What is Jeet Kune Do?
Simply put, it is a martial art form with no form.
Bruce Lee, the founder of Jeet Kune Do, gives the best description of this form of martial art, “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. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune-Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune-Do is simply the direct expression of one’s feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive. Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one’s back.”
The essence of Jeet Kune Do is in its flexibility and non-conformity. Jeet Kune Do practitioners learn the philosophy and basics of Jeet Kune Do, but yet are encouraged to develop their own style that best suits their purpose and physical abilities.
Bruce Lee himself explored many forms of martial arts and incorporated them into Jeet Kune Do. His influences include Wing Chun, epee fencing and boxing.
There are 3 main concepts in the application of Jeet Kune Do.
1) Efficiency – The usage of body mechanics and anatomy to inflict the maximum amount of damage with the least amount of effort.
2) Simplicity – The use of simple non-complicated movements that are natural. Discarding what is not useful, and taking in only what is.
3) Directness – Attacking and defending in the most time-saving and efficient ways.
These three concepts serve to make Jeet Kune Do a style that is suited to the unpredictability and carnage of street-fight. Jeet Kune Do is an art that aims to end the fight in the shortest amount of time. Long drawn fights are best avoided. As such the style needs to be efficient, simple and direct to win the fight quickly.
Jeet Kune Do categories its attacks into five different types, mainly in the form of directs attacks, rapid consecutive attacks, indirect attack combinations to different body parts, immobilisation and baiting. Again, true to Bruce Lee’s philosophy, the five forms of attacks are merely to guide the Jeet Kune Do practitioner in the understanding of the martial art. Each form has specific basic techniques, but can be modified in the heat of battle to suit the needs of the situation.
As Bruce Lee puts it, “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”