What is the Martial Art Style of the Legendary martial arts Icon Bruce Lee? We get asked and hear this question. The style that Lee founded in called Jeet Kune Do or way of the intercepting fist. For all the techniques you can find in the Original Jeet Kune Do Training Manual. Now what exactly is in the Style or System known as Jeet Kune Do.
There have been countless books and stories on Bruce Lee and his philosophy, and a few on his martial art system, with none really touching on the actual techniques taught, other than the Original Jeet Kune Do Training Manual, and in the training outline books that were available to some of his students.
This article will include all of the teachniques taught by Lee during his lifetime at his three famous schools that were located in Oakland California, Seattle Washington, and Los Angeles California. One of the many falacies around Bruce Lee of course was that his martial art system was not a style, and was more of a vision or concept without any form or guidelines. While this helps add to the mystery that is Bruce Lee, it does nothing to help the martial art student wanting to practice what Lee had designed and taught.
Here in article form for the first time is the complete listing of techniques he taught at his schools. While space and logistics do not permit me to detail each of the specific moves, this will give you a general knowledge of what went on behind closed doors at Lee’s private martial arts accademies.
Seattle Washington Bruce Lee School
Gin-Lai or Salutation
Bi-jong or ready stance (Incorporating the Centreline Theory)
Immovable Elbow Theory
Four Corner Theory
Sil Lim Tao (basic form taught in Seattle)
Straight punches and elbow punches and various body punches
Bil-jee (finger jab)
Forward straight heel kick
Forward shovel kick
Low side kick
Low toe kick
Groin toe kick
Hook kick (medium & high)
Spinning back hook kicks
Chi Sao (sticking hands)
Vertical fist punch
Fook sao or elbow contained bent wrist block
Palm strikes – vertical – side – and palm up
Chop chuie – Gwa chuie
Pak sao lop sao gwa chuie
Lop sao chung chuie lop sao chung chuie
Chop chuie gwa chuie lop sao chung chuie
Oakland California Bruce Lee School
Five corner kicking: alternating kicks between left and right foot.
Five corner kicking: Bi Jong and Natural stance.
Clockwork kicking: real-time kicking with the closest weapon.
Combination clockwork kicking & hitting: advanced.
Key: real-time, no hesitation, no chambering, closest weapon to closest target.
Ranges of combat
Stance: Bi Jong
Lead stance: shuffle, front, rear, side.
Form is the essence, balanced, smooth, feet stay on the ground, (skating)
Strictly lower body movements: each movement is independent.
Comfortable and alive, natural bounce, not rigid or stiff with hops or jumps.
Shuffle to various strikes and kicks.
Key: be alive and comfortable.
Evade various strikes (some exaggerated to make easier)
Evade various kicks.
Evade various combinations of strikes and kicks.
Minimal movement to make opponent miss.
Know what position and distance is safe for you.
Individualize and adapt to the size and reach of the opponent.
Evade and counter: after learning the above.
Keys: Better to miss by an inch then to block by a mile.
To block is to get hit.
Don’t engage the opponent, disengage him.
(e.g. don’t tangle yourself in blocking and trapping movements)
The whole idea is to intercept his physical and emotional intent to hurt you.
Classical versus the New (modern)
Sil lim tao: performed the semi classical semi wing chun way. Even this was modified.
Regarding trapping: cut the movement in half for realism.
Concentrate on speed and economy of motion.
Hook punch: closer to the body than a boxer.
Elbow next to the ribs, much tighter and compact.
Key: centreline theory (from the centre, not outside or wide).
Rear heel kick: tighter, more centred.
Separate punching drills:
Centreline punching (rapid): straight-line blast with closing footwork.
Separate kicking drills
- Two Aspects for improved kicking:
Power: Water in the hose analogy for transfer of force through target.
Speed: Whip analogy for speed of recovery:(e.g. shoe laces pop, kicking a gnat out of the air)
Combine, blend power with speed drills, and make adjustments.
Keys: Delivery system – instant, fast relaxed.
Hand before foot
Non-telegraphic (no pre-steps or stutter steps)(for punching: no flinching)
Complete emphasis on speed and economy of motion.
The less you move the better.
Clean and sharp as a two edged sword, pure Chinese Kung-Fu.
Power comes with time, sometimes years; on the spot power.
Speed comes with accuracy.
Proper form and body alignment with balance.
Footwork is supposed to be light and easy, not jumping around stiff, but relaxed and smooth without deliberation, angular and instant.
Economy of motion: cut these movements in half.
One hand trap
Two hand trap
Key: Trapping is only a by-product.
Hit, hit and more hit: not trap, trap and then hit.
While engaging an opponent, if there’s emptiness?Hit.
Skim and glide with friction but let the Chi flow.
Line drills (Quiet awareness)
Sensitivity: Touch vs. Non-Touch.
Line drills: realism
Distance: Measure your distance
No man’s land
Gates, body positions, and zones
Key: Put yourself where you’re safe and the opponent is not.
Circle to the outside of the strong side, away from rear hand.
Immobilize the lead leg or hand, after you hit, not before.
Attack and defence.
Key: Stun him first, before obstruction, to break his rhythm or forward momentum.
Side kick: shin, knee target
Side kick: power through target
Strikes to traps
Kicks to traps
Bridging the gap
Basic wing chun traps
Strike to hand immobilization to takedown
Kick to leg immobilization to takedown
Backfist (high to low, low to high)
Keys: All trapping concludes in hitting
Don’t punch and kick at an opponent, kick and punch through him
Broken rhythm (Don’t be predictable)
Using the stop-kick as a jab as you incorporate it in footwork (e.g. be loose, fluid, Ali-like)
Burning foot: hand to foot impetus.
The pendulum: avoidance then following back swiftly and instantaneously.
Basic and primary goal: Each student must find his ownIdentifying the tools
Using the tools
Sharpening the tools
Dissolving the tools
In adapting to the opponent:
The Three Phrases:Ice: solid, unchanging, rigid.
Water: liquid, flowing.
Steam: gaseous, focused pressure.
Sparring and Combat Freestyles
Los Angeles California Bruce Lee School
Waist twisting (three times to each side)
Run in place
Side kick raise
(Hanging paper*, glove, glove pad, wall pad, heavy bag)
*Paper Hanging exercise
Bruce taught this exercise for two reasons, control and speed. Tape two wires to a concrete wall. The wires allow you to put an 8 by 11 sheet of paper at different depths towards the wall. The idea was to strike the paper as hard as you could, without moving it. You kept pushing the paper closer and closer until it laid against the wall. You had to hit as hard as you could, without busting your hand up. You became very skilled at depth control. The second exercise was for speed. You hung the paper from two corners, about shoulder high. The idea was to rip the paper with a punch. This required two elements, speed and recoil. It was the recoiling action that tore the paper. This was an important quality for doing concussion punching.
Warm-up – the letting out of water [the idea of dropping the hammer loosely]
The straight punch (left/right) then with pursuing
The entering straight right
The back fist
Warm-up – (left/right)
letting out of water
Side kick – (left/right)
[note: choice of group training method]
Facing two lines
One student comes out
Straight kick – (left/right)
The shin/knee/groin kicks
Hook kicks [low first] and toe kick
Combination kicking – eventually with hand
The stop hit
The shin/knee kick
The finger jab (close range)
Any type of kick to fit in
The four-corner counter
The upward outward force
The basic power training
Chop chuie/gwa chuie
Pak sao/gwa chuie
Double lop sao (a & b)
Chop chuie/gwa chuie, lop sao/gwa chuie
Pak sao/jut sao
Chop chuie/gwa chuie/jut tek
Inside gate tan da
Tan da low/gwa chuie
Chop chuie/gwa chuie/lop sao
Right hand feint with groin kick
Right kick feint with bil-jee
Right feint to stomach with right straight to head
Right feint to head shift to right to stomach.
I hope this gives you some much needed insight into the secret world of Bruce Lee, his schools, and to what the art of Jeet Kune Do is about.