Functional Jeet Kune Do
Functional Jeet Kune Do (JKD) is simply Bruce Lee’s philosophy of combat. All Jeet Kune Do should be “functional”, but the truth is, function isn’t a matter of technique, it’s a matter of how technique is trained. Train functionally, and you will become functional. It’s that simple.
For us, defining JKD is very simple and can be expressed as the pursuit of the truth in combat (Bruce Lee’s own definition). It boils down to eight fundamental concepts:
1. Become functional
2. in all ranges
3. with or without weapons
4. against one or multiple
5. unarmed or armed
6. resisting opponents
7. in a variety of environments
8. with an emphasis on safety and having fun!
Becoming functional means one thing: that you can actually APPLY the technique you are learning against a fully resisting, uncooperative opponent in a real fight. This means that in terms of training, there is no room for untested, unproven theory. Only what we consider to be high percentage technique is taught. In order to develop functional technique, one must also train with aliveness; our primary guiding principle!
You must also be able to apply your skills in all ranges. For our purposes, there are three primary ranges: kickboxing range, clinching range and the ground. Being able to fight in each range as well as transition between them is very important as this reflects the nature of a real fight.
To prepare for real street situations, it’s always advisable to train for both one or multiple opponents. Certainly there are people who will be acting alone that you may have to contend with. However it’s always safe to assume that there will be more than one. We don’t think it’s reasonable to believe that a person can defeat multiple opponents, but we do feel that one should at least have a good strategy for handling these situations.
We believe that it’s also important to train for both an armed or unarmed opponent. Weapons are a reality on the street and can appear quickly in any situation. Some of the training drills we use to develop the mental fluidity needed to handle dynamic situations, begin as empty hand drills and change unexpectedly as a weapon is introduced. This is very life-life and not something you will find at your typical MMA gym.
You must train for a fully resisting opponent. We realize this is common sense, yet, you will often see very compliant training being performed in many schools. We have one question to ask: how much do you believe that real opponents will resist your efforts in a fight; 25%? 50%? 75%?
It’s more like 100 percent isn’t it?! Wouldn’t it make sense then to make sure your training reflects this reality? The answer is obvious.
Real fighting takes place in a variety of environments, not just on padded surfaces, in rings or cages with referees standing by ready to jump in and save a downed fighter. Real life is not a sport contest with rules. To prepare yourself fully for the 360 degree reality of fighting, you must experience it on different surfaces, at different levels of light and temperature, or while wearing different styles of clothing. This also helps to develop the mental fluidity needed to adapt to changing situations.
And finally, training should be safe and fun! We’re planning on doing this for the rest of our lives, not because we’re soldiers or law enforcement (though some of us are), but because it’s something we enjoy and are passionate about. We want and need to take care of our bodies and health if we are going to be doing this for the long term!
However, many people assume that training for this has to be necessarily rough, brutal and barbaric in some measure. If you are training for a competition, you have to grind and do a lot of very uncomfortable and painful training. If you are training for self-defense, you should work very hard at times, but it should not be a big grind. The training sessions should be so enjoyable that we look forward to each class. Our training is held in a very relaxed but disciplined atmosphere. Lots of laughing and joking while training hard. As Bruce Lee said, “You should train seriously, but don’t seriously train.” Well said!