Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Q - Does the Kent Institute have a training philosophy? And if so, what is it?
Absolutely. The philosophical foundation upon which the Kent Institute program is built is "personal liberation" -- liberation of body, liberation of mind, liberation of spirit -- not only in martial art, but in all aspects of life. We view Jeet Kune Do as much more than simply a method of fighting. To us, JKD is a 'tool' or 'vehicle' that an individual can use to develop themselves, not only as a creative, free-thinking martial artist, but also as a complete, well-rounded person. We do not give or teach our students a set philosophy, but rather, help them develop their own living, dynamic personal philosophy.
The primary focus of training at the Kent Institute is on "personal cultivation," and is geared toward the individual who wants to develop themselves; physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually -- who wants to learn about themselves and truly know themselves.
Q - I've read that there is no form of belt-ranking system in Jeet Kune Do. Do you have a formal system of ranking at your school?
With regard to your first comment, yes, that is true that in JKD there exists no formalized ranking system such as the traditional colored belts or sashes (see "Commentaries on JKD" section).
Bruce Lee is looked upon as one of the greatest martial artists who ever lived, and for good reason. However, it’s interesting to note that Lee never had a belt or possessed a ranking in any martial art style or system. He never had a certificate proclaiming him to be a master or grandmaster in any martial art. Yet people from all walks of life including world champion martial artists, top Hollywood celebrities and executives, and elite professional athletes all sought him out in order to study with him. The reason for this is because they knew that not only did Bruce Lee have the knowledge, but that he could successfully apply the knowledge he had. At the time there were some high-ranked martial artists from other systems who wanted to train under Lee but were embarrassed to train under someone who didn’t hold rank in any system. This didn’t bother Lee in the least, because when it came to martial arts, he was “merit-based” as opposed to “credential-based.” Bruce Lee was interested in what people could do, not what belt they wore or what their title might be.
This is the prime reason that, unlike many martial arts, colored belts or sashes don’t exist in Lee’s martial art of Jeet Kune Do. It’s not that Lee despised belts (he had many friends who held high-level belt-rankings in various arts), but that he believed that the motivation for meaningful improvement lies within the will of each individual as opposed to pursuing colored belts, which he considered merely “external accessories.” Lee recognized that in many cases, the “chasing after” the next belt or sash often becomes more important to a martial art student than the self-knowledge and personal growth they acquire through training.
With regard to the second part of your question, the answer is no, in CKJKD and at the Kent Institute we choose to remain true to Bruce Lee's principle of not awarding colored belts as an indicator of progress in JKD.
Q - If you don't have any kind of formalized ranking at your school, how do students gauge their personal progress?
The bottom-line is that belts and sashes are tradition-based and have nothing to do with reality. When it comes to martial art, a person can either apply the technique in a combative situation if necessary, or they can't. If they are not comfortable with it and their ability to execute it when necessary, so that they are able to do it reflexively, they can have as many belts as they like, but it doesn't mean anything.
There is no formalized testing at the Kent Institute. Evaluation of each student's technical skill, as well as their level of effectiveness is carried out by myself personally, and I will take into account a number of criteria that include length of time training, the depth of the student's technical knowledge, their ability to apply the material in alive sparring situations, and their mental and emotional attitude. The goal is not for a student to simply memorize material and take a test; it is to know the material, understand it, make it part of their being, and be able to express themselves effectively.
Q - Is sparring included as part of your Institute's curriculum?
Yes, sparring is an integral part of our curriculum. Bruce Lee used to tell his students that "No amount of 'dry-land' swimming will prepare a person for the water. They can stand at the edge of the pool all day practicing their various strokes, but in order to swim, they have to get into the water." The same holds true with regard to martial art. Sparring is the "acid-test" for all a student has learned during training. Only through free sparring can they develop such things as proper timing, correct judgment of distance, and effective application of technique while in a pressure situation. At the Kent Institute, we practice "freelance" sparring with proper protective equipment and qualified supervision.
Practiced correctly, sparring is a healthy form of competition. However, it is concerned with much more than simply the idea of winning and losing. In sparring, a student is brought face to face with themselves; their strengths, their weaknesses, their fears. Each sparring session offers them an opportunity to learn about themselves, to learn how far they can go, how they respond to pressure, where they need to improve, etc. Ultimately, the competition is not with others, but rather with themselves.
Students are permitted to engage in sparring only when their skills have progressed to an adequate level (this is decided by the instructor). No one is required or forced to participate in sparring, it is completely voluntary (students under the age of 18 also require parent or guardian approval).
All students who participate in sparring are required to supply and wear the proper safety equipment, including: protective headgear, mouthpiece, groin protector, sparring gloves. Optional protective equipment includes shinguards and chest protector.
Finally, it's important to keep in mind that sparring is only one facet of a student's overall training. Sparring may reveal a student's strengths and weakensses, but it is very difficult to attempt to correct a weakness while sparring. They can only correct them after the sparring, in training.
Q - Do you teach such things as "katas" or "forms" at your school?
No, we do not. As with colored belts, in JKD forms or "katas" are considered another 'non-essential' which is unnecessary to true martial art training. Forms are basically pre-formulated shadow-boxing routines. Because of their knowledge and understanding, a student training in JKD can literally create their own "freelance" shadow-boxing forms on the spot with the material they have learned if they so desire.
Q - Does your school offer weaponry training also?
Absolutely. While Jeet Kune Do serves as the foundation of what is taught at the Kent Institute, we also offer weaponry training to those students who are interested. The base of our weaponry training comes from the Filipino martial arts which are known collectively by various names such as KALI - ESCRIMA - ARNIS. Encompassing an entire spectrum of weaponry including sticks, swords, dagger, staff, spear, nunchaku, as well as featuring sophisticated empty hand concepts, this highly efficient, combat-proven martial art teaches both weaponry and empty hand facets together; the principles being common to both and interchangeable. Our well-rounded, "non-style" approach to training offers students the ability to develop a functional working knowledge of all types of weapons.
Q - Does Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali/Escrima offer effective self-defense application?
From a self-defense standpoint, both Jeet Kune Do and Kali/Escrima offer you practical solutions to “real-world” problems. Everything a student learns has immediate and effective self-defense application. We’re not here to teach you how to kick ass, however we will help you develop practical, efficient, street-effective skills to defend yourself or your loved ones should the need arise. We teach not only the physical self-defense aspect of martial art. With physical skills as a base, you will develop the confidence to use psychological and sociological self-defense skills that will enable you to deal effectively with the challenges of everyday life. And by helping you get you in touch with yourself, you’ll be able to adapt better in any situation, including combative situations.
Q - I like martial arts but have no interest in fighting or competing. What does Jeet Kune Do have to offer someone like me?
A: Jeet Kune Do is an art that has something to offer everyone. Developing the ability to be able to defend yourself in a combative situation is simply one of the many facets of Jeet Kune Do. People come to martial art training for a variety of reasons, at various ages and with different goals and objectives -- from the person who is looking to develop self-confidence, to the individual seeking to develop skills which they can use if necessary to protect themselves or their loved ones, to the person looking for a philosophy they can use in their approach to life and living.
Combative fighting is simply one element of Jeet Kune Do, albeit an important one as it relates to the physical aspect. But remaining constrained to that element alone is very limiting. A fight might be against a very different type of opponent than some hulking brute on the street. Perhaps it is against a debilitating disease, or to recover from an injury. Perhaps it is against oppression or injustice.
If self -defense or unarmed combat holds no appeal to you, and if you have no desire to engage in competitive combative sports, then you'll be pleased to know that JKD yields plenty of other facets that are essential to health and self-actualization. JKD can help you increase your self-confidence, develop greater self-awareness, achieve personal excellence, and allow you to become more efficient, creative and productive in whatever you are doing.
The bottom line is that an individual will get from JKD what they want to get from it. If they want to become a better fighter, they will become a better fighter. If they want to learn about themselves, they will learn about themselves. It is entirely up to them.
Q - Do I have to be in good shape in order to start training?
NO! Anyone, at any age or level of conditioning can enjoy participating. One of the major benefits of the Kent Institute Training Program is that it is developed around the student’s individual condition, and designed to help individuals develop “real world” performance. At the Kent Martial Institute the classes are not overly strenuous or tiring, but exciting and invigorating.
Q - How fast can I learn?
Like anything else worthwhile, learning martial art requires commitment and consistency. As long as you attend class on a regular basis, you will improve. However, at the Kent Institute you are not being ushered through some formulaic, “one-size-fits-all” program. Your rate of progress is determined by one person, YOU.