Is Jeet Kune Do Same As Kung Fu? – A Simple Comparison


Yip Man(left) and Bruce Lee(right) practicing Kung Fu

The martial arts world can be confusing with all the varieties of styles and combat techniques out there! Some martial arts are hybrids of different styles while others are traditional, with centuries of history. Jeet Kune Do(JKD) and Kung Fu are two popular martial arts styles but are there any similarities in the styles?

Jeet Kune Do is not the same as Kung Fu. There may be some similarities in some of the techniques, but this would be due to Jeet Kune Do including techniques from a variety of martial arts. The two styles have a different focus, intent, and philosophies that set them apart.

Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu have some similarities in certain techniques, but the technique is not the sum of a martial art. Philosophy, intent, and a holistic approach to personal development are aspects of the fighting styles that must also be factored into their comparison. Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu are still popular today, but which one would be the best combat art for you?

What Is the Key Difference Between Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu?

Kung Fu and Jeet Kune Do, or JKD, are both martial arts, but some fundamental differences exist, including the definition and concept behind the styles.

Jeet Kune Do began as a philosophy and a collection of ideas by famed martial artist Bruce Lee. The philosophy was that traditional martial arts were restrictive in the rules applied to the styles and limited by being exclusive.

Jeet Kune Do was born out of this philosophy, and the intent was to create an effective, no rules, self-defense form of martial art that would be useful in the real world rather than in competition.

Bruce Lee took the good points from a number of fighting styles, including Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu, and adapted and incorporated these techniques into his own style.

Kung Fu is an umbrella martial arts term that incorporates a number of Chinese fighting styles. Kung Fu styles were generally developed by monks as a form of exercise, spiritual enlightenment, and self-defense.

Kung Fu incorporates spirituality into the fighting style and encompasses the concept of only doing enough to disable your opponent rather than destroy them. Kung Fu styles also have rules and discipline in the way techniques are executed.

Jeet Kune Do is an adaptive style that allows you to adapt techniques to your stature and physique while maintaining the effectiveness of the moves. JKD does not include any religious or spiritual development, but the focus is rather on an efficient and effective self-defense style that can adapt to the threat of an attacker.

Is Jeet Kune Do Better Than Kung Fu?

Whether JKD is better than Kung Fu will depend on your reason for studying martial arts. If you are interested in a martial art style that trains the body, mind, and spirit, Kung Fu would be more rewarding for you. On the other hand, if your focus is to learn self-defense techniques, Jeet Kune Do would be the preferred style.

Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu were both developed for self-defense purposes, but the attitude behind the techniques is different. Kung Fu will teach you techniques that will help you in self-defense and will be effective, but it limits you to only Kung Fu techniques.

Jeet Kune Do teaches you to take useful fighting techniques from any martial art, adapt them for your own purposes, and incorporate them into your fighting style.

Due to the philosophy of JKD, this would be the better martial art to learn for effectiveness and great self-defense-focused techniques.

What Is Bruce Lee’s Style Of Kung Fu?

Bruce Lee’s introduction to martial arts was through the Kung Fu style Wing Chun, which he learned as a young man in Hong Kong.

Since Wing Chun was Bruce Lee’s main fighting style, it stands to reason that Jeet Kune Do was heavily influenced by this style. However, the moves are not strictly Wing Chun but rather adapted from this style to be more efficient and in keeping with the philosophy of JKD.

Jeet Kune Do vs Wing Chun – Which Is Better?

Wing Chun is a flowing, smooth style specializing in close quarters inside fighting techniques. The liquid or flowing nature of the style often creates unnecessary movement and waste of energy.

Wing Chun is a closed form of martial arts which does not incorporate new techniques from other combat styles and teaches its techniques within a set of rules and guidelines for the correct form of the techniques.

Jeet Kune Do is better than Wing Chun from the perspective that it is an adaptive style that takes effective techniques from a variety of fighting styles and tweaks them for effectiveness in real-world scenarios for self-defense.

The focus in Jeet Kune Do is less on form and more on the effectiveness of the techniques for real-world street-fight application.

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Is Jeet Kune Do Better Than Karate?

Karate is an effective fighting style, but it is confined by rules and boundaries that limit the style to the defined moves and techniques used as part of the style while JKD is an adaptive style of fighting. Neither is better than the other because they are two different styles with two different philosophies.

What Kind of Martial Art Is Jeet Kune Do?

Jeet Kune Do has its foundation in Wing Chun, but it only incorporates techniques from this style that Bruce Lee considered suitable for defense in a street fight scenario. While the foundational techniques are from Wing Chun, many other martial art techniques are included in JKD.

The philosophy of JKD is to incorporate the useful components of other martial arts and adapt them to your needs.

Consequently, Jeet Kune Do includes techniques from Judo, Karate, Wrestling, Boxing, various Chinese Kung Fu styles, and even European fencing techniques. 

Jeet Kune Do is not a static martial art, and as such, it is constantly changing and adapting to include useful techniques from a wide variety of combat styles.

Students of JKD are encouraged to evaluate other styles and incorporate the good self-defense components into the style without the rules and complications of tradition to make the techniques useful in real-world situations.

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Why Did Bruce Lee Create Jeet Kune Do?

Bruce Lee created Jeet Kune Do because he found traditional martial arts limited in the strict traditions and rules imposed on students. 

Most other martial arts are closed styles and do not allow the incorporation of techniques from other fighting styles into the traditional art.

Bruce Lee saw this as a shortcoming for most traditional martial arts, particularly from the perspective of comprehensive techniques for self-defense.

JKD does not follow any of the rules imposed by the traditional arts or rules imposed by martial arts focused on competition.

Is Jeet Kune Do Allowed In UFC?

Jeet Kune Do does not focus on competition as an aspect of the art and consequently does not adhere to the rules imposed on fighters in a ring.

Techniques from Jeet Kune Do are allowed in UFC as long as they fit within the rule structure imposed by the governing body. 

The philosophy of JKD does not fit within the regulatory framework of UFC and therefore is not allowed in UFC.

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Did Jeet Kune Do Inspire MMA?

The philosophy of JKD to include techniques from multiple disciplines coincides with the philosophy around mixed martial arts.

Clouse, R. (Director). (1973). Enter the Dragon [Film]. Warner Brothers Pictures.

This concept of techniques from multiple combat fighting styles being used by a fighter in a single fight was part of the inspiration for MMA.

Consequently, Bruce Lee was seen as a visionary for this concept and is often considered to be the father of MMA.

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Does Jeet Kune Do Have a Belt Ranking System?

Official Jeet Kune Do training does not offer a belt grading system for students. The reasoning behind this is that the style is for self-defense rather than competition.

Belts are awarded in other martial arts disciplines so that students of similar skill levels are paired for competitions.

Since JKD is not designed for competition, a belt grading system is not relevant to learning the martial art. Some dojos offering JKD training have instituted a belt grading system to become similar to other mainstream martial arts, but this is not the philosophy of the original form.

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What’s Bruce Lee’s Fighting Style?

Bruce Lee started his martial art training with Wing Chun, a form of Chinese Kung Fu. The foundations of this style formed the basis of his fighting technique. 

Bruce Lee trained in a number of different martial arts and found that one single art did not allow him full expression, which led to the development of his own fighting style, Jeet Kune Do or JKD.

Final Thoughts

Jeet Kune Do is not the same as Kung Fu, although it incorporates some techniques and moves that resemble some Kung Fu techniques.

Jeet Kune Do is not only a fighting style but a philosophy that allows for the adaptation of techniques from other styles into a fighting style focused on effective self-defense.

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