This article focuses on Jeet Kune Do techniques for beginners.
Perhaps you want a peek into what Jeet Kune Do Kung Fu is all about. Or maybe you need ideas for Jeet Kune Do drills you can practice when not in class.
I limited the information in this post to Jeet Kune Do for beginners because learning Jeet Kune Do online in-depth is not practical. If you like what you see here, then consider taking a class to learn more.
Also, be sure to get your free Jeet Kune Do PDF. It contains a never-ending Jeet Kune Do lessons schedule so you can do your own Jeet Kune Do workout as home study. Click here to get it.
A Brief Jeet Kune Do History Lesson
Jeet Kune Do’s founder was the very famous Bruce Lee. I’m sure you have heard of him.
He created it by studying many martial arts and combining what he thought to be the best ideas and techniques for practical use. It was one of the first Mixed Martial Arts brought to the public and it came into fruition circa 1967.
One aspect of Jeet Kune Do philosophy is to take what works for you and disregard what doesn’t. With this, one might say Jeet Kune Do history is evolving for each individual that studies it.
If you would like to learn more about the history and characteristics of Jeet Kune Do you can check out this article.
Okay, let’s get into some Jeet Kune Do fighting techniques.
Jeet Kune Do Fighting Stance
If there is such a thing, the “proper” Jeet Kune Do stance is the On Guard Position (On Guard Stance, OGP).
The Jeet Kune Do On Guard stance is an effective fighting stance which allows balance during movement. It is a perfect stance to attack and defend without telegraphing.
The OGP is a semi-crouched position.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart then take a natural step forward with your dominant foot. If needed, adjust your feet so they are a little wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your knees a little bent.
Never lock your knees and elbows straight when fighting.
Keep your lead knee fairly straight and turn it a little inward to protect your groin. To stay light on your feet your lead heel has only light ground contact.
Your torso forms a straight line with your lead leg. Your lead foot’s position will determine the structure of your torso. What you do depends on your intention. If your lead foot is inward, it will give you a narrower profile. This is good for defense.
Some attacks will require a wider profile so you will need to turn your foot outward. In a neutral stance, have your lead foot at a 25° to 30° angle.
Place your rear foot at a 45° to 50° angle with your heel raised.
The raised heel enhances mobility. It will allow for a quick shifting of weight when advancing and some give when defending.
Your feet are directly under your body. When in a neutral position (neither attacking nor defending) spread your weight even over both legs, or a little more over your lead foot.
To put more weight on your lead just bend your lead knee a little more.
Hold your lead shoulder raised with your chin a little lowered to protect it. Your chin and lead shoulder meet about half-way.
Both your hands help to protect your face and groin. Your lead hand hovers just below shoulder height. Your rear hand is at chest height and about five inches away from your body.
Hold your elbows close to your body to protect your torso. They must remain relaxed but sturdy, i.e., they can move side-to-side if needed but should withstand an attack without collapsing toward your body.
Your head is mobile to avoid getting hit. When fighting in-close you can tuck the side of your chin to your shoulder for more protection. In extreme defense, tuck the point of your chin to your shoulder.
Keep your back relaxed and contract your stomach muscles a little.
The OGP is a non-rigid stance. Relax with your hands and body in constant light motion whilst keeping covered. Curved motions are more energy efficient than straight lines, but do not overdo it, and do not shift your weight from one foot to the other without reason.
You may need to learn to keep your body relaxed. Do this with conscious effort until you can gain the feeling at will. You will then be able to induce this attitude in tense environments.
The above described is how to adopt the OGP in general, however, everything depends on the situation you face.
When practicing different techniques launch them from the OGP and return to the OGP as soon as possible.
Basic Jeet Kune Do Footwork
Use the shuffle to move forward (advance) or back (retreat) to either use an attack or avoid one.
From the On-Guard Position move your front foot forward about half a step. Your rear foot then slides up to take your front foot’s original position. Repeat this motion to advance further.
Throughout the movement keep your guard up with your knees a little bent and relaxed. Glide on the balls of your feet with your weight spread as even as you can over your legs. When advancing your lead foot your weight will favor that foot, but only for a short time.
The retreat shuffle is the opposite of the advance shuffle. Your rear foot goes back about half a step and your front foot takes your rear foots original position.
As you slide your front foot back your weight will shift to your stationary rear foot. Keep your rear heel raised. Repeat this motion to retreat further.
Like all techniques, when practicing the shuffles, go slow to begin with until you are confident you are keeping perfect balance. Add speed when ready. Practice on both sides, i.e., left and right leads.
When confident with single steps, do doubles and triples.
Shuffle on a Stimulus – Jeet Kune Do Footwork Drill
You can use a noise stimulus to induce a reaction, e.g., a clap. You need someone to make the noise.
One clap (or whatever) is one movement, either forward or back. The forward and back movements alternate. 2 claps means to do 2 movements i.e. 1 forward and then 1 back.
You can also apply this exercise to double movements or whatever your imagination comes up with, e.g., strikes.
Jeet Kune Do Punch
There are a few Jeet Kune Do punching techniques. Here we cover some fundamental ones. It is enough for you to create your own Jeet Kune Do punching drills if you wish.
Jeet Kune Do pressure points are not a thing. Primary targets are the eyes, chin, solar plexus, ribs, knee, shin, and groin.
Jeet Kune Do Lead Straight Punch
The JKD straight lead punch is the primary Jeet Kune Do weapon. It is fast, accurate, powerful, and practical.
Train to throw the straight punch (lead or rear) from any position that your hand happens to be in and without telegraphing your intention.
Stand relaxed in the OGP. During the delivery of the punch keep your rear hand up ready for defense and/or counter-attack.
Use your whole body to generate power.
The power comes up from the ground and through your hips with a twist on the ball of your foot. Whip your hand straight out in front of your nose from the center of your body.
To prevent telegraphing start your hand moving first.
The preferred point of contact for the lead straight is in line with the surface of your shoulder. If your target is lower or higher than this height, adjust the height of your shoulder-line to match, i.e., crouch or stand on the balls of your feet.
Your elbow stays in and close to your body. This helps with protection and minimizes telegraphing.
As with all hand strikes, your weight shifts a little over your front leg. This increases power and speed.
As your strike makes contact snap your wrist and clench your hand into a vertical fist with your thumb up and knuckles pointed toward your target. Align your fist with your forearm and not bent down at the wrist.
As you snap your lead, draw your rear hand towards your body. The bottom three knuckles make contact as you punch through your target.
With all strikes, it is important that they end with a snap a few inches behind your target. You are striking through your opponent with a snap as opposed to pushing.
The pivot of your hips, the snap back of your rear hand and other body movements help to increase power in the lead straight, but these things will add to telegraphing your punch. Against a fast opponent you may have to sacrifice power to increase the speed of the punch.
Allow your arm to come back to the OGP. Don’t let it drop as this will leave an opening.
The whole punch is a continuous motion.
Keep your body upright and balanced throughout the movement. Leaning back will negate power. If you lean back while fighting, e.g., to avoid getting hit, ensure you reposition your body before punching.
Leaning too far forward will cause you to become unbalanced. You must commit to your strike but do not over-reach so you’re unbalanced. This over-reaching results from being too far away from your target. Use your footwork to close the distance, not the lean of your body. This applies to all strikes.
Trying to put too much body-weight behind the punch will also negate power. It will turn the punch into a push which may move your opponent back but will have nowhere near the same devastating impact as a whip-like punch.
Never start a strike with a foot off the ground.
In relation to reach, the lead straight can be short or long. Lengthen your reach by extending your shoulder into the strike. Use your whole reach.
Jeet Kune Do Cross Punch
Though technically different, the Jeet Kune Do Cross Punch is comparable to the rear cross in boxing. Its official name is the rear straight punch.
A rear straight is more powerful than a lead straight punch and is best used as a counter or as part of a combination.
Assuming you are in a right lead OGP, rotate your hips clockwise pivoting on the sole of your left foot. As your body weight shifts forward, your lead hand adjusts to protect your face. Throw the punch straight out in front of your nose and hit your target with a snap in your rear shoulder.
To maximize the force behind the punch, use momentum and drive your body behind the punch. Remember to snap, not push.
Jeet Kune Do Hook Punch
The hook is a good short-range weapon which you can use against an advancing opponent, as a follow-up (e.g., after a lead or feint) or as an initial and/or single strike when the opportunity arises, e.g., if your opponent can not move out of the way.
The power of the hook comes from footwork. Do not pull your hand back. It is unnecessary and telegraphs your intention.
From the right lead OGP have your lead heel raised outward and your rear hand high to protect your face with your rear elbow protecting your ribs.
Keep your lead arm loose and rotate counter-clockwise as your shift your weight to your rear foot. Allow your arm to whip forward following the momentum of your body. Keep your elbow bent so your hook does not swing out. Just before contact make your arm rigid from the elbow to the knuckles. There is no bend of the wrist or twist of the fist.
Contact with a vertical fist and your knuckles pointing in the direction of your strike. Drive the punch through your target and be ready to follow-up or return to the OGP.
The hook works best with footwork and the lead hook will most likely require you to advance to reach your opponent.
Because of the horizontal angle of this strike any lateral movement by you (such as a side step) or your opponent into the hook will increase its effectiveness.
The lead hook is also great in close range fighting because it comes from outside your opponent’s field of vision and can go around his/her guard.
This has described the actions for throwing a lead hook because you will use it more often. You can adapt it to the rear to use in very close range fighting, especially when you are separating from your opponent.
When throwing the hook to the body bend your front knee so your shoulder is about the same height as your target. To put more power behind it, as you throw the hook duck to the opposite side of the hand that is throwing the hook. The kidney can be a good target for lower level hooks.
Being a much bigger target and less mobile than the head means that body blows have a higher chance of landing than head shots.
To defend against a hook when in-close move into it so it passes around your neck.
Jeet Kune Do Parry
Parrying is a quick hand motion used to deflect blows away from you. It is better than blocking which uses force to stop a blow. In parrying, timing and economy of motion are important, not force. It is a fundamental Jeet Kune Do punch defense.
Only parry when needed and at the last possible moment. Also, only move as much as needed to deflect a strike and/or create openings for counters.
Parry’s are not your first line of defense (evasiveness and footwork are better) but they are often useful in a fight.
There are 4 basic parry movements. For all of them your elbow stays fixed while you use your hand and arm to move.
Most of the time you will parry with your rear hand which leaves your lead free to counter.
When parrying without a counter you can shift your weight a little over your rear leg. This will increase distance which gives you more time to react. When simultaneously parrying and countering your weight will shift forward.
Inside High Parry
The inside high parry is the most used parry since most attacks are punches to the face. It angles the attack away.
Assuming you are in a right lead OGP meet the strike with your rear hand using a slight counter-clockwise twist of your wrist.
The following picture shows the parry as it would be if everything were symmetrical but in a real fight this is rare. It also shows the simultaneous counter of a lead straight.
Clench your fist against a kick or other strong strikes. Apply this to all parries.
Inside Low Parry
Use the inside low parry against an attack as low as your groin.
Assuming you are in a right lead OGP your rear hand makes a semicircular, clockwise, downward motion.
When countering, as your hand parry’s shift your weight to your lead leg, bend your knee a little and counter with your lead hand.
Outside High Parry
Whereas the inside high parry angles the attack away, an outside high parry is more of a slap. It diverts the attack on the opposite side of your body, i.e., your hand comes across your body.
Outside Low Parry
The outside low parry deflects a blow downward, just like the inside low parry does, but it crosses over your body. It is useful against a mid-level kick.
Against a fast opponent you may need to move back whilst parrying. Do not lean back. Use your footwork. Your rear foot must move before the attack and you must make the parry while your back foot is in motion.
How far you step back depends on your opponent’s movements. Keep the fighting measure so you can counter-attack, however, it is better to go too far back than not enough.
Jeet Kune Do Kicking Techniques
Jeet Kune Do kick training gives you a great advantage over a non-kicking opponent. The leg has a greater reach and more power than the arm. Also, Jeet Kune Do kicks are harder to defend against.
Kicks that snap from the knee are best to use as they are faster and more powerful.
Like punches, train to throw kicks from all angles, at all levels of height, and whilst moving.
Jeet Kune Do Side Kick
The Low Lead Side Kick is like the straight punch of Jeet Kune Do low kicks. It is both fast and powerful.
You can use it to keep an opponent at bay or to close the gap so you can attack in combination. A solid side kick to the knee can even be a fight finisher.
Assuming you are in a right lead OGP slide your lead foot forward a few inches. As soon as possible bring your rear foot up just behind your lead. Lift your lead foot and twist your hips as you thrust the edge or flat of your foot into your target. Lean away from your opponent as you kick so you are out of reach. All of this is one smooth motion.
Attacking the rear leg is uncommon in Jeet Kune Do but it may be useful against an opponent who places his/her weight on the rear foot instead of taking a short step back. When your opponent places all his weight on the rear leg he cannot move away quickly.
Also, if you attack the rear knee while it occupies a lot of weight more damage will occur.
To focus chi into your kicks, concentrate on the heaviness of your foot and the energy flowing through your body.
To develop speed via a Jeet Kune Do kicking drill, do a series of low lead side kicks in the air at an imaginary target. Focus on speed, snap and strength. Keep your eyes focused at your imaginary opponent’s eyes as you do it. Looking down will telegraph your intentions.
Jeet Kune Do Front Kick
The front kick is a fast kick which you can aim at the groin.
Delivery of the front kick is straight up into the target, like kicking a football. Make contact with your instep or shin.
To increase power in the front kick, jerk your hips forward just before hitting your target.
Hitting the bottom of a heavy bag or having a partner hold a punching pad with his/her palm facing the floor are good ways to practice the front kick.
There are Jeet Kune Do high kicks but in actual combat it is best to stick to low kicks. They are easier to control and leave you less vulnerable to counter attack.
Jeet Kune Do Trapping
Trapping is an advanced technique but I include it to give you a taste of Jeet Kune Do strategy.
For me, the fighting strategy is what sets JKD apart from most other martial arts. Knowing the strategic principles means you can pick the techniques that work for you and use them efficiently, instead of just following ineffective drills and katas.
This Jeet Kune Do strategic principle (of several) is the Immobilization Attack (IA).
You prevent your opponent from moving a part of his/her body and then attack in the opening.
It is good for close range fighting.
You can do this in a variety of ways such as holding, grabbing, pinning, and trapping.
The term trapping can also describe all immobilization techniques.
An IA can be instinctive (made possible with trapping drills such as Chi Sao) or planned, and you can do them alone or as part of a combination.
A basic trapping technique would be to use one hand to pin your opponent’s arm down whilst your free arm strikes. Aim to be out of the range of his free hand while you strike, or perhaps pin both his/her hands with one of yours.
In this example he immobilizes her arm by grabbing it. He then pulls her towards him as he strikes.
In this final example holds his arm hook kicks his groin.
You can use immobilization in many ways. Arm to leg, leg to leg, his/her head, hair etc. is all possible.
A bind is when you meet your opponent’s hand and then direct it diagonally across his/her body from a high to low line, e.g., from high right to low left.
A croise is when you direct the hand from high to low on the same side, i.e., right high to right low or left high to left low. Do NOT do it from low to high.
An envelopment is when you direct the hand in a full circular motion. Don’t lose contact and finish in the same line. It is basically a circular parry and is good to use against those who like to feint.
Pressure is pressing your opponent’s hand.
Jeet Kune Do Videos
Here is a playlist of Jeet Kune Do fight videos.
It is a good overview of Jeet Kune Do demonstrations pitted against other popular martial arts.
The playlist includes:
- Jeet Kune Do Sparring
- Jeet Kune Do in MMA (UFC)
- Jeet Kune Do vs BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)
- Jeet Kune Do vs Jiu Jitsu
- Jeet Kune Do vs Muay Thai
- Jeet Kune Do vs Wing Chun
- Jeet Kune Do vs Karate
- Jeet Kune Do vs Tae Kwon Do
You’ll love this take on the legend’s fighting method,
because it is a complete Jeet Kune Do training manual!
Basic Jeet Kune Do Moves Conclusion
Learning Jeet Kune Do has many benefits. You will learn effective fighting techniques and strategies. Jeet Kune Do is also one of the more physically intense “styles” of Kung Fu, so it is enough to keep you fit and healthy.
But Jeet Kune Do is much more than a Martial Art. It is a whole way of life. You can apply the philosophies and principles that Bruce Lee built JKD on in all aspects of life.
This article is a small sample of basic Jeet Kune Do techniques. If you want to learn more, you can check out Sam Fury’s book Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. And if you want even more, go enroll in classes.
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