I started writing this article in response to continued requests to help find JKD schools close to visitors. I thought this would be a quick answer but soon realized that it would not be enough. Training is progressive, so the following articles will lay out your progression of long distance learning in Jeet Kune Do. It will resemble Dragon Family’s own training structure. This is in response to recent requests to help find Jeet Kune Do trainers around you guys.
I usually am not a big fan of online training but advancements in videos and live streaming can resemble class training. I feel it can be adequate to learn the basics, not necessarily certification. Hands on is and will always be the best way to learn.
I certainly don’t want you to delay training because no one is near by. You can start supplementing training until your life brings you to the doors of a Jeet Kune Do school as mine did. I started training in JKD after watching Bruce Lee’s life story. I did my turn of buying VHS tapes and DVDs that did not pan out or became mini jewels of knowledge. I was fortunate to meet a gentlemen in high school who I can say, after training with Sifu Bryan, that he did know his stuff. So I have some experience in supplemental training. You can also use the article series to add to your current training.
Why is it so hard to find a school?
Lineage has been used to qualify instructors which over time has created a nexus of instructors in California leaving everyone else in the shadows. With the passing of several first and second generation instructors the fear of loosing authentic JKD or Jun Fan/JKD instructor is rising. I refer to authentic as what Bruce Lee taught as basic techniques, applications and concepts to his students, not their personal expressions or expansions on JKD training or what is refereed to Jeet Kune Do Concept who may never have trained in basic JKD techniques. It is also commonly preferred that JKD students train under several JKD first and/or second generation instructors. But you can see that location and the passing of such instructors has made it even more difficult.
Fortunately, Dragon Family’s own head instructor/owner, Sifu Bryan, is one of the few JKD instructors who did train under several first and second generation instructors. Which is why we accept all teachings of JKD from Bruce Lee’s original schools. Bruce Lee was developing his art while teaching. Each school he opened was during his own progression of training leaving each of his head students with a piece of the puzzle. This also preludes to the structure of training taught at Dragon Family and why I have adapted it for long distance training.
Phase 1: Wing Chun Phase (Beginning)
Emphasis is on structure and the basics and progression of the basics
Synchronization of self occurs in this phase
3000 to 5000 reps to make it a response
Stage of Sophistication or Mechanical Stage “A punch in no longer a punch”
Phase 2: JKD Kickboxing (Intermediate)
Overlapping with Phase 1 & Phase 2
Synchronization with the opponent
Continuation of material
Application during fighting conditions occurs in this phase
Flow is stressed
Equipment comes into play
Mook Jong training
Phase 3: Refinement Energy/Sensitivity (Advanced)
Overlapping with 2 & 3 phase
Five ways of attack
Speed and power
Continuation of material
Increased emphasis on energy/sensitivity
Phase 4: Scientific Street Fighting (Expert)
Putting it all together
Grappling & self-defense scenarios
My recommendations may seem bias but I would only recommend what I can trust. Doing home training also requires a lot of motivation so you better plan your day. Let’s begin…
PHASE I: WING CHUN
On Your Own
Like any art, you need to start with open hand forms. They teach you the basic techniques before diving into application. Bruce Lee practiced Siu Lim Toa every morning. This is the first form taught by Ip Man. It teaches the ‘bread and butter’ hand techniques. You can use books, DVDs or even mobile apps to learn the following Wing Chun forms. I have not tried any apps but feel free to leave a comment if you have experience with them.
By using books you can make your training more mobile. I prefer Kung Fu: Traditional Chinese Kung Fu for Self-Defense and Health by Ip Chun. The name is long and promises more than what is the book but it is the basics without any flash to confuse you. It’s also similar to the form taught at Dragon Family. I had used it during my beginning years as a quick reference when practicing out of class.
The next book I recommend is Wing Chun Martial Arts: Principles & Techniques also by Yip Chun. This has all the forms when you are ready. Chum Kiu teaches body mass movement and entry techniques with the elbows and knees. The Biu Tze form advances into extreme short and long range techniques simulating lose of center line. It strengthens the upper body and can emphasize stretching. If you want DVDs of each form I recommend Sifu Benny Meng’s Series. He explains the purpose of each technique remarkably. You can learn more about Sifu Benny and order material at http://home.vtmuseum.org/ .
Wooden Dummy Training
You need feedback and resistance to really understand Wing Chun. Bamboo grows stronger in the wind. The Wooden Dummy or mook jong (muk yan jong) is a tool for basic techniques by letting you know if your structure is off by rebounding back into your body. It also gives reference to where your limbs need to go. Wooden dummies, such as “The Warrior” that I use in school and at home, are expensive but great if you can afford it. Otherwise there are some cheap or even free “build your own” manuals online.
Next is having a DVD of the wooden dummy forms. Bruce Lee was only trained in half of the positions before returning to America. So don’t get hung up on learning all 108 positions. You want a DVD that you can easily follow along with the positions divided into sets through the DVD menu. Sifu Benny Meng has this series available as well.
Try a Wing Chun School
Fair warning!! Look out for extremists thinking or confinement to form, a few things that Bruce Lee despised. Wing chun is simple, with all unnecessary movement stripped away. It is an uncommitted flow to allow a failed attack to not stop action but to continue through with another follow up.
There are many branches of Wing Chun with no official lineage. I have seen schools that use a ‘cat stance’ relying on a solid base while reducing mobility and sparring techniques. Even a school part of the Ip Man branch can have extremists. There is one that holds a high tan sao close to above the head. They are imitating Yip Man who was shorter than his students. He had to hold it higher to keep center line. This is where technique is taught but not understood properly. Unfortunately, that happens a lot in the martial arts world. Try a school after reading the books to make an educated decision.
This is also the reason why I prefer Sifu Benny Meng’s DVDs. He has worked hard to muddle through the politics and myths of Wing Chun. He looks at Wing Chun as a science of the human body much like Bruce Lee did when developing Jeet Kune Do.
Next Phase will be JKD kickboxing….