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I remember Linda Lee Cadwell paraphrasing a statement made by Pete Jacobs (a student of Bruce Lee’s in Los Angeles) during the Inaugural JFJKD Seminar held in 1997 in San Francisco: “We can’t possibly predict in what direction he may have gone, most certainly we can predict that he would have continued to grow, evolve, change, but we can’t say what that was [or would have been]." In this way, JFJKD serves as both the historical reference for what Bruce Lee practiced, trained and taught during his lifetime, and also the inspiration or catalyst encouraging followers not to follow blindly their sifu (teacher) and/or style, and to discover the truth for themselves. Although Bruce Lee’s message prescribed having no boundaries when looking to improve one’s martial arts, it becomes increasingly important to document what he taught and practiced so future generations will have a chance to experience what the first-generation students did during their time with him. As a result, the art of Jun Fan jeet kune do showcases the common ground that first-generation students share so the historical reference and context of his evolution in the martial arts during his lifetime could be preserved. When examining Lee’s personal notes and letters, and hearing the recollections from his students, one can discover the building blocks of jeet kune do. In this way, Lee’s body of work is basic source material, providing the beginning student some initial steps to study and explore, and a path to understanding JKD.
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Bruce Lee Quotes on Philosophy: An Excerpt From the NEW Bruce Lee Biography and Your Guide to Four More Bruce Lee Books
An interesting viewpoint is that — while some differences may exist between Bruce Lee’s martial arts when it comes to his time in Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles — little delineation occurred in his evolutionary development toward jeet kune do. Bruce Lee developed JKD throughout his time in America. It was, by no means, a smooth, gradual process — but for him, change happened out of necessity. His process was akin to the modern evolution theory of “punctuated equilibrium,” which proposes over thousands or millions of years that species maintain a relatively stable existence — but when evolutionary changes occur, they are rapid and abrupt, not smooth and gradual. Punctuated equilibrium appears to describe perfectly Bruce Lee’s methods because he was known to be inspired by something early on, only to drop it or even criticize it later. As he became enlightened through investigating various topics such as kinesiology (the science of movement), he came to fully understand how to use a certain fighting principle and then modified his methods accordingly. Furthermore, events such as an altercation in Oakland, wherein Lee was challenged by a Chinese martial artist, resulted in an abrupt change in Lee’s approach to the martial arts. Although he bested his opponent, Lee concluded the match lasted entirely too long due to his strict adherence to his previous training, and he immediately sought out more efficient combat methods. In many ways, the exact timing of these inspirations is difficult to pin down, because much of what was happening to Lee was occurring simultaneously. For instance, he was already influenced by Western boxing and fencing in his early years in Hong Kong. The question is: When did certain elements come to full fruition in his development as a martial artist? Similar techniques were taught in all three schools, yet certain discoveries he found useful during his evolution were reflected in his private practice and training. Although it is convenient to chronicle Lee’s development by dividing it between his Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles periods, much overlap exists between “eras” since he continued to have contact with students from all three. In fact, each era could be equally served by referencing the many students he had. Nevertheless, the three eras provide the reader points of reference for placing dates, events and Lee’s development into context so that each school provides a glimpse along the evolutionary path.
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For unfettered access to a Bruce Lee time capsule containing what Tommy Gong called in the preceding text "a rich history that allows us to better understand Bruce Lee and jeet kune do," be sure to check out the NEW epic collection of downloadable PDFs — Black Belt Magazine: The Bruce Lee Collection — containing 29 issues (3,500+ pages!) spanning 45 years of martial arts history.