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THE CORE CONCEPTS OF BRUCE LEE'S JEET KUNE DO

Bruce Lee began his martial arts training with Wing Chun master, Yip Man in Hong Kong, at 13. After experimentation through sparring and a number of 'no rules' challenge matches, Bruce came to see Wing Chun as heavily floored due to its rigid footwork being unadaptable for the unpredictable nature & ranges of combat. Bruce Lee later evolved his combat system into Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. During the last few years of Bruce Lee's life, Bruce took the decision to shut down all his JKD schools as he came to believe there was no such thing as 'styles', and that JKD should be a set of 'concepts' that can be applied to combat in order to gain combat effectiveness. Jeet Kune Do Concepts is the ultimate teaching of Jeet Kune Do.

The key concepts are:

  • Having no limitations
  • Freedom of expression
  • Simplicity & Directness
  • Economy of motion
  • Non-Classical Movement
  • Non-telegraphic motion
  • Understanding rhythm
  • Interception
  • The ranges of combat
  • Five ways of attack
  • Centreline theory
  • Combat realism
  • Conditioning

JEET KUNE DO IS NOT A STYLE, it is essentially a precursor to MMA, with its content and concepts based on combat effectiveness. Although there are common methods of training and familiar techniques shared, much of our content is unique in that it is simply not allowed under a set of rules. Directness and simplicity is emphasised while using whatever technique is required within any given range.

The four ranges of combat are:

  1. Kicking - Muay Thai
  2. Punching - Muay Thai & Filipino Boxing
  3. Trapping (clinch entries) - Muay Thai & Filipino Boxing
  4. Grappling - Muay Thai, Filipino Grappling & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The aim is to be able to flow seamlessly between multiple arts given the range we find ourselves in. Joint locking, breaking, trapping, grappling and weapons are also inclusive to provide a complete holistic approach to combat.

As JKD is all inclusive and recognises all ranges of Combat, there are many arts that are drawn from. While it is obvious that it is very difficult to master multiple arts in their entirety, it is the essence or effectiveness of a particular art that is drawn on.

Five Ways of Attack

  1. Single Direct Attack (SDA) is a single motion (Punch or Kick) which moves with no effort to conceal it, directly to the target on the most economical route. It can also be indirect, beginning on one line and ending on another. Such as a punch that starts to the stomach (mid line) and ends on the chin (high line). SAA is an attack that is launched from an unanticipated angle that is achieved by moving in such a way as to create an open line into which to strike.
  2. Attack By Combinations (ABC) This is using multiple rapid attacks, with volume of attack as a means of overcoming the opponent.
  3. Hand Immobilisation Attack (HIA) which make use of trapping/parrying to limit the opponent’s function with that appendage.
  4. Progressive Indirect Attack (PIA) Simulating an attack to one part of the opponent’s body followed by attacking another part as a means of creating an opening.
  5. Attack By Drawing (ABD) The goal when using attack by draw is to “draw” the opponent into a committed attack by baiting him into what looks like an exposed target, then intercepting his/her motion. One can execute a motion that invites a counter, then counter attack them as he takes the bait.

Combat realism

One of the premises that Bruce Lee incorporated in Jeet Kune Do Concepts was “combat realism”. He insisted that martial arts techniques should be incorporated based upon its effectiveness in real combat situations (and MMA). This would differentiate JKD from other systems where there was an emphasis on “flowery technique” as Lee would put it. Lee claimed that flashy “flowery techniques” would arguably “look good” but were often not practical or prove ineffective in either MMA or street survival.

"Be like water"

Lee believed that martial systems should be as flexible as possible. He often used water as an analogy for describing why flexibility is a desired trait in martial arts. Water is infinitely flexible. It can be seen through, and yet at other times it can obscure things from sight. It can split and go around things, rejoining on the other side, or it can crash through things. It can erode the hardest rocks by gently lapping away at them or it can flow past the tiniest pebble. Lee believed that a martial system should have these attributes. JKD students reject traditional systems of training, fighting styles and the Confucian pedagogy used in traditional kung fu schools because of this lack of flexibility. JKD is claimed to be a dynamic concept that is forever changing, thus being extremely flexible.

“Absorb what is useful; Disregard that which is useless” is an often quoted Bruce Lee maxim. JKD students are encouraged to study every form of combat possible. This is believed to expand one’s knowledge of other fighting systems; to both add to one’s arsenal as well as to know how to defend against such tactics.

Economy of motion

JKD students are told to waste no time or movement. When it comes to combat JKD practitioners believe the simplest things work best. Economy of motion is the principle by which JKD practitioners achieve “efficiency” describe in the three parts of JKD. Utilising this principle conserves both energy and time.

Stop hits & stop kicks

This means intercepting an opponent’s attack with an attack of your own instead of a simple block. JKD practitioners believe that this is the most difficult defensive skill to develop. Stop hits & kicks utilise the principle of economy of motion by combining attack and defence into one movement thus minimising the “time” element.

Simultaneous parrying & punching

When confronting an incoming attack, the attack is parried or deflected and a counter attack is delivered at the same time. Not as advanced as a stop hit but more effective than blocking and counter attacking in sequence. Simultaneous parrying & punching utilises the principle of economy of motion by combining attack and defence into two movements thus minimising the “time” element and maximising the “energy” element. Efficiency is gained by utilising a parry rather than a block. By definition a “block” stops an attack whereas a parry merely re-directs an attack.

High kicks

JKD practitioners believe they should target kicks to their opponent’s shins, knees, thighs, and mid section. These targets are the closest to the foot, provide more stability and are more difficult to defend against. However, as with all other JKD principles nothing is “written in stone”. If a target of opportunity presents itself, even a target above the waist, one could take advantage of the situation without feeling hampered by this principle. Maintaining low kicks utilises the principle of economy of motion by reducing the distance a kick must travel thus minimising the “time” element. Low kicks are also more difficult to detect and thus guard against.