I have noticed that much mininformation has been circulated on some forums. First Joe Lewis did not promote me to 8th degree in JKD ( I earned the 6th dan '85;7th dan '90; and 8th dan'95 in the Joe Lewis American Karate Systems). By the way it's not the karate your parents learned but represents the kickboxing/clinch/grappel methods now popular.
There are no degrees in JKD. I am administrator to a large karate/Tae kwon do organization now celebrating our 25th year. And I recently published the book "Mastering Karate" for Human Kinetics. Therefore most people identify me as "Karate". No problems. I do not consider myself to be a JKD instructor. However I apparently have taught many, perhaps some of you about JKD.
In 1981/82 a magazine editor asked me to write a story on Larry Hartsell and the JKD group in Charlotte NC. There I met Dan Inosanto. I was a college professor with a master rank (5th) in karate/tkd. I had begun training in kickboxing with Joe Lewis.
So Dan and I seemed to hit it off quite well...we had much in common. I traveled to Chicago, Atlanta, NC etc over the next five years training with Dan at perhaps a dozen camps/seminars. In 1984 Dan sat down with me after a graduation and outlined a program of kali drills for me to follow when teaching at my karate studio. At no time did I express interest in receiving an "apprentice" certificate...I was already a professional martial arts instructor. With Dan's endorsement (he received the manuscript in advance to review) I published the first book ever written on the JKD concept in 1988. Paula, Dan and I rode together in the same car to the photo shoot by the lake in NC. The pictures are used on their website and in my book. After the book was published I lost contact with Dan.
My interest had shifted to the fighting system of Joe Lewis. Also in 1988 I became the JKD columinist for Karate International Magazine.
As columnist I received hundreds of letters from individuals that had become confused about the JKD that they saw Bruce perform and the JKD concepts seminars that had become so popular.
In 1989 I began to write articles calling for a return to the "Original art" of JKD. Many who worked with Dan must have thought that I now opposed them. Not true. I always gave credit to Dan as the authority on JKD. By 1993 there was much interest in the OJKD, a term I developed to recognize a difference in the two views of JKD. I promoted the highly successful Original JKD camp in Radford University with partners Ted Wong and Howard Williams. And published a follow up JKD book entitled "Way of No Way".
In my articles I continue to stress that because Bruce did not tell anyone exactly what he meant by the phrase "Using no way as way" the definition is open to interpretation.
OJKD proponents understand the phrase to mean...using no (particular) way as (the only) way...when performing the skills taught and performed by Bruce Lee. In other words I can use all variations of a backfist (for example) and still be within the definition of JKD. Remember that in the 1960's most martial artist were proud of the limitations imposed by their style. If I were a TKD practitioner I could say I punched this way. Karate guys would claim the punched another way. Bruce said in my art I use all ways to punch and futhermore I am bound by no way! I am therefore free of the limitations of only one way. Revolutionary..at the time.
The JKD concept understands that uning no way as way actually means using no particular art as the only art. To be JKDC I would want to develop the ability to flow from one art to another. I am no art but I can represent all arts. I become free when I am bound by no particular art.
I called the OJKD the micro view and JKDC the macro view. I regret now that I started a controversy when I intended only to help others better understand the definition of JKD. OJKD and JKDC seem to be at odds only because proponents do not understand the value in being open to interpretation. On the upside there are more JKD enthusiasts today because of the two interpretations!
There is only a problem when one group decides to call their view "the one and only true JKD " to the exclusion of all others.
One also has to recognize the fact that Bruce closed his JKD kwoons in 1971 and sought to disban the practice of JKD. Bruce asked all of his students not to teach physical skills and call them JKD. He was concerned that someone would mistake the physical drills for the art. He was right. After 1971 JKD became a philosophy, a method for finding personal liberation from the bondage imposed by fixed arts.
As a "way of no way" martial artist I have specialized in the kickboxing/contact sparring method that contains elements of both JKD and the highly refined Joe Lewis system. Joe invented the sport of American kickboxing in order to hurt his opponent in the ring and not get disqualified (as in point sparring). If you watch the 1970 match you will see the first JKD competition ever. No rules (they could kick with shoes, use any kind of strike and grappel if they knew how).
In 1996 after interviewing other artists Joe Jennings approached me to complete a series of videos to be called JKD Scientific Streetfighting. I sold all rights to Panther Productions (like Paul Vunak did for his Panther JKD series from the 1980's). Tapes in the series remain in the top 10 list best sellers for Century martial arts. They represent elements of both OJKD and JKDC. And just in case you feel it's not the JKD you know, that's O.K. It still represents a high level performance from a master instructor. Empty your cup and everything will be all right.
Jerry Beasley ,Ed.D.
Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame
Instructor of the Year 2000 www.aikia.net