Monday, March 30, 2009

Bruce Lee's JKD and Muay Thai: Interview with Dan Inosanto

So if you peruse the internet or youtube enough, you'll find there are a lot of on going debates concerning martial arts in a "this style vs this style" format.

One of the biggest debates I've seen is the "Bruce Lee's JKD is the greatest thing evar!! Muay Thai's kicks are too slow. I could break a thai boxer's leg with JKD".

*JKD= Jeet Kune Do or "Way of the Intercepting Fist": Bruce Lee's philosophy that one should abstract what works from each martial art into their own personal expression/martial art. The JKD that is taught in schools is often Bruce's own personal JKD- a mix of of many arts"*

While I don't want to engage in the whole keyboard warrior phenomenon (it's pretty fkn some of the comments), I think it's important to realize that Muay Thai is probably one of the only of the more "traditional" martial arts that still dominates.

I'm aware that MT is a sport, but the techniques and power are still derived from it's predecessors used in ancient war times. I think that is why it is so effective. Much of it's techniques have been distilled and are constantly tested in the ring for effectiveness (whereas point fighting Karate is not the best way to test the effectiveness of Karate itself).

Effectiveness is the key.

You'll hear our instructors always explain techniques and combos to us in terms of effectiveness.

Thus, Muay Thai's techniques and philosophies are always being put on trial to prove their mettle, more so than many other traditional martial arts from the East.

As for the Bruce Lee's JKD vs Muay Thai debate, here's a little something for you.

Dan Inosanto was one of Bruce's closest friends and the most qualified and respected authority on Bruce's JKD. As far as Bruce Lee's martial arts goes, Inosanto is the man. He owns his own Academy in the States, where he teaches JKD, Filipino Martial Arts, Muay Thai and more.

Check this interview with Inosanto and views on Bruce Lee and Muay Thai: CLICK

It's a bit of a read, so here are some highlights:

"When I was in Kenpo and Jun Fan Gung Fu I never favored kicking as much as hand techniques. I became more balanced between kicking and punching after I trained Muay Thai with Ajarn Chai. And I preferred the way the Thais kick and train."

"I teach two times a week at my academy. And Muay Thai is a very strong portion of what I teach. I sometimes take the last 15 minutes to teach Kabri Kabrong"

"But Sifu (Instructor) Bruce was highly influenced by Muay Thai. Whether he was doing it correct by the standards of the Thais would be another thing, but he tried to put the essence of Muay Thai into his training."

"Sifu Bruce was trying to do what he called his personal expression of combat. And if you look at his notes you will notice that he investigated different arts. He listed the strengths and weaknesses of arts such as Tae Kwon Do, Shotokan, Boxing, Savate and Thai Boxing. Thai Boxing was one of the systems he really liked... the powerful rear leg and the use of elbow and knee is copied and highly influenced by Muay Thai. But he didn't have that much time in Muay Thai, so he didn't have the chance to go in deeply...But he did incorporate Muay Thai techniques into his personal expression, Jeet Kune Do. It is true that he did copy it."

"In my opinion as I look at it here in 1995, Lee delved into Muay Thai but maybe not as deep as he thought he knew it. When we trained, he didn't know exactly how the Thais did it. But we improvised a foam forearm pad from football, which is sort of copying what we observed from the Thai pad. But we held it incorrectly, with the palm facing inward instead of outward like the Thais. I was corrected after I started studying under Ajarn Chai and Nyom."

"when I teach my class the Muay Thai is taught separately from the Jeet Kune Do class."

There you have it. If you are studying JKD, hopefully this will mean something to you. I'm not trying to debate with you. I just want to show that Muay Thai is deserving of respect.

As for those of us studying Muay Thai, take pride in knowing that you are participating in and age old fighting art that may not be perfect (what art is? and how do we define "perfect?"), but continues to prove it's effectiveness and gain the respect of martial artists everywhere.


  1. I've just decided to create a blog, which I have been wanting to do for a while. Thanks for this post, it's really useful! muay thai

  2. If muay thai fighters want to increase their kicking mobility, they should do a summer camp or something in TKD. I started out in TKD and moved to Muay Thai/BJJ. I wouldn't want to rely solely on TKD for self defense (though I had to once). Muay Thai and BJJ are far more practical for that, but TKD compliments my Muay Thai pretty darn well and I'm one of the fastest kickers in my class.

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