While Kung Fu might sound like the more popular and more powerful martial traditional martial art, there is a lesser-known and drastically different form called Jeet Kune Do. Could Jeet Kune Do be a superior fighting technique? Let’s find out.

What Does Jeet Kune Do Mean?

Jeet Kune Do is a martial art system created by Bruce Lee. It was developed as a hybrid of techniques from other arts, including Wing Chun and Western boxing.

Jeet means intercepting, receiving, or accepting; Kune means fist or hand; do means way, discipline, or art.

The word “JKD” symbolizes self-defense in its truest sense, where the best technique is selected to deal with each situation on a case-by-case basis. In 1967, Lee gave this description of JKD: The art of fighting without fighting.

JKD places much emphasis on simplicity, precision, and freedom. Through training, one gains the ability to adapt any technique in any situation.

Martial artists obtain their techniques from different traditions and combine them into a diverse system.

The JKD system is founded on the principle that combat technique is not absolute. In other words, martial arts should be made adaptable to the environment in which they are used.

This is why there is no set curriculum of exercises for learning this art. Rather, the student trains with what interests them and learns through trial and error.

This is because true combat involves a razor-thin margin of error. A counterattack should be as fast and powerful as possible.

Jeet Kune Do teaches how to constantly seek better ways of executing each technique and not to accept the way things are traditionally done.

Lee believed that techniques were often too slow and predictable, and there was a need for techniques that worked efficiently and effectively in an effort to overwhelm an opponent.

What Does Kung Fu Entail?

Kung Fu is a very broad term that encompasses a variety of Chinese fighting styles, including Wing Chun, Tai Chi, Shaolin Kung Fu, and numerous other forms.

The name literally translates to “time-honored methods .”With time, the word “Kung Fu” has gradually come to represent all Chinese martial arts, with the most generic definition of Kung Fu meaning “the skill achieved through hard work and practice.”

It is a compound word composed of Kung (meaning work) and fu (meaning skill).

Kung Fu philosophy or philosophy of Kung Fu is centered around two principles: One is the cultivation of one’s forces to achieve perfection, as opposed to one’s adversary, who must always be defeated.

The second principle is the concept of “ki,” which refers to a mystic energy that flows through all things, from people, animals, and objects in the physical world.

The ultimate goal of all martial arts is to be able to use this energy, but only those who have cultivated their “ki” to the highest level will be able to access it.

Just as the health of one’s body is a balance between the physical and spiritual energies, a martial arts master must maintain a balance between these two aspects.

Kung Fu derives from both external and internal forms of training. External training includes forms, weapons, and empty-hand techniques such as punches, kicks, locks, and grappling. Internal training refers to the roles of breathing and meditation in martial arts.

Kung Fu practices include both forms and applications. Forms are choreographed patterns of movements practiced by students to train habits in the body.

They often simulate actual combat situations; their specific purpose can be simply exercised or used to teach an aspect of the art, that emphasizes tactics and strategy in addition to power and physical strength.

Differences between Jeet Kune Do vs. Kung Fu

  • Jeet Kune Do is a martial art and a combat system developed by Hong Kong-American martial artist Bruce Lee in the 1960s, whereas Kung Fu is an umbrella term for Chinese martial arts.
  • Jeet Kune Do is based on Bruce Lee’s self-discovery of the true art of combat. It is a unification of Wing Chun, western boxing, and other martial arts. Kung fu, being an umbrella term for many Chinese martial arts, has different styles that focus on different aspects like philosophy, weapons, and empty-hand techniques.
  • Jeet Kune Do emphasize the swiftness and agility of the body and the mind. It teaches how to move fast while focusing on striking an opponent’s weakness. On the other hand, Kung Fu is more of a philosophy on life rather than a fighting style. Kung Fu emphasizes physical conditioning, tough training, and body conditioning.
  • Jeet Kune Do focus more on the mindset of the fighter and the use of tactics to achieve victory. On the other hand, Kung Fu relies more on physical strength, power, and reflexes.
  • Jeet Kune Do does not rely on forms and katas; hence no restrictions to perform techniques. On the other hand, Kung Fu relies on forms, katas, and meditation practices.
  • Jeet Kune Do does not have any set curriculum of movements. It is a system that adapts itself to each situation and audience. On the other hand, Kung Fu has various forms devoted to different situations and styles of fighting, from practical close-range combat to high flying.
Jeet Kune DoKung Fu
Developed by Bruce Lee in the 1960sAncient Chinese martial art with a diverse range of styles
Emphasis on simplicity and directnessEmphasis on forms and techniques
Uses principles such as economy of motion and minimum effortUses various techniques such as strikes, kicks, and joint locks
Often incorporates techniques from other martial artsOften places importance on spiritual and philosophical development
Can be adapted to fit the individual’s needs and preferencesHas specific techniques and forms that must be learned and practiced

Similarities between Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu

  • Both Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu are Chinese martial arts.
  • Both Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu are based on self-defense.
  • Both Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu pursue enlightenment through learning martial arts.
  • Both Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu emphasize core martial arts techniques like kicking, punching, striking, blocking, and evasion.

What to choose?

In my opinion, both Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu are important skills you need to learn. Learning Kung Fu will teach you how to develop a strong body, and reflexes through habits while learning

Jeet Kune Do will teach you how to implement tactics during combat. Moreover, there’s no best martial art because it all depends on what your goals are.


Jeet Kune Do and Kung Fu are both based on very different philosophies. Jeet Kune Do was developed from Wing Chun and Western boxing, with other martial arts mixed in to create a system that would allow the practitioner to be adaptable and efficient in any given situation that may arise.

Kung Fu practitioners are trained to train according to a specific style. If they were to cross-train or practice other styles, they would essentially be abandoning their philosophy.

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