Jeet Kune Do for MMA

The great Bruce Lee is considered by many as the father of mixed martial arts (MMA). He is one of the very few pioneers when it comes to training in multiple disciplines of martial arts. He said many times that the reason why he does all that is to find the best aspect of each martial arts and implement it in real-life situations. Simply put, Bruce Lee took the good and discarded the bad of every martial art that he has learned. This is the seed of Jeet Kune Do: Bruce Lee’s choice of fighting style.

Initially, Bruce Lee intended Jeet Kune Do as an answer for street fights, but as time goes by many of his principles and philosophies are proven effective in the realm of mixed martial arts. Some of the principles in JKD is used by UFC fighters in a devastating fashion. Here are some of the best principles/techniques that JKD brings to the martial arts world.


Unlike boxing and Muay Thai, Bruce uses a wide stance that resembles a Karate stance. The reasoning behind it is to accommodate his jab and cross with the left hand (Remember Bruce is a southpaw) while also maintaining the distance between him and the opponent. Bruce uses an active defense when it comes to defending kicks where Bruce would do a special kick before his opponent is going to kick him. He also employs elbow defense that he learned in his Wing Chun days.


Bruce takes inspiration from Muhammad Ali when it comes to footwork. JKD footwork is very nimble and allows the practitioner to move more freely compared to fighting stances from other martial arts. This will allow someone to move away from danger more quickly compared to using a traditional boxing stance.

Knee/Oblique Kicks

Kicking is always a staple in almost every striking based martial arts. But JKD brings something new to the table when it comes to amplifying the effect of kicks in a fight situation. JKD kicks are intended to hurt and stop the opponent at the same time

Bruce Lee emphasizes kicks to the leg of opponents, especially in the knee area. Targeting the knee is a great move because Bruce can keep his distance while also attacking the opponent. Distance management in a fight is crucial and will most likely determine the winner of the fight.

Kicking the knee is often referred to as oblique kicks. The technique can be seen in almost any MMA fight that we can see today. But the person that introduces us to the effectiveness of oblique kicks is no doubt the current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

But contrary to popular belief, oblique kicks already exists in several martial arts before JKD. Muay Thai and Savate practitioners often use oblique kicks in their routine. As the intro said, Bruce took the best aspect of each martial arts and add those into his game. This shows us how far away Bruce Lee was when it comes to the martial arts game.

Non-Telegraphed Lead Attacks

Bruce is a big fan of boxing and has trained it extensively. But when it comes to JKD he believes that the jab or straight lead punches need to be not telegraphed. Meaning there should be minimal to no movement of the body before punching. The idea is by reducing the amount of twitching before a strike, the opponent would not have the time to react and thus makes the strikes undefendable. To achieve this technique and explosivity must be trained and that is why Bruce Lee trains religiously in both physical and technical skills.


Clinching basically means closing the distance and “hugging” the opponent. The idea of clinching is to eliminate kinetic energy and the striking ability of the opponent. Trapping is a type of clinching where you catch your opponent’s strikes and close the distance.

In MMA the one that controls the distance will usually dictate the fight. So the ability to clinch/trap your opponent is a very valuable skill and Bruce Lee is brilliant in recognizing that very early in the game.

If you want to look at how world-class fighter initiates clinching then you should look at Khabib Nurmagomedov who is considered to be the best grappler in MMA today.


Bruce has shown that he is a true visionary of martial arts because his take on grappling is to utilize grapple-boxing or jab and shoot. Where Bruce will create a dilemma between his lead jab or his takedowns. Because when someone defends one, it leaves them open for the other one. Georges Saint Pierre is a master of this and it is one of the reasons why he is considered to be one of the GOATS of MMA.

Sadly Bruce was unable to delve into the topics more because of his untimely death. But many people argue that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is able to fill the void that Bruce Lee was unable to fulfill and judging from how many current MMA champions has a black belt in BJJ, I have to agree with that argument.

Jeet Kune Do for MMA

We can see that at its core JKD is a valuable tool for anyone that wants to improve/learn mixed martial arts. But the question is, why is JKD less popular when compared to other martial arts?

This is where it becomes tricky: The problem with JKD is no one has been able to truly master it enough to the point of taking someone with limited martial arts experience into becoming a world champion. Whereas in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we can name numerous coaches that have been able to coach fighters to winning world titles.

The main problem of JKD is not the system itself, but the number of people that master the system.

Hopefully, we can see more fighters uses JKD to achieve their goals and make Bruce Lee proud

Hopefully, this article helped you in learning more about JKD and its influence on the martial arts world.