The Jeet Kune Do Experience


The “Jeet Kune Do Experience: Understanding Bruce Lee’s Ultimate Martial Art” by Jerry Beasley (Paladin Press) incorporates material from Beasley’s “In Search of the Ultimate Martial Art” and “The Way of No Way.” It addresses the subject of training in the system of jeet kune do (JKD). The book is not about Bruce Lee, but rather the art that he created.

In this book, Beasley attempts to provide an acceptable definition to the term jeet kune do, based on the principles that compose the conceptual framework. He does this by recognizing the views and values of individuals who studied with Bruce Lee directly, or as second hand participants. Beasley’s knowledge of JKD comes primarily from his study with Dan Inosanto and Joe Lewis, two very accomplished martial artists in their own right. There will most likely always be contention among jeet kune do practitioners regarding what true jeet kune do is or how it differs from jeet kune do concepts and other training philosophies that use the same term JKD. Because of this, there may be readers that disagree with Beasley’s definition of jeet kune do and his version of Bruce Lee’s art. All I can say about that is that I do not study or teach JKD, or any version of it. I tried to read this book as Beasley wished, with open-mindedness and without burdens of preconceived opinions and conclusions. And from that standpoint, I found this book to be an educational and entertaining read. I found things in this book that I could relate to my own martial art training and teaching.

The first half of the book was Beasley’s “In Search of the Ultimate Martial Art” that he wrote in 1988. The chapters include Finding the Path, Going to the Source, The Next Generation, The Skills of Jeet Kune Do, and Conclusions. I especially liked the chapter Going To The Source witch contained interviews with Dan Inosanto, Larry Hartsell, who we unfortunately lost just recently, and Joe Lewis. I enjoyed reading the words of those that have been such an influence with not only JKD but martial arts for so many years. The weakest part of this section of the book for me was the chapter on JKD skills. This chapter showed a small sampling of techniques illustrated with sequenced photographs. The chapter was okay in showing a small sampling of JKD techniques, and that was its main purpose. It is not meant to teach you JKD, and that is good. I just enjoyed the rest of the book more than this chapter. The conclusions chapter provided some concepts that anyone in the martial arts should be aware of and study. It was enlightening the way Beasley presented his thoughts his book gave me more to think about in my own journey.

The second part of the book is Beasley’s “The Way of No Way,” originally published in 1992 and based on a number of Beasley’s magazine articles from that time period. It consists of chapters titled Developing a Science for JKD, Utilizing the Principles of JKD, The Matrix, Basic Training, and Conclusions and Observations. Again, I enjoyed the conceptual writings much more than the techniques accompanied with photographs. I felt the weakest chapter in the book was Basic Training. It provided a few basic weight lifting exercises and training drills shows through pictures. This chapter was no where near as useful as the chapter on utilizing the principles of JKD. I especially liked the reprinting of the article written by Beasley and Joe Lewis, “Beyond the Angles of Attack” that was originally published in the July 1988 issue of Black Belt magazine.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I do not study or teach JKD, but I still found a lot of wisdom and value in some of the concepts Beasley wrote about. I also enjoyed learning more about Jeet Kune Do and those that have pioneered the art since Bruce Lee’s passing. I especially connected with how Beasley closes the book in reminding us of the ending of the movie “Circle of Iron” where the main character opens the book of “truth” to find a reflection of himself. Each of us represents our own truth. Beasley’s JKD might not be like other’s JKD, and Beasley himself acknowledges and accepts that. However, Beasley’s “The Jeet Kune Do Experience” is a very good book for those that want a better understanding of the art of JKD and quite possibly a better understanding of their own training.


Source by Alain Burrese

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