Jeet Kune Do in Cantonese means...."Way of the Incepting Fist".
Jeet Kune do unlike other martial arts is relatively new. Jeet Kune Do was developed by it's founder Bruce Lee in the late 60's. Other martial arts have been around for centuries and have carried their traditions from student to student, master to master.
So we ask... what is Jeet Kune Do?? How does it differ from traditional martial arts.
Jeet Kune Do is often misjudged. There is a lot of people who say they are doing Jeet Kune Do and truly are not doing Jeet Kune do. It is the sad fact that the death of it's founder has caused much confusion about Jeet Kune Do. Unlike traditional martial arts, Jeet Kune Do does not have a rich history.
Primarily there was three schools that Bruce Lee taught variations of his art. Each school has a variations of what Bruce developed. You can look at each school and see what the development path of Jeet Kune Do. There was Seattle, Oakland and the China Town, Los Angeles schools. Each representing a stepping stone of what Bruce Developed.
Jeet Kune Do has it's primary influences from Wing Chun, western boxing, and concepts of fencing.
There are variations of what people call JKD. There is the JKD Concepts, the JKD nucleus, and Jun Fan Kung Fu. Each of the three branches will say that they are correct in what Bruce intended.
JKD Concepts will take key principles of JKD and apply them to various other style of martial arts and hence call it JKD. JKD nucleus tends to stick to the core training drills that Bruce developed. And Jun Fan will stick to the early beginnings of Bruce lee. Which one is correct? I have my own personal belief. I believe most people who train in JKD will fall into one main category and blend a little into the others.
I will say this. JKD is highly effective. A quick approach to a no BS street self defense. You will learn to quickly defend yourself a lot better, and feel more confident. You can also spend a life time to perfecting JKD. But this does not just apply to JKD. You can spend a life time in developing anything. Photography, dance, sports, being a parent, etc. We can always learn and become better in our skills and life.
Here is some Key ideas of Jeet Kune do...
1. No wasted Energy. Movement that is not warranted is wasteful. Do not move unless there is a reason. You may take this to mean that you should stay stationary still until the engagement. This is not necessarily true. You can make movement if it creates advantages.
2. Keep things simple. Our response to an attacker who might grab our shirt collar in a threatening motion is to simply "HIT". We do not train the 5-6 step technique to remove the attack. Simpler is better. Simpler comes like a reaction. Like blinking. Verses something that will never come to us or happen when under stress of being attacked. In fact... we prefer to hit as the attack is initiated. Meaning to strike before the opponent launches their full attack at us. Better explained.... We attack as we see the opponent clinching their fist, or reaching to draw their weapon, hence we don't have to wait for the attack to happen.
3. Power Side. We like to put our power side forward. Typically this is our writing hand. If you are right handed your right hand tends to be forward. A street fight is not a sporting event. We do not care to land setup shots with a weak jab to land the knock out strike with our rear hand. This is true of the majority of martial arts. Instead we place our primary weapon(our Strongest) forward. We intend to do as much damage as possible to end the fight fast.
4. Longest Weapon to the nearest target.. We like to extend our range of hitting our opponent. Hence we use our longest weapon primarily our leg to their nearest target. Hence our kick is usually what will be our first tool. This gives the advantage of JKD being able to land the first strike. Why should be wait for the danger to come into a punching range if we can hit them outside of punching range?
There are many other principles of JKD. These principles are the basis of what becomes your own personal JKD. And here lays a lot of confusion. People who train JKD need to have a good instructor and training partners to help them to develop tools that will ultimately become their own JKD. Bruce Lee did not intend that we gather techniques from every martial art and call it "Freds JKD". Rather a student will spend time developing his basic tools, further enhance his basic tools, and ultimately start to figure out what tools best work for him/her. I person who is short will not try to punch someone who is 6'4 in the head. A person who is strong can use their strength where a person who is not strong may use speed to deal with their opponent. It is the job of the student and instructor to find the strengths and weaknesses of each person. JKD is not a cookie cutter martial art. Everyone does not fit the same mold.
As Bruce many times said.... "Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system."