Bruce Lee’s fighting Stance Concept ??????

Bruce’s fighting stance? What is the difference between his early stance and the JKD stance? Why is there a difference? These are questions I have been asked many times, since I did a seminar for the JKD Convention, in Seattle, in the early 90″s.  I will try and present a video of some of my points, and offer drills for you to do to better understand my points. This not to start an argument or a controversy. It is to show how you look at the positives and negatives of a technique you personally would use in a real conflict. There are always the goods and the bads of anything, and most of the time it is just conversational and an exchange of thought. But then there is self defense! This could be a decision, in training, that is critical for survival. I do not care about the labels you are training in, Jujitsu, Karate, Gung Fu, boxing, they all have something of value, you just have to find what is valuable to you, for the street. Questions help clear up confusion and let you select those tool pouch techniques you have confidence in, that will work to protect you and your family. Bruce trained at two levels, general martial arts and self defense. Only a few styles train, on a regular basis, for actual self defense. By this, I mean there is a high level of reality to their combat. Boxing, Jujitsu and MMA all have one common ingredient that most others don’t and that is emotion. They are on the edge of a real battle. Their opponent is really trying to beat them. When you watch most Karate and Gung Fu, and I mean traditional and non-traditional, they do really cool techniques, that look awesome, but in a fight, would get them into trouble, they train in general martial arts. THERE IS NO EMOTION. It is easy to test this statement. Every once in a while, tell your opponent to do whatever they want and really try and hit you, not once, but a number of times and with a lot of aggression. Also tell them, that you want them to attack with anger, as if you were going to hurt their family. Ninety percent, yes I mean 90% will probably get wiped out. I don’t mean just lower ranks, I mean black belts and many instructors. Who are the ten percent? They are the few who actually have the mental attitude and the basic physical skills that fit natural fighters. They are usually much more aggressive, more focused and highly motivated in their training. The rest, want to be aggressive, but in reality don’t want to fight or be tough, they just want to be more confidence and feel better about themselves. The simple reason for this problem, of the 90%, is how they train. You might compare it to a video game of war. It is easy to get caught up in feeling good about your increasing victories as you practice your skills, but I wouldn’t brag to loud to a veteran who has just returned from a visit to the VA hospital, he might just shove your toy down your throat.
No disrespect meant to Bruce Lee, what he did worked well for him in a fight, but will it work for you? That is why you must look at the positives and negatives of your combative techniques, not only physical, but emotional. You have to use Bruce’s formula for success. “Select the best and become a master at them”, the rest is just general training. I tell my students, I believe in what I teach as very effective, but is only a dance if you do not add emotion when applying it.
What I present in my example of Bruce’s early stance will only be academic and food for thought. Like it or not, select out parts or none at all, but hopefully it will show you ways to question your training, regardless of your style.
Bruce seems to have presented two different applications of fighting stances that use the same term, Closed Bi Jong. It is these two stances and their differences that we will explore.
To examine a technique for positives and negatives you must first look at the purpose of the technique. Once you know it’s purpose you can look at the elements relative to that goal. In this case we are talking about a martial arts stance relative to what?? Is it a pre-fight stance, with-in striking distance, or an applied stance, which means the fight is taking place in close quarters. A pre-fight stance can be stationary or mobile and means you are out of range for contact. To make it an applied stance you must move within range to make contact. Contact means either opponent can touch. Why is this important to understand? Because, both have different applications. If you are out of range you have many options. You can stand there and wait for your opponent to move. You can move around, looking for an opening to attack. You can move around, while setting up to attack or you can walk away. In an applied stance your options have dropped to specific stances, since you are now engaged in combat. The quality of your hand fighting techniques are going to be supported by the degree of your stability and mobility. This is where the positive and negative questions come in. Stability means you can control your offensive and defensive techniques with minimum effort. In a club training, this is fairly easy to do. In a street fight, it is more difficult because of the aggressive resistance. Mobility means you have controlled fluid movement, under pressure, and can adapt to the opponents changing counters.
In the early Seattle period the Stances were in two parts. First was the Open Bi Jong, which was a pre-fight ready stance. The elements of this stance were, show no sign of readiness, be able to move in any direction without shifting your position, be able to absorb an attack, be able to launch an attack with minimum telegraphing or walk away. The Closed Bi Jong was only applied in close quarters , had very specific body positions and was at 100% attack.
The JKD Closed Bi Jong seems to be a single stance for both pre-fight and applied applications. The basic position was maintained during shuffle, pendulum or lateral movements into the applied range.
I refer to the definition of the JKD stance from first generations students only, not 2nd generation. The first is more factual, whereas the 2nd is more of an assumption, since there was no direct contact with Bruce.
I need to put some video shots together to give visual support to my explanation, so give me a couple of days before I begin the questions and answers.

Bruce Lee’s Stances. Post #3. I am only going to comment on stances from a self defense point of view, rather than the art of any style. I will first make comments on the JKD Closed Bi Jong (CBJ) stance. A lot of my comments here, will be clarified when I make the comparison to Bruce’s earlier CBJ stance. I will do the earlier stance comments on video, so as to clarify my comments. Again, I am using information from the first generation student, primarily Jerry Poteet, who I met many years ago and had a long discussion about Bruce.

Bruce was very clinical in his tool pouch techniques. He examined every element in great detail. The Closed Bi Jong, as I know it, was at the top of his list, along with speed.

The JKD stance is basically a good stance, but from my point of view has 10 weaknesses for self defense. I will list them one by one. Please don’t get emotional, as if I am attacking a sacred technique from Bruce. My responsibility is to the Bruce Lee students who want the broader picture and want to see how to question techniques, so they can improve. You can agree or disagree with my point of view, that is OK, since it is the JKD way of growing.

One, it is offered as a pre-fight stance. Bruce was adamant about not showing your opponent that you knew anything. He believed in a stance, but it had to be non-telegraphic, ready, but not showing how (open Bi Jong).

Two, It shows whether you are right or left handed, or that you are not a kicker.

Three, The raised heel in the stance raises the center of gravity. It favors mobility, rather than stability. Outside of fighting range, it does not matter, but since JKD uses it when they engage, being top heavy reduces a solid base for opponent control and transfer of maximum power. ( will be explained further when I discuss WCD stance).

Four, Being too vertical with the upper torso when engaging, thus having weaker transfer of energy and being more susceptible to being unbalanced. (Will qualify further with WCD stance)

Five, liner alignment of body to opponent creates weak energy flow towards opponent. Misdirection of natural energy flow (Clarify in WCD stance). You can have mental flow, or mentally projecting towards your opponent, which is often different than physical flow. (Will clarify)

Six, Broken Centerline inside contact range, reduced to only one weapon. (Clarify in WCD stance).

Seven, when shifting from pre-fight stance to attacking stance the stance widens and greatly reduces mobility as well as over commits energy forward. The emphasis seems to be on power rather than power with control. Remember this is a fight and the opponent is not going to make it easy for you, like your uke does in training.

Eight, The lead hand is forward, creating a tendency for the opponent to move back, since it is threatening. This opening of the distance creates more difficulties in attacking options. Bruce liked his hands down and to be slightly out of range, so he could read the opponents potential attack. Hands down also made the opponent more relaxed and put him closer to you with less threat (threat zone).

Nine, The lead hand, although closer to a potential target, is also reducing down the power load since it is already releasing energy by being forward. To make up this energy, emphasis is placed on body application for additional energy, which again, tends to create an over-commitment in a very dangerous range.

Ten, The lead hand is offering a target, to be trapped. This is the one area that really confused both Jesse and I. Bruce’s whole focus on initial contact with an opponent was to seek the hands. Once he engaged the hand he could control your offensive and defensive potentials. Bruce said, never, never, give your hands to the opponent. Yet, the JKD stance offers the hand, both in long and short range.
The JKD application of the stance is a variation of a boxer. The boxer has a floating movement which makes him an evasive target. The JKD stance tends to use shuffle, pendulum and sliding stepping action, which I am OK with. It is the lateral movement I feel uncomfortable with and will discuss as an application of the stance in my overview of the CBJ stance.

Closed Bi Jong

The closed bi jong is a critical technique for both the Lin Sil Die Dar and trapping concepts.. It is a unique, singular stance that acts as a base for all technique. Every aspect of your technique will stem from the closed bi jong. It is the one, singular base from which you will operate from. The purpose of this stance is to create a strong, flexible and mobile base for defending as well as projecting your striking power.

The closed bi jong is the support base for techniques to control balance. It is for power flow, to create a maximum forward flow in a natural way. It is used for versatility in fighting either high or low attacks. The closed bi jong must be a part of your natural movement and stance when applying technique. It is an offensive reaction.

There are three basic rules for the closed bi jong.

1. When inside the kill range perimeter there is a mental attitude of being on full red alert.

2. The upper and lower gates are closed to reduce the opponent’s alternatives from hitting and attacking you.

3. 110% full attacking, to eliminate/or restrict the opponents ability to apply offensive counters. “Make him go defensive”

Anytime you or your opponent enters the kill range perimeter, all gates will close, the centerline will square to the opponent and you will be full on attacking. For clarity in learning and for exercise purposes, this stance is being presented in a stationary position. In reality, the closed bi jong is always in motion and conforms to your physique, speed, control and your opponent’s body position.

There is great meaning behind the closed bi jong exercise position. As an exercise position, the closed bi jong is used to determine the body’s position to develop stability and mobility. The closed bi jong will be modified later to fit the individual’s body structure in actual fighting application but it should not be modified until the exercise position is understood and mastered. If you are kicker, your legs will be put into a position where kicking is applicable.

You are not fighting in a closed bi jong position but fighting from a closed bi jong. Fighting from a closed bi jong is to allow freedom in movement because it will vary from individual to individual. Being the foundation in DJKD and WCD, it is critical to have a closed bi jong that is natural to you, if your closed bi jong does not function well, all technique will be rather empty and useless.

You must allow the closed bi jong to become a part of you. It has to become a natural response. The general idea is to develop the closed bi jong with your feelings. Because the closed bi jong is an individual thing, it must be done and understood with your natural body structure. You become your own instructor by understanding the closed bi jong concept and then teaching the body to adapt it within its structure of confinements.

When practicing the closed bi jong position, feel the sensation for its base of power and mobility. You cannot think about it, it must be natural. Ask yourself, is it something that only looks like the closed bi jong? And what do you feel internally? The amount of energy used will depend on what you are doing and this is done by your own choice. The closed bi jong can be as strong as you want to make it.

Your leg position themselves create a flexible, but stable base, and automatically assume a leg immobilizing position. This leg position is such, that your lead leg angles towards and always favors the opponent’s opposite leg. Your lead leg is always inside the opponent’s leg to restrict his leg potential. This leg position plus the flowing of body energy that is used in double direct closing is what causes the leg trapping principles. The further your legs are apart, the more you are restricted in your movement.

The hands enter their proper perimeter in the wu sao position to control the incoming energy. Simultaneous with all this, is the projecting forward of your attacking energy (Lin Sil Die Dar). This stance is relatively simple in its design but difficult for the subconscious to learn. The key is to make it so natural it can be used with a minimum amount of effort. All the lines and basic angles should become one thought.

Common Errors In The Closed Bi Jong

1. Legs too wide.

2. Breaking the centerline.

3. Letting the torso angle deteriorate by leaning too far forward.

4. Failure to pivot when the opponent moves.

5. Hands too close to the body.

6. Half commitment when you see he is not responding.

7. Drawing up rear leg.

Points On The Closed Bi Jong

Weight distribution is most critical when passing the danger zone and moving in towards the opponent. 70‑30 weight distribution is critical at this point. When you know you are in control, the weight can shift more to 50‑50. Always move in proportion to what is happening. An important part of the stance is using body strength rather than arm strength. Using more force through the upper torso means less versatility and you tire out more quickly.

Using body strength means weight forward and projection of energy forward. A critical part of the stance will be the forward energy flow. The angle of lean is toward the opponent. It is created by a slight lean of the upper torso from the waist. Raising the forward foot off the ground where there should be a slow falling forward motion can test the correct amount of lean.

The head is erect and looking towards the opponent. Although the centerline of the upper body must be square to the opponent’s body, the hips do not have to remain square. There is a distinct strain felt in the waist caused by the hips turning in the opposite direction of the feet and lower segments.

Closed Bi Jong Exercise Position

The closed bi jong is the fighting stance of DeMile JKD and Wing Chun Do. The closed bi jong exercise position is practicing a stationary or static way. When it is moving, you are allowed more freedom to deviate from the basic positions as long as you honor the principles that make the closed bi jong work. The closed bi jong is a very personal thing, like the open bi jong, and you cannot restrict it, having it done in an exact manner.

The basic position of the footwork in the closed bi jong is that your weight distribution is going to be from 80‑20 to 70‑30 with most of your weight is going to be on the back leg. The foot spread is going to be a natural distance where you do not reach out with it. They are not going to be spread out where it pulls you out of your mobility potential. They are not going to be too close which makes you top heavy in your stance. Your feet must give you stability as well as the freedom to move you very quickly. The lead leg is a comfortable distance forward so that you feel stable but you can move easily without any effort.

In DJKD and WCD, you lead with your right side if you are right‑handed and left if you are left‑handed. You lead with your natural side because you will learn much quicker and faster on that side. You will flow more evenly and smoothly if your natural side is harmonious. Whereas, if your left leg is forward and your right side is your natural side, then there is awkwardness to your motion. There is a compression of your energy, where they fight one another, where you lose that certain smoothness and harmony of motion. You restrict your learning potential and naturalness to your motion.

Standing with your natural side as the lead leg is for your natural power base. You will have a solid base, by your energy linking from right to left, creating a line from the leg that extend all the way out of the arm to the fist. This is one of the primary points in the body power base. You have an upper torso power base and lower torso power, base which is where your legs are. The lower torso power base supports what our hands do.

The left leg is going to be back and the right is going to be forward. The right toe is going to pointed in a little bit. The front foot will give you stability in the foot quadrant by being pointed in rather than being straight. Your foot spread must allow you to feel comfortable in the three angles forward. The feet must be spread out for stability side to side and forward to backward motion. You are not looking for movement at this time but a sensation of stability.

Your weight is between 80‑20 to 70‑30, and the way you tell if your weight is proper, is by picking up your forward foot. If your weight is correct, then you can pick‑up your leg without too much trouble and your body will begin to timber. If you are leaning too far forward, it takes more effort and as soon as you pick‑up your leg, you will fall. If you are standing too straight and you pick‑up the front leg, then you do not fall at all. What you are looking for is the timbering effect with the proper weight distribution. This allows you good natural forward body energy, yet you are able to control the body.

In the upper torso, the body position must complement the leg position. Bend slightly forward at the waist and do not hunch. Hunching makes the energy go into the ground. Bend forward by keeping your back fairly straight with your head up. The degree of lean will depend on you personally as far as how it feels to you. You are looking for that timbering effect by using the front foot left exercise. The reason this angle of lean is so important is because it always has 100% of the energy going naturally forward. The energy coming up from the legs wants to go somewhere because of the constant state of tension of the spring energy.

As you angle towards the opponent, it wants to make you project forward. You control the projection forward by using your legs both as a power source and a break. The lead leg is the break. When you are pushing off your back leg, the front leg creates a control of energy, by stopping it. The front and back legs work together to keep this springy liveness. This creates a small upper torso vibration for being live. If you want to move forward quickly then you release some of the break in the front foot. Both feet must know their jobs and be able to do independent things for each one.

Majority of the time, your back leg is your power and the front leg is the break. In order to transfer that up into the body to have some meaning you have an upper torso lean that is the runner’s position. The runner’s position is where you are projecting forward getting ready to run. It is a slight lean forward with the back vertical and your knees are bent slightly. This creates a springiness in your position and you are not rigid in your legs. The degree of bend in the knees is dependent on your weight and what is comfortable.
Your shoulders are always square, so that you are facing your opponent equal. You are able to touch him with both hands at anytime. You do not turn your body one way or the other, just stay square to the opponent.
The left hand is the back‑up and follow‑up hand. It is the hand that insures that there is going to be an alternative if the lead hand does not work. The hands are quite far back from one another to prevent being grab at the same time. There is distinct separation between the two hands. The fingers are open and are pointed loosely towards your opponent face. They are not bent in or closed. The left elbow can be back in the elbow pocket or slightly forward of the elbow pocket.