The Jeet Kune Do experience

Jerry Beasley’s “Jeet Kune Do Experience: Understanding Bruce Lee’s Ultimate Martial Art” (Paladin Press) incorporates material from Beasley’s “In Search of the Ultimate Martial Art” and “The Way of No Way.” It addresses the subject of training in the jeet kune do (JKD) system. The book is not about Bruce Lee, but about the art he created.

In this book, Beasley attempts to give an acceptable definition to the term jeet kune do, based on the principles that make up the conceptual framework. It does this by acknowledging the views and values ​​of people who studied with Bruce Lee either directly or as secondhand participants. Beasley’s knowledge of JKD comes primarily from his study with Dan Inosanto and Joe Lewis, two highly accomplished martial artists in their own right. Most likely, there will always be a dispute among jeet kune do practitioners as to what true jeet kune do is or how it differs from the concepts of jeet kune do and other training philosophies that use the same term JKD. Because of this, there may be readers who disagree with Beasley’s definition of jeet kune do and his version of Bruce Lee’s art. All I can say about this is that I don’t study or teach JKD, or any version of it. I tried to read this book as Beasley intended, with an open mind and unencumbered by preconceived opinions and conclusions. And from that point of view, I found this book to be an educational and entertaining read. I found things in this book that I could relate to my own martial arts training and teaching.

The first half of the book was Beasley’s “In Search of the Ultimate Martial Art” which he wrote in 1988. Chapters include Finding the Path, Going to the Source, The Next Generation, The Skills of Jeet Kune Do and Conclusions. I particularly enjoyed the Going To The Source chapter which featured interviews with Dan Inosanto, the recently lost Larry Hartsell, and Joe Lewis. I enjoyed reading the words of those who have been so influential not only with JKD but with the martial arts for so many years. The weakest part of this section of the book for me was the chapter on JKD skills. This chapter showed a small sample of techniques illustrated with sequenced photographs. The chapter was good at showing a small sample of JKD techniques, and that was its main purpose. It’s not meant to teach you JKD, and that’s a good thing. I enjoyed the rest of the book more than this chapter. The conclusion chapter provided some concepts that anyone in the martial arts should know and study. The way Beasley presented his thoughts was enlightening, his book gave me more to think about on my own journey.

The second part of the book is Beasley’s “The Way of No Way”, originally published in 1992 and based on a series of Beasley’s magazine articles from that period. It consists of chapters titled Developing a Science for JKD, Using JKD Principles, The Matrix, Basic Training, and Conclusions and Observations. Again, I enjoyed the conceptual writings much more than the techniques accompanied by photographs. I felt the weakest chapter in the book was Basic Training. He provided some basic weight lifting exercises and training exercises through pictures. This chapter was not as helpful as the chapter on using JKD principles. I particularly enjoyed the reprint of the article written by Beasley and Joe Lewis, “Beyond the Angles of Attack,” which was originally published in the July 1988 issue of Black Belt magazine.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I don’t study or teach JKD, but I still found a lot of wisdom and value in some of the concepts Beasley wrote about. I also enjoyed learning more about Jeet Kune Do and those who have pioneered the art since Bruce Lee’s death. I especially connected with how Beasley closes the book reminding us of the end of the movie “Circle of Iron” where the main character opens the book of “truth” to find a reflection of himself. Each of us represents our own truth. Beasley’s JKD may not be like others’ JKD, and Beasley himself acknowledges and accepts that. However, Beasley’s “The Jeet Kune Do Experience” is a very good book for those who want a better understanding of the art of JKD and quite possibly a better understanding of their own training.

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