The Five Ways of Attack

This next article on FCJKD is going to focus on Jeet Kune Do’s Five Ways of Attack and represent an introduction to JKD’s unique tactical and strategic methods of thinking. I’ve mentioned before that Jeet Kune Do at the advanced levels is transmitted as a system of: 1) Concepts 2) Principles 3) Tactics and 4) Strategies. The Five Ways is the corner stone of Jeet Kune Do tactical training. Its a way of applying the techniques you learned in basic training. If all the individual strikes and techniques you learned are weapons, The Five Ways represents the different ways you can use each one.

bruce-lee-kickSingle Direct Attack
By definition the Single Direct Attack (or SDA) is the easiest to understand on paper. It is a single strike thrown along a single line of attack. Its simplicity hides the fact that an SDA can be one of the hardest of the Five Ways to actually score a direct hit in combat. There is no set up, so therefore the opponent has more of a chance to see it coming and can utilize an appropriate counter or take evasive actions. Skill in landing an SDA in a high pressure situation will depend on how non-telegraphic you are, how good your sense of distance and timing is, and how well you can spot targets of opportunity and take advantage of them. It stands to reason that one’s skill in the Single Direct Attack will translate directly to your ability to apply the other four Ways.

images (1)Attack By Combination
Attack by Combination, or ABC, is two or more strikes thrown to multiple lines of attack. It is the next logical step to the SDA, and the number of combinations one can utilize is staggering. The idea is to use multiple attacks to set up an opening for the final blow of the series to land. When one closes a gate, another one opens. As an opponent goes to defend one area of their body, they will inevitably leave another open, and that is what ABCs attempt to take advantage of.

It is important to have good flow from strike to strike by utilizing how the body pivots. In this way it is easy to ‘load up’ a strike. For example, throwing a cross (or Straight Rear) with the left hand pivots the body to the right pulling the right side back. This allows you some extra room to snap back to the left when you throw a right straight punch.

Keep the guard up at all times as it is very possible for the opponent to launch a counterattack in the middle of a your combination. Be prepared for this.

chi saoHand Immobilization Attack
HIA is synonymous with the word “trapping”. It is the method of immobilizing an opponent’s arm or otherwise clearing their guard from the line of attack so you can strike unobstructed. The types of traps can vary, and even stepping on your opponent’s foot can be considered a trap. Any kind of joint lock or manipulation can also fall into this category.

It is argued in many martial arts circles that trapping is not effective, however, one can even look to recent professional MMA matches to see the basics at work. Trapping can be highly effective when used properly because when crashing the line your arms will almost always come in contact with your opponent’s. Learning to move their hands around will allow you to create openings and to deny their counterattacks, but remember that the idea is to always be HITTING. Think hit, hit, hit. Not trap, trap, hit! I tell my students that trapping should be more of a reflex instead of being intentionally set up. The trap should spring into action as a result of your main strike not making contact. This is better than disengaging and giving your opponent a chance to reset or launch a counterstrike. A really important concept in Jeet Kune Do is to always be applying forward pressure, especially in your trapping. Be like water crashing through the dam: always moving toward your destination.

Progressive Indirect Attackbackfist
pro·gres·sive / adjective
happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.

in·di·rect / adjective
(of a route) not straight; not following the shortest way.

In Jeet Kune Do a PIA is quite often defined as “progressive” meaning “closing distance” and “indirect” as “gaining time”. It is a method of simultaneously bridging the gap and gaining an opening in your opponent’s defense. The PIA is preceded by a fake, or uncommitted thrust, in order to throw off your opponent’s actions and give you time to hit an open line at the moment of vulnerability. Bruce Lee would call it ‘throwing out garbage': that initial thrust has no intention of hitting its target, but rather gaining a reaction that can be taken advantage of. The trick here is making the false attack look convincing enough to elicit the desired response from the opponent.

A note on nomenclature: ‘feint’ and ‘fake’ are quite often used interchangeably, but they mean two different things, at least to us Jeet Kune Do practitioners. A “feint” is a gross body movement, like a shoulder pop or bending at the knees, that makes it seem like you are about to strike at that line. A feint will quite often work on a less experienced fighter, and since its not as committed as a fake, will allow you to strike the open line faster. However, against an experienced opponent, it may not work at all. A “fake” is just that: a fake version of an actual strike. To make a fake effective it has to be just as convincing as the real thing. The difference from one to the other is in the footwork. In a fake, you do the strike just as you normally would, but make it fall short by keeping your footwork in check.

bill jeeAttack by Drawing
ABD is an attack where you lure your opponent into an offensive commitment and then take advantage of the opening left. Attack by Drawing is arguably the most risky of the Five Ways of Attack because you must first expose yourself to danger and then be fast enough to spring the trap. You lull your opponent into a false sense of security and make them think they’ve scored the opening. This can be accomplished by lowering your guard and enticing them to strike your head. This is very effective since Jeet Kune Do works off the principle of interception: by maintaining the Fighting Measure and tricking your opponent to step in and strike, you made them do all the work in closing the gap. Now you can jam them on the way in with stop kicks or use the Straight Lead to intercept!

ABD is very similar to PIA in the sense that they both use ‘feints’ and ‘fakes’ to try to take advantage of openings in the opponent’s defensive line. The difference is that ABD makes your opponent come to YOU, while PIA is you taking the fight to your opponent.

I hope you found the article informative. Train hard. Fight easy.


jkd_kanjiJeet Kune Do preaches using tools that are natural to the self, but there is also a high amount of refinement in execution in order to make those techniques direct and efficient. We also spend a significant amount of time developing body mechanics and working on our power delivery system, or ‘kinetic chain’.  In this article I’d like to introduce you to a drill we use in class here at FCJKD to help develop “non-telegraphic” strikes which, in part, will help your speed in delivering strikes.

There are essentially two ways to increase speed. 1) Strike faster and 2) eliminate any unnecessary motions. This drill trains the second way.

The Drill in a Nutshell
The ‘Feeder’ (training partner with the mitt) has one focus mitt. The “Trainee” (partner hitting the mitt) delivers Straight Leads at the mitt (straight, vertical fist punch, our main weapon here at FCJKD). The Feeder’s goal is to jerk the mitt away at the last second and make the Trainee miss. The Trainee’s goal is to hit the mitt before the ‘Feeder’ has a chance to pull the mitt away. Whats great about this drill is it works on different skill sets for both the Feeder and the Trainee: the Feeder is learning to read an opponent’s “Trigger Squeeze” (the moment he/she begins their attack) and the Trainee is trying to refine the motion to take out any ‘tells’ that might be giving their intentions away. Its a great drill, and one we do a lot here at Fight Club Jeet Kune Do.

Focus MittsThe Setup
The drill can be done from various distances using different types of footwork. Here are two ways you can practice it:
1.) Stationary, with 70% extension: This one is a bit easier on the Trainee. You want to set the mitt at a distance where the Trainee’s arm is at a 70% extension… allowing them the room for about a 2 to 4 inch follow through. Remember, punch through the target and not at it.
2.) With a Push Shuffle and full extension. Have the Trainee stretch his arm out, including fingers, and place the focus mitt right at the tips of his fingers. From this range, the Trainee will have to use closing footwork in order to strike the target. A Push Shuffle, or explosive footwork pressing off the back leg, is our chosen method of closing. This version of the drill is harder on the Trainee since the distance he has to close is greater than the previous example.

Tips for Non-Telegraphic Strikes
1) Proper Stance: An impressive amount of speed can be gained in just being properly set up and oriented toward the target. One of the things that has helped my students increase their success ratio is by telling them to “point their gun at the target”. If you had to draw down on someone you wouldn’t point your gun at the sky, you’d train it on the target! The same thing can be said for your fists. Point your knuckles of the striking hand AT the target. In a proper Bai-Jong, with hands on the center line, elbows in and DOWN, and the lead hand out in front, this will be attained pretty easily. In comparison to a boxing stance, with the hands up, you will notice you are considerably closer to the target. Though its tougher to generate power from this position, it greatly DECREASES the amount of time it takes to reach the target. With proper study of the kinetic chain, power won’t be an issue either, but thats a different article.

Bruce Lee's Focus Mitts2.) Don’t Be Stiff: The biggest, single mistake I see my students make is to tense up and become completely rigid before making the strike. They might as well yell, “NOW I’M GONNA PUNCH!!”, because its just as obvious! There seems to be this idea that you need to be completely non-telegraphic from a complete standstill. Not only is this unrealistic, its almost impossible to be non-telegraphic while attempting to launch from a complete stand still. The reason is that ANY movement you make serves to telegraph your intentions … and unless your Feeder is sleeping on the job you will probably miss most of the time.

So what’s the solution here? Move. Even if you are ‘stationary’, you want to move within your stance. Rock back and forth slightly and keep that lead hand moving like a snake waiting to strike. I guarantee you will come close to doubling your success rate with just this alone. Its much harder to detect movement when the subject is already moving. The Trigger Squeeze (initial, explosive movement) that initiates the strike is camouflaged by your ‘stalking’ movement and is much harder for the Feeder to detect that you have shifted gears into attack mode before you have already closed most of the distance.

Focus Mitt Training3.) Tells: This is where a good Feeder is important. They can TELL the Trainee what is giving away their strikes. Even when following the above two tips, you might find yourself missing more than hitting. Let your training partner help out by telling you how you gave yourself away. It can be a tensing of the jaw, a lean toward the target just before striking, a shoulder pop, clenching of the fists, or one of many other body tells. It may be something you are completely unaware of.

The other ‘tell’ is rhythm. If you establish a rhythm and try to strike the target at regular intervals it will take your partner about two strikes to pick up on it and cause you to miss every strike. Take your time and don’t be afraid to let your partner wait. Most importantly, be conscious of this fact and vary the timing between strikes. Don’t commit the cardinal sin of fighting: predictability.

Have fun with the drill and tips!

Fight Back

“Persistence is not profitable. An army is like
a fire. If you do not put it out, it will burn itself out.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art Of War

BoxerSport fighting is often a war of attrition. The aim is to knock the other fighter out… but more often than not it comes down to the better conditioned fighter (both physically and mentally). If you can’t put out the fire, you let it burn out by gassing (exhausting) them or waging a more psychological type of warfare and breaking their spirit.

In the streets, fights typically only last a few seconds. It is in your best interest to end it as quickly as possible by causing the most amount of damage in the shortest amount of time. Bruce Lee has said something to the effect of, “the longer a fight lasts, the more luck plays into it”, and you don’t want your assailant to get lucky… or give his friends time to show up to help.

The idea is to always be hitting. HIT HIT HIT. Everything else is secondary to your primary goal of hitting the assailant.

However, in some cases a war of attrition must be waged if you can not get away or end the fight yourself. Such is the case for a diminutive female facing a much larger, determined assailant. She must cause so much damage and make it so difficult for the assailant to accomplish his goal that he may begin to wonder if the benefits outweigh the risks. Remember that the criminal element is usually looking for an easy target. Get in, get out. Don’t get hurt. Don’t get caught. This is his mindset and he is rarely considering what his target of opportunity is capable of. He wants you to be cowed: to be so intimated and afraid that you submit to him so he can do what he intends to without getting caught.

Instead you fight back. YouDanger fight back hard. You make lots of noise to attract the attention of passer-bys. You fight as if your life depends on it because at this point, it probably does. If the assailant intends on taking you somewhere more secure (kidnapping, rape), understand that your window of opportunity is gone the minute you let him put you in that trunk or you otherwise co-operate.

Let your killer instinct kick in and make it a very bad day for your assailant.

Are Forms Really Bad?

I often see arguments about the validity of certain martial arts drills, especially forms (katas), energy sensitivity, footwork drills… etc…

12/3/2014 UPDATE: I have seen in a lot of arguments that Bruce Lee “threw out the forms” or “was against forms training”. This is entirely not true. By many accounts Bruce Lee advocated form training. What he WAS against was getting caught up in them and not taking the next steps in training… but thats a different article for another day.

The idea is that forms (or similar drills) are useless because they don’t simulate real combat. A lot of modern sports, such as MMA and Muay Thai train much differently than say Wing Chun or Shaolin practitioners do. There are points on either side (such as many traditionalists don’t spar enough and don‘t put enough pressure on themselves, focusing instead on minute detail in execution in what is essentially a vacuum)… but the real stupidity here is criticizing something as useless when the intent and purpose of the drill isn’t even understood.

chi saoOne drill I see come under fire a lot is Wing Chun’s “Chi Sao” (also used in many JKD circles, since our art finds its roots in Wing Chun). To the uninitiated the drill seems to simulate a game of paddycake:

To those that KNOW better that drill teaches you an exhausting amount through experience. Namely, how to move your opponent’s hands around to create openings for your line of attack. It also simultaneously secures your defense and puts a damper on their ability to stop your attack. Its energy sensitivity practiced in isolation of a lot of the other elements of combat. Its not an end-all-be-all drill, but part of a larger package that increases your efficiency as a fighter overall.

And that right there is my point: many of of these drills focus on a very specific skill and refines them in ISOLATION. After spending some time mastering the skill you then work it back into your skfocus mitt drillill set to see the bigger picture again and see what has improved or still needs to improve.

Take a simple punch. There are many variables that contribute to the success or failure of that attack: distance, timing, footwork, body mechanics, speed, etc… if ONE of these aspects are off, the attack will fail! Attempting to improve ALL of these skills at once will actually result in a slower rate of learning and skill acquisition. We isolate the details and gradually put the pieces together. It is just like putting a puzzle together: you do it piece by piece. I have yet to see anyone put a puzzle together using 5 or 6 pieces simultaneously…

This is BASIC teaching pedagogy and I don’t care if you are teaching music composition or martial arts: skills are learned in isolation because trying to learn everything at once simply won’t work. Baby steps. Learn to crawl before you sign up for that triathlon.

It all goes back to building on a specific foundation. You have to have experience! You have to have SOMETHING you can go on before you start talking about using “what is natural” or having any kind of improvisation in your fight technique. And EVERY style from Muay Thai, to boxing, to Jiu Jitsu, to Jeet Kune Do … has proven methods for developing those motor and neuro-muscular skills needed to apply the techniques in combat. Whether is a focus mitt drill or a kata… its present in all styles.

ip-man-doing-sil-lim-tao-formUnderstand that sometimes these forms exist as a compendium of the style’s techniques, and through diligent study, can reveal a lot of the methodology and underpinnings of a style’s philosophy and approach. Take Wing Chun’s Sil Nim Tao, or “little idea” form. That is exactly the purpose behind it: to provide the practitioner with a ‘reference manual’ of many of the style’s movements. Does this translate directly to combat application? No. Much in the same way a dictionary is not going to approve your ability to write a novel, it will still be a valuable tool when you do sit down to write! Look at it this way: you can’t really use a gun properly if you don’t know which side is the business end!
(Is a boxing focus mitt drill REALLY any different when looked at in this light?)

Before you practice a form or drill, or before you decide to dismiss one, ask yourself, “what is this REALLY teaching me? What do I stand to learn or improve by practicing this?”

Imagine this: you’ve never played guitar before. You come to me for guitar lessons. Instead of teaching you some basic theory, scales, chords, songs, etc … I hand you a guitar and stick you on a stage in front of 100’s or 1000’s of people and tell you to play a two hour set with this band you’ve never met. Maybe you didn’t want to do that stupid chromatic finger exercise I originally wanted to assign you, but right about now aren’t you wishing you had some prep time up worked up to this point? Its the same thing with combat. There are little nuances in skill you can not hope to develop while the adrenaline is pumping and your stress is through the roof.

Bruce Lee Core Symbol

891555_146441035524662_2023093845_oLee’s symbol for his personal art of Jeet Kune Do consists of a yin/yang symbol ringed by arrows, which are then ringed by Chinese characters.

Bruce Lee himself describes it best:
“In the yin yang symbol, there is a white spot on the black half, and a black spot on the white half. In JKD, Yang (firmness) should be concealed in Yin (gentleness) as Yin is concealed within Yang.

Thus, a JKD man should be soft, yet not yielding; firm, yet not hard. The curved arrows surrounding the Yin Yang symbol represent not only the harmonious interplay of Yin Yang but also the interchangeability of opposites.”

In Eastern Philosophy the Yin/Yang is an important symbol and holds its roots in Taoism… the “source of the water” for much of Bruce Lee’s philosophical pondering. It is a symbol that gives representation to how apparently opposite forces are actually related and how they cycle and give rise to one another. Each half of the Yin Yang contains a part of the other, representing the “yang within yin” and the “yin within yang”

Think of the saying, “Two sides of the same coin”. Many tangible dualities are thought to be a physical representation of Yin Yang (male/female, light/dark, love/hate).

This duality is the central principle of much of Chinese thought, philosophy, and martial arts. It serves the same purpose in Jeet Kune Do… where Lee is quite often quoted on seemingly contradicting phrases, such as the characters that make up the outer ring of his Core Symbol. (More on this in a bit)

enso_zen1Notice the symbolism here: there are many “circles within circles”. The ensō, or “The Zen Circle“, embodies one of the defining aspects of Zen Buddhism and something that is a core principle of Jeet Kune Do itself: the concept of “no-mind”. A state of “no-mind” is where a person is free from thoughts and emotions while being completely present in the now. It is believed that while in this state of ‘one-ness’ with the moment, true creativity and freedom can arise… something Bruce Lee was very adamant about passing down to his students.

These circles represent the constant cycles in life: birth/rebirth, life/death, day/night… and of constantly striving to refine one’s art. Learning, refining, discarding… and then repeating the process over and over.

The characters surrounding the symbol translate to: “Using no way as a way” and “Using no limitations as limitations” (I have BOTH these phrases as large wall scrolls in my home kwoon).

Both these phrases seem to contain contradicting phrases… but this is the way that Chinese and other Eastern philosophies are taught: the answer is not given to you. You must seek within yourself to discover the truth.

The phrases and koans and apparent double speak of Taoism, Zen, and Buddhism are designed to force you TO THINK and to ultimately forge you own path. It will result in an experience that is richer and much better understood by the student, rather than a false understanding of an answer given without the work involved.

Its like trying to explain to someone who has never had sweets how sugar tastes: the words will always fail you. Experience is the only real teacher. Your student will just have to go taste the sugar for themselves.

Back of Shirt - Dragon JKD

Both phrases represent not being bound by dogma of traditional martial arts, the dogma of others… or even your own dogma! Bruce was very vocal about the trappings of traditional martial arts training in his day. Little to no thought was given to the student’s individual needs, wants, and desires. Rather, a “one size fits all” approach was thrown at students… whether it did indeed fit them or not, and they can confine to an uncomfortable, ill-fitted system, or leave the hall.

The characters can be thought of as representing a “circle without a circumference” … your art is defined by your experience… but since your experience is always changing… so is the circumference of the circle.

Our own symbol pays homage to Lee’s Core Symbol. The principles laid out by him so long ago gives direction to our training.

Bruce Lee’s Meditation

Bruce Lee
I have a very unique lesson for you today.

The benefits of meditation are already well documented. Its a practice that has existed for thousands of years. In today’s tumultuous world the sights, sounds, and information we are absolutely blasted with on a daily basis does a lot to drown out our own inner monologue. If we are to find peace with the outside world, we must first find peace within.

The mind is like a dirty glass of water: let it sit still and eventually the dirt and water separate, allowing one to see clearly again. Our thoughts will tear through our own minds like a typhoon… even when our bodies rest our minds never stop. It is up to us to seek refuge in the storm.

This practice is called ‘focus meditation’ and is an exercise that Bruce Lee himself used and has credited to his calm persona during times of duress. Those who were with him would say he almost looked sleepy, but he was focused so intently on the moment his own techniques flowed forth like water. Whether its sparring or playing music, the tea ceremony or nailing that presentation at work… we all seek that freedom… that oneness with our art.

Here is a way to attain that.

In the link below you will find a 15 minute audio of a busy city street panned to the left, and the sound of water dripping panned to the right. Use headphones for the best result. You can start by focusing on and steadying the breath, but eventually you want to focus on that dripping sound and drown out ALL other distractions. If you find your mind wandering, don’t scold yourself, just bring it right back to the dripping.

The Tao of Jeet Kune Do exists within.

Be like water.

The Heart of Simplicity

I’ve mentioned before of the simplicity of Jeet Kune Do.

I’ve also mentioned that there is a lifetime of learning in such a simple system.

There are a few perspectives on this. The first, is that if you want to be good at anything you have to really put your heart and soul into it. This is where most people fail to unlock their true potential. The mind holds them back.

Bruce Lee was quoted as saying, “I do not fear the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks. I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. There is so much truth in this statement.

It is that raw repetition that will make you good. And no, he wasn’t kidding about the number. I think after throwing around 10,000 of the same technique you will be moderately decent at it by then. It takes a lot to program the neuromuscular system. Careful, consistent, deliberate practice. Again and again. Most people don’t have the heart for this. They want to bounce from technique to technique not realizing they are falling short of mastering much of anything.

They are actually confusing the neuromuscular system and shortchanging themselves on achieving totality. On achieving truth in combat. Give your body too many options for a given scenario and your response time slows. In a fight, this means you get hurt.

Once you know the basics the formula is simple: want power in your Straight Lead? Do it 10,000 times. Want speed? Do it 10,000 more. Its not glamorous, but this is how you get the job done. There is no room in this training hall for weak hearts. It takes a long time to achieve ’emptiness’ in anything.

To quote Bruce again, “it hits all by itself” only happens after the work has been put in.

Careful, consistent, deliberate practice.

You can never practice the basics enough.

Jeet Kune Do: Original vs. Concepts

A little Jeet Kune Do lesson for you today:

There is a misunderstanding in the Jeet Kune Do community that in my short time as an instructor, I have been approached about it by every student so far. It is a rift in the collective thinking of the community that is bound to show up if you do a little research into JKD.

Basically its the argument posed by two separate camps within the Jeet Kune Do community: Original and Concepts.

Those from the Original camp believe that Jeet Kune Do should be taught as Bruce Lee left it at the time of his death, with no personal modifications made to the system from instructor to instructor.

Concept believes that practitioners should embrace Bruce Lee’s original philosophy of, “taking what works, discarding what doesn’t, and adding in what is uniquely your own”, creating an ever evolving fighting system from instructor to instructor.

In my opinion, the misunderstanding is in the thinking that these are two separate things… when in fact, they are two sides to the same coin.

I could expound on this more, but I’ll say this simply:
1. Stick to the nucleus
2. Liberate from the nucleus
3. Return to original freedom

Down, But Not Out!

Above is a well known Zen quote, “fall down seven times, get up eight”… and did I take a major fall this past week

I am more determined than ever in my journey in the martial arts, and that led to a rather intense training regiment that I followed for five days a week. I started to feel what I can only describe as a tightness in my left calf muscle, but I shrugged it off as a minor annoyance and increased the intensity of my training.

Lesson 1: Listen to your body!
I paid the price for not listening and at least going easy on the kicking drills. During a training session I pivoted to kick with my right leg and felt an unnerving “pop” in my left calf. At first there was no pain, but it was more than obvious I could no longer put any weight on it (the pain came about 5 minutes later). A trip to the ER two hours later proved I tore the muscle and would have to stay off my feet for a minimum of a week. This was frustrating to say the least. I was unable to walk without assistance and it took nearly five days before I could support my own weight on the bad leg. I still can’t pivot on the foot and certain movements stand as a constant reminder of my mistake. It will probably be another week or two before I can include kicking in my training regiment.

Seven times down, eight times up
“Include?”, you may say. Correct. I never stopped training. I went stir crazy after less than 24 hours of not being able to walk to the bathroom without it being an ordeal. I found I was able to travel around my house on my hands and knees way faster than I could on crutches… so that became my new mode of travel. I’m sure it was hysterical to watch.

With my new mode of travel I realized I could pretty much do whatever I wanted so long as it didn’t involve engaging that particular calf muscle. I sat down to come up with a list of what I could do to continue training on some level. Kicks were certainly out… but that doesn’t stop me from pulling up a chair to my heavy bag and working on some punching drills.

trainingPictured here on the left is the workout regiment that I came up with. Every drill and exercise here allows me to work around the fact that I can’t stand up under my own support. I’ve included situps, half kettlebell getups, pushups while being braced on my knees (the regular way would aggravate my injury), as well as various hand drills including basic block and counters and using a jook wan ring to refine my form.

“If I fall I will get back up. If I am beaten I will return”

The whole point of my experience here is to hopefully teach you to carry on in the face of adversity: whether its an injury or something more personal in your life. With a little thought, less whining, and more action you will see more progress than you ever thought imaginable. So many of Bruce Lee’s teachings come back to this very point and I can think of a number of quotes to support it:

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
Stop talking, stop thinking and just do. I like to say, “Ready, FIRE, Aim… then FIRE again!” If you keep talking about a thing, you will never get it done.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
This is a classic Bruce Lee quote, with the last sentence probably being his most famous line. He is essentially saying that sometimes, a head on approach is not going to work for a particular obstacle in life. You need to think outside the box to overcome it. Be like water.

When it’s path is blocked, water will build up and pool behind the object blocking it. This is akin to resting: taking a step back and assessing the situation. Think about it. What can you do to get past this roadblock? Now eventually one of two things will happen. The first is that enough water will build up behind this object that the pressure against it will cause the object to give way; allowing it to continue on unobstructed. This could mean that you merely need to gather your strength. I could have taken this approach. Simply waiting out my injury and allowing myself to heal. Or maybe the second thing will happen…

The water will continue to build behind this object until it finds another way around it and flows down this new path. I decided on a training regiment that allowed me to work around my injury, rather than waiting it out.

Be like the river making its way down from the mountains to the ocean. Let nothing stand in your way.

Be like water, my friends.

Jeet Kune Do Self Defense Lesson 2 – Closest Weapon, Closest Target

In the first part of this series, I discussed the three main ways a martial artist can counter an attack. In this article I hope to shine light on another Jeet Kune Do principle, “Closest weapon to closest target”.

Let’s call this principle CWCT. The picture at right is a brilliant example of this concept caught in a still frame. In the example here the assailant on the left has thrown a right lead punch at Bruce Lee, who parries with a Pak Sau technique while simultaneously striking his opponent’s forward knee with a side kick. Applying the CWCT Principal, we can see that because of the assailant’s stance his right leg was the closest thing to Bruce Lee. Now, because of Bruce Lee’s stance, his right leg was the closest thing to his assailant. This is pretty typical of a situation where you find your opponent attempting to bridge the gap between you and him. As the assailant closed in to strike with his lead hand, Bruce deflects the attack with his left hand while simultaneously striking his opponent in the knee with a devastating side kick.

In a street fight this would cripple your assailant and this does not even take into account any other follow up techniques you may use (another principal in Jeet Kune Do would be to HIT, HIT, HIT… but we can discuss that another time). If the opponent began their attack further back, the Pak Sau would not even be needed as your leg has a much better reach than the assailant’s arm.

The basic principle behind this is that the shortest path between two objects is a straight line. Most of the striking in Jeet Kune Do is done from the lead side for this reason: shorter distance to travel than the rear side. In MOST cases this will be your opponent’s lead leg as the closest target and YOUR lead leg as the closest weapon. There are cases where you may find your opponent too close to initiate a kick and in this situation it is your lead hand as the weapon and their face as the target. I’ve been in situations where a sparring partner punches and pitches forward considerably, thus making their head an ample target. There is also another concept of attacking the opponent’s GUARD to open up room for another strike.

The reason behind this simple Jeet Kune Do concept is speed. Less time for your attack to reach your opponent means they will have less of a chance of doing something about it. You can also use these much faster strikes to set your opponent up for a much more devastating finishing blow.