Every kick or punch you throw is either intercepted or destroyed, you try to regain your composure only to be pummelled backward with tremendous forward pressure through a flurry of punches straight down your centreline. You stick your arms up with the hope of covering, only to have your arms spat back at you. You’re grabbed around the neck and met with a relentless barrage of headbutts knees and elbows.
You’ve just been introduced to what is referred to in J.K.D as the rally. This is a typical picture a J.K.D man would paint if push came to shove. It’s been nearly thirty years since the untimely death of Bruce Lee and yet, the interest in the little dragon seems to grow strong every year. Many have said that there will never be another Bruce Lee and whilst it’s true, he left behind a blueprint or a vision as to how he wanted his art to progress. That vision was left in the hands of his protégé; the man credited for taking J.K.D to where it is today, Guru Dan Inosanto.
Bruce Lee was certainly a master of the martial arts, at 5ft 7 and weighing only 135 pounds he had the God given attributes that any athlete would envy. He also had the determination and drive of a high performance machine. Every aspect of his training had to serve his means, and his means was to be able to terminate a fight as quickly and efficiently as possible. In order to do that, Bruce Lee looked beyond system and style and discovered the limitations of the Wing Chun system as it applied to him, forcing him to look outside the system for the truth in combat.
Between 1964 and 1973, Bruce Lee with the help of Dan Inosanto researched and dissected every known fighting art the two could discover of that time period. What they discovered was that certain systems were better suited for a particular range of combat over others, an instant transition from range to range, a flow that would allow them to maximise their tools with the most efficiency in the midst of combat, whilst other systems developed a particular mindset for combat.
The following is a brief outline on some of the principles and attributes in Jeet Kune Do.
Footwork: the art of moving
Mobility is the heart and soul of combat, with the nature of combat being to hit and not be hit, to truly understand combat is to understand footwork. Good footwork allows one to control the fighting measure or the distance between two fighters. The person who controls the fighting measure or this ever changing relationship, ultimately controls the fight. Proper footwork is the delivery system of any technique, whether it be kicking or punching, a transition or shifting of body weight has to occur via the use of footwork. Good footwork is balance in motion with the ability to be put in a favourable position to strike effectively and avoid being hit. Irrespective of what art you study the principle of footwork has to fall into one of the following categories your either moving:
In Jeet Kune Do we have many ways to develop footwork, either through the use of focus mitts, weapon sparring or specific isolated drills.
In creating Jeet Kune Do, Bruce realised that regardless of what fighting style one studied, a fight had to fall into one of the four ranges of combat.
Kicking range is the range whereby you can kick you opponent and he can possibly kick you , but you’re just outside, or a little too far away to punch. In kicking range a J.K.D man might draw from the arts of Savate, Pananjakman, or MuayThai. Savate is the French art of foot fighting, it is known predominately for its pinpoint accuracy and its ability to change lines of attack with very little effort. Pananjakman on the other hand, is the Filipino art of low line ballistic kicking. This is not a pretty art but nevertheless very efficient. The Muay Thai mentality allows the J.K.D fighter to develop the hardcore conditioning of the Thai fighters along with the ability to kick through their target.
Punching range is the next available range to us, whereby any of our five punches, our jab, cross, hook, uppercut and overhand could come into play. In this range a J.K.D man will draw from the best people in the world, and that is the western boxer.
Trapping range is the range where some of our most brutal, vicious and barbaric tools come into play, our headbutts, knees, elbows , eye gouging and biting. These are the tools that take big people out of the picture very quickly. In this range we draw from Jun Fan, Wing Chun, Filipino Kali, Muay Thai and Pananjakman.
Grappling range is the last and final range, which is available to us. This is the range in which both people have tied up, in either a clinch or possibly a headlock, chances are that both people will go to the ground. The person who obviously has some sort of grappling skill or knowledge of how to functionin this range will ultimately win the fight. In this range the J.K.D fighter might draw from: Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Sambo or Western wrestling.
So the concept is being able to function in all ranges of combat, through seeking the best people in each particular range and learning to play their game, be it punching, kicking, trapping or grappling. Like a chain, which is only as strong as its weakest link, we too have to be honest with ourselves and strengthen our weakest link. The beautiful thing about throwing yourself in the deep end and learning somebody else’s game, is that you could never develop a bad arse attitude, because you’re forever being punched , kicked , pushed, pulled and choked out by someone better than yourself. But even though you’re being beaten in their game, you’re also aware they haven’t begun to play your game yet, which is to streetfight.
The ability to execute any technique flawlessly with surgical precision, irrespective of what art one studies, requires not only the physical understanding of that technique but also the cultivation of underlying ingredients known as attributes.
Attributes are qualities, like speed, power, timing, rhythm, footwork and co-ordination. It is the very nature of these attributes that allow a technique to work. Although there are a select few people that possess natural attributes to an inherently high level, the beautiful revelation is that we can all develop these qualities to a high degree.
One training method we use in Jeet Kune Do is weapon sparring. From the viewpoint of someone watching for example, a knife sparring match, all they would see is two guys flailing knives at each other. They wouldn’t see the subtleties of the attributes it was developing, for example, footwork, line familiarisation , fighting measure, body mechanics and cat like reflexes, not to mention being able to fight with a knife. Now! the beauty of all this is, that it transcends to empty hand. If we were to lose the knife, we would still be moving exactly the same way, only now, because of all that flight time spent in knife sparring, we have cultivated our attributes to a high level and being able to respond to any given stimulus.
Lines of Attack:
One of the most important aspects of combat lies in the ability to be able to recognise and deal with an attack spontaneously. Too many martial artists are so caught up with different types of attacks that are thrown at them and the various types of approaches that might counter such an attack, that they fail to understand one crucial concept. That concept being line familiarisation.
Line familiarisation is the ability to recognise a particular angle/angles of attack and becoming familiar with those angles, there by responding appropriately. The Filipino arts of Kali and Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do both follow a common denominator, in that they are more concerned with angles of attack, rather than the weapon or tool itself. The Filipino’s through their battle proven arts of Kali have devised a very unique method of training, which not only applies to the bladed systems, but also to the empty hands. Drills such as Numerado , Sumbrata, Hubud, and weapon sparring not only develop the ability to recognise certain lines of attack but also develop certain attributes necessary for combat.
Bruce Lee was a genius, in that he could meticulously dissect his opponents physically, mentally and spiritually. Although he possessed superior attributes, his ability to enter and close the deal on his opponents was calculating and almost effortless. Bruce understood that in order to terminate any fight, there was a progressional phase, which allowed him to attack intelligently.
At long range, Bruce termed this the “preliminary analysis” of the fight. This is the range whereby for the first few seconds of the fight, we’re trying to establish who it is we are fighting. For example, our opponent might shape up like a boxer, giving us the impression that he’s had some sort of boxing training or, that he might just be a streetfighter. He may even get into some convoluted stance, indicating that he’s had some sort of martial arts training. Either way, we’re receiving some sort of subtle, but valuable clue as to whom it is we are dealing with. Once we establish who it is we are fighting, this is where we “pot shot” our opponent, moving around using footwork trying to score with a stop hit or draw some sort of response in order to enter safely.
Pot shotting can be in the form of a single direct attack to one line, then faking that line and attacking another line, with the emphasis being to enter on our opponent safely. On entry, we straight blast our opponent straight down his centreline, doing the 50-yard dash, putting as much forward pressure on our opponent as possible, not giving him an ounce of space to breath. This stage of the fight Bruce termed the rally, with the intention of closing the deal in“ trapping range” through the use of headbutts, knees and elbows.
If for some reason the rally were to fail and the range were to open up again, we would go back to pot shotting and start the process over again, sticking, moving, inflicting as much pain as possible before entering.
It should be evident by now that this process known as Jeet Kune Do is more than just a collective arsenal of technical repertoire. It is about the cultivation of a superior mix of attributes along with the understanding and development of certain immutable principles that make up the animal known as Jeet Kune Do.
Until Next Time,