Who better to turn to than Ted Wong -- the man who many claim was Bruce Lee's No. 1 disciple -- for advice on fixing the mistakes students make in their jeet kune do techniques?

Like the people who run most magazines, we at Black Belt love to look at surveys — in particular, surveys that tell us what you want to read. Back in the 1970s, those surveys told us you were interested in kung fu self-defense moves and jeet kune do moves. In the ’80s, it was taekwondo techniques, ninjutsu techniques and jeet kune do techniques. In the ’90s, it was kenpo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and jeet kune do. In the 2000s, it’s been the mixed martial arts and — you guessed it — jeet kune do. To serve up an article about the one fighting art that has remained on everyone’s radar ever since Bruce Lee began showcasing it in movies, we talked with Ted Wong, the man many claim was Bruce Lee’s No. 1 disciple. In 2006, Ted Wong was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Man of the Year for his ongoing efforts to propagate JKD around the world. Who better to turn to for advice on fixing the mistakes students make in their jeet kune do techniques? Sadly, Ted Wong passed away on November 24, 2010. Before his passing, however, he shared with us the 14 mistakes he encountered most often and offered advice from his decades of experience.


JEET KUNE DO TECHNIQUES VIDEO Ted Wong Explains the Importance of Distance, Angles and Alignment

Learn how the boxing techniques of Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis influenced Bruce Lee's development of jeet kune do techniques in this FREE download! Bruce Lee Training Research: How Boxing Influenced His Jeet Kune Do Techniques

Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #1: Wrong Origins Not all aspects of JKD punching stem from wing chun kung fu, Ted Wong says. “Much of the JKD being taught today is based on wing chun structures. I have a lot of respect for wing chun, but it’s not JKD. In fact, the majority of Bruce Lee’s notes in Tao of Jeet Kune Do are from boxing and fencing. “One of the most important phrases in his notes and in the Tao comes from a boxing book: ‘The essence of fighting is the art of moving at the right time.’ But you have to move and think like a fencer because mobility is the key in JKD or any fighting art.”
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Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #2: Wrong Balance Bruce Lee taught that the key to balance is having your head positioned vertically over the line that connects your feet, Ted Wong says. “If it’s not and your opponent forces you to move backward, you have nowhere to go while staying balanced.”

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Even worse, you can’t follow up when your balance is off. You’re basically limited to your initial jeet kune do moves, be it a punch or a kick, because you’re not in a position to throw another one with any power, he says. In some instances — specifically, when your opponent is backing up after your first strike — you’ll need to pursue him with follow-up shots. That’s when you really have to keep your head over the line between your feet so you can quickly close the distance.
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Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #3: Wrong Stance Bruce Lee developed the JKD stance for a reason: It serves a fighter well in the greatest variety of situations. All the more reason not to abandon it as you face different opponents — a grappler, for instance.

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“If you make your stance too wide, you cannot move,” Ted Wong says. “A grappler will pick you up and throw you to the floor. If you keep the proper stance while your opponent shoots for your front leg, however, you can quickly move back and hit him.” Remember to keep your balance forward for maximum power, he adds. In order to execute jeet kune do moves correctly, you need the proper JKD stance. To construct the right stance, imagine a line between you and your opponent. The toe of your front foot should be on that line, as should the arch of your rear foot. An isosceles triangle is formed with your lead toe at the top and your rear heel and rear toe at the bottom vertexes. “If you have an open stance like a boxer, that line will point away from your opponent, and you’ll lose your power structure,” Ted Wong says. “One key part of JKD is, it’s not how fast you hit or how much muscle you have; it’s that you have that power structure. You have to keep it intact no matter how or where you move. When you’re off, you lose power and mobility.”
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Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #4: Wrong Understanding You can’t rely on one or two forces in jeet kune do moves. You need three, Ted Wong says. “The first is vertical. Your stance is slightly down to begin with, and then you strike as you rise. It’s normally used in the uppercut. “The second force is linear, which means you’re moving forward. It’s what powers the lead-hand strike.” Obviously, footwork is important to create that forward motion. “The third is rotational,” Ted Wong says. It emanates from twisting your hips and is the force that powers the hook punch and hook kick. Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #5: Wrong Distance “Perhaps the most common mistake people make when learning JKD is [related to] distance, Ted Wong says. “If you have the wrong distance, you cannot get your technique or combination off, and you might get hit. So it’s critical to be able to judge distance.” The philosophy, which derives from fencing, is simple: Stay far enough out of reach to prevent your foe from touching you with a punch or kick — and from being able to lean and touch you. If he wants to make contact, he’ll have to take a step. Obviously, you’ll have to do the same to reach him, but because you’re trained to close that gap, it’s easier for you.
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Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #6: Wrong Timing “Nobody throws a punch like in JKD,” Ted Wong claims. And that’s why it’s so hard for the average martial artist to master jeet kune do techniques. When developing timing in your jeet kune do moves, Ted Wong advocates memorizing a motto from fencing: Hand before foot always. “You can see reference to it in the Tao,” he says. “Your hand moves before your feet move. It comes from Aldo Nadi, who was a four-time Olympic medalist in fencing. It enables you to bridge the gap and land the shot.”
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Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #7: Wrong Defense Too many students lean away from their opponent to avoid a punch. Ted Wong calls the remedy to this mistake “half-half sharing.” Instead of merely leaning, your upper body is angled backward to cover half the distance needed for your evasive movement and your footwork covers the other half. That gives you a margin of safety, and it doesn’t leave you out of range or off-balance, either of which could preclude a counterattack, he says.
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Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #8: Wrong Flow Another mistake beginners make is separating their forward step from their lead-hand strike — in essence, they step, plant their foot on the ground and then punch. It’s way too slow, Ted Wong says. The preferred way to execute jeet kune do moves is to make sure that when you land your blow, your front foot isn’t on the ground yet, Ted Wong says. “When you hit, it’s one, two, three. One is your fist hitting his face, two is your front foot hitting the ground and three is your rear foot hitting the ground after the step.” Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #9: Wrong Power Source The power of your jeet kune do moves should come from your rear leg, not from your arms. “You channel the power from your back leg through your body and into your punch,” Ted Wong says. Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #10: Wrong Angles Jeet kune do combat isn’t just a back-and-forth exchange of blows. It’s two-dimensional. That second dimension comes from moving off to the side when you’re confronted by an attack. “Angling can put you in a safer position to counter from,” Ted Wong says. “For example, at the same time you move in for a punch to counter your opponent’s punch, you angle to the outside of his arm so he can’t hit you with his counterattack. It’s a built-in safety.”
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Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #11: Wrong Approach In JKD, you shouldn’t just step toward your opponent and try to score with a punch, Ted Wong says. Even if you execute the attack correctly, success is hard to come by because he can react before you land the shot. The right way to enter is with a stop-kick — for example, using your lead leg to attack his lead leg or body, whether he’s moving forward or not. Then you launch your punch as your front foot comes down. Make sure to angle off to the outside as you strike, Ted Wong adds. Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #12: Wrong Punching Many martial artists throw the rear-hand punch while their fist is vertical, but that creates less than optimal bone alignment, Ted Wong says. The right way according to JKD is to turn your fist so your elbow is pointing slightly up — so your pinkie knuckle is higher than your index-finger knuckle. That orientation aligns the bones in your forearm with the ones in your hands for maximum structural integrity. It also raises your upper arm, which protects your chin. In contrast, if you punch with your fist vertical, your upper arm will be lower, thus exposing your chin to a counterattack. Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #13: Wrong Kicking One of the most serious mistakes Ted Wong has identified involves practitioners who lean backward while kicking. It’s bad for many reasons, he says. First, you sacrifice power whenever you lean backward. Second, you probably won’t have a chance to land more than one technique because your arms can’t reach him from your compromised position. “It’s a one-shot deal for you,” he says. Third, you might fall — more than a few fighters have taken a tumble in the ring or on the street because they’re off-balance after such a technique. Fourth, if you have to struggle to avoid falling, you could very well find yourself hopping backward to regain your balance, and that’s not good. In lieu of leaning in your jeet kune do moves, you should keep your balance forward as required by the JKD stance. Jeet Kune Do Techniques Mistake #14: Wrong Reaching Punching is a highly effective subset of Bruce Lee’s art, but it’s often sabotaged when beginners lean too far forward to hit in their jeet kune do moves. “In JKD, we start from farther back — just like in fencing — so if all you’re going to do is lean, you won’t make it,” Ted Wong says. “It’s too far, which is why footwork is important to cover the distance. “In boxing, it all takes place within arm’s reach. I touch you and you touch me. But in fencing, if I touch you and you touch me, we both get killed. It’s about who can bridge the gap and get in quicker to score. JKD students think the same way.” About the author: Robert W. Young is the executive editor of Black Belt. To learn more about jeet kune do and Ted Wong's training under Bruce Lee, be sure to consult the Bruce lee section of our online store!
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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