posted on March 25, 2011 02:59
In part 1, we look at JKD as a martial arts system and today we are gonna to look at JKD as a concept. The usefulness and value of a concept no matter how great, completely depends on how it is apply. So before we can go on, it is essential that we once again are going to look at action/ what happens instead of words alone.
JKD as a concept can be some up by paraphrasing its most popular saying - "use whats useful , reject whats useless and add whats specially your own" this was supposedly said by the brilliant martial artist Bruce Lee . I said "supposedly" because since his death, more and more people are discovering that a lot of things that was said or written by Bruce was actually written by others ( we will look into this in part 3 , "JKD as a philosophy" ) .
"Use whats useful , reject whats useless and add whats specially your own". That sounds logical, simple and great but as I suggested in the beginning of this post, no matter how great a concept is, the value of it completely depends on how one applies it. So lets examine how this key concept is usually applied in commericalized JKD schools.
What usually happens in JKD concept is that students will study an endless amounts of arts such as Western boxing,Savate, Muay Thai, Silat, Kali, Wing chun, Grappling and just about any functional Martial Arts that is on the mainstream. The Objective is to absorb as many different arts as one can and to be able to fight in all ranges... Great conceptual words but what actually happens when applied? The actual result a lot of times is that the student becomes so overwhelm with trying to master too many things at once and the result is best describe by the classic saying " Jack of all trades and Master at none" . In this approach, the concept of : "use whats useful , reject whats useless and add whats specially your own" can be translated into 3 points :
1 Look at everything you can find under the sun about MA
2 Try to get at least competent in them
3 For most people with an average learning curve, the result = " Jack of all trades and Master at none"
Lets contrast this with how Bruce Lee apply the concept of "Use whats useful , reject whats useless and add whats specially your own :
Did Bruce Lee also look at everything you can find under the sun about MA like his followers? Off course he did! In Hong Kong aside from studying WC under Yip Man's clan, he also learn other Gung Fu styles with anyone who would let him in. When he arrive in Seattle, he studied with Grandmaster Fook Yueng who's stuff was a intergration of 160 styles of Gung Fu. Aside from formal instructions, Bruce would read anything that he can on Martial Arts with a home libary of over 1500 martial arts books! Most of his students were experience in different systems and by all accounts reported he would ask to see their stuff. So yes it is obvious that he also look at anything he can get his hands on about different Martial Arts BUT the DIFFERENCE is the way he mix arts was based on internalizing and integrating stuff NOT accumulation. There is a big difference in the two ways
Accumulation is based on adding more stuff - for example if you were to learn 3 different arts , it would take you 3 different moves to express it . If you learn 20 arts , it would take you 20 moves to express all 20 and so on.. This model produces complexity : the more arts you mix, the more stuff there is , the more complex things get, the harder it is to get good at, the harder it is to fight well.
Intergration is based on internalization - for example if you learn 3 arts, you can absorb it to a point that you can express all 3 arts in one motion. If you learn 50 arts you can still express all 50 in one move . Bruce Lee was an example of intergration - a simple example would be : his lead punch - arm like wing chun and old school western boxing with sensitivity of sticking built into it, body like a boxer, hips like a wing chun man, footwork like a fencer - all within one move. His sidekick had skipping motion like a savate player, chambering like karate , when he doesn't chamber its like wing chun, the falling stomp is like choy lee fut... again all these in one motion. This process is a paradox: the more arts he mixed in, the simplier it got and the fewer things he needed and used.
It is important to note that off course NOT all so called " JKD concept" mixes arts with the model of accumalation. I've seen some artists who have their root in JKD concept that uses the integration process instead of merely accumulation ( ie Dog Brothers martial arts, Burt Richardson, Matt Thorton etc). Therefore I am not interested in different camps of rather "concepts" is good or not but rather how it is apply.
Rather we look at accumulation or the wise process integration, we can see that it has been around long before Bruce was born if one were to study the history of martial arts. Therefore integration through " to use whats useful , reject whats useless and add whats specially your own" is NOT unique to Bruce . Like open mindedness, individuality and creativity, these are universal traits of humanity and a universal path, what was unique, was what he found on his path..... and so we are back to part 1 again haha . Creativity Integration by its very nature is an ENDLESS process. Hence, to stop where the founder stop and refusing to go farther , is really a way of saying the path that the founder took was a wrong choice.... therefore, I think we should continue to research everything we can find but not merely to apply the common method of accumulation but rather to compress things. Kind of like technology , the more it improves , the more compress it gets and smaller it gets but yet it offers more features and functions ( ie i-phone, lap-tops) lol