The Main Principles of Bruce Lee’s Tao Of Jeet Kune Do

by / Wednesday, 30 March 2016 / Published in Jeet Kune Do, Kung Fu, Wing Chun

The Main Principles of Bruce Lee's Tao Of Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do is a fighting style designed and implemented by Bruce Lee himself. He describes his personal fighting style in his book, ‘Tao of Jeet Kune Do.’

Combat Realism

Jeet Kune Do is different from many other types of mixed martial art fighting styles in a variety of different ways. Most MMA types focus training their students in one prominent form of fighting, such as

punches and kicks or grappling. Jeet Kune Do, however, covers four ranges of combat, including; punching, kicking, trapping and grappling. Students studying Jeet Kune Do are trained in all four ranges equally. Lee wanted to create a type of MMA that could provide real-life assistance in real-life fighting scenarios, so he instilled one of the main premises of JKD as ‘combat realism.’

“Be like Water”

One of the main principles of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do is also one of his most memorable quotes, “be like water.” Lee emphasized the fact that to be efficient in a fight, or in any situation that life can throw at someone, is to remain fluid and be able to adapt to anything. Students of JKD know that no one opponent that they fight will be exactly like another. Lee explains goes into more depth in his book just how to implement this theory of remaining fluid and how, exactly, to ‘be like water.’

Five Ways of Attack

The 5 original main principles of attack of Jeet Kune Do are; simple direct attack, attack by combination, progressive indirect attack, hand immobilization attack and attack by drawing.


The ‘centerline’ is an imaginary line drawn vertically down the middle of someone’s body when they are in a standing position, and the area that is right in front of that body and the line. It has been said that whoever controls the centerline controls the actual fight itself. In the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, the three main philosophies of the centerline are;

  1. If you control the centerline, you control the fight.
  2. Occupy the centerline to remain in control of it.
  3. Defend your own centerline to remain in control of it, while simultaneously controlling the centerline of your opponent.

Students of JKD

Bruce himself stopped teaching the art of JKD approximately two years before his death, but his teachings live on through is book ‘Tao of Jeet Kune Do’. After his death, JKD seemed to have split into two separate branches of teaching, including the original Jeet Kune Do (formerly and also known as Jun Fan) and the branch of JKD concepts. Both of these different branches maintain Lee’s principles and the original JKD framework. JKD still remains an excellent branch of MMA for combat realism.

Bruce Lee's book - The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, definitely recommended reading for anyone interested in advancing their studies.

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