The Art is both a "Science" and an "Art"

Knowledge of the Art is the "Science"

Doing of the Art is the "Art"

                                        - Bruce Lee

The 3 Primary Facets that comprise the teaching of Jeet Kune Do:


Physical / Technical – This concerns physical motions and technical curriculum and training principles that are an integral part of each element such as footwork, striking tools, attack, counterattack, etc.

Philosophical – This material is integral in forming the philosophical foundation that supports the art, and that Bruce considered relevant and applied to what he was doing. It’s important to recognize that the philosophy is both pragmatic and abstract. Pragmatic because it can be applied to physical fighting techniques. Abstract because it can be applied on many levels relating to all aspects of one’s life.


Scientific – This material concerns such things as the components of physical fitness, proper training progressions, etc.

Use of "Line Familiarization" in Training

In sparring, a particular action may only occur once or twice in a session, or perhaps not at all. Therefore, if you rely solely on sparring to practice your offensive, counter-offensive, or defensive actions you won't get much practice. "Line familiarization" is a training method that can allow you to practice your actions repeatedly so that you can perfect them. As your experience and level of expertise grows, the speed and power at which an attack (in terms of working counterattack) is given is steadily increased until eventually you are practicing at full speed and power while remaining calm and in control of yourself while dealing with the opponent. It is important to recognize line familiarization training  for what it is, a training method. It is not sparring, but rather a form of training that you can use to help develop the skills and qualities you sue in sparring.

The “Educated Eye” and “Discerning Mind" 

The “educated” eye relates to the ability to look with eyes that can see what is functional from the perspective of structure and technique. The “discerning” mind relates to the capacity to filter out unrealistic concepts and theories, and ineffective techniques in one’s training. Both relate to having good judgment, understanding, and insight.


Cultivating the “educated” eye and “discerning” mind can assist you a great deal in your personal development as a martial artist. They will allow you to look at the roots of combat and look for the common denominators in terms of human motion, force generation, etc. They will offer you the freedom to research, explore, and experiment. They can help you decide what you may personally choose to absorb or reject. They can help prevent you from being distracted and avoid detours and pitfalls that can end up wasting your precious time and energy. 

Developing "Explosiveness"

Explosiveness is a matter of capability, intent, and practice.  

  • Capability is largely predicated on your muscular strength -- it is produced by strengthening the fast-twitch motor units in question. Intent is a neurological event: an elecrical impulse traveling from your brain to the motor unit in question.

  • Intent is comprised of two things -- (1) the genetic component of neurological efficiency and quickness, and (2) rehearsal and practice.

  • Practice is marrying your capability and intent to a specific skill in which you wish to be explosive.

Note -- it is not training quickly that results in explosiveness being developed in a particualr skill, but rather the rehearsal of the specific explosive activity that one wants to use as the measuring stick.

(Source: Excerpted from The Body By Science Question and Answer Book by John Little and Doug McGuff, M.D.)

The 3 Stages of Technique Training and Development

In JKD, technical development can be broken down into 3 primary stages:

"Synchronization of Self" -- During this first stage the student works on synchronizing the technique or motion with themselves, and includes such things as developing proper body mechanics and coordination, non-telegraphic initiation, good defensive coverage, quick recovery, accuracy, etc. At the same time the student gradually increases the speed and power with which they do the technique or motion.

"Synchronization with the opponent/training partner" -- During this stage the student works on their ability to seize an opportunity when it is presented or created, and includes such things as developing their sense of timing, maintaining proper distance between themselves and the opponent or training partner.

"Application under fighting conditions" -- In this stage the student works on applying the techniques, actions, and utitlizing the motions under combat-like conditions (sparring) with the opponent attempting to provoke errors by blocking, evading, or countering with timiing and/or distance.

 “Transcending” Technique

A  JKD practitioner must be able to "transcend" technique. If you blindly cling to techniques you can become bound by their limitations. To transcend technique you need to understand structure and energy as it relates to the opponent. While there are numerous reasons why a particular technique fails to work, the following are the primary ones:


•    The hands or arms of the opponent are in a different position from where you         need them to be.

•    The body position of the opponent is different from what you need -- it’s                 sideways, front, angled left or right, etc. Or their lower or upper half of the             opponent’s body is in a different position.

•    The energy the opponent gives you is different -- it’s too soft, too hard, too             jerky, too smooth, etc.

•    The distance is incorrect -- you are too far away or too close.

•    You have poor sense of timing or for some reason your timing is off.

•    The point where you catch the opponent’s energy is off ( ¼, ½, ¾ point)

•    The speed of the opponent.

Point -- Don't be a slave to technique. Make technique serve you.

Avoid "Exercises in Futility"

Don't waste your time and energy doing things that have little or no practical application (for example, spending hours standing in a horse stance in gung fu training in order to develop leg strength). Find the most efficient and effective way to achieve what you want to achieve. 

Cultivating Your Lead Side Tools

The ultimate goal in cultivating your lead side tools is to develop the ability to literally “tear up an opponent” with those weapons. Then, if and when you want to, you can bring rear side tools into play as well. Now the opponent isn’t just concerned mainly with your rear side tools. He has to worry about your lead side inflicting great damage as well. Every lead side weapon in your arsenal should be trained from that perspective -- the side kick, hook kick, inverted hook kick, straight kick, the finger jab, the straight punch, the backfist, hook, and uppercut. Training a weapon in this way gives you options. The lead straight punch, for example, can not only be used as a probe or to set up different attacks, but it can also be used to “take the opponent out” if an opportunity presents itself or is created.

“Assumed” Objective vs. “True” Objective in Training

Oftentimes, when it comes to martial art training, the student has an 'assumed' objective (vision) of attaining a particular goal such as a black belt or Phase 4 Level, etc. -- whereas the 'true' objective is to be able to apply a technique efficiently and effectively in a combative situation; the individual’s comfort with and ability to execute a motion reflexively. If they cannot do this, they don’t have it, and it doesn’t matter how many belts they have or what phase or level of training they are. Automaticity of response what one seeks.

The mere acquisition of knowledge is simply an academic exercise. Remember, when it comes to JKD, it is not how much “fixed” knowledge a person has accumulated but rather how much of that knowledge they can apply “alively” that really counts. 

'Totality' of Training Program

Training program should address and develop all combative facets: --

a)    Striking vocabulary
b)    Locking vocabulary
c)    Choking / Strangulation vocabulary
d)    Takedown / Throwing vocabulary
e)    Ground Control vocabulary
f)    Offensive Skills vocabulary
g)    Counterattack Skills vocabulary
h)    Defensive Skills vocabulary


What does the term “Drawing the essence from something” mean?

In JKD, one often hears, “While JKD contains the element of boxing, you are not a boxer… It has the element of trapping but you are not a Wing Chun person… It contains the element of grappling but you are not a wrestler or a ju jitsu person” But what does this actually mean to a JKD practitioner? While much has been written and said concerning the idea of drawing from various arts, what I’d like to do is simply help you see what Lee meant when he referred to “drawing the essence” of something.

In Volume 7 of his “Commentaries on the Martial Way,” Lee wrote the following:

Because of the many formalized styles of yesteryear, therefore
A)    Simple things don’t work


However, from some formalized schools like Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Thai Boxing, Boxing, how can I draw their “essence” and make them work for me (attitude, economy, good form, speed, power, etc.)?

List some of these essences of other schools

A) Shotokan - a) direct route     (b) master in basics, (c) spirit

B)    Tae Kwon Do - flexibility

C)    Boxing - efficient footwork, variety of punches

D)    Wrestling

E)    Judo - balance, osoto

F)    Fencing - skillful use of front lead, timing and cadence

G)    Kendo - the determined clash

I think it’s important to note that with relation to each of the arts mentioned, Lee doesn’t list a bunch of physical techniques taken from that particular art. It might be a specific quality or attribute that exists in the art such as the ability to generate great power in their strikes, etc. I also need to add that in other areas of his martial art volumes he also does list actual techniques that he found to be useful such as the use of the elbows and knees in Thai Boxing, and the leg tackles from wrestling, etc. 

In his interview for the book, “Jeet Kune Do Conversations” by Jose Fraguas (Unique Publications, 2001) Dan Inosanto stated that, “He [Bruce Lee] said that you had to capture the essence of each art. The essence is not the three thousand techniques you learn from white belt to black belt. Whatever he absorbed from a system, it had to fit in to his personal base system…”

If you draw an “essence” from a particular art, keep in mind that the goal is absorb that essence into your own structure in order to make you better.