I first started my training in the Jeet Kune Do concept class in the early 80’s and simultaneously participated in the Escrima class, which I will not cover.
The JKD concepts class curriculum mainly consisted of basic stretching to music, leg lockouts, focus mitt training, football shield kicking, sparring and culminated with conditioning exercises. There were also different phases of training depending on an individuals’ level. Some of the techniques consisted of Jun Fan Kung Fu and Western boxing which made use of deflecting, the four corners as well as counter attacks. We also practiced leg locks, takedowns and ground fighting. Leg checking and destruction techniques were also applied. The Muay Thai techniques were taught later on by other instructors but was not part of the class curriculum. The class heavily emphasized on full contact sparring, using protective equipment. Some of the training equipment included: mouth guard, shin pads, finger gloves, hockey gloves, head gear, knee and elbow protectors. A typical sparring day could be a grueling workout which included: punching, kicking, trapping, grappling, ground sparring and two or more persons against one with all out sparring. Bleeding noses, broken teeth and groin kicks were not uncommon during sparring sessions, even if they were unintentional. The sparring sessions would typically end with conditioning exercises such as, solid punches to the stomach, shin kicks to the thighs, neck bridges and finger push ups. Some of the students, like myself, also competed in full contact tournaments. Nevertheless, the concept class gave one a sense of self-confidence in the use of all techniques with full contact. Some of my former concepts classmates were Jeff Imada, Paul Vunak, Cass Magda and the late Brandon Lee.
The original JKD classes were taught in a private and semi-private backyard setting. My own backyard was employed for a year in Monterey Park, California. There were no advertisements and the students as well as the visitors were a selected few. These classes were taught by first generation students, namely Sifu Herb Jackson and Sifu Ted Wong, being directly connected with Grand Master Lee. The emphases in the original JKD class were on the lead punch and the side kick. Footwork was also an important part of training. In fact, I have never studied footwork like the JKD footwork which served to break ground from danger and close tremendously with the sidekick, in a split second. It takes footwork to accomplish with perfection the Bruce Lee sidekick. We also worked on modified trappings. We worked on some of the old training equipment such as the giant kicking shield, modified wooden dummy and steel dummy. We learned to generate speed, timing and power of the lead punch, from an extended and one inch position. We learned to recognize telegraphic movements, regardless of style, intercept them with our lead hand and lead foot. We learned to keep techniques simple, effective and direct as well as chisel away the unessential body movements. We also employed broken rhythm, changing cadences and first timing. In this class we learn to “Intercept”. Subsequently, I became the first student that was certified by Sifu Ted Wong in the art of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, back in January of 1990.
I can only give you my interpretation of the different classes. The concept class taught me the different styles, techniques and offered me physical conditioning while training with a lot of individuals. The original class offered me a unique way of fighting, to “Jeet” or to “Intercept”. Both classes were valuable in helping me shape my growth as a martial artist.
– Dr. Z