Jeet Kune Do
What is your opinion of JKD, bruces ultimate MA.
Do you know many people who are a succesful product of the program?
It doesn't exist. Just as JKD was Bruce's personal amalgamation of art forms, JKD continues to be a personal mix today. Most JKD schools I've seen teach completely different arts. Does that mean that there aren't any good JKD schools out there? Not at all. There are some great ones. But the term JKD doesn't really mean anything anymore except eclectic. Its basically a TMA MMA, and that can be good and bad. So don't judge them based on their style one way or another, but check out each school and judge the quality of what is taught.
Do JKD schools where you are even have a ranking system or a fixed base curriculum?
.. I mean, can anyone just read the Tao of JKD and go open a school or is there a way they qualify you and test you? Do they have an organized governing body or what?
I have seen schools that have "JKD Concepts" on their sign and I wondered .. what the hell does that really mean? I mean, JKD is different in every school. I've heard of "qualified JKD instructors" .. what does it take to qualify?
The politics of JKD are quite interesting and I wish that JKD Chick or JKD Fighter would someday write an article about this subject since it directly affects who can open a school and whether there is any testing before one is deemed an instructor.
People teaching JKD are generally divided into two groups. Those who teach what is basically JKD kick boxing, similar to what Bruce was actually teaching before he left for Hong Kong, Jerry Polete (sic) would be the best example of this trend which is to teach the last system Bruce developed in puublic.
Then there are the concept people like Dan Inosanto who take the concepts that Bruce taught for combat and convey them through their particular martial art, in Dan's case the Philippino martial arts.
For every good JKD teacher there appears to be one or more who studied for a short time and then opened a studio, or studied under such a person themselves and then opened up such an establishment.
I do have a bit of an ax to grind. Many years ago I studied under someone who had taken a bunch of seminars under Larry Hartsell and studied with him for a time but really didn't have all the necessary knowledge. (I don't think Hartsell gave him a teaching certificate) I remember his bong sau was really subpar, so whenever we practiced one particular drill that came to JKD via wing Chun this exercize didn't really work. JKD absorbs all these different techniques and drills from other arts, but unless the instructor has proficiency in this underlying art it is very easy to provide poor instruction. I gotta look up some more names, I'll post again with more information.
The JKD Concepts thing is a political concern, brought into being by the JKD Nucleus wackos trying to copyright the words "Jeet Kune Do" and possibly the name "Bruce".
I frankly, having less than three years in the art, don't feel qualified to pontificate about JKD as a whole. jkd_fighter's even greener then I am. I know I love and respect my instructor and I'd match him skill for skill against almost anyone, but I have no trouble believing there are some pretty damn shoddy JKD schools out there.
Paul Vunak said, and I'm coming to agree, that JKD died with Bruce in many ways. It's just a convient catch-all name for a way of thinking about training. "Did it work? Then it's JKD."
"I'm willing to bet I could **** up an emu real good, if I got the drop on the bastard."
-- KC Elbows, my new hero.
While there is no art of a JKD per se, there are schools that are guided by the principles of JKD. A true JKD school also teaches Jun Fan Gung Fu, Bruce Lee's earlier art. There are schools that can legitimately claim to be JKD schools. Schools affiliated with Dan Inosanto (the only person promoted to instructor status by Bruce Lee) or any of his other students can call themselves JKD.
Bruce was more concerned with his next movie role than he was the future of JKD.
absolutely correct. He also wanted to make an art so everyone could call him a master, he was pretty good (not OMG SO AWESOME as everyone likes to think)and it really bothered his ego that he didn't really have any rank/prestige out of the movies (except with dumb americans) I think this whole thing was devised like the crappy synthesis schools today. Your instructor won't agree that you're a badass (Yip Man was SEVERELY disappointed with Bruce. Keep in mind that Yip Man was the Holy Crusader against the shaw brothers, and felt that movies were a disgrace to martial arts) so you start your own school and mix all kinds of **** together because you never finished any arts themselves. The only reason JKD worked is because Bruce actually had skills. But the mindset is the same.
Bruce was more concerned with his next movie role than he was the future of JKD.
Kittens, I agree. Bruce Lee definitely had talent but he was not the best MAist out there. He was so overated it was sickening. Truth be told, all in all, he had about 4 years or so of traditional training and then went on his own. He had good ideas and concepts but none were his own. They have all been stated before and more elegantly I might add by many other "real" Chinese masters. With that said, as a child I was a big fan of BL but then I grew up. Truthfully, his movies weren't too good either. It's tough to sit through "Enter the Dragon" for 2 hours just to see about 4 minutes of fights scenes.
Edited by - balloonknot on April 30 2003 11:21:23
I have to disagree with Balloonknot and Fisting Kittens about most of their posts except the part concerning Bruce being more interested in making movies. That being said, he did take his evolving JKD system seriously if for no other reason than it was for personal use, and he taught semi privately, working out mostly with other gifted martial artists who could further his explorations.
I don't believe that Bruce was particularly interested in being called Master, he was one of the first MA teachers in America to reject the belt system and didn't particularly care about some of the other trappings, trophies etc. That being said, Bruce could be quite narcasitic (sic) in his own way but he was more a Taoist then an adherant of Confucious, he did not like building large hierarchical organizational structures like most other prominant martial artists. He just preferred to go out and train.
It is true that Bruce borrowed many of his concepts from Chinese philosophy (the cup being full analogy comes to mind) but so what? He never hid this, and he managed to pull together a lot of interesting information into a coherent martial arts philosophy and approach to learning.
I have seen some echos of Bruce's throught in Ed Parker's teachings, "I'd rather have 10 techniques that worked for me rather than 100 that worked against me" but Parker was an unclear writer and never conveyed his ideas in print with the clarity and singlemindness of Lee.
The techniques used by people interested in JKD change depending on who is teaching but the following are the most inportant concepts Bruce popularized and placed into one approach.
The individual is more important then the particular martial art. One should do what works for them because of their body type and temperment instead of just pouring themself into the martial arts "cookie cutter" For example don't blindly do Shotakan Karate if it doesn't work for you, and if a martial arts technique does not work for you, modify it rather than adhering to the strict Japanese approach. For example Master says so we must all do this kick identically and screw the reasoning.
Martial arts should not be first analysed by country of origin, hard/soft, or circular/or streight line, but instead by the range that the this particular martial arts prefers, grappling, trapping, boxing, kicking, weapons range, every art spends more of its training time in one of these ranges then any other. A very useful concept.
The concept that people take a master's experiences and formalize it to the point where it loses relevance. Bruce wrote a famous article for Black Belt on this subject and it was a great analysis of Martial arts politics.
Bruce was one of the first to dispute "dry land swimming" believing that kata and forms did not teach people the "aliveness" needed to fight. He was into full contact training, and articulated why, at a time that a lot of Karateka were not.
Bruce was into weight lifting and conditioning at a time when a lot of martial artists ignored conditioning in favor of technique. "My soft technique works in all situations, now let me go smoke a pack of camels outside the dojo"
Bruce always tried to simplify a particular technique to increase its speed, and effectiveness. He pointed out that a lot of martial arts were attempting to teach too many techiques and were not concerned with how well the technique was done as verses how it looked.
This is the attributes approach. Does the uppercut, have speed and power, and is it not telegraphed? Bruce believed that simple techniques were the most practical, though his movie work was much more flowery then his real life system.
A lot of the controversy in JKD comes because Lee did not like building a road map of techniques and prefered to follow the concepts route. I am sure had Bruce lived that he would have further revised his approach to "original JKD" since he seemed to alter his system every five years or so.
Bruce left behind some concepts on how to pull together a martial art, and not surprisingly a lot of people who used his approach were not particularly good at synthesis, which is probably the hardest thing in the martial arts to pull off well.
The individual artist, with the supervision of their instructor is supposed to master some basics, learn what works for them, absorb this material, reject what is useless, and move on other material. Once again, this takes the supervision of very good instructor to do well, and there are a lot of no so good instructors out there.
Lastly I would be interested in learning from fisting kittens about where I could read about Yip Man's disappointment with Bruce since I have previously mostly read the JKD versions of their relationship.
I know that one reason that Bruce left Wing Chun is that he was a quarter German (his mom was half German) and there was pressure on Yip Man for teaching someone who was not pure Chinese. (I can dig up the exact cite for this info if anyone wants me to.) In short there was a good reason beyond Bruce's control why he had to leave Wing Chun behind, beyond a personal shortcoming.
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