The JKD Attitude
Originally posted on Facebook June 2011
To truly comprehend Jeet Kune Do, as a practitioner it is vital that you develop the proper mindset toward training. I call this mindset, for wont of a better term, the “JKD attitude.” At various times on my blog I will include what I consider to be essential ingredients in developing a full and clear understanding of Jeet Kune Do.
One of the fundamental tenets of JKD that was instilled in me from the moment I first began my training in the art was, “If you understand motion, you don’t need “style”.
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. The principles will help you discover or find technique, and the technique should be a practical illustration of those principles. This is reason that JKD has been described as “science applied to the realm of fighting.” If we examine Bruce Lee’s notes on the subject we can see a clear example of this bio-mechanical approach --
“In any physical movement there is always a most efficient and alive manner to accomplish the purpose of the performance for each individual. That is, in regard to proper leverage, balance in movement, economical and efficient use of motion and energy, etc.”
While the aforementioned principle is simple, it is nevertheless a difficult one for many people to apply. Why? As I stated in my article “Understanding the True Nature of JKD,” the reason it’s so hard for many people to comprehend the idea of moving beyond the separation of styles and instead simply looking at martial art in terms of motion is that because ever since we first began learning, we’ve been entrained to separate, compartmentalize and label. And that kind of mindset is what you are attempting to move away from in JKD.
I am the first to admit that even I have been guilty of such things myself. For example, in my book Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do - The Textbook, I gave an example of the idea of flowing from art to art. However, as my understanding of JKD increased I came to see that this was incorrect. It has nothing to do with moving from one art to another, but rather it is simply flowing from one movement to another.
(A Note of Caution) -- Be careful, because you can even become bogged down by saying such things as “This is a JKD punch” and “This is a JKD kick.” etc.
Another key tenet that interconnects with the previous one is “It doesn’t matter where it comes from, if you understand it and can use it, it belongs to no one; it’s yours.”
When I used to travel with my teacher, Dan Inosanto, and assist him on seminars, one of the ways in which he would illustrate this principle to the people attending was to demonstrate a particular wristlock or armlock on me and ask the participants, “Where does this lock come from?” Dependent upon the martial art background, one person might answer that it was a ju jitsu lock, while another might say that it came from Kenpo. And so on. Then Dan would make the point that it doesn’t matter where the lock came from or what you call it. If you understand the lock and can use it, it belongs to you.
So the bottom line is, develop your techniques around scientific principles and understanding motion as opposed to any particular style or styles, and don’t get hung up on where a motion comes from.