The Great JKD Plague

Discussion in 'Jeet Kune Do' started by february, Nov 12, 2007.

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  1. february

    february Valued Member

    In the short time I've studied JKD I've always been completely enthralled by it, however I often feel pangs of disillusionment when confronted with the inordinate amount of politics and go-nowhere philosophical debate that tends to plague our art. Luckily for me it's never curbed my enthusiasm for what I do, but my question is, how many people have been attracted to, or have done JKD in the past, only to be discouraged to continue because of it's current state?

    I haven't been posting for long here on MAP and I've found that there are a hell of alot of knowledgable people on here, but unless we can seperate the technical from the philosophical, how do we prevent ourselves from going around in ever-decreasing circles?

    Is it a case of the more we are exposed to it, the more discouraging it can be? Do we need to dig in with a determined, single-minded focus, without getting bogged down in politics and/or the question of "what Bruce would have done"? or is this tantamount to burying our heads in the sand?

    My take is that the political situation at the moment and amount of "debate" has just about crossed over to the wrong side of healthy....we should take pride in the sense of community and family that being involved in Martial Arts can bring. Unfortunately for JKDers, that's one pretty picture that looks a long way off.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2007
  2. path_one

    path_one steps taken

    I always say that where you have people you will have debate, mess and trouble generally! you get these debates, politics in all arts, just look at the ninjistu threads or the lineage arguements with WC or the karate threads - its all endless. the thing for me is to keep focused on the original principles and concepts.

    The debates don't matter to me - the principles that started this off do, the philosophies are there and we can use them to train and learn and remember how unimportant the name JKD is.

    use what you can and that includes new methods that come to light which weren't as widely known in the 60's :D
  3. ultimateFighter

    ultimateFighter New Member

  4. corwin137

    corwin137 Valued Member

    In my sense of things, it appears there's two basic issues that prompt and perpetuate these concerns. Here's my scream from the abyss:

    1. Losing sight of context- why one is concerned with what "JKD" is. Side note: also interesting to me, is that I regard "context" as one of the more relevant principles... so it's both tragic and amusing that this rears its ugly head so often.

    2. A simple misunderstanding (called such for simplicity's sake) of terms in light of the first idea above.
  5. february

    february Valued Member

    True. How easy do you find tuning it all out though?

    By it's very nature JKD will always be a hotbed of political and philosophical intrigue, moreso than other Arts. I try to focus on enjoying what I do, rather than thinking about the "correct" way to do it, that's the only way I can bring myself any closer to the ultimate goal of liberation that a JKD practicioner aspires to.
  6. february

    february Valued Member

    The problem lies in the inability to define what "JKD" is.

    By it's very nature a fighting art requires a tangible defintion of what it is, a framework if you will. But isn't this exactly what "JKD" isn't?

    Therein lies the paradox.
  7. g-bells

    g-bells Don't look up!

    for me , i can care less what others think and are saying about it because i find every aspect of jkd to be interesting and my drive to learn from all i can will keep me striving to find what JKD is to me, is'nt the journey of self discovery more important than the desination? so all the they say this and others say that has no affect on me.

    JKD is what you make of it and nobody should be able to deture your ambtions if that is what you choose to follow.
  8. Emil

    Emil Valued Member

    I see where you're coming from here Feb. I have often been, not discouraged, but annoyed at many other JKD'ers for simple lack of understanding. It all stems, I suppose, from Bruce Lee. There are those who absolutely adore Bruce Lee and see him as infalible. These guys are a disease to our art. There are those who see JKD as simple MMA. Thses too are carcinogenic to our art. Unfortunately, the minority that balance that out are just that - a minority. Indeed there are a hell of a lot of knowledgable JKD guys out there, but there are also a hell of a lot of dumb guys out there just pretending. Even high ranking so-called Sifu's. This is common in most, if not all circles of ,artial arts. Unfortunately, as so little of JKD is known by outsiders, and so little information is available to those not willing to spend a lot of money on seminars, etc, the misinterpretations surrounding JKD are rife. This worries me. Also, I have notced that JKD is taking the same path as Wing Chun did in terms of its politics. This too worries me. It is down to the guys who actually have a clue to come in and intervene, which seems to be happening more and more, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, a lot of these guys are getting old, and won't be with us for long. Lets hope their students can keep their legacy, and the true legacy of JKD, going.

  9. february

    february Valued Member


    What's the root cause of the misinterpretation though? Is it that by it's very nature JKD is (incorrectly) open to free interpretation by those who practice it? I definately agree about those that strike the balance being in the tiny minority.

    The problem lies with the fact that we're dealing with an unfinished product here, Bruce was ever evolving and so was his art, he didn't expect to die when he did and I feel that what he left behind was in it's embryonic, experimental stage. He was experimenting with different things, at different times, with different people (which is one of the main causes of the fragmentation and different "camps" in JKD today).

    Look at other more traditional arts, they've taken many, many decades, if not centuries to nurture, hone and perfect. they've been tried and tested in the arenas of war, the street and the ring. They have a framework, a set of rules, a system of engagement.

    What do we, as JKD practicioners have? The fragmented teaching methods Bruce imparted on his students (due of course to his premature passing), his films and his notes. These things can give us a small peice of the puzzle that was Bruce's JKD, but how will we ever complete that puzzle?

    There's a part of me that thinks that Bruce must be either turning in his grave, or laughing at us making fools of ourselves. Notes? I know when I make Notes, they are just that. Snapshots of thought frozen in time. They could well be writings I could later disregard as complete nonense, or something I wish I'd never written. Yet we regard them as gospel, the secret Kung Fu manuals of old resurrected for the modern day in the shape of the Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

    I read once somewhere a point of view that I agree with. That JKD is Bruce Lee's expression of a simple, direct and effective fighting art, with a philosophical adjunct. There, the paradox, the more we espouse Bruce's philsosophies, the more difficult it becomes to extract a martial art from it all.

    For me, JKD is ultimately about liberation, just as Bruce said. And we, as current students of his system have the (difficult) honour of carrying the torch and making sure that we are able to strike a fine balance between idolisation and misinterpretation.

    Perhaps the ultimate liberation is from Bruce himself.
  10. Diamond Dave

    Diamond Dave Valued Member

    There is a core structure to Bruce Lees Jeet Kune Do!!!!
  11. february

    february Valued Member

    Absolutely. It would be good to get your views on this because of your experience.

    How much do you think it's open to interpretation (or misinterpretation) though, do you think that the core structure of Bruce's JKD is complete enough to warrant a full system? Or do you think it's a necessity to add other arts to compliment the core structure?

    Also, how many of your students have a long term interest in JKD nowadays? Do you find that it's difficult to keep peoples long term focus on JKD without other arts like Silat to give them a balance?

    I think the most misused of Bruce's quotes is the "absorb" one. It's open to completely wild and vague misinterpretation. At the most basic level, you could just interpret it as "do anything, anyway you want to do it" and to some extent, people actually do. I don't think this is JKD.

    Perhaps we need to start seperating the technical and philosophical aspects of JKD, in order to bring about a better understanding of what the art is, or by doing this would we be undermining the very fundamental aspects, of what is intrinsically as much a philosophically driven art as a technical one?

    Last edited: Nov 13, 2007
  12. MagnumJoe

    MagnumJoe The Live Bullet

    I like to think of myself as a person who is between the two kinds of people you talked about. I don't that much adore Bruce Lee, and i don't see JKD as a simple MMA, i actually, have got the conviction i am going to state from Tao of JKD, which is:

    JKD, is actually an MMA, with Bruce Lee's mind. Which makes it more than just an MMA.

    He didn't just combine several styles, no he included his own innovations, and own theories in the art. So, JKD= MMA + Bruce Lee.

    And when you read throughout the book, you learn that Bruce Lee, looked at it, as a simple MMA! That's the striking fact! And his book, was actually an invitation for all experts, to investigate various MA, and to make something as innovative as JKD, and not to be trapped in a style.

    I think Bruce Lee wanted to say with the book:"People, JKD= Learn whatever it takes to win the battle! Not necessarily my views, although my views are very good and profound, but just learn what you can to win the battle!"

    So i think it's really simple:

    If you think Bruce Lee was a stupid person: ok: make your own MMA but at your own risk!

    If you think Bruce Lee was infallible, good: follow his steps like a train on a rail!

    If you think Bruce Lee made a good system like JKD, but can be added on with new techniques or concepts if it fits the rules he has put for a complete martial art: ok: investigate!

    This is me actually: my ideology, but i don't investigate: i don't have the knowledge to add or retrieve anything, so technically, i am still just following his steps, until i understand more.

    My Sifu thinks, that Bruce Lee meant to invite people to investigate MMA, but even if they did, they won't come up with better than what Bruce Lee come up with. That's also a point that i respect.

    I don't think Bruce would have minded all these thoughts! He is not a dictator! That would be against his own ideology! "Freedom"! William Wallace lol! Even if someone expressed these ideas in his face, he won't accuse him of heresy, breaking the laws of JKD, and burn him in the JKD Dojo!

    And the proof to that, is that he stated in his book, in the "Weapons and Tools" chapter, he said "SOME" tools of JKD, which means that there can be more, and there will always be more than he had, but he chose the best, in his point of view, which he thinks is variable from one person to another! Maybe someone can prove someday, that he has a "Core" better than Bruce Lee had: until now, no one has! And if he has, than it's still JKD :D

    "It's a name, don't fuss over it"
    "Be void to gain totality"
    JKD has all concepts all ideas all cores! Just arrange them the way that fits you!

    I am 63 Kg(~130 lbs) would my style be like a 200 lbs) guy? Of course not! It is variable!

    I hope i am clear.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2007
  13. path_one

    path_one steps taken

    I agree with a lot of things in your post. if JKD was just MMA then training specific things would endanger you of being a non progressive practioner, doing things the MMA way instead of learning "your" way.

    Learning what works for you, in order to win but also what works for your body and movement etc is what its about.

    I ignore all the politics surrounding JKD by simply moving forward, in that I'm always trying to refine things, build on what I have not just physically but mentally too. I think Bruce maybe wished that MAists wouldn't be lazy. "I've learned x,y,z got my black sash/belt in this art - I've done it, end of story!"

    let me put it another way, if MA styles were countries and I ruled one, I would wish I had knowledge of all the other countries (arts) and could speak the language of those lands if not rule them too.

    apologies if I didn't make sense just then, I'm not going back to read what I'm writing!

  14. february

    february Valued Member

    Great analogy
  15. path_one

    path_one steps taken

    Thanks feb!
  16. MagnumJoe

    MagnumJoe The Live Bullet

    I Agree: that's my opinion in short. And i do as you do: just freakin' move forward lol!
  17. corwin137

    corwin137 Valued Member

    If the question from your post boils down to " do we separate the technical from the philosophical..." in terms of JKD, to be honest, am less worried about how one defines JKD, than the context in which one does.

    What I mean is, that I'm less concerned with arguing over the minutiae of whether a jab at a complete vertical or 45 degree angle is "JKD" than I am about the context the tool is being used. That's where I think we lose the relevance of the discussion. We concern ourselves so with what is/isn't JKD, that we lose sight of what is wise in a circumstance.

    Another way to say it is, I'm not trying to define a fighting art- I think that's the problem, not the solution. The question is, to me, what is combatively relevant in my own "circumstance" (given size, abilities or lack thereof, etc ad nauseum), can maybe some of these ideas translate into making me a better person, moreso than whether an idea is "JKD" or not.
  18. MagnumJoe

    MagnumJoe The Live Bullet

  19. KickinIt

    KickinIt Banned Banned

    Most pointless thread in JKD 2007 goes to ......drum roll.........this one or JKD Formless system, both 'beauties' as they say. The subject matter of this has been discussed ad infintum already throught this forum , Original vs Concepts thread above covers all this minus the silly pretentious title 'The Great JKD Plague'.

    Anyway, there has to be some structure in JKD , besides a philosophy of 'add what is specifically your own' & people assuming that a licence to add or practice any old thing and call it JKD.

    Is MMA great? Yes, no question. Is it JKD? No , not if you are talking UFC type stuff basically Muay Thai stand up / BJJ ground (basically I said , of course some have diff. backgrounds add or do Sambo, Greco Roman, etc on ground). Can you add MMA to JKD ? Yes of course , you can add anything. Does the MMA you add all fit in with the structure of JKD? mmmmmm, that is the question.

    If you forget about what Bruce Lee taught in his lifetime, and just did MMA - Muay Thai, BJJ, Filipino Weapons, Wrestling , Boxing - is it JKD? Not really, or every single person in MMA is a JKD guy - Chuck Lidell, Matt Hughes, the lot. They aren't. As Dan Inosanto has said many times, if people do MMA in that manner it is philosophically JKD for them, but it is not Bruce Lee's JKD. Others like Tim Tackett, etc have said if you drastically change the structure of JKD to where it no longer resembles it , it no longer is JKD.

    If you change the structure completely - don't do anything Bruce Lee advocated forget Straight Lead, Straight Blast, Finger Jab, etc - just do Boxing punches, forget all the kicks - just do Muay Thai kicks, forget his Trapping & Grappling, just do BJJ, forget his footwork - stances, movement, etc - just do Muay Thai footwork basically, pretty much forget Non Telegraphic movement & Economy of Motion - throw wild swings & Muay Thai rear kicks, etc. Is it still JKD? I'd agree with Inosanto , it is for you, but it's not Bruce Lee's JKD.

    If you change everything basically, don't practice much of anything Lee advocated, don't bother with influence from his training methodology - why even bother to call it JKD? Just call it MMA or anything.

    Don't misunderstand me I'm not into Original or Concepts nonsense, I believe people should add what works for them, and according to what they the individual see as being their personal JKD (as long as they understand the principles of JKD as Bruce Lee advocated), but if you forget all Bruce Lee did or say its all 'old hat' stuff not relevant to the modern world, why stick with the name JKD? Just for marketing/financial purposes, or just as it's cool to try look like a philosopher - I do JKD, the mystical art....

    What do people here define as Structure in JKD?

    I would say :-

    1) Philosophy of JKD - way to look at martial arts & yourself. To grow. Way to analyse & look at martial arts from a JKD perspective (& not just a 'I like that lets add it to JKD perspective' regardless if it fits the structure or principles of JKD).

    2) Physical Techniques & Strategies - you have to have knowledge of what Bruce Lee taught in his lifetime - Trapping, Strikes, Footwork, etc. If you want to add to it, thats fine, but you need to understand what he was teaching and the 'whys'. You should also be thinking along the lines of do Ineed to add this or not, if you have Straight Lead & Variations, e.g. do I need a boxers jab, or Panatukan strike to add to it?

    3) Training Methodology - you need not be bound by Bruce Lee's training regime, some trying to follow his exact poundages in weights, etc. But the influence should be there - weights , running, dummies, sand bags, trampoline, skipping, paper target , etc. Bruce didn't reach his incredible speed & power through convential Boxing or MMA training alone,so you won't reach your true potential with that alone either! Analogy Sugar Ray Leonard flawless technique, trained hard hitting heavy bag, sparring, speed balls, etc. Yet - he could not hit that hard like say Marvin Hagler, etc. Some are naturally powerful granted, but Sugar Ray if he trained with the likes of Bruce Lee, I guarantee would have increased his puinching power a lot! There is a lot more you can do that Bruce Lee advocated, that they don't do in convential boxing. In boxing, if you are not a hard hitter , the trainers work on your other strengths they never try turn you into a heavy hitter because with what they do alone, it is probably not possible - never worked for Sugar Ray , etc despite weights, pounding the bags, etc.

    That is what I would say is the structure & it is not cast in stone, and if people feel structure is different to basic above 3 - then define it (structure cannot be 'airey fairy' philosophy alone - just do & add anything as long as you can make it work, there needs to be more)! But if you don't really follow 1-3 at all , even if you call it JKD, is it really ?
  20. february

    february Valued Member

    I think you're missing the point of the OP, it wasn't meant to be a technical debate.

    But you're entitled to your say.
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