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Just Another Brick In The Wall ...

It seems to me as if everything relating to JKD is becoming more and more codified and ‘productionized’ as time goes by. Every time I turn around I see some “Jun Fan series” and “Jun Fan sets” of different techniques or actions popping up everywhere.

Initially, I was going to write a good-size blog about the subject and then realized the difficulty in doing so because my perception regarding JKD and JFGF differs from many people out there. I do not, for instance, consider Jun Fan Gung Fu to be the “physical techniques” one uses to find their own personal expression of “Jeet Kune Do.” I do not look at JFGF as the physical techniques aspect and JKD as the philosophical aspect. I look at Jeet Kune Do as Jeet Kune Do – an art, a science, and a philosophy.

Many people today are laboring under the misperception (because that is what they are being taught) that these so-called “Jun Fan series” or “Jun Fan sets” are things that Bruce Lee actually put together himself, practiced, and passed down for posterity. Such is not the case. In all but a very small percentage, all of these series were not developed or created (or taught) by Lee himself, but were created by other people who attach the words “Jun Fan” as a prefix to them, and if questioned about them make comments such as “Well, Bruce Lee would do things like this.”

For many people teaching JKD today, they teach in the same manner in which they were taught. So if they were continually taught ‘this’ series of techniques or ‘that’ series, that is the way they instruct their students to do things.

I know that somebody reading this is going to turn around and say something like, “Well Bruce Lee had different series. Look at the lists of boxing combinations in his notes and books.” Well, the fact is that those lists were basically copied verbatim from certain books such as “The U.S. Naval Book of Boxing” as part of Lee’s personal martial research, not as lists to be followed as a series. And even if you look at the curriculum from earlier periods in Bruce’s personal martial evolution you will see only a few sequences.

Regarding my initial note on this subject, one individual (I’m leaving personal names out for privacy) wrote, “The problem is that many of us are sold that idea and are told that this such and such is what Bruce Lee did and that we have to learn it first in order to find our own JKD and if we do other things then it is not Bruce Lee's line of JKD but our own.” My response to them was that that is pure rubbish, and here are the reasons why:

1) Those things (series, sets, etc.) are not what Bruce Lee DID. He may have had some notes about some things or did a few similar things but it’s a falsehood that he actually did all these sets.

2) You don’t have to learn that material first (sets, etc.) in order to “find your own JKD.” You simply have to develop your ability to express yourself to the highest level possible with your tools and fully understand yourself, and THAT is your own JKD.

3) The idea that if you do other things then it’s not Bruce Lee’s line of JKD but your own is ludicrous, because (a) this stuff is not Bruce Lee’s so-called “line” but other people’s lines, and (b) that statement in itself is the very antithesis of what JKD truly is about.

The bottom line is that all that crap has been put forth by people seeking to push their own agenda with regard to JKD.

Another individual commented, “The allure of a solidified curriculum is very strong to some folks. A lot of teachers can't resist using the different 'series' of techniques because the more like a traditional art it becomes, the easier it is to teach (and keep) larger numbers of students. They can test on the series and give out new certificates every few months to keep people coming back.” I know this person and agree one hundred percent with them.

Am I against people putting things into some kind of a series for learning purposes? Not necessarily. It depends how it’s done. But that’s not what this blog is about. My point is that as long as people who are being taught the art understand that all of the various “series” and “sets” they might be learning were not developed or created by Bruce Lee himself but put together by other individuals following Lee’s passing, what and how they choose to teach is up to them. Unfortunately such does not seem to be the case when I look around. It seems to me just another glaring example of the history of JKD being revised and rewritten. Just another brick in the wall of misperception about JKD.