Jeet Kune Do
(THE WAY OF THE INTERCEPTING FIST)
Bruce Lee developed an art that was particular to him and he called it Jeet Kune Do (JKD).
Jeet Kune Do (also “Jeet Kun Do”, or simply “JKD”) is an eclectic/hybrid system and philosophy of life founded by martial artist Bruce Lee with simple, direct (or straightforward) movements and non-classical style. Jeet Kune Do practitioners believe in minimal movement with maximum effect and extreme speed. The system works on the use of different ‘tools’ for different situations. These situations are broken down into ranges (kicking, punching, trapping and grappling), with techniques flowing smoothly between them. It is referred to as a “style without style” or “the art of fighting without fighting” as said by Lee himself. Unlike more traditional martial arts, Jeet Kune Do is not fixed or patterned, and is a philosophy with guiding thoughts. It was named for the concept of interception, or attacking while one’s opponent is about to attack. However, the name Jeet Kune Do was often said by Lee to be just a name. He himself often referred to it as “the art of expressing the human body” in his writings and in interviews. Through his studies Lee came to believe that styles had become too rigid, and unrealistic. He called martial art competitions of the day “dry land swimming”. He believed that combat was spontaneous, and that a martial artist cannot predict it, only react to it, and that a good martial artist should “be like water” and move fluidly without hesitation.
In 2004, the Bruce Lee Foundation decided to use the name Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (振藩截拳道) to refer to the martial arts system that Lee founded; “Jun Fan” was Lee’s Chinese given name.
Five ways of attack
The original five ways of attack are:
Single direct attack (SDA)
Attack by combination (ABC)
Progressive indirect attack (PIA)
(Hand) immobilization attack (HIA)
Attack by drawing (ABD)
SDA has been expanded to include:
Simple angle attack (S.A.A.): The simple angle attack is the use of any “simple attack”, an attack that has direct line of fire that is exploited by faking or beating an opponent to the punch, from an unexpected angle. The S.A.A. can be set up by either feinting or readjusting the distance with footwork.
Immobilization attack (I.A.): The immobilisation attack is the effective use of “trapping”. Trapping is a method of attack that results in holding down an opponent’s hand or leg, providing a safe route of attack. The trapping prevents the opponent from moving the body parts needed for defence, leaving them “trapped” and their body or face open for multiple strikes. HIA has been expanded to also encompass foot immobilisation techniques and is sometimes just referred to as I.A.
Progressive indirect attack (P.I.A.): The progressive indirect attack is similar to a “simple attack” except there is not a committed fake or feint. The P.I.A. is an uncommitted thrust motion that forces one’s opponent to move in defence as one exploits the predetermined open area.
Attack by combination (A.B.C.): Attack by combination is a series of punches and/or kicks that follow a particular sequence to create openings or “setups” in the opponent’s defence. The “setup” is created by the series of punches and or kicks manoeuvring the opponent into a position to receive a knockout blow.
Attack by drawing (A.B.D.): The attack-by-draw method is executed when one is able to make one’s opponent believe there is an opening or weak spot in one’s defence. When the opponent tries to attack this area, he creates his own opening or weak point and one attacks that area, completely catching them off guard.
The Wing Chun centerline.
Punching from the Wing Chun centerline.
The centerline can be expressed as the height of a triangle.
An animation of mechanical linkage to the shoulders of the triangle illustrates the importance of guarding the centerline.
The centerline is an imaginary line drawn vertically along the center of a standing human body, and refers to the space directly in front of that body. If one draws an isosceles triangle on the floor, for which one’s body forms the base, and one’s arms form the equal legs of the triangle, then h (the height of the triangle) is the centerline. The Wing Chun concept is to exploit, control and dominate an opponent’s centerline. All attacks, defences, and footwork are designed to guard one’s own centerline while entering the opponent’s centerline space. Lee incorporated this theory into JKD from his sifu Yip Man’s Wing Chun.
The three guidelines for centerline are:
The one who controls the centerline will control the fight.
Protect and maintain your own centerline while you control and exploit your opponent’s.
Control the centerline by occupying it.
This notion is closely related to maintaining control of the center squares in the strategic game chess. The concept is naturally present in xiangqi (Chinese chess), where an “X” is drawn on the game board, in front of both players’ general and advisors.
One of the premises that Lee incorporated in Jeet Kune Do was “combat realism”. He insisted that martial arts techniques should be incorporated based upon their effectiveness in real combat situations. This would differentiate JKD from other systems where there was an emphasis on “flowery technique”, as Lee would put it. Lee claimed that flashy “flowery techniques” would arguably “look good” but were often not practical or would prove ineffective in street survival and self-defense situations. This premise would differentiate JKD from other “sport”-oriented martial arts systems that were geared towards “tournament” or “point systems”. Lee felt that these systems were “artificial” and fooled their practitioners into a false sense of true martial skill. Lee felt that because these systems favoured a “sports” approach they incorporated too many rule sets that would ultimately handicap a practitioner in self-defense situations. He felt that this approach to martial arts became a “game of tag” which would lead to bad habits such as pulling punches and other attacks; this would again lead to disastrous consequences in real world situations.
Another aspect of realistic martial arts training fundamental to JKD is what Lee referred to as “aliveness”. This is the concept of training techniques with an unwilling assistant who offers resistance. Lee made a reference to this concept in his famous quote “Boards don’t hit back!” Because of this perspective of realism and aliveness, Lee utilised safety gear from various other contact sports to allow him to spar with opponents “full out”. This approach to training allowed practitioners to come as close as possible to real combat situations with a high degree of safety.
Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless
This is the idea that a martial artist can only learn techniques in their proper context, through a holistic approach. Styles provide more than just techniques: They offer training methods, theories, and mental attitudes. Learning these factors allows a student to experience a system in what Lee called its “totality”. Only through learning a system completely will an artist be able to “absorb what is useful”, and discard the remainder. Real combat training situations allow the student to learn what works, and what does not. The critical point of this principle is that the choice of what to keep is based on personal experimentation with various opponents over time. It is not based on how a technique may look or feel, or how precisely the artist can mimic tradition. In the final analysis, if the technique is not beneficial in combat, it is discarded. Lee believed that only the individual could come to understand what worked; based on critical self-analysis, and by “honestly expressing oneself, without lying to oneself”.