Why do some JKD teachers feel legitimate, when they’re so bad?

The problem is, a lot of JKD teachers can claim to have trained under someone who trained under someone who trained under someone who was trained by Bruce Lee. So superficially, this makes them seem like a legitimate teacher of Bruce’s Jeet Kune Do.

The problem is, Bruce’s own students were not on the same level as him – not even close. Add to that, the fact that somewhere along the line, someone probably did only a handful of lessons to keep the chain of claim alive. So like a game of Chinese Whispers, what you end up getting today is so diluted and distorted it’s barely recognisable as anything like what Bruce would have done.

The very accessible alternative

Due to lack of transmission of high quality JKD through the ‘legitimate’ route:

  • If you want to get really good at Sticky Hands and most of the old-style (Wing Chun based) JKD syllabus that Bruce developed while teaching his first long-term student Jesse Glover, you’d usually be much better off doing standard Wing Chun classes with a reputable teacher while watching old training footage of Bruce and reading his books (including those released posthumously without his blessing).
  • And if you want to get good at the floating dancing footwork (‘butterfly boxing’) and pro-active sniper-style striking, like Bruce focused on in his later years with his last long-term student Ted Wong, you’d probably be better off joining a reputable Boxing or Kickboxing club, and trying some Fencing or any other arts that have the kind of footwork and concepts you’re looking for but are well established and well refined in their craft, while watching Bruce’s epic movies from the 1970s (including Game of Death which was speed-completed by another actor and released posthumously without Bruce’s blessing).

To make sure you’re not missing a trick, by all means dabble in training with JKD teachers, just don’t rely entirely on this as the basis of your training. I’m pretty sure Bruce wouldn’t have either, if he came back today and had to learn it all from scratch. He’d be training everywhere, absorbing everything he could, forming preferences and focusing on wherever he feels offers the finest quality tuition in the most practical & enriching systems.