It is very important to understand that JKD is an ever changing, ever-evolving process.
Although Bruce started his martial arts training within a traditional system of gung fu, the emerging product was Bruce Lee and not the repeat of tradition, nor is it a refinement of tradition. Traditional, classical systems all have their history- a beginning, roots, periods of growth and development, flowering branches, etc. JKD does not have all these features-especially not flowering braches, which only serve as decoration. Because JKD is ever changing, ever-evolving, it cannot be broken down into specific periods of growth and development. Therefore, JKD resists categorization in the traditional, classical sense. It does not serve tradition; it serve itself-or rather, Bruce Lee. JKD is combat on a very personal level, and that personal level was directly linked with the physical, emotional and psychological make-up of Bruce Lee himself.
Bruce came to regret the coining of the name Jeet Kune Do, because once a name is given, there must be a definition attached to it. However, Bruce’s art cannot be defined. It is a paradox – once, this, and not this! This concept, as difficult as it is for the Western mind to understand, was also difficult for Bruce himself to express. JKD cannot be defined, cannot be pinned down to being a fixed system practiced by Bruce Lee. Still, the best general description of the practice of JKD defines it as an everchanging, every-evolving process. The JKD of 1972 is different from the JKD of 1967 which is different from the martial arts he was practicing in 1960. If one is to maintain these guidelines, and train hard, eventually, one may successfully achieve the next step in its evolution.
The central theme of JKD is simple, direct, effective. Learning all forms of martial arts does not enable one to be a better fighter, just as learning all branches of medicine residency does not enable one to be a better healer.
Many people think that Bruce was the master of 27, 32 or 149, or however many forms of martial arts ad that JKD is the amalgamation of all these forms of martial arts. This cannot be farther from the truth. Bruce Lee stated:
“JKD is simply the direct expression of one’s feelings with a minimum of motion and energy”.
— Bruce Lee
Many forms of classical martial arts are very decorative and interesting to see, but are not very effective in combat, but require a lot of movement or a great deal of energy, or both, in order to execute. In JKD, there is no wasted motion or energy. Therefore, JKD is not the accumulation of technique it is, in fact, the very opposite; it is the hacking away of the unessential movements and techniques that are not geared toward combat – simply, directly, effectively.
The backbone of JKD is the lead hand/foot weapon. The fighting, on-guard position is tight and economical is both attack and defense, and it stresses the lead hand/foot weapon(s). This fact is so important that it cannot be over stressed. The lead hand/foot weapons are much closer to the target and therefore have a much greater chance of landing a blow than the rear hand or rear foot – simple and direct!
The lead hand/foot weapons can be delivered with as much force and devastating power as the rear hand or rear foot. If the martial arts practitioner cannot deliver, or does not strive to develop, a lead hand/foot weapon that is faster, more powerful, and has a greater assurance of scoring than the conventional methods, he is just not practicing JKD!
Scoring capability is increased by improving one’s speed, reaction time, power, timing and by a daily regimen of rigorous physical exercise; there are actually several innovative training exercise that Bruce Left behind to develop this devastating lead hand/foot weapon which are the main feature of JKD training.
PS - If you are in Los Angeles in August 16-19, I am hosting a screening of my new film “Gung Fu, JKD & MMA” as well as some other JKD and filmmaking seminars during this time. I hope you can join me. You can reserve tickets here.