In 1959 Bruce Lee came to America, at that time his original art was Wing-Chun. Over the next few years of working with much larger and stronger Americans, Bruce Lee discovered the limitations of Wing-Chun.
In 1964 at the Long Beach Internationals is where Bruce Lee first met Dan Inosanto. Inosanto at that time was a world class athlete running the 100 yard dash in 9.4 seconds. Over the next 9 years Bruce and Dan together created what is now known as Jeet Kune Do. They dissected and synthesized every art and philosophy salient to street fighting.
In 1973 Bruce Lee passed away, and the mantle of Jeet Kune Do was officially passed to Dan Inosanto. In 1974 Mr. Inosanto opened the doors to the Filipino Kali Academy. His intention was and still is to continue to cultivate and refine the original process by which he and Bruce started.
3 years later in 1977 is when I personally joined the Kali Academy. From that very first day, I vividly remember Inosanto pounding in our heads, what he said was the most important principle in JKD. “Constant Growth and Progression”. Indeed the very words on his certificate echo this principle of continual growth and progression.
The reason JKD was and is so affective lies in the simple fact that it is cutting edge. For example, during the mid 70’s everyone used to kick above the waist only. The folks that were at the top of the heap in this world were PKA(Professional Karate Association).
The raging paradigm at the time was, one would irreparably damage the knees if leg kicks were applied. We disagreed vehemently with that conclusion. Very few people knew anything about Thai boxing in those days. And this happened to be one of the last arts that Bruce and Dan were exploring before Bruce’s death.
Wanting to continue this exploration we invited Chai Siruste “World Champion Thai Boxer” to the Kali Academy. We all fell in love with Thai Boxing. The effectiveness of Thai boxing became so evident from that day on, that we made it a staple in the JKD curriculum.
“Change is necessary so the practitioner can adapt to the ever changing times and situations. “
Throughout the rest of the 70’s and into the early 80’s while most of America was fighting out a low stance, and throwing face kicks. We were slamming our opponents front leg with the infamous Thai round kick, then clinching their necks and throwing elbows and knees Thai style. This curriculum served us well, right up until 1983 when we first met the Gracies.
By 1985 we made Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu an official part of our JKD curriculum. If one were a fly on the wall at the Filipino Kali Academy around these very years they would see during full contact sparring,-jabs, crosses, kicks, Thai clinching, elbows, knees, takedowns, arm locks, triangles and chokes. In other words it would look like what MMA looks like today.
The conclusions that we discovered in JKD are the identical conclusions that the MMA world discovered. 95% of the actual techniques needed in one on one empty hand battles lye within two arts, Thai boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I use mix martial arts as an example, because the greatest fighters in the world have culminated to what is now known as mixed martial arts.
The top of the heap in this game is the UFC. The UFC has sponsored just over “100” fight nights. There have been roughly 700 fights, of those there have been 432 victories.(268 went to a decision) 218 were from knockouts, of either punches, kicks, elbows or knees. Mostly Thai style. And mostly from the Thai clinch. We clearly have to give the majority of the standup techniques to the Thai’s. There have also been 214 victories on the ground due to submissions. This means arm locks, leg locks, triangles, and chokes, these moves all belong to Brazilian jiu-jitsu(no one even know of any of these moves till Royce Gracie came along).
Additional Arts in contemporary JKD,
Once one has the foundation of Thai Boxing and Brazilian Jiu-JItsu. It always helps to spice up your game by throwing in other styles. Say Greco Roman for the Clinch, Wing-Chun to improve forward pressure, or perhaps Savate for some Cro-Cop like kicks.
In 1989 we decided to investigate shooto fighting, Inosanto brought in Sensei Yuri Nakamuri, and much like the Thai boxing everyone fell in love with shoot fighting.
A Ground game.
He grabs you with his incredible grip strength, rips into your flesh like a pit bull( using mainly one’s k-nines) and the single most important thing is that you are in some sort of bear hug while this is happening. Every single bite or eye gouge performed by a kina mutai specialist is augmented with their right hand gripping their left wrist, or their left hand gripping their right wrist(in a bear hug type of fashion). The actual motion of the bite is a repeated circular ripping of the flesh ,when applied over a period of time the damage inflicted is unimaginable.A contemporary JKD man escalates their level of violence to this degree only for two possible reasons.One is to protect their to family.(perhaps carjacking, home invasion, or child abductions etc)For a military operation.