MMA Is Not JKD

JKD is NOT MMA

by Keith Pascal

I keep reading how Mixed Martial Arts got its roots from Bruce Lee’s JKD. Before you click away when I tell you how much I disagree with the implied connection, why don’t you conduct my little experiment and really prove or disprove the link, once and for all….

MMA’s Mistaken Link

Since I try to avoid writing martial-arts history, I won’t talk about the actual roots of MMA. Instead, I’d like to break the connection by allowing you to conduct an experiment. (I’ll tell you about it in a minute or two.)

The mistaken link between Jeet Kune Do and other styles often occurs when we learn that the connected style ALSO combines different martial-arts styles. People reason that since both JKD and the other style, in this case MMA, mix and match from other systems, they must be related.

Actually, it’s a natural assumption … even though, in this case, it’s incorrect.

All you have to do is find some MMA footage (videos) or go to a live match. Then observe.

That’s it.

When I watch MMA, I sometimes see a good match — an entertaining fight — but I don’t see much that I’d call “JKD.”

How about you?

The MMA JKD Experiment

It’s experiment time:

    1. Get that clip of a good MMA example, as mentioned above.

    2. Make a list of some tell-tale signs of JKD.

    3. Watch the match with this filter in place.

    4. Ask yourself if you are, indeed, watching anything even close to what Bruce Lee would have taught.

So, what are some clues to look for in a match?

  • When in range, do they move their weapons (fists and feet) before their bodies?
  • Do they avoid blocking, unless a punch comes first?
  • Do they interrupt the opponent’s rhythm … often?
  • Do they predominantly kick and punch with the leading (most forward) limb?
  • Do they consider the closest part of their opponent to be their primary target?
  • Do they avoid fighting at a standard sparring distance?
  • Do they straight blast? (Rapid punches that force the opponent back because they just don’t stop coming in.)
  • Whenever grappled to the mat, is one of the two opponents straight blasting like there is no tomorrow?
  • Do the opponents only “move with a purpose” or do you see considerable dancing around?

End Thoughts

I’m definitely not trying to convince someone who is into MMA that Bruce Lee shouldn’t be their hero; I believe that he can be a hero without being one of the founders of the system.

I’d also like to suggest that if you study MMA, your repertoire might benefit from some “real” JKD influence.

Just imagine the competitor who knew the punch-check combination of Bruce Lee …and as a result, NEVER blocked first in the ring.

Just a thought.

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