Year after year, we continue to see the popularity of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do flourish. Today, there are still thousands of JKD enthusiasts who say they would be willing to devote themselves to the study of the art. Have these enthusiasts made a realistic assessment of whether JKD is for them Over the years, may have begun the study, only to have left disappointed and unsuccessful. Why?
The practice of JKD calls for a reflexive reading of all kinds of attacks: the ability to sense and anticipate the physical movements of the opponent before the attack is launched. Training in mental speed is the first point to address in the study of intercepting fists. A valuable exercise to try is to watch fighters & professional boxers on television. As you observe the fighters, practice mentally reading and reacting to the attacks you see before they are physically launched. This will call for alertness, sharp eyesight and the ability to perceive very slight movements that precede an actual strike. Over time, as you develop sensitivity to telegraphic movements, you may find yourself beginning to sense the coming of unusual or dangerous events in your own environment.
In your assessment, is the cultivation of alertness and sensitivity as a component of JKD training suitable for you?
The importance of the physical requirements of Jeet Kune Do cannot be overemphasized. Being in good physical shape is at the top of the discipline’s priorities. The physical aspect of JKD training entails a systematic and vigorous regime aimed at improving cardiovascular efficiency, flexibility, speed, power, and combat abilities using a variety of training methods. Some of the training methods used are roadwork, weight training, isometrics, sticky hand (chi sao) drills, repetitive movements drills, full-contact sparring, and wooden dummy training in addition to intercepting fist/foot drills. The physical aspect of the training demands that the prepared fighter changes body mechanics so that the strong side is forward. With emphasis in improving intercepting attacks and sticky hand attacks, the movements, must be kept simple, direct and effective.
JKD is not simply a discipline for fighters with quick physical reflexes. But is thinking fighter’s discipline as well. Its physical demands will take time, effort and sacrifice.
Are the physical requirements of JKD training for you?
PRIOR MARTIAL ARTS KNOWLEDGE AND TRAINING
Contrary to popular belief, prior martial arts training is preferable before taking on the study JKD. Prior knowledge of other disciplines will enable one to appreciate the effectiveness of the intercepting fist in real combat situations. Familiarity with Chi Sao is beneficial as is some background in Taoist philosophy. A deep understanding of Chi Sao and Taoism above is not an absolute prerequisite, as both will be taught in any formal JKD class. However, you will find that some familiarity with both will be helpful.
JKD is a Chinese-based martial art form of combat that has been adapted to the western world. Bruce Lee’s Gung Fu (Jun Fan) evolved into a combat that was suitable for him by taking into account the types of opponent he was facing, Jeet Kune Do is the result of Bruce Lee’s development of Gung Fu based on his own training and attributes. Is this similar to your own martial arts developments?
JKD in combat is similar to a gun fight in the wild west. Each opponent uses a powerful weapon such as a 45, and he who draws first, wins. Those who are naturally slow will not process a quick draw, and others who are quick, may be only packing a 22 instead of a 45. In case your quick draw or intercepting fist fails, what are your backups or follow ups? Chi Sao attacks: Joint locks? Do you have a follow up?
Prior knowledge of martial arts will aid the appreciation of JKD’s effectiveness as well as its limitations. Is JKD for you?
Today there are several instructors from whom you can study JKD. Standardized methods and universal recognitions based on the guidelines and philosophies of non-attachment are not in existence. No two instructors will use the same training method, recently; controversies around developing a standardized system of training and certification have arisen. You might be recognized as a JKD practitioner by one instructor and not by another. In short, the 2nd generation JKD practitioner of today is facing a much more difficult time than when the founder of the art was alive. Your credentials and teaching certification will always be open to question and scrutiny. You may even find that credit de you will not be given, despite of all your hard work and sacrifices.
Given the present lack of a standardized system of recognition is as yet undeveloped. Is JKD for you?
MIRROR REFLECTION OF ONSELF
Finally, the art of JKD transforms those who study it by leading them to personal liberation form established combat systems and traditions. JKD does not serve anyone else, but oneself. Before you study JKD, there is JKD. After you study JKD, you will find that there is only your own JKD, your own mirror reflections. Is this final ultimate personal liberation your goal in Martial arts
Now taking into account all these considerations, is JKD for you? Maybe yes?, Maybe no? Maybe???
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.