Jeet Kune Do or JKD (way of the intercepting fist) is a way or approach to combat rather than a particular style. It’s based on Bruce Lee’s belief of adapting or intercepting movements rather than a set form of blocking or attacking. While it does have foundation like most martial arts, it gives you the leeway to put your own spin on it. The least amount of movement for the maximum effect is what you are going for in this method of fighting. This way, you conserve your energy and get straight to the point in a way that adapts to the fight.
In the streets, your form may not work with a particular enemy coming toward you in a certain manner. However, Jeet Kune Do will give you the tools needed to help you out in your ordeal. To embody Bruce Lee’s own words, you “absorb what’s useful” to you and the effectiveness of your fighting prowess. Here are 8 principles with Jeet Kune Do:
1. Straight Blast
This is a very useful kind of rapid fire combination. Bruce Lee was known for his very fast movements. Since he was a small guy by our standards, he needed a way to close in the gap rather quickly. A straight blast is great in a street fight because you get in there and devastate by throwing a barrage of attacks (usually punches) to specific points as a way to have your opponent back pedal. This way you’ll be able to get an opening to continue your strikes. It’s fast and accurate to the point where you land your punch before your opponent can even detect the movement. Here’s a great video demonstrating and explaining the foundation in greater detail.
You cannot expect to get anywhere without great mobility. Lee got a lot of his footwork and spacing from fencing and Western boxing. Having your hands more center lined helps for better interception. It’s a bit of stepping and gliding which is actually quite practical. If you want to move to your left, then step with your left foot and have your right foot glide right after. If you want to turn in a certain position, you basically pivot in a circular motion which save energy and keeps you in the ready. Another tactic comes from fencing which is called a push-shuffle. The right position helps you use maximum force with your punch and still keep movement. Lee believed the more simple and direct, the better for your body because you will not become stiff or too tense in your fight.
3. Simple Trapping and Compound Trapping
These are great tactics to help you break through your opponents defense in a striking manner. In a way, you can call it stand up grappling. By utilizing this method, you can continue an incredible offense of connecting strikes while immobilizing your opponent due to the constant backing away from your attacks. This makes it harder and harder to defend. Boxing and Wing Chun are great precedents for JKD. The key is lying between punching and grappling range. Sometimes, even closer making these strikes harder to detect. Here’s a good video showing you the difference in simple trapping and compound trapping.
4. Economy of Motion / Lock & Choke
This is all about efficiency. If person is attacking you with a punch to the chest, grab the hand and find something close and open to strike. It’s all about anticipating the attack and finding a very effective and direct approach to your next move. This video shows it very effectively with great locks and chokes. You can apply these methods in more extreme situations. Great tactic and principle using the least amount of time and effort while maximizing impact.
5. Split Entries
This is basically a method to get in between or “split” attacks. You are basically finding a method to counteract punches. As the person goes to punch, you go to parry then you find an opening to strike. This video goes into simple yet effective combinations of what to do after you create a split such as the cross hook kick, pac sao, and lau sing choy to name a few. This will help you capitalize off the parry and opening to take over the confrontation.
This is a bit further in detail and teaches more about Lee’s methodology as far as having good distance with your enemy. For example, you should be half way from your opponent’s body so you are close enough for quick strikes yet far enough to build your power. Richard Bustillo shows how to follow through with the six gates of JKD, which is great for applying to a street fight.
This is a pretty basic technique. However, if done fast and correctly, you’ll get a rise out of your opponent with this quick attack. If you’ve seen Enter The Dragon, Bruce Lee pulled out a very fast back fist in his fight with O’Hara right at the beginning of the fight. Your aim should be in the face or even the eye for a nice sucker punch. This is a short but very useful tutorial on how you should position your feet and flick with your knuckles upon contact.
JKD principles for kicking actually comes from Wing Chun. It’s a very useful method for emphasizing lower level kick which helps you retract faster for your defense, more movements, and a much quicker chance to strike another time. Low kicks are also useful because they are harder to catch. Most kicks are done around the stomach, ribs, chest, and face. With your target being closer to your actual foot, it makes your attacks more effective. Sometimes, connecting with a low attack can lead to an opening above the waist which gives you a chance to strike there.
For a lot of people, Jeet Kune Do is the foundation of MMA with Bruce Lee as the father. Whatever the case may be, he took a number of different styles and found what was useful with each style. He flipped it and created a system which everyone can relate. Lee never got to finish perfecting style because of his unfortunate death at 32 years of age. He still thought in some cases JKD was stylized such as other martial arts. What do you think about JKD? Is it the ultimate system or a bit too simple and direct for your taste? Drop a comment below.