Bruce Lee's Philosophy Gone Wrong

Although he died in 1973, Bruce Lee still carries a lot of weight in the martial arts. Magazines with his image on the cover sell more; schools that profess to teach JKD are afforded more respect. And authors, like yours truly, who mention him in articles … (You get the idea.)

Unfortunately, even with all of the sources available, too often you'll find very little of the true Bruce Lee philosophy.

Since Bruce Lee did not want to be limited by style or technique, many practitioners think that he had an "anything goes" philosophy. This could not be further from the truth.

Have you seen the following examples that blatantly disregard the Bruce Lee philosophy of effective martial arts?

The Fast Blocks Mistake
In some schools that profess to teach Jeet Kune Do, I see opponents sparring: While in range, they attempted a variety of attacks. The defender does an excellent job of blocking.

Very fast.

He or she blocks and then responds with an efficient punch or kick.

Well, I hate to be the one to pull back the curtain on the Martial Artist of Oz, but that's not really JKD. You do not block AND THEN punch. JKD is a hit-first philosophy.

Note: I am wise enough to never say never. Still, 99% of the time, you would not block before punching, while in range.

Unfortunately, these schools do not represent the "real" Bruce Lee.

Power Punch Problems
There are also schools that focus on increasing their power a la Bruce Lee. These martial artists practice one-inch punches. They hold focus mitts for each other. The students also punch into heavy punching bags.

Later, they square off against each other. And they begin to spar.

Each technique is packed with the strength needed to drop an attacker. They cock back their fists for even more power. Unfortunately, these artists just veered away from the philosophy of efficiency.

You see, true JKD drives to be very direct – no wasted movements. JKDers spend a lot of time eliminating all external maneuvers . So, the wind up has to go. No room for it … 99% of the time.

Bruce Lee advice suggests that your weapon move straight to the target.

The Second Hit
There are some schools that do manage to teach both the hit-first philosophy, and they also teach their students to respond to a hit (or attack) without the initial telegraph of drawing back the fist before a punch.

This is better. In fact, this is what you are looking for.

Unfortunately (you almost knew there was going to be one last "unfortunately"), their follow-up hits go back to the old practice of sloppy-telegraph-before-the-hit.

Of course, we hope that it will only take one hit to end the fight. It's great that these schools teach that initial hit to be a good one, faithful to the principles (or concepts) of Bruce Lee.

On the other hand, what if the fight needs a secondary strike?

Would not it be a good idea to stay faithful to the Bruce-Lee philosophy for at least one more move?

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