JKD Should be practiced after having established a strong foundation..? Discuss

Discussion in 'Jeet Kune Do' started by Jabby Mcgee, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Jabby Mcgee

    Jabby Mcgee Valued Member

    Hi all. I stopped formally training in JKD a few years back, after deciding to dedicate all my training time to Muay Thai for a while. Prior to that, I had traoned a little in ju jitsu and judo, but JKD was really the first thing that I trained relatively extensively.

    However, since leaving my old JKD club, I have realised that there are big parts of my training that have developed very well. I know that if I now went back to JKD, I would be a far better practitioner than before, because I have established a strong striking base.

    This has lead to me having the opinion that having studied an art in some depth prior to taking JKD, one can expect better results from your JKD training, because instead of becoming relatively decent in several aspects of fighting, you become very good at one particular aspect, and can fill the gaps in your training from there.

    Has anyone else had this experience, or conversely, feel that JKD training will ultimately be more beneficial if you start with JKD and move from there?
  2. RJDefaye

    RJDefaye Valued Member

    As far as my research has taken me i was of the mind that jkd was not a style that i could be taught but rather a concept created by bruce lee in order to encourage students to do away with styles. At least that's what i gained from the tao of jeet kune do the million times i read it. I consider that no matter what you train in as long as you keep an open mind and don't become stylised that you are practicing the very essence of jkd. Having a good base is always going to make you a good practitioner of any art you do. But now i have a question. Are there actually schools out there that teach jkd as though it's a style on its own or are they like cross training classes that allow you to develop your own interpretations?
  3. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I wonder how much of a concrete operational difference there is in teaching a JKD syllabus and "allowing someone to develop their own interpretations."

    As for the original question, it's difficult for me to say. By the time I got to JKD, I had already done 5 years of taekwondo and another 5+ of eskrima. So I didn't have the experience of practicing JKD first.

    I do think that a JKD approach is valuable when applied to something. In my meager understanding, I feel like I can make better informed decisions about my own training when I have more concrete experience.
  4. RJDefaye

    RJDefaye Valued Member

    Yeah i was wondering that too. Is there a jkd syllabus or are these schools made by someone who has studied jkd and is now teaching their own interpretation of jkd as a style and still calling it jkd. Doesn't that go against jkd concepts? I don't think even dan inosanto teaches a specific style. I'm confused now. I know the style bruce lee developed was jun fan but he moved away from it as his philosophy evolved.
  5. Jabby Mcgee

    Jabby Mcgee Valued Member

    This is true, but the phrase "style without a style" has become so used as to have almost lost all meaning, with most people having absolutely no real idea of what it actually means. But, lets just bypass what is actually being said in that statement for now, and focus on what we accept JKD to be - a philosophy. As with all branches of philosophy, we all have an intrinsic ability to reason and make sense of things, but this ability becomes more finely tuned when you are guided by someone whom has significant knowledge of that particular doctrine.

    The way I see it is if I wanted to study mathematics, i could find a few books and some online resources, and work my way through them to the point where I got pretty competent. However, i may one day meet a problem that completely stumps me, and I can no londer move forward. In this instance, having a tutor is very beneficial, as he will help me to think of the problem in a different way, and ultimately allow me to solve it.
  6. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Nice analogy!
  7. Samurai Jay

    Samurai Jay master of all weapons

    Bruce had his own style, from what i have herd he started out with wing chun,
    Then he made JKD witch looks like wing chun & TKD,

    He used his philosophy to explain that JKD would evolve,
    Who knows where it would have gone if he lived another 5 or 10 years,

    I think if you want to grasp Bruce lee philosophy you need to master something first like Bruce did with wing chun,
    I think having a base is one of the most important thinks in MA's.
  8. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    In essence this is exactly what Bruce intended.

    JFGF to me was his "base" system, with JKD developing within the individual from that basic framework, Ted Wong being the most obvious example of this.

    This to me is the source for the confusion (read: Political bollocks) prevalent in the JKD community today.

    My personal base was a Karate/Kickboxing/Ju Jitsu hybrid ******* type thing. I found the transition relatively seemless, so much so it hard to say when I stopped doing the one and moved to other.

    Some arts will be easier than others to integrate (specifically boxing/WC/Fencing as they are pretty much the JFGF trilogy). The reason you see so much FMA as well is that the principles crossover a lot.

    The other advantage to having prior training is that you at least have some idea of how to put one hand in front of the other!
  9. Shinobi-son HSC

    Shinobi-son HSC Valued Member

    I think everyone has brought up good points about this subject, and you can truly see how each persons views effect them and how different they are from the next persons.

    Reading this reminded me of what Bruce Lee wrote at the beginning of his JKD book:
    "Read this book. Get all that you can from it, and then throw it away, for you no longer need it and it will do you no good". (Note: I am sure I butchered the actual saying, but I think its pretty close)

    I have a belief that to much of something can be bad. I started with a base of boxing and judo, and after a few years I switched styles, and then eventually I got re-introduced back into boxing. Not only had my skills improved from the other martial arts after boxing and judo, but my other martial arts made me improve more with my boxing. Its why when I join a new art, I may be a white belt, but I am by no means an amateur. My last sensei loved the fact that I was a change from his normal practices and sparring matched with his students, as I offered a new challenge for him to partake in.

    So whether its JKD or another style I believe that a good striking background will help with any other styles you enter.

  10. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    In order to benefit the most from JKD Principles you first need to know how to fight. Now if I have to teach you how to fight first ( your foundation ) it will take you longer to be able to use its principles. But no matter you will if you have half a brain get there in the end.

    I prefer to use the principles and avoid using concepts. Principles work. Concepts on the other hand is simply and idea that has not been tested yet. And once it is tested it is no longer a concept. It has just become a principle.

    The problem arises when you come across the guys that say well we don't do it that way because this is how Bruce or *insert any of Bruce Lee's students here* does it. Now if you follow that line your not JKD. Your a robot and you have just made JKD your limitation.

    Basically if it is simple, direct and it works its JKD. If its complicated indirect and inefficient then it's something else. Don't get me wrong the hardest thing to grasp in JKD is the simplest solution to the question. Its not just a matter of reading a few Bruce Lee books and then thinking that you got it. There more to it than that.

    Best regards

  11. RJDefaye

    RJDefaye Valued Member

    Yeah some good points, but what I wanted to know is has JKD actually become a style in itself or is it still a philosophy? Are there JKD schools? How can it be turned into a style when it openly tells us to do away with organised styles and take what is useful from many?

    My world is spinning man, i'm spinning out... ha ha... no but seriously, i'm confused.

    Basically I just want to know if there are people going around teaching jkd as a style with a set syllabus.

    Bruce Lee might have had his base in wing chun and created jun fan etc and he was the creator of jkd, but as far as i knew he said it didn't matter what you did as long as you remembered the philosophy.

    It's just the reason i'm confused is that I have been guided by these teachings for years and it's the reason that I have gone on to learn to many different things. I just don't like to see the pure meaning of jkd being twisted and turned into a style of its own.

  12. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    I have never seen a written syllabus, I'm sure some instructors must have a structure of some sort, in order that the class does not decend into a mess.

    What I would say is that those of us in the know are aware that you cannot actually do JKD, because there is no JKD to do. I have said before that I am probably more JKD now than when I was actually in a JKD class.

    You will notice by reading the forums that those who understand most, Pat O'Malley, Hannibal, myself, OP Owen are relaxed about the subject, everyone else gets their knickers in a right knot. We are cross trainers and to use a Bruce quote "seek the truth externally", that is to say we used the JKD classes to set us on our journey, we did not set up camp and put up a sign saying "the truth lies here, come and join".
  13. Jabby Mcgee

    Jabby Mcgee Valued Member

    I have come across a couple of schools that do this, but by and large they are shunned by the amjority of the JKD community - in much the same way that a McDojo would be shunned by the karate community.

    Although there are formal classes that teach JKD, many probably with a lesson plan, there is a distinct difference in stylizing something, and guiding students. The latter is what the more reputable JKD schools do - rather that indoctrinating students with the idea that "yiou must do this, because this is JKD", the idea generally tends to be more about developing critical thinking skills in students, allowing them to step back and think about what they are doing, and question the effectiveness of what they are doing.
  14. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Forgive my ignorance but I always saw a JKD instructor as a teacher skilled in all aspects of fighting (boxing, kickboxing, trapping, throwing and grappling) who would pass on the skills the student wanted to learn. For example, Student A wants to learn boxing and throws and Student B wants to learn kicking and trapping; both could go to the same JKD teacher and learn those skills. Kind of like a "pick and mix" system where the student has control over what they want to practice. Or is that completely off the mark and JKD instructors have a progressive teaching system where the student has no say in what they learn? Like I said, forgive my ignorance as my experience of JKD is limited to my worn copy of "Tao of Jeet Kune Do" and Enter the Dragon re-runs on Channel 5.
  15. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Good analagy.

    Although I never got to black belt/instructor level although I did teach JKD under the guidance of my instructor and I see your arguement as an acurate description.
    Often (if not always) the JKD Instuctor will have trained with a boxing coach, eskrima coach, grappling, Muay Thai and so on; therefore the classes become a one stop shop until the student wants to train with the individual instructors to broaden his/her horizons.
  16. Pat OMalley

    Pat OMalley Valued Member

    Every class has to have some structure but a good JKD school will guide the student in to a style all of their own. Yes they will have a great understanding of all the areas of combat butbatbthe same time the can specialise in a particular area and make it work in all areas.

    We are mere guides showing you the different paths you can take. We can show you but its up to you to choose which one is best for you. Bearing in mind they all lead to the same destination in the end.

    If you get hung up on having a JKD syllabus that must be adhered to no matter what then you have defeated the whole point and you have just placed blinkers on yourself and your students.

    Remember all we do is guide you. You choose. Not us.

    Best regards

  17. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Thanks for the clear and comprehensive responses, Simon and Pat.
  18. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    It's a complicated topic. And I'm not going to pretend to have any definitive answers. But here are some thoughts:

    First, I appreciate Pat's thought that you need to know how to fight first. I think there's some danger of JKD training becoming too much of a theory lovefest if you aren't careful. By that, I mean that it's very appealing to some people (myself included) to go overboard on the research and the documentation and the analysis and the exploration and the philosophizing. And it will insidiously feel like you're doing the work of being a martial arts exponent. But, in truth, you're forging yourself into a good archivist, but a lackluster practitioner. (I think I've been guilty of this.)

    Getting that baseline understanding down first, that you're a fighter, helps to keep all those resources and thought processes in perspective. Without that anchor, it can be tempting to slip into building the ultimate martial arts library, filling notebook after notebook with notes, and collecting one piece of specialized training equipment after another. And totally missing the point.

    Second, one of the inherent problems with basically all of our discussion of JKD is that we've been privvy to a thought process. A very visible, public thought process, but a process all the same. So, for years, we've been debating first, second, and third drafts of what is necessarily a very complicated line of reasoning. If any one of us were to really analyze our thought process on any complicated endeavor, we'd probably find that it was full of contradictions, changes in direction, and attempts to reconcile seemingly disparate ideas and concepts.

    We get all of that in JKD. One person cites one Lee quote. Another cites another quote or observed behaviour. And the contradictions build a scaffold for debate and discord.

    Take this whole "style/no style" thing. Having no style as style is a lovely concept. And you can certainly see how that concept plays itself out in the various ways that JKD has actually been taught. At the same time, any teaching methodology is going to have fixed points. Without them, you have no basis for making judgments.

    Look at the muay thai round kick, for instance. Some embrace it, based on the (JKD-consistent) bases that its effectiveness has been established in the ring. And that low kicks jeopardize your balance less in a street fight. And that muay thai training features a lot of resistance, conditioning, and equipment training. All priorities in most JKD camps.

    Some reject the same technique, based on the premise that it violates the JKD concept of longest weapon to nearest target, straight line beating a curved line, economy of motion.

    Either way you come down on it, the fact that debate was possible at all suggests that we're not working from a finished product, but an incomplete draft.

    Last, to Van Zandt's point: I don't necessarily see a JKD teacher as an authority on all ranges and modes of combat. I don't think that's realistic. I think, if one guy goes wanting to learn good boxing and throwing, and another goes wanting to learn top notch eskrima, odds are pretty good that someone (at least) is going away disappointed.

    I think Hannibal mentioned critical thinking, but I think this is big. I don't necessarily need or want a teacher to be one-stop shopping. I think a more realistic and useful model is a teacher who helps me develop the decisionmaking process I'm going to use to evaluate and operationalize material I train. I don't need one person to be an expert boxer, grappler, eskrimador, and nak muay. I need guidance in how I'm going to interact with and synthesize new material so that it's actually useful to me.

    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  19. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Great post, Stuart. You got me thinking about the role of the instructor in JKD; specifically, is there a role for an instructor to fill at all? Like you said, finding a JKD teacher who is an expert on all ranges and modes of combat isn't a realistic expectation. But one would expect an individual to seek out a teacher who is an expert on the ranges and modes of combat they wish to learn. Let us take the student who wants to learn boxing and throwing - most of us here would probably agree his best bet would be to find skilled boxing and wrestling/Judo coaches. Is the JKD teacher therefore more of a "personal shopper" for the student? Not really sure how to properly articulate the point I have in my head, sorry!
  20. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Hey, thanks VZ! No I think I get what you're asking. And, again, this is only an opinion. But I think the JKD teacher is a technical expert. Take Guro Dan Inosanto for example.

    Would I go to Guro Dan to learn JKD? Hells yes.
    Would he likely encourage me to investigate BJJ? Quite likely.
    Would he teach me BJJ? Probably not.
    Would he refer me to the Machado brothers but also offer me guidance in how that material meshes with the broader framework he's helping me develop? Yeah, I think so.

    I think a JKD teacher is going to have wisdom enough to play to his or her own strengths and wisdom enough to refer out when he or she knows the student is better served by someone else. But I do firmly believe that, in addition to mastering any given skill set, there's the question of effectively melding them all.

    If you watch the UFC, you can see the guys who have successfully not only mastered a given skill set, but those all important transitions between them. I'm telling you, if you were to ask me what I enjoy seeing most in an MMA match these days, it's not a jumping kick landing or a hand combination or a submission. It's a flawless transition from punching to a double leg takedown. I've seen a couple of guys (GSP comes to mind) who are just so well grooved that they make that shift in range and tactics as fluidly as I walk across a room.


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