by Raymond Horwitz
Photo by Thomas Sanders
In the book Chinatown Jeet Kune Do: Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art, authors Tim Tackett and Bob Bremer (who studied directly under Bruce Lee) delineate the technical details of an array of jeet kune do techniques — including the JKD backfist, which Tackett demonstrates in this excerpt from his companion DVD for the book:
DVD PREVIEW | Backfist Technique From Tim Tackett’s Chinatown Jeet Kune Do: Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art
“While not very powerful, the backfist is fast and deceptive because it can be thrown from the on-guard position with very little, if any, preparation,” Tim Tackett and Bob Bremer write in the book Chinatown Jeet Kune Do: Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art. “The backfist that [Bruce] Lee taught [Bob] Bremer differs from the ones thrown in action movies. Instead of making impact with the back of the hand, [Bruce] Lee believed it was better to use the knuckles because it lessens the chance of self-injury.
“This makes it more difficult to aim the hand, however, which is why a JKD practitioner needs to be selective of his target. Usually, students learn to aim for the opponent’s eyes, which are vulnerable and don’t require power to harm. To reach the target, throw your backfist like a stationary lead punch: Penetrate two inches beyond the point of impact, use your whole body, transfer energy from the legs, etc.
“Remember, the move should be deceptive. Traditional martial artists usually use a lot of preparation for the strike — they cock their arm, they place their elbow at the proper angle — which gives an opponent time to react and counter it.”
The above video is an excerpt from the book’s companion DVD, also titled Chinatown Jeet Kune Do: Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art. It features live-action demonstrations of the ideas presented in the book, organized in parallel structure for easy reference — but it also features an on-screen guide to chapters and pages in the book that further illustrate and explain what Tim Tackett and his partners are demonstrating in the video. This makes for a true martial arts multimedia experience and a powerful educational tool from which jeet kune do students of all experience levels can benefit!