The roots of JKD: Western boxing

If we look at the history of martial arts we will see, around the globe, on every continent, there are two main form of weaponless combat: 1) some form of wrestling and 2) boxing. These two forms of fighting are the most natural and purest for humans. (With animals we find these forms of fighting also.)

So we have been practicing boxing for thousands of years! It is used on battlefields, for self defense, and as a sport. Millions of people watched this style develop over the centuries, and people tried to make it as perfect as possible. Movements which didn’t work were no longer used.

Boxing as a regulated sport first appeared in the 23rd Olympiad in 688 BCE, in Greece. And though the rules have changed many times over the years, allowing different opportunities for the boxers, fighting with fists always stirs something deep inside most people. Watching two struggling boxers always generates a special atmosphere, big emotions, and a higher energy level.

At first sight a boxing fight may seems brutal. This is attractive for some people, and repels others. But it is an art, just like tightrope walking, or controlling a ship at sea, or being a gardener, or a toolmaker…people who make perfect instruments or who perform special tasks. The art of boxing influenced people like Jack London, Charles Bukowski, Norman Mailer, Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, T.S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw, Julio Corázar, Basquiat, and Martin Scorsese.

Bruce Lee begin boxing in Hong Kong, and he also won a boxing championship as a teenager. After he went to the USA, he researched boxing further. He read Jack Dempsey’s and Edwin L. Haislet’s famous books many times, and if we look in Bruce’s book The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, we will see boxing made a huge impact on his martial evolution.  Footwork, distance training, evasive moves, rhythm and angle changes…just a few to mention.

He was a big fan of Muhammed Ali, Kid Gavilan, Joe Louis, Jack Sharkey and Willie Pep. He could watch and study films about these fighters for many hours.