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Stop Tearing the Heart and Soul Out of JKD

Stop Tearing the Heart and Soul Out of JKD I’ve written blogs before concerning such things as the revisionism of JKD history, and the classicalization of JKD with all the numerous “sets” now being created or supposedly “discovered.” (See my previous blogs such as – “A New “Classical Mess” in the Making?” and my article “JKD – An Art Caught in an Identity Crisis” as well as others for more in-depth explanations). This blog relates to the proliferation of all of the sets, special sequences, and other cookie-cutter JKD templates now running rampant in the JKD world and puts forth a simple and clear statement - stop attempting to ‘productionize’ JKD. Stop putting this stuff out there and proclaiming that people need to know all this stuff in order to understand JKD, and that they need this stuff in order to learn JKD. They don’t. When I speak to people about these sets and sequences the response I usually get is something like, “it makes it easier to teach people and easier for the student to learn.” I disagree with the second part. Perhaps it makes your own job a little easier because you have everybody doing the same thing at the same time. However, a major part of your job as a teacher (at least a JKD teacher) is to help your students develop into creative, free-thinking martial artists and help them cultivate both their curiosity and critical-thinking skills. Let me give you an example of two types of teaching methods, using one of the “kicking sets” now appearing in the JKD scene as an example. In the set you take one kick, such as a straight kick and do it in a predetermined sequence such as (1) stationary, (2) step-slide, (3) slide-step, (4) stationary and drop back into opposite lead, (5) with rear leg, etc., etc., etc. In the second method you simply teach the kick against equipment and combined with different types of footwork, then allow the student to freelance shadow-box the kick on their own moving and facing different directions. Which method do you think helps the student develop both their technical skills and their creativity and critical-thinking skills better? Which is truly more functional? When you have your students learn all these various sets and predesigned routines you are following in the footsteps of both classical martial arts systems and our current educational system and using many of the same archaic methods they use (many of which are now showing their ineffectiveness in the long-run). I can empathize with some people teaching such things because that is the way they were taught by their instructor and it’s behavioral; it’s the only way they know how to do things. I am far less empathetic towards people who do know better but are doing it simply because it is the path of least resistance, or because that’s the way other people and schools in the martial arts ‘industry’ do it. Jeet Kune Do, as Bruce Lee so succinctly put it, “is a process, not a product.” If you attempt to “productionize” JKD you tear out its heart and soul. So don’t.

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