Jeet Kune Do translated, as “Way of the Intercepting Fist” was Bruce Lee’s personal expression of the martial arts. It is not bound by any one system nor is it meant to be a system. It is a philosophy and an ongoing process of self-discovery. This is not to say that there is no structure to JKD. Most Martial Artists who practice JKD have prior study of other martial arts systems. Bruce Lee himself studied Wing Chun for 5 years.
After an infamous fight Bruce had with another martial arts master that he beat; he thought that the fight took too long and that Wing Chun had it’s limitations. It is then that Bruce Lee formed a set system of progression called “Jun Fan Gung Fu”. Jun Fan being Bruce Lee’s Chinese name.
This system of progression would combine Wing Chun with Western Boxing,Western Fencing, Savate, and Jujitsu to name a few. As Lee would say “Absorb what is Useful and Discard the Rest”. After conducting additional research and adding in some essential principles, strategies, and concepts Lee transformed Jun Fan Gung Fu into an entity he named “Jeet Kune Do”. JKD follows concepts, philosophies, and principles. However everyone’s “JKD” is different. As Bruce Lee’s closest friend and protégé Dan Inosanto would say, “It’s like trying to fit everyone into a size 42 coat. It will fit some but not others. People are made up of different sizes and attributes and what will work with some will not work for others.” This is why everyone will find his or her own JKD.

Where as other Martial Art systems build on techniques, JKD strips away to simplicity. JKD can be compared to a sculptor chipping away at a rock to make a beautiful statue. JKD practioners train in an environment that helps them develop spontaneous and deceptive combat skills with an emphasis on adaptability.
JKD is all about moving, shifting, kicking, punching, trapping, blocking, and parrying. It is a continuum of perpetual motion, yet there is a flow of stillness that encapsulates awareness, perceptiveness, and intuition making them among the most skilled practioners in the world.


(Li Tsung - Bruce Lee 4 episodes)

Jeet Kune Do Fighting Elements

Jeet Kune Do is a vehicle to self discovery. Bruce Lee once said that ” JKD can’t be owned, can’t be organized, can’t be taught and can’t be sold. JKD is a PROCESS, not a product”. When it comes to streetfighting we are simply looking for the truth. My truth may not be your truth and vice versa. The simple philosophy of JKD is to ” Use what is useful, and Discard the rest”. Jeet Kune Do is about moving from one range to another, from using elements of all styles, especially the styles that specialize in certain ranges. Adaptability is the key concept in Jeet Kune Do. You have to be able to adapt. That is the meaning of ” Using no way as the way, and having no limitation as limitation.” Any fighting elements used in the process are just stepping stones. There is no end product, only continual progress, change, and adapting. Certain fighting elements may be more conducive to power, others to speed and still others to sensitivity. Let’s take a look at a few of the more then 26 fighting styles that are incorporated into Jeet Kune Do.
Western Boxing- A style that utilizes basically 4 punches. The jab, cross, hook, and uppercut. What makes this art so devastating is the different combinations that are utilized. Boxing also teaches endurance, footwork and how to absorb punishment.
Filipino Kali- Time Tested, combat proven and very dangerous is the best way to describe Kali. Destruction’s, defanging the snake, angulation, high and low line working together are just a few of the concepts that kali contributes to the whole style. The training methods of eskrima, sinawali, panantuken, panajakman, and dumog (to name a few) are extremely combative in nature. The knife fighting is incomparable as a training method for developing empty hand attributes. It just plain makes you a better fighter and coordinates your weak and strong side faster then any other method. When you can deal with the speed and stealth of a blade winging at you at different angles, then a person throwing punches at you should be a cakewalk.
Wing Chun-Wing Chun training focuses on developing the proper body structure and posture so that the most powerful techniques may be delivered using the smallest amount of effort. The student learns to develop “soft power” which maximizes the delivery of power with the muscles relaxed. The upper body, remains relaxed at all times. All fighting is done in extremely close range using very soft but effective and strong techniques. Economy of techniques is stressed, so that there are no fancy, circular moves like those that exist in other systems. Because of its nature of using relaxed power rather than brute strength, Wing Chun is considered to be an ideal system for women and small-sized people.
Savate- From France incorporates fast and powerful kicks combined with English boxing, making it a rare European martial art and a unique western style of kickboxing. Savate emphasizes technical ability and control, rather than force. It has a rich history while being a superlative modern fighting sport.
Western Fencing- The main component that Bruce Lee based his Jeet Kune Do on. Interception of the Attack. He also utilized Footwork such as the Step and Slide for mobility, emphasis on timing, rhythm & cadence, and developed his 5 ways of attack which came directly from fencing such as Single Direct Attack – (Single Attack in fencing terminology) Attack by Combination – (Compound Attack in fencing terminology) Attack by Drawing – (Invitation / False Attack / Second Intention in fencing terminology) Progressive Indirect Attack – (Indirect Attack / Feint Indirect in fencing terminology) and Hand Immobilization Attack – (Attacks on the blade in fencing terminology)
Jujitsu- Jujitsu encompasses throws, locks, and striking techniques, with a strong emphasis on throws, locks, and defensive techniques. It is also characterized by in-fighting and close work. It is a circular, hard/soft, external style.
Muay Thai- A offensive martial art from Thailand nicknamed ” The science of 8 limbs” because of its powerful, extensive use of the hands, feet, elbows, and knees. The basic offensive techniques in Muay Thai use fists, elbows, shins, feet, and knees to strike the opponent. To bind the opponent for both offensive and defensive purposes, small amounts of stand-up grappling are also used.
Silat- Used more extensively in modern day JKD, Silat which comes from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines has a wide variety of techniques utilizing kicking, hitting, tripping, sweeps, locks, takedowns, throws, strangles, and joint breaking. It’s use of the bladed weapons can be closely compared with that of Filipino Kali.
These are the main Components that make up 80% of Jeet Kune Do. The other fighting styles that make up the other 20% are Praying Mantis, Choy Li Fut, Tai Chi Chaun, Paqua, Hsing-I, Bak-Hoo Pai, Bak-Fu Pai, Eagle Claw, Ng Ga Kuen, Bak Mei Pai, Northern Shaolin, Southern Shaolin, Bok Pai, Law Horn Kuen, Chin Na, Monkey Style, Druken Style, and Western Wrestling.
The Evolution Of Jeet Kune Do
After meeting and becoming close friends with a man named Taky Kimura, the first Bruce Lee martial arts kwoon was formed. This school operated in the basement of a grocery store owned by Mr. Kimura. Teaching Americans of all nationalities, he focused on a modified version of Wing Chun Gung Fu. His given Chinese name being Jun Fan, he called this method Jun Fun Gung Fu.
After a long stay in Seattle, he and Linda moved to Oakland California. They lived in the home of James Lee, also another Gung Fu practitioner. He and James Lee grew to be very close. They worked out together extensively and further modified what was becoming JKD as we know it today. It was here that the second school of Jun Fan Gung Fu was to be in operation. The main focus was, again, reality, simplicity, and directness.
After some time in Oakland, Bruce’s career as an actor was on an up swing. He relocated to Los Angeles. It was here that the phrase Jeet Kune Do was coined. He had modified his fighting method so drastically that it was no longer rooted in Wing Chun. Therefore it deserved a name of its own. Jeet Kune Do, or The Way of the Intercepting Fist, had become unique in its application. It bore no resemblance to any other form of martial arts. In China Town L.A. the third school was opened. This kwoon was, unlike the others in that it was a school of JKD and not Jun Fan Gung Fu.
Appointed as the main instructor was Dan Inosanto. Mr. Inosanto was chosen because of his previous teaching experience and his knowledge of the martial arts, as a black belt under Ed Parker. The majority of students of this school were also black belts in American Kenpo. Almost everyone had previous background in the martial arts.
In the final stages of JKD, up until his tragic death, Bruce defined JKD as containing elements from three different influences. Western Boxing, of which he was an avid fan, Wing Chun, and Fencing.
Much of his earlier training methods fell to the wayside as being seen to be unnecessary to the whole. Chi sao, and the forms of Wing Chun became things of the past. JKD stood alone as Bruce Lee’s fighting method.
Bruce Lee received the majority of his early martial arts training in Hong Kong under a man named Yip Man. From Yip Man he learned a system of Gung Fu called Wing Chun. He studied this method for several years and became very proficient. Although he had exposure to other forms of Gung Fu, at this time he was primarily a Wing Chun practitioner. Upon his arrival to the United States in 1959, he settled in Seattle Washington. He continued to practice Wing Chun and began teaching classes to fellow students of the university in which he attended. Through these classes he met many people who would later become very significant in his life. One of them, and probably the most important, was Linda Emery, who later became Linda Lee, his wife. Without her support throughout his life he may not have become the man we know. His performance in public demonstrations and television appearances drew the attention of other martial artists in the surrounding area. He quickly made a name for himself due to his extensive knowledge of the martial arts at such a young age. At this time he was only 18 years old.
Even at this early stage of his martial arts career he denounced the “classical mess” created by traditional martial arts systems. He maintained a clear and conscious separation between reality and fantasy when it came to combat. Simplicity and directness became the frame work from which his fighting method developed. Bruce, being a philosopher as well as a martial artist made many statements such as the one above that related to his thoughts on JKD. It is unfortunate that many of his writings have been misinterpreted since his death. Some have so badly been misconstrued that the opposite meaning has been accepted as the truth. You should be able to adapt to the situation at hand. As an attack approaches, you are ready with the appropriate response. The opponents attack becomes your attack, as you fit into the opening created.

He states that JKD can “fit in with any style”. This does not mean that JKD can be added to any style to make it more efficient, or vice versa. What it does mean is that JKD can counter an adversary regardless of their style or system. It fits in, filling the gaps left by their commitment to attack. JKD uses any means necessary to accomplish this task. If grabbed you may bite, scratch, or pull hair. If kicked you may kick back, punch, eye jab, or what ever best fits the situation. JKD is not limited to only punching, or only kicking. It is fighting with any ability you may have. JKD does not need to borrow or adapt techniques from other styles to achieve its means. Along with the philosophy, Bruce developed extremely effective ways of attacking, moving, and defending yourself. Without knowledge of his methods, the practice of true JKD is impossible. He spent his lifetime researching, through trial and error, the most efficient ways a human body can perform.