Jeet Kune Do (Chinese: 截拳道 )
"Way of the Intercepting Fist", also Jeet Kun Do or JKD, is a martial art
and philosophy developed by martial artist and actor Bruce Lee.In 2004, the
Bruce Lee Foundation decided to use the name
Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (振藩截拳道) to refer to the martial art that Lee founded.
"Jun Fan" was Lee's Chinese given name, so the literal translation is "Bruce
Lee's Way of the Intercepting Fist."
The core concepts of JKD are
derived from Wing Chun (such as center line control, vertical punching,
trapping, and forward pressure).Lee incorporated the fluidity of European
boxing and fencing stances. Lee stated that they allowed him to "flow"
rather than being stuck in stances. For instance, instead of using footwork
to position the body for maximum fighting position versus the opponent,
Bruce Lee used flowing "entries" that do not require "bridges" from Wing
Chun. Bruce Lee wanted to create a martial art that was unbounded and free.
Later during the development of JKD, he would expand that notion and include
the art for personal development, not just to become a better fighter. To
illustrate Lee's views, in a 1971 Black Belt Magazine article, Lee said
"Let it be
understood once and for all that I have NOT invented a new style, composite
or modification. I have in no way set Jeet Kune Do within a distinct form
governed by laws that distinguish it from 'this' style or 'that' method. On
the contrary, I hope to free my comrades from bondage to styles, patterns
One of the theories of JKD is that a fighter should do whatever is necessary
to defend himself, regardless of where the techniques come from. JKD is
currently seen as the genesis of the modern state of hybrid martial arts.
JKD advocates that any practitioner be allowed to interpret techniques for
themselves, and change them for their own purposes. Lee felt that the
dominant or strongest hand should be in the lead because it would perform a
greater percentage of the work. Lee minimized the use of other stances
except when circumstances warranted such actions. Although the On-Guard
position is a good overall stance, it is by no means the only one. Lee
acknowledged that there were times when other positions should be utilized.
Lee felt the dynamic property of JKD was what
enabled its practitioners to adapt to the constant changes and fluctuations
of live combat. Lee believed that these decisions should be done within the
context of "real combat" and/or "all out sparring". He believed that it was
only in this environment that a person could actually deem a technique
worthy of adoption.
Bruce Lee has been considered by UFC president Dana White as the "father of
mixed martial arts". Many consider Jeet Kune Do to be the precursor of MMA
because of its syncretic nature. This is particularly the case with respect
to the JKD "Combat Ranges". A JKD student is expected to learn various
combat systems within each combat range, and thus to be effective in all of
them, just as in MMA.
The three guidelines for centerline are: 1)The one who controls the centerline will control the fight.
2)Protect and maintain your own centerline while you control and exploit
3)Control the centerline by occupying it
JKD practitioners believe
that techniques should contain the following properties: Non-Classical - No prearranged movements, adaptation & subconscious
spontaneity over cognitive thought.
Directness - No passive movements, every move contains within itself the
potential to end the fight.
Simplicity - Non complexity, each movement should contain within itself
economy of motion & effort
Bruce Jun Fan Lee
(李振藩; pinyin: LI Zhènfān; 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was born in the
hour of the dragon, between 7 – 9 a.m., in the Year of the Dragon according
to the Chinese zodiac calendar, November 27, 1940, at the Chinese Hospital
in San Francisco’s Chinatown. His father, Lee Hoi-Chuen (李海泉), was Chinese,
and his Catholic mother, Grace Ho (何愛瑜), was of Chinese and German ancestry.
Lee was an American-born Chinese Hong Kong martial artist, philosopher,
instructor, martial arts actor and the founder of the Jeet Kune Do combat
form. Lee and his parents returned to Hong Kong when he was three months
old. There is uncertainty about his citizenship; he was definitely a US
citizen, and he may have been a Chinese citizen and a British subject as
well (as Hong Kong people were British subjects during his childhood).
Lee Hoi Chuen was one of the leading Cantonese opera and film actors at the
time, and he was embarking on a year-long Cantonese opera performing tour,
with his family, amongst the US Chinese communities on the eve of the
Japanese invasion of Hong Kong during the Second World War. As touring was
an extremely profitable business back then, Lee had been touring the US for
many years. Although a number of his peers decided to stay in the US this
time to ride out the storm, Lee decided to go back to Hong Kong after his
wife gave birth to their fourth child, due partially to homesickness and
partially to a miscalculation on his part. Within months, Hong Kong was
invaded (at the same time of the Pearl Harbor attack) and the Lees lived the
ensuing 3 years and 8 months under brutal Japanese occupation. The Lee
family managed to survive the war and actually had done reasonably well. Lee
Hoi Chuen would resume his acting career and become even a bigger star
during the ensuing rebuilding years.
Bruce Lee's mother Grace had an even more impressive background. She
belonged to one of wealthiest and most powerful clans in Hong Kong, the Ho
Tungs, Hong Kong's answer to the Rockefellers and the Kennedys. She was the
niece of Sir Robert Ho Tung, patriarch of the clan. As such, the young Bruce
Lee grew up in an affluent and privileged environment.
He is widely regarded as the most influential martial artist of the
twentieth century and a cultural icon.
Education and family
After attending Tak Sun School (德信學校) located just a couple of blocks from
his home at 218 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Lee entered the primary school
division of the prestigious La Salle College (喇沙書院) in 1950 or 1952 (at the
age of 10 or 12). In around 1956, due to poor academic performance (and/or
possibly poor conduct as well), he was transferred to St. Francis Xavier's
College (high school) where he would be mentored by Brother Edward, a
Catholic monk (originally from Germany spending his entire adult life in
China and then Hong Kong), teacher, and coach of the school boxing team. In
the spring of 1959, Lee got into yet another street fight and the police
were called. Confirming the police's fear that Bruce Lee's fighting opponent
this time had organized crime background and a possible contract was out for
his life, in April 1959 his parents decided to send him to the United States
to meet up with his older sister Agnes (李秋鳳) who was already living with
family friends in San Francisco.
At the age of 18 and a half, Lee returned to the U.S. as a native-born
citizen, with $100 in his pocket and the titles of 1957 High School Boxing
Champion and 1958 Crown Colony Cha Cha Champion (or second place) of Hong
Kong, to further his education. After living in San Francisco for several
months, he moved to Seattle in the fall of the same year (1959) to continue
his high school education and to work for Ruby Chow as a live-in waiter at
her restaurant. Ruby's husband was a co-worker and friend of his father. His
older brother Peter (李忠琛) would also join Bruce Lee in Seattle for a short
stay before moving on to Minnesota to attend college. In December 1960, Lee
completed his high school education and received his diploma from Edison
Technical School (now Seattle Central Community College, located on Capitol
Hill, Seattle). He then enrolled at the University of Washington in March
1961 majoring in philosophy, and likely also took courses in drama,
psychology, and various other subjects. It was at the University of
Washington that he met his future wife Linda Emery, whom he would marry in
Bruce Lee abandoned his university education (3 years and never graduated)
in the spring of 1964 and moved to Oakland to live with James Yimm Lee (嚴鏡海,
no relation to Bruce Lee, and his Chinese surname was actually "Yim", a
typical blunder by the immigration officials when James' father was first
immigrated to the US). Twenty years senior to Bruce Lee and a well known
Chinese martial artist in the Bay area, James Lee would join Bruce Lee to
co-found the second Jun Fan martial art studio in Oakland (the first one in
Seattle). James Lee was also responsible for introducing Bruce Lee to Ed
Parker, royalty of the US martial art world and organizer of the (Long
Beach) International Karate Championships at which Bruce Lee was later
"discovered" by Hollywood.
He had two children with Linda, Brandon Lee (1965–1993) and Shannon Lee
(1969-). Brandon, who also became an actor like his father, died in an
accident during the filming of The Crow in 1993. Shannon Lee also became an
actress and appeared in some low-budget films starting in the mid 1990s, but
has since quit acting.Bruce's baby brother Robert was a musician and member
of a popular Hong Kong beat band called The Thunderbirds was something of
heart throb in Hong Kong in the 1960's .
Through his father (Lee Hoi-Chuen), Bruce was introduced into films at a
very young age and appeared in several short black-and-white films as a
child. Lee had his first role as a baby who was carried onto the stage. By
the time he was 18, he had appeared in twenty films.
While in the United States from 1959–1964, Lee abandoned thoughts of a film
career in favor of pursuing martial arts. William Dozier invited Lee for an
audition, where Lee so impressed the producers with his lightning-fast moves
that he earned the role of Kato alongside Van Williams in the TV series The
Green Hornet. The show lasted just one season, from 1966 to 1967. Lee also
played Kato in three crossover episodes of Batman. This was followed by
guest appearances in a host of television series, including Ironside (1967)
and Here Come the Brides (1969).
In 1969, Lee made a brief appearance in his first American film Marlowe
where he played a henchman hired to intimidate private detective Philip
Marlowe (played by James Garner) by smashing up his office with leaping
kicks and flashing punches, only to later accidentally jump off a tall
building while trying to kick Marlowe off. In 1971, Lee appeared in four
episodes of the television series Longstreet as the martial arts instructor
of the title character Mike Longstreet (played by James Franciscus).
According to statements made primarily by Linda Lee Caldwell after Bruce's
death, Bruce would later pitch a television series of his own tentatively
titled The Warrior. According to Caldwell, Lee's concept was retooled and
renamed Kung Fu, but Warner Bros. gave Lee no credit. Instead the role of
the Shaolin monk in the Wild West, known to have been conceived by Bruce,was
awarded to then non-martial artist David Carradine because of the studio's
fears that a Chinese leading man would not be embraced by the public.Books
and documentaries about the show "Kung Fu" dispute Caldwell's version.
According to these sources, the show was created by two writers and
producers, Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander, and the reason Lee was not
cast was in part because of his ethnicity but moreso because he had a thick
Not happy with his supporting
roles in the U.S., Lee returned to Hong Kong and was offered a film contract
by legendary director Raymond Chow to star in films produced by his
production company Golden Harvest. Lee played his first leading role in The
Big Boss (1971) which proved an enormous box office success across Asia and
catapulted him to stardom. He soon followed up his success with two more
huge box office successes: Fist of Fury (1972) and Way of the Dragon (1972).
Way of the
Dragon, he took complete control of the film's production as the writer,
director, star, and choreographer of the fight scenes. In 1964, at a
demonstration in Long Beach, California, Lee had met karate champion
Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Norris to moviegoers as his
opponent in the final death fight at the Colosseum in Rome, today considered
one of Lee's most legendary fight scenes.
In 1973, Lee played the lead role in
Enter the Dragon, the first film to be
produced jointly by Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. This film would
skyrocket Lee to fame in the U.S. and Europe. However, only a few months
after the film's completion and three weeks before its release, the
supremely fit Lee mysteriously died. Enter the Dragon would go on to become
one of the year's highest grossing films and cement Lee as a martial arts
legend. It was made for US$850,000 in 1973 (equivalent to $4 million
adjusted for inflation as of 2007).To date, Enter the Dragon has grossed
over $200 million worldwide. The movie sparked a brief fad in the
martial-arts, epitomized in such songs as "Kung Fu Fighting" and such TV
shows as Kung Fu.
Robert Clouse, the director of
Enter the Dragon, and Raymond Chow attempted to
finish Lee's incomplete film Game of Death
which Lee was also set to write and direct. Lee had shot over 100 minutes of
footage, including outtakes, for Game of Death
before shooting was stopped to allow him to work on
Enter the Dragon. In a controversial move, Robert Clouse
finished the film using a look-alike and archive footage of Lee from his
other films with a new storyline and cast, which was released in 1979.
However, the cobbled-together film contained only fifteen minutes of actual
footage of Lee (he had printed many unsuccessful takes) while the rest had a
Lee look-alike, Tai Chung Kim, and Yuen Biao as stunt double. The unused
footage Lee had filmed was recovered 22 years later and included in the
documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey.
Abdul-Jabbar, a student of Lee, also appeared in the film,
Game Of Death, which culminates in Lee's
character, Hai Tien (clad in the now-famous yellow track suit) taking on the
7'2" basketball player in a climactic fight scene.
Martial Arts training and
development Lee's first introduction to martial arts was through his father, Lee Hoi
Cheun. He learned the fundamentals of Wu style Tai Chi Chuan from his
father. Lee's sifu, Wing Chun master Yip Man, was also a colleague and
friend of Hong Kong's Wu style Tai Chi Chuan teacher Wu Ta-ch'i.
Lee trained in Wing Chun Gung Fu from age 13–18 under Hong Kong Wing Chun
Sifu Yip Man. Lee was introduced to Yip Man in early 1954 by William Cheung,
then a live-in student of Yip Man. Like most Chinese martial arts schools at
that time, Sifu Yip Man's classes were often taught by the highest ranking
students. One of the highest ranking students under Yip Man at the time was
Wong Shun-Leung. Wong is thought to have had the largest influence on
Bruce's training. Yip Man trained Lee privately after some students refused
to train with Lee due to his ancestry ( his mother was of half German
ancestry ) as Chinese were secretive in relation to teaching maritial arts
techniques especially to foreigners.
Bruce was also trained in Western boxing and won the 1958 Boxing
Championship match against 3-time champion Gary Elms by knockout in the 3rd
round. Before arriving to the finals against Elms, Lee had knocked out 3
straight boxers in the first round. In addition, Bruce learned western
fencing techniques from his brother Peter Lee, who was a champion fencer at
At 22 Lee also met Professor Wally Jay, and began to receive informal
instruction in Jujitsu from him. The two would have long conversations about
theories surrounding the martial arts and grew to be longtime friends
Master (Sifu) Yip Man with Bruce Lee
Fights Lee set his sights upon the goal of being one of the fittest and
strongest fighters of the world, and he went through life earnestly
attempting to achieve this. Lee also competed in many martial arts
competitions around the world winning every one almost flawlessly, defeating
internationally known martial artists from many different countries. Lee
researched many arts in his life and used what he found was useful and
rejected what he did not. He also made subtle changes where he could if what
he found did not fit his specific requirements. He tended to favor
techniques where he could best take advantage of his own attributes, be it
his phenomenal speed, strength, elusiveness, or power. As seen in his films,
Lee shrieked and made high-pitched noises while moving to throw opponents
psychically off-center. Lee did say he could have beaten anybody in the
world in a real fight.
Dan Inosanto said, "there's no doubt in my mind that if Bruce Lee had gone
into pro boxing, he could easily have ranked in the top three in the
lightweight division or junior-welterweight division."
Lee had boxed in the 1959 Boxing Championships held between twelve Hong Kong
schools, a tournament in which he beat the three-time champion from another
Lee felt that many martial artists of his day did not spend enough time on
physical conditioning. Bruce included all elements of total fitness—muscular
strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. He
tried traditional bodybuilding techniques to build bulky muscles or mass.
However, Lee was careful to admonish that mental and spiritual preparation
was fundamental to the success of physical training in martial arts skills.
The weight training program
that Lee used during a stay in Hong Kong in 1965 at only 24 years old placed
heavy emphasis on his arms. At that time he could perform bicep curls at a
weight of 70 to 80lbs for three sets of eight repetitions, along with other
forms of exercises, such as squats, push-ups, reverse curls, concentration
curls, French presses, and both wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.The
repetitions he performed were 6 to 12 reps (at the time). While this method
of training targeted his fast and slow twitch muscles, it later resulted in
weight gain or muscle mass, placing Bruce a little over 160 lbs. Lee was
documented as having well over 2,500 books in his own personal library, and
eventually concluded that "A stronger muscle, is a bigger muscle", a
conclusion he later disputed. Bruce forever experimented with his training
routines to maximize his physical abilities, and push the human body to its
limits. He employed many different routines and exercises including skipping
rope, which served his training and bodybuilding purposes effectively.
Lee believed that the abdominal muscles were one of the most important
muscle groups for a martial artist, since virtually every movement requires
some degree of abdominal work. Perhaps more importantly, the "abs" are like
a shell, protecting the ribs and vital organs.
He trained from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., including stomach, flexibility, and
running, and from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. he would weight train and cycle. A
typical exercise for Lee would be to run a distance of two to six miles in
15 to 45 minutes, in which he would vary speed in 3–5 minute intervals. Lee
would ride the equivalent of 10 miles in 45 minutes on a stationary bike.
Lee would sometimes exercise with the jump rope and put in 800 jumps after
cycling. Lee would also do exercises to toughen the skin on his fists,
including thrusting his hands into buckets of harsh rocks and gravel. He
would do over 500 repetitions of this on a given day
(Above)Bruce Lee & Bolo Yeung on the set of
Enter The Dragon
(Left) Bruce Lee in
Way of The Dragon
Joe Weider, the founder of Mr. Olympia,
described Lee's physique as
"the most defined body I've ever seen!"
Linda recalls Bruce's waist fluctuated between 26 and 28 inches.According to
Linda Lee, soon after he moved to the United States, Lee started to take
nutrition seriously and developed an interest in health foods, high-protein
drinks and vitamin and mineral supplements. He later concluded that in order
to achieve a high-performance body, one could not fuel it with a diet of
junk food, and with "the wrong fuel" one's body would perform sluggishly or
sloppily. Lee also avoided baked goods, describing them as providing
calories which did nothing for his body. Lee's diet included protein drinks;
he always tried to consume one or two daily, but discontinued drinking them
later on in his life.
"He also drank his own juice concoctions made from vegetables and fruits,
apples, celery, carrots and so on, prepared in an electric blender", she
said. He consumed green vegetables, fruits, and fresh milk everyday. Bruce
always preferred to eat Chinese or other Asian food because he loved the
variety that it had. Bruce also became a heavy advocate of dietary
Rose hips (liquid form)
Wheat germ oil
Natural protein tablets (chocolate flavor)
Acerola — C
Physical Feats Lee's phenomenal fitness meant he was capable of performing many
exceptional physical feats.The following list includes some of the physical
feats that are documented and supported by reliable sources.
Lee's striking speed from three feet with his hands down by his side reached
five hundredths of a second.
Lee's combat movements were at times too fast to be captured on film at 24
frames per second, so many scenes were shot in 32 frame per second to put
Lee in slow motion.
In a speed demonstration, Lee could snatch a dime off a person's open palm
before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.
Lee would hold an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer.
Lee could throw grains of rice up into the air and then catch them in
mid-flight using chopsticks.
Lee could thrust his fingers through unopened cans of Coca-Cola. (This was
when soft drinks cans were made of steel much thicker than today's aluminium
Lee performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger.
Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.
Lee could break wooden boards 6 inches (15 cm) thick.
Lee could cause a 300-lb (136 kg) bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling
with a side kick.
Lee performed a side kick while training with James Coburn and broke a
150-lb (68 kg) punching bag
In a move that has been dubbed "Dragon Flag", Lee could perform leg lifts
with only his shoulder blades resting on the edge of a bench and suspend his
legs and torso perfectly horizontal midair
Philosophy The following quotations reflect his fighting philosophy.
"Be formless... shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it
becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put
it into a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, and it can crash.
Be water, my friend..."
"All kind of knowledge, eventually becomes self knowledge"
"Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."
"The usefulness of a cup is its emptiness"
"From form to formless and from finite to infinite. "
"The consciousness of "self" is the greatest hindrance to the proper
execution of all physical action."-This is actually a Zen or Chán maxim
which means to "be in the moment" and not be distracted by your own thought
process. The Zen quote is: "If you seek it, you will not find it". The
"Western" counterpart to this is the term "Being in the Zone".
"Do not deny the classical approach, simply as a reaction, or you will have
created another pattern and trapped yourself there."
Death of the Dragon A foreshadowing of events to come occurred on 10 May 1973, when Lee
collapsed in Golden Harvest studios while doing dubbing work for Enter the
Dragon. Suffering from full-body seizures and cerebral edema, he was
immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors were able to
reduce the swelling through the administration of mannitol and revive him.
These same symptoms that occurred in his first collapse were later repeated
on the day of his death.
On 20 July 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, due to have dinner with former James
Bond star George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to
Lee's wife Linda, Lee met producer Raymond Chow at 2 p.m. at home to discuss
the making of the movie Game of Death. They worked until 4 p.m. and then
drove together to the home of Lee's colleague Betty Ting, a Taiwanese
actress. The three went over the script at Ting's home, and then Chow left
to attend a dinner meeting.
A short time later, Lee complained of a headache, and Ting gave him an
analgesic (painkiller), Equagesic, which contained both aspirin and a muscle
relaxant. Around 7:30 p.m., he went to lie down for a nap. After Lee did not
turn up for dinner, Chow came to the apartment but could not wake Lee up. A
doctor was summoned, who spent ten minutes attempting to revive him before
sending him by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. However, Lee was dead
by the time he reached the hospital. There was no visible external injury;
however, his brain had swollen considerably, from 1,400 to 1,575 grams (a
13% increase). Lee was 32 years old. The only two substances found during
the autopsy were Equagesic and trace amounts of cannabis. On 15 October
2005, Chow stated in an interview that Lee died from a hypersensitivity to
the muscle relaxant in Equagesic, which he described as a common ingredient
in painkillers. When the doctors announced Lee's death officially, it was
ruled a "death by misadventure."
Dr. Langford, who treated Lee
for his first collapse, stated after his death that "There's not a question
in my mind that cannabis should have been named as the presumptive cause of
death." He also believed that "Equagesic was not at all involved in
Bruce's first collapse." Professor R.D. Teare, who had overseen over 100,000
autopsies, was the top expert assigned to the Lee case. Dr. Teare declared
that the presence of cannabis was mere coincidence, and added that it would
be "irresponsible and irrational" to say that it might have triggered Lee's
death. His conclusion was that the death was caused by an acute cerebral
edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the prescription pain
killing drug Equagesic. The preliminary opinion of another doctor, Peter Wu,
was that the cause of death could have been a reaction to cannabis and
Equagesic. However, Dr. Wu later backed off from this position:
"Professor Teare was a forensic scientist recommended by Scotland Yard; he
was brought in as an expert on cannabis and we can't contradict his
testimony. The dosage of cannabis is neither precise nor predictable, but
I've never known of anyone dying simply from taking it."
The exact details of Lee's death are a subject of controversy.
His wife Linda returned to her home town of Seattle, and had him buried at
lot 276 of Lakeview Cemetery. Pallbearers at his funeral on 31 July 1973
included Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Chuck Norris, George Lazenby, Dan
Inosanto, Taky Kimura, Peter Chin, and his brother, Robert Lee.
His iconic status and untimely demise fed many theories about his death,
including murder involving the Triad society and a supposed curse on him and
The curse theory was extended to his son Brandon Lee, also an actor, who
died, 20 years after his father, in a bizarre accident while filming The
Crow at the age of 28. It was released after his death and gained cult
status, as his father's last film had been and did. (The Crow was completed
with the use of computer-generated imagery and a stunt double in the few but
critical scenes that remained to be filmed.) Brandon Lee was buried beside