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Why Jeet Kune Do is the Ultimate Self-Defense System: Top 10 Reasons

Every martial art claims they're the best. Each claims they're the best at fighting, at self-defense, at kicking ass etc. But if you look behind the popular propaganda, the mass marketing, and the flashy displays of strength, and really analyze what you're seeing, you might see the Truth. And the Truth shall set you Free. As a professor of the martial arts, and a life-long student of the field, I try to do my best to always seek the Truth and find the facts. I want to share this information with you. The truth is, You should be training in Jeet Kune Do. Through this blog, I will give you my reasons why I believe Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do to be the ultimate fighting system in the world. Although there are several reasons why JKD is superior to other systems, I'll limit them to only the top ten best reasons. Let's get started!

1. JKD is Not One Martial Art

Jeet Kune Do is not just one martial art, but a careful blending of twenty-six different arts and styles from around the world, East and West, with a strong emphasis on combative arts.

We blend the following arts:

  1. Western Boxing

  2. Wing Chun Gung Fu

  3. Fencing Principles

  4. Muay Thai

  5. Savate (French Kickboxing)

  6. Judo

  7. Small-Circle Jujitsu

  8. Wrestling

  9. Kali Escrima

  10. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Why do we need so many martial arts put together? Because certain martial arts are more suitable for certain situations, while others do not work for certain situations.

Every martial art has inherent strengths and weaknesses. There is a proper time and place for each art to be used. Not every art will fit for every situation.

For example, if you get attacked inside a small elevator, there's no space to kick or even box. Muay Thai or Tae Kwon Do won't work here. But Wing Chun Gung Fu excels here. It's perfect for close quarters combat. So you use Wing Chun, like Jeet Kune Do does.

If you get carjacked, you can't use Boxing or Jiu Jitsu. There's no way to throw a punch or grapple. Instead, you use Kali Escrima. You can use a knife, small pen, and apply Kali techniques on the bad guy's hands. Or you can use wrist breaks from Small-Circle Jujitsu.

You can't just depend on one martial art to provide you with all the answers. You need to have as many tools in your tool chest to pull from, in case you need them.

2. JKD Was Made to Defeat Bigger and Stronger Opponents

Jeet Kune Do teaches that we must always assume that our opponent will be much larger and stronger than we are, and start from there. That way we never rely on our strength to defeat him.

What does that mean?

  1. Rely on speed to beat your opponent. You have to be faster than him in every way.

  2. Don't expect to out-muscle your opponent; instead rely on proper technique and leverage.

  3. Keep moving. Don't just stand there and absorb. Standing still means instant pain. Use agility and footwork to prevent him from touching you.

  4. Never block his attacks. It won't work against a bigger, stronger attacker and you'll end up getting hurt.

  5. Attack his weak spots, such as his eyes, throat, groin, and knees. Avoid hitting his tougher spots, like his chest or skull. Use surgical precision techniques.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is they do not move their feet and properly control distance. They just don't move! Instead, a lot of people just stand there and wait for the attack to come. They rely on their arms to absorb the blows or struggle against a choke or grab. If you move, you may survive. My suggestion is, move your feet first, move away from the attacker, and keep your hands in front of your face to protect it.

3. JKD Adapts, It Does Not Insist

In a real fight, who determines what type of fight you get into? Your opponent does.

Not you.

What does that mean? It means you cannot control what kind of threat or danger you'll be facing. Instead, you must adapt to the threat.

Here are examples of what I mean:

  1. It's late and you're walking to your car after a long day at work. You're alone. You look into your purse and struggle to find your car keys. All of a sudden, two men wielding baseball bats approach you. You see they're up to no good. You're about to get into a confrontation, whether you like or not. What type of fight is this?

  2. You're in bar and a large drunk bully starts to argue with you, grabs you, throws you to the ground, mounts you, and starts punching your face into the floor. What type of fight is this?

  3. You walk into your apartment after midnight. As you walk into your bedroom, a man jumps you from behind and throws you on the bed. He mounts you and threatens you with a knife. He says he's going to rape you, and if you don't cooperate, he'll kill you. What type of fight is this?

Did you notice that in all of the above scenarios the victim doesn't really have a choice as to what type of fight they're in? They're forced into it.

Most people, and most martial artists, often make the mistake of thinking that fighting is a test to see who's the better fighter, who's the dominant male, or who's the the most macho. But this simply is not true. Those beliefs only apply to sports, tournaments, and competitions. They don't apply to real-life situations. Real-life fight situations are based on the Predator-Prey Relationship, not the Test of Who's Better Relationship.

You can't tell the two thugs armed with baseball bats to please put away your weapons and fight me one-on-one because I only learned Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I prefer fighting on the ground. You have to adapt.

You can't tell the big drunk guy to please stop mounting me and smashing my face and allow me to stand up and fight because I only learned Tae Kwon Do and I prefer to fight standing up in kicking distance. Oh, and please mister, don't attack me below the belt because that's against the rules and I'm not used to that. You have to adapt.

You can't tell the rapist to please put away your sharp knife and allow me to stand up so I can fight you because I only learned Muay Thai and I prefer fighting on my feet, not on the ground. And that's a scary knife. Put it away. You have to adapt.

Do you now see the difference between adapting and insisting? With adapting, you learn to overcome whatever type of fight you face. It's not up to you. It's up to your attacker.

With insisting, you still falsely believe you can determine what type of fight you end up in. Unless you're talking about competitions or training, any type of fight you get into where you choose the fight style is illegal. It's criminal, it's assault and battery, and you're going to prison for it.

How do you adapt? See number one on this list. That's why we have so many martial arts and styles in Jeet Kune Do. Each martial art has specific strengths and weaknesses. Each martial art is appropriate for certain situations. Each martial art Bruce Lee chose for his system is the best tool for each scenario. Here are the answers:

  1. Challenge: Multiple Attackers with Impact Weapons

    1. Solution: Kali Escrima >>> Pangamut, or Disarming Techniques

  2. Challenge: Ground and Pound

    1. Answer: Combat Submission Wrestling, Jujitsu, and Dumog >> Breaks and Chokes

  3. Challenge: Ground Fighting with Bladed Weapon

    1. Answer: Dumog (Kali Escrima Grappling) >>> Knife Disarm, Ground and Pound

These are just a few examples of what I teach at the Tandez Academy. My goal is to make my students total and complete fighters who have the ability and skills to adapt to any situation unconditionally.

4. JKD Was Made to End the Fight in Seconds

In a real fight, you have seconds, not minutes, to end it. In less than five seconds, you may end up in the hospital, in the morgue, or your attackers may be unconscious and broken.

If you want to be the one on the winning side, you have to understand speed and efficiency. You have to understand what Economy of Motion. In Jeet Kune Do, Economy of Motion is a concept that influences what we do. Simplicity, directness, and efficiency. We follow the 9 Second Rule: terminate your opponent in less than 9 seconds or the odds of your survival decrease exponentially.

You have to terminate the enemy in less than nine seconds, or:

  1. Weapons will be drawn.

  2. More enemy combatants will arrive (his friends are coming).

  3. You will end up on the ground.

Speed and efficiency cannot be taught in a blog. You have to come to my school to learn it and develop it.

5. JKD Trains Under No Rules

There's a principle I teach called Train Like You Fight, Fight Like You Train. In martial arts, the way in which you train, however you train, will result in you fighting exactly like you train. Let me explain:

  1. If you don't attack the groin in training, you won't attack the groin in a real fight.

  2. If you don't attack the eyes in training, you won't attack the eyes in a real fight.

  3. If you're not allowed to punch the face in training, you won't do it in a real fight AND you won't defend against it either.

  4. If you don't hit below the belt in training, you won't do that in a real fight.

  5. If you don't grapple and ground fight in training, you won't do that in a real fight AND you won't know what to do on the ground either.

This is why in Jeet Kune Do, there are no rules that limit us during a fight. We do whatever we need to, to survive. We will gouge, bite, rip, tear, claw, and break the rules in order to survive. And we do it in every class. Of course we take safety precautions and we make sure not to injure our students. But training is not limited by any rules.

Training with rules will get you killed in a street fight. Period.

When you condition your mind and body to fight one way, it will not suddenly and automatically shift in a totally different direction once you get into a high stress combat situation. And as you know, fighting in real life is not the same as fighting in "martial arts" or tournaments. Think about it.

6. JKD Fights in All Ranges

There are eight ranges of combat that we train at my academy. They are:

  1. Kicking range

  2. Punching range

  3. Trapping/Clinch range

  4. Grappling/Ground fighting range

  5. Long range with weapons

  6. Medium range with weapons

  7. Close range with weapons

  8. Grappling/Ground fighting range with weapons

If you read the section on adapting to the fight, then you'll understand why you need to be good at all ranges, no exceptions. Bruce Lee once said, You have to be comfortable in all ranges.

You have to be proficient in all eight ranges in order to be able to adapt to all fights. At my academy, I teach my students how to become capable and confident in all ranges.

7. JKD Fights in a Loose and Relaxed State

In a real fight, you have to stay in a loose and relaxed state, both physically and mentally. You have to be able to function at the highest level during a high pressure, high stress combat situation. You have to react quickly. To do that, you have to stay calm and relaxed. During a fight, you must:

  1. Slow your breathing and make sure you breathe.

  2. Lower your heart rate, lower your blood pressure.

  3. Lower your adrenalin.

  4. Let go of tension and tightness.

  5. Stay light and loose, not heavy and tight.

Study the first fight scene in the movie Kingsman. Compare how the young English punks fight with the way the secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) fights. Who would rather fight like?

Don't clench your fists tightly. Don't tighten your muscles. Don't get emotional. Or you will surely lose. No emotions, not adrenalized, not a raging monster. These states will create a tunnel-vision effect and you won't see what's in front of you accurately. You won't respond fast enough. Plus, using adrenalin too much will cause you to lose control of your fine motor skills. Successful fighters keep their emotions flat, their minds clear, and their bodies quick and responsive like an expensive sports car. That's what you want. So breathe, relax, and calm down.

You can beat your enemies in a cool, calm, and confident manner (see James Bond, The Kingsman, The Equalizer). You don't have to rely on becoming a caveman to win a fight. Then die of a heart attack or stroke afterwards. Calm down.

8. JKD Trains for Bare-Knuckled Fights

We don't wear gloves in the street. So everything you're doing in training has to acknowledge that fact. All real fights are bare-knuckle fights. And fighting with bare knuckles is very different than fighting with gloves on. In Jeet Kune Do, we always train for bare-knuckle fighting. Yes we use MMA gloves for protection, as well as Boxing gloves, but the way we punch is designed only for bare-knuckle fighting.


9. JKD Was Made for Multiple Attackers

Fighting one opponent at a time is vastly different than fighting more than one. Of course that's stating the obvious. To truly learn self-defense, you need a fighting system that fights more than one bad guy at a time. But how many martial arts are designed to fight only one person at a time? That won't work in a real fight where you may be facing two, or more opponents at one time.

TRUTH TIP: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is great for sports, but it has one giant glaring weakness: it can only fight against one opponent at a time. Once there is more than one, the art is of no use. If you think it's the most reliable choice for self-defense, it is not.

Jeet Kune Do is the antidote for multiple attackers - that's what it was made for! To train to neutralize an enemy in seconds means you can handle bad guys coming at you. Using interception, superior speed and explosiveness, and brutal techniques like headbutts, knees, and elbows, means ending the fight in seconds, even in multiple attacker scenarios. We move and we move a lot because distance is a key part of our strategy.

Some might argue that, If you can't beat one person at a time, then how can you possibly beat two or more? You can beat two or more. It's been done throughout history. It's called urban warfare, it's called military combat, it's called staying on your freaking feet and avoid going to the ground. If I got jumped by four thugs in the street, I'd pull out my folding knife and use it efficiently, maybe like this:

Thug one: stab in the carotid artery ---2 seconds

Thug two: two stabs in the abdominal aorta --- 3 seconds

Thug three: four slashes to the groin and femoral artery --- 3 seconds

Thug four: runs away

In that possible scenario, a trained Jeet Kune Do fighter who uses Kali Escrima can possible finish off three attackers in about eight seconds. Because that's what he trains for. Train for multiple attackers all the time, and you can do it. Don't, and you can't.

10. JKD Follows the Seven S's

In Jeet Kune Do train to become successful fighters, in every way. We have a list we call The Seven S's of a Successful Fighter that outlines how we can become successful. Here it is:

  1. Speed - all ten types of speed with the emphasis on Reaction and Movement Speed.

  2. Strength - Functional Strength, to withstand striking, getting hit, and moving a man from point A to point B.

  3. Stamina - endurance and fitness, so your heart and lungs are strong and healthy.

  4. Skills - the tools in your tool box. The more tools you have, the better choices you have to adapt to different situations.

  5. Strategy - what you do with your tools. This is the who, what, where, when, and how of warfare.

  6. Spirit - the fighting, or indomitable, spirit, that will never allow you to give up.

  7. Sensitivity - touch sensitivity that will allow you to feel your opponent's intentions.

"The way to gauge the effectiveness of a fighting system is how well it neutralizes other fighting systems, not just its own."

- Guro Dan Inosanto

The Seven S's of a Successful Fighter is the playbook that I follow to ensure my students become total and complete fighters. If you want to learn it, you have the choice to do so. Choose to learn Jeet Kune Do at the Tandez Academy. No experience needed. Total beginners welcome.

I hope you enjoyed my little treatise on the great advantages of learning Jeet Kune Do. If you want to learn more, please come to my school, the Tandez Academy, and I'd more than happy to teach you. For more information, you may contact me at 408 373 0204 or email me at

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