In the 1960s, the legendary mixed martial artist Bruce Lee, came up with his extremely unique combat philosophy in martial combat ‘Jeet Kune Do’ (JKD) or translated “The way of the intercepting fist”. This combat philosophy and system believes the best defense is a strong offense which I will go into more detail on how Bruce Lee created the JKD principle and how you can introduce the 5 ways of attack into your boxing or MMA training and fighting style.
Bruce Lee & His Philosophy
Most people who love the fight game will know exactly who Bruce Lee is, but in case you unsure he was primarily known for his starring roles in legendary action films Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon in the 1970s (Highly recommend you check them out!).
Although known for these films, Lee was also an avid mixed martial artist and philosopher in the art of combat and was trained and studied in vast amounts of martial arts including Boxing, Karate, Judo, Wing Chun, Kick Boxing and even Fencing.
When Lee was originally researching many fighting styles he did not wish to come with a specific fighting style for JKD. Instead, he very much wanted a style that would be formless as that would require fewer limitations when fighting.
Bruce Lee explains in his own words about this:
I have not invented a “new style,” composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from “this” method or “that” method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see “ourselves”. . . Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don’t, and that is that.
There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune Do is simply the direct expression of one’s feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. – Bruce Lee
His principle and theory behind JKD is this that you must be able to adapt in any scenario thrown at you while being able to react accordingly. It teaches you to know when to attack or go on the back foot, while it’s about being effective with your energy movements so you are not limiting yourself.
Be Like Water
One of the Bruce Lee’s most famous quotes regarding JKD or life itself is to “Be Like Water”.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee
In the case of fighting, it can be extremely unpredictable at any time and Lee really wanted us to understand that the best way to counteract this is to be fluid to react and adapt to any situation you may find yourself in.
Using ‘Jeet Kune Do’
In the case of this article I will be focusing on boxing with this philosophy, but its important to identity that the following attack techniques are part of the JKD attack techniques:
These attack principles are much more inline with MMA and you understand why mixed martial artists can really relate on how to using Bruce Lee’s principles in fighting. In terms for boxing it relates more to distances you fight from to use certain attacks. Bruce Lee originally categorized these attack form as short or close, medium, and long range.
Another very important factor for Jeet Kune Do is the way you use movement and timing. These come in three ways in JKD:
- Efficiency: An attack which reaches its target in the least amount of time, with maximum force
- Directness: Doing what comes naturally in a disciplined way
- Simplicity: Thinking in an uncomplicated manner; without ornamentation
In the case of boxers using economical movements, it becomes vital a very important if you are going to use JKD and specifically the 5 ways of attack.
5 Ways of Attack
In Bruce Lee’s JKD’s there are five ways of attack which are:
- Single Direct Attack (S.D.A.)
- Attack By Combination (A.B.C.)
- Progressive Indirect Attack (P.I.A.)
- (Hand) Immobilization Attack (H.I.A.)
- Attack By Drawing (A.B.D.)
Below I will go into more detail regarding how each attack should be carried out along with examples or attacks that should be carried out.
1. Single Direct Attack (S.D.A)
In boxing an S.D.A. typical takes in the form of Jab, but its important to identify how the jab is actually thrown. When boxers throw a jab it usually to close down distance between you and the opponent. It is also used to apply pressure or create opening within the competitors guard so you can strike them more effectively. Here are some examples below how and SDA can be carried out.
When throwing a jab it’s important that some sort of defensive maneuver is takes place when thrown. E.g.
Jab – Slip
Jab – Block/Parry
Another example of a single direct attack could be throwing an opposite straight hand or hook
This S.D.A. can come useful as it is a way closing the distance very quickly with a surprise straight hand or over arching hook. This can be devastating for your opponent as in most cases it will catch them off guard, however used to often this will be easy for them to read and create a defensive maneuver over even counter you.
In terms of seeing the S.D.A. I highly recommend Larry Holmes who arguably had one of the greatest jabs in the history of boxing. He is perfect example of using the single direct attack in boxing.
2. Attack By Combination (A.B.C)
Using a combination attack in boxing is one of the most devastating ways you can exploit and hurt your opponent in the ring. Usually when you use an A.B.C., your punches needs to flow in a natural sequence with each other in way for your body maneuver effectively while also minimizing exposing yourself to punches.
First and foremost the A.B.C. is to exploit and create new openings in your opponents guard, the most effective combinations are usually the most basic.
Here are some examples of some typical attack combinations you will usually see happen in the boxing ring.
Jab – Cross – Hook
Jab – Jab – Cross
Jab – Cross – Jab – Cross
Jan – Cross – Hook – Cross
Jab – Cross – Left/Right Uppercut – Cross
These are just some examples of combinations that can be used in the ring, but its important to remember that the target area of where you throw the punch is way you create openings against your opponent. E.g. punching to body or guard. By mixing up where you strike the will without a doubt help you hit the opposition more precisely.
Sugar Ray Leonard was a brilliant example of using combinations in his offensive and would frequently mention how Bruce Lee was massive inspiration behind his fighting style. I also think you should check out Juan Manuel Marquez or a more recent example of using combinations is Jorge Linares who I feel is underrated for
3. Progressive Indirect Attack (P.I.A)
A progressive indirect attack in boxing is best described as throwing a feint or uncommitted punch to create an opening depending on how your opponent reacts. This is a great way of measuring out your competitors reactions, so you can strike them more cleanly.
Using a P.I.A. is probably best used against someone with a strong proactive defense, this because it can manipulate and cause uncertainty when a punch is thrown.
All the top boxing champions have been true greats at progressive indirect attacks (feints) and it is a skill that does take some getting used to. I highly recommend you check out video below of Bernard Hopkins breaking down how to use feints in boxing properly and the benefits.
4. Hand Immobilization Attack (H.I.A.)
Hand Immobilization attack in boxing I feel is a very underrated skill in boxing and is one of the best ways of manipulating and opening up your opponents guard.
One of the higher profile boxers who has used this technique recently is Lomachenko. When the Ukrainian is up against opponent with a tight or high guard he will very intelligently slap down on his opponent’s gloves which will create and opening for him to land punch to head, causing panic and creating further openings.
Another great example of the H.I.A. taking place is when Lennox Lewis knocked out Rahman in their rematch where he slaps his guard out the way to land a thundering right hand to KO him.
The last way this technique can be use in boxing is controlling the opponents body with your wrist and forearms. Holding and hitting is obviously illegal in boxing, but this technique makes it a lot more subtle to control you opponent, and once again create openings. I recommend you check out Lee Wylie’s video at the bottom of this article where he shows Floyd Mayweather Jr use this technique masterfully when he came up against Hatton.
5. Attack By Drawing (A.B.D.)
The final way of attack is arguably one of the hardest to master and also the one I imagine Bruce Lee would have rated very highly if you wish to truly master in “Jeet Kune Do”. This is what he had to say about it:
“The counterattack is not a defensive action, but a method of using the opponents’s offense as a means of the successful completion of one’s own attack. The counter attack is an advance phase of offense…it is the greatest art of fighting, the art of champion” – Bruce Lee
A.B.D. for boxing, is obviously counter punching, this has the main aim of drawing an attack from an opponent, which in turn creates an opening itself that results in them getting counter punched.
Usually it is an opponent that has been lured on purpose, due to the body position or guard opening that is being presented to them. This usually results in a fully committing attack which means there is no way of getting out the way of an counter.
Check out the video below to really see different methods of A.B.D. in action.
Lee Wylie’s Take
To finish off this article on Bruce Lee’s 5 ways of attack, I highly recommend you take the time watch Lee Wylie’s in depth look at this philosophy applied in boxing.
It is 25 minutes long, but it will really give you a greater understanding of JKD and how it is applied in boxing. See below:
In my opinion Jeet Kune Do is a truly a philosophy every boxer and mixed martial artist can truly take and learn something from it. Fighting takes years to master and the more you practice you start to understand that Lee’s principles that by being able to “Be like Water” and adapt to any situation in the ring, you will without a doubt become a better fighter inside and in life itself.
I highly recommend you check out the “Tao of Jeet Kune Do” to really learn Lee principles in more detail.
Thanks for reading!
If you would like to read more article like make sure to check out the following:
- 6 Key Boxing Defensive Techniques – Hit And Don’t Get Hit
- How To Start Boxing On Your Own in 10 Steps
- Best Online Boxing Course Lessons
- Boxing Heavy Bag Workouts For Beginners
Or why not check out my boxing fighter styles article here.
Tao of Jeet Kune Do – Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method – Bruce Lee