The JKD Conundrum

Original JKD and JKD Concepts


“If people say Jeet Kune Do is different from “this” or from “that”, then let the name of Jeet Kune Do be wiped out, for that is what it is, just a name. Please don’t fuss over it.”

Bruce Lee – Tao of Jeet Kune Do

Bruce wanted to make it clear, that he did not make a new style, but found what he considered, a way to express himself honestly and in totality. But what has risen from his untimely passing put those whose search for freedom of expression into a cell of desperation, clinging to the name Jeet Kune Do.

Two factions have taken root from different phases of Bruce’s life – Original and Concepts. The Original group has their roots based in the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institutes in Seattle, Oakland, and L.A. Chinatown. The Original JKD group, study and train in the way that was outlined by those who trained at the Jun Fan Gung fu Institutes. The Concepts group arose after Lee’s passing. The latter uses different martial arts like Savat, Kali, Muy Thai, Silat, or Jiu Jitsu as their base and apply the philosophies and concepts of JKD to them. Other martial arts such as modern Karate, Krav Maga, Systema, sport/tournament fighting and MMA have been known to adapt these concepts as well.

The JKD of the Institutes and the Concepts groups both use JKD concepts in their own systems but conflict surfaces when one believes they have the “real” JKD and the others do not.

So who trains in the REAL JKD?

To answer this question one doesn’t need to quantify Bruce Lees life. One only has to agree on the facts of both. Bruce’s evolution in martial arts can be documented from the three schools he owned. It’s no secret that Bruce had discarded some traditional movements for ones that were more efficient. Bruce was constantly evolving his martial art while keeping to the core principles of his martial art.

So where does that put Oakland JKD?

Oakland JKD holds unique to its own roots and is not tied to Jun Fan Gung Fu or any of the Concepts groups. Oakland JKD is the result of two men on their own quest for martial mastery – James Yimm Lee and Bruce Lee. Bruce left James in charge of the Oakland school while he pursued his acting career and later closed his schools for reason of not wanting to teach publicly. This disbandment lead James Lee to resume teaching martial arts from his home in Oakland. Before and through this transitional period Felix Macias Sr. remained a focused and loyal student of James Lee. Thus, Oakland JKD was born.

Has it evolved? Yes. So has the other JKD schools.
Is it a “new” way of fighting? No. All martial arts make use of the body for self-defense.
Is it better than the other JKD schools? That is up for the individual to decide. My truth is not your truth.

After all, JKD is just a name…

Sifu Tommy RoblesWritten by Sifu Tommy Robles | Original Oakland JKD Instructor Certified under Felix Macias Jr. in Original JKD, Tommy is now ready to share the beauty of this “way” with any who are willing to learn.
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