“When you say ‘Tao of Jeet Kune Do,’ it’s like training with Bruce Lee,” says Richard Bustillo, who studied jeet kune do under Bruce Lee at the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in Los Angeles in the 1960s.
And so kicks off Black Belt’s exclusive collection of interview clips exploring the nature of Bruce Lee’s classic martial arts philosophy book Tao of Jeet Kune Do. These exclusive comments feature first-generation students, second-generation students — and even third-generation students — of the late jeet kune do founder, as well as his goddaughter Diana Lee Inosanto.
TAO OF JEET KUNE DO INTERVIEW VIDEO
Jeet Kune Do Masters Richard Bustillo, Jerry Poteet, Tim Tackett, Diana Lee Inosanto, Chris Kent and Octavio Quintero Discuss How Bruce Lee’s Martial Arts Philosophy Book Tao of Jeet Kune Do Changed Them as Martial Artists
His California counterpart, Tim Tackett, was also a student of the art when the book came out, but he found that it contained a wealth of information to which he hadn’t been exposed at that point in his training. “I was surprised there was so much in [Tao of Jeet Kune Do] that I hadn’t heard of,” Tim Tackett says, adding that sometimes the book confirmed techniques, approaches and theories that Bruce Lee’s students were passing along in their own lessons. “For example, this horizontal hook,” Tim ackett explains, pointing to a diagram in his original (and very notated) Tao of Jeet Kune Do, “it was the first time I saw a picture of it. …”
Dan Inosanto’s daughter (and Bruce Lee’s goddaughter), Diana Lee Inosanto, reflects on the theme of the book rather than its art and verbiage. “There’s [a] word that my father, if he were here, would tell you about … and that is the word evolution,” she says. “My father talks all the time about this concept because not only does jeet kune do represent freedom, but my father will also, hand in hand, say the word evolution. He makes the analogy — and this is what he and [Bruce Lee] would talk about — you know, What if we were still boxing like they used to back in the 1920s and ’30s? And we started saying, ‘We can’t change this. This is the way we fight.’ And what if we never evolved to [other fighting stances]?”
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“[Bruce Lee] was interested in the truth,” says Jerry Poteet, who was one of Bruce Lee’s inner circle of students and later trained actor Jason Scott Lee for his portrayal of Bruce Lee in the biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. “He said, ‘Maybe your truth is different than my truth. But eventually, if we have a meeting of minds, then we can find each other’s truth. And this is the first part of communication. Sometimes communication starts with just self; maybe it comes from a text.’ And without a doubt, the Tao is that type of text where you can have a conversation with yourself and it’ll open things to you, being able to look at it from another point of view … rather than [just] words on a piece of paper.”
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Octavio Quintero, student of the late Jerry Poteet, reflects on how martial arts and Bruce Lee’s text helped him transition from a youth of angst to an adulthood of relative serenity. “For me, it was a good way of releasing that tension that I had,” he says. “I needed self-control. There are some people that want to take [martial arts] for self-defense and some people who want to take it for aggressively attacking somebody. Obviously, you wanna learn how to fight, right? That was the direction I was going toward. And now, it’s actually … I made peace with myself.”
From a self-defense and life-application perspective, Octavio Quintero talks about jeet kune do as embodied in Bruce Lee’s famous text as helping him develop his own skills in the realm of interception: “I had to find a way to find a balance to control the situation before it happens. If you can intercept somebody’s thought before it gets too aggressive, then you’ve already accomplished what the art was intended for.”