History of Jeet Kune Do

DeLamar.J

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History of Jeet Kune Do

Over the years, many people have made claims regarding the proper definition of Bruce Lee's art. Some have defined it as a process of "change;" others have labeled it as simply "modified Wing Chun;" others, with the best of intentions have stated that it is simply an eclectic jumble of various styles and arts that hopefully will, at some unspecified point in the future, gestalt into something meaningful for the individual practitioner.

With the formation of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, however, there no longer exists any need for such contradictory and confusing definitions. There is but one definition for Jun fan Jeet Kune Do and here it is:

Jun fan Jeet Kune Do is the complete body of technical (physical and scientific) and philosophical (mental, social, spiritual) knowledge that was studied and taught by Bruce Lee during his lifetime.

In other words, Jun fan Jeet Kune Do (with, as its core, the combative principles, physical techniques, training methods, and philosophical ideas synthesized by Bruce Lee during his lifetime) is concerned solely and exclusively with Bruce Lee's personal evolution and process of self-discovery through martial art as indicated and supported by the written record (Bruce Lee's personal papers and library) and oral history (recollections of those who spent time with and/or studied under Bruce Lee). That's it. Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do concerns itself with presenting Bruce Lee's ideas and opinions - and not anyone else's interpretation of them - with regard to:

The history and development of his art
The philosophy that supports and extends from the art
The training and conditioning methods necessary to realize the physical (and mental/spiritual) aspects of the art
The scientific principles underlying the foundation of the techniques Bruce Lee emphasized and held to be significant
The life, art and career of Bruce Lee
A distinction is made between this body of work (i.e., Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do) and an individual student's own personal process of self-discovery through martial art, in that each student is free to utilize all, some or none of Bruce Lee's teachings to assist him in this respect.

Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do is not about setting up restrictions or "Ways" of doing things. It has no interest in trying to mold or shape you. It accepts you as you are. Much like when a bubbling spring flows out from the mountains, it is simply there for a thirsty traveler should he wish to partake of it. When a bird sings, it does not sing for the advancement of music, but if somebody stops to listen and is delighted, that is fine. And Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do seeks likewise to be a source of inspiration and delight solely for those who posses an interest in Bruce Lee and the martial viewpoint that he created. Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do should be considered the base that Bruce Lee established and not the ultimate goal of the individual who studies it. Individuals may, and if fact are expected to, modify, add and delete until they have transcended the need for any "way" or "system" at all - including Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. We should welcome change, but the person changing should claim responsibility for his own innovations. Nor should Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do be called obsolete after a martial artist evokes these changes into a personal interpretation. In holding true to Bruce Lee's philosophy of personal liberation, it works on the principle of a physician rather than a patent. A physician is always trying to get rid of his patients and send them away healthy enough to stand on their own two feet. Bruce Lee's ultimate objective as a teacher was to get rid of his students so that they wouldn't need him or any other teacher.

Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do can be viewed as a guide to reach the highest peak of personal liberation through the study of martial arts. You, the individual become, through this process of self-discovery, your own best teacher. What we really need to know about ourselves and how we perform throughout our daily life should not end when graduating from school. Throughout our Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do journey, the martial arts trials and tribulations we experience result in a never-ending gain in self-knowledge and growth.

While it is true that Bruce Lee was constantly searching for a better way ("To utilize all ways be bound by none"), we must, for historical and philosophical reasons, use the term Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do only for the art that Bruce Lee taught. While it is true that he would have continued to grow and explore, we cannot know with infallible certainty what direction this exploration would have taken. Our objective with Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do is simply to remove some of the misconceptions that have arisen over the years concerning what Bruce Lee and his art were about, and to show the world a better picture of what is preserved in his legacy. For the sake of the future of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, we must also emphasize that when instructors claim to teach Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, they will only teach from the body of knowledge attributed to Bruce Lee.

Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do is concerned solely with Bruce Lee's body of work - as he taught it - and with the preservation and perpetuation of this body of work.
 

Flatlander

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Chrono said:
That's the same way I've heard it described.
And this, in my interpretation, refers to freedom from limitations. For example, someone who is learning an art, any art, we'll call it art "A", is bound by the particular basket of techniques and ways of moving that art A teaches. Historically, these martial artists felt as though THAT was THE WAY. If you were learning from sensei A, you would strive to learn to move as sensei A moves. That would be the objective of your training. Of course, you all see the disadvantage to this.

So Bruce pontificated that to liberate yourself from that "style" of movement, and allow yourself the freedom to move in any possible way, then you would be more effective in countering the movement of your enemy, rather than being "stuck" in those "patterns".

"Style with no style", "formless form", "way of no way", they are all the same allusions. Bruce was referring to freedom.

But don't misinterpret his distaste of "form" for a literal distaste of "kata" forms. How do you think he learned Wing Chun for 5+ years? He still understood that kata had its place. He was not referring to kata. He was referring to trying to mirror your teacher. Rather, Bruce was trying to teach people to interpret those kata in the way that fit their motion. To utilize techniques that work for YOU, not your instructor. Your teacher's job is to show you the way. Your job is to walk the path. :asian:
 
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DeLamar.J

DeLamar.J

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I totally agree with what you said about Bruce and Kata. Alot of people say they dont practice kata because Bruce didnt like it. But that is how he got as good as he was, he never would have been as good as he was without master Yip there to teach him Wing Chun, and the kata, the most basic and important part of the art, as kata is with most all styles. Bruce just wanted to make sure people did not get stuck in patterns once they reached high levels of skill and went through the long learning process of understanding kata, wich is a must in order to learn quallity technique. Then you begin to modify those techniques to fit you like a glove, where the same techniques may not be as useful for another person for various reasons such as speed or strength issues. But the techniques you learn to eventually modify, have a source, that source might be Go-Ju like in my case, or Wing Chun. Either way you have to learn the correct way from the source, before you can begin to modify anything.
 

achilles

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Bruce Lee did, in fact, take a dim view of kata. He did practice them at an early point of his development, but as his art evolved he often refered to kata as "dry land swimming" meaning that just as a swimmer needs to get in the water to in fact be a swimmer, a fighter needs to fight. Jeet Kune Do is all about the relationship. Kata offer nothing to relate to other than the particular pattern. There is no spontaneity, or feedback. Furthermore, the postures and techniques are typically not tactically sound or efficient. Another draw back of kata is the lack of broken rhythm: a fundamental of JKD training. While there are a few sets/kata in Bruce Lee's art historically speaking, they are not pillars of the art. The structure built by the siu lim tao form was so radically altered and adapted for JKD purposes (with the assimilation of boxing and fencing technology) that it is hardly recognizeable.
 

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Achilles, welcome to the board. I think you'll find a wealth of knowledge on the arts spread around the various forums here, so have a look around, and enjoy your stay.

The values of kata are an ongoing debate here. The general consensus seems to favour "each to their own". You claim:
Another draw back of kata is the lack of broken rhythm: a fundamental of JKD training.
But I would suggest that one could break the rhythm of the kata they were performing in a spontaneous fashion, thereby adding flavour to the cadence.

You go on to say:

While there are a few sets/kata in Bruce Lee's art historically speaking, they are not pillars of the art.
However, the kata are there. Had he wanted, he could have removed them altogether. But he chose not to. So he must have seen some value there.
 

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Bruce practiced Sil Lum Tao from Wing Chun regularly - as to whether or not that belongs in anyone else's JKD practice is not mine to answer :ultracool
 

James Kovacich

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Bruce "taught" Sil Lum Tao in Seattle while he was still teaching Wing Chun. Thats old news and I was being a bit of a smart *** because there are no forms in JKD. The posts made it sound like there was.
 

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Thank you for the clarification.
smileJap.gif
 

achilles

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Actually, there are several forms in JKD: at least two kicking forms and a hand form. These were taught in LA at the China Town Kwoon. However, they are not essential to JKD and are rarely taught other than for historical purposes as an auxilliary. The practice of siu lim tao is aimed at learning the structure of the wing chun tools and body mechanics. This is NOT the structure of JKD. While wing chun is an essential element, the practice of siu lim tao is not essential to JKD since the tools are modified from what traditional wing chun teaches. It certainly wouldn't hurt, all knowledge is ultimately self-knowledge, but forms lack the utility that JKD values most highly.

I understand that you can indeed change the cadence of a kata to resemble broken rhythm, but what good would that achieve? You would simply be changing the pace at which you are PERFORMING the kata rather than RELATING to an opponent's natural rhythm. I think its a good idea, but it still lacks the kind of spontaneity essential to broken rhythm, not to mention that the long, lumbering strides used in kata are really inefficient for performing JKD techniques.
 

James Kovacich

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achilles said:
Actually, there are several forms in JKD: at least two kicking forms and a hand form. These were taught in LA at the China Town Kwoon. However, they are not essential to JKD and are rarely taught other than for historical purposes as an auxilliary. The practice of siu lim tao is aimed at learning the structure of the wing chun tools and body mechanics. This is NOT the structure of JKD. While wing chun is an essential element, the practice of siu lim tao is not essential to JKD since the tools are modified from what traditional wing chun teaches. It certainly wouldn't hurt, all knowledge is ultimately self-knowledge, but forms lack the utility that JKD values most highly.

I understand that you can indeed change the cadence of a kata to resemble broken rhythm, but what good would that achieve? You would simply be changing the pace at which you are PERFORMING the kata rather than RELATING to an opponent's natural rhythm. I think its a good idea, but it still lacks the kind of spontaneity essential to broken rhythm, not to mention that the long, lumbering strides used in kata are really inefficient for performing JKD techniques.

And what were the names? They did not have any forms in Oakland. But they did have the kicking "sets."

Are considering drills and sets to be the same as kata?

Drills and sets do lead to formlessness and kata does not.
 

achilles

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sets or forms, it's really an issue of semantics. I think we are referring to the same kicking sets which begin, at least, with a set pattern. I was told that they were performed first classically, then non-classically and then simply shadowboxed. In any case, the overall value placed on forms, sets, etc. declined as JKD evolved. Adaptability became the main emphasis rather than memorization.
 
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