JKD Curriculum

Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do

JKD Grappling

JKD Grappling is an amalgamation of standing grappling and ground-fighting methods found in many different arts. Brajilian Jujitsu, Gene LeBell's Wrestling, Judo, Shooto, Sambo & Silat make up a significant part of our JKD Grappling but it also contains many other approaches.

The Structure Of Our Approach

Firstly it is important to understand the difference between grappling & ground fighting. Grappling is the art of holding, manipulating & applying breaks, chokes & strangles, and submissions. Ground fighting is the complete art of fighting on the ground including striking, gouging, weaponry and anything else you can think to include. The important factor here is that the prerequisite to becoming a competent ground fighter is becoming a competent grappler.

Standing Grappling / Clinch work & Takedowns
We take our standing grappling from various sources. We use a clinch sector system that works 6 primary standing clinch positions with minor positions as variations on those 6. Takedowns come from Judo, wrestling, Kali & Silat.

Positional Control
Position is everything. Without the ability to control the superior position on the ground you will not be able to apply follow up strikes, locks etc with any degree of reliability. 

Escapes & Reversals
After positional control comes escape - i.e. How to regain positional control if it is lost.

Striking on the ground
The ability to strike on the ground does not transfer directly from the ability to strike when standing. Leverage & power delivery are not the same and and a major consideration is the importance of maintaining the dominant position whilst striking.

Submission / Locks / Chokes & Strangles
An important point about "submission". Submission is a training tool used to develop the ability to finish the fight by either damaging a joint or rendering the opponent unconscious. The opponent on the street may not know he is supposed to "submit" - and even if he does, will you believe him? Violent psychopaths often tell lies too :-) Obviously the ability to "submit" the opponent is a valuable skill in a lesser threat situation - but one must not lose sight of the true purpose of these techniques.

The Basic Positions

We categorize our basic positions into six major positions with other minor positions as transitions & options to the basics.

Major Groundwork Positions

1.Side-top position (Scarf-hold )

2.Cross-body position (Side-mount)

3.The Mount (Top-straddle)

4.The Guard (Bottom straddle)

5.The Rear Mount

6.The Knee Mount

Minor Groundwork Positions

1.Broken Scarf-hold

2.Reverse Scarf-hold (near arm control)

3.Reverse Scarf-hold (far arm control)

4.North-South / Smothering hold

5.Cross arm lock tie-up

6.All fours (The turtle)

Positional flow drills

We use many positional flow drills to teach correct transition between positions & to use as a base for learning escapes & reversals. 

The Basic Four
This is a flow drill where one person completes all 4 positions before the drill switches to the other side. This drill is a foundation for many of our other drills.

1. Side-top / scarf hold - transition using far arm capture then leg switch to...
2. Cross-body - transition via knee slide to...
3. The Mount - partner reverses using trap & roll escape to...
4. The Guard - partner passes the guard to assume side-top position & repeats the sequence

Jeet Kune Do Ground Game

3 Supplement Disciplines that will improve your ability to fight on the mat!

After Bruce Lee died in 1973, Dan Inosanto became responsible for keeping jeet kune do alive. He soul-searched for a few years, then opened the Filipino Kali Academy as a laboratory in which every JKD principle, concept and philosophy—as well as those from outside sources that were candidates for inclusion in the system—could be dissected and tested. What made the school so good was that anyone could come in and challenge us. All a person had to do was put on the gloves, and within moments it was obvious whose truth was more functional.

That search for truth made us fall in love with Brazilian jujutsu in the mid-1980s. Various members of the Gracie family had set up shop in Southern California, and local martial artists were beginning to talk. We heard about their challenge matches and noted how their philosophy and ours were nearly identical. The only major difference was we did it on our feet, while they did it on the ground.

Shortly thereafter, Brazilian grappling started seeping into the JKD matrix. That’s not to say Lee’s art lacked ground functionality; Larry Hartsell had proved time and again that JKD worked in any situation. However, none of us had ever experienced the moves and transitions the Gracies were doing.

The more Brazilian jujutsu I learned, the less I knew. Every time I believed I had reached a certain level, some 60-year-old Brazilian would come in and mop the floor with me. (Imagine what it’s like having some old man wrap his arms around your neck and whisper, “This is what it feels like to die, boy!”—and then waking up to those same ruthless eyes.) Experiences like those taught me to appreciate the JKD paradigm: When someone is better than you, find a way to cheat. That awakening led to the genesis of the JKD ground game.

Lee’s prime directive of “using no way as way” gave us the freedom to look at any art that might give us an advantage —help us cheat, so to speak—on the mat. Differentpractitioners adopted different disciplines according to their personal preferences. Because space does not permit me to discuss them all, I will limit myself to three that mesh with Brazilian jujutsu and fit in with the way of jeet kune do.


The cornerstone of Brazilian jujutsu is its repertoire of techniques designed for fighting while you’re on your back. That differentiates the Brazilian ground methodology from the American ground methodology, for in many styles of wrestling, once your shoulders are pinned to the mat, the match is over.

The Brazilians, however, mastered a position they call the guard: It involves lying on your back, placing your opponent opponent between your legs and wrapping your legs around his torso. From that position, you can defend yourself quite well—and attack with sweeps, throws, chokes and locks.

The traditional way to escape is called “passing the guard.” You remove yourself from between your opponent’s legs and reposition your body across his torso. If you are not proficient at passing the guard, you will be stuck between your opponent’s legs forever—or until he catches you in an arm lock, a sweep or a triangle choke.

One secret to beating the Brazilian-jujutsu guard was born behind the Iron Curtain. The art, called sambo, is not technically dissimilar from judo and jujutsu, but it does possess a unique emphasis. While judo focuses on flips and throws and jujutsu relies on establishing a base and effecting effecting a tight transition into a finishing hold, sambo emphasizes locking the ankles, knees and hips.

Picture yourself entwined in a Brazilian-jujutsu black belt’s guard. Your task is to pass it, and to accomplish that, you must beat him at a game he’s been playing four hours a day since he was in grade school. What do you do? If you lack the skills needed to pass his guard using Brazilian jujutsu, your best bet may be to attack one of his legs using sambo.

Of course, Brazilian jujutsu teaches foot and leg locks, but because the art doesn’t emphasize them, they are not second nature for most practitioners. It may take you years to perfect your ability to pass the guard using jujutsu, but it takes only a few months to learn how to lock a foot, and that can bring victory.


To see how yoga fits into the JKD ground game, you must understand two truths: First, breathing is the cornerstone of yoga, and second, without proper breathing, ground fighting is a lost cause.

Yoga teaches you to inhale through your nose, bypassing your chest and going straight to your lower abdomen. Watching a practitioner of the Indian art breathe is amazing. It does not appear that his lungs are inflating his chest. All you see is his stomach moving in and out.

If you observe a novice grappler rolling around on the mat, two things become evident: He holds his breath, and he hyperventilates. Those faults are the nemesis of all ground fighters. Interestingly, they cause a similar physiological response: insufficient oxygen in the brain. When that occurs, endurance plunges. It is not uncommon to see two well-conditioned athletes from other sports grapple for five minutes and almost faint from exhaustion.

When you practice yoga, your breathing becomes slow, soft and steady. It is no longer a series of short, rapid breaths. The unmistakable sound is similar to what you hear in a theater when someone is talking: shooooosh.

When I started training with the Gracies, I would hear that incessant noise for hours every day. A year later I asked Rickson about its relevance. “It took you one year to ask the most important question in jujutsu, my friend,” he replied. “As long as we hear that noise, we automatically know two things: We’re not holding our breath, and we’re not panting like a dog.”


Kino mutai is the Philippine art of biting and pinching. JKD practitioners refer to it as biting and eye gouging because their preferred area to pinch is the eyeball.

Its roots lie partially in the fact that many Filipino escrimadors possess an attribute that’s rare in the West: incredible grip strength. It’s a byproduct of wielding heavy sticks, swords and knives all day long. When that hand power is combined with biting, it becomes another way of cheating on the ground.

Kino mutai shines when you’re stuck in the bottom position under a large man with a good base. If you follow the rules, it could take you as long as 10 minutes to work your way out, and that’s fine if you’re in a match. However, if you’re rolling around on the asphalt, 10 minutes is an eternity. That’s the perfect time to use a bite or eye gouge to create enough space to scramble to your knees and escape.

Now, you may be thinking anyone can bite. That’s true, but the difference between nipping someone and employing kino mutai is vast. The art involves knowing how to do it, where to do it and when to do it. When a kino mutai practitioner takes action, he does it as an uninterrupted bite. That means he knows the exact places on your body to target. He’ll grab hold of you with his iron grip and attack areas that you cannot easily reach. It might take you minutes to pull him off.

Gnawing on an opponent may sound brutal, and in this day and age, it can be hazardous to your health to come into contact with another person’s blood, but consider the alternative. While not every fight is to the death, it’s comforting to have an ultimate weapon in your arsenal.


JKD cultivates your ability to solve problems. When you’re on the ground, your first problem is often how to escape from your opponent’s guard. Sambo provides a solution. solution. A second problem is how to take in enough oxygen, and for that you have yoga. A third problem is how to escape from being pinned down—which is when kino mutai can save your skin.

Remember that the aforementioned arts are simply pieces of the puzzle that make up my JKD ground matrix. Your matrix may be slightly different. As Bruce Lee implored us all to do, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own."

Striving for the Goal

Despite the rise and fall of numerous martial arts fads, interest in jeet kune do, the fighting philosophy Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto created and refined, never wanes. The pair spent years investigating every style they could find, then analyzed each one to separate the concepts that were salient to street combat. The results were integrated into the ever-changing JKD matrix. Whenever they came upon a new art or technique, they did not hesitate to alter or tweak it to fit their paradigm. What exactly was their paradigm? The street—where anything goes and where there are no rules. —Paul Vunak

Trash Day

Most martial arts instructors would have you believe that street fights unfold within the parameters of their style, their way. Taekwondo people tell you that every fight has a litany of high kicks. Boxers insist that every violent encounter is based on the jab, hook, cross, uppercut and overhand. Aikido people argue that a street brawl is a series of joint locks.

All that leads to the cornerstone of Bruce Lee’s passion: convincing the public that there is “no way.” In fact, one of his most frequently repeated expressions was “using no way as way.” The implementation of that philosophy gave him and Dan Inosanto the impunity to do whatever works. They examined the myriad of techniques of the martial arts, found out which ones did not work and threw them away. What they kept is the art we call jeet kune do. —Paul Vunak

First, Build Your Body

• Plyometrics is a term used to describe a group of exercises that has its roots in Europe, where it was first called “jump training.” It is designed to link strength with speed of movement to produce power. All professional athletes use plyometrics for a simple reason: It enables the muscles to reach maximum strength in minimal time.

Plyometrics can dramatically increase your explosiveness, which is a primary attribute of the best grapplers. A hip throw, an armbar and an elbow escape all have explosive elements in them. Explosive power enables you to create space with short bursts of movement. If you’re on the bottom, it can help you keep your opponent off-balance. If you’re on top, it can make your “ground and pound” more effective, especially if you add head butts, knees and elbows.

• Isometric strength is the ability to exert force in a fixed position—when the length of the muscle and the angle of the joint do not change. It is important because as a grappler, you may have to hold your opponent in a vice-like guard or grip his collar for minutes on end.

• All martial arts movements, especially grappling techniques, require stout abdominal muscles and a strong “speed center.” That term refers to the group of muscles that initiate, assist and stabilize all your movements. They include the abs, lower back, hip flexors and extensors, hip rotators and glutes.

Good core stability gives you strength during an unstable movement, and that’s essential on the ground. An athlete may be able to bench-press 300 pounds, but that has nothing to do with grappling because you don’t have the luxury of lying on a flat surface with a balanced weight above you. Instead, you must fight from wherever you fall. One shoulder might be pinned against the floor while the other is free. Core stability exercises teach your body to move as a unit under such conditions, in essence strengthening the weakest links. —Paul Vunak

• A jeet kune do fighter strives to be proficient at all ranges of combat in all scenarios. He knows that against an aggressive fighter, he may need to use an intercepting fist, a stop-kick or a grappling technique.

• A grappling exchange can begin after the JKD stylist takes his opponent down, after he is taken down by his opponent or after one or both parties fall.

• One of the best ways for the JKD fighter to grapple with his adversary is to first convince him that grappling is the last thing on his agenda. If he wants to shoot in for a single- or double-leg takedown, he should fake a jab or cross to his opponent’s head.

As the opponent defends high, he will probably leave his legs unprotected.

Likewise, if the JKD practitioner wants to clinch, he can fake a low-line punch or takedown to encourage his opponent to expose his upper body.

• The key to being non-telegraphic lies in maintaining a poker face and a poker body. The JKD stylist does not reveal his intentions until he is ready to force his adversary to commit to a defense.

• When closing the gap for a clinch or takedown, the JKD practitioner pays attention to his opponent’s perimeter.

A boxer may allow him to get closer because he is used to fighting up close. A kicker may lash out from farther away because he is used to keeping distance between himself and his opponent. In either case, awareness is essential.

• To move into punching range without taking a boot to the belly, the JKD stylist is prepared to enter with a real or fake kick. Once in punching range, he may use a rapid combination to force his foe to cover up, thus opening a clear path to his legs.

• Another JKD ploy for closing the gap and getting into punching range involves trapping the opponent’s lead arm before advancing.

• Against an aggressive opponent, the JKD fighter may prefer to use counter-fighting. He will wait for his opponent to step forward with a jab or recover after a kick, then switch into slam-down mode.

• Once the JKD practitioner gets into tie-up range, he may not need to go to the ground. His striking and in-fighting skills can enable him to use punches, elbow strikes, kicks, knee thrusts and head butts while minimizing the other man’s ability to resist.

• The JKD fighter uses the concept of circumstantial spontaneity: Once he analyzes his opponent’s physical ability, skill level and fighting style, he employs the way of attack that most efficiently overcomes the other man’s defenses. Those ways of attack are outlined below.

• With respect to striking mode, Bruce Lee used to say, “When in doubt, hit.” The same holds true for the type of close-range fighting that takes place in a clinch.

• If the JKD stylist has the advantage of size and power and is skilled at grappling, he may want to go directly for a takedown or submission hold.

There will be little his opponent can do about it if he dives right in for a double-leg takedown and dumps his foe on his head, or if he climbs right into the mount and puts him out with an eye-popping stranglehold.

• If the opponent is more skilled and less vulnerable, the JKD fighter will often progress to the indirect attack, which relies on feints for effectiveness.

• If he intends to shoot in with a single- or double-leg takedown, the JKD practitioner will set up his opponent as though he is planning to clinch or attack high. As soon as the opponent raises his guard, the JKD stylist will shoot for his legs.

• If the JKD stylist wants to clinch from the side, he will fake in the opposite direction. When the other man takes the bait and leans or moves in the desired direction, the JKD fighter will push him in the direction he just faked, then shoot in.

• On the ground, subtle movements and indications of movement can produce predictable reactions from an opponent who is susceptible to such tactics. The JKD stylist may aim a punch or palm strike at his face, and when the opponent reaches up to block or control the hand, the JKD stylist will seize the arm and lock it. If he wants to attack the neck, the martial artist will apply pressure to the eye socket or temple with his wrist bone or knuckle.

• The JKD practitioner who possesses good speed, power and endurance can use the principle of attack by combination as easily on the ground as he does on his feet.

• If the attacker tries to use a direct, penetrating move, the JKD student can counter it and, once the opportunity has passed, alter his orientation to strike a more accessible target. He executes a rapid succession of moves with speed, intensity and ferocity, overwhelming his opponent and forcing him into defensive mode until he can gain an arm lock, choke or as Bruce Lee used to say, anything that scores.

• While executing an attack sequence, the JKD stylist maintains his balance and readiness to negate a counter from his opponent.

• During stand-up fighting, the JKD practitioner uses attack by drawing to lure his opponent in and counterattack or intercept him while he is launching his own assault. That works because most people tend to forget about their own defensive vulnerability when they smell blood.

• During a ground fight, the JKD practitioner can use attack by drawing just as productively. In a closely matched contest, he can gain the advantage by baiting his opponent into going for an arm or for position. When he does the expected, the JKD fighter exploits the opening that results when he inevitably extends himself or leaves a body part unprotected.

• When baiting his opponent, the JKD stylist needs a keen sense of timing, positioning and accuracy if he is to cut off the other man and sink in his own hook. Counter-fighting is known as the art of masters and champions, and it is indeed a skill that takes much training and tactical knowledge. If it is used weakly or half-heartedly, it will leave the martial artist open to attack.

• The JKD student knows that trapping or otherwise immobilizing his opponent’s defensive tools can open an avenue to strike. He also knows that the immobilization attack is a highly developed skill that few people master.

• When the JKD fighter attempts to secure a position, lock or hold, his opponent will often defend himself by placing his hand or arm in the way. The action does not surprise the experienced practitioner.

• If the opponent uses his arm to obstruct the JKD stylist’s movement, the JKD stylist simply takes it out of play.

He may use his body as a barrier to keep the hand from reaching its goal. If his body cannot be used, he may employ his arm to restrict the movement of his opponent’s arm. That gives him a greater chance of securing a firm hold or strategic position, and it carries him one step closer to victory.