IJKDC COMBATIVES: The Search for the Truth

Whether or not a huge fan of Bruce Lee’s movies, you have sought out Jeet Kune Do specifically because you recognized something special.

However, finding reliable JKD training in your locale required extensive research. So, it’s understood by your earnest efforts that your interest is truly sincere. And, now that you’ve experienced introductory classes at accessible locations, did you find what you are looking for?

At the first location (kwoon) you visited all members wore traditional garb as uniforms and were required to practice barefooted, but at the second (gym) everybody wore sweat pants or shorts with tee-shirts, and most wore lightweight athletic or wrestling shoes. Students bowed deeply and offered salutations to their seniors at the kwoon, while at the gym they simply bumped fists as a common greeting. The chief instructor (Sifu) of the kwoon was a middle-aged Caucasian fellow who always dressed as if he just stepped out of an ancient Chinese Dynasty period, while the much younger head coach of the gym actually was Asian but only wore modern mixed-martial arts attire while teaching. In class, students at the kwoon were distinguished by the colored sashes tied around their waists while members of the gym wore no belts whatsoever. You also noted how after the initial welcoming at the kwoon all beginners were divided from the main group of students for basic introductions delivered by lower level sub-instructors, but students at the gym trained together in one big group directly under instructions from the head coach. Upon reflection, these two locations seemed polar opposites in almost every manner, overall environment, and personnel appearances. It was apparent that they approached their curriculums dramatically different.

After participating in an introductory class at the kwoon you were left with questions that the sub-instructor failed to answer clearly. However, you did have an opportunity to experience what, for all appearances, resembled some of the Jeet Kune Do techniques one would expect to see whenever doing such research. There, they taught you Wing Chun forms and some basic centerline striking mechanics during the allotted hour. But, it was different than expected at the gym. There, after several minutes of sweaty physical-conditioning drills, students were guided through some basic Boxing on focus mitts before explaining fighting-ranges and concerns about using proper footwork. The remaining time there was spent on ground fighting using simple joint-locks and practical finishing holds. Here, the head coach answered all questions put forth by his students. Upon reflection, you felt something was certainly gained by attending classes at both locations.

A productive Google search led you to more training facilities within a 25-mile radius. One was conducted in a city park on Saturday mornings, operated by a young man who admitted to have never been formally certified in JKD. Nonetheless, he did have a loyal following attending his free weekend class. Most of his students were young kids, energetic teens and misfit types mainly there to have fun. You too enjoyed the exposure even though this was basically just a kickboxing group; something you’d already experienced elsewhere.

At another place there was a much more seasoned teacher who taught solely out of his own home inside a converted garage. There were no young kids there, only a few tough-looking students present during the introductory lesson whom appeared slightly gristled as if they’d fought regularly at some point. Right from the start of class it became apparent that this instructor had a deep level of experience. He ran his small group with sheer precision and impressive dynamics and provided so many insights that it nearly clogged your brain. And, although training of the actual techniques was highly functional, he paid little attention to formalities; there was no bowing or ritualistic salutations.

“There are no belts here,” he explained. “No annual testing fees will be charged. No binding contracts, just a fair monthly membership fee will suffice. I do not wish to obligate you; I just want you to want to be here. You will rarely see us lineup in order of rank yet we are quite orderly in conduct. Our curriculum is broad but focuses much on pressure-tested applications through extensive sparring. Both original JKD applications and progressive concepts occupy the spectrum of self-defense training here.” These words struck a positive chord within you. Unfortunately the distance to this location was quite a ways farther than you’d likely be able to commit to consistently on a weekly basis.

Now that you’ve exhausted all of your options, what to do next? How can you decide where to choose? Which of the options you’ve explored best represented the “Truth” in JKD training that you’re hoping to find? Why does finding a legitimate JKD resources have to be so frustrating?

Sifu Paul S. Lewis www.ijkdc.com