Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do

Are You a Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do Fan? 

Have You Always Wanted to Learn More About Him and His Teachings? 

Well, HERE’S Your Chance!

Despite the fact that Bruce Lee's physical presence has been gone from this earth since 1973, his spirit still lives on in countless martial artists.  

Some know him as a martial artist – a warrior.

Some know him as an actor.

Some know him as a philosopher.

Some know him as a teacher.

Many know him as a legend.

In the Beginning

There was a passionate and driven martial artist consumed with combat efficiency and breaking free of the bonds imposed by traditional martial arts.  

He fought, practiced, researched, and trained to discover what really worked well for him.

He sought to remove the restrictions that styles impose because he wanted to personally liberate himself and others.

In the Middle

While the martial research continued, Bruce’s studies intensified in the areas of philosophy, religion, and spirituality.

Most notably he studied Taoism, Zen, and Jiddu Krishnamurti’s work.

In the End

Bruce realized that the martial arts were as much about personal discovery as combat.

He realized that the martial arts could help someone move towards self-actualization.

So, in the end, a process was born – a process that used martial arts and philosophy as a vehicle for developing or achieving one's full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world.

Bruce Lee's Gifts to Us

Jun Fan Gung Fu.

Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do.

The Explosive Precursor

Before Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do, there was his training methods, attitudes, philosophies, combat techniques and concepts. 

Bruce had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, skill, and ability.  His passion and drive were legendary.

The end result of his unquenchable thirst, passion, and drive was the explosive precursor to Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do – Jun Fan Gung Fu or the Jun Fan Martial Arts. 

Jun Fan Martial Arts

This is the name commonly given to the Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do precursor. 

It’s aptly named because Bruce’s Chinese name was Lee Jun Fan.

Training in the Jun Fan Martial Arts allows you to experience Bruce Lee’s compilation of training methods, attitudes, philosophies, combat techniques and concepts that he believed, honed, researched and taught until his untimely passing on July 20, 1973.

Jeet Kune Do

The late Sifu Dave Carnell, the long-time head of the Magda Institute Association in England, provided an excellent definition of Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do. 

It is as follows:

“Jeet Kune Do is the complete body of technical (physical, scientific) and philosophical (mental, social and spiritual) knowledge, that was studied and taught by Bruce Lee during his lifetime.  It is concerned solely and exclusively with Bruce Lee's personal evolution and process of self-discovery through the Martial Art, as supported by written record (personal papers and library) and oral recollections (by those students who spent time with and/or studied under him).”

Take note of the distinction that Sifu Dave makes in his definition. 

Jun Fan is the body of work and Jeet Kune Do is the process of individual self-discovery through the martial arts.

As individualism is stressed, each student is free to use all, some or none of Bruce Lee's teachings to assist him or herself.

As a tool for personal liberation, Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do does not restrict you to doing things only certain ways.  There is a structure, but there’s freedom within that structure.

In your journey of knowledge, Jeet Kune Do seeks to be a source of inspiration and delight for those who possess an interest in Bruce Lee, and the martial viewpoints that he created.

The Ultimate Objective

The ultimate objective of any serious student of Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do is to develop something that is uniquely his or her own. 

This is accomplished by modifying, adding and deleting certain aspects of Jeet Kune Do until you are left with your own unique creation.

On your journey along the path of self-discovery, you become your own best teacher as you strive to reach your objective.

Chinese Core

Since Bruce Lee was Chinese and a student of the most revered Wing Chun grandmaster of the 20th Century – Yip Man, it should come as no surprise that his Jun Fan Method had a Chinese core – Wing Chun.

Wing Chun is a Chinese Gung Fu system that is often referred to as “The Lightning Hand School.”  It is considered to be one of the most sophisticated fighting methods to originate in China.

Eastern & Western Influences

An ardent researcher, Bruce incorporated kicking methods from northern and southern Chinese Gung Fu systems, French Savate and Thai Boxing. 

He incorporated hand methods from Wing Chun, Western Boxing, and various Chinese Gung Fu systems.

He incorporated many elements of Western Fencing, such as footwork, sliding leverage, interception, timing, rhythm, and the five ways of attack.

Grappling, locking and throwing were also incorporated into the Jun Fan Method.

Totality in Personal Combat

One aim of training in the Jun Fan Method is to work towards totality in personal combat.  

Recall that the Jun Fan Method is considered to be the explosive precursor to a JKD understanding. 

In other words, the Jun Fan Method is the base from which you work towards totality.

"Aspect" Proficiency Leads to Totality

In personal, hand-to-hand combat armed only with anatomical weapons, four "aspects" of combat come into play. 

To begin moving towards totality, you must develop your proficiency in each aspect to the fullest of your abilities.

The four aspects are:

  • Kicking - includes knees
  • Punching - includes elbows
  • Trapping
  • Grappling

Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do Incomplete Without the Philosophy

Regardless of how proficient you become at the aspects, you will never fully reach your true potential without some understanding of the cornerstones and philosophy of Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do.

While the philosophical tenets of Jeet Kune Do are many, the focus here will be on the tenets that I believe embody the true essence of JKD:

  • Be Like Water
  • Using No Way As Way, Having No Limitation As Limitation
  • Learn the Principle. Abide by the Principle. Dissolve the Principle
  • Hack Away the Non-Essentials 


From a construction standpoint, cornerstones are stones at the corners of buildings uniting two intersecting walls.  

From the Jeet Kune Do standpoint, cornerstones are an indispensable and fundamental basis that provides the framework on which to build.

The cornerstones of Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do are the ideals of non-classical, directness, and simplicity.

The non-classical principle in Jeet Kune Do refers to the fact that students are not forced to learn a bunch of classical stances and postures. 

While there are structural guidelines, nothing is completely set. 

The emphasis is on fluidity, mobility, and naturalness. 

Additionally, students do not learn classical forms or structured two-man sets. 

The emphasis is on making the training “alive.” 

When the training is “alive,” students develop a better feel for understanding that anything is possible.

The directness principle refers to being efficient. 

Students learn to strip things down to the essentials. 

Don’t waste energy by blocking, when you can evade. 

Don’t waste time retreating backwards to evade an attack then moving forward to launch your own attack, when you can stop hit your opponent.

The simplicity principle refers to getting the most of out of the least. 

In layman’s terms this is often referred to as the “less-is-more” principle. 

An example of simplicity is learning to do something in two moves when it previously took three. 

Another example involves really honing your basic tools so that they are all you need instead of constantly seeking to add more tools.

Be Like Water

Yin and Yang are at the heart of the Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do logo.

Water can be yin - gentle and flowing.

Water can also be yang - rough and damaging.

Water is highly adaptable.

It becomes the cup.

It becomes the ice cube in the freezer only to regain its liquid form in the heat.

Given the uncertainty of a combat situation, the Jeet Kune Do practitioner should strive to be like water.

Being like water ensures the adaptability necessary to excel in an unpredictable situation.

Using No Way As Way, Having No Limitation As Limitation

Think of your favorite dish. 

Have you eaten this dish in different restaurants? 

Did it always taste the same?

The first two times I ate Pad Thai I got sick. 

I initially enjoyed the dish each time, but as I continued to eat it became more and more sickening. 

The third time I ate Pad Thai was the charm. 

It was delicious to the very last bite!

Clearly, if there was only way to make Pad Thai I would never have found a palatable version.

The point of the story is that there’s always another “way.”

When teachers teach one “way” as the ONLY “way,” learning is less than optimal.

This is the equivalent of a martial arts style claiming that their “way” is the ONLY “way.”

Since each of us is an individual, with our own mental, physical, and spiritual uniquities, no martial arts style can be the “way” for every individual.

In Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do, Using No Way As Way simply means not getting locked into using only one “way.” 

You are free to use many “ways.” 

This allows you to grow.

Growth does not come without challenge!

You will undoubtedly encounter various obstacles on your martial journey.

Our attitudes and actions will determine if these obstacles become a limitation or not.

Having No Limitation as Limitation ensures your obstacles become building blocks for your continued growth and development.

Learn the Principle. Abide by the Principle. Dissolve the Principle.

Learn the Principle.

For instance, the Bamboo Principle.

In nature, the Bamboo Principle can be seen after very strong and destructive winds come and go.

The mighty oak, which does not bend with the wind but instead remains rigid, gets broken.

The slender bamboo, that bows with the wind, returns to its previous position.

In Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do, the Bamboo Principle can be seen during the Swinging Gate Energy Drill.

As you launch your lead straight, it is met with a forceful block.

Like the bamboo, you yield to the force of the block (the wind) and return to renew your attack.

Abide by the Principle.

You practice diligently against different lead and rear blocks to ensure you can successfully apply the principle in different situations.

Dissolve the Principle.

You have internalized the principle to such a degree that you use it when you want and you don't use it when you don't want.

Hack Away the Non-Essentials

In the martial arts, it is customary to continually add more and more forms and techniques. 

This is so customary that it seems that the accumulation of knowledge and techniques is the objective.  

While the beginning stages of your journey will be about the accumulation of knowledge and techniques as you learn the fundamentals, your long-range objective is NOT the continued accumulation of knowledge and techniques.

The longer you study and train the more you should think about a daily decrease.  

The following question was posed at one of the Magda Institute Association Instructor Conferences:

“What is an advanced technique?” 

The answer was “a basic technique perfected.”

Can this really be so?

Isn’t an advanced technique something far more complex than a perfected basic? 

In the eyes and minds of Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do practitioners, the answer is a resounding “NO!”

Honing a basic technique to the level that it makes other, “more advanced” techniques unnecessary is truly what hacking away the non-essentials is all about.

Still not convinced that daily decrease is the way to go? 

Well then, consider a wood carver who’s carving an ornamental martial arts figurine out of a tree stump. 

Will the carver add things to tree stump to produce his ornamental figurine or will he take things away?

He, of course, will take things away until he is left with his vision – the ornamental figurine.

As a student of Jeet Kune Do, you want to become a wood carver. 

You want to hack away the non-essentials until you are left with a highly functional combat-ready arsenal that is simple and direct.

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