If you ask almost anyone the main reason they take a martial art, they will usually say it’s for defending against a possible attacker. The other main reason is health, and while the drills in this book promote health through exercise, it is an added benefit.
That said, this piece deals with jeet kune do techniques for defense training using boxing gloves in a controlled environment. (The glove drills shown in this piece are also a precursor to the sparring drills shown in Chapter 7 of Chinatown Jeet Kune Do – Volume 2: Training Methods of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art.)
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If you are a student new to martial arts, you should work on the various drills and jeet kune do techniques in this piece before going on to the aforementioned sparring chapter in the book or doing any sparring in practice.
The drills need to feel safe and comfortable, and the trainer should be careful when feeding any technique that can make physical contact. He should start slowly and then build up to full speed once the student shows that he can handle it. The great thing about this kind of training is that it benefits both partners. While one partner practices defense, the other can practice offense.
Jeet Kune Do Training Tips
To really make your jeet kune do techniques efficient, you must work against an opponent who is really trying to hit you. Because this type of training can result in injury, you must start slow and easy. You also should be sure that you trust your training partner and that you work on helping each other. To do this, you will need to set your ego aside and realize that no matter how good you are, everyone gets hit at some point when they spar.
To make a student feel comfortable with full-contact jeet kune do training, start him out learning safety boxing drills. This type of training includes blocking, learning to roll with a punch and other passive moves. While passive moves should be avoided in self-defense situations, they are sometimes unavoidable.
Passive moves can actually come in handy in real life, such as in an “oh crap” moment when you are caught unaware and have little time to do anything else but block or roll a punch. Otherwise, the defining characteristic of passive moves is that they give an opponent time to launch a second attack; if you block and hit, your opponent has the space needed to attack. That’s why the basic element for development in jeet kune do training is learning to intercept an opponent’s attack with a stop-hit or stop-kick.
From there, drill with straight lead punches, followed by straight rear punches, and then add hooks and other boxing punches. Always begin these drills from the fighting measure to give the student enough time to react. Then move closer until the trainer doesn’t have to step forward. Defense is usually needed when your opponent has bridged the gap, and that’s why you eventually want to practice your defense drills with the trainer executing jeet kune do techniques from close range.
While the matching-hands drills are all shown right lead against right lead, some time should be spent on left leads against left leads. The same is true when working on unmatched or left-to-right leads.
In regards to kicking, once the student has learned basic kicks with some speed and accuracy, you can start drilling defense. Like with hand tools, the trainer will hit with a punch or kick, and the student will react with the proper defense. After the student learns the basic defense from a stationary position, the trainer will use footwork to move and attack. Remember that you are only limited by your own imagination!
Jeet Kune Do Training: The Catch
Sometimes you may be unable to intercept a straight punch on time and are unable to use distance or angling to move off the line of attack. If this happens, you will be glad you spent a lot of time drilling the catch. Note: The catch is also more effective than a parry in a “too late” situation because it doesn’t open up the centerline; it covers it.
To catch, the student puts the palm of a boxing glove in front of his chin facing outward. The trainer shoots a straight lead punch directly at the student’s chin.
The student catches the punch as if he were catching a fastball; he is not too stiff or too relaxed. He should not reach out for it with his glove but rather catch it with a slight pop forward. The trainer needs to make sure not to punch too fast or too hard. He can later pick up speed as the student improves. Once the student has worked against front-hand attacks like the straight lead, the trainer can start throwing straight rear punches.
The Double/Triple-Catch Drill
Because the most common boxing attack is the lead jab, work on defending against it and the straight lead first. Then practice against the straight rear punch, which is harder to defend against in a boxing format because your weak hand is forward. In any format, the straight rear punch will also be more telegraphic.
Catch-and-Return Counterpunching Drill
Catch Against a Straight Rear
About Tim Tackett:
Tim Tackett began his martial arts training with kung fu in 1962 when the U.S. Air Force sent him and his family to Taipei, Taiwan. Later opening a kung fu school in California, Tim Tackett found he was one of the few non-Chinese kung fu teachers in America. Tim Tackett first saw Bruce Lee in 1967 at Ed Parker’s International Karate Tournament and immediately decided to study jeet kune do. Unfortunately, Tim Tackett wasn’t able to begin jeet kune do training until after Bruce Lee’s Chinatown school had officially closed. To fill the void, Dan Inosanto ran classes from the gym in his backyard. When Tim Tackett joined the backyard class in 1971, there were only about 10 students in the class. Those students eventually became the modern “who’s who” of jeet kune do. Today, Tim Tackett is considered one of the leading authorities on jeet kune do. In addition to numerous magazine articles, Tim Tackett is also the co-author of Chinatown Jeet Kune Do: Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art with original Bruce Lee student Bob Bremer, as well as a companion jeet kune do training DVD of the same name.