The word is not the thing and the description is never the described.
If performance in a specific area is indeed your goal, then the simple logic of form following function must be the standard. And everything must be tested.
As such, here is a simple paradigm for JKD following that dictate.
As well written in Mark Stewart's article:
"Lee felt that a real fight was unpredictable and that most classical styles emphasized "dead patterns" instead of live and spontaneous training. Lee believed that combative sports such as boxing and judo were practiced more realistically than most classical systems. Why? They made real impact and they practiced live training and not dead patterns. Lee also came to the conclusion the MA was Universal and that "unless there is a being with more than two arms and two legs, that there is only one style of fighting, the human style." So, Lee conceptualized martial art as a whole and embarked upon a scientific course. Not one that blended styles but one that was born of the idea of non-style, geometry and physics. One as he described as "simple, direct and non-classical" (functional). In a sense Lee's JKD is a martial art with no rules that is practiced like a combative sport with real impact (full contact) and live training."
This in my opinion is perfect.
Whether or not it's actually what he did is not relevant, unless one wishes to engage in endless, and meaningless conversations about what "Bruce lee" could do, which I find silly.
However, the ideal of it is common sense.
According to this idea that PROCESS is in and of itself the method of JKD. And that method, if one where to actually practice JKD would continue endlessly evolving. With the end goal of that process being summed up as PERFORMANCE. Performance in whatever theater of operations one is engaging in, self defense, law enforcement training, sports, health, enjoyment, etc.
As such, anything left in the curriculum from Bruce Lee's time, the "original" JKD material, would need to stand up under pressure testing against other approaches. It would need to be shown that that material, and its methods, serves as a better vehicles for people in the various theaters of operations.
If it does not show to be a better method, in a specific field of operations, and yet one insists on leaving it in instead of replacing it with a more efficient method, then yes you have created another traditional Martial arts "style". Fixed in time, ceasing to evolve, and therefore no longer "cutting edge".
"This approach was very revolutionary during the time of its creation"
Yes and no. Yes it was in the America of the 60's. No it was not within the history of the USA and the world. There are no new thoughts.
I own a book called "The New Science of Weaponless Defense" By a man named Prof. F.S. Lewis. In that book he talks about strong side forward, using a strong lead vertical power jab. A lead leg kick to the shin, the ideal of interception, simultaneous parry and hit, the importance of knowing all ranges, the need for physical conditioning, etc. It also contains pictures of the mount, guard position, etc. This book was written in the United States and published in 1906.
As King Solomon says in the good book, there is nothing new under the sun.
"and is still quite rare today."
Yes and no. Quite rare in what field of operations? In Law Enforcement training? No, there are programs now for LE training, such as Luis's ISRMatrix which are cutting edge and leading the way for a new, safer, more functional paradigm of training for Police.
Quite rare for Martial Arts? Negative, every good MMA Gym in this country cross trains and comes up with new and cutting edge methods of 'beating people up'.
The word is not the thing and the description is never the described.
Quite rare for self defense schools? No, I think Tony Blauer and others have made headway way beyond what Bruce Lee was doing in his time.
Quite rare for traditional Martial Arts and the majority of "JKD" schools? YES, absolutely. I would agree with that 100%. Sadly most JKD schools around the world are using an abundance of dead patterns, and training methods that will by design develop habits in athletes that may likely cause them to get hurt when trying their stuff against the pressure of a real attacker.
What is especialy ironic in this case is that the above stated description of JKD is indeed very rare within the JKD community itself.
If you do not label MMA as a form of JKD, at least within the theater of operations we call "sport" then for that view to be logical, and reconciled with the above stated description, one would have to do one of two things.
You either have to say that the "JKD" you are now speaking of is no longer:
"Not one that blended styles but one that was born of the idea of non-style, geometry and physics. One as he described as "simple, direct and non-classical" (functional). In a sense Lee's JKD is a martial art with no rules that is practiced like a combative sport with real impact (full contact) and live training."
Or you have to show how the "JKD" you are speaking of IS the most logical and FUNCTIONAL method within a specific theater of operation.
Because if one where to stand by the above stated description the PERFORMANCE would be the simple proof of the pudding. Not the performance of ONE athlete or fighter of course. That is not "scientific". But the performance of multiple athletes, over a period of time, which clearly shows one specific technique, strategy, training method, or "ideal", to be more FUNCTIONAL then others.
Which is back to the point of what we have done at SBGi, and what Burton Richardson has also done. We have based our training, methods, and curriculum on what has shown to work best under the pressure of an aggressive resisting attacker in a specific field of operations. Be it self defense scenarios', MMA fights, Law Enforcement training, etc.
As an example, both Burton and I use the boxing blast instead of the vertical fist rolling punch blast. Why? Because it has proven itself to be far safer, more powerful, and more FUNCTIONAL.
In addition, all the SBGi Gyms have now switched to the CM boxing method taught developed by Rodney King. As for myself, I started boxing at 11 Years old, and have been around traditional western boxing for decades. Other Gym coaches such as Adam and Rory Singer also have deep rooted boxing experience. We ALL switched to CM boxing because it has shown itself to work ten times better for the students walking through my door when the spar full contact, as compared to the more traditional boxing methods of defense which are more attribute based.
As for "trapping" we threw almost all of it out, and replaced it with clinch material. I had thrown most of it out Years ago, as it clearly does not function. But when I first met Randy Couture when he first began his MMA journey I realized what the missing link in the chain was, and what we had to ad in there. PROPER clinch.
There was of course some clinch before, but to understand what a PROPER clinch is like one needs to really feel what a great Greco athlete can do. Just as one needs to experience life on the ground with a seasoned BJJ player or black belt to understand just how dangerous they can be on the mat. There were no questions as to what needed to be added.
The same holds true for the weapons curriculum. The typical 'Kali' drills taught can often be more harm to the user. But Karl Tanswell developed a method that actually works, and is FUNCTIONAL when it comes to defending against a blade. It's not speculation, as we have tested it thousands of times now in a completely Alive environment.
So as you can see the basic rule for one interested in training for PERFORMANCE is rather simple. . . .
FORM MUST FOLLOW FUNCTION
Not the other way around.
So according to that rule, the root delivery systems of stand up, clinch, and ground, need to be taught and learned. These delivery systems have already been created by experts in their respective fields.
Which is not to say that they no longer EVOLVE.
However, as an example. If one where a white belt SKILL LEVEL (the belt being only a sign post of skill in this sense) in BJJ, and then believe you are ready to start creating your own delivery system on the ground would be silly, and a lesson in futility. One would need to learn guard, mount, crossides, headlock escapes, etc. Why re invent the wheel?
Likewise, if you have little to no experience in the real clinch skills of a seasoned Greco player, then one needs to become familiar with those positions of underhooks, overhooks, bodylocks, 2 on 1's, and neck ties.
This is simply because it IS true what was stated above; a human being only has two arms and two legs, and every conceivable position you can find yourself in when it comes to the clinch has already been researched and trained by those experts. Likewise, those experts have researched every position you will find the human body in on the ground.
Those positions and ROOT SKILLS are the DELIVERY SYSTEM.
Now as each athlete/fighter develops his/her skills in those DELIVERY SYSTEMS they will discover what aspects of those DS's work for their individual BODY, MIND, and EMOTIONAL make up. And they will begin developing their own sense of timing, and "STYLE".
And EVERY athlete will indeed develop his or her own "Style" as they acquire skill in the delivery systems of stand up, clinch, and ground, through ALIVE training, and testing themselves against thousands of training partners and opponents over time.
If you stick to the idea of a scientific method based solely on PERFORMANCE, then that process IS JKD.
As simple as that really is, it seems lost on the majority within JKD. Outsiders to the community see it more easily, but find no need for the label of "jkd".
And they are absolutely correct, as Krishnamurti stated, the word is never the thing itself.
But oh how humans love to argue over labels and names. It's the attachment of the ego itself to a perceived outside source, which finds such labels meaningful.
We at SBGi are ALWAYS willing to change, adapt, throw out, or add, anything we find more FUNCTIONAL, or useful. But it does have to be SHOWN to be more functional and useful for us to do that. Otherwise, it's just theory. And nothing we do is based on theory; it's all based on performance.
Every change, every step of evolution each of our coaches has put the curriculum through, has been based SOLEY on PERFORMANCE within a specific field of operations.
JKD should not be Bruce Lee's method, JKD should be YOUR method.
The fact that it is still BL's method may indeed be the baggage. After all, it should be each individual's own method, if it is truly JKD.
Happy New Years! -Matt Thornton www.straightblastgym.com
A great post Matt. One of the things you do well is present information, experience, and opinion in a way that makes me THINK! Thats one of the indicators I use to signal I'm learning something.
If I were getting only an emotional respose to what you were writing, I'd have to look at myself and say 'Why?'
So keep up the good work. Might I guess this is a chapter to an upcoming book?
Happy New Year.
I wrote it rather quickly before I went sleding with the kids this morning, after reading Marks posts. But that's a good idea.
Have a happy and safe new years Terry.
I did not take the kids sledding this morning and I still don't have the energy to dabate. New Years Eve and all, my cross points may be rather slurred...
"Anything left in the curriculum from Bruce Lee's time, the "original" JKD material, would need to stand up under pressure testing against other approaches. It would need to be shown that that material, and its methods, serves as a better vehicles for people in the various theaters of operations."
I will take my time on your other points and report back.
"If it does not show to be a better method, in a specific field of operations, and yet one insists on leaving it in instead of replacing it with a more efficient method, then yes you have created another traditional Martial arts "style". Fixed in time, ceasing to evolve, and therefore no longer "cutting edge"."
This is a great message to ring in the new year. It resonates well with Burton Richardson's latest IKF installment (check it out if you have not). It's 2004; the revolution is well under way. OTOH, it's a shame that the message--sort of like the adjective "functional" before JKD--is even necessary considering Bruce Lee's own writings on the subject. He seemed pretty clearly on the side of non-fossilization.
I still read through the Bruce Lee Fighting Methods book and I see things that SHOULD still work:
In fact, a lot of those techniques do work...for OTHER instructors and their students. (ie..Tony Blauer teaches boxing hands, eye jabs, low lead leg kicks with shoes...and all of Tony's students do these thinsg very well.)
Granted...Tony (and others) always trained this stuff with resistance and always incorporated sparring.
Why did virtually every School of JKD shy away
from resistance? Despite the fact that Bruce advocated sparring so much?
And where did all this nonsensical Kali come from?
Definitely not the Phillipines! Virtually none of that stuff exists (or ever existed there!)!
Was it just the encroachment of a traditional martial arts mindset of the 60's and 70's that over took the teaching of the system.
Great post, Matt. Very thought inspiring, thank you.
Yes, very inspiring indeed. Thanks Matt.
I always hated when "other" JKD'ers would walk into the gym I train at and almost laugh at us for the most stupiest things. Such as, "Your instructor isn't officially certified under such and such," "WHAT! You guys don't do chi-sao..are you crazy?" "Why are you doing the Brazilian stuff, no one can get through our trapping range and take us down!"
My coach would then always say "Why don't come and try us and see if what we are doing is wrong?! We'll fight freely. You guys can fight the way you want, while we fight the way we want!"
Of course, they refused to fight/spar/roll or even just attend a free class with an open mind. They just continued to mock us because what we do isn't similar to the exact techniques that Bruce did.
Another time, I was training at a BJJ gym when this new guy showed up. I was partnered with him and asked him if he ever trained in any type of MA/Combat sport? He said he was an assistant instructor for "won't reveal any names" and was also the official grappling instructor for that same JKD gym.
I was happy to see a fellow JKDer so I told him about my JKD gym. He laughed, saying pretty much the same things I mentioned in the previous post. He also said how he always beat Larry Hartsell in chi-sao and how "blank" and him did alot of Jun Fan JKD Grappling seminars and so on.
At this point I was angry, (I wasn't trying to let my ego get in the way, I was more angry at the fact that he was putting down my JKD coach and friend without even knowing him or his methods of coaching)
Finally, Rolling time had arrived and I was ready to battle with this guy since he was a top JKD grappling instructor and all. I was just a lowly white belt then so I thought I was gonna get spanked. Not to brag or exaggerate but I think I tapped him out about 6 or 7 times withen the 6 minute time limit and he never came close to catching me.
This really bothered me when I got home, I thought I would be happy with the victory and defence of my coach/friend but I wasn't. I was upset at the fact that A: he was either full of BS or B: His training methods and techniques are anciently behind. My answer to A was : IMO, I don't think he was lying because he did try alot of grappling moves/positions/subs that I had seen for many years at those exact JKD gyms, so he knew something. It was more B: He wasn't training and/or being taught more functionally. I knew for a fact it wasn't because I was so much better then him (because in the grappling range I was only a beginner). It was because I had been coached with the aliveness method and sadly he was not. He showed up to 2 more classes, got schooled by other BJJ whitebelts and never was seen again by me. Of course, after telling him about my JKD gym, he never once came to just check it out.
Sad, just sad.
In conclusion, I learned alot by just that little experience with him. People believe what they want to believe regardless if it can be proven wrong.
I bet, he went back to his JKD gym and continued to do what he always did. He was comfortable and of course felt better about himself because at that gym he is king and sadly that whole ego mentallity is what keeps him from progressing. He could have stayed in the BJJ gym and learn true, practical and functional grappling methods, but he lost every match he rolled in which took a killer beating on his assistant JKD Grappling Instuctor ego!
He could have come to my JKD gym and at least tried a class. We didn't have to challenge fight each other or anything like that. Maybe he would've liked what he saw/experienced and could've done both schools or whatever he wanted but he never gave it a chance.
My philosphy is that if it doesn't work when someones really trying to knock my head off or beat me in a competition of a combat sport (BJJ, Boxing etc) then it really doesn't work and I don't want to know it. I don't care if it works in one step/two step sparring like TKD, or only in a Karate gym or in famous JKD instructors "blank" gym. I want to know only what works in "real" life.
Of course, It all of course depends on the person's motive to train. If he's happy with what he does at the other JKD gym, then all the power to him and I wish him nothing but success. But the be ignorant and put down/ ridicule and mock what he doesn't understand is purely childlike and sad. While I progress realistically (by training in aliveness and testing everything I learn, good or bad to see if it works), he is stuck in the same spot for properly forever and he has no one to blame but himself and his ego.
sorry guys for ranting. i hope it makes sense, I'm just learning like the rest of you and will 'til the day I die.
First let me say that I am happy for your personal success and the success of your movement. I feel that all of us have something to learn from the work that u and your friends have done and continue to do. I look forward to meeting you in the future.
Instead of discussing all of your points I will try to cover some of them trhough this brief summary.
In my opinion JKD is a scientific model with a supporting philosophy. However, many have chosen to use BL's philosophy, call it JKD and not use BL's scientific model. PERSONALY I would not use the term JKD without the model. If I finally abandon the model, I will call it something else.
Why JKD is Rare
In my opinion, BL did not make the final paradigm shift until he dumped the old wing chun influenced model. Since BL's death, JKD has primarily been seen in two lights. The philosophy only "JKD Concepts" or the older wing chun based model (Jun Fan Gung Fu). I define the JKD model as the one that BL arrived at, after the full shift and just befor he passed. .
JKD evolves on a personal level each time someone uses the model outside of working IT against itself. I agree that all martial artists should test themselves trhough sparring or competition ouside of their laboratory environment. JKD can not exist or evolve in a vacume.Personally, I would like to see a group of JKD athletes compete longterm, under different rules to test the model. I hope to be involved in this movement. As a martial artist and teacher I have always stressed sparring. It should be the training staple and litmus of any MA model.
In its very simplist form, JKD is physically, a very unique and effective delivery system. For me, I prefer JKD's delivery system. I do not need to combine the standup delivery methods that I cross trained with, in the past. I do not need to re invent the wheel.
In JKD, groundfighting is the missing link, yet the principles, strategy and tactics of the JKD model, can still apply to the ground. However, one must go to the existing grappling/groundfighting models to research and develop the process.
R & D
Research and development is important in JKD but not necessarily equal. In JKD you should research when you need to (like in the case of groundfighting) but you should always futher develop. In my opinion, grappling skills and groundfighting should be investigated and developed but not overemphasized. Because we follow the model, we classify grappling and groundfighting as emergency technique. Our first goal is to prevent it from happening and our second goal is to be functional and efficeient in that realm. In its broadest sense JKD is a minimalists approach to thoroughness. This is the application of the philosophy within the physical model. JKD is a style, yet at the same time, it is not. I am comfortable with this paradox.
Thanks for the Opportunity
No worries, I appreciate the conversation and your input.
"In my opinion, grappling skills and groundfighting should be investigated and developed but not overemphasized. Because we follow the model, we classify grappling and groundfighting as emergency technique. Our first goal is to prevent it from happening and our second goal is to be functional and efficient in that realm."
No doubt, nobody advocates being on the ground in a streetfight. In fact the very action of a streetfight would indeed be an "emergency".
The problem of course is that there are many positions you may find yourself at on the ground. You may be mounted, in a headlock, in a head and arm hold, etc. In order to escape and get back to your feet you will need functional skill in the delivery systems of those positions. That doesn't come overnight, and requires a lot of Alive training in those delivery systems.
Secondly, if you lack a proper clinch game, then you will be far easier to take down in a fight.
And finally, if the delivery system being used for stand up is functional, then there is no reason why it cannot be tested and proven by athletes within an MMA type environment.
If the argument is that it is only for the "street", and won't work in MMA, then one is essentially saying the delivery system is less functional then the one's currently used in MMA if it's 'eye jabs' and kicks with shoes are taken out. If someone truly believes that, then there are other issues that also need to be cleared up. And that theory, and those tactics, can STILL be tested against an aggresive fighter.
Regardless, we are not bound by a specific "form" or set of techniques. We will use and offer our students whatever works best, and is most "functional".
I believe we at SBGi owe our students that.
If a delivery system or set of techniques cannot be shown to be functional under the pressure of aggressive resisting fighters, and yet one stays attached to it because it was "bruce lee's" or "traditional" etc, then you are simply attached to a method for reasons other then function. . .and that is a TRAP.
It would also no longer be a living, evolving thing. It would then be dead, which is of course the exact opposite of "jkd" if we are speaking truthfully.
I like this idea:
"Personally, I would like to see a group of JKD athletes compete longterm, under different rules to test the model. I hope to be involved in this movement. As a martial artist and teacher I have always stressed sparring. It should be the training staple and litmus of any MA model."
However I must tell you that all the SBGi Gyms around the world have been doing that with various athletes, in various formats, for well over Seven Years now. And we are not alone.
If you have an alternate set of rules that has never been tried, then please share your ideas and perhaps we may implement those as well. But truth be told there are plenty of MMA events with various rules, across the world that are open to "jkd" people, or anyone else who wishes to test their material.
I am not sure where that movement is at in Thailand? But as I mentioned earlier, Rodney and myself will be back there this Summer, and that would be a good time to organize such an event, or even friendly workout, and all the theories can be tested first hand.
Have a good new Years, and I will look forward to meeting you in person when I am back in Bangkok.
"Always doing what you always did,
meens you'll always get what you always got!"
In training, in coaching, in life, in everything.
Lucid, provocative, eloquent...
Youre a pretty smart monkey...metaphorically, I think you just may
be the martial equivalent for Darwin's missing link :-)
Thanks for the comments too.
Continued epiphanies & success Matt.