Author: Tim Tackett and Bob Bremer
Publisher: Black Belt Books
Subject: Sports/Martial Arts/Self Defense
Chinatown Jeet Kune Do – Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art, is a collection of basic and advanced Jeet Kune Do techniques as taught by Tackett and Bremer.
It is 166 pages filled with techniques and pictures, as well as some really interesting background information on the authors and their relationship with Jeet Kune Do, the famous Wednesday Night Group and Bruce Lee.
Probably the best synopsis comes from page 5 of the book itself “Simply put, Chinatown Jeet Kune Do: Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art shows readers how to make Jeet Kune Do principles work in combat”.
The book is quite large, being only slightly smaller than A4 size and the cover image has a picture of Tackett and Bremer practicing Jeet Kune Do.
On opening the book, the first page is a foreword by Linda Lee Cadwell. Here, Linda Lee Cadwell elaborates on both Bob and Tim; the things they’ve learned and training in Jeet Kune Do, as well as how “It is of utmost importance that the thoughts and recollections of Bruce’s original students are recorded for the benefit of martial artists who are interested in Jeet Kune Do teachings because they come directly from Bruce Lee.”.
We then get a page about the authors, with a small biography of Tackett and Bremer and their martial art history. Following this we turn the page and get an intriguing explanation of the famous ‘Wednesday Night Group’. How the group started, how it evolved since Bremer’s joining, and how Tackett noticed that Bruce Lee had taught ‘different things to different people’.
Next is a contents page, highlighting how the book is effectively split in two, Part I dealing with basic principles and Part II exploring more advanced principles. After the contents page, but before basic principles, we find a 4 page introduction, which gives us a potted history of Bruce Lee and what led him to form Jeet Kune Do.
Basic principles are split into four chapters: Stances, Footwork, Hand Tools and Kicking Tools. Each chapter has plenty of clear photos to accompany the explanations of techniques, as well as sections on training. Each chapter starts with a quote by Bruce Lee. They are mainly taken from the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, however my personal favourite comes from a conversation in which Bruce Lee is talking to Bob Bremer and says, “The best way to win the fight is to just reach over and knock him out”.
Advanced principles are also split into four chapters: Defenses, Attacks, Hand-Trapping Tools and Specialized Tools. As with basic principles, each chapter has a number of interesting photos to help illustrate the actions.
As we near the end of the book there are two short pages on the conclusion, discussing what has been learnt from the book and how you should assess your training, leading to an interesting one page story titled ‘The Woodcutter and the Dragon’, which is a fable that Bruce Lee told to Bremer.
The book closes with a Glossary of some of the terms used within the book, including ‘Formless Form’ and ‘Time Commitment Theory’.
“Chinatown Jeet Kune Do” is a great book for those wishing to learn about the art. It will obviously not replace a knowledgeable teacher, however it does illustrate a number of techniques that the reader can practice and break down with the help of both the explanation and photos.
The passion that Tim and Bob have for Jeet Kune Do is evident throughout the book and really jumps off the page at you. I enjoyed reading the book and feel there is lots to take away from it, but for me the hidden gems are the little stories about Bruce Lee himself that the authors impart throughout, whether it is a one liner he once said, or the inclusion of a fable he passed to Bob Bremer. They really add a different dimension to the book and ensure that this is not just another training manual.
“Chinatown Jeet Kune Do” is easily recommendable to all martial artists, but it is also recommended to fans of Bruce Lee, as the little extras you get within its pages means it is worthy of picking up even if you don’t train. With Christmas now upon us, I would imagine many Kung Fu Kingdom readers would be happy to receive this book as a gift.
Book Rating: 10/10
“Bob Bremer began attending the Wednesday Night Group in the 1980’s, and what he shared was illuminating. Because of his private lessons with Bruce Lee, Bremer was able to go into great detail about how to make a technique work and how to strike at the correct range.”
“If Lee accepted the fight and lost, he would either have to quit teaching kung fu to non-Chinese students or close down his school. Lee won the fight, but he wasn’t satisfied with his performance. He began to seriously research classical fighting systems from both Europe and Asia, becoming one of the first people to blend Eastern and Western arts together.”
“Lee also realized that many martial artists relied too much on the passive defense of blocking. A time lag existed between the block and the eventual counterattack, which would often give an opponent the chance to attack again before the defender could counter.”
“And even though no one can know for certain what Jeet Kune Do would look like if Lee was still alive, we can still share what he taught. This is why the book focuses on Lee’s final years of teaching and chronicles his final recorded developments of JKD.”