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Generation X...or Y...or Z?


Someone wrote to me the other day concerning the idea of “lineage” in JKD, and questioning what “generation” they were, second generation or third generation. They told me that they assumed that they were second generation whereas someone from another JKD faction told them they were third.


My response to them was that it all depends on how a person defines what each generation is; how you break it down. The way some people look at it is that as Bruce Lee was the founder of Jeet Kune Do (and therefore not a “generation” at all), people such as Taky Kimura, James Lee, Dan Inosanto, and Ted Wong, anyone who trained under Bruce Lee himself, be it privately or in a class situation, would be classified as first-generation students. Based upon that perspective, I, as a direct student of Dan Inosanto, would be second-generation, and my students would then be third generation. If, however, one views Bruce Lee as the first generation, then Dan, Taky, and Ted would be classified as second generation, I would be third generation, and my students fourth generation. My point of view on the matter is that I follow the first one.


Following this, we often hear that the ‘closer’ the person is to Bruce Lee in the lineage, the greater the knowledge they supposedly will possess. This is often put out there to establish an individual’s own status in the JKD hierarchy (pecking order) and the JKD marketplace. However, after spending over five decades of my life immersed in JKD, I can assure you that such is not necessarily the case. Jeet Kune Do is an art where the individual must do the work for themselves. Over the years, I’ve met some individuals who trained as direct students of Bruce Lee, whose knowledge and understanding of JKD was in fact, quite limited. On the other hand, I’ve met people who, while they might be several steps down the “generation” ladder have a deep comprehension and understanding of JKD. In the same way that some families have several generations of writers, painters, musicians, etc., and sometimes a generation or two further down the line might possess and exhibit greater knowledge, skill, or talent than the members of a preceding generation.


In the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter that much what “generation” a person is, generation X, Y or Z.. What matters is the knowledge, expertise, and teaching ability they possess regarding JKD. You may choose to use lineage as a metric when deciding who you want to learn under or train with, but don’t use it as the only metric when considering a person’s knowledge and abilities.


The idea of status or where one stands in the JKD hierarchy or the JKD marketplace is something I honestly pay very little attention to these days. I walked away from the idea of it years ago. I’m not interested in it. What truly matters, when it comes down to it, is whether or not they person “gets it.”

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