Learning Jeet Kune Do today comes with several unique challenges.
For one, the amount of information available today can be overwhelming.
There is a plethora of different “versions” of Jeet Kune Do, each with their own brand of lineage.
And I know, it gets confusing sometimes!
One of my teachers used to tell me, “There are many paths up the same mountain.”
So here’s my question to you.
Regardless of the path,
Are you looking to practice Jeet Kune Do, or do you see yourself as a Jeet Kune Do man/woman?
I think that it is one thing to practice Jeet Kune Do techniques, and it is an entire different matter living the art.
The former is a mere physical activity; the latter is about internalizing the values, principles and philosophy of the art and expressing them throughout our lives.
In doing so, you will reveal more of yourself, your true nature.
Here are three things I share with my mentees when they ask me the question, “What is the Jeet Kune Do Practitioner”?
To me, the distinction is clear.
Anybody can practice “Jeet Kune Do techniques” i.e. the Straight Lead, the Hook Kick, etc…
But not everybody who does that is a true JKD Practitioner.
You’ll see Bruce Lee refer to the term “JKD Man” intermittently in his notes. Please don’t be offended by the gender specificity of the term. Whenever you see reference to “JKD Man” the concepts always apply equally to both women and men.
So then, what exactly makes the JKD Man who he is?
What tells us that she has internalized the art?
Here’s my take on it.
The JKD Mentality
This is about Mindset.
Before he even throws a punch or kick, the JKD Man already comes with the JKD Mind.
The JKD Man is silent.
She is intelligent, introspective and discerning.
In other words, he wants to know.
She seeks to understand.
Maybe before he moves, maybe when he moves, maybe after he moves…
But her end goal is always Insight.
He also wants to know his options…
…as well as the options she knows that she doesn’t know, yet.
For the JKD Man, there is no such thing as useless or wrong information.
He knows that it’s all part of a big puzzle, that everything is neutral until the user applies that information.
Her eternal “learner’s mentality” makes her extraordinary.
You’ll see him being quiet at times.
You’ll see her take notes.
You’ll see him ask specific questions, easily admitting that he doesn’t know, and wants to learn.
And then you’ll see her take action.
Sure, the JKD Man wants to know, but he doesn’t want to do it all.
She knows that training hours are precious, so she specializes.
He is physically developed, or at least he understands the importance of physical attributes…
…but she also knows that the hardware isn’t the software.
What are some examples of this know-how that is specific to JKD?
To begin with, he knows that JKD isn’t a bag of petty techniques.
She knows that JKD isn’t a convenient buffet of 3, 11, 24, 72 (etc.) arts mixed together like a “Best of” album.
He knows how to utilize mobility to achieve Space/time Mastery. In other words, he knows how to manipulate space and time for specific purposes.
She knows the importance of using tactical cunning to outsmart his opponent when she is out-skilled.
He understand the urgency of adapting and calibrating rapidly and effectively in order to survive.
She trains to empower herself at an instinctual and subconscious level, not merely physically.
He can effectively express himself without quoting Bruce Lee, yet still embodying the direction that he was pointing towards.
You sense that she is not a duplicate.
The JKD Vehicle
With a Mind and the Know-how in place, the final part of the equation is simply the vehicle that the JKD Man uses to express them.
For the JKD Man, the Art is about Science, Synergy and Simplicity.
Therefore, these are specific specializations that cannot be downloaded through the Internet or assumed haphazardly.
They are passed down from Mentor to Student, through years of coaching, refinement and paying of dues.
You get the idea?
Mass-accelerated Movement: She knows how to accelerate her mass to generate force, as opposed to relying on mere muscular power.
Disengaged Engagement: He understands that JKD is inherently a Disengaged way of combat, and he engages the opponent in a Proactive Fashion that achieves this exact paradox to maximum effectiveness.
Perceiving the Centerline: When congestion occurs, what is the perceived Optimum Route? The JKD Man will try and flow through that, as opposed to “barging through” all the time.
Fluidity: The nature of the JKD Vehicle is “water”. The JKD Man does not aspire to be rigid, stiff or a “master blocker”. Instead, she is all about harnessing elements of preparation, continuity and sensitivity in order to…
Uncover the Void: This is the end goal of the physical JKD Vehicle. Without the Void, what is there to Intercept? The Void is simply an opening in space/time within the Interaction.
So there you have it!
Mindset, Expertise and Vehicle.
I hope that this small piece of writing can bring us immense clarity.
Elapsed time, repetitions and physical attributes on their own seldom have any direct link to “getting it”.
That exists in the Mind.
What about you?
What do you think about when you train?
What would be your definition of the JKD Man?