The legendary actor, martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee not only graced us with his presence on the screen and television, but he left behind his philosophy and fighting art, Jeet Kune Do, for us to contemplate on for decades after such a short life.
“The Way of the Intercepting Fist” was Bruce Lee’s vision of how a martial art should be and how he expressed himself through that philosophy. Jeet Kune Do was meant to be a philosophy rather than a fighting system.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not” is the credo of JKD. Whatever is useful or not is dependent on the practitioner himself and not what the founder of the philosophy regulates that to be. JKD is supposed to be about expression of one’s individual self and not a system to be mimicked by others.
It is often said that Wing Chun was Bruce Lee’s first martial art of study. This is not entirely true. Bruce himself said his first martial art instructor was his father. Through him Bruce learned Taiji chuan. During his years in school he learned western boxing and became a school champion. He also practiced the art of fencing.
At the age of 16 he was introduced to Master Ip (Yip) Man and began his study of Ving Chun (as Ip Man named his school). Bruce practiced a number of years and was mainly taught by his Sihing, Wong Shun Leung. Although Bruce Lee never learned the complete Wing Chun system, he incorporated many principles and techniques of Wing Chun into JKD.
Wing Chun’s “center-line theory” is still present in JKD.
The center-line runs directly through the center of the body from the head to the rump. Along this line are all major organs of the body. The head, heart, solar plexus, stomach, bladder and genitals. They are there for you to protect yours and attack that of your opponent. Although JKD uses a lead leg position rather than a squared shouldered position as its basic fighting stance, protection and attack of the center-line is essential.
Simulataneous defense and attack. The simultaneous defence and attack attributes to Wing Chun’s as well as JKD’s devasting speed and efficiency. Psychologically, the attacker expects to land a punch, but not only eventually misses his target, but gets hit himself in the same instant.
Trapping. Trapping of the limbs opens more possibilities for your own attacks while disabling the attacker’s ability to counterattack.
Siu Nim Tao. This first form of the Wing Chun System Bruce Lee maintained in his own arts of Jun Fan Kung Fu as well as Jeet Kune Do. It has been also said that he continued to practice this form several times a day, everyday up until his death.
Wooden Dummy training. Bruce Lee did not learn the Wooden Dummy Form from Ip Man himself and it is not known if he had ever learned it from anyone else. Nonetheless, Bruce Lee developed his own way of practicing on the Muk Yan Jong.
Biu Jee Sau (Darting fingers). The Biu Jee Sau is one of the main techniques of the JKD artist targeting the eyes.
Although Bruce Lee never learned the complete Wing Chun System, he was able to optimise what he did learn into a full-fledged fighting art on the solid principles of Wing Chun and other arts.
Since Wing Chun is not really a style but more a philosophy and a self-defence system based on body mechanics, Jeet Kune Do in essence is another form of Wing Chun.
Bruce Lee was insistent that one needs to develop their own way of interpreting a fighting art as self-expression. JKD/Jun Fan Kung Fu was his Wing Chun. Once you understand and practice to develop your Wing Chun skills and endeavour for self-improvement, you too can develop your own Wing Chun.