Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Soomi Kim.
Finding your JKD (no, it is not text talk for “just kidding dude”)
JKD was coined by Bruce Lee to describe his “style” of martial arts. It stands for Jeet Kune Do. The translation being “Way of the intercepting fist.” In a nutshell it means "To absorb what is useful and discard what is useless."
One definition of JKD says: “One of the theories of JKD is that a fighter should do whatever is necessary to defend himself, regardless of where the techniques come from. One of Lee's goals in Jeet Kune Do was to break down what he claimed were limiting factors in traditional martial arts training, and seek a fighting thesis which he believed could only be found within the reality of a fight. Jeet Kune Do is currently seen as the genesis of the modern state of hybrid martial arts. This ideology can apply to almost any art form, world view, religion or approach to life. Since my link to the IT Awards is through Lee/gendary, I thought I would spend a moment to honor and share one of the subject matters nearest and dearest to Lee and to relate how JKD pertains to my artistic process.
Lee was a martial artist, actor, writer, choreographer, dancer, producer, philosopher and teacher. His movement background was based in Wing Chun, but he also trained in Tai Chi, boxing, fencing, Cha Cha dancing, as well as other forms of unarmed combat. The term hybrid has been used to describe work that is indefinable. Everyone has their own history, talents and skills. To me, what is important in truly and honestly expressing oneself is to find that unique link to your personal style. I believe it is really a worthwhile thing to deeply investigate and creatively explore what you are made of—to put it on paper, or canvas, improvise in a studio—that in turn, will be the germination of building your own identity.
My background to a certain extent parallels Lee’s: I am a theater artist, trained gymnast, coach, musician, choreographer and now martial artist. But how could I satisfy all these needs and different personalities within myself? For some time I thought I had artistic schizophrenia. Ironically, I had the good fortune in discovering my own voice through the long creative process of making Lee/gendary. That process began with my performing the transcription of the Pierre Berton/Bruce Lee interview at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café’. That then led to the collaboration with writer Derek Nguyen in creating the full length version of Lee’s story. I wanted to create a show incorporating the skills that have been the culmination of my personal history (or herstory) and to bring it to life on the stage. I found other artists who supported this vision and was then on another path of experimentation through collaboration. Working and developing in the Off-Off-Broadway realm has allowed me to realize this truly personal aspiration. I found my way through festivals, work in progress programs like The Field and HERE’s (now defunct) American Living Room Festival. This developmental process brought me to the most recent run at HERE that was awarded the IT Award Outstanding production of a play. Through Bruce’s journey I was able to find a place to express my hybrid art and personal JKD.