As Bruce Lee
often stressed, Jeet Kune Do was just a name
; it was less a style of fighting and more a way of looking at fighting. Although he was trained in the classical martial arts
for much of his young life, Lee soon came to realise that martial art should be an art
like any other, a way to express oneself individually rather than something taught rigidly to a whole class, and he often referred to Jeet Kune Do as the "art of expressing the human body."
For example, someone who wants to become a painter will go to art classes where he or she will learn how to use the brush, how to mix colours, how to portray real objects in colours and shades, and so on. After having completed the class, the artist then builds upon those fundamental skills and adapts them to form an individual painting style, which allows the artist to express his or her most inward self, and to learn more about this inward self whilst still using only the basic skills learned at the beginning.
In the same way, going to a class where many different people are taught the same fighting style, having which moves to use in which pattern in which situation drilled into them until they no longer think about it, is akin to being taught that painting involves drawing just one picture in one particular way. By learning the basic techniques and principles of fighting and self-defence, the fighter can adapt and optimise them for his or her own body. Learning how to hit with any limb from any direction to any target, the fighter uses these and other "tools" as a means for self-expression. Rather than forming layer after layer of conditioning, the fighter will rather chip away at the unessentials, constantly refining and becoming more efficient.
The "self" of course is an everchanging process, we are never the same people we were even a month previously. By using martial techniques as a reflection of the self, our style will always be changing. We will be delving deeper and deeper into ourselves, finding out more and more, and as we change as people, our martial art changes. Thus a never-ending circle is born, part of what Bruce Lee referred to as "the circle with no circumference," as our practise of the art constantly refines us, hacking away at our undesirable qualities and traits, and refining our practise of the art itself.
The basic idea of Jeet Kune Do is to be free, flowing and spontaneous, not just in fighting but in life, and not to get caught up in set patterns and tradition. Like water which stagnates when left alone, so will we if we don't keep on moving.