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Jeet Kune Do...The art of Self Offense

Jeet Kune Do has a different strategy. The goal is not self defense. It is the opposite. Having a strong offense is the primary objective. Many forms of martial arts work extensively on preparing their defense against whatever may come their way. They train to defend and counter attack.

Some may argue that In JKD, to intercept is the idea. This may be true, although, Interception is not necessarily defensive in nature. Even though it happens upon their attack, it’s not always waiting for it. Interception is something that can take place before an attack, during, or after. All three of these can be done with an offensive goal in mind.

Offense is a mindset. It’s the idea of being in command of the situation. When squaring off with an opponent, the mind should be focused on taking control. Taking control is not waiting for or anticipation of the attack. In most cases, a JKD man should set up their attack. In this case, their attack is what you want it to be. You draw or progressively set them up and use their attack against them.

Beginning with the Stance

The JKD stance is designed for the offense. It does not adorn a high guard or a turtle shell cover.

The stance is long and bladed. Standing so that the strong side is forward provides that the most powerful weapons are in front and closest to the target. It is not square, so that any attack to vital targets must come around, giving more time to attack upon them.

It is led by the front shoulder, the chin slightly tucked. Leading with the shoulder presents the ability to fire that lead hand directly at the target while presenting a small amount of cover.

The weight is 50/50 which allows movement in any direction more easily.

It is a relaxed state. The home base where your offense can be planned or launched.

Hand Placement

The hands are held in a ready state, neither too high nor too low. They are not static by any means. They should move with you and change positions frequently.

The rear hand is in position, for the most part, as the parrying or defensive hand. It floats anywhere in the small space either below the chin, to the top of the eyebrow or side of the face. This depends on distance and position.

The lead hand again, floats just below the chest at distance and moves to protect the face when needed. At no point should it obscure vision or be pointed away from the target.

The hands are never static, they are almost always in motion. Even so, the motion should be small, never deviating far from the body or the face.

The hands being slightly lower allows for striking more fluidly. As opposed to having them in a defensive position,where the strikes do not come from a straight angle. Hands in this lower spot also send the opponent a couple of signals. They might perceive an opening, drawing them to attack. They also may be psyched out a bit, thinking you’re so confident that you don’t feel the need to keep your hands up which can be intimidating.

This does not mean that sometimes you might use a high guard, with both hands protecting your face. The strategy remains that you won’t stay at a distance where you would be in this position long.


In Jeet Kune Do, footwork is highly stressed. It gives you the ability to adapt, generates power, regulates distance, can be used to fake, feint or set up the opponent. Footwork is the glue to tie everything together.

Footwork can be relaxed, crisp or explosive, depending on the situation at hand. When outside of striking range it's more relaxed, and calm, only moving when necessary. When needed, steps become explosive and crisp to strike, get out of the way and strike again.

It should be multi-directional, enabling you to move in whichever direction is appropriate. It's three dimensional, not just linear. One movement can consist of a few different directions at once.

It may be in and out, kind of teasing, trying to solicit an attack or even have the opponent misstep, presenting an opportunity for attack. The in and out is explosive, getting in to strike and out quickly to find the next opportunity.

It is always intentional, movement with purpose. A step is not taken unless it serves a purpose.

Footwork can be used to maneuver the opponent into position. Making your move theirs and theirs yours.

Offensive defense

As said earlier, JKD is primarily offensive in nature. Your defense is to be offensive or, you have an offensive defense, however you want to put it. Even when defending yourself, you’re on the offense. Hitting first (landing first) and hitting last.

The ultimate defense in a JKD practitioner is to be evasive rather than blocking. This is not to say that blocks do not happen or are not practiced. Only that evasions are preferred. When slipping an attack, making it barely miss, the mind body and weapons can all be focused on offensive action, retaliation. This is the essence of intercepting. The hands being free to strike instead of one or both tied up blocking something is superior.

Every defensive maneuver, whether a slip, a fade, a snapback, or bob and weave, they all should be trained to be used as set ups for the offense.

Parries are sometimes used in lieu of blocking, or when the timing wasn’t quite right for the evasion. A parry, rather than a block leaves the hands loose and relaxed with a very short amount of time stopping to take care of their attack.


Obviously, you can’t have an offense without having strong attacks. Striking is the root of the offensive strategy. Always think HIT! The aggressor usually wins in most altercations. This is the goal. Be the aggressor.

Strikes are controlled to the point where every attack is exactly as intended. The depth, power, and speed are just what is needed for the scenario.

Precision is paramount. Each strike should be focused on impact, accurate, compact and straight.

Every attack should be able to land with the utmost power. When you hit, it counts. When you strike, they hurt.

Speed is another component that must be at your best. Fast attacks are most likely to land. Without sufficient speed, counters or reactions to openings will not be possible.

All striking, even though it is offensive in nature, should have defense built in. When one hand leaves your face, the other takes its place. The chin is tucked, the head moves and either during or after every strike, a change in position is made.

Punches are trained to be long and bursting while kicks are trained to be short and snappy. This enables you to punch at a longer distance and kick from the same. Transitions between punches and kicks are smooth without excess movement.


Distance is the key determining factor to be able to assert your offense. The distance for JKD is unique. Unlike a boxer, who stands almost toe to toe, we stand at a range where the opponent must step to hit you. With the assistance of footwork, we can hit from this range, while others may find it more difficult.

For the most part, the distance should be just outside their range to kick. If they were to kick, it would fall short by a fraction of an inch.

Distance is different for different opponents. When facing an opponent with a longer reach, you may have to place yourself just inside their reach. This leads us to need to maintain a higher guard with more head movement and evasive footwork.

In the case of facing someone of inferior skill, you may be able to stay closer as well. Still, in this closer range, hands up and move.

Using footwork, as mentioned before, you can tease the distance, stepping in and out of range to elicit his move.

Strategically Jeet Kune Do is performance driven. Having a strong offense depends on superior attributes. Train hard to cultivate and master your skills. Be always on the lookout for training methods to enhance your skills. Be offensive in nature. Take control of the outcome.

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