Every since the untimely death of Bruce Lee in 1973, his art of Jeet Kune Do has been misrepresented, misinterpreted and misunderstood. If you are a serious student of Jeet Kune Do you can see how easily this happened. Bruce Lee’s art was in constant change – this was part of his philosophy, not only in the martial arts but in life as well. After all, to Bruce Lee life and martial arts were one in the same. To understand the science behind Jeet Kune Do one must first understand the history of Bruce Lee’s martial art. This article will examine the scientific process Bruce Lee went through during his martial art lifetime.
Many people over the years have taken “using no way as way” out of context and completely lost the science behind the technique. Even Linda Lee Cadwell has said, “I don’t think Bruce really intended it that way.” And Bruce himself wrote, “People often mistakenly believe that JKD is against form. One thing we must understand: that there is always a most efficient and alive manner to carry out a movement (and that the basic laws of leverage, body position, balance, footwork and so forth are not to be violated). However, alive, efficient form is one thing; sterile classical sets that bind and condition are another. Aside from the above mentioned, one must also distinguish the subtlety between ‘having no form’ and ‘no-form.’ The first is ignorance, the second is transcendence.”
Bruce and Linda are both telling us that Jeet Kune Do has a structure, a specific way to execute the techniques of Jeet Kune Do. And that way is to apply science to movement. Bruce Lee never said, “You know, Western Fencing has good footwork, Savate has good long range strikes, Muay Thai has good close range strikes, Western Boxing has good punches and Wing Chun has good trapping; I should mix these together and develop a new style.” No, he applied science to the movement of the human body and asked himself, “As a human being, as a martial artist, how can I most efficiently use these two arms and two legs?” That is the science behind Jeet Kune Do.
(Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3)