Jeet Kune Do (Chinese: 截拳道; "way of the intercepting fist"; abbreviated JKD) is a hybrid martial art conceived and practiced by martial artist Bruce Lee. It was formed from Lee's experiences in unarmed fighting and self-defense—as well as eclectic, Zen Buddhist and Taoist philosophies—as a new school of martial arts thought.[12][13]

Jeet Kune Do
The Jeet Kune Do Emblem
The taijitu represents the concepts of yin and yang. The Chinese characters mean: "Using no way as way" and "Having no limitation as limitation". The arrows represent the endless interaction between yin and yang.[1]
Also known asJKD, Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do[a]
FocusHybrid (mixed martial arts kung fu philosophy)
CreatorBruce Lee
Famous practitioners(see notable practitioners)
ParenthoodJun Fan Gung Fu:[b] Wing Chun,[2][3] boxing,[4][2] fencing,[2] arnis, judo, jujutsu,[5] savate,[6] traditional taekwondo,[c][7] tai chi, catch wrestling[5]
Descendant artsNon-Classical Gung Fu, Wing Chun Do, Emerson Combat Systems, Wei Kuen Do, Mixed Martial Arts (modern)[8][9][10][11]
Jeet Kune Do
Literal meaning"Way of the Intercepting Fist"

The core of Jeet Kune Do is the interception of the opponent, making corresponding responses or counterattacks that strike at incoming attacks. JKD also incorporates a set of principles to help practitioners make instant decisions and improve the physical and mental self,[14][15] being intended to have practical applications in life without the traditional routines and metaphysics of conventional martial arts.[15][16] As an eclectic martial art, it relies on a fighting style heavily influenced by Wing Chun, Tai Chi, taekwondo, boxing, fencing and jujutsu.[12][17]

Bruce Lee himself never formalized Jeet Kune Do before he died. This forced later JKD practitioners to rely upon their own interpretation of the philosophy created by Bruce Lee.[18][19]

Overview and philosophy


Growing up in Hong Kong, Lee was a student of Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man. However, in America he called what he taught Jun Fan Gung Fu [d][3][20][21][22] However, around 1964, following his encounter with Wong Jack-man, Lee disavowed the rigidity of systematized martial arts.[23][24] Following this, Lee began a journey of research in order to refine his way of practicing martial arts. In 1965, he outlined the basic concepts of Jeet Kune Do in a press interview,[25] but it was not until 1967 that he came up with the name Jeet Kune Do. Initially, Lee wrestled with putting a name to his art as he constantly veered away from any type of crystallization of its essence; however, the simple need to refer to it in some concrete way led him to decide upon a name for it.[citation needed]

I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see "ourselves". . . Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don't, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct, and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune Do is simply the direct expression of one's feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. Finally, a Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case, anchored down to a reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive. Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back.

— Bruce Lee[26]
Bruce Lee with Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man

The metaphor Lee borrowed from Chan Buddhism was of constantly filling a cup with water, and then emptying it, used for describing Lee's philosophy of "casting off what is useless".[27] Lee considered traditional form-based martial arts, which practiced pre-arranged patterns, forms and techniques, to be restrictive and ineffective in dealing with chaotic self-defense situations. Lee believed that real combat was alive and dynamic and conceived Jeet Kune Do to enable its practitioners to adapt to the changes of live combat, believing that it was only through its use in real combat that a martial arts practitioner could judge a technique worthy of adoption.[16]



Lee incorporated into Jeet Kune Do four universal combat truths that he felt were self-evident and would lead to combat success if followed. The "4 Combat Ranges" in particular are what he felt were instrumental in becoming a "total" martial artist. This is also the principle most related to mixed martial arts.[28]

JKD practitioners also subscribe to the notion that the best defense is a strong offense, hence the principle of "Intercepting". Lee believed that in order for an opponent to attack someone they had to move towards them. This provided an opportunity to "intercept" that attack or movement. The principle of interception covers more than just intercepting physical attacks. Lee believed that many non-verbals and telegraphs (subtle movements that an opponent is unaware of) could be perceived or "intercepted" and thus be used to one's advantage. The "5 Ways of Attack" are attacking categories that help Jeet Kune Do practitioners organize their fighting repertoire and comprise the offensive portion of JKD. The concepts of Stop hits & stop kicks and simultaneous parrying & punching were borrowed from European fencing and Wing Chun's theory of simultaneous defending and attacking, and comprise the defensive portion of JKD. These concepts were modified for unarmed combat and implemented into the JKD framework by Lee. These concepts also complement the other principle of interception.[28]

Be like water


Lee believed that martial systems should be as flexible as possible. He often used water as an analogy for describing why flexibility is a desired trait in martial arts. Water is infinitely flexible. It can be seen through, and yet at other times it can obscure things from sight. It can split and go around things, rejoining on the other side, or it can crash through things. It can erode the hardest rocks by gently lapping away at them or it can flow past the tiniest pebble. Lee believed that a martial system should have these attributes. JKD students reject traditional systems of training, fighting styles and the Confucian pedagogy used in traditional kung fu schools because of this lack of flexibility. JKD is claimed to be a dynamic concept that is forever changing, thus being extremely flexible. "Absorb what is useful; Disregard that which is useless" is an often quoted Bruce Lee maxim. JKD students are encouraged to study every form of combat possible. This is believed to expand one's knowledge of other fighting systems; to both add to one's arsenal as well as to know how to defend against such tactics.[citation needed]

Economy of motion


JKD students are told to waste no time or movement. When it comes to combat JKD practitioners believe the simplest things work best.[29]

Stop hits and stop kicks


This means intercepting an opponent's attack with an attack of your own instead of a simple block. JKD practitioners believe that this is the most difficult defensive skill to develop. This strategy is a feature of some traditional Chinese martial arts, as well as an essential component of European épée fencing (known in fencing terminology as the "counter-attack").[citation needed]

Simultaneous parrying and punching


When confronting an incoming attack, the attack is parried or deflected and a counterattack is delivered at the same time. Not as advanced as a stop hit but more effective than blocking and counterattacking in sequence. This is also practiced by some Chinese martial arts.[citation needed]

No high kicks


JKD practitioners believe they should target their kicks to their opponent's shins, knees, thighs, and midsection. These targets are the closest to the foot, provide more stability and are more difficult to defend against. However, as with all other JKD principles nothing is "written in stone". If a target of opportunity presents itself, even a target above the waist, one could take advantage of the situation without feeling hampered by this principle.[citation needed]

The four ranges of combat


Jeet Kune Do students train in each of these ranges equally. According to Lee, this range of training serves to differentiate JKD from other martial arts. Lee stated that most but not all traditional martial systems specialize in training at one or two ranges. Bruce Lee's theories have been especially influential and substantiated in the field of Mixed Martial Arts, as the MMA Phases of Combat are essentially the same concept as the JKD combat ranges. As a historical note, the ranges in JKD have evolved over time. Initially the ranges were categorized as short or close, medium, and long range.[30] These terms proved ambiguous and eventually evolved into their more descriptive forms although there may still be others who prefer the three categories.[citation needed]

Five ways of attack

  • Single Angular Attack (SAA) and its converse Single Direct Attack (SDA).
  • Hand Immobilization Attack (HIA) and its counterpart Foot Immobilization attack, which make use of trapping to limit the opponent's function with that appendage.
  • Progressive Indirect Attack (PIA). Attacking one part of the opponent's body followed by attacking another part as a means of creating an opening.
  • Attack By Combinations (ABC). This is using multiple rapid attacks, with volume of attack as a means of overcoming the opponent.
  • Attack By Drawing (ABD). This is creating an opening with positioning as a means of counterattacking.[31]

Three parts of JKD


JKD practitioners believe that techniques should contain the following properties:

  • Efficiency - An attack that reaches its mark
  • Directness - Doing what comes naturally in a learned way.
  • Simplicity - Thinking in an uncomplicated manner; without ornamentation.[citation needed]



The centerline refers to an imaginary line running down the center of one's body. The theory is to exploit, control and dominate your opponent's centerline. All attacks, defenses and footwork are designed to preserve your own centerline and open your opponent's. Lee incorporated this theory into JKD from Wing Chun. This notion is closely related to maintaining control of the center squares in the strategic game chess.[citation needed]

The three guidelines for centerline are:

  • The one who controls the centerline will control the fight.
  • Protect and maintain your own centerline while you control and exploit your opponent's.
  • Control the centerline by occupying it.[citation needed]



Although Bruce Lee officially closed his martial arts schools two years before his death, he allowed his curriculum to be taught privately. Since his death, Jeet Kune Do is argued to have split into different groups. They are:[citation needed]

  • The Original (or Jun Fan) JKD branch, whose proponents include Taky Kimura, James Lee, Jerry Poteet, and Ted Wong; these groups claim to teach what was believed to be only what was taught by Bruce Lee, and encourage the student to further develop his or her abilities through those teachings. The inherent training principles of this branch are shaped by the static concept of what was "originally taught", just as the training systems of "traditional" martial arts have been taught for centuries and become recognizable as "styles", except it is referred to as a philosophy of "style without style".[citation needed]
  • The JKD Concepts branch, whose proponents include Dan Inosanto, Richard Bustillo, and Larry Hartsell; these groups strive to continue the philosophy of individual self-expression through re-interpretation of combat systems through the lens of Jeet Kune Do, under the concept that it was never meant to be a static art but rather an ongoing evolution, and have incorporated elements from many other martial arts into the main fold of its teachings (most notably, grappling and Kali / Escrima material) based on the individual's personal preferences and physical attributes. The entire JKD "system" can be described through a simple diagram, and the concepts can then be applied to a variety of contexts in a "universal" way.[citation needed]

To understand the branches of JKD it is important to understand the difference between the two "types" or viewpoints of Jeet Kune Do:

  1. JKD framework: This type of JKD provides the guiding principles. Bruce Lee experimented with many styles and techniques to reach these conclusions. To Lee these principles were truisms. The JKD framework is not bound or confined by any styles or systems. This type of JKD is a process.
  2. JKD Personal Systems: This type of JKD utilizes the JKD framework along with any techniques from any other style or system to construct a "personal system". This approach utilizes a "building blocks" manner in which to construct a personalized system that is especially tailored to an individual. Lee believed that only an individual could determine for themselves what the usefulness of any technique should be. This type of JKD is thus a product.

Lee believed that this freedom of adoption was a distinguishing property from traditional martial arts.[citation needed]

There are many who confuse the JKD Framework with a JKD Personal System (IE. Bruce Lee's personal JKD) thinking them to be one and the same. The system that Bruce Lee personally expressed was his own personal JKD; tailored for himself. Before he could do this, however, he needed to first develop the "JKD Framework" process. Many of the systems that Bruce Lee studied were not to develop his "Personal JKD" but rather was used to gather the "principles" for incorporation in the JKD Framework approach. The uniqueness of JKD to Lee is that it was a "process" not a "product" and thus not a "style" but a system, concept, or approach. Traditional martial arts styles are essentially a product that is given to a student with little provision for change. These traditional styles are usually fixed and not tailored for individuals. Bruce Lee claimed there were inherent problems with this approach and established a "Process" based system rather than a fixed style which a student could then utilize to make a "tailored" or "Personal" product of their own.[citation needed]

The two branches of JKD differ in what should be incorporated or offered within the "JKD Framework". The Original (or Jun Fan) JKD branch believes that the original principles before Bruce Lee died are all that is needed for the construction of personalized systems.[citation needed] JKD Concepts branch believe that there are further principles that can be added to construct personalized systems. The value of each Branch can be determined by individual practitioners based on whatever merits they deem important.[citation needed]

Original JKD is further divided into two points of view. OJKD and JFJKD both hold Wing Chun, Western boxing and fencing as the cornerstones on Bruce's JKD.

  • OJKD follows all Bruce's training from early Jun Fan Gung Fu (Seattle period) and focuses on trapping with Wing Chun influence.[citation needed]
  • Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do is a signature version of JKD as Bruce taught privately to Ted Wong. This is a later time period and practices a greater emphasis on elusiveness and simplified trapping unique to Bruce's later approach to combat. The focus is with fencing and Western boxing.[citation needed]



Some exercises Lee did included Da Sam Sing or Gak Sam Sing, a traditional method of forearm conditioning practiced in classical Kung Fu. He also did exercises simulating a fight against a four-limbed human using the traditional Mook Yan Jong used in Wing Chun. Lee was also an avid follower of Indian wrestler Great Gama's training routine. He read articles about him and how he employed his exercises to build his strength for wrestling, incorporating them into his own routine. The training routines Lee used included isometrics as well as "the cat stretch", "the squat" (known as "baithak"), and also known as the "deep-knee bend."[32]


Kato from Green Hornet is the first fictional character to use Jeet Kune Do, as he was portrayed by Bruce Lee in the 1966 TV series. In the aforementioned TV series, Lee would demonstrate various techniques associated with Jeet Kune Do.[2][33][additional citation(s) needed] Following Lee's impact and death, Kato would utilize JKD in subsequent incarnations of Green Hornet media.[citation needed]

Fighting games


Various video game characters utilize Jeet Kune Do as their choice way of fighting. These include:

Notable practitioners


See also



  1. ^ On January 10, 1996, the Bruce Lee Foundation decided to use the name Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (振藩截拳道) to refer to the martial arts system which Lee founded; Jun-fan being Lee's Chinese given name.
  2. ^ This refers to knowledge when Bruce Lee promoted his early concretized system, before abandoning it and embracing progressive development of one's fighting ability by philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. Some knowledge from Jun Fan Gung-Fu is still used in modern JKD teaching.
  3. ^ Martial arts practised in Korea during the 1940s and 1950s by the nine original kwans, or martial arts schools, before formation of Korea Taekwondo Association. In Bruce Lee's case, he learned various Traditional Taekwondo from various people. Most notable being Jhoon Goo Rhee of Chung Do Kwan style.
  4. ^ As in Gung Fu of Jun-fan, Bruce Lee's birthname.


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  3. ^ a b Black Belt: Bruce Lee Collector's Edition Summer 1993
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  5. ^ a b Polly, Matthew (2018). Bruce Lee: A Life. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781501187643.
  6. ^ Glover,Jesse (January 1, 1976). Bruce Lee: Between Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do. Glover Publications. ISBN 0-9602328-0-X ISBN 978-0-9602328-0-2
  7. ^ Nilsson, Thomas (May 1996). "With Bruce Lee: Taekwondo Pioneer Jhoon Rhee Recounts His 10-Year Friendship With the "Dragon"". Black Belt Magazine. 34 (5): 39–43. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
  8. ^ Chris Crudelli (2008). The Way of the Warrior. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. pp. 318–319. ISBN 978-14-0533-750-2. (Regarding Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)) With [Bruce Lee's] philosophy of "absorbing what is useful and disgarding what is not", Bruce Lee's influence can be seen in the dvelopment of MMA.
  9. ^ Bruce Lee’s Protégé Recalls His Humility Amid ‘Once Upon a Time’ Criticism Archived August 16, 2019, at the Wayback Machine. Variety. July 31, 2019.
  10. ^ Dana White and the future of UFC Archived October 7, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Fight Times. October 1, 2004.
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  12. ^ a b Chris Crudelli (2008). The Way of the Warrior. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. p. 316. ISBN 978-14-0533-750-2.
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  35. ^ Bobinator (May 2, 2014). "Eternal Champions". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved March 6, 2023. Midknight;A vampire who uses Jeet Kune Do. Formerly a scientist commissioned to create a biochemical weapon to end the Vietnam War, he ended up falling into a vat of his own formula after having a change of heart. The mixture somehow turned him into a vampire, with hypnotism powers and all. Then he ended up getting staked by a government agent 133 years later.
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