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5 Jeet Kune Do Training Exercises and Tips for Beginners

Who wouldn’t want to fight like Bruce Lee? 

He is one of the most popular martial artists who developed his own style of fighting. These Jeet Kune Do training exercises portray the fluidity and philosophy of this fighting style. 

Jeet Kune Do was meant to extend beyond street fighting to become an integral part of the fighter’s life, since the key philosophies and principles from Bruce Lee’s fighting method can be used in everyday life. 

There are three main reasons for learning this particular style of fighting. Some will use it in street fighting or structured sports such as MMA, while others learn it as a self-defense method to protect themselves on the street.

A few will even learn Jeet Kune Do to implement it into their daily lives. The principles are seen as a way of life and can be used to help people stay focused and become mentally strong. 

These training exercises will give you an entry-level understanding. If you want to learn more and start practicing this fighting style, you can learn more in the book Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do

The Philosophy of Jeet Kune Do

Bruce Lee developed this type of martial art, called Jeet Kune Do, as he wanted to develop a hybrid system of fighting not bound by the rules of traditional martial arts. Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do book, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, details the principles and Jeet Kune Do philosophy behind the style of fighting.

This new fighting system was designed to be flexible and fluid, allowing fighters to use any strikes and defensive moves during the fight. However, this is not to say there is no structure in this style of fighting.

What Is Jeet Kune Do?

Jeet Kune Do’s meaning is explained in the direct translation, which is “the way of the intercepting fist.” This speaks to the main principle of JKD, which is to intercept your opponent, whether you are intercepting their fist or their intentions. 

Bruce Lee structured JKD based on the key elements from Wing Chun, fencing, and boxing. Each of these martial arts heavily influenced the styles found in JKD. The main difference is the lack of rules. While these martial arts each follow a set structure without much deviation, Bruce Lee’s fighting style needs fluidity.

One of his top principles in this style of fighting is to be “formless like water” to allow yourself to easily transition between moves and stances. You should also focus on ending the fight as quickly as possible by draining your opponent’s energy and keeping your own energy up.

The four main types of combat to learn in Jeet Kune Do are punching, kicking, grappling, and trapping. All these methods are taught in the Jeet Kune Do basics. As you are learning the combat ranges, you should also focus on the main principles.

You need to ensure each move you make is simple and effective to beat your opponent. Every move in this fighting style is based on the four key principles: directness, simplicity, efficiency, and freedom. 

Directness

The first principle is directness, and it is aimed at teaching students to do what comes naturally to them. By learning the fighting skills, they should use this knowledge while letting their instincts guide them through the fight.

Simplicity

The moves are not meant to be overly complicated, and JKD focuses on simple moves to get the job done. This is seen in the famous one-inch punch, a simple movement used to throw an opponent completely off balance. However, the mechanics behind the move are not simple at all.

Efficiency

Another important tenet of JKD is efficiency. The key is to finish the fight as soon as you can. Each strike should be efficient and no move should be wasted. The flexibility of this fighting style means fighters should use the most efficient move that is possible at any moment. Thus, moving between fighting styles is necessary.

Freedom

Freedom is incredibly important in the art of Jeet Kune Do and as a principle to use in life. The belief is we should all be fluid or formless like water, adapting to the situation we are in. This speaks to the moments within a fight as well as any other moment in life.

Jeet Kune Do Training Exercises 

If you are determined to master JKD martial arts, you need to be ready to train hard. This training involves more than learning striking moves and defensive poses along with Jeet Kune Do combination moves.

You will need to include plenty of standard aerobic exercises into your Jeet Kune Do training program to strengthen your body, as well as increasing your speed and agility. Beyond practicing the Jeet Kune Do techniques listed below, you should exercise by running, using a stationary bike, and a lot of skipping with a rope.

While these exercises will help improve your stance, footwork, and speed, you can start practicing some of the techniques below as you learn more in-depth details if you choose to purchase Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do.

Trapping Drills

The importance of trapping in Bruce Lee style fighting is to move your opponent’s arms away to expose them to a strike. You can do this by moving their arm out wide while striking their exposed center. 

To practice trapping drills, you will need a partner as you need to block their attack and learn how to strike in the same movement. If you have a background in Wing Chun, and specifically the Chia Sao techniques, you will have a good understanding of how to feel your opponent’s energy to know when to block and strike.

Here are three Pak Sao moves—from Wing Chun—to practice your Jeet Kune Do trapping moves:

The Shuffle

If you attend a Jeet Kune Do school, you will learn the Jeet Kune Do fighting stance fairly quickly. Once you know how to effectively use this stance, you can move on to the shuffling moves.

The quick and fluid foot movements were taken from the basic principles of fencing and are seen as one of the most important elements of JKD. The fast footwork is designed to avoid strikes from your opponent while striking back effectively.

In the advanced footwork techniques, you will learn how to strike before stepping, leading to a faster strike time while not focusing on your feet too much. 

You can begin by learning the push shuffle forward and the push shuffle back.

Push Shuffle Back:

As your opponent throws a punch at you, quickly take a step back with your back foot while sliding your front foot backward at the same time. If the punch is deep, then lean your head back at the same time.

Push Shuffle Forward:

To shuffle forward, you need to bend your knees to drop your weight before lifting the toe of your front foot slightly. Push your weight forward using your rear leg while sliding your front foot forward in one movement. Your front foot should land heel first to stop your momentum. 

One-Inch Punch

The one-inch punch is one of Bruce Lee’s famous moves and is often shown in movies. The punch may seem impossible as the striker’s arm is extended a mere inch away from the opponent. 

As the punch is thrown from a short distance, the opponent is thrown off balance as they are pushed back from the force of the punch. While the punch seems highly unlikely to be effective in real life, the science and mathematics behind the punch explain how it manifests so much power. 

The one-inch punch is an advanced technique used in Jeet Kune Do, but beginners can learn about the move to stay focused and determined to build on their JKD skills to reach these levels.

You can start by standing three to six inches from your punching bag with your punching foot forward. Keep your wrist turned up while you make a fist and strike with your whole body weight forcing your fist forward. 

Low Kicks

JKD utilizes low kicks to knock opponents off balance. These kicks are an integral part of the fighting style and practicing them will help your Jeet Kune Do martial arts practice. 

The low lead side kick is a good one to learn and you can practice this with a partner holding a guard at shin height. This kick can be powerful if you aim your kick at their kneecap, as it can even end the fight.

When you are ready, stand still while you kick out your front foot hard and fast. Lean back to stay out of reach of your opponent and move straight into a punching stance to attack after the kick.

Footwork Drills

If you are ever unsure of what to do to improve your combat Jeet Kune Do, just practice your footwork. The more you practice with footwork drills, the more you will improve your fighting techniques.

Several aerobic exercises, such as jumping rope, will help you improve the speed of your foot movements. Don’t only practice simple rope jumping but get creative with side-to-side jumping and backward-forward jumping.

You should also include an agility ladder in your training by purchasing one at a shop or simply making your own. There are numerous exercises you can do with this ladder to improve your footwork.

Another good technique is shadow boxing, which is done by throwing punches at an invisible opponent. You should focus on your feet while doing this, and standing in front of a mirror will help you pick up any mistakes you make.

Tips When Training JKD

If you are a beginner, intermediate, or professional learner of Jeet Kune Do, you should always remember a few basic tips when training to elevate your skills and master the art of Jeet Kune Do:

  • Perfect your stance.
  • Train using aerobic exercises.
  • Focus on your footwork.
  • Balance is important; perfect your balance.
  • Move your hands before your feet, even if it doesn’t feel right.
  • Lean forward when kicking to exert force.
  • Lean back when kicking to dodge strikes from your opponent.

Jeet Kune Do and Other Martial Arts

While Jeet Kune Do has borrowed elements from other martial art practices, there are a few key differences between them. Here is how Jeet Kune Do fares against other martial arts.

Jeet Kune Do vs Wing Chun

Wing Chun is a classic Chinese martial art that focuses on set principles within the practice, whereas JKD is more of martial art philosophy. JKD uses elements from various martial arts to create a combination fighting style.

Jeet Kune Do vs MMA

MMA is structured as a sport with rules, whereas JKD is designed for street fighting without rules. They both incorporate different martial arts styles, but JKD focuses more on the approach to fighting rather than the structure of the fight.

Jeet Kune Do vs Karate

Karate involves traditional training, leading to a structured fight as a sport, whereas JKD includes various methods that the fighter should use to adapt to the situation.

Jeet Kune Do vs Krav Maga

JKD was designed as a way to guide students to utilize the elements of martial arts to aid them in their circumstances, whereas Krav Maga is a military combat style used to fight in deadly situations.

Jeet Kune Do FAQs

What is the best approach when learning Jeet Kune Do?

When learning Jeet Kune Do, students should focus on the philosophy behind the style of fighting. Taking note that it should not be a copy and paste style but rather open learning intended to teach the student how to adapt to the situation they find themself in.

What makes Jeet Kune Do fighting effective?

The effectiveness of Jeet Kune Do is seen in the fluidity of the student. If you grasp the concept of “being formless like water,” you will be able to effectively learn the key principles of Jeet Kune Do.

What martial arts are used in Jeet Kune Do?

Bruce Lee’s JKD was based on a few key elements from Wing Chun, fencing, and boxing. The various martial arts were used as a base to portray the need for the fighting style to be adaptable to any situation.

Is it possible to use both Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do in your fighting style? 

Yes, Jeet Kune Do utilizes elements of Wing Chun in the philosophy of fighting. You will come across common Wing Chun techniques during your training at a Jeet Kune Do school, such as Chia Sao and Pak Sao.

You’ll love this take on the legend’s fighting method,
because it is a complete Jeet Kune Do training manual!

5 Jeet Kune Do Training Exercises and Tips for Beginners 1

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in learning Jeet Kune Do, you must remember that the purpose of this style of fighting is to learn the philosophy and principles before beginning any techniques. 

These are key to understanding the methods designed to help you in any fight situation, whether it is self-defense or a street fight. These principles are extremely adaptable to the point where you can implement these into your daily life.

If you want to take your JKD knowledge to the next level, you can start by picking up the Jeet Kune Do book, Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, or download a free preview today.

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