Sifu Ted Wong on JKD / Intercepting Fist

October 12, 20150 Comments

It’s been 15 years since the passing of a good friend and martial arts instructor. During that time, I have stayed out of the limelight and taught only a few, select number of students. I have spent much of the time in further developing my own skills in the ever-changing, ever-developing, ever-evolving manner of JKD.

Ted Wong Jeet Kune DoAnd I have done so more or less in isolation. But, it has been 15 years since Bruce’s passing, and to prevent JKD, tat is, JKD as he taught it to me, from becoming a lost art, I feel it is time to reveal some of the skills Bruce developed in the time that I spent with him.

Bruce was always fast to pick up on martial arts techniques, and by the early 1970s, his skill for both observation and execution had reached such a phenomenal level that very few people could keep up with him. Now, I trained with him – I lived, breathed, and trained with him on a daily basis during that time. We were from similar cultural backgrounds and we both thought in the same mother tongue language so we were able to communicate on a more personal level. We were also very close in height, weight and body size and we shared similar ranges of body motions and degrees of flexibility. And, even though he was the teacher and I was the student, every day we bth were learning something new, something different. JKD training with him was indeed an ever-changing, ever-evolving, ever-developing process. For example, from week to week, his sidekick would look and feel different. But nevertheless, Bruce’s emphasis was always on efficiency, immediacy and above all, simplicity. His art was indeed “the direct expression of one’s feelings with the minimum of movements and energy.”

To start talking about JKD training, I should stress, right off the bat, the importance of the lead hand / foot weapon. The lead hand / foot weapon, that is, the lead punch / kick is the backbone of Jeet Kune Do. To understand the art of JKD, one must completely understand this concept. Bruce always stressed placing the lead hand weapon forward. The lead punch, unlike the Western boxing jab, is a devastatingly powerful punch. The lead punch is delivered from an on-guard position and is delivered non-telegraphically with no wastage of motion during its execution. The punch is propelled forward and explodes right through the target. As some readers might have seen in books, magazines or other sources, pictures of Bruce throwing a punch and myself holding a focus mitt depicts exactly that.

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The punch is delivered in such a manner that the hand always moves first, before any other part of the body, namely , the foot. The punch also lands first, transferring all the energy of the entire body through the punch, before a single ounce of energy is transferred through the landing of the foot.

You can practice the lead punch with a partner. First, have your partner hold a focus mitt. Assume a fighting stance with the lead hand aimed toward the focus mitt. With no wasting of motion and no telegraphic movements, strike the pad and recoil back to the same starting position. Begin with a position that is at arm’s length from the target, and gradually increase the speed of delivery as you warm up. As you hit the target faster and faster, have your partner move the focus mitt away the instant he detects your movement. This is more like actual combat and will also train the partner to read (or not read) your attack. Gradually, step further and further away from the target. Now, you must move in with the foot, but remember, the punch must move in before the foot and also land before the foot. This was Bruce’s way of exploding through a target from a distance.

In many classical martial arts systems, the foot always precedes the hand in delivering a punch. In Bruce’s JKD, it is the reverse. The hand always precedes the foot, and the punch explodes with the whole body weight behind it. (In the months to come, I will introduce other techniques of JKD as well as other training methods).

Bruce had so much to offer in the form of the art of JKD, Let us not allow it to perish forever with him.

This article was published in the February 1989 issue of IKF. The late Sifu Ted Wong was a long-time practitioner and teacher of JKD, and one of Bruce Lee’s closest friends and training partners.

About the video: Sifu Ted Wong teaching at the 2nd Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Seminar in Torrance, California in 1998.

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