Bruce Lee and His Martial Art, Jeet Kune Do

Bruce Lee, the great kung fu action movie star from the 1970s, was quite well known in the martial arts community before he became famous through his films. He had already been inducted into the prestigious Black Belt magazine’s Hall of Fame before becoming a star.

One of the reasons why Bruce Lee was an important figure in martial arts was that he developed his own style of fighting called Jeet Kune Do, which means ‘way of the intercepting fist’. What he had done was put together some of the most effective and practical techniques from different fighting styles into his own method of combat. He even included western boxing and wrestling techniques in Jeet Kune Do. He did away with traditional forms or karate kata claiming that they were not practical in a real street fight.

His views were quite controversial among the martial arts community back then because many traditional stylists thought that Bruce Lee had no place to criticize styles that were developed over hundreds of years. But he continued to demonstrate his Jeet Kune Do during demonstrations at karate tournaments and his skills attracted the interest as well as friendships of many prominent top competitors as well as masters including Chuck Norris, Jhoon Rhee and Joe Lewis.

Bruce Lee always claimed that each person’s Jeet June Do could be different according to individual body types and personal tastes. He wanted to convey that each person can use whatever techniques that work for him or her as long as they were practical. His style was often referred to as a non-classical style as opposed to classical karate or kung fu, which relies on set forms and techniques.

Lee had compiled many of his theories into notes and drawings into a book called the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, which is now a classic in any martial artist’s book collection. Many of his former students have also published resources and give seminars based on his concepts.

On many scenes in his movies, Bruce Lee demonstrated the concept of Jeet Kune Do. For example, during the famous final fight scene in the Roman Coliseum from ‘Way of the Dragon’ with Chuck Norris, it was only when Lee’s character started using non-classical techniques by moving around like a boxer rather than rigid stances, that he started to win the fight. Chuck Norris’ character was completely baffled by the non-classical ways that Lee’s character took on.

It is quite ironic since mixed martial arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC) are so popular these days. In fact, we can attribute Bruce Lee as the forefather of MMA since he was so ahead of his time in using techniques from different styles of fighting into his own method.

Today, the vast majority of modern martial artists accept the fact that the most practical techniques on the street are not rigid classical techniques and that a mix of styles may be very effective. In many cases, forms and kata are now performed for the beauty and art aspect of martial arts rather than their practicality.