenever appropriate. The principles of JKD reach far beyond martial ans. Other men in pursuit of knowledge and truth have made use of this philosophy. The notion of change is essential of Jeet Kune Do. The concept advocates learning, experiencing and evolving above all things. Jeet Kune Do will continue to grow as long as one person is using its approach toward discovery. The vitality of JKD will continue long after the first generation, and Jun Fan Gung-Fu-Jeet Kune Do students and instructors have passed on. What Si Gung Lee's presence, as a symbol, may lead others to aspire to, is what counts. If his influence as a human being who "followed his own path" can help another to discover his or her own path, Si Gung Lee's purpose has been achieved. Perhaps this is Si Gung Bruce Lee's greatest gift to our world. The gift of freshness and an open-minded approach to knowledge, which will never stop.
Jeet kune do - the literal translation is "way of the intercepting fist" - was conceived by Bruce Lee in 1967. Unlike many other martial arts, there are neither a series of rules nor a classification of techniques which constitute a distinct Jeet Kune Do (JKD) method of fighting. JKD is unbound; JKD is freedom. It possesses everything, yet in itself is possessed by nothing. Those who understand JKD are primarily interested in its powers of liberation when JKD is used as a mirror for self-examination. In the past, many have tried to define JKD in terms of a distinct style: Bruce Lee's kung-fu; Bruce Lee's karate; Bruce Lee's kickboxing; Bruce Lee's system of street fighting. To label JKD "Bruce Lee's martial art" is to completely mistake Bruce Lee's - and JKD's-meaning. JKD's concepts simply cannot be confined within a single system. To understand this, a martial artist must transcend the duality of "for" and "against," reaching for that point of unity which is beyond mere distinction. The understanding of JKD is the direct intuition of this point of unity. According to Bruce Lee, knowledge in the martial arts ultimately means self-knowledge. Jeet kune do is not a new style of kung-fu or karate. Bruce Lee did not invent a new or composite style, nor did he modify a style to set it apart from any existing method. His concept was to free his followers from clinging to any style, pattern, or mold. It must be emphasized that jeet kune do is merely a name, a mirror reflecting ourselves. There is a sort of progressive approach to JKD training, but as Lee observed: "To create a method of fighting is like putting a pound of water into wrapping paper and shaping it." Structurally, many people mistake JKD as a composite style of martial art because of its efficiency. At any given time jeet kune do can resemble Thai boxing or wing chun or wrestling or karate. Its weaponry resembles Filipino escrima and kali; in long-range application it can resemble Northern Chinese kung-fu or savate. According to Lee, the efficiency of any style depends upon circumstances and the fighting range of distance: the soldier employs a hand grenade at 50 yards, but he chooses a dagger for close-quarters combat. A staff, to take another example, is the wrong weapon to take to a fight in a telephone booth; a knife would again be the most appropriate weapon. Jeet kune do is neither opposed or unopposed to the concept of style. We can say that it is outside as well as inside of all particular structures. Because JKD makes no claim to existing as a style, some individuals conclude that it is neutral or indifferent to the question. Again, this is not the case, for JKD is at once "this" and "not this." A good JKD practitioner rests his actions on direct intuition. According to Lee, a style should never be like the Bible in which the principles and laws can never be violated. There will always be differences between individuals in regard to the quality of training, physical make-up, level of understanding, environmental conditioning, and likes and dislikes. According to Bruce, truth is a "pathless road"; thus JKD is not an organization or an institution of which one can be a member. "Either you understand or you don't - and that is that," he said. When Bruce taught a Chinese system of kung-fu (it was shortly after his arrival in the United States), he did operate an institute of learning; but after that early period he abandoned his belief in any particular system or style, Chinese or otherwise. Lee did say that to reach the masses one should probably form some type of organization; for his own part, he dismissed the notion as unnecessary to his own teaching. Still, to reach the ever growing numbers of students, some sort of preconceived sets had to be established. And as a result of such a move by martial arts organizations, many of their members would be conditioned to a prescribed system; many of their members would end up as prisoners of systematic drilling.
This is why Lee believed in teaching only a few students at any time. Such a method of instruction required the teacher to maintain an alert observation of each student in order to establish the necessary student-teacher relationship. As Lee so often observed, "A good instructor functions as a pointer of the truth, exposing the student's vulnerability, forcing him to explore himself both internally and externally, and finally integrating himself with his being." Martial arts - like life itself - is in flux, in constant arhythmic movements, in constant change. Flowing with this change is very important. And finally, any JKD man who says that JKD is exclusively JKD is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his own self-enclosing resistance, still anchored to reactionary patterns, still trapped within limitation. Such a person has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside of all molds or patterns. Awareness is never exclusive. To quote Bruce: "Jeet kune do is just a name, a boat used to get one across the river. Once across it is discarded and not to be carried on one's back." In 1981, the JKD concept was taught in only three places: the Filipino Kali Academy in Torrance, California; in Charlotte, North Carolina (where Larry Hartsell taught a few select students); and in Seattle, Washington (under the direction of Taki Kimura). The bulk of the JKD concept is taught in Torrance, where the school is under the direction of myself and Richard Bustillo. It is organized in accordance with the premise that a JKD man must undergo different experiences. For example, in Phase 1 and Phase 2 classes at the Filipino Kali Academy, students are taught Western boxing and Bruce Lee's method of kick boxing - jun fan. I deeply feel that students should be taught experiences as opposed to techniques, In other words, a karate practitioner who has never boxed before needs to experience sparring with a boxer. What he learns from that experience is up to him. According to Bruce, a teacher is not a giver of truth; he is merely a guide to the truth each student must find. The total picture Lee wanted to present to his pupils was that above everything else, the pupils must find their own way to truth. He never hesitated to say, "Your truth is not my truth; my truth is not yours." Bruce did not have a blueprint, but rather a series of guidelines to lead one to proficiency. In using training equipment, there was a systematic approach in which one could develop speed, distance, power, timing, coordination, endurance and footwork. But jeet kune do was not an end in itself for Bruce - nor was it a mere by-product of his martial studies; it was a means to self discovery. J KD was a prescription for personal growth; it was an investigation of freedom - freedom not only to act naturally and effectively in combat, but in life. In life, we absorb what is useful and reject what is useless, and add to experience what is specifically our own. Bruce Lee always wanted his students to experience judo, jujutsu, aikido, Western boxing; he wanted his students to explore Chinese systems of sensitivity like wing chun, to explore the elements of kali, escrima, arnis; to explore the elements of pentjak silat, Thai boxing, savate. He wanted his students to come to an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each method. No art is superior or inferior to any other. That is the object lesson of jeet kune do, to be unbound, to be free: in combat to use no style as style, to use no way as the way, to have no limitation as the only limitation. Neither be for or against a particular style. In other words, jeet kune do "just is.' Or to use the words of a Zen maxim to describe jeet kune do, "In the landscape of spring there is neither better nor worse. The flowering branches grow, some short, some long."
"What is Jeet kune do?" With these words, Bruce began his profound article entitled, "Liberate Yourself From Classical Karate" in the September 1971 issue of Black Belt magazine. Twenty-three years after his death it seems appropriate to ask this question once again. For a number of years, I had heard murmuring that there was controversy and confusion in the world of Jeet kune do. Bruce's senior instructor in Seattle, Wash., Taky Kimura, had talked to me numerous times about needing to do something to ensure that Bruce's art of Jeet kune do would not be lost after all of his first-generation students had departed the scene. Distressing Signals On Bruce's gravestone, it reads "Founder of Jeet Kune Do." I had earnestly hoped that someday his grandchildren would read that and know what a remarkable creative genius their grandfather was. I was distressed to read and hear about the polarity in points of view regarding what the name Jeet kune do means. Bruce said, "If people say Jeet kune do is different from 'this' or from 'that,' then let the name of Jeet kune do he wiped out for that is what it is, just a name. Please don't fuss over it." I have given this expression great consideration and sometimes thought, yes, let it be wiped out-Bruce would be happier about that than having the name applied to: a restricted set of skills merely imitative of his combative moves; simply a theoretical approach to the study of martial arts; an eclectic jumble of any fighting techniques and philosophical dogma that is convenient; or some combination of these three. Obviously then, Jeet kune do could mean anything or nothing.
Perhaps the name Jeet kune do should have been wiped out long ago, but now, 23 years after Bruce's death, the name is too widely associated with Bruce Lee's way of martial arts to simply vanish like a star on a cloudy night. It is time once again to point a finger at the moon and see if it can let the light of the Jeet kune do star shine through. Keep in mind, however, as Bruce said, "The usefulness of the finger is in pointing away from itself to the light which illumines finger and all." To examine the heavenly beauty, it seemed right and proper that the people who were Bruce's personal friends and students should gather to explore the meaning and direction of Jeet kune do. On Jan. 10-11, 1996 in Seattle, Wash., a group of 13 of Bruce's original students, including the assistant instructors of his schools, Taky Kimura and Dan Inosanto, three second-generation students, our daughter, Shannon, and myself met. During the meetings a number of momentous decisions were made which were significant to the perpetuation of Bruce Lee's martial art. Original vs. Concepts Our discussion first turned to popular opinion expressed in the press. At that time debate raged widely about two seemingly divergent points of view that labeled Jeet kune do either "original" or "conceptual"'. One group accused the other of being stuck in time, merely imitating Bruce's moves and ignoring his dictate to grow and adapt to changing times and circumstances. The other side asserted that the conceptual school consisted of simply a theoretical approach relying on research development and change for the sake of change that would lead to the eventual disappearance of the fundamental roots of Jeet kune do. It did not take us long to realize that, like the yin and the yang, there were elements of each within the other; for example, Bruce's original teachings contain within them the concept of independent inquiry: "Learning is definitely not mere imitation, nor is it the ability to accumulate and regurgitate fixed knowledge. Learning is a constant process of discovery, a process without end. In JKD we begin not by accumulation but by discovering the cause of our ignorance, a discovery that involves a shedding process." Clearly there exists a "non-fixed" body of technical and philosophical knowledge which was studied and taught by Bruce Lee, and clearly the essential element of Jeet kune do that it is not a thing, rather it is an individual process of evolving to the greatest height of self-actualization. Therefore, it was concluded that there is no real difference between the two schools of thought and that the labels original and concepts were non-descriptive and should be eliminated. The problem remained, however, that the name Jeet kune do implied different things to different people. We endeavored to find some clarification. The group discussed the fact that there are many schools around the world that purport to teach something called Jeet kune do whose instructors have little or no qualifications in the art. Using the name Jeet kune do or some version of it has become so common that it has led to great confusion among the public, especially those seeking legitimate instruction. Therefore, it was decided that from this day forward, to distinguish the body of technical and philosophical knowledge studied and taught by Bruce Lee from any other version of "Jeet kune do," the name JUN FAN JEET KUNE DO should be adopted as the name of Bruce's true art. Jun Fan Reborn The reason the name Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do was chosen is significant and bears explanation. Jun Fan was Bruce's Chinese first or given name. The meaning of Jun Fan in literal translation is "to arouse and shake the foreign countries." This Bruce accomplished by shining the bright light of his beautiful Chinese culture on the peoples of all nations. Secondly, when Bruce opened his first formal school in Seattle he called it the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, thus it is of historical importance. Taky Kimura has always taught under the name Jun Fan Gung Fu because that was the name Bruce used when he lived in Seattle. Dan Inosanto has also taught elements of Bruce's curriculum incorporating Jun Fan, therefore for all these reasons the Jun Fan name was retained. Shannon suggested the name JUN FAN JEET KUNE DO and it was approved by everyone present. It is important to note that there is no slash between Jun Fan and Jeet kune do because the development of Bruce's art was a continuous and indivisible process. After lengthy discussion the group which met in Seattle decided that Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do should apply for status as a nonprofit corporation and thereby the name could be protected and recognized for the benefit of future generations. In our deliberations, we recalled Bruce's own words from the 1971 article: "It is conceivable that a long time ago a certain martial artist discovered some partial truth. During his lifetime, the man resisted the temptation to organize this partial truth...After his death his students took 'his' hypotheses, 'his' postulates, 'his' inclinations, and 'his' method and turned them into law...What originated as one man's intuition of some sort of personal fluidity has been transformed into solidified, fixed knowledge...In so doing, the well-meaning, loyal followers have not only made this knowledge a holy shrine, but also a tomb in which they have buried the founder's wisdom." Certainly we wanted to avoid interrupting the flow toward personal liberation by casting in stone rigid sets of prescribed routines or patterns of thinking that the creation of an organization could imply. But there are different types of organizations: one type sets itself up as an authority, establishing fixed belief patterns intended to perpetuate the organization. This can be likened to what Bruce said about styles: "A style should never be considered gospel truth, the laws and principles of which can never be violated. Man, the living, creating individual, is always more important than any established style." Freed from Bondage
Bruce was very clear that he had not created a "style," but rather that his goal was to free his students from bondage to styles, patterns and doctrines. In good conscience, we could not undertake to create an organization that would stifle the growth of its individual members. Instead, we decided that Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do would be an organization of the second type, that is, one established for the purpose of promoting understanding through providing the means for those seeking information about the art of Bruce Lee. These means will take the form of educational materials such as books, articles, audio and videotapes, seminars and individual instruction. In deciding to form an organization, we struggled with the same considerations that were presented when I allowed selections of Bruce's notes to be compiled and published as The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. When Bruce was in the process of recording his notes, which he tentatively entitled, "Commentaries on the Martial Way", he wavered on whether to publish it. He was leaning toward not making his notes public because he did not want his way to be taken as the gospel truth with patterns that would be endlessly imitated and laws that could never be violated. Some years after Bruce died, I searched my soul and decided that the knowledge contained in Bruce's notes was far too valuable to be locked away forever. There is a legend about Buddha that when he preached his message on the extinguishing of selfishness and hatred through the conquest of the ego, the devil appeared to him and said, "You have penetrated through to the secret of life, but if you preach this truth to others they will not understand you." Buddha replied, "There will be some who will understand." That was my hope in publishing The Tao, and that is my hope now in the formation of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. Let the Argument Begin There is a tendency among those who adhere to partial truths about Jeet kune do to use The Tao like a bible, that is, to start from a conclusion and then find a passage to justify it. Jeet kune do is described by some as merely a theoretical approach to the study of martial arts. They recite passages written by Bruce where he talks about "formlessness, assuming all forms, fitting in with all styles, using all ways, being bound by none, efficiency is anything that scores," etc., to bolster their argument. Alternatively, there are those who call Jeet kune do a curriculum containing only a limited number of techniques that stopped evolving with Bruce's death because he did not have time to complete his investigations. As is often the case, there is a bit of truth in each assertion. However. If either of these assertions were all that Jeet kune do is, then Bruce could not have written thousands of pages to describe essential combative principles and techniques, philosophical precepts that integrate physical training with mental cultivation, a sound scientific basis, and spiritual awareness that transcends the art of combat into a way of life. It bothers me when Bruce's art is referred to as simply a bunch of elements drawn from various sources-an eclectic mixes. And yet I can see how that perception persists and has some validity-again, a partial truth. Bruce did investigate all types of combative arts, Western, Eastern, ancient and modern; he did incorporate principles and techniques from boxing, fencing, judo, wing chun, to name but a few. What I object to is the implication that this process lacked originality because it was just a composite of other arts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jeet kune do is based on certain principles that Bruce found to be universal to all human beings with two arms and two legs. For a technique to become part of Bruce's personal expression it had to fit the parameters of the fundamental principles. This process was given profound deliberation and was accomplished with artistic finesse and creative genius. It is this set of basic technical, scientific and philosophical principles-the foundation of Bruce's art-that the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus seeks to preserve-nothing, more, nothing less. Ideally every person who understands the basic principles of Jeet kune do should end up expressing himself uniquely, that is, he will research his own experience, absorbing that which is useful and rejecting the unsuitable, and contributing his own specific interpretation. When individuals reach the stage of artlessness, or the height of simplicity, then truly they will have found their own expression of Jeet kune do, different from anyone else. But one cannot reach that pinnacle without having assembled the building blocks. It is a given that if Bruce were here today, Jeet kune do would be vastly different. But to try to predict in what direction he may have taken it is truly an impossible task. Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do does not presume to say what he would have chosen to explore. Pete Jacob's, a Nucleus member, put it this way: "To say this is JKD or that is JKD would be impossible unless Bruce were here to say it. Everything else is interpretation. If you write a book and show techniques, you will have defeated all Bruce stood for. If you give only his philosophy, everyone will interpret it differently. To explain what he did at the time he did it and to leave room for change and personal adaptation is the only thing that might work." One Man, One Vote The group of charter members who met in Seattle chose the name Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus to describe this core group. The name Nucleus was chosen because it is a term Bruce often used in describing the "totality" of combat or the "circle of no circumference." Bruce wrote that the totality consisted of sticking to the nucleus; liberation from the nucleus; and returning to the original freedom." The Nucleus, unlike a martial arts school where rank is necessary, is not arranged in a hierarchical order; each person has an equal vote as to activities that are undertaken. The Nucleus feels that each of its members has his own experiences, remembrances and interpretations of their time with Bruce, "a piece of the puzzle," so to speak, and an equal desire to see Bruce's work preserved. It is acknowledged that some individuals spent more and some less time with Bruce, however all insights are invaluable. The goals of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do unanimously approved by all members of the Nucleus present at our inaugural meeting in Seattle are as follows:
* To preserve and perpetuate the art of Jun Fan Jeet kune do and to foster respect for its Bruce Jun Fan Lee. * To disseminate information to the martial arts community and the public about the art of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do based upon Bruce Lee's written notes and records and the personal experiences of his students and friends. * To serve as a living repository of all the various aspects of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do including physical/technical training, historical foundation, scientific basis and philosophical/mental/spiritual learning. * To maintain high standards of quality with regard to the dissemination of information concerning the art and its founder. * To establish a Code of Ethics calling for mutual respect between Nucleus members and for instructors and practitioners of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. * To give recognition to legitimate instructors and practitioners of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. To summarize, Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do sees itself as an educational body whose main function is to disseminate information. To borrow Bruce's words, the Nucleus does not seek anyone's approval nor does it seek to influence anyone toward a certain pattern of thinking. We will be more than satisfied if an individual searching for knowledge about Bruce Lee's art "begins to investigate everything for himself and ceases to uncritically accept prescribed formulas." Dan Inosanto's Departure The Nucleus serves as the Board of Directors of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. It is not a closed group and new members will be added. Since the formation of the group we have lost one member and added another. Shortly after attending the January meeting, Dan Inosanto, Bruce's assistant instructor at the L.A. Chinatown School, resigned from the Nucleus, deciding that he could best fulfill his promise and obligation to Bruce in his own way as he has for more than 20 years. He wished the Nucleus the best of luck, saying he shared the common goal of protecting and preserving Bruce's art and hoped for an end to the unfortunate political controversies that have surfaced in recent years. There was some misunderstanding when Dan left the group, which I feel has been blown out of proportion and deserves clarification. It concerns a matter of semantics. When Dan resigned, he asked for emeritus status. This term means "retired from active duty," and since Dan was actually part of the Nucleus for a very short time, emeritus would not have been the appropriate term to use; in fact, "emeritus" would not have applied to anyone since the Nucleus had just been founded. Later, Dan requested "Advisor" status, indicating to me and Taky Kimura that he would willingly share his knowledge of Bruce's art with the Nucleus in its efforts to draw together essential elements. Recognizing Dan Inosanto's many years of experience in studying and teaching Bruce's way of martial art, the Nucleus wanted to welcome him as an advisor but that designation has been assigned to Taky Kimura and Allen Joe, who are active members of the Nucleus. In seeking to show Dan the respect he deserves as Sifu of many Nucleus members both before and after Bruce's death, he was asked to accept the title of Resource Consultant. We felt that "consultant" sounded professional and would offer the independence he desired. Dan, however, chose not to fulfill that role at this time, and so declined the invitation. Dan Inosanto is held in high esteem by his former students for his tremendous skills as a martial artist and his knowledge of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, and he will always be welcome to take an active or consulting role in the Nucleus' goal of unifying Bruce's work. Dan is an integral part of the Jeet kune do family of Bruce Lee, the door remains open to him.
-by Cass Magda
In the late 60's and early 70's the JKD clan was on the cutting edge of martial arts development in America. Bruce Lee's students were sparring full contact, and emphasized conditioning in their training. They had vigorous training similar to boxers and used equipment like hand pads, jump ropes, and kicking sheilds. They wore protective equipment and went 'all out' in the sparring. This is typical today but unheard of for martial arts karate people in the 60's and early 70's. Some well known tournament champions of the day took JKD ideas and introduced them as "kickboxing" to the American public in the 70s. Today the term kickboxing is in common usage. However, JKD was never meant to be a ring sport. Although it may have been the precursor to American kickboxing today, it always trained with the idea of self defense for the street.
The structure of JKD is like kickboxing in some ways and yet much more. A boxer or kickboxer uses his weak side forward. The jab is used as a setup, a minor blow to set up the major blows. The foot jab is used in much the same way. The lead jab and the foot jab are never used as the primary blow. The jab is used as a tool to work his way in, then deliver the other punches to knock the opponent out. Conversely, JKD puts the strongest side forward. The weak side is put back for more power so that there are two strong hands now instead of one like in boxing. The lead leg and arm tools become the primary striking weapons. They are closest to the targets and the most coordinated and most accurate. The lead leg and arm will most often be the first tools the JKD man hits, blocks or grapples with. He will have the most confidence with his strongest side first engaging with the opponent. The JKD man doesn't want to slowly work his way in and exchange punches. The boxer-kickboxer also uses the jab as the measuring stick to know his distance. He uses the jab as a probe to determine his opponents skill and possible counters. Although JKD can and does use these similar tactics with the lead hand and leg when sparring, self defense happens quickly. There is no time for probing, testing, setting up and working your way in to try to deliver your knockout. It is a frantic,broken rhythm scramble for survival. The JKD goal is always to finish it as fast as possible, by any means.In JKD the strongest most coordinated side of the body is used to throw the tools-the various strikes such as punches, kicks or finger jabs to the eyes. This is a strong and suprising first line of defense. The kicking is done from mobile, constantly shifting footwork. The lead leg low shin kick or knee kick is used to attack as well as intercept the opponent's forward movements. With the shoes on, this technique is especially painful. The fascinating 'trapping hands' of JKD support this structure well and it is 'hitting' that is the most important aspect. If the punch is blocked a JKD man traps the hand or arm only to hit again. If there is no resistance then he just keeps on hitting. JKD people also like to use the 'straight blast'. The straight blast is a trademark JKD tactic. It consists of a type of repeating alternating punching along the centerline that is useful to off balance the opponent and hurt him enough to clear the situation for a followup of some kind. The followup could be an elbow, a knee, a break, or a choke. If he uses a submission, it is to hurt or stop the man as quick as possible to end the situation, not try to control him and put him into a fancy lock. The strong side forward ,pushes,pulls and keeps the opponent off balance while constantly pummelling him with hits. These special tactics makes the art of JKD different than the kickboxing type sports.The American martial arts scene has caught up with many of Bruce Lee's JKD ideas concerning contact training. Contact and realistic training has grown. Modern full contact karate styles have adapted the training methods and techniques of western boxing in order to survive in the ring, echos of Bruce Lee's ideas as far back as the 1960's. Muay Thai in America and Europe has fertilized kickboxing with its powerful concepts of kicking, elbowing and kneeing. The UFC, Extreme Fighting, Vale Tudo and Shootfighting have added the specific idea of submission to kickboxing and have a spectator format that is exciting and incredibly enjoyable to watch. They kickbox then grapple all the way to the ground continuing to strike. The original JKD concept of totality in combat for self defense expressed as a ring sport. Of course, JKD shall remain today and for the future as a useful street savy method. It's structure and continued development remains true to the original ideals..."totality in combat" to deliver self defense that is simple, direct and non-classical.
-by Cass Magda
In JKD we always search for ways to make ourselves more functional in combat. This can be done by researching other arts, fitting what is useful into our structure, absorbing what we learn through the rigorous test of full contact sparring, and then eliminating what doesn't work or modifying it so it does. In this research we use the criteria and theory of JKD as a method of study. JKD is our way to study other things to decide if they're functional or not. Dan Inosanto once told me that one of the most important things that Bruce Lee taught him was the ability to decide what was functional and what was not. He called it, "The Functional Eye." "Simple, direct, and non-classical," is a phrase which describes the three cornerstones of JKD. These cornerstones are the criteria for our method of study and analysis of what is functional and what isn’t. They are used when analyzing other martial arts techniques or when trying to improve within our own system of JKD. The first cornerstone is "simplicity." If a technique sequence against an attack takes six moves then the chances of it being used successfully in reality are slim. It's a simple fact that the more moves one has to make, the more chances there are of something going terribly wrong. So part of using simplicity as a criteria is to ask, "How can that six-move sequence be shortened to three moves? Can those three moves be shortened to two?" Ultimately, modifying and changing a six-move sequence to one or two moves and getting the same end result is a JKD way of thinking and studying. "Directness" is the next cornerstone. The techniques of various martial arts can be simple but still not be direct. So, a simple counter such as blocking an attack then hitting back may be simple, but it is not direct. One way to improve directness is to improve the timing of the counterattack. Try to hit just before the opponent's blow lands. In other words, beat him to the punch or perhaps simultaneous block and hit. Interception is considered the highest stage of JKD. Directness can also be improved by minimizing preparatory movements. The less we have to move to hit the better. The last cornerstone is "non-classical." This is the freedom to go outside the established classical system and break the rules of the techniques or theory. The classical system says there is only one way to do something. "Non-classical" in JKD means personalization. When we are being non-classical, we have the freedom to change things for our needs. We may absorb a theory or technique from another source but accomplish it in quite a different way. A lot of the time, as a result of these modifications, the finished motion may end up only faintly resembling or looking nothing like the original source. The modifications change the technique, principle, or training method into something unrecognizable from the style of origin, hence it becomes non-classical. It may also mean that we don't go outside our system to absorb from another source but instead modify what we already have or even create something new to solve the problem. Just as a three-legged stool provides a steadier base than a four-legged chair, the three cornerstones of JKD can be used to improve the martial arts skill of any style by providing a steady base for using what works.
-by Burt Richardson
Are you the type of person who can rise to the occasion, and perform better when there is a great challenge ahead of you? If not, would you like to become this type of person? Like so many things, acquiring this positive attitude is a matter of choice and training. One of the things we should learn through martial arts training is that we have choices to make in bad situations. If an attacker is throwing a big haymaker at you, you have the choice to block, duck, enter and tackle, or kick. Depending on the distance, your awareness, and your training, one of these responses should be executed. You have to make a decision as to which is most appropriate, then follow through to make it work. It sounds easy, but we know that in a real situation there are other factors that can work against us.
If a big, ornery fellow decides to take out his family problems on you, instincts and training are what will get you through the problem. Things will happen very quickly, and there is no time to get ready. The attack comes, and you must respond without thinking. If your training has been realistic, you will respond technically, but if your training has not been in specific counters to street attacks, you will probably go back to instincts, relying on those tactics that have been genetically encoded in your DNA over the last 100,000 years. So what does this have to do with taking up a challenge? The factor that is often missing in our training is pressure. It is easy to make the right choice when we have enough time to think, and we are level-headed, but that is not the environment in which a fight or important life challenges occur. Real-life challenges are full of pressure from outside and from within. If we want to respond tactically, rather than instinctually, we must practice making good choices under pressure. Let’s look at a martial arts-related challenge. Imagine that someone challenged you to a no-holds-barred fight in two weeks, and you accept. This person has about the same amount of training and experience as you do, and is the same size and weight. You go to your school, and some of the other students have heard about the fight. They start telling you that you are crazy, and that you will never be able to defeat this guy. He is just too good, too aggressive, and too powerful. How do you respond to this mental pressure? Does this depress you? Do you start to think that you accepted the fight hastily, and that you should reconsider? This is what most people do naturally, because most human beings doubt themselves. How do you think a champion would respond to this kind of talk? He would rise to the challenge, saying that there is no way this guy can beat him. A person with a winning attitude will be thoroughly convinced that the outcome could be nothing but victory. Instead of moping, he would actually use this negative talk to whip himself into a frenzy so he would train and perform even better than usual. This is the sort of choice we need to make when we hear negative talk about a goal we are trying to accomplish. Here is a question for you to ponder. What would you do if you had friends that constantly doubted you? Every time you thought of doing something positive, these friends gave you a hundred reasons why you would fail. Sounds like these are not the type of people that you should be around, right? Why hang around people that doubt you? Doubt is just negativity that can do you absolutely no good. If your friend says, "I doubt that you can win" he is just expressing his negative imagination. He could have just as easily imagined a positive outcome, but instead chose to create a negative picture in his mind, then transfer it to yours. Not much of a friend! We need people around who will support our efforts to overcome obstacles, not make them appear larger than they really are. Now let’s go inside your head. Here is where we must spend a great deal of time training to choose the aggressive, positive thoughts of a champion. If you accepted that challenge to fight, what happened inside? Did you get a little nervous? Did you hear a little voice inside talking to you? If you are like most people, you will begin to doubt yourself. Somewhere inside your mind you will begin to imagine yourself failing. You go over scenario after scenario where you end up being beaten by your opponent in a variety of ways. Over time, these ideas become more and more detailed until it seems very real to you. Your own mind is working against you much like those no-good, doubting friends. You have to break out of this mindset to achieve your goals in life! You have to take the time to retrain your thought processes. Just like in martial arts training, this takes a lot of time and effort to get good results. First you have to start recognizing every time you have a negative thought pop into your head. As soon as you hear that voice of doubt, refuse to accept it. Instead, replace that voice with a strong, confident thought of success. Use your imagination to create positive pictures rather than negative, self-defeating scenarios. It takes the same amount of effort to visualize positively, and these good pictures will draw you toward self-confidence and success just as the negative scenes lead to self-doubt and failure. Unfortunately, negative self-talk seems to be instinctual. Maybe it is a survival mechanism that kept our cave-dwelling ancestors from tackling lions without proper preparation. Today, most decisions are not life-and-death propositions, even though it may seem like it to your subconscious. Just as you must train diligently to modify your instinctual response in a fight, you must make ingraining creative optimism a priority to overcome negative programming. If a challenge occurs in your life, use it to as fuel to bring out the best of yourself. Get pumped up and drive right through that obstacle. Use your mind to visualize success and over the years you will become more positive and more successful than your old self could have ever imagined!
-by Burt Richarson
Oh, the battles we wage with our egos. While the ego can sometimes light a fire of motivation in a person that results in positive advances, it often becomes the leash that keeps us tied to the doghouse of our own creation. Our own ego can keep us from exploring worlds of wonder that are within our reach, if we will succumb to its limiting impulses.One of the hardest phrases for “experts” to say is, “I don’t know.” For some reason, experts in all types of disciplines from medicine to martial arts feel that they must have an answer for every question.We see this in the martial arts everyday, and I know that I used to fall prey to this dastardly ideal. I remember teaching a class many years ago at the Inosanto Academy when it was in Marina del Rey, Calif. Ego-Driven ImageA student asked me a question about an art in which I had no experience. Rather than admit that I didn’t know much about that style, I came back with an answer that seemed logical from the very limited knowledge I had. The student seemed satisfied, but later that night the situation started to bother me. I realized that I had just made something up, rather than simply telling the student that I didn’t know. I should have told the truth, and said that I would try to find someone who could answer the question. I lied to the student to keep some ego-driven image alive. I have made it a point to get away from this sort of attitude for three main reasons. Developing YourselfFirst, creating the image that you know everything is really dishonest. As soon as we slip into the world of deceit, all sorts of negative things occur. You can’t feel good about yourself when you are living a lie. People who do this routinely may seem very confident, but somewhere there is serious doubt lurking. If I was totally comfortable with myself, and didn’t feel like I had to impress the student, I would not have felt compelled to fabricate an answer.I would have told the truth, and if the student thought less of me for that, then so be it. I would be content with the most important judgment, which is how I feel about myself. If you feel you need to lie or pretend to be someone you are not, then you need to work on developing yourself into the person you want to be. This is one of the greatest lessons we can learn from studying martial arts, especially when one progresses to higher ranks, or becomes an instructor.How you deal with the expectations of others, especially when those expectations are higher than you can currently deliver, will reveal your character. If you don’t like the way you handled the situation, resolve to put it right next time. Lead by ExampleThe second problem with being a “know-it-all” is that it is not beneficial to the students. If you teach, then you lead by example whether or not you want to. Students will not only absorb the technical lesson, but will also be influenced by your behaviors. Strive to display the character of a champion so that your students will do the same. Giving them misinformation may also prove dangerous to the student.What if an instructor told a student that grappling is not an important part of training? He might say it is unnecessary to practice it because we simply won’t go to the ground in a streetfight. The instructor would be doing that student a huge disservice. The student may believe it because his teacher knows better than he does.If the student ever gets into a real altercation, he may end up on the ground without any skills at all. That is a bad place to be. It would be much better to say, “I haven’t actually spent time learning grappling, so you would be better off talking to someone who has cross-trained in standing and ground fighting.” How many times have you heard that sort of response? Not often, I’ll bet. Personal GrowthThe third reason for getting rid of the attitude that we must have an answer for everything is that it will impede your personal growth. It will be very hard to train outside your own system if you act like you already have all the answers. You will get caught in a negative loop where you want to explore other areas, but are afraid to because you may lose that image of being the “master”.
Liberating ExperiencesAgain, if you become secure with yourself, it is all right to be a beginner and make mistakes. Keep your mind on progressing, and you will always be on an interesting and rewarding road. If you teach, then your students will get to enjoy a similar path.Being able to say, “I don’t know” has been one of the most-liberating experiences of my life. I don’t need to act like someone else, or put on airs that I am more educated or experienced than I am. Try this in everyday life as well. If someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, just say so. You will feel good, and you may end up learning something yourself. Keep your mind on progressing, and you will always be on an interesting and rewarding road.If you teach, then your students will get to enjoy a similar path.
-by William Edgeworth
The Eastern martial arts and their influences have been stated and analyzed throughout the past two decades in the examination of jeet kune do.Since the propositions exist that JKD is American, yet borrows heavily from other Eastern arts, where and how does Western fencing enter into the equation? In the original synopsis that he was drawing up while attending the University of Washington, JKD founder Bruce Lee stated he was working on a new martial arts program or concept. This idea was to merge the mind and body into one cohesive unit. One of the first physical arts mentioned was Western fencing.Fencing is an art which requires more than just the physical attributes of quickness, athletic prowess, cunning and lightning hand/eye coordination. It is both a Western (and Olympic) sport that is attractive and alien due to the unavailability of both instructors and salons (training facilities) in the United States. It’s In The BibleThe analogies bonding the influences both directly and indirectly between fencing and JKD are quoted in the fractured, yet absorbing thesis known as the Tao of Jeet Kune Do.This formidable treatise on Lee’s concepts of the complete fighting art directly observes the similarities between the two. And makes note of it throughout its rendering. One of the first analogies is that of the fencer’s foil. Equated to that of the lead (right) hand of the JKD practitioner, it is the single most important tool in both arts. Fast, evasive, and able to hit both high and low lines. The lead hand in JKD is Western sword fencing without the sword.This lead hand must be mobile and able to penetrate deep within the opponent’s lines, sometimes obscuring his vision so as to enter into a combination sequence.In foil competition, the foil is used as a probing tool, engaging and disengaging the opponent’s blade, using the sensitivity or energy of the opponent’s blade as a reference point. This includes moving inside, outside or feinting an attack to gain a committal action based on these probing nuances.Everything in JKD can and does work off the integrity of the lead hand. The jab. The cross. The hooks, counters, stop hits and traps. This is similar to the fashion in which the foil allows the fencer to counter or stop hit based on its initial probing with the blade. In context, both the eye jab in JKD and the blade in general are said to be felt and not seen. Each illustratrates the lightning swiftness needed to execute lead hand movements.
Best Foot ForwardFurther examination yields the following relationship dealing with footwork. The on-guard stance or by jong in JKD is a modified variation of wing chun and Western boxing basic foot positions. However, more elemental is the stance itself. Often controversial, Lee believed in the strong side forward position. Critics argue that conventional boxing and some, if not most, fighting arts utilize an orthodox or left-side forward position. This saves your strong punch or right hand to be used after the setting up of your opponent.In relation to fencing, Lee realized the dominant hand is the one cradling the foil. It would be fruitless for a fencer to switch the foil during a match; switching leads would yield little impact in the way of scoring on an opponent without your fastest, most economical tool.However, when dealing with empty-hand fighting Lee believed this should not be written in stone. In JKD the ability to adapt and change leads within the course of an engagement may be beneficial to outwitting a clever foe. Thus, matching unlike or like leads can open lines or gates not previously available.The basic footwork patterns such as the step and slide, slide and step, and even the JKD straight blast (jit chung chuie) reflect the extend advance, quick advance and Flesche (running attack) in fencing.We also have seen an exchange between the two arts in the way of terminology. However, if true to the premise that more than a subtle relationship exists between JKD and fencing. What attributes are gained through this association?Let us first examine the methodology of “getting to” an opponent. By discovering the proper angle of attack through correct timing and line (high or low) choice, you can bridge the gap to close-range fighting.As previously mentioned, basic step and slide or slide and step footwork will advance you toward your opponent. Utilizing the footwork from fencing entails utilizing the attributes of pushing off the rear foot. Thus, the rear foot in JKD acts as an accelerator or piston in which to propel you smoothly and rapidly forward. This footwork is supplemented with one of the most basic elements in fencing feints. Compound AttackNot only do they allow you to close the distance in your initial attack, but as in fencing, they allow you to compound the attack with one or more moves (but no more than three).Employed in feinting is the concept of high/low attack. This feigning of one line to hit another is analogous to the sectors that the body (trunk) is divided up into in fencing.One may use a false or deceptive movement into one line with his blade to draw a response or indirectly attack another line.Both concepts of feints and direct or progressive indirect attacks are modeled into the methodology of JKD’s five ways of attack. They also allow one to be noncommittal in one’s attack and adjust or flow based on the energies exhibited by the opponent.This relationship between fencer and JKD practitioner is illustrated and exemplified time and time again with JKD enhancing the others distinct attributes. These attributes are what Bruce Lee considered the highest form of JKD training. And the sensitivity Lee gathered from his earliest form of training wing chun’s chi sao greatly employs many of these same energy or sensitivity movements of fencing.Cohesion with the opponent, getting in enough to feel his energy and be receptive to it. This JKD facet is similar to the force of the fencer’s blade moving under and over his opponent’s. By forming a preliminary analysis he has discovered what type of fighter he is facing. With JKD it is this realm of cohesion or clinching that forms reference points and allows the practitioner to immobilize or trap his opponent’s hands. This trapping skill is one of the most important features in JKD, whereas in fencing the foil is used to create these energy reference points, employing the slide, bind or coupe as a immobilizing way of attack.Western foil fencing permeates throughout JKD with similar phrases, movements, line of attack, immobilization techniques, footwork and forced action. Lee realized the lightning-quick strokes and riposte in fencing were ideal for jeet kune do. Actually, it’s such a perfect fit, one wonders why the two arts were not integrated before.
-Interview conducted by Jose Fraguas
He is the senior member of the jeet kune do family and was one of Bruce Lee's closest friends. Bruce took him under his wing and made him his assistant in the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in Seattle, Wash. During the years following Bruce's death, Taky Kimura decided to be silent about his training and relationship with the founder of jeet kune do. As a person, Taky Kimura is extremely humble and respectful to his teacher and to the art he received. For almost four decades, Taky Kimura has been teaching the Jun Fan method of gung-fu in his basement. He doesn't advertise for students and he likes to walk softly. As a teacher, he understands his students and supports them in any direction they decide to go. Since 1973 he has taken care of his sifu's grave and keeps it clean by visiting several times a week. "It's not a chore. It's an honor and a privilege. It's a humble way of paying back everything Bruce did for me." INSIDE KUNG-FU: When did you meet Bruce Lee?TAKY KIMURA: It was shortly after he arrived in Seattle. I was 38 and almost old enough to be his father. He was 17 years old at that time and came to stay with Ping and Ruby Chow, who were longtime friends of his father and who owned a restaurant where Bruce was supposed to work as a waiter. I met him through Jesse Glover, who was Bruce's first student in Seattle. IKF: What was your first reaction to him?TK: He was full of energy and somewhat flamboyant but on the other side he was a typical teenager. He spoke English with a British accent and at that time he stuttered a bit which made it a little bit difficult for him to express himself properly. No one ever kidded him about that because it would have been a disaster! In fact, a good friend of mine stuttered also. I introduced him to Bruce and my friend began to stutter. Bruce was looking at him and began tensing up because he felt my friend was making fun of him. Thank God my friend quickly said, "I stutter too!" Bruce realized the whole situation and we all laughed. IKF: What was Bruce's art during this time?TK: His nucleus was definitely the wing chun system, but taught us a modified version of it. Of course, he was familiar with many other Chinese kung-fu styles such as praying mantis, choy lee fut, hung gar, but I think he really identified himself with the wing chun method. The realistic approach to fighting that he used later on to create the art of jeet kune do was taking form within him because he already knew what he felt was the most useful from all these styles.
IKF: Traditionally, Chinese teachers hold back certain methods. Was Bruce this way?TK: I do believe he kept a lot of things for himself, but I also know that he was very open with me. I understand that the traditional teachers do not teach 100 percent, but that they keep things for themselves in case some student turns on them. I can honestly say that if he felt you were trustworthy, he was very unselfish about his teachings. If you were sincere, honest, and dedicated he would teach you without holding anything back. He didn't care what race or nationality you were either. That attitude brought him some problems because some Chinese masters felt uncomfortable with him teaching non-Chinese people. IKF: How do you view the art of jeet kune do?TK: The art of jeet kune do was developed by Bruce while he was living in Los Angeles. I can say that it was the product of many years of martial arts research. Probably because my close relationship with him as a friend, I am the only guy in Seattle that saw the JKD level that he was into whenever he came up here. His approach was very revolutionary in the mid-'60s and many people weren't ready to understand what he was talking about. The training emphasized contact sparring with headgear, gloves, and shin guards — that was something very uncommon then. He was talking about "liberating" the martial artist when a lot of people didn't understand what it meant "to be slave of a style." I can compare the art of jeet kune do to a beautiful sculptured object. The final product is awesome but how did he do it? I think it's important to go through the pieces that he discarded, study them, and learn them to get up to that point because it was an ongoing process of "shedding away the nonessentials." Sometimes there are things that we don't understand today but that will became increasingly clear to us in time. Unfortunately, I have seen the effects of exploitation and inadequacy in jeet kune do and rarely, if ever, do many gain more than just a physical understanding of what the art is all about. IKF: How important is the material Bruce taught in Seattle in the context of the whole JKD experience?TK: The principles of simplicity, directness, and efficiency were already his guidelines during his time in Seattle. He was evolving and being very creative. His knowledge was limited at that time but the basic principles of economy of motion, simplicity and directness that he was teaching in Seattle were the same that he taught later on in the Oakland and Los Angeles schools. The difference was in the delivery systems of the techniques and the training methods that he developed after being exposed to other arts such as boxing and Western fencing. For instance, his straight punch was pretty much the same but the footwork he was using in Los Angeles was from fencing. He realized that he had to be able to punch and hit targets from a longer distance than a classic wing chun man — he wanted to be more mobile as well. IKF: Did Bruce update you on his progress and evolution?TK: He used to come to Seattle because (wife) Linda's mother was living here. He used to call me in advance so I could take time away from work to be trained in the new things he was going into. I was very fortunate that he didn't forget me and was willing to share his knowledge with me. He was very perceptive as a teacher because he knew that I was only capable of assimilating a certain amount of knowledge at any given point, so he never threw a bunch of stuff at me. He paced himself as a teacher according to my capabilities as student. IKF: It is true that Bruce called you and told you “chi sao was out?"TK: He called me and said that chi sao was not the focal point anymore, as we had thought earlier. I was shocked. He probably realized the limitations of certain aspects of wing chun when trying to practice "sticky hands" with someone like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I have to say that at that time I didn't understand what Bruce meant, but now I do. I guess this was part of his "liberation" as a martial artist. He didn't mean chi sao was useless, but only that it was not the nucleus of what he was teaching in Los Angeles. He realized that it was a important part of the totality in combat, but not the only part of it as he emphasized during his days in Seattle where he taught wing chun. For a wing chun man, chi sao is probably the most important aspect in training and it dictates the students' approach to fighting. He didn't have the tunnel-vision approach of the classic gung-fu man. The wing chun that I know is the modified version Bruce taught me and I guess its structure takes away a lot of the impractical things that you can learn in other systems. But don't misunderstand me, I don't want to take anything away from anyone else. IKF: How did you two became such good friends?TK: We were both Oriental and they say that "blood is thicker than water." I guess he needed someone that he could trust and depend on for more than simply gung-fu training. IKF: You mentioned once that Bruce helped you to overcome many complex issues. Like what?TK: I went through a lot of very hard situations in my life, and at that time I had no respect or regard for myself. Bruce made me realize that I am a human being and I have equal rights. He changed my way of thinking and looking at myself. He told me I'm just as good as anyone else and I began to believe in myself. In the gung-fu school he took me aside, under his wing, and helped me to develop self-confidence.
IKF: You were injured during a class demonstrations, right?TK: Yes, I was badly injured in my right eye. Bruce was demonstrating the principle of a straight punch, telling everyone that he wanted the force of the punch to penetrate through the target. He looked at the group and at the same time he threw the punch. His fist connected to my right eye, broke my glasses and cut my eyeball. We went to the hospital where the doctor took all the glass splinters out of my eye and scolded me for wearing glasses during such a violent physical activity. IKF: What did Bruce say?TK: He scolded me for moving! I was sure as hell I didn't, but I wasn't going to be one telling him I hadn't! IKF: What is your personal goal as far as teaching is concerned?TK: I'm not here to teach people how to fight. If with what I'm sharing can help them to feel good about themselves, then I'm happy. I don't make instructors and I don't certify people. I'm not here to tell students that what we have is better that this style or that style. I'm just interested in being in my little corner. At one time Bruce and I were talking about starting a chain of schools in United States, but later on we decided against it. I still remember what he said: "What is really important is that you have a few close friends around, and work out a couple of times a week, and go down to Chinatown to have a cup of tea." IKF: Do you think a good instructor has to be a good fighter?TK: Well, the basic idea to become a good fighter is that you have to be trained to be a good fighter; and so to become a good teacher you have to be trained and taught to be a good teacher. Definitely if you can use what you know in a fight, then later on as an instructor, you’ll have direct experience to pass onto your students. But don’t be mistaken — you may fight many times and not learn anything from those experiences, and in the end you won’t have any direct experience to pass on. IKF: Why you have been teaching in your basement all these years when you could gone public?TK: I am a private person. I like to stay in the woodwork and I don’t think I have that much to offer because my knowledge is limited but I feel secure with what Bruce taught me. I kept the school out of respect for Bruce. It’s a private club. I don’t feel the need of being in the public eye and I really enjoy sharing with a small group of people what I learned from Bruce. I don’t charge anything and I don’t look for students. I do it in honor to him. I don’t think I can ever pay him back what he did for me as a friend. So, I do my best to keep his memory alive. IKF: Are there other aspects in your life that have been influenced by your studies of the martial arts?TK: Definitely! I have found that martial arts discipline has always put me through psychological changes and I honestly believe that anything that puts you up against yourself is going to be beneficial because you’ll be more aware of who you are and eventually you’ll transcend yourself. Let’s face it: all martial arts styles have ego to them. How well you punch or kick, how powerful your actions are, how good your form looks, are all driven by the ego. The idea is to use the arts to transcend ourselves by letting our spirit come through. That is the reason why I always believed and related martial arts discipline to mental discipline. Martial arts teaches you discipline both mentally and physically. It takes a certain amount of discipline to push your body to operate in a specific unusual and well-coordinated way. The pursuit of perfection in all aspects of martial arts is not a bad thing and that is what we are attempting. In short, used in a proper way I believe martial arts are a great way to grow as individuals.
A venture into Jeet Kune Do, Grappling and Open-Mindedness
For years, martial artists have associated Larry Hartsell with two ultra-effective fighting concepts: grappling and jeet kune do. Bruce Lee’s system will forever stand at the forefront of martial arts popularity, and now that proponents of Brazilian jujutsu have focused the world’s attention on the effectiveness of ground fighting, grappling has come into vogue. This naturally brings us to Hartsell—an expert in both ways of fighting—as he twists Black Belt into a knot and chokes us into submission. At the mercy of his elbow lock and hook punch, we bring you the following interview. —EditorBlack Belt: Could you begin by discussing your martial arts background?Larry Hartsell: My first martial art, in 1958 or 1959, was judo. At the same time, I was a high-school wrestler in the light-heavyweight class.I had a football scholarship and went to Wingate Junior College and got involved in tang soo do when I met a Korean foreign exchange student. After that, [the college] dropped the football program, and I became enthusiastic about the only martial arts books they had out in 1960: books by Masutatsu Oyama [of kyokushinkai karate], Ed Parker of kenpo karate and Hidetaka Nishiyama [of shotokan karate]. I got interested, so I moved to California, where I started shotokan at the University of California at Los Angeles with Nishiyama.Later, I rode by Ed Parker’s kenpo karate school on Santa Monica Boulevard and looked in. Dan Inosanto was teaching the kenpo class. I said, “This is what I want.” I became a student of Dan and Ed. I met Bruce Lee in 1964 at Ed Parker’s just before I got drafted into the Army. I was home on leave later in 1964 before I went to Vietnam, and that’s when I really came to know Bruce. We became friends, and after I got out of the Army, I came back and studied with him. From 1967 to 1970, I studied with Bruce and Dan and taught at Ed Parker’s.BB: When you went to Parker’s, did you have to drop things you learned from Lee?Hartsell: Yes, I did because Bruce had adopted boxing by then. He [mixed] it with wing chun kung fu. Also, there were grappling techniques he picked up from Gene LeBell and some stuff from Wally Jay’s smallcircle jujutsu, which he added to jeet kune do.BB: What interest did Lee have in grappling?Hartsell: Before his death, he had added 33 grappling moves to the jeet kune do concept.BB: He got those from Gene LeBell and Wally Jay?Hartsell: Wally Jay, Gene LeBell and Hayward Nishioka. And he had some chin-na and silat. He would mix the arts. He would enter to trapping and take down into a submission. If you read Tao of Jeet Kune Do, you’ll see those grappling [techniques].BB: How well do jeet kune do principles apply to grappling?Hartsell: I think the attack-by-drawing principle, where you deliberately set an opening for the guy to come in so you can counter, [applies well]. You can leave an opening for a side kick, then capture the leg and go for a takedown. Also you can use progressive indirect attack—faking the attack to go into a single-leg takedown and an Achilles-lock submission or some other technique.BB: So, for the most part, jeet kune do principles work well to move in and go to the ground, after which pure grappling takes over?Hartsell: Yes, that’s one way. Any range can be closed quickly. In kicking range, you can capture the kick. In boxing range, you can arm-wrap and take him down. Any range can be closed, and you can be on the ground very quickly. I’ve had people at seminars say, “I would just stay outside and kick.” But suppose you’re on a slippery surface; how are you going to kick?Suppose you kick and slip, and the guy’s on top of you. You have to learn to deal with grappling range. Sometimes you cannot dictate your own environment; you’re into grappling range whether you want to be or not.BB: Is the best way to deal with the environmental factor to study a variety of arts?Hartsell: I think so. You should be experienced in all ranges. How are you going to effectively counter a boxer who’s a good inside fighter unless you experience that range? I believe a blend is the best.BB: For beginners, what styles do you recommend for blending?Hartsell: For weapons range, I recommend the Philippine martial arts because [they come from] a knife culture.For grappling range, shootwrestling or Brazilian jujutsu. For punching range, I would find a good boxing or kickboxing gym. As far as overall conditioning, Thai boxing is king. It also has good standing grappling—hookups which use knees and elbows.BB: Some people say that if your opponent wants to grapple, you will end up grappling. You can avoid grappling if both of you want to keep your distance; but if either person wants to come in, the other person has no choice.Hartsell: Exactly. If there’s going to be a fight, somebody’s got to come in at you—whether it’s in kicking, punching or grappling range.BB: So kicking, punching and trapping ranges are used mainly to get into grappling range?Hartsell: That’s one way.BB: Would you ever stay out of grappling range on purpose and not go in?Hartsell: Yes. If a guy is physically stronger or moving quickly, I would probably stay back and let him come to me. My defense would be my offense.BB: But your ultimate goal would still be to grapple?Hartsell: To end a street fight, use whatever works—a left hook, an uppercut, maybe a right cross. If he comes in, maybe a figure-4 face lock or whatever’s there.BB: Once you’re in, would you ever pull back out and continue striking?Hartsell: No. There’s a saying in wing chun that I like: Once you have him, you keep him.BB: How do you know when to close the distance to grapple?Hartsell: If you know something about boxing, about kicking, it helps you time [your entry]. Dan Inosanto told me, “You never grapple with a grappler; you never kick with a kicker; you never box with a boxer. You do something he doesn’t know.” But sometimes you’re forced to go into one of the ranges whether you want to or not. So you should know something about each range.BB: Know something about each and specialize in one or two?Hartsell: Yes. Use what you do best to counter what he has.BB: Is entering into trapping range and grappling range what you do best?Hartsell: Yes, getting to the inside range.BB: How do you generally finish a fight after going to the ground?Hartsell: I just go into a submission hold— kata gatame or yoko shiho gatame, then maybe into an arm lock or neck crank.BB: When you face an opponent, do you plan on getting into grappling range, or do you just work in whatever range he takes you to?Hartsell: Your opponent’s move is your move. Go with the flow. You can initiate the first move or you can counter his move. It can be done two ways; I do both.BB: How well does grappling mix with arts that focus on punching and kicking?Hartsell: Every martial art should have some form of grappling. I have worked as a doorman and bouncer in some of the worst bars in Charlotte, North Carolina, and most fights I saw ended up on the ground. One guy was either in the mount position beating the hell out of the other guy or grabbing [whatever he could]. Judging from what I’ve seen and been involved in, you have only one or two punches. If they don’t knock out the other guy—or at least hurt or stagger him—you end up in clinching range.BB: For grappling self-defense, how important is ground work vs. throwing?Do you need throwing techniques, or is throwing something you can avoid?Hartsell: There are different types of throws for competition and self-defense.If you’re fighting on pavement, you don’t want to throw where you’re going to injure yourself. But there are many different ways to take a person to the ground: single-leg and double-leg takedowns, body tackles and go-behinds.BB: Those are ways to get to the ground without using a traditional judo throw?Hartsell: Yes.BB: Do the same things that make grappling so effective in competitions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship make it effective on the street?Hartsell: Definitely. You can throw a guy, tie him up or go into a standing lock. Locking, grappling and takedowns—it’s all a blend. But you have to realize that if you’re fighting two or three people on the street, you might not want to take it to the ground because the other guys might start kicking you in the head. You have to be effective in standing grappling to turn your opponent and get behind him, then use him as a shield.BB: Some people say grappling is best for self-defense because you can win a fight without hurting your attacker.Hartsell: Exactly. You can go into a time hold, control hold or submission.That’s why I like it.BB: Is the best way to improve—as a striker and a grappler—to acquire as many skills as you can from different styles?Hartsell: I think so. It reminds me of a saying: There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but my path may not be your path. We’re all built differently; we all have different instincts. That’s what Bruce Lee believed. You have to pick your own path. Some are short, and some are long. I always encourage students to attend any seminars they want.When it comes to knowledge, you owe allegiance only to yourself.
I first met Bruce Lee in 1964. At the time, I was one of Ed Parker’s top Kenpo black belts, and I had accompanied him to San Francisco to arrange the first International Karate Championship. While we were there, we decided to visit James Lee in nearby Oakland, California. His brother, Bruce, was staying with him. James had a wooden dummy, and while we all stood around socializing, Bruce walked over and suddenly started hitting it. He exploded like a machine gun, and the power of his blows shook the house to its foundation. After everyone else backed away, I approached the dummy. Even when I put all my weight into moving it, it didn’t budge. I wondered, Who is this little guy who can generate so much power? I couldn’t wait to train with him. Less than two years later, I became Lee’s second student at his school in Los Angeles. He remained my teacher until he went to Hong Kong to make movies at the end of the 1960s. The fighting techniques and strategies I learned during that time were invaluable. Throw the First Punch: One day, after five of us had finished a session with Lee, he blurted out, "Jeet Kune Do is an offensive art rather than a defensive one." I was startled and confused by his declaration. "Do you mean," I asked, "that we should throw the first punch?" Lee shook his head. He explained that the JKD practitioner must strike while the opponent is preparing to attack or when he indicates his intention to attack. Noticing the perplexed look on my face, Lee motioned for me to come forward so he could demonstrate the principle. He had me chamber my fist to deliver a rear punch, and as I drew back, he hit me. He then instructed me not to telegraph my techniques. "Just assume the posture you would be in prior to throwing the punch," he said. I decided to try again. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other and clenched my fists. Once again, he hit me. "This time, I intercepted your attitude," he said. Lee explained that you should always strive to intercept your opponent’s attack before he launches it—or at the very latest, while he’s doing it. Intercepting is the Jeet in Jeet Kune Do, he said. Sadly, this principle and the training methods needed to master it are rare today. I sometimes see JKD practitioners wait for their opponent to attack before countering the technique. And at that point, it’s often too late. To fully appreciate this concept, which I call ATA, or attack-the-attack, imagine allowing an assailant to shoot at you before starting to defend yourself. You may get lucky and avoid the bullet, then be able to incapacitate him. Then again, you may end up dead. Not only does this passive fighting strategy violate the cornerstone principle of Jeet Kune Do, which is to always intercept the attack, it also puts you at least a full beat behind your opponent. Unless you’re blessed with superhuman speed and are facing an unskilled opponent, this is an unwise course of action because you’re forced to play catch-up. (Note, however, that it’s acceptable to use a passive move to attack by drawing as you jockey around your opponent to find a position to score.) The goal of Jeet Kune Do is to close the distance between yourself and your opponent and smother his attack with your own. It isn’t complicated, but it requires a high level of visual and tactile awareness to master. Open Your Eyes Visual awareness facilitates medium- and long-range fighting. It requires you to be aware of every gesture or motion your opponent makes, such as shifting his weight from one foot to the other, bending his knees or drawing his hand back. According to Lee, any of those movements can be precursors to an assault. If you can see what he intends to do, you can head him off at the pass. Furthermore, you won’t be distracted by an aggressor who feints or tries to nail you with a sucker punch. Unfortunately, many martial artists fail to train to improve their visual awareness. Even practitioners with extremely fast kicks and punches often get bested by a slower opponent because they lack visual speed, and they’re too slow to react to him, let alone intercept his strikes. To help us develop visual awareness, Lee would stand in front of the class and make a variety of gestures. Every time he moved, we had to say, "Ooh." At first, his movements were obvious—such as a punch or kick—but over time, they became more subtle—like a shift in balance or a twitch of a finger. We learned to become aware of even the slightest motion our opponent made, and that served as our cue to intercept the incoming technique. Since everybody telegraphs his attack, Lee told us, the ability to spot these motions can keep a martial artist at least a half-beat ahead of his opponent. See With Your Hands Another important component of the ATA principle is tactile awareness, or touch. Utilized at close-contact range, it refers to the pressure that develops as the other person attacks you and to your ability to use it to find an opening in his defenses. The uncanny ability of Lee and other skilled JKD practitioners to employ this method to detect and stop an assault in its tracks can make them seem psychic. Lee advocated chi sao (sticky hands) drills to make tactile awareness more reflexive. Such training is done primarily by crossing hands with your opponent so you learn what happens if you exert too much or too little pressure. "In the softness, you want to give without yielding," Lee would say. "Hardness is like steel that is hidden in silk." If you’re too strong, the other person will dissolve his movement and attack. If you’re too soft, he’ll run right over you. Many other fighting styles, including Greco-Roman wrestling, employ similar sensitivity drills. While this training method has great implications for neutralizing grappling attacks, you should never let skill in it convince you to play the grappler’s game and voluntarily go to the ground. As he tries to close the distance and grab your legs to take you down or get you in a lock, you should stop his onslaught with a straight blast. Sensitivity drills are also a staple of old-time boxing, and they form the core of JKD’s modified boxing techniques. You should practice blocking and parrying jabs and combinations to get used to them. As you become more advanced, however, you should try to intercept your partner’s jab and cut through his block with your own—in true Jeet Kune Do fashion. Enjoy the Advantages As you can see, the ATA principle can be used against any type of offense. For example, if an assailant attempts a punch or kick, you can intercept his technique with your own attack. If he tries to take you down, you can hit him or kick him before he succeeds. Don’t waste precious time blocking, parrying and slipping when you can beat him to the punch. When Bruce Lee named his art the "way of the intercepting fist," he meant it. And who are we to argue with the master?
It seems from reading various Jeet Kune Do forums that there are two schools of thought on the importance of Wing Chun to Jeet Kune Do at the present time. Some believe that Wing Chun was an essential element in the development of Jeet Kune Do in the past and still is today. Another school states that Bruce Lee moved away from the Wing Chun energy drills and trapping so that JKD came to resemble a form of advanced kickboxing. It is clear from Bruce's notes that JKD was comprised mostly from Wing Chun, Western Boxing and Western Fencing. It is also clear that when Bruce Lee started teaching students in Seatlle that what he was teaching was more Wing Chun than aything else. When he was teaching in Oakland, what he taught started to resemble Western Boxing in structure as well as technique. Once in Los Angeles he added the basic fencing theory of intercepting and Jeet Kune Do was born.
Instead of focusing on crashing the line and blasting, he started focusing on maintaining distance and intercepting an attack. Instead of focusing on gaining an attachment and then trapping and hitting, he started focusing on hitting with enough speed and deception that the opponent was not able to block it. While the Wing Chun elements were still taught, they just were not emphasized as much. This was however a slow transition. Those that were learning the first year or so at the L.A. Chinatown school were working more on the Wing Chun elements in their training than those who were there the last year that the school was open, or at Dan Inosanto's backyard school, once the Chinatown school was closed.
Even in the backyard class some people had success in sparring by crashing the line while others preferred to kee distance and intercept. Either method was considered more of a personal preference than the "way" to do it correctly. Whatever worked for you was the right way for the individual student. Some focused in their training on boxing drills and hitting the pads, some focused their training more on trapping and chi sao, some on footwork and intercepting. But at the same time all of these things were taught to the students at the Chinatown school as well as the backyard school. After Bruce passed away, some of the students started teaching. Some were more versed in the Wing Chun elements so they focused on those. Some focused more on the boxing elements. While some on footwork and intercepting. Some also tried to work on all three. Whatever they were teaching became a set agenda ad a correct way to approach combat. As Bruce told Dan Lee that one of the fears he had was that his students that learned in his schools would then "take the agenda as the way." In other words they would become stuck in whatever agenda there was and no longer bothered to do any research, experiment or test what they were teaching aainst other arts.
Even those who feel that Wing Chun no longer has much value need to understand that there are times and situations where straight Wing Chun elements are necessary. The fact of the matter is that in combat you cannot always be in control of distance or the environment. I remember Dan Inosanto asking his students in one of the backyard sessions, "In a fight what would you rather have a hand grenade or a knife?" Most would say the hand grenade. Dan then said, "What if you were in a phone booth?" Sometimes you need one and sometimes the other.
There are times when the Wing Chun elements maybe essential to your survival. Let's take the 4 corners from Wing Chun as an example:
If you are in a matched ready stance at the fighting measure, you may be able to intercept your opponent's attack.
If you are in an unmatched stance, it may be more efficient to counter his jab with a sliding leverage principle from Wing Chun.
When applying the inside sliding leverage with the cross parry, it is very important to remember that if your opponent strikes you with his left punch and you try to use a straight lead finger jab to the inside line as a counter, he will have the advantage of the sliding leverage Wing Chun principle and his sliding leverage will be superior and his punch will land.
When an opponent strikes to the outside gate and you are going to use inside sliding leverage, to be successful you will have to use a square shoulder sliding leverage finger jab attack to the same eye as the attacking arm. This will give you the leverage advantage. It is in a case like this that knowing some Wing Chun will come in handy.
If you are unfortunate enough to be attacked, you may be i crowded place and your attacker may be close to you, or your awareness is nt there and you have let a possible attacker get close to you, you are not in any kind of stance. Most of the time when someone is attacjked they are usually taken off guard. We seldom are able to have the time to get in a fighting sance. Most of the time such a stance may appear too aggressive and give out too much information. Instead of jumping into a stance at the first sign of trouble and loudly announcing that you are a black belt, we try to teach our students to appear non-threatening. We find it best and try to teach our students that no matter where they are that they should have a natural stance with their strong foot forward.
Unfortunately you may be caught unaware and be too close to your opponent to intercept with a long-range punch, and you may have to rely on the square shoulder Wing Chun punch.
While this may be enough to finish the fight you may need to straight blast from the Wing Chun elements of JKD or follow up with Western Boxing strikes until your opponent is no longer a threat.
In the first examples from above we were using Wing Chun self defense principles while using a JKD structure. In the example of the inside sliding leverage we are showing a Wing Chun technique purely from a Wing Chun structure. The final example shows that when an opponent is too close to you, Wing Chun may be the best solution. While thse are just a few examples of the usefulness of the Wing Chun elements in JKD, we hope youderstand that there are many more examples that we could have come up with. Remember Wing Chun is a close range art, and since we cannot always dictate what range we are going to be in, knowing some of the elements of Wing Chun may be what you need to survive. The Wednesday Night Group believes that knowing the basic elements of Wing Chun is essential to understanding and being able to apply Jeet Kune Do.
Of all the possible topics an instructor can misinform students about, defense against a knife attack is by far the most dangerous. Anyone who claims to be an expert with a knife and teaches blocking, empty-hand disarms and low horse stances might as well be teaching students to catch bullets in their teeth.
Because very few knife-fighting tournaments take place in the United States, it is difficult for a prospective student to gauge the authenticity of an edged-weapons instructor. It seems that all an instructor needs to fool the public is a pair of camo fatigues and a photo of himself with a nasty expression on his face and his knife positioned against his opponent's throat and - shazam! - instant Rambo.
In my opinion, the most realistic methods for fighting with and defending against edged weapons come from the Phillipines. Because real confrontations with blades are all too common in that Southeast Asian nation, their fighting techniques have nothing to do with phony heroism and everything to do with survival.
This article will describe the techniques and training methods you need to know to defend yourself against a blade - and to use one.
The infrastructure for knife fighting is footwork. It allows you to maintain the correct distance between yourself and your opponent. Having a low stance with no footwork is like having a Ferrari with no wheels. Being able to quickly maneuver toward or away from your opponent is essential in any fighting scenario - but when he is pointing a knife at you, the necessity skyrockets.
When you think of proper footwork in boxing, you probably envision Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard darting around the ring - light, cat-like and constantly sticking and moving. That is the type of footwork that is apropriate for knife fighting.
Obviously, when you have a sharp weapon in your hand, you do not need to plant your feet to do damage to your opponent. It is far more important to stay light and agile. One slice across the knife hand or a quick thrust to the face may be all it takes to end the altercation.
The distance at which you choose to fight your opponent is important. Many instructors teach their students to engage in knife fighting in boxing range. But if you were to watch one round of a boxing match and count how many timeseach finger gets hit, you would see that contact takes place way too often. If the boxers traded their gloves for straight razors, within 10 seconds they would be wallowing in a pool of blood.
There are hundreds of drills that involve close-quarters knife and stick work in boxing range, but they were developed to improve your attributes: sensitivity, coordination, body mechanics, etc. That's why they are called self-perfection drills. They should not be confused with real weapons fighting for the purpose of self-preservation.
In combat, an experienced knife fighter always fights in largo mano range, which is just outside kicking range. He can more easily avoid being sliced, and he can still accomplish his primary objective, which is to cut his opponent's knife hand.
If you cut your opponent's hand, you will instantly disarm him. It is physically impossible for him to hold a knife when the tendons, muscles and ligaments responsible for controlling his hand are severed. Once you have defanged the snake, the snake is harmless; you then have the choice of killing it or letting it go. Correct footwork and distancing are crucial to making this strategy work.
"Defanging the snake" also applies in stick fighting. Unfortunately, in most modern tournaments you see fighters with protective gear obsessively engaged in head-hunting. Although those bouts do teach students how to deal with adrenaline and are a worthwhile experience, that type of practice should constitute about 5 percent of your training. It should not be your focus because the rules seldom award points for smashing the opponent's hand, and that is unrealistic for self-defense. If a fighter were to defang the snake by striking his opponent's unprotected hand with a piece of hardwood or a pipe, those neglected hand smashes would have the same effect as a hand cut.
In a knife fight, timing is as important as footwork and distancing, but it is more ambiguous and difficult to explain. Timing can be described as the ability to hit your opponent before, during or after he takes a shot at you. You must feel that spli-second opening for your technique. Once you develop an expert sense of timing, you can literally move at one-tenth speed and still connect. In sparring matches, Filipino martial artists in their 70s have stuck me 10 times more often that I stuck them because they possessed near-perfect timing.
To develop timing, you need awareness and line familiarization (knowledge of all possible angles of attack), both of which tend to improve with age and experience. After sparring briefly with Cacoy Canete, who at age 65 was still able to basically use my body for target practice, I asked him at what age he was in his prime. He replied, "In another 10 or 15 years."
As with most things in life, perception is everything. If you perceive the points mentioned above as the most important parts of knife fighting, you are concentrating on the finger and missing all the heavenly glory - to paraphrase Bruce Lee.
So what should you do if you are attacked by someone with a knife? First, you should run. It has been said that to defend against a blade, you must first learn how to fight with one; and the more you learn about fighting with one, the more you will respect the damage that it can inflict. All a blade has to do is make contact with you. The attacker does not even have to be particularly skilled to seriously hurt you.
Instructors who would have you disarm a razor-wielding attacker are living in a fantasy land. They do not understand the grim reality of knife fighting because they haven't experienced it. However fun or romantic it may be to picture yourself snatching a knife from a mugger's hand, the decision to try could be the last decision you ever make.
A simple test will demonstrate why: Buy a red magic marker, go to a confined area and have a training partner "assault" you at full speedwith the marker acting as a live blade. No matter which blocking or disarming techniques you try, you will soon discover red lines all over your body. Obviously, the best option when facing a knife is to run.
If you cannot get away, you need to find an equalizer. If you carry a knife, pull it out. Or pick upbottle or n object to throw; a pool ball, chair, table, pool cue, hot soup, etc. Use anything necessary to distract him so you can escape.
If there is nowhere to run and no equalizer available, you will have to rely on your empty-hand skills. I would probably attempt a well-timed low double-leg takedown, then smother the attacker and use techniques from kina mutai, the Phillipine art of biting and eye gouging. Still, I would most likely get cut, perhaps even fatally. That's all the more reason to fall back on plan one and run away.