12 Central Jeet Kune Do Techniques

Jeet Kune Do (JKD) was developed by the legendary Bruce Lee as a non-traditional, eclectic, and fluid martial art. Its name means “Way of the Intercepting Fist” in Cantonese. Bruce Lee intended JKD to be a direct, efficient, and simplified system of combat, focusing on practicality, efficiency, and economy of motion. Here are some of the key techniques and principles associated with Jeet Kune Do:

  1. Intercepting: As the name suggests, one of the main principles in JKD is the idea of interception. Instead of blocking an opponent’s attack and then countering, a practitioner seeks to intercept the attack, effectively countering and defending at the same time.
  2. Lead Punch (or Straight Lead): Bruce Lee emphasized the use of the lead punch because of its speed and directness. It is typically delivered from a strong side forward stance, which is the opposite of traditional boxing stances.
  3. Five Ways of Attack: JKD categorizes attacks into five methods:
    – SA: Single Direct Attack – A simple and direct strike, like a straight punch.
    – SAA: Single Angular Attack – An attack that comes in at an angle, like a side kick.
    – PDA: Progressive Indirect Attack – Beginning with a feint and following with a real strike.
    – HIA: Hand Immobilization Attack – Pinning or trapping an opponent’s hand(s) while delivering a strike.
    – AIA: Attack by Combination – A sequence of attacks.

  4. Trapping: JKD incorporates trapping techniques, which are methods to immobilize or control an opponent’s limbs. This can create openings for strikes.
  5. Low Kicks: Instead of high, flashy kicks, JKD favors quick, direct kicks to an opponent’s legs, especially the shin or knee.
  6. Fluidity: JKD emphasizes the idea of being like water – adapting to the situation and flowing around obstacles. This concept underlies the entire art.
  7. Alive Training: Training methods should be alive and dynamic, which means practitioners should spar and train in ways that closely resemble real fights, though with safety in mind.
  8. Simplicity: Techniques should be direct and efficient, without unnecessary movements.
  9. Economy of Motion: Every move should be efficient and purposeful, minimizing unnecessary actions that could waste energy or create openings.
  10. Non-Classical: Bruce Lee believed that traditional martial arts were too rigid and bound by unnecessary rituals and techniques. JKD is meant to be non-classical, meaning it doesn’t strictly adhere to traditional forms or kata.
  11. Fencing: Bruce Lee was inspired by fencing, especially the concept of the “stop-hit,” where one attacks as soon as the opponent initiates their movement.
  12. Footwork: JKD emphasizes fast, mobile footwork, allowing the practitioner to quickly close the distance, evade, or create angles.

It’s important to note that JKD is a philosophy as much as it is a martial art. Bruce Lee’s intention was to encourage martial artists to express themselves honestly and find what works best for them, discarding the unnecessary. As he famously said, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”

Below is an example of Jeet Kune Do-style intercepting and trapping techniques in action:

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About the Author: Joshua Smith