Get In The Water
I am one of the instructors who answers questions on Tim Mousel’s JKD Discussion Forum on the internet. I was recently asked if most JKD concepts practitioners also train in Jun Fan Gung Fu. I want to repeat here what I wrote in the forum, along with some other things to think about in regards to competition. Most “concepts” practitioners that I know have been trained extensively in Jun Fan Gung Fu. The reason for this is that Jun Fan Gung Fu is a great art. The kicking, punching, throwing, and some of the trapping techniques still work very well in today’s environment. Why is it, then, that these fighters don’t just stick to the Jun Fan/JKD curriculum? Because the truth of the matter is that, while Jun Fan is a great style, it is by no means a complete art. We must go out and seek better ways of doing things. If our mindset is that our current methods are best methods, then we will be left behind as the fighting arts develop, and they will become better and better with or without JKD fighters. I also think that many people believe that the “original” JKD teachers only do Jun Fan. I know that many of them have done Kali or Muay Thai, and a few “original” JKD instructors sometimes teach Kali or Muay Thai techniques as Jun Fan because they assume that certain empty hand Kali or Muay Thai techniques were from Bruce Lee. This would be looked down on in certain circles, but if the technique works, you should implement it. As Bruce Lee said in one of his movies, “It doesn’t matter where a technique comes from. If it can help you in a fight, you should use it!” I think that a lot of JKD people forget that being an effective, complete fighter should be the guiding force in our training. If you want to be a good fighter, you must think like a fighter and train like a fighter.
A real fighter, one who actually spars hard in all of the ranges, is always going to be looking for a better way of doing things. Those who think that there is only one style that works hasn’t done enough sparring outside of his own group. Spar a good Thai boxer and see if Jun Fan totally nullifies his method. Spar a good BJJ an and see what happens. Fight a Vale Tudo fighter and see what happens. If you stick to one style, there is going to be another style that can counter you.
Most athletes, be it in baseball, football, basketball, soccer, etc., go through rigorous training, then actually play the game. After the game, they analyze their weaknesses, and make adjustments in the training. Many martial artists train, but never play the game against an uncooperative opponent. They end up theorizing so much without testing their theories that the techniques can become ridiculous to an experienced fighter. I think this is the main problem with the “original” group, and also with many of the “concepts” people who think that any technique that they learn from any style can work against anyone. If we want to be good at the fighting arts, we must fight. To paraphrase Bruce Lee’s advice, don’t be a dry land swimmer, get into the water and see what it is like when you get wet, the water is cold, and there are waves pounding on you. This is the JKD concept, wisdom from experience, not just theoretical knowledge.
This brings up the competition aspect. If you really want experience, you must go all out against an unfamiliar, uncooperative, aggressive, skillful opponent. The best way to do this is to do competitions. There are so many to choose from. You can range from point fighting, grappling, stick fighting, or no holds barred events. You will be able to get into the ring with someone and go for it under pressure. The experience you gain will be invaluable, and you will surely find ways to change your training for the better. My competition experience was invaluable in my development. Some types of competition aren’t very realistic, but just getting through the nervousness and having to face someone you have never seen before will give you the seasoning you need to keep your cool in a street encounter. We all want to win, but getting in there and going for it is the most important thing.
I emphasize to my students that there is only one thing worse than having no victories on your competition record, and that is having no victories, no defeats, and no ties because you never even tried. You can’t say anything about competitions unless you have actually tried yourself. They aren’t everything, but it takes courage to get in there and risk your body, and often much more difficult, to risk your ego.
Please don’t be someone who just talks about martial arts, get in the water and get wet!!! As Egan Inoue has printed on his t-shirts, “Only a fighter knows the feeling!” I don’t want people to look at JKD as a bunch of hypothetical techniques taught by teachers with no experience. Competition will bring out your best!!!
Founder of Jeet Kune Do Unlimited.
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