What is Jeet Kune Do? Is it a traditional martial art? Is it a style at all? Is it effective?
There are many questions associated with the name ‘Jeet Kune Do’ or ‘JKD’ and as many or if not many more somewhat dubious answers.
Here’s my take on it…
It’s translation – ‘The way of the intercepting fist’. A term coined as reference to the direct way in which Bruce Lee liked to utilise ‘stop hits’ and simultaneous defence and attack.
Jeet Kune Do was Bruce Lee’s personal fighting method. A concept and philosophy based on efficiency, effectiveness, non tradition and constant innovation. An art with no boundaries, but in constant search of improvement.
Bruce Lee was a man with tremendous vision, years ahead of his time. He discovered the limitations of tradition and embarked on a journey that would change martial arts forever.
Why stick to tradition for tradition’s sake? Or on the flip side, change for the sake of change? What is the reason for doing what we do? Are we followers or seekers of the truth?
In a time when martial arts were mostly taught only to the race of its origins and secrets kept, Bruce Lee was on a journey of self discovery. Breaking the rules, studying, experimenting, testing and measuring. He discovered the effectiveness of some arts and the ineffectiveness of others. He added, subtracted and adapted. For example, as he had a strong background in Wing Chun, he placed a lot of emphases on trapping. A skill which is uncommon in other martial arts. However, he felt that it needed to be more mobile to gain maximum effectiveness in combat and therefore adapted it to fit into more of a kickboxing approach. During sparring, he would sometimes start in kicking range, bridge the gap into trapping range, come out with boxing hands and finish with a flurry of Thai elbows. Other times, beginning in boxing range, execute a taken down and apply a lock or joint break from Jujitsu.
The techniques which are used are unimportant. What is important is the appropriateness of what is used within the range it is used. Did it fit or was it like trying to fit ‘a square peg in a round hole’ so to speak. In other words, was it effective? And if it was effective, is it important where the technique came from?
In breaking with tradition, a door had been opened. A pathway to discovery. An opportunity to find one’s own truth.
What exactly does this mean?
Well here it is….. Your truth in combat does not necessarily mean that it is the same truth for me. Example; you may have the natural God given attributes of a weightlifter. You are 6 foot 2 inches with broad shoulders and very strong. You are frequently able to get into a position of take down and the body slam is your specialty. I on the other hand am 5 foot 9 inches, fast and athletic. I am able to strike with deadly efficiency in both long and close range. Who would be the winner? That we do not know. However, we can see that different circumstances or opponents will certainly make a difference to the outcome. Do we only rely on the attributes we have or do we find another path to ensure victory. What are the possibilities and will they be the same for everyone? What is your truth?
My Jeet Kune Do will be different from your Jeet Kune Do.
What works for you may not work for me. My truth will be different to yours. Jeet Kune Do is different now to what it was in the sixties, seventies, eighties and so forth and will be different in the future to what it is today.
Jeet Kune Do is in a constant state of evolution. It is not a style, but a concept, a philosophy, an expression of one’s self.
Bruce Lee is quoted as saying, “I have not invented a ‘new style’, composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from ‘this method’ or that method’. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from the clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see ourselves. Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don’t, and that is that”.
Our Perth Martial Arts Academy, Combat Defence Systems promotes these philosophies and encourages you to embark on your own journey and find your own truth.
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Sifu Gino Vallelonga
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