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.

My teacher has likened the mind to 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.

The Importance of Breath

Punched in the face

Pictured: hesitation

Timing is everything in the martial arts. Time a punch wrong and it ends up countered instead of being a solid hit. Hesitate too much on a parry and you end up getting struck. There are different levels of timing. Even just being in the wrong place at the wrong time is an example of this. There are ways of taking advantage of an opponents rhythm to score hits: this is another example of timing. The aspect of timing I would like to talk about today is the breath.

This is one of those subjects that tends to elude amateur martial artists. When you are in a confrontation there are two breaths you should be paying attention to: yours and your opponents.

Ever notice how you can audibly hear a boxer breathe out on some of his strikes? Breathing out sharply as you throw a powerful blow adds power to your strike. Don’t believe me? Its quite easy to test: simply strike a punching bag as hard as you can while holding your breath. Now, strike it again, but this time exhale sharply from your mouth with a sharp “ssssss” sound. You will notice it is much easier to apply power in this fashion. This is also important on most of your techniques and can quicken your reaction time on a parry and slipping an opponent’s blow. Now, you won’t be able to breathe out on each blow, especially if you throw a fast combination. Try this combo: throw two jabs with your lead hand, then sink down by bending at the knees, rotate your hips and throw a rear handed hook into the punching bag, breathing out sharply as you do so. If this was your opponent’s ribs, there is a good chance you just broke one or two of them.

There is a level of timing that can be difficult to master, but it involves watching your opponent’s breath. Just as you empty your lungs as you throw a strike, you can watch your opponent’s breath and time your strikes to do even more damage. How? When your opponent breathes in, attack. You can knock the wind right out of him if you time your strike to connect as they inhale. This is easier to tell if your opponent is winded. This will have great results if you are able to land the blow in areas like the floating ribs or solar plexus, but it can add to the effectiveness of any strike. If your opponent suddenly attacks you while you start inhaling, quickly push the air back out while you prepare your defense. If he lands the hit, this just might keep you from losing the fight then and there.

Every one of us has had the wind knocked out of us at one point or another. Its not a good feeling. And its not the position you want to be in during a fight, but its a wonderful place to put your opponent.

Jeet Kune Do Self Defense Lesson 1 – The Three Levels of Countering

When you are being attacked there are essentially three categories of self defense:

  1. Defense followed by a counter
  2. Defense and counter combined
  3. No defense, direct counter

I will go over each in turn.

Defense followed by counter.

Karate Styled Block

Karate Styled Block

This is essentially the least economical of the three, but it is better than simply dodging or blocking the attack. It is certainly WAY better than stopping a haymaker with your head.
Quite often associated with classical styles (and boxing) the block and the counterattack come as two separate motions. First the attack is blocked, or absorbed, then the counterattack is issued. The inherent problem with this is that it gives your opponent too much time to react: they will either issue a second attack hot on the heels of the first, or be able to place themselves in a superior position to avoid your counter strike. A slight advantage is usually given to the attacker and this method can make it difficult to even the playing field. To be effective in self defense it is best to not rely on blocks: you need to be faster than this.

Defense and counter combined

Taan Da Technique

Taan Da Technique

I find this method to be much more suitable to self defense than the first as it cuts the time between the block and the counterattack literally in half. Rather than the block and counter issued separately (count: one, two), they are issued TOGETHER (count: one). A fighting style that makes extensive use of this method is Wing Chun Kungfu. A common technique, known as a Taan Da (or “Dispersing Spring Strike”) uses a parry technique known as a Taan Sau to turn the attack aside, while simultaneously delivering a straight punch with the other hand to the opponents jaw. The advantage to this is once the opponent realizes their offensive has failed, they have also been struck. It CAN be disorienting when executed against an untrained fighter and has the ability to open up opportunities to press your attack. As mentioned before, a slight advantage is given to the attacker, so this allows you to defend yourself while taking the offensive at the same time and can help you gain ground on your opponent quickly.

No defense, direct counter

Intercepting technique - photo courtesy of

Intercepting technique – photo courtesy of

This is the most economical of the three methods of self defense. One can simply sidestep an over-committed opponent and land a straight blast to their ribs or face.
This is the preferred method of Jeet Kune Do. Every strike is a defense and every defense a strike. This is what is meant by “Intercepting Fist” (or leg…). As your opponent throws a right-handed haymaker you simply step to the left and drive a right handed straight punch or Bill Jee over the top of his arm, essentially parrying and striking your opponent with the same technique. Very similar techniques can be seen in the sword arts, such as Fencing. (In fact, Bruce Lee was largely influenced by his brother’s fencing abilities and he saw the value in the system’s parrying and footwork techniques).
An opponent’s attack can also be intercepted at the onset. The same haymaker as above is thrown and you can target your opponents bicep with a hard, stop-hit strike or even step in and push off the opponents arm. The same thing can be done with the leg. If your opponent initiates a rear-legged Muay Thai styled kick, you can stop the kick before it gains any momentum by bursting forward and attacking their shin or hip with the much quicker lead leg side kick.
Interception can be one of the hardest things to master for some in Jeet Kune Do, but it is one of the most important components in self defense. It requires you to have a ‘killer instinct’. Our natural reaction when being attacked is to step AWAY from the incoming blow, NOT toward it! However, this conviction is necessary for your interception to be successful. Hesitate but for a fraction of a second and your interception will fail. Let Bruce Lee’s own words be your guide on this:

“Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life! Do not be concerned with escaping safely- lay your life before him!!”
– Bruce Lee

This was the reason Bruce Lee was so fast. He went beyond simply intercepting an attack: he learned to intercept his opponent’s intent. If you know it’s going down and you can’t get away… might as well beat them to the punch. Literally.




The Octagon

The Octagon

Bruce Lee is quite often labeled as the grandfather of the modern MMA movement, so there is no surprise to me that there is some debate about whether JKD is MMA or whether MMA is better than JKD. Many even wonder if MMA would’ve been the direction Bruce took with JKD were he still alive today. Jeet Kune Do is quite often described as a mixture of many different arts, not completely dissimilar to MMA however, I believe this is false understanding of what JKD actually is. Simply stating “JKD is MMA” is showing a lack of understanding as to what the core concepts, philosophy and techniques that make up JKD are.

So how is JKD different from MMA? When someone refers to an MMA fighter they are usually speaking about the different branches of martial arts that make up that fighter’s arsenal: whether it is Jiujitsu, Muay Thai or wrestling. I, and many JKD enthusiasts, consider JKD to be a fighting style of it’s own, not completely dissimilar to how Wing Chun or Shaolin Lohan are consider separate fighting styles.

First off, there is some confusion as to how Bruce put together Jeet Kune Do. He was a student of the arts first and foremost, and therefore owned THOUSANDS of books on the subject. He studied and trained with everyone he could. It is this thirst for knowledge that may have lead many to believe that Bruce was just picking and choosing from all the different styles he studied, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In truth, Jeet Kune Do has it’s own set of core techniques and philosophies that set it far apart from many of the other fighting arts out there. Bruce prided his system on directness and simplicity. He believed with a small arsenal of 10, well-trained tools you could get the job done better than you could with a complex system consisting of dozens of techniques. So unlike MMA which IS an amalgamation of different martial arts, Bruce Lee has crystallized Jeet Kune Do into its own system with its own core values different from anything else out there.


Jerry Poteet intercepts an incoming kick with a Leg Obstruction

Jerry Poteet intercepts an incoming kick with a Leg Obstruction

Principle of Interception

Jeet Kune Do actually translates to “The Way of the Intercepting Fist” and it is this core concept that drove a lot of the decisions Bruce Lee made about what was going into his system. Pictured at right is a technique called a “Leg Obstruction” and shows Sifu Jerry Poteet intercepting a kick. Punches and kicks can be intercepted, but so can intent and Jeet Kune Do trains it’s students to be able to recognize threats and attacks on their onset just as they are forming. Jeet Kune Do practitioners practice maintaining a distance known as the “Fighting Measure” that forces the opponent to step in to launch an attack, giving the practitioner the window to intercept what is coming in. In order to maintain this we touch on two other principles: simplicity and directness. These facilitate speed and explosiveness, which are other hallmarks to Jeet Kune Do. I can easily write volumes on this subject alone, but hopefully you can start to see from this paragraph that Jeet Kune Do is more than a bunch of styles and disciplines mashed together: it is one in its own right.

Ground and Pound

Ground and Pound

Jeet Kune Do is not MMA, STAY OFF THE GROUND!
This phrase really helps bring to light some of the major differences in the two fighting styles. I am quite often asked what is the better martial art: Jeet Kune Do or Mixed Martial Arts? Let me get out of the way that I don’t believe in better systems; only better martial artists. If I loose a fight to an MMA fighter, it doesn’t mean his SYSTEM is better, it means HE is better and I need to train more! With that said, there are major differences in HOW the systems are applied:

In MMA, its quite obvious that a fighter with a dominating ground game will come out the victor again and again. You are in a ring squaring off against a single fighter. Take the guy down! In a street fight, taking a guy to the ground is a horrible idea. This is why JKD doesn’t emphasis ground fighting. You need to use your footwork to stay OFF the ground. The mistake some MMA fighters do is take a guy to the ground in a street altercation. Getting a guy in a full mount only to get a baseball bat to the back of your head from one of his buddies can’t be considered effective. I’ve seen photos of guys with horrible knife wounds in their backs because they thought taking someone to the ground was the way to go, only to find out his buddy was standing right there with a blade.

The difference in JKD and MMA is that one is a dirty, street savvy form of self defense and the other is a sport combative; meant to be practiced in the ring with rules and guidelines as to what can be used against an opponent. Look up the rules to a UFC fight, and you will see a whole list of techniques that you can use on the street to get yourself out of trouble! Many of the techniques in Jeet Kune Do, if used in the ring, would get you disqualified FAST. Bill Jee (eye strikes), groin strikes, targeting the back of the head: this is just small example of what I would use in a street fight that would get me thrown out of any MMA organization. The strikes are designed to cause maximum damage in a short amount of time. No matter how much of a rivalry two UFC fighters may have, they still want the other guy to go home to his family at the end of the fight.

I hope this article shines some light on a popular debate.

Principals of Self Defense

dark-street-ipad-backgroundIts late at night. You just got out of a friend’s party and remember you couldn’t find parking close to the building. You had to park several blocks down the street. You’ve been to the neighborhood before and know it well. You, safe in your knowledge of the area, walk confidently toward your car. You are lost in your own false sense of security, not really thinking anything could go bad. Why should it? You’ve been down this road dozens of time before…
but that is when you notice him: he’s standing just inside an alleyway, only half illuminated by the nearest street lamp. You can’t explain it, but instantly you are gripped with fear: why is this guy just standing there? Is he waiting for me? Is he going to mug me? Something is not right about this situation. You can feel it in your gut.

What if you ARE attacked by this thug? What do you do? How do you keep yourself safe? Let’s be serious: the best self defense is the one that keeps you out of a dangerous situation to begin with. At this point you are realizing walking to your car alone was a bad idea. What if you didn’t see this guy at all? What if you walked right by the alleyway and then…

We hear it in the news all too often. People are usually attacked in the familiar territory of their own neighborhoods. A lot of this can be contributed to lack of awareness. When we are in a new area, our senses feel as if they have been heightened; actively scanning every sound and every movement. As we get familiar with an area we tend to let our guard down, and THIS is when trouble can occur.

I aim to provide you with the practical knowledge to keep yourself safe in a situation like the one described above.

A mysterious figure

A mysterious figure

Tip #1 Stay Alert
In the scenario above we are not actively paying attention to our surroundings and this inattentiveness could have you walking right into trouble. One of the first tips I can give you is stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you. You do not need to be paranoid, but don’t be walking down a dark avenue at night texting on your cell phone either.
Watch for shadows around you and use lights to your advantage. For example, when you pass under a street lamp the shadow of the person behind you will be thrown up in front of you. Passing cars and practically any source of light will do the same thing. Try to avoid areas of deep shadow and on particularly quiet streets, listen for footsteps. Always stay alert.

Tip #2 Travel in Groups
Safety in numbers. A thug is less likely to attack you if you are not alone however, couples can still be in danger. Try to travel in larger groups if at all possible. If the area you are in really isn’t safe at all, try to have someone pick you up if traveling in a group is not an option.

Tip #3 Watch Your Path of Travel
Walk on the curb nearest to the street or directly in the middle of the lane of travel. Try to stay as far away as you can from entrances to dark alleyways. This will increase your chances of either getting away or successfully defending yourself should someone jump from the shadows. If you feel unsafe passing somebody walking toward or behind you try crossing the street if possible. If this person follows you then you can be sure of their intent.

The main thing is to see the attack coming. If you are threatened you can run, scream, or do whatever you need to to alert someone in your immediate surroundings. Most of these assailant’s attacks will depend on stealth and if their cover is blown you may have just saved your own life. Be alert and you are just halfway successful.

What do you do if you are confronted anyway? What if the thug had no intent on hiding himself in the first place? What do you do if you are attacked and unable to get away?

Tip #4 Get Self Defense Training
Let’s be realistic here: the best chance in successfully defending yourself is to have training IN self defense (whether its JKD or another, practical martial art). You don’t need to be a Grandmaster, but a little training can go a long way. (You can always contact me for just that kind of training). Try to pick an instructor that is going to teach you practical forms of self defense. An assailant will rarely consider what you are capable of. Demonstrating effective self defense techniques can have a psychological impact and take the wind out of the attacker’s sails.

Dan's Karambit

Dan’s Karambit

Tip #5 Carry a Weapon
I strongly believe that one should be armed, especially if you are a woman of a diminutive status. Check with your local law enforcement to find out what is legal to carry. A small blade is usually fine. I prefer a Karambit. Mine in particular is a folder (the blade FOLDS into the handle, switchblades are illegal), the blade is not too long and only sharpened on one side. It’s perfectly legal for me to carry such a blade. Usually the threat of a blade can be enough to make an attacker change their mind about approaching you, especially if you look like you know how to use it.
If you are walking in a dangerous area I suggest keeping your hand on the weapon but don’t have it drawn… either keep it in your pocket or purse and be ready at a moment’s notice. Speed is important: I’ve learned to draw and open my Karambit using a single hand from this position. The blade makes a loud *CLICK* when it snaps open, and that could get their attention.
In Jeet Kune Do, most of your empty hand techniques will transfer over to a blade with minimal adjustment, making it the perfect tool for self defense if you have the training.

In lieu of a weapon you can grip your car keys between your fingers and use them as stabbing implements should an assailant get their hands on you. (A car key to the face will be a nice surprise to a would-be attacker).

UPDATE: I saw keychainthese online at and thought they would be a good fit for someone that doesn’t want to carry a knife, but at least wants SOMETHING to help out in a bad situation. Now, you won’t have to worry about breaking your car key ;)

Tip #6 Empty Hand Techniques
The situation may arise where you are either unarmed or caught off guard and unable to draw your weapon. Speed will be your most valuable asset, and that only comes with training. Look for targets of opportunity to strike: eyes, groin and throat are perfect. Don’t be afraid to grab flesh and twist it, bite your assailant, scratch (REALLY dig in), strike for the throat, knee/punch/grab the groin, or try to jam your fingers in their eyes. Show them no mercy and attack with everything you’ve got! It could be life or death.

Think about what is the closest weapon and the closest target is. Its usually your forward leg and your assailants knee. A swift blow to the knee can cripple an advancing attacker, especially if a feint is used to bring their attention elsewhere.

It is not my intention to make anyone fear going out at night, but I believe it to be important to educate everyone I can on this kind of safety. I have a wife and two children: I think everyday about what I can teach them in the hopes they will be able to take care of themselves if I am not around. Protect yourselves and protect your family.

I hope you found this article to be educational. It would not be a bad idea to take some self defense classes and learn how to implement some of these techniques in a controlled environment.