Jeet Kune Do-The Way of the Intercepting Fist
Sijo Bruce Lee, The founder of JKD
Bruce Lee, born Lee Jun Fan on November 27, 1940 in Chinatown San Francisco. Bruce is considered to be one of the most influential martial artists of all time and a pop culture icon of the 20th century. But he was much more. He was also a Hong Kong and American actor, director, author and philosopher. Bruce’s films and his magnetic personality helped to change the way Asians were presented in American films. After Bruce’s films no longer were Asians portrayed as subservient buffoons or evil masterminds. His impact has also revolutionized the martial arts world by promoting non-classical martial arts. Many credit him with historically introducing the world to MMA as he promoted the concept of training in more than 1 art, and the blending of arts.
Bruce was introduced to the film industry by his father and appeared in several films as a child actor in China. Bruce was sent to the US at the age of 18 by his parents to remove him from the mean streets of Hong Kong. After several gang fights he was running the risk of soon being arrested by the authorities. Already having American Citizenship status due to him being born in America while his father was on a Chinese Opera tour, he was able to return and receive his higher education at the University of Washington in Seattle. It was during this time that he began teaching martial arts on campus. He quickly grew a following and later on opened up his first of 3 schools. His martial arts skills proved to be something unique not very familiar to Americans at the time. Kung Fu in those days was very much an underground art, guarded by the Chinese and only transmitted to other Chinese. As his reputation grew he began to join martial arts circuits and give demonstrations at tournaments. It would be through his martial arts demonstrations that someone with Hollywood connections would take notice. This would lead to his role as Kato on The Green Hornet, his first acting job in the US. Later after multiple Hong Kong and one Hollywood produced film, Bruce would elevate the traditional Hong Kong martial arts films to a new level of popularity and acclaim, depicting more realistic fight scenes and higher caliber story-lines. The direction and tone of his films dramatically changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in the US, Hong Kong, and the rest of the world.This would create great interest in Kung Fu and martial arts in the West in the 1970s. After Enter the Dragon, martial arts schools began to open up all across america and now the world.
What is JKD?
First lets start by clarifying that JKD is just a name given to an approach to combat. JKD was not intended to be a formal style or system. Jun Fan Gung Fu was the established system that Bruce created. Jun Fan Gung Fu is basically Modified Wing Chun as taught to Bruce Lee by GM Yip Man. Jun Fan Gung Fu serves as the nucleus of JKD.
Jun Fan Gung Fu
Originally Jun Fan Gung Fu was made up of the most functional techniques from Wing Chun taught to Bruce Lee by the legendary GM Yip Man back in Hong Kong. Later, he added elements of Western Boxing, French Fencing, and Grappling. In later years it continued to evolve to become more of a philosophical art. Bruce often said that he didn’t invent a new style, but applied his own philosophy of fighting. He believed a fighter should not be limited to any one style. He often said that whatever style you practice, it’s ultimately the style of your teacher, it’s not your own. He believed a martial artists should express themselves through the arts. Bruce Lee was quoted as saying ” I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns and molds.” He stressed that only what worked should be used in a martial art and the rest discarded, the practitioner should then add in what is uniquely their own. Picture a rough stone, then chiseled away until it becomes a work of art. This is what sets JKD apart, the blending of different systems and then tailoring it to the individual. JKD can be taught but it can’t be standardized, it must fit the individual and become his or her own expression of the martial arts. You can standardize the principles and concepts to a degree, but not the curriculum. Let’s look at it like this, two men go to the store to buy the same exact suit. One man may require a 44 long jacket and a size 38 waist pant. The other man may need a 38 short jacket and a size 34 wait pant. It’s the same suit but it must fit the individual. Some people are thinner or heavier, shorter or taller. It wouldn’t fit just anybody. The same goes for the martial artist, a 65 year old man with a bad knee may not be able to do a particularly high kick than a 24 year old man can, therefore he must adapt and practice a different kick that functions in the same manner in combat or maybe not kick at all.
You must lay the foundation before you can build the temple. Not just any art will fit into the matrix of JKD, it must blend. You can’t just train in a bunch of different arts, throw them together and call it JKD. It can be said that that’s your JKD, but It wouldn’t be Bruce Lee’s intended JKD. Why not? because it wouldn’t have the Modified Wing Chun /Jun Fan Gung Fu material as its core art. You need to have that Modified Wing Chun, Boxing and Fencing as well as those early principles and concepts as your core art. It serves as your rough stone to build with. All edifices must have a solid foundation in order to stand strong, so too should the JKD practitioner.
The father of Mixed Martial Arts
Bruce Lee is often called the father of MMA because back in the 1960’s he was blending some of the most effective techniques from various arts. He was preaching to the masses that no one art is superior, you need to have a little bit of each to be a well rounded fighter. While his philosophies of combat are closely related to MMA, JKD is not a sport. MMA has rules and regulations, JKD is street oriented combat. JKD has only one rule, to win by any means necessary.
The JKD Evolution
Early on, JKD was primarily and empty handed form of combat. Dan Inosanto did cross-train with Bruce Lee and taught him some weaponry of the Filipino martial arts but it wasn’t until after Bruce Lee’s death that the JKD/ Kali blend, commonly referred to as JKD Concepts was born. Kali is a Filipino martial art that employs both empty hands and weapons. Primarily the stick and knife or blunt and edged weapons. Sifu Paul Vunak, who was a student of Dan Inosanto’s founded Progressive Fighting Systems/ Contemporary Jeet Kune Do. This is Paul’s personal expression of JKD. He has further developed the “JKD Concepts” method and added more elements of Muay Thai, Savate, Brazilian Jui Jitsu, and Kino Mutai- the Filipino art of uninterrupted biting and eye gouging. Paul Vunak put together one of the most street-effective and devastatingly brutal forms of JKD formulated for street survival. In a nutshell, it’s Bruce Lee’s principals and concepts applied to military technology. It’s no wonder that Seal Team 6 contracted with him for their hand to hand combat training, as well as almost every alphabet- titled agency: DEA. FBI, CIA, and more.
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