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Jeet Kune Do was conceived by the late Bruce Lee in 1967; literally "way of the intercepting fist." Unlike many other martial arts, there are no series of rules or techniques that constitute a distinct jeet kune do (jkd) method of fighting; jkd utilizes all ways and means to serve its end. It is bound by none and therefore "free." It possesses everything, but in itself is possessed by nothing. Those who understand jkd are primarily interested in its effects of liberation used as a mirror for self-examination.

In the past, many have tried to define jkd in terms of a distinct style, i.e., Bruce Lee's gung-fu, Bruce Lee's karate, Bruce Lee's kick-boxing, or Bruce Lee's street fighting. To label jkd Bruce Lee's martial art is to miss its meaning; its concepts cannot be confined within a system. To understand this, a martial artist must transcend from the duality of the "for" and "against" into one unity which is without distinction. The understanding of jkd is a direct intuition of this unity.

Truth cannot be perceived until we have come to full understanding of ourselves and our potential.
According to Lee, knowledge in the martial arts ultimately means self knowledge.

Jeet kune do is not a new style of karate or kung-fu. Bruce Lee did not invent a new style or a composite, or modify any style to set it apart from any existing method. His main concept was to free his followers from clinging to a style, pattern, or mold.

It must be emphasized that jeet kune do is merely a name; a mirror in which we see ourselves. There is some sort of progressive approach to its training, but as Lee said, "To create a method of fighting is pretty much like putting a pound of water into wrapping paper and shaping it." Structurally, many people tend to mistake jkd as a composite style because of its efficiency. At any given time, it can resemble Thai boxing, wing chun, wrestling, or karate.

Its weaponry resembles Filipino escrima and kali, and, at long range, northern Chinese gung-fu or tae kwon do.

According to Lee,the efficiency of style depends upon circumstances and range: a staff, for example, would be the wrong weapon to bring into a telephone booth to fight, whereas a knife would be appropriate.
A good jkd practitioner must develop intuition. According to Lee, a style should never be like a bible in which the principles and laws of which can never be violated.

There will always be a difference with regards to quality of training, physical make-up, level of understanding, environmental conditioning, and likes and dislikes.

Thus jkd is not an organization or an institution to which one can belong. "Either you understand or you don't, and that is that," in Lee's words.

When Lee was teaching a Chinese system of qung-fu upon his arrival in the U.S., he did have an institute of learning; but after that he didn't believe in a style or system, Chinese or otherwise.

According to him, to reach the masses some sort of organization had to be formed, both domestic and foreign branches with affiliations; but he also felt it was not necessary to have these because a martial artist finds himself more often in places that are contrary. To reach the growing numbers of students some sort of pre-conformed sets had to be established as the standard for these branches. As a result, many members will be conditioned according to the prescribed system; many will probably end up as prisoners of systematic drilling.

This is why Lee believed in having only a few students at one time, because it requires constant alert observation of each student in order to establish a direct relationship. A good teacher can never be fixed at a routine, and today many instructors are just that. As Lee so often said, "A good instructor functions as a pointer of the truth espousing the student's vulnerability, causing him to explore both internally and externally, and finally, integrating himself with his being. Martial arts, like life itself, are a constant unrhythmic movement, as well as constant change.

Flowing with this change is very important. Finally a jeet kune do man who says jkd is exclusively jkd is simply "not in with it." He is still "hung up" on his own self-closing resistance, anchored to reactionary pattern and naturally bound by another modified pattern and can move only within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that the truth exists outside of all molds and patterns.

An awareness is never exclusive. To quote Lee, "Jeet kune do is just a name, a boat to get one across the river. Once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back."

In 1981 jkd concepts were taught in only three places: by Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo at the Filipino Kali Academy in Torrance, Calif.; by Larry Hartsell in Charlotte, N.C.; and by Taki Kimura in Seattle, Wash. As taught in Torrance, the curriculum includes western boxing and Bruce Lee's method of kick-boxing, called Jun Fan boxing. It is felt that students should gather experience rather than technique. In other words, a karate practitioner who has never before boxed needs to experience sparring with a boxer. What he learns from this experience is strictly up to him. According to Lee, a teacher is not a giver of truth; he is merely a guide to the truth and the student must discover for himself.

The total picture Lee wanted to present to his pupil was that above everything else he must find his own way. He always said, "Your truth is not my truth, and my truth is not yours." Lee did not have a blueprint, but rather a series of guidelines to lead to proficiency.

Using equipment, there was a systematic approach in which you could develop speed, distance, power, timing, coordination, endurance, and footwork.

Jeet kune do, for Lee, was not an end in itself nor was it merely a by-product; it was a means of self-discovery; a prescription for personal growth, and an investigation of freedom, freedom to act naturally and effectively not only in combat but in life. In life, to absorb what is useful, to reject what is useless, ideally, a student will seek experience in many arts-judo, jujutsu, aikido,western boxing, kicking styles, wing chun, kali, escrima, arnis, pentjak silat, Thai boxing, French savate, etc.-and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each.

It is not necessary to study all of these arts, but to understand the high and low points of each, as well as the range, distance, and effectiveness of each. There is a distance in which western boxing is superior to any kicking style, whether it be from Korean karate or northern Chinese styles of kicking.

No art is inferior or superior to any other. This is the object of jeet kune do: to be bound by no style and in combat to use no style as style. In the Zen maxim: "In the Landscape of spring there is neither better norworse. The flowering branches grow, some short, some long." (DAN INOSANTO)

The Original Concepts Method
by Dr. Jerry Beasley
The concepts of JKD are as follows:

1) Seek the truth in combat (Find arts/styles that are functional for real combat.);
2) Experience and master the truth (Box the boxer, wrestle the wrestler, and master each range.);
3) Forget the carrier of the truth (Don't be limited by using this art, then another.); and
4) "Response in the nothing" (The nothing means no particular art.). Simply answer the attack using JKD--no way as way.

If you are "JKD Concepts." you are following this pattern. If you are " Original JKD," you are following this pattern. Both are the same. Both are yin or both are yang. There is no difference. Now, hang on, because I am going to explain what has happened.

Original art. Bruce Lee took the concepts and sought the truth in self defense. remember, he had spent years learning wing chun. however, in a real fight, he ended up chasing a kung-fu guy around the room with little success. So wing chun was only a partial truth, as is any art, with built-in limitations. Fencing, boxing, Northern Shaolin, tai chi, judo, etc., each represented a partial truth. When used together (Not as this art and then the other, but as elements from each, along with Lee's personal attributes of speed, sensitivity, and power, etc.), they became something new.

When Lee used the wing chun way, he was limited to the domain of wing chun. In an effort to find his own way, Lee experienced and mastered truth at each range. He then put aside the carrier of the truth. In other words, he at no time tried to be a boxer, then a judoka. He disassociated himself with fixed arts. Boxing was only a boat to get to the other side. Once there, it could be discarded. Using no art, he became all arts (at least he could become all the arts that he had experienced). When he used no way as way, he meant that he used no particular way--no way that he had been taught. JKD is self discovery, and Lee used these concepts to discover exactly what worked best for him. We call his personal method original JKD.
Original JKD is a proven, effective self-defense method which is a non-classical, contact-functional, and research-oriented martial art. Original JKD is, for most, a partial truth. It is a carrier of the truth that has considerably more functional information than most classical styles. Within the framework of the original art are the JKD concepts which encourage continued self development.

Now let's examine JKD concepts. JKD concepts is original JKD. Anyone studying JKD concepts is supposed to have been taught the original art. It would be helpful if we dropped the various names--jun fan, JKD concepts, original art, JKD strategies, matrix JKD, etc., and simply agreed that if a person maintained the concepts, he/she was considered JKD. However, there is a problem. People are different, and each can review the concepts and achieve a different presentation. As a result some people look like stick fighters, some look like kickboxers (stand-up fighters), and some resemble trapping/grappling. There is nothing wrong with this except that it causes confusion for some.

Remember, JKD is no way as way. A JKD performer does not try to perform every art he has learned. He attempts to find out what works from each art for him. He then drops the various arts and , using no particular way, is free to simply answer the attack. This seems easy to understand.

Every JKD player has a matrix. You can only develop your own JKD based on the arts you have studied. If some JKD people practice kali, silat, etc., they will have to resemble these arts. Some JKD people will always resemble stickfighting, for example, as their primary focus. If a JKD person has wing chun, boxing, judo, or shaolin in his matrix, he may reflect these arts ( as did Bruce Lee) in his performance of JKD. No one who practices kickboxing can be expected to outclass a stickfighter in weapons defense. Conversely, a weapons man will not be competitive against a kickboxer in punch-kick range. Controlling range insures success. And to be JKD, we must discover what range we can control.

Applying the Concepts

Everyone in JKD (concepts, original art, strategies, etc.) begins at the beginning. They seek realistic combat/self defense skills. They gravitate not toward traditional karate/kung fu/judo, etc., but toward function-oriented combat methods. If someone says "this works," then we in JKD want to take a look at it. All of us intend to (step two) experience and master the carriers of truth. Kali is a partial truth. Silat is a partial truth. Jiujitsu is a carrier of the truth. Boxing works, etc. Level one is seeking the truth.
I am going to call the JKD level two the research mode. In JKD we are researching different arts. If we research arts A/B/C, then we will reflect arts a/b/c/. To complete level two, we must master whatever arts are necessary to cover the four ranges. To get to level three, we must set ourselves free of the arts we have mastered. At level four we become JKD. We use no way, but we still must reflect, to some degree, our original training.

Specifically stated, if Joe Lewis, Ted Wong, and I investigate gung, fu, boxing, karate, and grappling, etc., our expression of JKD must reflect our efforts. On the other hand, if another group focuses on kali, silat, and Thai, then when they present JKD it has to resemble training in those arts. Using all ways as way means using all of the arts you have mastered. Therefore, my JKD (truth) may not be your JKD (truth). A lot of people still can't understand this simple fact.

The research mode can be deceptive. It is possible for a person to get so caught up in cataloguing so many arts that he loses sight of his original goal ( efficiency in combat, simple and direct). Many have made the observation that some groups seem to stagnate in this research mode. They collect so much material, so many training drills, that they have no time to fight (spar). Sparring is a great opportunity to test out your accumulated skills and chip away the unessentials. It is easier to move to level three when you lose attachment to a specific art or instructor.

In JKD research mode a person is free to experience any art. There is no single best way. Combat may involve weapons, grappling, or kickboxing (stand-up fighting). But remember, the arts that you research (experience and master) are going to be reflected in your personal JKD. In the UFC fights kickboxers are never good grapplers and the grapplers simply cannot win standing up. Original art people are most often identified with knife and stick fighting. Generally speaking, original art groups think in terms of empty hands while concepts people tend to relate heavily with weapons training. Remember, the way that you practice has to be reflected in the way you perform. You will never be sure that your way will work until you try it out. Put on the equipment and spar.