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Jeet Kune Do Footwork


Footwork is the foundation of Jeet Kune Do. Almost every movement is executed with footwork, and all the power and energy must come from it. Whether pivoting, advancing, retreating, sidestepping or circling, you are not going anywhere without your feet. Having no footwork is like driving a racecar with 450 horsepower but no wheels. You will not go anywhere.


Your footwork is your wheels, you cannot execute a technique to its full potential without it, and you will not get far in your practice. You can know all the moves and be the best puncher or kicker, but without footwork, you are not going to cause much damage. As a JKD fighter, it is extremely important to practice foot work. It must be practiced periodically to achieve flowing results. It must become part of you. There are many martial arts that do not use much footwork. Their techniques are based on torque and power from a standing still position. Also, many techniques are done either with overly exaggerated steps or with no mobility. Many focus on only linear or circular movements. This is not the case in JKD.


A good JKD practitioner adapts to any position and flows in any direction. To achieve flowing movement in footwork, you must place extreme importance on the fact that to reach your opponent, you must move to him. Without movement there is no attack, and without attack there is no scoring. To reach your opponent with speed and power, you must use footwork. To close the gap between you and your opponent during trapping, blocking, or counter attack, you must use footwork.


Sijo Bruce Lee developing his fighting art Jeet Kune Do by 1969, he had for the most part dropped Wing Chun and the classical Chinese martial arts. His art was, at that time point, heavily influenced by old school Western Boxing and Western Fencing!

In Jeet Kune Do, there are two basic types of foot alignment that have been associated with the
Bai Jong On-Guard Position
or Small Phasic Bent Knee Stance (SPBKS).

1. Lead toe and arch of rear foot on the same line

2. Lead toe and rear heel on the same line

Lead toe and arch of rear foot on the same line (called closed alignment) was adopted at the earlier development stages of Jeet Kune Do heavily influenced by Western Fencing, providing better mobility and reach.

Lead toe and rear heel on the same line (called open alignment) was adopted at the later development stages of Jeet Kune Do heavily influenced by Western Boxing, providing better stability and use of all tools.


To build strong and flowing footwork, first you must be in a Bai Jong stance, remaining very loose, with your whole posture fully relaxed, and feet wider apart than your shoulders. Also, no matter how far or how fast the front foot moves, the rear foot must follow in the same direction. It is important that you maintain good balance, especially when moving forward or side-to-side. You should check your feet and make sure that the rear heel always lines up with the front toes, in a good, solid stance. Do not end up with your feet the same width apart as your shoulders, because your attack or technique will be very weak, and you will be very easily pushed back and off balance, no matter in which direction you are moving. Many students I have witnessed are too busy focusing on how well the hands are moving, but they forget about their wheels, which are the most important part of executing the technique.


You don't want to end up with your feet too close or out of alignment, or with the groin area fully exposed. If you do not fully train yourself to the point where every movement in JKD is being executed simultaneously with some kind of footwork or motion, then you will learn the hard way.


Note: In circling, for teaching purposes only, you can move around clockwise in slow motion. Otherwise, do not move around clockwise like a robot, be alive, add a little hop every time you circle. Not only that will break the rhythm and confuse your opponent, but it also helps with your flow and helps execute any technique with full speed and power.

Bruce Lee Fancy Footwork by Bruce Lee & M. Uyehara

In Jeet Kune Do, mobility is heavily emphasized because combat is a matter of movements. Your application of an effective technique depends on your footwork. The speed of your footwork leads the way for fast kicks and punches. If you are slow on your feet, you will be slow with your hands and feet.

Jeet Rune do footwork should not only be easy, relaxed and alive, it should also be firm. The traditional, classical horse stance seeks solidity in stillness. This unnecessary, strenuous stance is not functional because it is slow and awkward. when fighting, you have to move in any direction instantly.

Proper footwork contributes to hitting power and your ability to avoid punishment. Good footwork will beat any kick or punch. A moving target is definitely more difficult to hit than a stationary one. The more skillful you are with your footwork, the less you have to use your arms to block or parry kicks and punches. By moving deftly, you can elude almost any blow and prepare your fists and feet to attack.

Besides evading blows, footwork allows you to cover distance rapidly, escape out of a tight corner and conserve your energy to counter with more sting in your punch or kick. A heavy slugger with poor footwork will exhaust himself as he futilely attempts to hit his opponent.

You should be able to move rapidly in any direction so you are well-balanced to withstand blows from any angle. Your feet must always be directly under your body. The on-guard stance presents proper body balance and a natural alignment of your feet.

The Shuffle
To advance, do not cross or hop. Instead, shuffle your feet. At the outset, you will feel clumsy and slow. As you keep practicing this movement daily, however, you will develop your speed and grace.

To do the forward shuffle, stand in the on-guard position. Slide your front foot forward about a half-step, widening the space between your feet just for a second as you slide your rear foot forward. When your rear foot is moved forward, you should be back at the original position. To advance further, repeat the process.

While doing this, maintain your balance and keep your guard up. You should not be flat-footed; you should glide on the balls of your feet. Learn to move like a tightrope walker.

Keep both of your knees slightly bent and relaxed. Your front foot should be flat, but do not plant it heavily on the floor. It should be light and raised intuitively about V8 of an inch.

Your rear heel should almost always be raised in stillness or in motion. It is raised slightly higher than the front foot, about one-fourth or one-half of an inch.

When your rear heel is raised, it facilitates switching your weight immediately to your other foot when delivering a punch. Your raised back heel allows you to react quickly and act as a spring, giving in to blows from any angle.

Naturally, your heel should drop at the impact of the blow. There is no fast rule that says your heels should be constantly raised or when they should be flat. This depends on several factors. including body position and your reactions.

In the advanced shuffle, you should be light on your feet and your weight should be evenly distributed, except for just a split second when you are advancing your front foot. At that instant, your weight would shift to that foot just a little.

In retreating or moving backward cautiously, reverse your movement. The basis behind the backward shuffle is like the advance.

From the on-guard position, slide or shuffle your rear foot backward about half a step, widening the space between your feet for just a split second as you slide your front foot backward. When the front foot is in place, you should be in the on-guard position and perfectly balanced. Unlike the advance shuffle, your weight should shift slightly to your rear foot for just an instant. To retreat further, continue to repeat the process. Learn to be light on your feet continuously, and keep your rear heel raised.

The forward and backward shuffle must be made with a series of short steps to retain complete balance. This position prepares you to shift your body quickly to any direction and is perfect for attacking or defending.

Quick Movements
The quick advance is almost like the forward shuffle.

Begin in the Jeet Kune Do on-guard position and step forward with your front foot about three inches. This seemingly insignificant movement keeps your body aligned and maintains your balance as you move forward. It also allows you to move with both feet evenly supplying the power. Without this short step, your rear foot does most of the work.

As soon as you glide your front foot, quickly slide your back foot up to replace your front foot's previous position. Unless you move your front foot instantly, your rear foot cannot be planted properly because your front foot will be partially in the way.

Just before your rear foot makes contact with your front foot, slide your front foot forward. At this position, if you have not taken another step, you should be back at the on guard position with your feet apart at a natural distance.

The purpose of this drill is to move your body quickly, about eight feet or more, in several steps. Except for the first three-inch step, the series of steps should be made at a normal walking space.

Quick Retreat
The footwork for the quick retreat or rapid backward movement is similar to the quick advance except you move in the opposite direction.

From the on-guard position, move your front foot back. Your front foot, like during the quick advance, initiates the movement. Your rear foot follows a split-second later. Unless you move your rear foot before your front foot makes contact, your front foot cannot be planted properly.

Unlike the quick advance, you do not have to slide any of your foot. It is just one quick motion, but your body should be in alignment and in balance. If you were to move just once, you should be at the on-guard position. But the purpose of this movement is to move your body four feet or more.

The quick movement and shuffle can only be accomplished by being light on your feet. The best exercise for overcoming the force of inertia to your feet is skipping rope and shadowboxing several minutes. While exercising, you must constantly be conscious of keeping your feet "light as a feather." Eventually, you will be stepping around with natural lightness.

You must move without any strain, gliding on the balls of your feet, bending your knees slightly and keeping your rear heel raised. There should be sensitivity in your footwork.

Quick or relaxed footwork is a matter of proper balance. In your training, as you return to an on-guard position after each phase of maneuvers, shuffle on the balls of your feet with ease and feeling before continuing on your next maneuver. This drill enhances your skill as it simulates actual fighting.

Unless there is a strategic purpose, forward and backward movements should be made with short and quick slides. Lengthy steps or maneuvers that cause your weight to shift from one foot to the other should be eliminated except when delivering a blow. At that moment, your body is imbalanced-restricting your attack or defense effectively. Crossing your feet in motion is a bad habit because it tends to unbalance you and expose your groin area.

The movement should not be a series of hops or jerks. Both feet should be slithering rhythmically just above the surface of the floor like a graceful ballroom dancer. Visually, your movement should not be like a kangaroo hopping across the open plain. Instead, it should be like a stallion galloping with even, rhythmic and graceful strokes.

The Burst
The forward burst or lunge is the quickest Jeet Kune Do movement. It is also one of the hardest to learn because it depends on good coordination. It is used to attack with a side kick or to counter an attack such as a kick.

The forward burst is one deep lunge. From an on-guard position, step forward about three inches with your front foot, like the quick advance movement. This will align and balance your body.

For faster reactions, use your lead hand as an impetus. By sweeping your lead hand upward, you create momentum. This feeling is similar to what it would be like if someone was jerking you forward suddenly while you were holding onto a rope. This hand sweep also distracts your opponent and throws his timing off.

While sweeping your hand upward, swing your hips forward simultaneously, dragging your rear foot forward. In that split instant, your weight is heavily on your front foot. At this moment, your leg straightens out to thrust your body forward.

Sometimes, on an especially deep, penetrating leap, your rear foot may be ahead of your front foot while you are gliding in the air. You must land on your left foot only, as your right foot is delivering a side kick.

As soon as you have completed your kick, you should quickly place your right foot down and assume the on guard position. That one leap should carry your body at least two wide steps.

In a recent test with the forward burst, it took only 3/4 of a second to travel eight feet. By applying the classical lunge movement or stepping by crossing your feet, it took one and one-half seconds to reach the same distance-twice the time.

The leap should be more horizontal than vertical. It is more like a broad jump than a high jump. You should try for distance by keeping your feet close to the floor. Your knees should always be bent slightly so that the powerful thigh muscles (springy expressiveness) are utilized.

When practicing this footwork in the beginning, don't worry about your hands. Just keep them in the regular Jeet Kune Do position and concentrate on your footwork. Once you are accustomed to the foot movement with proper balance, learn to sweep your hand forward just before each leap.

To develop speed and naturalness in your movement, adopt the following exercise in your daily training.

From an on-guard position, do the forward burst without penetrating too deeply. Sweep your hand upward and leap forward without straining yourself. Quickly place your front foot down without kicking. Continue to do this motion over and over again without stopping. But make sure you keep your balance and fluidity in motion. This exercise is excellent to adapt your body to move with ease, rhythm and grace.

As you become more adaptable to the movement, increase your speed and work toward shortening the distance by more and more execution. Eventually, you can substitute a backfist punch for the sweeping movement of your hand.

The backward thrust is like the quick backward movement except that it carries your body backward quicker and deeper. From an on guard position, push the ball of your front foot to initiate the motion which straightens your front knee and shifts the weight to the rear foot. Then the front foot, without pausing from the initial motion, leaves the floor and crosses your rear foot. Just before it lands, your rear leg, with its knee bent and acting like a spring, should thrust your body with a sudden straightening of its leg. You should land on the ball of your front foot just a second before your rear foot touches the floor. That one quick motion should carry your body backward at least two steps.

The backward burst carries your body just as fast as the forward lunge. In the same test, it took exactly the same time to travel eight feet backward as forward-3/4 of a second. But by comparison, the classical movement covered the same distance in one second flat.

For your daily training, do the backward burst for speed, balance and rhythm instead of deep penetration. Move with lightness of your feet and keep practicing toward shortening the distance.

When jogging, rapidly shuffle your feet and keep jogging.

Or you can do a forward burst while your partner does the backward burst. From an on-guard position, attempt to reach your partner with a light side kick as he tries to keep his distance. Then reverse your positions.

Learn not to hurl yourself recklessly at your partner. Instead, try to narrow the gap of space in a calm and exact manner. Keep drilling faster and faster by lunging 200 to 300 times per day. Acceleration can be increased only by discipline in your workout.

The Science Of Footwork: The JKD Key To Defeating Any Attack by Ted Wong

"The essence of fighting is the art of moving." Sijo Bruce Lee

Before I begin this article on the significance and proper bio-mechanics of footwork, let me state that this is by no means a thorough exposition of all of the various types of footwork available to the students of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (JFJKD). There simply isn’t sufficient space in an article to cover all aspects of footwork, and so this will serve, hopefully, as a primer on footwork. Hopefully, it will cause you to research this too-often-neglected aspect of combat.

Of the many things my late Sifu Bruce Lee impressed upon me, the most important was the need to be fluidly mobile. Probably the most important component in JFJKD is footwork. Ironically, most of the martial artists I see practicing today and this is by no means addressed only to amateurs or beginners
, are neglecting their footwork which is unfortunate, owing to the fact that footwork is, quite simply, the science of motion. To me, the more I learn about JFJKD, the more I see the scope of just how important footwork truly is. Please don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that footwork is, in a word, "everything" in JFJKD.

Take another look at the quote of Bruce Lee’s that I opened this article with
, I mean really think about it. "
The essence of fighting is the art of moving" and moving is footwork. The principles of movement form the very heart of combat. Footwork means mobility, and being mobile is strongly emphasized in Bruce Lee’s art. The two chief things that proper footwork provides for the martial artist is a means of finding a target and a means to avoid being a target. It will beat any punch or kick and get you to where you want to go; whether in for a strike or the hell out of harm’s way.

Bruce Lee once said that the four components of footwork consisted of:
1. The sensitivity of your opponent’s aura,
2. Aliveness and naturalness,
3. Instinctive pacing (distance),
4. A balanced position at the start and finish.

It should be obvious that you cannot use your hands or legs effectively until your feet have put you into position in which you can do so, if you are slow on your feet, you will be slow with your punches and kicks. Good footwork allows you to hit from any angle and also to follow up your initial attack with more powerful finishing blows. Footwork, in short, "gets you there and gets you out." Another important tool in Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do is learning how to correctly judge distance, which Bruce Lee referred to as "
the fighting measure"
, which is simply another way of saying, "distance". It’s very important to know to judge distance because distance is the relationship between you and your opponent. It all depends on the length on the distance you need to bridge or close between you and your opponent and also your opponent’s reaction speed.

Bruce’s main emphasis was always footwork. He told me that "
Good footwork can beat any attack". And he used to have me drill constantly on footwork, in an effort to get me to improve my balance. He wanted me to be able to glide in and out, throwing techniques from all angles after coming into various ranges through footwork. And, of course, he emphasized the avoiding of attacks through footwork. Without footwork, you cannot complete the task of fighting with any degree of efficiency.

Many people think of footwork as some sort of bouncing movement, but the one thing Bruce Lee stressed to all of his students was never to move for the sake of moving, and not to bounce simply for the sake of bouncing. Bruce didn’t bounce around much when he was sparring; he was very controlled and motionless, until he saw an opening. And by then you were flat on your back. Every move you make should be purposeful; it should be done to either deliver a hit, to move into position to deliver a hit, or to move out of the range of being on the receiving end of your opponent’s hit.

The key to success in footwork is to keep it simple. If you aim toward simplification, rather than complex or intricate foot patterns
, which more resembles dance patterns than efficiency, your footwork will be smooth, direct and efficient. If you use economy of motion, you will always be relaxed, which is crucial to your reaction time and to the speed of your attacks, defenses and counter-attacks.

Another great benefit to proper Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do footwork is the fact that it provides you with a means by which you can employ the force of inertia, which
, properly applied, can tremendously boost your punching and kicking power. These are some of the reasons that footwork seems to me so important. Footwork also serves to enhance your body alignment, which makes your leverage more favorable and your strikes more devastating.

Another aspect of combat that is enhanced by proper footwork is speed. I mean footwork is what gets you there to deliver your technique
, and out of there, before your opponent can deliver his. Footwork is not only used to deliver techniques or avoid techniques, but also to set up techniques. It’s part of strategy, a form of
PIA (Progressive Indirect Attack). It can lure your opponent in to a trap, allow you to gain the proper fighting measure and also bridge the gap to your opponent. Good footwork accomplishes all of these things.

I liken good footwork to operating a four-wheel drive. Most people only utilize a two-wheel drive; that is, they’re limited as to what techniques they can throw because they’re really only comfortable in their two-wheel drive mode. However, once you learn on the options that avail themselves to you with increased mobility, you realize that footwork is an option provider.

While some people mistakenly consider to be merely bouncing around like Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard, others
, equally as mistaken, think of footwork as simply something that moves you in to hit your opponent, without realizing that it’s just as important in preventing your opponent from hitting you. In Thai Boxing, for example, you see a lot of "give and take", wherein one fighter will whack his opponent and then stay there and get hit back by his opponent. Such back-and-forth exchanges are common place, and quite often the winner is the one with the highest pain threshold. In JFJKD, however, the bottom line is to hit your opponent and not get hit back. JFJKD teaches one how to be a thinking fighter. A smart fighter. Nobody should opt to get hit particularly when you can substantially reduce the chances of that happening by employing proper footwork.

The Four Basic Types Of Footwork
Basically there are only four types of footwork
, the rests being simply variations on these four. The four basic types of footwork are advancing, retreating, circle left and circle right. Incidentally, "circling," as I use the term here, means, "sidestepping".

All footwork is initiated form the On-Guard Position which is also known as the "Ready Position." The On-Guard is the most versatile of stances because it allows you to be ready for all things
, attack or defense, instantly. It’s a geared position that is geared for mobility. You have to feel very comfortable in the On-Guard. If you’re not comfortable in the On-Guard Position then there is something wrong. You have to feel comfortable at all times so that you are able to react instantly. If you are tense, that is, not comfortable, you’re not able to react quickly. You need to so relaxed that whatever happens, you respond to it instantaneously, whether it be the need to immediately advance, retreat or side step an attack. That’s why the On-Guard Position has been called the "
Anchor of JFJKD", for all techniques flow from it. The On-Guard is the best way to move straight back, forward or to the side. You’re not over-committed one way or the other. The On-Guard places your strongest side forward, which, in JFJKD is typically your right side, with your strongest hand lifted up so that your fist is in line with your shoulder. Your chin and shoulder should meet about halfway, with the right shoulder raised an inch or two and the chin dropped about the same distance. The right side of your chin should be tucked into your lead shoulder. Your left hand is also in close, to protect your midsection. Your right hand is your attack weapon so it should cocked and ready to fire. The right shoulder is slightly raised and your chin slightly lowered in order to protect your chin and jaw from strikes. The right knee is turned slightly to defend your groin area and your right foot should be rotated in roughly 25 degrees so that, if necessary, you can employ it as a kicking weapon. Your left foot should be angled at approximately 45 degrees. The heel is raised because it is your sparkplug- ready to ignite you forward, backward or sideways and depending whatever besets you. Your stance should be like a car with its engine idling; you’re ready to go, with as much power as you need, as soon as you engage the transmission, which in this case, is your legs and hips. Now that you’re ready to move, let’s look at some of your options.

The Step & Slide is used primarily as a gap-bridger. It is not utilized typically to execute an offensive technique. However, it is very effective in gauging and obtaining correct distance from which to launch a strike. You take a step forward and your rear foot (left) slides up to where the right foot was. Typically your step forward does not exceed six inches, which means that your rear foot travels a maximum of six inches as well. The weight distribution in the start and finish position is 50-50, with 50% being on your right or lead foot and 50% on your left or rear foot. However, during the movement, all your bodyweight is moving forward on your right foot initially and then 50% of it settle on the rear leg when the movement is completed. If you push off harder, you will notice that it to the front leg quickly- but this is only momentary. You should be able to control the weight distribution and be in perfect balance at all times.

The Push Step is used primarily for bridging the gap to the opponent. The Push Step is very effective when employed with PIA (Progressive Indirect Attack). You can fake with the hand, for example, and then move right in instantly when the opening presents itself. The Push Step is really the only type of footwork that works well for efficient punching. A Step & Slide, for example, would prove to be inefficient for delivering a punch because, by the time you step and slide it would be too late. Punching in JFJKD occurs in one fluid motion. Footwork always comes after the punch is initiated
, the hand moves first and then the feet. Even in evading a blow, the body should move before the feet. If someone were, for example, coming to deliver a punch to my face, I would avoid the blow with my body and then employ footwork to position me either further out of harm’s way, or to deliver a counter strike.

The Shuffle Step is more like a pulling movement, than a stepping movement. Regardless, it’s a quick movement. It’s one motion, whereas the Step & Slide is a two-part motion. All of the torque comes from the toes and the balls of the feet. While the front foot looks as though it’s flat on the floor, it isn’t. Most of the weight is on the ball of the foot and the toes. It’s less a push than a pulling movement, as you push with the rear leg while pulling simultaneously with your lead leg. It’s almost like you’re trying to grab a clump of earth and throw it back to your rear leg, that’s the type of tension that should be in your feet and the correct motion your lead leg needs to assume to perform this movement correctly. At the beginning of the movement it’s very subtle and it’s hard for the untrained eye to see it. However, while it may be a delicate, deceptive motion, it’s tremendously powerful and efficient, allowing you to throw your bodyweight, instantly, behind a technique. Even though I’m moving, it appears as though there has been no bodyweight shift at all. I’m not moving and yet I’m moving. Or, as Bruce Lee once said:
"The stillness in stillness is not the real stillness. Only when there is stillness in motion, does the universal rhythm manifest." Sijo Bruce Lee

The Burst (The Shuffle Step)
The Burst is also a push-pull movement. It is used for a quick advance, for kicking and for punching. The Burst is used primarily to deliver a devastating kick such as a side-kick, or to counter an opponent’s attack. That’s why footwork is not just for "transition" between techniques
, but also the delivery system that allows you to execute your techniques properly. Any properly executed kick or punch comes off the footwork.

There are many forms of retreating as there are advances, techniques such as the Shuffle or Step & Slide, can also be used as retreating tactics. However, I’ll focus on one retreating technique that differs from the others in as much as it’s not simply the reverse of the advancing techniques as outlined above.

The Pendulum Step is used primarily to avoid an attack. From the On-Guard position, the lead leg is quickly drawn back to where your rear leg is, while simultaneously withdrawing your rear leg backwards. The entire weight of your body should be resting on the lead leg at this point, with the rear foot barely touching the ground for counter-balance purposes. As soon as this happens, you have an option
, to either maintain the On-Guard from this new vantage point, safely out of harm’s way or to immediately reverse the movement, with the rear foot moving back to its former position and the lead leg becoming an offensive weapon of attack by returning fire. If you watch the first movement that Bruce Lee does in Enter the Dragon, it’s a pendulum step backward out of the way of Samo Hung’s attempted shin kick. If you watch Bruce fight against Bob Baker in The Chinese Connection, you will see the pendulum step employed as a means of avoiding an attack and launching a counter kicking attack.

"Sidestepping," Bruce Lee once said, "
is shifting the weight and changing the feet without disturbing balance." Sidestepping serves many purposes:
1. It can be used to frustrate an attack simply by moving every time an opponent gets "set" to attack.
2. It may be used as a method of avoiding blows or kicks.
3. It may be used to create openings for a counter attack.

In sidestepping, the rule of thumb is that if you’re going to move to the left, your left foot should move first which, if you’re in the On-Guard position with your right side forward, would be your rear leg. Then, once your rear leg has moved into position
, anywhere from 6 to 18 inches of travel, then your right or lead leg moves over 6 to 18 inches as well. The same sequence applies when sidestepping right, only the right or lead leg moves first, with the rear leg following in a lateral motion. The key is to maintain perfect balance at all times.

Sidestep Left
From the On-Guard position, move your left rear foot to the left roughly 18 inches. Then slide the lead foot (right foot) an equal distance to the left, all the while maintaining the On-Guard position.

From the On-Guard position, move your right lead foot to the right roughly 18 inches. Then slide the rear foot (left foot) an equal distance to the right, all the while maintaining the On-Guard position.

People should practice the sidestepping motion on their own in order to master it. In fact, practice is the "secret," if you’d care to call it that, of success
, not only in JFJKD, but also in any other martial art. I remember coming to Bruce Lee’s house and seeing him practice. He was constantly practicing. He would practice for hours on end. He would practice moving and striking with his hands, and then moving and striking with his feet and then just moving so that he became more and more comfortable and familiar with what he could do and how he could maneuver at different angles and at varying speeds and distances.

I personally have been practicing
, as best I can, what Bruce taught me since 1967, which means that I’m fast coming up on 30 years of training in JFJKD. Some things I’ve become quite good at, while others I still need more work on. However, I will say that I am a much better martial artist now than I was back when Bruce was teaching me, simply because I’ve had so many more years of practice. Like Bruce said:
"Like boxing or fencing, JKD is a step by step process in which each maneuver must be repeated many times." Sijo Bruce Lee

Another important aspect of training that Bruce Lee emphasized to me was: "quality
, not quantity." He said:
"It’s better to know how to throw 5 really good punches, than 20 LOUSY ones. So every time you throw a punch, put 100 percent into it.".

Bruce always stressed emotional content or intensity in the execution of one’s techniques. Learn to react
, not plan. Let it flow from within. Personally, I had a real problem with this in my early years of training with Bruce. Often he would look at me and say
"Ted, you lack a killer instinct", meaning that I wasn’t able to summon enough pure anger or violent energy from within when I performed my techniques. I’ve learned however that "Killer Instinct" is hard to switch on or off like a light switch, it is largely a situational reaction to you circumstances.

Based on the degree of self-knowledge I’ve obtained
, thanks to Bruce Lee’s teachings, I know now that I do possess "killer instinct", in abundance. And that should I ever need it, it’s there. The key is to maintain a clear mind that is unobstructed by thoughts or concerns. Your reaction must be pure and honest and, If the intent is expressed honestly, your opponent will be in serious trouble.

Since I’ve been able to make my footwork more efficient through constant practice, I’ve found to my delight that I’m able to move just as quick as I could when I was younger, and probably hit a little bit harder.

I’ll be the first to admit that footwork is not an exciting thing to practice but what it enables you to do once you’ve mastered it is very exciting indeed. It’s like exercise for the body
, nobody really enjoys taxing themselves physically, but we know that it’s necessary in order to enjoy the benefits that good health provides. If you want options, i.e., different angles and possible combinations, then you need balance and skill in movement- and that is footwork.

Practicing Footwork

One of the best exercises I’ve found that you can do to enhance your footwork is Shadowboxing. Shadowboxing teaches you how to relax when you move, how to explode when you move, how to throw techniques while in motion. It alerts you as to which techniques are assets and which are liabilities. You can bob and weave, move, kick, punch, kick/punch/kick and you can also cultivate the coordination necessary to successfully execute all of the above. It also teaches you how to regain your balance after throwing a technique or combination and just how important balance is. Other activities such as skipping rope or running, will also train your neuromuscular pathways to handle your bodyweight better and enhance your balance, but shadowboxing seems to be the purest exercise for enhancing your footwork skills.

Bruce Lee Is The Standard
When I hear people say, "You shouldn’t bother to train like Bruce Lee did, or to follow his teachings, because you don’t possess his attributes"
, I realize that they’ve missed the point as to what Bruce Lee was all about. He would frequently tell us that he wasn’t anything "special," but rather that he was a very dedicated trainer. Bruce was so good, because he made himself so good. He practiced all the time and then looked for ways to make his practicing even more efficient. If you only work out 20 minutes a day, or three days a week, I mean if that’s all you’re willing to commit to your martial arts training, then yes, it would be impossible for you to obtain attributes similar to Bruce’s because he practiced long and hard for every inch of progress he made.

I know that the more I practice what he taught me, the better I become at it and the same is true for anybody reading this article. I always looked up to Bruce Lee for his work ethic. And even now, if I find myself sitting around not wanting to train
, I think of Bruce Lee, and how hard he worked and I feel guilty. I know that I’m capable of better effort.

Bio-mechanics or body leverage and balance, distance and timing are the keys to success in combat, and all of them are the direct result of getting in tune with yourself, knowing what you can do and at what angle and with what degree of efficiency you can do them at and this, folks, all comes down to a simple matter of footwork.


JKD Footwork Patterns

1. Step & slide-shuffle advance
2. Slide-shuffle advance
3. Lead step forward with slide-shuffle advance
4. Push shuffle
5. Curve Left-Right (Wrestling)
6. Replace step on the inside line (Wrestling)
7. Replace step from inside to outside (Wrestling)
8. Step through (Wrestling)
9. Triangle pattern (Wrestling)
10. Circling (Wrestling)
11. Pendulum
12. Lead switch
13. Cross in front and kick
14. Cross behind and kick
15. Step through
16. Retracting
17. Lead switch with Pendulum
18. Step forward & step back
19. Circling Left-Right
20. Step-in/step-out
21. Quick retreat
22. Sidestepping Left-Right
23. Retirada Ilustrisimo
24. Retirada Caballero
25. Ilag Yuko (Ducking)
26. Ilag Liyad (Bob & Weave)
27. Tatsulok (Triangle)
28. Hakbang Paiwas (Full Side Step)
29. Angle step


JKD Footwork Terminology

Advance Shuffle - Step Slide (Toh Ma)

Retreat Shuffle - Step Slide Back (Toy Ma)

Quick Advance - Push Shuffle (Tin Fie Ma)

Quick Retreat - Push Shuffle Back (How Fie Ma)

Advanced Displacement - Slide Step Forward (Pendulum)

Retreat Displacement - Slide Step Back (Pendulum)

Side Step to Right - Inside Facing (Loy Seen Why or Yow Bin Ma)

Side Step to Left - Outside Facing (Noy Seen Why or Jow Bin Ma)

Circling Back - Circle Step Through (How Huen June Ma)


JKD Evasiveness

Slipping is avoiding a blow without actually moving the body out of range. It is used primarily against straight leads and counters. It is a most valuable technique, leaving both hands free to counter, it is the real basis of counter-fighting and is performed by the expert. It is possible to slip (
in & out) either a left or a right lead.

Ducking is dropping the body forward under swings and hooks (hands or feet) directed at the head. It is executed primarily from the waist. Ducking is used as a means of escaping blows and allowing the fighter to remain in range for a counterattack. It is just as necessary to learn to duck swings and hooks as it is to slip straight punches, both are important in counterattacks.

Snap Back
Snap back means simply to snap the body away from a straight lead enough to make the opponent miss. It is a very effective technique against a lead jab and may also be used as the basis of the one-two combination blow.



Rolling nullifies the force of a blow by moving the body with it.
# Against a straight blow, the movement is backward.
# Against hooks, the movement is to either side.
# Against uppercuts, it is backward and away.
# Against hammers, it is a circular movement down to either side.

Sliding Roll
The fundamental asset of the clever fighter is the sliding roll. He spots the punch or a high kick coming, perhaps instinctively, and takes one step back, sweeping his head back and underneath.

Body Sway (Bob & Weave)
The purpose of the bob & weave is to slide under the opponent's attack and get to close-quarters. The real bobber-weaver is always a hooking specialist, it is the perfect attack for one to use against taller opponents.


Footwork Principles

Footwork in Jeet Kune Do tends to aim toward simplification with a minimum of movement. Mobility is definitely stressed in JKD because combat is a matter of motion, an operation of finding a target or of avoiding being a target. In this art, there is no nonsense of squatting on a classical horse stance for three long years before moving. Moving is used as a means of defense, a means of deception, a means of securing proper distance for attack and a means of conserving energy. The essence of fighting is the art of moving. Use the feet cleverly to maneuver and combine balanced movement with aggression and protection. Above all, keep cool.

# The foundation is sensitivity of aura.
# The second is aliveness and naturalness.
# The third is instinctive pacing (distance and timing).
# The fourth is correct placement of the body.
# The fifth is a balanced position at the end.

The basic forms of defense utilized in Jun Fan are:
1. Distance
2. Blocking & Hitting
3. Parrying & Hitting
4. Evasiveness
5. Intercepting

Except using Footwork to obtain Distance as a form of self-defense, we can use Footwork in conjunction with Evasive body motion methods to avoid blows.

Principles Of Distance In Attack
1. Using the longest to get at the closest.
2. Economical initiation (non telegraphic).
3. Correct on-guard position (S.P.B.K.S.).
4. Constant shifting of footwork to secure the correct measure (Broken Rhythm).
5. Catching the opponent's moment of weakness, physically as well as psychologically.
6. Correct measure for explosive penetration.
7. Quick recovery or appropriate follow-ups.
8. Courage and decision.

Principles Of Distance In Defense
1. Combining sensitive aura with coordinated footwork.
2. Good judgment of the opponent's length of penetration, a sense for receiving his straightening weapon to borrow the half-beat.
3. Correct on-guard position (S.P.B.K.S.).
4. Use of controlled balance (in motion) without moving out of position (Evasiveness).

Explosive Footwork
Explosive footwork is important for both offensive and defensive purposes. In offense, explosive footwork allows you to maintain compound attacking range. In defense, explosive footwork allows you to disengage quickly from a range of overwhelming assault. 5 important factors for explosiveness of your footwork:
1. Master basic footwork.
2. Proper body posture.
3. Powerful legs.
4. Equal weight distribution.
5. Raised (back) heel.

Breaking Opponent's Distance
1. Creating a false sense of distance.
a) Short jab to extended jab.
b) Short cross to extended jab.
2. Stealing a Step.
a) Foot to hand.
b) Jab to Jab

Don't cross-step.
Cross stepping is the process of crossing one foot in front of the other when moving. Risks and dangers:
1. It severely compromises your balance.
2. It restricts tool and technique implementation.
3. It prohibits explosive footwork.
4. It prohibits evasive footwork.
5. It promotes structural breakdown.
6. It contorts your stance.
Don't be airborne.
Don't turn your back to the opponent.
Don't straighten your knees.


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"Don’t expect Bruce Lee like results, unless you’re willing to put in Bruce Lee like hours to obtain them." Sifu Ted Wong

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