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© 2004, Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.
ISBN 0-8048-3542-X
Tuttle Publishing

Jeet Kune Do Basics

by David Cheng

Review by Kip Brockett

    Tuttle Publishing has come out with a new series of books on the basics of such arts as Jeet Kune Do, Karate, and Kung Fu.

    As stated by Tuttle,

"The Tuttle Martial Arts Basics series provides a complete introduction to the martial arts. Each book coaches beginning students through their first six months of practice-- and beyond. They allow students to gain a thorough understanding of the martial art quickly-- helping them to progress faster."

    Author David Cheng is a certified instructor under second generation Jeet Kune Do instructor Chris Kent. Mr. Cheng has also written several published articles on the art of Jeet Kune Do that have appeared in various martial arts magazines.

    Enough of the background. Let's get to the meat of the matter!

    When I first gleaned through this book, I was very excited. Most martial arts "basics" books tend to have tons of pictures with little description. This book has much more description than pictures, so I was very eager to get into the detailed description of the techniques of JKD.

    After I started reading, though, it quickly became apparent that much of the description was simply cursory explanations of techniques. Nothing wrong with that, just not what I expected at first glance.

    The book starts out with an introduction to Jeet Kune Do and the reasons behind Bruce Lee's creation. We are given some history, an explanation of the philosophy behind the art, and even an examination of the various branches that exist today.

    Next we're informed as to what to expect when first joining a JKD school. How to choose a teacher/school, what to expect in the first few months, and how to train safely in the art.

    After that, we jump right into the art itself. The stance, footwork, and basic tools are explained with examples given as to their uses.

    Next are the "5 Ways of Attack" as written by Bruce Lee. Each way is explained with possible scenarios given. This is one place where it gets a little monotonous. Offered are many possible uses, but to a beginner, I believe most of these explanations will go beyond their ability to imagine the outcomes. There are very few pictures to illustrate what the author is describing, so I think much will be lost on the novice and very possibly, on the advanced as well.

    Tactical considerations are discussed next. Things such as defenses, counterattacks, distance, timing, and rhythm. Sparring is also discussed in this section. Some good ideas on different sparring situations are given here. Breakdowns such as "Lead Hand vs. Lead Hand", "Lead Hand vs. Both Hands", etc. Nothing unique, but some good ideas for beginners to use in their training.

    And to finish up, Mr. Cheng discusses how to advance in Jeet Kune Do. Elements such as setting goals, establishing a training program, and the phase development used by Dan Inosanto.

    In my final analyses, this book can serve as a very good reference to supplement your training if you're training with a Jeet Kune Do instructor or belong to a school. It can help you to see the bigger picture of the art with the various aspects of training. It can give you ideas of what to look for in your future training, what things to consider while working on your basics, and give you ideas of things that will help if you train outside of your school with classmates.

    But if you have no background in Jeet Kune Do and do not have access to an instructor or school, I don't think this book will help you that much. It will definitely give you ideas on things to train, but without the knowledge and details given by a qualified instructor, the material is too general to really help you.

    In all fairness to Mr. Cheng, I believe the book was written for the purpose of a supplement to the guidance of qualified instruction and not as a "Learn JKD in 30 Days" type of book. I just want to point out this fact, as I know many will think that from the title, "Jeet Kune Do Basics", that it is a "how-to" book.

    That being said, there are many sources out there that do give you the details needed if you don't have access to an instructor. In that case, this book could be a very good supplement to those resources as well.

    I'm giving this book a 4 Star rating, because as a supplement to help the beginning student who has qualified instruction, and to help them gain a perspective of the bigger picture of JKD, I think this book serves its purpose well.

October 2004

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Jeet Kune Do Basics

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