"Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. Put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or creep, or drip, or crash. Be water my friend.”
The water principle was so much a part of Lee’s philosophical outlook on martial art and life, that he included the above quote in an episode of the “Longstreet” television series that Lee guest starred in (as well as co-wrote with his student, screenwriter Stirling Silliphant) and which was entitled “The Way of the Intercepting Fist.” The point Lee was making to his student, who is trying to prepare to fight a local bully who had recently beaten him up, was that in the same way that water has no constant form, in combat there exist no constant conditions. Conditions can change from moment to moment, and in order for the man to be able to fit in and deal effectively with the bully, he must ‘be like water’ by remaining flexible and adaptable in order to flow with the situation.
"If you understand motion, you don't need style."
Bruce Lee told my teacher, Sifu Dan Inosanto, "Dan, if you understand motion, you don't need style." The point he was making to Dan is that whole idea is not about seeing the "value" in a style or various styles, but rather transcending the very notion or idea of "style" itself -- to be free from styles or even the combination of styles.
Jeet Kune Do is about moving beyond “styles” and instead simply looking at martial art in terms of motion. What this means is that as you develop your combative tools and skills, you should look at actions, movements, or techniques not from the perspective of, “This is a Wing Chun punch” or “This is a Muay Thai Elbow” or “This is a whatever style kick”, etc., but rather from a scientific, bio-mechanical point of view. You should look to physics and its related sciences of physiology and kinesiology, and analyze the way the human body moves with regard to such things as body alignment, balance, recovery, speed, power and coordination. Start with scientific principles as the bottom line and go from there.
"There are no "secrets" -- YOU are it -- YOU are the key!"
What turns Jeet Kune Do into a path for self-growth is not the poetic beauty of the founder's quotes or his intentions. What truly counts is what YOU put into it -- the art is simply a vehicle or a tool that you can use to become a free-thinking, liberated martial artist.
Jeet Kune Do has no fixed rules or templates -- only guiding principles.
"Learn the Principle, Abide by the Principle,Dissolve the Principle."
While a martial artist needs to develop their understanding and proficiency with regard to both principles and techniques, at the same time it’s very important that they don’t allow themselves to become caged or locked in by either of them. To be bound by any technique or principle can result in restriction and confinement, which will hinder or prevent the martial artist’s personal growth.. We can we prevent this from happening by utilizing the following guidelines in our own personal development:
Step 1 -- Learn the Principle or Technique
Learning the principle or technique is just that; to consciously learn something. For a martial artist this might mean learning the proper body mechanics of a particular kick or punch, or how the principle of leverage works when applying an armlock to an opponent.
Step 2 -- Abide by the Principle or Technique
After you learn a principle or technique, you need to spend time with it and practice it until you develop full proficiency with it and can successfully apply it or put it into effect on a consistent basis. Abiding by the principle or technique entails working within the parameters of it and developing your understanding of not only the “how”, but also the “why” and the “when.” For a martial artist it might mean sharpening a particular tool or weapon they’ve learned to peak efficiency and effectiveness.
Step 3 -- Dissolve the Principle or Technique
To dissolve the principle or technique means that you’re no longer even consciously aware of it anymore. Through consistent practice, training, and experience you’ve made it your own, and it’s now become second-nature to you. At the same time you are not bound to it or restricted by it because you’ve liberated yourself from it and have the freedom to use it or not use it as you like, or modify it to suit your needs as may be necessary. For the martial artist this means that, as a result of their training, they no longer even have to think about how or when to use a particular technique because it is so ingrained with their being that it has become reflexive. In addition, they have the freedom to use or not use a technique or principle as they see fit.
When we are learning about anything, the idea is for us to be able to go into a particular realm, spend as much time as we need experiencing it and learning about it, and then leave when we want to. In short, you want to be able to enter a mold or framework without being caged in it, and to obey the principle without being bound by it.
The “core” of JKD is really a dynamic way of thinking, rather than a static body of knowledge – JKD is a “state of being.”
“JKD does not look at combat from a certain angle but from all possible angles. It utilizes all ways and means to serve its end, but is bound by none.”
While JKD may be a process, if one is not careful the process can become ‘institutionalized’ – more and more layers can be added to the process resulting in complexity.
JKD is not about worshipping at the altar of openness or letting a thousand blossoms bloom -- Exercise discernment in what you are doing.
Simplicity means more than just removing things. Simplicity is focusing on the essential meaning of the art.