Defensive Tools in Jeet Kune Do

October 21, 20150 Comments

JKD Philosophy and Technique: Defensive Tools

by Tim Tackett

JKD Leg Obstruction - Stop KickThere is a basic theory in fighting which states, “For every move there is a counter.” Attack has been given priority in JKD, and is important, but so is defense. Defensive techniques can negate an opponent’s attack and place you in a position to counter. The learning of defensive skills is necessary., and should include as wide a variety of defensive techniques as possible.

One of the main theories of defense in JKD is that the best form of defense is a good offense. Rather than attempting to block a kick or punch, the idea is to try to intercept it with your own kick or punch. This way even the opponent’s attack should score, at least there is an exchange. This requires a continual alertness and awareness of the opponent and his movements.

However, intercepting may not always be possible or appropriate. Perhaps one’s awareness is off, you may not have time, then one’s skill in defense may well make the difference between success and failure.

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The basic methods of defense are listed, from least to most efficient:

Distance – Simply getting out of the way of the attack and allowing it to miss its target. This usally means that you will not be able to counterattack without first re-closing the distance.

Blocking and Hitting – What is known as “touch and go.” In this case, the attack is halted with a definite blocking motion, and then the counterattack is launched.

Parrying and Hitting – Differentiated from the previous method by the fact that rather than a pure block, a parry is used to dissolve or redirect the attack, then the counterattack is thrown.

Evasiveness – Includes such body motions as slipping, ducking, bobbing and weaving to avoid an attack by misplacement, whil remaining in range to counter.

Intercepting – The opponent’s attack is intercepted by the defender’s own counterattack, nullifying the original attack.

As stated before, the method of defense chosen may depend upon the circumstances under which an attack is delivered. Sometimes distance may be more appropriate than intercepting and vice versa. If you understand all the variables, you have a wider selection to choose from and will not be limited.

This article originally appeared in the April 1990 issue of IKF. You can learn more about Sifu Tackett and his group at

About the video: Sifu Tim Tackett teaching one of the key defensive techniques in JKD, the stop kick (“shin knee sidekick”).

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