Four more martial artists — Burton Richardson, Matthew J. Numrich, Teri Tom and Richard S. Bustillo — weigh in on what they consider the most important elements of Bruce Lee's teachings on jeet kune do.

Black Belt contacted 16 well-known martial artists who teach jeet kune do or were heavily influenced by it to get their thoughts on the most important part of Bruce Lee’s art. Part 1 features replies from Dan Inosanto, Tim Tackett, Kelly McCann and Joe Lewis. Here, in Part 2, we present the answers we got from Burton Richardson, Matthew J. Numrich, Teri Tom and Richard S. Bustillo.

— Editors


Photo by Robert Reiff

BURTON RICHARDSON Jeet Kune Do and Silat Instructor Founder of Jeet Kune Do Unlimited Black Belt Hall of Famer Star of Burton Richardson’s Silat for the Street Online Course If I had to teach only one element of Bruce Lee’s art, it would be the principle of training against a resisting opponent in all the ranges rather than merely doing isolated drills with a cooperative partner. Without complete sparring, you won’t be able to apply any of the techniques and tactics you need to defeat an attacker. Lee called this method “alive training.” Particular moves and strategies are very important, but the most difficult and immediate obstacle to overcome in a real fight is the pressure and resistance offered by the attacker. If you don’t practice dealing with them, you won’t develop the ability to automatically adjust to the myriad of obstacles that a real opponent will present. Silat for the Street is the title of a new online course from Black Belt Hall of Famer Burton Richardson and Black Belt magazine. Now you can learn the most functional silat techniques whenever and wherever you want on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Get more info here! Of course, I’d emphasize the need to keep that kind of complete sparring as safe as possible. It’s best to start with low-intensity sparring in all the ranges from the first day of training so the student learns how to deal with resistance. As he progresses, he must do as Lee admonished: Wear suitable protective equipment and go all out. High-intensity sparring is one of the reasons Lee stated that JKD isn’t for everyone.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew J. Numrich

MATTHEW J. NUMRICH Jeet Kune Do Instructor Under Paul Vunak Founder of Elite Defense Systems There are two Bruce Lee/JKD principles I like to get across to my students. The first is the importance of physical training. About 20 years ago, I saw a Muscle & Fitness magazine story about Lee’s weightlifting workouts. His routines were so specific and challenging that they showed up some professional bodybuilders’ programs. I doubt any other martial artist’s “non-martial arts workout” has been so popular. That wasn’t the first article done on Lee’s training methods, nor will it be the last: Muscle & Fitness ran a cover story on his ab workout in April 2009.

What? You don’t have a copy of Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition? Get yours now on Amazon!

That brings up the concept of direct and indirect training. Lee showed the importance he placed on indirect training through his documentation of his workouts. His ab- and forearm-development workouts disgrace all those late-night infomercial routines. The message is clear: Technique alone doesn’t make a great fighter. The body that produces the technique is just as important. The second principle is interception. I don’t know of anyone who can talk about JKD without discussing interception. Lee taught ways to not only react to an opponent’s attack but also interfere with it as early as possible. That stood in the face of those who taught only blocking, which is very reactive. Lee would intercept an attack, even before it was completed. That’s the sign of a highly skilled martial artist and what many of us aspire to be.

Photo by Rick Hustead

TERI TOM Jeet Kune Do Instructor Under Ted Wong Former Black Belt Columnist Author of The Straight Lead: The Core of Bruce Lee's Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do The straight lead, of course! It’s a no-brainer. Bruce Lee himself declared it “the core of jeet kune do.” The core — you don’t need much more endorsement than that. Among the advantages he cited are speed, accuracy, frequency of hits, maintenance of balance, and safety. [The straight lead] is key for bridging the gap, setting up attacks, maintaining the fighting measure and, in his words, “offensive defense.” True, it’s the most difficult technique in the JKD arsenal, but without a good one, you’re going to have a very tough time.

Photo by Robert Reiff

RICHARD S. BUSTILLO President and Chief Instructor of the IMB Academy First-Generation Bruce Lee Student Black Belt Hall of Famer If I had to teach one technique, it would be a combination of the front-hand strike and the front-leg kick. In JKD, we don’t have passive blocks; our blocks are our strikes. We intercept a punch with a simultaneous front kick or hand strike. We intercept a kick with a simultaneous stop-kick or stop-hit. Our methods focus on using the most direct and simple attack in response to the aggressor’s assault. (To be continued.) “Bruce Lee” is a registered trademark of Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC. The Bruce Lee name, image and likeness are intellectual property of Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC. Read Part 1 of this article here.
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