Going from Wing Chun to Jeet Kune Do

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tao_jeet_kune_doFor many years I have been very interested in martial arts. I was first inspired by Bruce Lee at the early age of 7 years old. I first watched the film Enter the Dragon during that time frame, and was mainly fascinated with nunchucks (nunchaku). Not long after watching that film, I made a pair out of two wooden sticks, a small chain and 2 nails used to hold the chain into each piece of wood. Yes, at age 7, I already thought I was a kung-fu master. I took my cheaply made nunchucks, invited a neighborhood kid to come over, and let him use them for a while … but after seeing that he was having great difficulty, I took them from him, did a few moves and busted him over the head. The kid fell to the ground, then got up holding his head and took off running to his parents while crying loudly. I was in trouble; the parents came over to talk to mine, but nothing came of it, other than he wasn’t allowed to come over and play anymore.
My dad decided to go buy me some practice-style nunchucks that were made of foam. Who in the hell wants foam nunchucks?
Anyway, years later, I now not only have a huge collection of real nunchucks ranging from metal, wood, and glow-in-the-dark acrylic, mini-chucks, tele-chucks, studded, you name it, I also have a huge array of various martial art weapons.

…None of that may have to do with my favorite style of Wing Chun and Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, but the point is, I showed an interest early on and went through various studies and different styles before realizing just what the core philosophies behind Bruce’s Jeet Kune Do really was. It was a combination of multiple styles, but unlike traditional martial arts, there was no particular style or traditions in Jeet Kune Do. If something worked you kept it, and if other aspects of a style was a waste or not as efficient, you trashed it. Jeet Kune Do doesn’t try to be showy and flashy either, as one of the main principles is the simplicity and the way of the intercepting fist.

One of Bruce Lee’s primary, original styles was Wing Chun. There for the longest he kept his kicks below the waist and mainly incorporated the direct movements, trapping, and blocking techniques of Wing Chun. Out of all the styles, it is by far my favorite. If one could take some extra grappling classes and perhaps learn some pressure point techniques in combination with this style, you would, in my opinion, be better equipped than most martial artists of today.

If anybody knows very much about this subject, they will also be very familiar with what is known as a Wing Chun Dummy. This particular wooden dummy is a thick wooden post with three arms and a leg mounted on a slightly springy frame representing a stationary human opponent. Although representative of a human opponent, the dummy is not a physical representation of a human, but an energetic one. Wooden dummy practice aims to refine a practitioner’s understanding of angles, positions, and footwork, and to develop full body power. It is here that the open hand forms are pieced together and understood as a whole. Personally, I find these things to be way too expensive.

When I was a teenager, a basic wooden Wing Chun Dummy cost around six or seven hundred plus. Now, after checking on the web, these things are up to over a thousand dollars! This is another reason why I used to build my own. Yes, it was a cheap imitation, but I’d go out in the woods and build with trees, to practice this style of martial arts. Another good thing about using these wooden targets, is that it toughens up your arms and blocking areas, such as your forearms.

Anyway, I’m not going to promote the idea of kicking and punching trees, albeit it is cheaper than the Wing Chun Dummy; ha! One thing that I never was pleased with, concerning Wing Chun, was their lack of weaponry. Advanced students got to use large Butterfly Knives (a little shorter than short swords), a.k.a. Double Knives, and what they called a Long Pole. At any rate, I suppose it doesn’t matter in my case, because I have enough weapons to perform my own training without the limitation of a style or a tradition (hey, that sounds like Jeet Kune Do).

The title of this Hub sort of represents Bruce’s transition from Wing Chun to his own form of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do. Now, I can’t type about every style and method he tried and tested throughout his short life, as it would take way too long. However, I will say that I have never heard of a guy training harder than he did. At age 13, Bruce Lee started lessons in the Wing Chun style of kung-fu for self-defense reasons. Well, over the next 19 years, he transformed his knowledge into a science, an art, a philosophy and a way of life. In fact, while reading over his main book, best seller, “Tao of Jeet Kune Do,” I was more interested in his philosophy than anything else. I bought my copy about 17 years ago, and actually waited a couple years before reading it because at the time I was still studying some of the more ancient arts of kung-fu.

I’ve did most of my training via self, although I have took traditional Karate classes that I found to be rather limiting. I detest being restricted to a certain style or limited to a certain way of thinking, etc. This applies to a lot of things in life, which Bruce Lee obviously integrated into his way of fighting. I remember when taking classes, I’d have a few minutes before class started to practice my own moves, etc. Then the sensei would come into the room, and here we go with boring, boring, basic stiff moves. That reminds me of another aspect of Wing Chun, as it thrives on relaxed muscles, as tension reduces punching speed and power. This also helps with the center-line punches & movements. Wing Chun techniques are generally “closed,” with the limbs drawn in to protect the central area and also to maintain balance. In most circumstances, the hands do not move beyond the vertical circle that is described by swinging the arms in front, with the hands crossed at the wrists. To reach outside this area, footwork is used. A large emphasis and time investment in training Chi Sao exercise emphasizes positioning to dominate this center-line. The stance and guard all point at or through the center to concentrate physical and mental intent of the entire body to the one target.

Well, I’ve rambled enough about this subject. I’ll leave it up to you to do your research on Wing Chun and Bruce Lee’s awesome Jeet Kune Do way of life…


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