Written by Lak Loi
In 1967 Tim Tackett saw Bruce Lee demonstrate JKD at Ed Parker’s tournament in Long Beach, California and wanted to start studying with him right on the spot, but Tim soon realized that he would not have enough time until after he finished college. In 1968, Tim started a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A) program at UCR and no longer had time to teach martial arts full time. So Tim closed down his school and rented a hall in Redlands two nights a week where Tim taught what he called Chinese karate as hardly anyone had heard of Kung Fu let alone Kuo Shu.
In 1970 Tim received his M.F.A. and started teaching drama in high school. Soon after this his first student, Bob Chapman and Tim, on the recommendation of Dan Lee, sought out Dan Inosanto. Dan one of Bruce’s closest friends and confidante’s had opened up a backyard Jeet Kune Do school after Bruce Lee had closed his L.A. Chinatown school shortly before moving to Hong Kong to star in The Big Boss. Tim and Bob both felt privileged to be accepted in Dan Inosanto’s backyard class. The class consisted of about 10 students. Tim got to meet for the first time such JKD luminaries as; Bob Bremer, Dan Lee, Richard Bustillo, Jerry Poteet, and Pete Jacobs. Later Chris Kent, Ted Lucay Lucay, and Jeff Imada joined a second class.
Sifu Tim Tackett mentions, “In 1973, Dan Inosanto honoured me with the rank of Senior First and I was given permission to have a small Jeet Kune Do group. In Dan’s backyard school it was always stressed that JKD was something special. There were certain techniques that Bruce Lee did not want given out outside of what we all felt were a small and special group. Dan told us that Bruce said, “If knowledge is power then why pass it out indiscriminately.”
After Bruce’s untimely passing, Dan opened up, with Richard Bustillo, the Filipino Kali Academy to promote Filipino martial arts as well as JKD. Since Dan made a promise to Bruce not to teach JKD publicly, he created a curriculum with four phases of Jun Fan Gung Fu which is what Bruce called his art before he named it Jeet Kune Do. His backyard Jeet Kune Do became a closed private class at the Kali Academy.
At the same time Tim was teaching the principles of JKD and using them as tools to examine the martial arts he had learned up until that time. Tim found that much of what he had been teaching was not very efficient. For his own personal experience Tim kept some Hsing-I and all of his Tai Chi for himself, but Tim had no desire to teach anything but Jeet Kune Do. Since Tim didn’t want to teach JKD openly he closed the school and moved the senior group to his garage where he’s been ever since. This became known as the famous Wednesday Night Group (WNG) which is still running from strength-to-strength today.
Right from the beginning then, it has been an honour and a privilege to be able to learn Bruce Lee’s JKD, and Sifu Lak Loi who runs JKD London is a Certified JKD Instructor under Sifu Tim Tackett and his famous WNG. Lak is truly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn JKD so he can keep Bruce Lee’s spirit alive for generations to come. Lak states that his mission is “To preserve and promote Bruce Lee’s martial art and philosophy of JKD, to help define and teach the core curriculum, not to confine us but to liberate us, and to discover our personal expression of Bruce’s art.”
When Lak was honoured with his instructorship under Sifu Tim Tackett, he was made privy to a rare copy of Sifu Tim Tackett’s personal JKD notes compiled from his days training with Dan Inosanto and the Back Yard Group, which forms the basis of the JKD London syllabus from which Sifu Lak Loi delivers the core JKD curriculum, or what is commonly known as ‘Old School or LA Chinatown Jeet Kune Do’. One day Lak hopes to pass on this honour to his own select students who have earned it just like him, without “giving it away indiscriminately”.
To help students during their JKD journey, Sifu Tim Tackett recommends that they purchase the following JKD books which cover the core curriculum and provide invaluable reference materials: –
- Chinatown Jeet Kune Do: Essential Elements of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art (Tim Tackett);
- Chinatown Jeet Kune Do, Volume 2: Training Methods of Bruce Lee’s Martial Art (Tim Tackett);
- Jeet Kune Do the Textbook (Tim Tackett & Chris Kent); and
- Jeet Kune Do Kickboxing (Tim Tackett & Chris Kent).
Good Luck in Your JKD Journey