T Nation

Is Jeet Kune Do a Legit System?

I’m not an expert on martial arts by any means. My friend trains JKD at a local Martial Arts Academy and he says it’s the best gym around. Ive been thinking about joining him and taking classes. (I did one “trial” class and thought it was really fun.) The thing is, JKD doesn’t seem to get much respect from what Ive seen on the Internet. Im wondering if its a legit martial art?
Im not serious into martial arts and I have no experience training them other than TKD when I was really little. I will probably go to the classes 2x a week. Basically my goals are to 1)Have fun 2)Be able to kick someones ass 3) Maybe compete sometime in the future if I feel I am good enough.

Thanks for any responses

Edit: My main priority is lifting and I do 5/3/1 4x a week.

It depends on the teacher and it depends on the student.
By the way whose ass do you want to kick? A toddlers? Maybe a high school kid? Or maybe you’re talking about a PCP junkie with a machete? The point I’m trying to get at is this - don’t train to kick anyone’s ass. Competing is cool but it’s not fighting in the purist sense of the word. Think about your goals.

If I were you, I would shop around a little bit, and I’d also see if the gym makes you sign some sort of contract. You don’t want to do this for a few weeks, find something better, and have to pay for it for the next six months, know what I mean?

Good luck man.

I agree with Ambugaton; it really depends on who you are training under and what your primary goal is. Bruce died rather young and unexpectedly and never really left any kind of plan for his system. In fact he actually closed down all his schools prior to moving back to Hong Kong to pursue his movie career. As a result there has been a lot of confusion, arguments over legitimacy/lineage, and fragmentation of JKD since his death.

Unfortunately as an inexperienced person you probably aren’t going to be able to decipher quality martial arts/instruction for stuff that looks really cool and sounds cool in theory, but doesn’t hold any water when tested. As a result I’d probably try to find out who the head instructor trained with in JKD. Lineage doesn’t guarantee quality instruction (just as a lack of it doesn’t guarantee poor instruction), but it’s at least proof that the instructor is actually teaching JKD and not some junk that he compiled by just watching Bruce’s films.

Also, if your goal is sportive competition I’d ask if there have ever been any successful sport martial arts competitors (amateur or pro) who have come out of that school (or if it’s a new school just starting up, if the individual’s teacher ever trained any successful fighters).

I agree with all of the above. It really is more about the teacher and your own temperament and goals than it is about this or that system.

Regarding your buddy saying his is the best gym around: this may be true, but pretty much everybody likes to think they are training at the best gym, with the best instructor, in the best system around, so take it with a grain of salt.

Regarding kicking ass (assuming you’re serious): Whose ass do you foresee needing to kick and under what circumstances? Honestly, with no background in fighting and training 2x/wk as a second priority to your lifting, I hope it isn’t anybody who knows how to fight.

Without knowing more about your options, I would say that you would likely be further ahead with something more well established like boxing or judo. Both are fun to do and many of the techniques are proven and potentially practical, if your skill level allows them to be. Training and competition is widely available and generally at least somewhat standardized (still no guarantees). Any city of any size usually has at least one decent boxing gym and one decent judo club. Training is often relatively inexpensive as an added bonus.

Yes, boxing and Judo are highly established systems which are very wide spread/readily accessible in most areas, generally are at least moderately competition based/oriented, and fairly practical. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is becoming much more wide spread as well and again would be a good choice if competing is important to you.

If your primary goal is self defense/street survival though, you might want to look for something that is geared specifically towards that goal. Krav Maga, Haganah, Dynamic Combat Method, Chu Fen Do, Lysak’s Sento Method, and iCAT (to name a few) are all systems designed specifically for real world self defense/worst case scenario training. You will still learn some boxing/striking, and grappling (judo, wrestling, BJJ) skills, but the focus will be on dealing with things like surprise/ambush attacks, weapons defense and deployment, and probably most importantly IMO legal and moral concerns, verbal and postural self defense tactics, and cerebral self defense strategies.

JKD can fulfill this type of training if it’s a legit instructor, but again, it’s less standardized and therefore less reliably does so than the above mentioned systems.

So, again it comes down to your goals.

Haha I dont wanna kick anyone ass in particular. Just have the confidence in my fighting if a situation ever arises. And I would be training under Sifu Eric Winfree. Here is the lineage:

Sijo Bruce Lee - Guro Dan Inosanto - Sigung Kevin Seaman - Sifu Eric Winfree

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:

If your primary goal is self defense/street survival though, you might want to look for something that is geared specifically towards that goal. Krav Maga, Haganah, Dynamic Combat Method, Chu Fen Do, Lysak’s Sento Method, and iCAT (to name a few) are all systems designed specifically for real world self defense/worst case scenario training. You will still learn some boxing/striking, and grappling (judo, wrestling, BJJ) skills, but the focus will be on dealing with things like surprise/ambush attacks, weapons defense and deployment, and probably most importantly IMO legal and moral concerns, verbal and postural self defense tactics, and cerebral self defense strategies.
[/quote]

I generally agree with this Sento. Almost all of my training these days is in the “RMA” area and I value this type of training immensely. However, it has been my experience that the people who have the easiest time becoming most effective in these types of systems have at least some kind of a decent foundation in dedicated study to a more established combat sport/art.

Sometimes I think that, given only a couple of days a week to train, trying to incorporate all the things we do in “RMA” (don’t really like that term but oh well…) while achieving a reasonable level of mechanical proficiency in actual techniques is a bit difficult at best. On the other hand, if you already know how to do something (i.e. box) at a passable level it gets easier and you are able to progress much faster.

[quote]Brian14 wrote:
Haha I dont wanna kick anyone ass in particular. Just have the confidence in my fighting if a situation ever arises. And I would be training under Sifu Eric Winfree. Here is the lineage:

Sijo Bruce Lee - Guro Dan Inosanto - Sigung Kevin Seaman - Sifu Eric Winfree[/quote]

Looks like a legit lineage. Honestly though, only training twice a week is going to mean limited and relatively slow skill acquisition. Your skills will probably work against untrained, average sized, unarmed, average people with that frequency of training though. Realize that you are learning skills and just like any other skill, the more quality practice you do, the more skilled you are going to become.

I have respect for JKD, but only because of Bruce Lee’s hand and my own previous experience in Wing Chun. JKD’s influence in the martial arts world has seen a decline since his death and its credibility has been severely tarnished by Rex Kwan Do experts running their respective McDojos. If that Lineage is to be believed (they can be researched) then you should be in a fairly good gym.

Considering your three objectives: 1) You should have fun. 2) Two times a week is insufficient practice to consider yourself ready to fight in the street. 3) And you will definitely have to ramp up training frequency if you intend entering a ring.

Please also remember that your preparedness to fight someone is relative to their own skill level and experience. And as a precaution, you should always adopt the approach of violence as a last resort. Hard wood sticks are also a great precaution.

honestly man not to speak bad or anything but Dan Inosanto doesn’t actually teach REAL JKD obviously I will get flamed for this but I teach JKD and am under Tommy Carruthers and when you get more and more into the JKD realm you figure out fairly quickly who is legit and who is not… 99% of JKD is watered down conceptual bull shit with no actual fighting merit… Very few people teach and instruct authentic JKD the way it was meant to be upheld by Bruce himself… You live in New York though I know a legit teacher over there that trained under Ted Wong try checking out Richard Torres.

By the way, JKD is only something meant for street self defense and is not meant to be used for competition.

I think something else that must be remembered, is Bruce Lee’s attitude towards styles. Which is to say, he didn’t like adopting a rigid methodology that restricted improvisation and required kata/patterns/kwen. So, if Bruce Lee saw his JKD vision to fulfillment, then it might look very similar to MMA today. he always argued for a martial artist to cut away the things that held him back and to focus on fighting in a way that worked with ones natural and learned abilities and even physical abilities.

If this gym offers you a platform to do that, then it is good gym.

[quote]cstratton2 wrote:
honestly man not to speak bad or anything but Dan Inosanto doesn’t actually teach REAL JKD obviously I will get flamed for this but I teach JKD and am under Tommy Carruthers and when you get more and more into the JKD realm you figure out fairly quickly who is legit and who is not… 99% of JKD is watered down conceptual bull shit with no actual fighting merit… Very few people teach and instruct authentic JKD the way it was meant to be upheld by Bruce himself… You live in New York though I know a legit teacher over there that trained under Ted Wong try checking out Richard Torres.

By the way, JKD is only something meant for street self defense and is not meant to be used for competition. [/quote]

The problem everyone will always have with JKD is the lack of accountability among people who teach it. It is very easy to get authentic Karate, Judo, BJJ, Muay Thai training in an environment true to the art form’s style and method. JKD? Not so. JKD was never fully codified, never fully realised and in a way, was Bruce Lee’s rebellion from styles. So, when you say that it is one thing, I can easily imagine Lee going off on one of his Yoda Monologues about being water in a cup… be the cup… be a teapot… er… be a waterlogged shoe, whatever. Probably, Dan Inosanto’s adoption and pursuit of a bunch of different styles and teaching techniques is the closest expression of JKD.

And then of course, I repeat for the 1000th time a quote by Lee: “using no way as a way, using no limitations as a limitation” followed by one by his wife, Linda Lee Cadwell: “Memorizing and regurgitating Bruce Lee’s words does not increase one’s intelligence. However, adapting his thoughts for one’s own actions gives life to his words.”

So… what the fuck is Jeet Kun Do anyway?

IDK, I observed an expert JKD Guy getting Tapping Out quickly by a Gracie years ago,
Afterwords I said to myself…'HEY I thought this JKD was supposed to be awesome, I mean this is BRUCE
EFFIN LEE’s system Man! What Gives?
Needless to say, As a smart observer of JKD being totally useless against a Master Grappler,
I tossed JKD from my mind from ever persuing it…ever.

I don’t think anyone who actually respects bruce lee’s teachings would call it a legitimate system.

Dan Inosanto IIRC had a long spiel a while back about how there was dissension among the students after Lee’s death because he (Dan) was trying to incorporate new methods that he had learned from other styles (I believe the example was Thai style kicking) and his students weren’t having a bar of it because “it didnt look like bruce lee” and he’s stuck there flabbergasted because evolving and taking other concepts was exactly what Bruce wanted to do.

Really MMA is the embodiment of what JKD as a concept is IMO. A fighter like GSP, takes what works for him, discards what doesn’t. He’s not stuck in the trappings of “styles”.

Most of the JKD schools today seem, at least to me, a bunch of mcdojos trying to replicate what Bruce Lee did on a film set.

[quote]Karado wrote:
IDK, I observed an expert JKD Guy getting Tapping Out quickly by a Gracie years ago,
Afterwords I said to myself…'HEY I thought this JKD was supposed to be awesome, I mean this is BRUCE
EFFIN LEE’s system Man! What Gives?
Needless to say, As a smart observer of JKD being totally useless against a Master Grappler,
I tossed JKD from my mind from ever persuing it…ever.
[/quote]

So, you saw a Gracie once tap out a guy who claimed to be an expert at JKD and that means that everybody who practices Gracie BJJ can beat everybody who practices JKD?

Who is this smart observer to whom you refer?

All good posts. JKD was started by Bruce Lee and was not finished, really, since he died young. By this I mean he started with a lot of great stuff and was refining it as he went along. Problem though is that his fame overshadowed the system and the hype now drowns out anything else. Anybody and everybody who trained with him at some point claimed to have “learned JKD with Bruce Lee”.

I’ve seen some good JKD players and I agree, it all boils down to who teaches what which means there is no good pedagogy/instructional method behind it – it’s all hit or miss. A good coach (and martial arts instructors are coaches, like it or not) should be able to get consistent results. Unless you’ve been doing MA stuff for a while, separating the wheat from the chaff might be really hard.

Just remember that because so-and-so who is ten kinds of awesome does the system doesn’t mean they can show you anything. It’s easy to turn an OJ Simpson into a really passable martial artist. Much harder to turn Bob the Accountant into one, so I’d look at the lower end of the students.

  • Is the conditioning part of the training reasonable? You should be able to figure that part out being on this board. If they are doing silly stuff and excusing it as ancient tradition (not in JKD, since we know where it came from) they are probably being dishonest in other parts of their training. The conditioning should be able to turn an average person into a mid-grade athlete, with allowances for person variations.

  • Are they (= other students) good people, meaning hard working and earnest? Bad people drive off good ones, btw, so a room full of assholes means you’d better be one too if you want to stay. A room full of asshole martial arts wannabes = injury… possibly life altering, I stress.

  • Do they (= other students & teachers) exhibit general common sense? Being willing to do a stunt (e.g. flying kick) as part of their safety strategy means they are having buy-in to the training rather than thinking about safety. The first knife defense, e.g., they teach you should be run like Hell. I put my money on the dude with the blade, btw.

  • Ask the instructor “what is self-defense”. S/he should be able to give you and articulate response about what the legal definition is, since you will be held to that definition should you use your training. If they can’t do this, they do not know and, in point of fact, are not teaching you self-defense. Really. It might be fun training and you could be really happy there (fine if it’s otherwise a great training environment), just don’t plan on doing anything with it.

  • And the litmus test: Tell them (= everyone who is of senior rank) your 8 year old kid/nephew wants to do something to protect him/herself from muggers. Any response other than “run” + “where the F*** are the parents?!?” means you might want to take everything they say with a grain of salt. (I have a bug up my ass about kids learning self defense, but that’s really another rant.)

Hope this helps…

– jj

To respond to your original post:

JKD, as a style, seems to have a bullshido quotient just under that of ninjitsu. While that doesn’t make any particular school a per se mcdojo, it does mean that a high degree of scrutiny is in order. Professional fighters have come out of many different traditions, including some (tkd, shotokan) that populate suburban strip malls. Style is not destiny.

That being said, some styles have more successful fighters than others, and some are more standardized than others. Boxing, muay thai, judo, and gracie bjj are generally recommended due to their consistent output of at least fair to good quality practical skills. As you are not experienced enough to know a high quality example of a style not usually known for producing high level fighters, it is generally recommended that you get your foundational training in a style that is a known quantity.

Also, as others have said, two days a week may give you an edge over the untrained and let you do some basic intramural sparring. Anything more than that is probably going to require higher training volume.

[quote]batman730 wrote:

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:

If your primary goal is self defense/street survival though, you might want to look for something that is geared specifically towards that goal. Krav Maga, Haganah, Dynamic Combat Method, Chu Fen Do, Lysak’s Sento Method, and iCAT (to name a few) are all systems designed specifically for real world self defense/worst case scenario training. You will still learn some boxing/striking, and grappling (judo, wrestling, BJJ) skills, but the focus will be on dealing with things like surprise/ambush attacks, weapons defense and deployment, and probably most importantly IMO legal and moral concerns, verbal and postural self defense tactics, and cerebral self defense strategies.
[/quote]

I generally agree with this Sento. Almost all of my training these days is in the “RMA” area and I value this type of training immensely. However, it has been my experience that the people who have the easiest time becoming most effective in these types of systems have at least some kind of a decent foundation in dedicated study to a more established combat sport/art.

Sometimes I think that, given only a couple of days a week to train, trying to incorporate all the things we do in “RMA” (don’t really like that term but oh well…) while achieving a reasonable level of mechanical proficiency in actual techniques is a bit difficult at best. On the other hand, if you already know how to do something (i.e. box) at a passable level it gets easier and you are able to progress much faster. [/quote]

I’m not gonna argue that someone who has already developed a single arsenal to a high degree isn’t gonna be able to pick up other similar skill sets more easily, or even be able to devote more time to developing other arsenals. But to be honest, there is also a lot of time wasted while doing so learning skills that do not translate to real world self defense well and instead could have spent that time developing more appropriate skills like weapons deployment and defense.

I think it again comes down to who is instructing you and why you are learning what you’re learning. We regularly bring in top notch instructors in wrestling, kickboxing, boxing, BJJ, Arnis, and numerous other martial arts/combat sports because training in those systems can develop specific attributes that are useful in self defense scenarios. But the truth is that other than personal development, spending a considerable amount of time and energy on any one of these individual combat arts wouldn’t be the best use of time for someone concerned primarily with self protection training. A lot of the skills they teach also need to be altered/appropriated, or even completely discarded for real world application.

My personal opinion is that with minimal training time the best use of time would be spent on training things like dealing with ambush/surprise attacks, verbal and postural self defense skills, some very basic striking skills utilizing durable weapons (like palms, hammer fists, forearms, knees, and stomping kicks), basic takedown defense, and some basic weapons skills (use and defensive strategies) than on just boxing or grappling.

[quote]cstratton2 wrote:
By the way, JKD is only something meant for street self defense and is not meant to be used for competition. [/quote]

Interesting… Joe Lewis (R.I.P), Mike Stone, and Chuck Norris might disagree with you on that.

[quote]Karado wrote:
IDK, I observed an expert JKD Guy getting Tapping Out quickly by a Gracie years ago,
Afterwords I said to myself…'HEY I thought this JKD was supposed to be awesome, I mean this is BRUCE
EFFIN LEE’s system Man! What Gives?
Needless to say, As a smart observer of JKD being totally useless against a Master Grappler,
I tossed JKD from my mind from ever persuing it…ever.
[/quote]

What the heck does that have to do with anything? Bruce trained with Gene Labell, Hayward Nishioka, and Wally Jay during his lifetime, but it’s not like he was some sort of grappling wiz, or that JKD as Bruce practiced it was on the same level as GJJ from a grappling standpoint.

So, you’re saying that a grappling expert, who has dedicated his entire life to mastering grappling tapping someone who trains in a system that does to specialize in grappling means that the other system isn’t worth learning? Well crap, guess that means boxing, Muay Thai, or pretty much any striking art would also be worthless. And of course let’s not forget about Arnis, Kali, Point Shooting, Kendo, or pretty much any weapons art would also be worthless, since they would also get tapped while grappling against a Gracie.