Why I Call Myself The JKD Rebel

My journey through the world of martial arts, specifically within the realm of Jeet Kune Do (JKD), has been both enlightening and, at times, isolating. Trained under Jerry Poteet, who was a direct student of Bruce Lee, I've come to understand not just the physical aspects of JKD but its deeper philosophical underpinnings. Bruce Lee was more than a martial artist; he was a revolutionary thinker who dared to challenge the status quo. He wasn't just teaching us how to fight; he was teaching us how to think, how to live. My adherence to his vision is why I've come to be known as the "JKD Rebel."

Bruce Lee’s approach to martial arts was groundbreaking. He advocated for a fluid, adaptable style that was bound by neither tradition nor conformity. This vision of martial arts as a dynamic, evolving practice resonated deeply with me. He famously said, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” This principle has guided me through my martial arts journey and is at the core of why I see myself as a rebel in the JKD community.

Ironically, what is often celebrated as JKD today seems a far cry from what Bruce Lee envisioned. The landscape is cluttered with prescribed techniques and borrowed elements from other martial arts that, while effective in their own right, often miss the essence of JKD. This adherence to a codified set of techniques is what I rebel against. It’s a form of organized despair that Bruce tirelessly worked to overcome. My rebellion is not against JKD itself but against this misinterpretation and static replication of its principles.

In my practice and teaching, I focus on the fundamental vision that Jerry Poteet passed down to me, which was directly inherited from Bruce Lee's teachings. This vision emphasizes constant evolution, honesty in combat effectiveness, and the personal adaptation of techniques. I question, adapt, and evolve within the framework of martial reality, staying true to the core of what JKD was meant to be. This approach is often met with resistance, as it challenges the conventional wisdom within the martial arts community. Yet, it is this very challenge that defines the path of the rebel.

Bruce Lee was not just a fighter; he was a philosopher who understood the importance of the individual’s journey in martial arts. He refused to be overwhelmed by the crowd, a stance that I too have taken. Being a JKD Rebel means embracing the essence of martial arts, which is the continuous pursuit of self-discovery and self-expression. It means breaking away from the mimetic tradition of blindly following a prescribed set of movements to discover what truly works on a personal level.

So, why am I the rebel? Because, in the world of JKD, embracing the true essence of Bruce Lee’s teachings — to be like water, adapting and flowing, absorbing what is useful and discarding what is not — is a rebellion in itself. It is a rebellion against conformity, against the dilution of a profound philosophy into a rigid style, and most importantly, it is a rebellion for the sake of personal truth and effective martial arts.