A Student's Pilgrimage In Self Defense

As a student of The Way of the Intercepting Fist, and as the temporary web master of this site: I think it is appropriate to describe my own journey toward discovery of the “path without a path.”

Years ago I was practicing Tae Kwan Do, not very diligently and primarily for physical fitness. At that time I was introduced by a fellow student to a book by Bruce Lee titled: The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. I had not been a big fan of Mr. Lee's movies, but while reading the book I came to believe that he was a genius. At that time in my life martial arts was of limited importance and I moved on to other interests.

Some years later I regained an interest in self defense. Remembering Bruce Lee's book, I naturally sought out an instructor in Jeet Kune Do (JKD), but there was no instructor in my area. I searched the internet and found a martial arts instructor in Honolulu who had produced a five set DVD instructional series on JKD. I looked the guy up and found that he had solid credentials from one of the original instructors of JKD under Mr. Lee.

I ordered the set, and found that it offered excellent instruction in self defense. The martial arts system it taught was based largely on ju jitsu. In my opinion however, it had little to do with the ideas I had learned in The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. After the first DVD I was a little confused about what I had ordered. This was my first introduction to the division that has split the world of JKD since the deaths of its two great founders in the early 1970s.

I quickly learned that JKD was divided into two camps: Those who try to use the self defense methods described in The Tao of Jeet Kune Do as they were used by the two great founders of the art (James Yimm Lee and Bruce Lee), and those who followed the “concepts” philosophy which is essentially the father of mixed martial arts. Both schools of thought, “Original” and “Concepts” are following the teachings of the founders as they interpret them.

I also learned that “Concepts” was by far the larger and better organized of the two groups. Of course my DVD set represented the “Concepts” approach to self defense.

The “Concepts” method is an excellent approach to martial arts and to self defense, and I have great respect for those whose path leads in that direction. The chief proponent of “Concepts” is Danny Inosanto, and he is respected in the JKD world by people on both sides of the divide. However, I was interested in what I had learned about in The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, not Indonesian martial arts or Ju Jitsu.

I decided that having spent five hours on the DVD set, my time was valuable and I did not want to study something that was anything less than the teachings and genius of the original founders. I decided to look up one of the Lees' original students and see if I could receive even a little training to set me on the right course. I was visiting San Francisco at the time and I knew that one of Bruce Lees's three original JKD schools had been just across the bay in Oakland.

After some research I found two of the former students. One would not teach without a substantial financial exchange. The other was a rather unique individual. His father, Felix Macias Sr. was an original student of the famous Oakland School. The son, Felix Macias Jr., received some training at the school (he was very young at the time), but received the bulk of his training from his father.

Felix Macias Jr., for all of his ability and knowledge of the martial arts, is a humble man, who trains a small group of dedicated students at an undisclosed location in Hayward, California. JKD historians will remember that Hayward was the original home of James Yimm Lee's and Al Novak's first martial arts school. However, few in the martial arts community know of Felix Macias, or know what he knows of “the way of no way.”

He chooses to practices outside of the “original” and “concepts” dichotomy by calling the Kung Fu he has spent a lifetime learning and developing: “The Way Of The Intercepting Fist” (an English translation of the Cantonese words “Jeet Kune Do”). It represents the original methods and techniques employed by the two great founders of Jeet Kune Do, as further developed after their death by the Macias family. Because this Kung Fu originated with the Lees in Oakland, California, there is a strong influence of Sifu James Yimm Lee as well as Sifu Bruce Lee (June Fan) in its practice.

Those who live in the Oakland / San Francisco Bay area are lucky to have a living treasure in their vicinity who has retained the knowledge and traditions of this “path without a path.” For those who do not live there, like me, it is worth the pilgrimage.

Written with respect for all, original or concepts, who find no limitation as their limitation.

Kim K. Thompson (Mr.)


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