Wing Chun Illustrated
The JKD Paradox Image Credit: Wing Chun Illustrated
The JKD Paradox Image Credit: Wing Chun Illustrated

The JKD Paradox

Straight hitting and aliveness.

Jason Korol

FOR ALL HIS TALK about aliveness, Bruce Lee was actually quite specific about technical detail. That sounds like a contradiction, right? It’s actually more of a paradox. A contradiction is something like me saying I was home last night, but I was not home at the same time. Obviously, I can’t be in two places at once. That’s a contradiction. A paradox, for our purposes, is something that seems contradictory but, upon closer examination, isn’t. And that’s exactly the thing here.

Our issue at hand is the primacy of straight hitting in Jeet Kune Do over a notion of aliveness and freedom. Straight hitting is obviously better than roundhouse hitting in terms of directness, speed, balance, defensive coverage, and accuracy. But one can be “bound” by straight hitting too—becoming too mechanical. On the other side, a JKD fighter who eschews the basics in favor of pure aliveness can be too wild— committing gross technical errors under the guise of having no way as way.

Okay, so how do we reconcile the two? How do we avoid the error of extremes? How do we train (or teach) to make sure we aren’t sacrificing technical skill for freedom or vice-versa? Frankly, and I know this sounds bold, but I think that any Jeet Kune Do teacher who doesn’t grapple with this question isn’t worthy of being a teacher. Well, the answer is in understanding the interplay and mutual


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