Since Bruce Lee’s untimely death in 1973, much has been written and said about Bruce Lee and his art of Jeet Kune Do. It’s important to understand that Jeet Kune Do is firstly and fore mostly a counter offensive art, meaning that we generally attack into our opponents attack. The words Jeet Kune Do actually means to intercept, so if we’re not intercepting then we’re not doing what the words actually mean. With that in mind, Jeet Kune Do has several methods by which to initiate an attack. We have what we refer to as a Primary Attack, a Secondary Attack and the Five Ways of Attack.
A primary attack is an attack whereby you initiate the attack using either PACE, FRAUD, or FORCE. When we talk about pace what we’re talking about is the speed by which the attack is initiated, you’re literally beating your opponent to the punch through sheer speed. You’re going from 0 -100 in the blink of an eye. Pace could also include some sort of broken rhythm as well, whereby you break either your own rhythm, or your opponent’s rhythm in the midst of their attack. I’ll talk more about the different ways we do this as we get a bit further down the track.
The idea of using fraud as an attack, simply means to deceive your opponent through some sort of indirect attack. You make your opponent think you’re going to attack a particular line then you change lines midstream. Fraud can include: faking, feinting, attack by drawing or even progressive indirect which I’ll go more into when we get to the five ways of attack. Lastly we have Force, the idea using force is to crash through our opponent’s defence using some sort of trapping technique. You’re basically muscling them using strength to create an opening.
The problem with a primary attack is that we have to be very careful of the counter attack and as JKD people, what we’re primarily concerned about is the stop hit and stop kick. So the idea is to attack our opponent when he’s most vulnerable, and there are basically three timings when we can accomplish this. 1) The first timing is when your opponent is moving, when your opponent is moving he’s not thinking about hitting, he’s thinking move, that’s a great time to hit him. 2) The second timing is when your opponent is off balance, he might fire a side kick and just as that side kick misses you and is about to land on the ground, that’s when you hit him. 3) And lastly, the third timing to hit your opponent is when he’s talking. When he’s talking his mind is engaged and he’s not hitting, so you use that moment in time to hit your opponent.
This now brings me to the secondary attacks. A secondary attack is when your opponent initiates the attack and you attack into his attack during one of five timings; 1) on intention, 2) on preparation, 3) on delivery 4) on completion & 5) on recovery. In Bruce Lee’s book the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee talks about secondary attacks and referrers to the timings as before, during and after phases but doesn’t actually classify the timings, needless to say that there are five in total and each will fall under the before, during and after timings.
When we talk about attacking on intention, the idea is to hit your opponent as he’s thinking about hitting you. This is by far the highest level in Jeet Kune Do and epitomises what the words Jeet Kune Do actually mean. Hitting on intention is a very hard thing to do; it requires intuition, awareness and the ability to read body language. Moving down the ladder, we have attack on preparation, this simply means that you attack your opponent as he’s preparing to hit you. He might for example, pull his arm back to punch you, he might take a step forward, whatever the case he’s preparing to hit you so you hit him first. The next timing on our list is attack on delivery, what that means is that you attack just as your opponent attacks. This could be in the form of some sort of single direct attack or some sort of compound attack. Whatever the case, we’re attacking as our opponent’s attacking. Then we have attack on completion, what that means is that you attack as your opponent completes his initial attack. For example, if your opponent fires a straight jab, you catch your opponents lead jab on his extension and you return a jab back. And lastly we have attack on recovery, what that means is that you attack as your opponent try’s to recover from his initial attack. This is the time when your opponent is either off balance or trying to renew his attack.
The problem you have with secondary attacks is that none of the above will work if you’re too close to your opponent, he’ll always have the advantage on you. The way to make it work, is by controlling the distance and one of the ways we control distance is by understanding the fighting measure. The fighting measure is the safe distance between yourself and your opponent. If your opponent was to extend his arm and fingers, you’d want to be just outside of his reach where he can’t touch you. If he was to kick you, the kick would barely graze you. This is the ideal fighting measure as it keeps you at a safe distance but more importantly, if your opponent wants to attack you, he has to step forward giving you the opportunity to intercept him with either a stop hit or stop kick.
This brings us now to what we refer to as the Five Ways of Attack.
The Five Ways of Attack is how Bruce Lee organised his art, its the strategy by which we deliver the attack. These are combat principles found in Western Fencing. Bruce Lee borrowed and incorporated many fencing principles into his Jeet Kune Do, for example: the Stop Hit, Stop Kick and Time Hit”, these are all from Western Fencing.
The very first way of the Five Ways is S.D.A /S.A.A. – S.D.A simply stands for Single Direct Attack. What this means is that you attack your opponent with any single punch or single kick that travels directly from point A to point B. without any deviation. A single direct attack takes the most efficient direct route with no attempt to disguise the intended line of attack and is often used as an entry or probe against your opponent. S.A.A or single angular attack is the sister technique to S.D.A and what makes this different from S.D.A, is that your attack is angulated; this is achieved through the JKD curve step.
Moving down the five ways is A.B.C or attack by combination. Attack by combination could be any two or more hits, Bruce Lee codified all his material as HH meaning hand – hand or FF meaning foot – foot. A three beat combination could be codified as HHH, HHF, HFH or HFF. There are way too many possible combinations of punches and kicks to list them all here, suffice to say that any attack by combination should be worked with some form of broken rhythm. There are generally four ways we use to break rhythm. 1) The first way is to change the tempo of our own attack, 2) the second way is to include positive and negative hits, 3) the third way is to break or interrupt our opponent’s rhythm by attacking into his attack and 4) the fourth and final way, is to break your opponent’s rhythm through footwork.
A.B.D or attack by drawing is the third of the five ways. Attack by drawing simply means that you’re baiting your opponent to attack in a supposedly open line. You’re creating a false impression of momentary vulnerability, enticing you’re opponent to attack that line. When your opponent commits to the attack, you quickly seize the opportunity to close the line with an attack of your own. The idea is to deceive the opponent into thinking he’s attacking in an open line.
The fourth of the five ways is what we refer to as P.I.A or Progressive Indirect Attack. This is the by far one of the highest principles of the five ways of attack. Progressive meaning we take up distance, indirect we take up time and to attack we’re moving ahead of our opponents defence. A progressive indirect attack can be done using Hand–Hand, Hand – Foot, Foot – Hand or Foot – Foot. It can be done on the high lines, low lines, high–low or low–high lines. The idea is to attack a line then fake that line to attack another line.
Lastly we have H.I.A or Hand Immobilisation Attack. Also referred to as trapping hands, this is the process by which we immobilise a limb in order to score with a hit. Often misunderstood, trapping plays an integral part of the Jeet Kune Do arsenal and requires tactile awareness and some sort of structure to make it work. Our objective as a Jeet Kune Do practitioner is not to trap but to hit, however if we get some sort of obstruction or barrier whilst hitting, then the idea is to remove the barrier via trapping and continue on our original objective, which is to hit.
In conclusion it should be obvious that Jeet Kune Do is a high level counter offensive art based on combat principles and combat application. It was designed by its creator for one reason only, to be able to stop any opponent dead in their tracks.
Until Next Time
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