Tao of Jet Kune Do

Trying to make a description of JKD, Jeet Kun Do, Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, Jun Fan Gung-Fu or Jeet Kune Do (it’s the same fighting style) is quite challenging because unlike most Martial Arts Styles like Isshinryu, Shotokan, etc. this one has no katas, basic techniques or forms whatsoever. It’s a form of fighting without a form. Bruce Lee often said “Be water my friend”, well JKD is like water. It has no form but has a few principles like minimal movement with maximum effect.

Bruce Lee made a fighting style that is exactly like he was: unpredictable, spontaneous and eclectic. He often refused to call JKD a martial art style, simply because he considered all Martial Arts style unrealistic and rigid.

Often Bruce Lee said about the martial art competitions held in the 70s that were similar to “dry land swimming”. He always said real combat is quite different, it is always spontaneous and unpredictable, you can only react thus you need to move without hesitation. About JKD he said it is more a process and a philosophy that a style. Styles have limitations he said. He wanted to make a philosophy, a way to find your path in Martial Arts without the rigidity of classic Martial Arts Styles. There is no Do’s and don’ts in JKD, there is no fighting stance or limitations but simply a way for you to find your fighting style, form, etc.

What is Jet Kune Do?

Well, if you translate JKD to English it means: the way of intercepting fist ( Do -way, Jet – Stop or intercept, Kune – fist), but this is just a name and you should use it only for self-examination. Because of this, JKD does not have a rigid philosophy or method of fighting. Efficiency if everything in JKD thus they use all the ways and all angles to find the best way for fighting. Keep in mind, that each fighter has unique fighting style, I may feel more comfortable with grappling, you with striking and so on. Because of these aspects each JKD fighter is different. Some find useful a set of techniques, others another se and so on. This doesn’t mean your JKD instructors, if you decide to go this path, will let you find everything alone. No, they will teach you basic stance, how to move, how to strike, how to block, but you, from all that knowledge, will have to find what suits you best. This is the way of Bruce Lee.

Jet Kune Do Principles
Bruce Lee incorporated the next principles in JKD. These are universal combat truths and thus pretty evident. If you want success in combat you must follow these simple Jet Kune Do principles.

  1. Non-telegraphed punch

If you can surprise your opponent then you have a good chance of winning, thus explosive attacks are preferred. With such an attack, you can easily throw your opponent off balance and he won’t be able to defend. The idea behind non-telegraphed punch is that you want to surprise your opponent. If he cannot see a tense in your arms, legs, shoulders before moving he won’t have time to react. Of course, you must tense your body just before the impact or you’ll get injured.

  1. Straight Lead

“The leading straight punch is the backbone of all punching in JKD”. This strike is not to powerful but it’s really fast. Also, keep in mind that all punches in JKD are vertical, no rotation of the fist when striking. The strike must be held loosely because this way it will be faster and thus harder to see or block. This strike is accurate and fast, in the same time. The punch can be thrown at different angles and levels.

  1. Economy of motion

You should not waste any movements or time when attacking and based on this principle you can achieve:

Simplicity: don’t complicate fights win unnecessary movements.
Directness: Do whatever comes naturally to you.
Efficiency: Reach the target with maximum force as fast as possible.

The idea is to conserve your time and energy, since both are important in a fight. Also, you can end the battle faster if you maximize force.

  1. “Be Water”

Every fight is different, just like life. If you want to win you must be fluid and adapt, always adapt. It is the only way to win in a fight and in life, for that manner. Since every man is different, so is their fighting style. If you remain rigid you will definitely loose. Also, one should seek knowledge and try to improve itself and moving forward.

5. Simultaneous parrying and punching

When the opponent attacks you, you must parry his attack and then counterattack simultaneously. It is faster this way, than doing them in sequence: block then attack. This principle is used in Wing Chun, other Chinese Martial Arts and in Krav Maga. The idea is to deflect the attack or parry it than block it. Blocking means you will stop the attack.


  1. Stop hits

If the opponent ins not near you, then he will have to step or prepare in order to attack you. Thus, you can attack him when he prepares his attack. Basically, you intercept an attack with another attack not block and counter.

  1. Five ways of attack:
    1. Attack by drawing (ABD)
    2. Simple direct attack (SDA)
    3. Progressive indirect attack (PIA)
    4. Attack by combination (ABC)
    5. Hand immobilization attack (HIA)

     

  2. Four ranges of combat
    1. Punching
    2. Kicking
    3. Trapping
    4. Grappling
    5. Low kicks
  1. Low kicks

It is commonly believed that you should hit your opponent in the knee, midsection, thighs or shin. Since all these targets are low you won’t get unbalanced so easily and your attacks will be harder to see and block. Also, you minimize the time and don’t waste energy on higher kicks. Of course, if you see an opening you can attack easily the upper part of the body.

  1. Centerline

Imagine a triangle between your two feet (at shoulder distance, one from the other) and the top of your fingers (raise your arms and with them perfectly straight clap your hands). The centerline is the height of this triangle. Each parry, attack and movement are designed to protect your centerline and control your opponent’s centerline.

  1. False attacks

You can use faints and fake attacks in order to distract your opponent and force him to react. Once he falls for this trap you can read his movements and predict what he will do.

  1. Combat realism

Every technique used must be effective in real fights. Don’t use complex or flashy techniques even if they look pretty good; most of the times they are pretty ineffective. One of Bruce Lee’s memorable quotes come from this principle: “Boards don’t hit back”. Because of this principle most JKD practitioners use safety gear when sparring. This allows them to remain safe while getting very close to real combat situations.

Ranking system 
Initially there where 8 ranks based on Yin/Yang symbols:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the death of Bruce Lee, in the 80s Dan Inosanto( one of the few who received a rank directly from Bruce Lee) changed the ranking system as shown below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to learn Jeet Kune Do or simply to see how Bruce Lee was thinking you can buy his book Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition

Also check out these amazing T-shirts based on Bruce Lee and his amazing quotes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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