Jun Fan Gung-fu and Jeet Kune Do Concepts
Jeet Kune Do (Way of the Empty Fist) or Jun Fan Gung-fu (Bruce Lee's Kung-fu) is the modern martial arts system and philosophy created by Bruce Lee and further developed by Guru Dan Inosanto. The "style of no style" is known for its mixing of techniques from various systems and its refusal to be enclosed into one traditional style. Empty hand-to-hand combat in regards to hand based techniques in Jeet Kune Do are generally made up of, but not limited to, Wing Chun, Western Boxing, and Kali. Lower body techniques are by and large Muay Thai, Savate, and Kickboxing based. However, Silat leg trapping techniques are also utilized. Grappling methods are generally from the Filipino martial arts, techniques called Dumogs, while other locks closely resemble Japanese Jujutsu. Weapon based combat is a combination of the Filipino arts Kali/Eskrima/Arnis and Fencing. While some schools and instructors will also emphasize the staff, nunchuka, etc., the main weapons used in Jeet Kune Do are the stick and the knife; Fencing is used for its footwork and deceptive lunging and bating techniques.
Filipino Martial Arts
Filipino martial arts can be classified by three names: Arnis, Eskrima, and Kali. They are literally the same art form separated only by name and dialogue, Arnis is the name of the Filipino warrior art in the North, Eskrima in the Central regions, and Kali in the South. These arts are most likely a fusion of Southern Chinese gung fu and the martial art of Malaysia, Silat, another weapons based system. During the roughly 330 years of Spanish rule, the angles of Spanish rapier fencing were infused into the Filipino arts. Therefore, the main weapons of the Kali/Eskrima/Arnis system today are the rattan sticks which replicate the movements of the original Filipino sword, the Kris, mixed with Spanish fencing, and the doubled or singled edged knife.
The term "gung fu" literally means "hard work," yet with its connection to the discipline of martial arts and the warrior monks and sages who exemplify it, gung fu has become the general term for all Chinese martial arts. It must be noted however, that within the realm of gung fu there are literally hundreds of styles and sub-styles. In an attempt to somewhat simplify the nature of the Chinese martial arts, two of the main branches that produced forms of gung fu are the Shaolin and Taoist schools.
Shaolin styles are rooted in Ch'an Buddhism, a type of Buddhism more commonly known by its later Japanese equivalent, Zen. The monks of the Shaolin temples followed a mixture of Indian Buddhist philosophy mixed with Chinese traditions, the result being their Ch'an Buddhism. According to legend, the Indian monk Bodhidharma reformed the first Shaolin Temple in Honan Province in 520 A.D. (It's construction dates back to the late 490's A.D.). It is important to note that Bodhidharma (called "Tamo" by the Chinese) did not invent gung fu, but rather introduced the Chinese monks to the "eighteen movement of lohan," a series of meditative postures based on yoga. These postures were designed to not only improve their physical well being and stamina but also to develop an internal energy and inner power referred to by the Chinese as "chi." It is unclear as to when the monks began to expand their yogic postures into forms of combat, but living in fairly treacherous regions, they may have been skilled in some form of martial skill before the arrival of Tamo. However, after Tamo's departure, the Shaolin monks began to gain prominence as skilled warriors, and their abilities were noticed by the Emperor who enlisted their help in putting down rebellions. The monks drew inspiration from the animals, studying their movements and incorporating new techniques and forms into their evolving gung fu. In time, new Shaolin temples were constructed, most noteably the Fukien temple, birth place of the famous Hung Kuen (Hung Gar) and Wing Chun styles.
Many of the Shaolin temples fused their ideas with the philosophy/religion of Taoism. Native to China, Taoism embraced a harmonious lifestyle with nature, a belief that meshed well with the meditative and peaceful ideas behind Shaolin Ch'an Buddhism. Followers of Taoism used Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" as their guide to harmony and the ever flowing "chi" explained in his work that flowed throughout the Earth was instrumental in the development of Taoist gung fu. Styles like Baguazhang, Taijiquan, and Xing Yi, believed to be created atop the mystical Mount Wudan, were not utilized effectively without the understanding and development of "chi" flow and the "dan tien" center of cultivation.
Animal forms or animal strikes and footwork are significant in all styles of gung fu. Taoist gung fu makes use of several animals including the dragon, tiger, snake, eagle, bear, horse, sparrow, swallow, chicken/rooster, fish, monkey, turtle, crane and crocodile. Shaolin gung fu employs the tiger, dragon, crane, leopard, and snake as part of their famous Five Animal set, while the praying mantis, monkey, eagle, and ape can be found in other versions of Shaolin and non-Shaolin arts. In addition to the animals, the Five Elements: Water, Metal, Earth, Wood, and Fire, are used in both Shaolin and Taoist gung fu.
In the realm of Shaolin and Taoist gung fu, techniques, aspects and/or forms taught at I.W.S. include:
- Hung Gar - Hung Family style (Fukien Temple)
- Wing Chun - Eternal Springtime (Fukien Temple)
- Fu Jow Pai - Tiger Claw style (Originally known as Hark Fu Moon/Black Tiger System, its specific temple origins are unknown)
- Ying Jow Pai - Eagle Claw style (Northern Shaolin style, specific temple origins unknown)
- Choy Lay Fut - (Kwangtung Temple)
- Bak Mei - White Eyebrow (Honan Temple)
- Kwangsai Jook Lum Gee Tong Long Pai - Bamboo Forest Temple Praying Mantis (Fukien and Jook Lum Temples, Hakka people)
- Chow Gar Tong Long Pai - Chow Family Praying Mantis
- Xing Yi Quan - Mind Boxing or Will Form Boxing (Mount Wu Dang)
Muay Thai, a devastating kickboxing art, is the official sport of Thailand. Like most Southeast Asian arts, the influence of Chinese and Indian arts are assumed. However, some believe that the people of Siam (Thailand) developed their "Pahuyut" (combat) independently, with each kingdom producing its own type of warrior. Before becomming popularized for their use of elbows, knees, and various other techniques used in the Mixed Martial Arts world, traditional Thai warriors practiced older versions of what is now called Muay Thai. These more traditional versions included Krabi Krabong and Muay Boran. The main weapons used in Krabi Krabong are the "Krabi" a single edged sword and the "Krabong," a staff. In addition to the sword and staff, Thai warriors also used sticks similiar to those found in the Filipino arts, clubs worn on the forearms, and a weapon similiar to the European halberd. Krabi Krabong also incorporated unarmed tecniques involving strikes, pressure points, and throws.
Muay Boran is the bareknuckle predecessor to Muay Thai. Its rules were few: no biting, no intential groin strikes, no hair pulling and no striking an opponent when down. Muay Boran was eventually divided into regional styles, Muay Lampang (North), Muay Chaiya (South), Muay Korat (East), and Muay Paak Klang or Muay Lopburi (Central). The Northen Thai style was best known for its pinpoint striking, the South for its low compact stance and vicious knee and elbow blocks, the East for its tall stance and back heel raised, and the South or Bangkok style for its similiar stance to Western boxers. Today, the Thai military uses a deadly form of Muay Thai called Lerdrit, which is not bound to any sport regulations.
At the I.W.S. academy, the Muay Thai system is taught without rules (clinching and grabbing the ears, hair, strikes to the groin and knees, etc.) making it more of a Muay Boran or Lerdrit combative style than sport Muay Thai.
The origins of Kodokan Judo lie in Jujutsu (jujitsu), perhaps the oldest Japanese form of hand-to-hand combat. Founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano, a student of jujutsu, judo was a version of jujustu that focused on using the opponent's weight and aggression against him. The term "judo" means "the gentle way" and Kano designed the system to utilize jujutsu's most effective grappling (both stand-up grappling and ground grappling) techniques while eliminating the lethal ones. Although less aggressive than its predecessor, this master throwing system is not be taken lightly.
Throws can easily be modified back to their lethal form with simple grip and technique changes. Contrary to popular belief, Kodokan Judo does incorporate striking for self-defense purposes (Atemi-Waza); however in the more commonly known Judo contests, striking of any kind is illegal.
Although jujustu is the direct ancestor of judo, and Sumo perhaps the ancestor of jujutsu, the Japanese grappling roots may be found in a much older system native to China. Chinese wrestling might be the oldest form of Chinese martial arts, and thus one of the world's most ancient. The Chinese referred what the Mongolians to the North practiced as Guan Jiao, while the Tibetans to West practiced what the Manchurians called Bu Ku. History is unclear as to which wrestling styles came first, but a contemporary to these Tibetan and Mongolian systems was the Chinese Jiao Di or horn goring (based on the legend that practicioners wore horned helmets and literally gored each other). The Zhou Dynasty's rule in China (1122-256 B.C.) marks the arrival of Jiao Li, another wrestling system that may or may not be a form of Jiao Di. By the 3rd century B.C. the Qin Dynasty organized Jiao Li into an official sport, and in 1928 the term Shuai Jiao was given to generalize the sport and practice of Chinese wrestling (Shuai Jiao translates to "to throw an opponent using the horns or the legs). Although ethnocentrism plays a role in which martial arts systems and nations contributed to the development of others, it is widely believed by historians that all eastern wrestling arts can be dated back to India's Vedic history, in an ancient art known as Malla-yuddha or "wrestling combat." Regardless of where grappling and specifically the throwing arts originated, each nation, based upon culture and environment developed independent techniques to fit their needs.
At I.W.S. the core stand-up grappling system taught is Kodokan Judo. It is taught classicly with the gi, without it, and with Atemi-Waza (punches, kicks, knees, elbows, headbutts, claws, nerve center strikes). Although judo is the core stand-up grappling system, techniques from Catch Wrestling, Chinese Wrestling (Shuai Jiao based and Chin Na), Japanese Jujutsu, Greco-Roman, and Filipino Dumog are all incorporated.
Catch Wrestling & Groundfighting
Catch Wrestling, also known as Catch-As-Catch-Can or Lancashire wrestling, is believed to have originated in either Ireland or North Western England (Lancashire). By the mid-19th century, the ferocious sport made its way to the United States and maintained the original rules with victory marked by pin fall or submission. Most Americans were introduced to the sport by traveling carnivals, where Catch Style wrestlers took on all challengers In the 1880's, the first American Heavyweight Championship was proclaimed with Edwin Bibbys victory in New York City, New York. That same title was eventually held by legendary grappling names like Evan "Strangler" Lewis, Martin Farmer Burns, Tom Jenkins, and Frank Gotch. Eventually European champions like George the Russian Lion Hackenschmidt, and Stanislaus and Wladek Zbyszko became great rivals of the then dominant American, Frank Goth. Wrestling rivalries crossed to India as well, where the illustrious Great Gama, a practitioner of Pehlwani wrestling and undefeated in his over 50 year career, issued challenges to his American and European rivals. Few accepted the Indian World Heavyweight Champions challenge, and those who did were defeated. Its growing popularity soon led to its inclusion, albeit sporadic and intermittent, in several early 20th century Olympics Games. By the 1930s Catch and shoot wrestling matches began their fixed outcomes, and the roots of modern professional wrestling. However, Catch Wrestling continued to survive through the traveling carnivals that were the source of their original fame.