So, let’s rationalise a few things here. I noticed in Thomas’ text that he mentions a paper Lee wrote titled “Free yourself from classical karate”, and a hop-step-and-Google revealed that someone has digitised it. From what I’ve read there, and from my understanding of watching various documentaries on Bruce Lee and JKD and reading up on the style, rather than a systematised/formalised style per se, it is very much a concept, and this concept presented some radical deviations from established forms taught both in the Chinese community, and Japanese styles taught to the West (yes, this is a simplified view, but stick with me on this), as at the time, martial arts appears to have been taught in a rigid fashion with an eye for secret preservation rather than holistic exploration or tuition. For example, when performing something as “simple” as Heian Shodan, you were taught that the gedan barai — oitsuki combination was formulating a response of block-punch. Should Lee have looked at this, he might criticise it on a couple of levels – a strict, long stance typical of Shotokan karate does not equate to practical self defence, and the block-punch as a reaction is a very limited interpretation of the movement. Thus, if one takes a JKD approach that asks you to “empty your cup”, you would shorten your stance to something more practical and lighten your weight, the block-punch would be executed simultaneously or adapted to suit the situation as appropriate.
State this kind of concept in the West at the time where we were still reeling from post-occupation Japan’s gift to the West in the form of martial arts instruction and a tiny wellspring of interest in Chinese martial arts by Westerners, and this would be considered blasphemy. After all, karate was a mysterious martial art still relatively new to the West (and to be honest, given Okinawa only translated Okinawan kenpo [or karate] into a form easily digested by mainland Japan in the 1920s, the form was arguably still only out of the woods by that point as well in the grand scheme of things), and it was considered presumptuous to criticise the style when it was already such a dynamic change to traditional Western pugilism. After all, with such a leap, why throw all these new forms and concepts out the window?
This ends the second part of this lengthy discussion – keep checking throughout the week to keep up with the latest, or simply check it using the Koryu Uchinadi/Jeet Kune Do comparison tag.