Jeet Kune Do For Self Defence

Learning martial arts has become an important part of one’s life today for many reasons. You never know when there is danger lurking around the corner and you need to be prepared for anything which comes your way. Martial arts also help you keep healthy, fit and disciplined in life. There is no dearth for martial arts styles in the world. The most common of them are Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Muay Thai and so on. However, there is one non-traditional martial art system which stands above most of them, and probably can be even called the pioneer when it comes to mixed martial arts – Jeet Kune Do (JKD).

Most people may not have heard about this martial arts form. In fact, even many martial artists may not be aware of JKD. This article sheds light on this less known, yet one of the most powerful martial arts form.

History of JKD

In the era when America and the rest of the western world was aware of just Karate and Chinese boxing, there was one gentleman who revolutionized the idea of martial arts through out the world. This was none other than the legendary Bruce Lee.

In the year 1964, Bruce Lee was teaching traditional Wing Chun kung fu in Oakland, California. The traditional Chinese martial art teachers were furious that Bruce was teaching a Chinese art to the non – Chinese. This made them throw him a challenge which he gladly accepted. The challenge was met through a duel which Bruce eventually won. However, he felt that the fight went too long and it was exhausting as well as excruciating which shouldn’t have been the case. He realized that traditional martial arts were not as effective as they should have been.

Bruce Lee saw that there were too many fixed and fancy moves in traditional martial arts systems which were practically useless when it came to actual combat and self defense. He also found that each traditional martial art had an inherent loophole that it was unable to defend a person against anyone who was an expert in any other martial art form. This is when he decided to bring together the best combat techniques from different martial art forms. Bruce combined the best fighting techniques of Wing Chun Gung Fu, French fencing, American boxing, Grappling and other martial art forms to create an effective and ultimate combat technique – Jeet Kune Do.

So what is JKD or Jeet Kune Do??

Jeet Kune Do or JKD means “way of the intercepting fist”. Many claim that Jeet Kune Do is the non-classical Kung Fu system. Some also recognize it to be a “modified” version of Wing Chun Gung Fu (Kung Fu is also pronounced as Gung Fu). However, Bruce Lee refused till the end to call it either a martial arts style or a martial arts form. He said that, calling it a martial arts style would completely limit the true potential of JKD. He wanted a martial arts student to have an open mind. He said that the mind should be like water which takes the shape of any container which it is poured into. He preferred to call JKD a martial arts philosophy and a way of life in its purest form.

In 2004, the name Juan Fan Jeet Kune Do was coined by the Bruce Lee foundation to refer to this martial arts system. According to the Juan Fan Jeet Kune Do foundation, “Jeet Kune Do is the complete body of technical (physical, scientific) and philosophical (mental, social and spiritual) knowledge that was studied and taught by Bruce Lee during his lifetime”.

The philosophy involved

Bruce wanted JKD to be a philosophy which was not limited to a particular style or form. He repeatedly emphasized that the goal of Jeet Kune Do was not to teach certain concepts or styles to a martial art student. The goal was to enable a student to break away from one set mind and martial arts style, open up his/her mind to various other forms, choose the effective techniques and inculcate them in their fighting style for an effective self defense.

How is JKD different?

It would take ages and a lengthy book to explain the different concepts and techniques involved in Jeet Kune Do. However, there are certain things explained here which set JKD apart from traditional martial arts. There are two schools of JKD which currently exist. One school focuses on the original teachings of Bruce Lee. It involves the training and fighting methods taught by Bruce Lee. The second school of practitioners focuses on using his theories and philosophy to improve the original JKD by adding new techniques from other martial arts forms. This said, none is better than the other, so you can choose to follow any of them.

JKD differs itself from the traditional martial art forms in the following way.

  • The core of JKD is still traditional Wing Chun kung fu. However, the final product is JKD. In fact, traditional wing chun was so influenced by JKD that many of the core techniques in wing chun have been modified according to JKD. Bruce borrowed the non-telegraphic motions, footwork, and the attack and defense theories from western fencing. He also borrowed footwork, body mechanics and evasive techniques from western boxing.
  • After extensive study and analysis of other martial arts forms, he came up with his own punching and kicking techniques. He also inculcated several other techniques such as grappling from other martial arts forms.
  • Jeet Kune Do techniques are simple and direct to the point. JKD emphasizes on avoiding all the fancy moves which are useless in actual combat or self defense. It also emphasizes on using simple techniques which give you maximum results with minimum effort.
  • The above statement also means that Jeet Kune Do discarded solo training forms such as “Kata”. Bruce called this “dry land swimming”. He believed that real fights are dynamic and change every millisecond. Hence a fixed training form is useless when it comes to real fighting. Instead, he heavily emphasized on sparring. JKD also avoids the concept of “belts” as it believes that the concept of martial arts is a life long learning and understanding.

The philosophy of Jeet Kune Do is like an ocean. Understanding this philosophy and mastering the combat techniques is an ongoing process which can take a lifetime. Whatever said and done, the concepts of JKD are here to stay for a long time in the way martial arts are taught today around the world.

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