Question: What originally got you interested in martial arts, and more specifically Bruce Lee and Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: I started actively training in the martial arts at the age of ten, getting my first experience from basic Japanese judo and karate. I started purchasing books, magazines and everything else that I could get my hands on pertaining to the martial arts. At the age of fifteen, I was actively training in Northern Shaolin gung fu, Ed Parker's Kenpo, Korean tae kwon do and tang soo do. I eventually achieved full instructorship in Northern Shaolin gung fu, a second degree black belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and first degree black belts in tae kwon do and tang soo do.
Later on I got involved in Filipino kuntaw and escrima. I eventually achieved a fourth degree black belt in kuntaw and guro certification in escrima. I also studied a Chinese style called shin pao chuan (leopard boxing) and achieved full instructor's certification in that style. By this time, I was twenty-two years old. I had developed a pattern of cross training that anyone would be hard-pressed to equal!
As far as Bruce Lee and Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do, at the age of ten I started watching Bruce Lee as Kato on the Green Hornet TV series. I was thoroughly fascinated by the way that Kato moved! It was unlike anything that I had ever seen before! I made up my mind right then and there that I was going to one day learn to move like that! I did not fully realize how knowledgeable he was until I saw a two-part story on him in early issues of Black Belt magazine. I still have these magazines and they are a treasured part of my Bruce Lee collection! When I saw him on a TV show called Longstreet, which was a favorite show of mine, I could not sleep that night I was so excited by what I had seen! He had actually explained Jeet Kune Do on TV! He basically played himself! I knew right then that whatever it took, I would one day be an instructor of this incredible art called Jeet Kune Do! That became my most important goal in life, to learn and be able to teach this art to others. Since I couldn't actively study at that time, I set out to learn everything that I possibly could about the martial arts!
Question: How long have you been training in Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: In the late seventies I met and started training with Sifu Joseph I. Cowles, who had trained with Bruce Lee in Seattle, Washington. He teaches what he learned from Bruce Lee as Wu Wei Gung Fu. This was my formal introduction to Bruce Lee's fighting method! I had already studied some basic Wing Chun gung fu in preparation, so everything came to me very quickly! Based on my understanding and ability to teach the original Jun Fan gung fu material, Sifu Cowles certified me as a full instructor in Wu Wei Gung Fu in 1981. I have been teaching ever since!
Question: What organization are you with?
Sifu Davis: I, along with Sifu Zee Lo, founded the United States Jeet Kune Do Alliance in 1992. Shortly after that, Lo had a falling out with his instructor, and broke away from JKD to start his own method. I ran the organization as the United States Jeet Kune Do Alliance until 1996, at which time I changed it to Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do International and the Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do Trapping Association. This was due to the fact that there was a tremendous interest from countries other than the United States. I wanted potential members from any country to feel more a part of everything, so I thought it was time for a name change! I was the Executive Director and Senior Instructor of both of these organizations until I shut them down in 2003. Now the only organization that I have is the Hardcore Jeet Kune Do Chinese Gung Fu Association.
Question: What are the primary goals of your organization?
Sifu Davis: To preserve, promote, perpetuate and protect Bruce Lee's original teaching, training and fighting methods. We teach the original curriculum from all three periods of Bruce Lee's development (Seattle, Oakland & L.A.Chinatown) plus a generous helping of the Wing Chun method of Chinese gung fu that Bruce Lee studied as a teenager in Hong Kong. I feel that this is very important since Wing Chun forms the nucleus of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do!
Question: Who are you certified by?
Sifu Davis: As I have already mentioned, Sifu Joseph I. Cowles from the Seattle period has certified me as a full instructor in Wu Wei Gung Fu. I am certified as a full instructor of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do by Sifu Steve Golden and Sifu Jerry Poteet from the L.A. Chinatown period, both original students of Bruce Lee and founding members of the organization known as the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus. I am certified as a full instructor of Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do by Sifu Leo T. Fong, who trained with both Bruce Lee and James Yimm Lee in Oakland. I am also certified as a Full Instructor by Sifu Patrick Strong, who trained with Bruce Lee for six years during the Seattle period. All of the original Bruce Lee students that I have trained with recognize me as a full instructor.
Question: Do you have any interesting stories from original Bruce Lee students that you can share with us?
Sifu Davis: There are way too many great stories to tell them all! Steve Golden told me of a time when he first met Bruce Lee and Bruce told him where he was going to hit him. This was not within reach, but with gap closing footwork necessary. He allowed Steve to get ready to block the strike. Bruce was able to effectively close and strike Steve repeatedly without being touched going in or coming out! I also like the story that Jerry Poteet tells about Bruce Lee working on the mook jong at James Lee’s house. He said it sounded like a machine gun going off and shook the entire house! Sifu Jerry also tells a story of a time when he was practicing chi sao with Bruce Lee. He said there were hits making contact that he couldn’t see how or where they were coming in. This is when he discovered Bruce Lee’s use of the “third hand”, or half beat insertion striking.
Question: Do you think that JKD is a system with a structure, and if so, why?
Sifu Davis: Yes! I definitely think that JKD is a system with a structure! In fact, I know it is! If it is not, what have I been teaching my students all these years? It certainly hasn't been any of the other arts that I trained in!
Jeet Kune Do has a specific fighting stance, specific footwork, basic hand techniques and basic kicking techniques, just like any other structured system! Jeet Kune Do also has many unique elements such as lin sil die dar (simultaneous defense and attack), energy/ sensitivity drills, three ranges of combat (long range, medium range and close range) and five ways of attack.
The emphasis, however, is on being able to intercept the opponent's attack as soon as possible with a stop hit or stop kick, ending the conflict before it even gets off to a good start! Jeet Kune Do emphasizes simplicity, directness and a non-classical attitude in the training and execution of techniques. This sets it apart from other systems, but it definitely has a structure!
Question: What do you think Bruce Lee's intention was in the forming of Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: I personally feel that he wanted to get away from the restrictions of classical, or traditional, martial arts. He wanted a system that stressed practical, efficient combat at all ranges. No forms, no belts, no practicing barefoot and no practicing to fight in tournaments! A system especially suited for him, but with something to offer everyone! It has often been said that Bruce Lee was a hundred years ahead of his time! I still feel that Jeet Kune Do is way ahead of other martial arts in terms of principles, strategy, training methods and technical execution!
Question: What martial arts form the main framework of Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: Jeet Kune Do consists primarily of elements of Wing Chun gung fu, fencing and boxing. There are others, but these are the most essential arts in the formulation of Jeet Kune Do. Bruce Lee himself said this in a letter that he sent to James Yimm Lee, his assistant instructor at the Oakland branch of the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute. I have been told by various students of Bruce Lee that northern styles of gung fu, French savate and muay thai kickboxing also had some influence on Jeet Kune Do's development, but I guess you would have had to have been there to know for sure!
Question: Why did Bruce Lee choose these particular arts for his Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: Wing Chun gung fu was the art that Bruce Lee studied in Hong Kong as a teenager. It is often noted for its practical, direct, no-nonsense approach to combat. There is a strong emphasis on centerline preservation, simultaneous defense and attack, sensitivity training and trapping hands. All of these things are important elements of Jeet Kune Do!
Fencing, although using a weapon, applies some of the same principles as Wing Chun to combat. Bruce Lee liked the explosiveness of the fencing footwork. He also noted how fencing places the power side forward, enabling the fencer to swiftly "intercept" an in-coming opponent with no wasted motion! Where Wing Chun emphasizes the "four corners" for defensive purposes, fencing has the "four quadrants." Therefore, some of Jeet Kune Do's footwork, as well as both offensive and defensive theory, comes directly from fencing!
Bruce Lee liked boxing because of the way that the boxer is highly mobile, yet able to get maximum force in their punches by applying the whole body synergistically to the technique. From boxing, Bruce Lee adopted footwork, evasive tactics and powerful punching combinations. The main difference is Bruce Lee's preferred use of the vertical fist punching structure over the horizontal fist structure commonly associated with boxing.
Question: Was Jeet Kune Do "complete" as an effective system against all possible angles of attack, before Bruce Lee passed away?
Sifu Davis: Although there are those that would disagree, I feel that it was, and is, very complete! I think those who feel differently just haven't looked deep enough into the possibilities for the training and use of all the techniques!
Question: Have you ever found it necessary to add or delete anything from Bruce Lee's teachings in your curriculum of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do teaching?
Sifu Davis: Well, what you have to consider is that I have spent over two-thirds of my life researching and training in Bruce Lee's methods, I have trained with over two dozen of Bruce Lee's original students, and I am familiar with the curriculum from all three of Bruce Lee's schools (Seattle, Oakland and L.A. Chinatown). I feel that you need to experience the material from all three periods in order to have a complete understanding of Bruce Lee's art and to better understand the evolution of his methods. Especially the Seattle and L.A. Chinatown periods! Considering all of this, no, I have not found it necessary to delete anything from my teachings! I feel that those who do are missing out on a lot of good material!
Question: There are those who say that all you need to do is train in the material that Bruce Lee taught during the final phase of his development, known as Jeet Kune Do, and the earlier material, known as Jun Fan Gung Fu, is not important! How do you feel about this?
Sifu Davis: Those poor, misinformed, misguided people! I look at it like this! If you are on a construction crew and your objective is to build a skyscraper, where do you start? Which comes first, the foundation or the roof? Think about it!
Question: What is your personal training routine like?
Sifu Davis: Time permitting, I usually spend at least an hour a day, sometimes two, on my own physical training. I try to maintain a weight of approximately 200 pounds at all times, as that weight works well for me. I will spend at least thirty minutes to an hour training on equipment such as various bags and the mook jong. I consider the mook jong to be my single most important piece of equipment. I have the Great Lion JKD mook jong (www.woodendummy.net). I have found that dummy to be easily the best mook jong on the market for JKD practitioners. I am usually involved in teaching related activities for two to four hours a day, sometimes less and sometimes longer. I also maintain a very strict diet, consisting primarily of high quality protein and complex carbohydrates. I do not allow my self to consume any refined sugar, or any foods that the body quickly converts to sugar (bread, pasta, white rice, carrots, corn, white potatoes, etc.). The number one rule of my diet is SUGAR IS THE ENEMY! I am also a firm believer in nutritional supplements. I take supplements several times throughout the day.
Question: What do you think of the controversy between the JKD concepts practitioners and the Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do practitioners?
Sifu Davis: Not Much! I think it is ridiculous! They have their way (concepts practitioners) and we have ours! Why can't they just do their thing and not criticize us for what we do? This stupid controversy has been going on forever! I think it's about time for everyone to grow up and give up the "if you don't play my way I'll take my toys and go home" attitude! They can play with their toys on their side of the fence and we'll play with ours on our side of the fence! What's the big deal?
Question: How do you personally feel about the “JKD politics” situation?
Sifu Davis: Since there are currently so many different factions of JKD and so many different approaches to the training, it is pointless to even try to unite everyone. There is no way that everyone will see this the same way. Therefore, the best thing is for everyone to just do their own thing and try to coexist peacefully! I don’t claim that what I am doing is better than what everyone else is doing, but I definitely feel that if someone wants to follow the path of development developed, practiced and taught by Bruce Lee, my Hardcore Jeet Kune Do program would be very hard to beat! I call it Hardcore Jeet Kune Do because it involves ONLY what Bruce Lee learned, developed, practiced and taught during his lifetime! In other words, we are very HARDCORE in our approach to training and fighting!
Question: Why do you feel that "two schools of thought" exist on Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, where one group accumulates many techniques from different styles, while another group hones their skill in Bruce Lee's original teachings?
Sifu Davis: This is a "touchy" subject! I personally prefer the "original" art, now referred to as Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do, because that is what works best for me! Less clutter, less confusion! I have never needed anything more than I have at my disposal right now! And besides, it all fits together like the pieces of a puzzle. No loose, un-useable pieces floating around out there! I know there are many other practitioners out there who feel the same way too! Besides, there are several of us who feel that it is important to preserve, promote and perpetuate Bruce Lee's original teaching, training and fighting methods intact, without any "additives"! After all, isn't that one reason that the Nucleus was formed?
As far as the "concepts" approach goes, I think there are several reasons why some practitioners follow this way of training. Some people seem to like the "flavor of the month" approach to training! Some people practice this way simply because they think they have to if they want to eventually receive some sort of certification. Some people hang in there with this approach, thinking that eventually they will get to experience some of Bruce Lee's original methods! Some believe that this is what Bruce Lee would have wanted, although I personally feel that nothing could be further from the truth! I refuse to say out loud what I think of these people, and definitely not in print! Whatever happened to "chiseling away the inessentials" and "daily decrease, not a daily increase," which were statements made by Bruce Lee himself!
Another statement that Bruce Lee himself once made that keeps ringing in my ears is "Jeet Kune Do is the only non-classical style of Chinese gung fu in existence today. It is simple in its execution, although not so simple to explain!" Regardless of what some people say now, the fact still remains that Bruce Lee made that statement, which will exist in print for the rest of time!
Personally, I feel that the individual should be allowed to make their own choice. I have nothing against the "concepts" practitioners, except for the fact that some of them think that their way is the only way! Well, guess what? It's not! We are all on different paths and we have the right to choose the path that fits us best! If our paths happen to cross, let it be a friendly crossing, not one filled with senseless hate and immature jealousy! When is all of this going to end? Right now wouldn't be too soon for me!
Question: Why are there so few authorized sources for Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do Teaching?
Sifu Davis: Several of Bruce Lee's main students have stayed out of the limelight for so long that they haven't turned out many students that are qualified to teach the art. The JKD concepts group has been growing constantly due to the efforts of Dan Inosanto and his followers while the Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do group nearly died out! Now, with the forming of the Hardcore Jeet Kune Do Chinese Gung Fu Association, hopefully this problem will be resolved. This will lead to a whole new generation of practitioners dedicated to carrying on Bruce Lee's original teachings. I have several excellent Apprentice Instructors that are very dedicated to Bruce Lee's original teachings! I am still looking for more dedicated practitioners who wish to one day become Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do instructors.
Question: What do you think of the idea that a martial artist can take Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do and add it to their own martial art, increase its effectiveness and call it JKD?
Sifu Davis: Sure! Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do can improve the effectiveness of any martial art! That's OK, but the problem comes when they start calling it JKD! The bottom line is this: JKD is JKD and anything else is not! Anyone who says different is a blatant liar! Too many misinformed people have gotten away with running their mouths for too long! I won't mention any names, but several of these people are in the United States! The truth is coming out now, though, and those people are going to get theirs! The release of all of Bruce Lee's original writings has already started to clear things up! After all, who knows more about the art of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do than its founder, the late Bruce Lee!
Question: What do you think about the series of books from Tuttle, The Bruce Lee Library, edited by John Little?
Sifu Davis: One word: AWESOME! John Little has done an excellent job of putting them together!
Question: Bruce Lee used weapons in his movies. Can you tell me if there are any weapons such as sticks or knives used in Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: No! Definitely not! Bruce Lee used weapons for cinematic effect. There are no weapons, other than those that we possessed at birth, used in the art of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do!
Question: How can a novice determine if he or she is getting real Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: There are several key elements that must be there in order for it to be authentic Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do. There are too many things to mention in this interview, but a few things that you should look for are (1) power side forward, (2) no wasted motion in attack or defense, (3) vertical fist punching structure, (4) interception skills, (5) Bruce Lee's five ways of attack, (6) light, quick, explosive footwork, (7) energy/sensitivity training, (8) trapping hands, (9) simultaneous defense and attack and (10) non-telegraphic movement. There are many more, of course, but these things must be there!
Question: How can someone decide if a person claiming to teach Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do is genuine or a fraud?
Sifu Davis: Ask about his lineage! Is he certified or recognized as an instructor by any of Bruce Lee's original students? Is he recognized by any legitimate major organization? Is he recognized by myself and my organization? Do his teachings have all of the characteristics mentioned in the answer to the previous question? Does he know the terminology? Can he describe and demonstrate all of the basic techniques? Does he know chi sao? Can he trap? There are so many ways to tell if someone is a fraud in this art that it doesn't even make sense for someone to try and get away with it!
Question: I noticed that you have mentioned trapping hands a few times already in this interview. I have heard that some Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do instructors have said that trapping doesn't work, or that Bruce Lee didn't use trapping toward the end, so it isn't necessary to develop this skill. What do you have to say about this?
Sifu Davis: First of all, trapping DOES work! Only an idiot would think differently! Why would Bruce Lee name one of his five ways of attack hand immobilization attack if he felt that trapping wasn't necessary? Those who say that trapping doesn't work simply haven't put in enough time working on their energy/sensitivity drills, reference point trapping drills and mook jong drills to have effective trapping skills! Trapping skill doesn't just come natural, it takes WORK! HARD WORK!
As for those who say that Bruce Lee didn't use trapping toward the end, or that he had discarded trapping and no longer felt it to be a necessary part of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do training, the answer to that is simple! The primary goal of the Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do fighter is to hit! Trapping is used to remove or go around an obstruction on the line of attack. If there is no obstruction, there is no need to trap! Bruce Lee was of a skill level where no one could close the line before he could land an attack! Therefore, there was no need for him to trap! I guarantee you that if he got an obstruction the trap would be there! It was already a part of him. It had become ingrained into his neuromuscular response system! My questions to those who say that trapping isn't necessary are these: Are you as good as Bruce Lee? Are you as fast as Bruce Lee? Can you strike your intended target every time without ever getting an obstruction? What was that? Did I hear you say NO? That's what I thought! You'd better get to work on those trapping skills!
Usually when trapping does not work, either the practitioner lacks a thorough knowledge of the energy/sensitivity drills, they haven't spent enough time working their reference point trapping drills and training on the mook jong, or they are trying to trap at the wrong time at an improper range! Trying to trap at the wrong range is like trying to execute a spinning back kick in a phone booth! It just doesn't work! You have to keep things in the proper context in order for them to make sense!
Try to tell Sifu Steve Golden, Sifu Jerry Poteet or Sifu Chris Kent that trapping doesn't work! Any of them, or myself for that matter, will be more than happy to show you that trapping does work! And it works well! Very well! Stop making excuses, get up off your lazy butt and learn to trap!
Question: Several times during this interview, you have mentioned energy/sensitivity training. What is energy/sensitivity training and what purpose does it serve?
Sifu Davis: Sifu Jerry Poteet, one of my favorite people on this earth, once told me something that Bruce Lee said to him. It goes like this: "To see is to be deceived, to hear is to be lied to, but to feel is to believe!" Sensitivity drills develop your ability to feel the opponent's energy, which in turn enables you to use this energy against him! When someone simply "sees" a sensitivity drill being performed, there is no real way for them to understand what is going on! You have to experience the drill for yourself, and work with it long enough over a period of time to develop an understanding of all its uses. This develops what is referred to as "contact reflex," which is a highly refined neuromuscular skill! You simply react to a stimulus on contact, without having to see or think about it! This is extremely necessary for good trapping hand skills!
Some of the better know sensitivity drills used in Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do come from the Wing Chun system of Chinese gung fu. They are seong chi sao (double arm sticking hands) and don chi sao (single arm sticking hands). Other drills used are the cross energy drill, lop sao switch drill, lop sao cycle drill and chi gerk (sticking legs). There are others but these are the best!
The sensitivity drills teach the practitioner to understand the three main kinds of energy, which in turn leads to the ability to select the proper trap that fits the moment. Without these sensitivity drills you can still learn the mechanics of trapping, but you will lack the neuromuscular skills to make it work!
Question: Some instructors are saying that Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do is out of date and has been surpassed by Gracie Jiu Jitsu or no holds barred competition, etc. What do you think?
Sifu Davis: I think that those people don't really know what Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do is all about! No disrespect to them, but I'll take Bruce Lee's art any day! I'll stick to what I know for a fact really works, thank you!
Question: Speaking of competitions, how do you feel about the Ultimate Fighter Championship?
Sifu Davis: Well, I went to one of those when it was held here in Birmingham where I live. I wouldn't waste my money on it but someone else bought the ticket and invited me to go with them! All I will say is that I found the antics of the crowd more amusing that the matches in the octagon! BORING! Sure, the athletes who compete in those events are very skilled and highly conditioned, and they are to be commended and respected for that, but I have just never believed in the use of martial art for sport!
Question: Do you think that if Bruce Lee had lived he would have changed the art of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do dramatically?
Sifu Davis: Actually, I think if there were any changes it would be a decrease in the techniques and an increase in attribute development. Bruce Lee was really into physical training and nutritional supplementation. I think that he would love the recent developments in physical training methods and all of the incredible supplements that are available today!
As for Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do, it was a process of self discovery for him! A process of simplification and elimination! Not a process of complication and accumulation like some would have you believe today! I think that if Bruce Lee were alive today, even though he would be older, and he were to be attacked, he would move one time and it would be over! The ultimate goal of the Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do fighter!
Question: You mentioned nutritional supplements. Do you believe in nutritional supplements?
Sifu Davis: You better believe I do! I feel that nutritional supplementation is a very important part of any Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do practitioner's training program! Especially some of the awesome sports supplements on the market today! Some of the natural herbs available can play a very important part in your training program, too! To keep going with a good training program you have to keep your energy levels up! There are many products available now that are great for this! You definitely don't get everything that you need from your daily meals! I am partially responsible for keeping GNC stores in business! Even at discounted prices, my average supplement bill runs $400-$500 a month! I definitely do my part to keep sales up!
Question: In the United States, you have quite a reputation as a Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do warrior! Why is that?
Sifu Davis: (laughing!) I have been referred to as a JKD rebel! I have been referred to as the "bad boy" of JKD! This is probably because of my never yielding, never compromising stand for the original Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do! I have trained with fifteen of Bruce Lee's original students. I know this art! I know exactly what it is and exactly what it can do! I know that nothing out there surpasses it! No one or nothing out there can convince me of anything any different! I will fight for this art and I will go to my grave with this opinion! I would assume that this is why some say such things about me!
Years ago when I started my organization the late Sifu Ted Lucay Lucay was one of the first to lend his support. He told me that he really admired me because not only did I stay in the kitchen when the heat was on, I even turned it up! He was referring to others who had tried to start some sort of "original" Jeet Kune Do organization, but had backed down as soon as someone gave them some heat about it! He was proud of me for "sticking to my guns" as the saying goes! He was a good friend and teacher and I was greatly saddened when he passed away! He taught both JKD and kali, but always kept them separate. I really admired him for that!
Question: Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do has a reputation for being strictly a "fighting" art! It has even been referred to by some as "scientific streetfighting"! How do you feel about that?
Sifu Davis: Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do is the perfect no-nonsense martial art for self defense in today's violent streets! I do not like to fight, but I will not stand by and allow myself, my family, a loved one or a friend to be hurt! I have even jumped in and helped an innocent person that was outnumbered before! I have no patience or sympathy for those who prey on the weak, the elderly, the innocent or the helpless! My philosophy is this: You must go through me to get to them! You won't make it! I have always felt like God gave me this gift so that I could protect those who cannot protect themselves. After all, what better use is there for this skill! I felt that if I could save one life or change someone for the better, that's as good as it gets!
Question: If someone wants to learn Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do from you, how would they get started?
Sifu Davis: There are several ways that someone can go about training with me! I teach group classes, private lessons, H.I.T. Programs, one day seminars, two day seminars, training camps and have over forty instructional DVDs on the market Worldwide! I prefer that someone make an appointment with me for an initial meeting and consultation. From there I can decide what the best course of action is for that particular individual. If you are traveling quite a distance to train with me, I would suggest that you attend training camps, arrange H.I.T. sessions and supplement the camps with instructional DVDs!
Question: What do you normally look for in a prospective student?
Sifu Davis: Well mannered with an overall good attitude. I look for those who seem to have a natural inclination for fitness and a good attitude about learning new material. I also want to be sure that they are coming to me for the right reasons. Jeet Kune Do is for self defense, not for sport or abuse in the street or in the bar! If I sense that anyone might even think of abusing the skill that I am prepared to offer them, they can forget about ever training with me! I also prefer that my students not drink, smoke or mess with drugs. If I find that any of my students are using drugs of an illegal nature, they are out! It’s just that simple!
Question: What do you think primarily attracts people to train in Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: Jeet Kune Do is attractive to most people due to the “strict self defense” nature of the training. Those interested in sport will go somewhere else! Then you have those who come in wanting to learn the art taught by Bruce Lee. Those usually don’t last long once they find out it is hard work to become an effective Jeet Kune Do fighter, and you can’t become like Bruce Lee overnight!
Question: Can someone become an instructor through training with your instructional DVDs?
Sifu Davis: No! I couldn't live with myself if I certified someone to be an instructor of Bruce Lee's art after watching some DVDs or videotapes! You must have the "hands on" training and I must know without a doubt that you can really do it! Sure, the DVDs/videotapes are of great assistance to anyone who wishes to become an instructor, but the personal training with me must be there! It is my opinion that anyone who tells you that you can become an instructor of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do through a home video study program should be banned from ever teaching Bruce Lee's art! They are a disgrace to the art of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do and a disgrace to the memory of Bruce Lee! Remember, to see is to be deceived, to hear is to be lied to, and to feel is to believe! You have to feel it! The only way to feel it is through training with a competent instructor!
Question: What are your classes like and what is covered in your teaching curriculum?
Sifu Davis: I teach the material originally developed and taught by Bruce Lee during the Seattle, Oakland and L.A. Chinatown periods, with a healthy dose of Wing Chun gung fu to help develop foundation structure. Heavy emphasis is placed on practical, efficient, devastating combative movements. Nothing is wasted, and the emphasis is on hitting! I consider my approach to be “offensive defense”. In other words, answer every movement from an opponent with a strike of your own rather than passive block, then counter type movements. In group classes, we always start out working on basics (stance, footwork, upper body tools, lower body tools, sil lim tao form, lin sil die dar). The second part of class is always different, and we might emphasize energy/sensitivity drills, trapping hand drills, focus glove drills, timing and rhythm drills, Five Ways of Attack, entering skills, self defense scenario training or a combination of any of the above.
Question: Do you feel that Jeet Kune Do classes should be kept small, or should there be a large number of students in a class? Also, how do you handle the large number of people that show up for your seminars?
Sifu Davis: I prefer small classes. Rarely ever will there be more than ten people in one of my classes. I know everyone’s personality and physical abilities. This works out well, as it enables me to better serve their instructional needs. Seminars have to be paid for, and it is understandable that the promoter will have to get as many people in the door as possible to cover all expenses. I teach seminars on the average three out of four weekends a month, so I am well aware of the best teaching methods for such events. It is best to focus on one specific area of training and hopefully leave everyone with something that they can actually effectively apply after I am gone. The most often requested seminar topics are energy/sensitivity training and trapping hands, as most people are weak in those areas. I try to get around as much as possible and work hands-on with each individual to assure that they are “getting it” as we are fond of saying.
Question: You said that you currently have over forty instructional DVDs out. Are there going to be more?
Sifu Davis: Actually, there are going to be many more! The next series that I am going to do is titled Hardcore Jeet Kune Do. It will be a ten volume set! I am also considering a series called Street Moves, which would be just basic self defense for the ordinary person. Based on principles and movements from Hardcore Jeet Kune Do of course! I am also considering adding a Street Moves seminar series to my seminar listing!
Question: How many different seminars do you do now?
Sifu Davis: There are about forty different seminar topics that I can cover. All of them are strictly Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do!
Question: Wow! That's a lot of seminars! How much do you charge?
Sifu Davis: In the United States and Canada, I charge $100.00 per hour for my teaching time, plus all expenses. This is based on a minimum of eight hours. For foreign countries, I charge a minimum of U.S. $2,000.00 plus expenses. This is due to the fact that foreign seminars take me away from my family, my office and my school for a longer period of time. And besides, there is jet lag to deal with and the mental and physical stress put on you due to flying for long periods of time! I usually need a day or two of doing nothing but adjusting once I get to a foreign country! Then I have to re-adjust when I get back home!
Question: What do expenses consist of?
Sifu Davis: Airfare, lodging, transportation and three meals per day.
Question: Bruce Lee once said that JKD was only a name, a boat used to get across a river which was to be discarded once you had crossed. What do you say to those who criticize Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do practitioners for walking around with the JKD boat on their back?
Sifu Davis: (laughs!) Boat! What boat? I don't see any boat! It's not on my back, so I must still be in it! Seriously though, who's to say when your journey across the river is over? That journey could take your whole life! I think as long as you are on the river you are going to need that boat! It's kind of like a road map. Until you have reached your exact destination you are probably going to need that map! Get rid of it too soon and you will probably find yourself lost! And besides, remember what I said earlier. How many of us are as good as Bruce Lee? You have to make it across the river and get out of the boat to carry or discard it! I guess when you reach the other side the decision is up to you! I personally don't have a boat on my back, so I must still be on the river! If I ever get as good as Bruce Lee then I guess I will have reached the other side! And besides, most of the people who say things like that don't have a boat on their back. The problem is that some of them have never even seen the boat! The rest of them never made it across the river either! They drowned in the "classical mess" before they made it across because their boat got so many holes in it! This should give some people something to think about!
Question: Do you think that Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do has become the "classical mess" that Bruce Lee so despised? Have its practitioners become slaves to an outdated art?
Sifu Davis: Absolutely not! No way! I guess a person could turn Bruce Lee's teachings into a "classical mess", but that is the last thing that I would ever do! You see, to me the beauty of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do is that the art bends to fit the person, the person doesn't bend to fit the art! There is a certain amount of individual freedom that allows you to make the art your own, and to make it best serve your own individual needs! As long as this freedom is present, there is no "classical mess!"
Now, on the other hand, if I suddenly started implementing forms, belts and a non-yielding rigidity to the way techniques have to be performed, then I would be turning Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do into the "classical mess" that Bruce Lee so despised! Instead, you have to look at each student as an individual, taking into consideration many things such as age, height, weight, athletic inclination, physical handicaps, range of flexibility and their level of attribute development.
You also have to look at their reason for wanting to learn Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do and their desired outcome of the training that they are about to receive. What is their mental, or psychological motivation for wanting to train? Have they had any previous training in Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do or any other martial art? As long as this "individual freedom" is emphasized over "concrete doctrine" there is no "classical mess", period. And besides, I could easily spend the rest of my life researching and training in all of the ways to use these techniques! In fact, I'm sure that I will! Anyone who wants to join me is welcome to do so!
Question: It has often been said that Jeet Kune Do is not for everyone. Are there some people who are more suited for Jeet Kune Do training? Does the learning of Jeet Kune Do require a higher level of dedication and more personal training?
Sifu Davis: That is very true. I have, in the past, had many students that just couldn’t handle the training. I have found that it takes a “different breed” of person to really become good at Jeet Kune Do. You have to really want it, and be ready to throw yourself into the training 100+%! And yes, once again you are right, most people are not willing to put forth the effort to better themselves and become “all that they can be” as the saying goes! You must pursue it with a vengeance! Unfortunately, for many people, it takes something really bad happening in their life to make them realize that they need this training! For others, by the time they realize it, it is too late, and that is what is really sad! With the moral decay of our society these days, self defense is a vital necessity for every decent human being. It amazes me how many people are of the “it will never happen to me” mentality! With that mindset, those people have unfortunately already set themselves up as primary victims!
Question: If Bruce Lee had lived, do you think he would prefer that his students keep classes small and operate in a very non-commercial manner?
Sifu Davis: Yes, I definitely feel that way. As already discussed, Jeet Kune Do is not for everyone, and I think that Bruce Lee would prefer that only those that are dead serious about the training be in the classes. This would also help to preserve the quality of the art. Jeet Kune Do is definitely a non-commercial art and thrives better in a non-commercial atmosphere. I have had schools before, but have found that I prefer to teach in gyms, fitness centers, etc. due to the high dropout rate of those who get in the class and find it to be a bit too aggressive for them! It is hard to pay all of the bills of an actual school on just a handful of dedicated students!
Question: How do you personally feel about the philosophical elements often associated with Jeet Kune Do and other martial arts?
Sifu Davis: I think that the philosophical elements are an individual preference. As a Christian, I am only interested in the elements that apply directly to combat. I am interested in pure self defense, nothing else. In other words, how do I best take out these three guys in front of me that are bent on my destruction? I can’t do that with a philosophy lesson!
Question: You have your own unique approach to teaching Bruce Lee’s methods, called Hardcore Jeet Kune Do. What is Hardcore Jeet Kune Do?
Sifu Davis: Hardcore Jeet Kune Do is my version of what Bruce Lee actually taught in his lifetime. I have combined the curriculums from Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles Chinatown into one highly effective curriculum. I have also included a generous portion of Wing Chun gung fu to reinforce the foundation needed for performing Jeet Kune Do at a higher level of skill! I use the term “Hardcore” because that best describes our approach to training! We are definitely the “real deal”!
Question: You have been involved in Jeet Kune Do training for over twenty-seven years at the time of this interview. What does JKD mean to you and how has it changed your life?
Sifu Davis: Jeet Kune Do, to me, is by far the most effective method of empty hand self defense on this planet! It is a very important part of my life, and has become vital to my existence just like breathing, sleeping and eating! I have been involved in martial arts since the age ten, so I have always easily resisted the temptations that most adolescent or adult males give in to such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs. At forty-seven years of age, I have NEVER tasted alcohol, NEVER smoked and NEVER used any kind of illegal substance! Therefore, it didn’t necessarily change my life as much as it did “set a course” for my life!
Question: If there is one aspect of Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do that would best define what it is to you, what would it be?
Sifu Davis: The ultimate goal of the Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do fighter is to intercept and destroy their attacker at the earliest possible moment, ending the fight before it even gets off to a good start! Learning to intercept an opponent takes much hard work and virtually buckets of sweat, but the training is more than worth the end result! I would have to say that this is Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do at it's finest!
Closing Comment: Thank you, Sifu Davis for this extremely interesting and in-depth interview!
Sifu Davis: You're welcome! If anyone learns from it, it was worth the effort!