Search and Destroy: JKD use of a Filipino Concept

– By MATT NUMRICH, Black Belt Magazine

Blocking probably isn’t the move you should be learning, and it is not the best move to do in a fight. I’ll break down a very small change in doing a similar move, which will give you a huge edge in a fight. The article below gets deeper into the topic, but this quick video will give you some functional tools.

In the last several years, many instructors who teach the philosophy of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, have incorporated the Filipino Martial Arts. Most of these instructors have been influenced by Guru Dan Inosanto, one of Lee’s proteges. Inosanto brought JKD up to a new level by continuing the evolution of JKD, just as every martial art should continue to evolve. Why? Because every sport evolves, as competitors find more effective and efficient ways to play and train every year. Self-defense is no different, as people have evolved in fighting. (For proof, just compare the first UFC to the last one.) The Filipino Arts have done just that for the JKD philosophy, as they have created more effective and efficient ways to fight and train. Filipino Arts that are now integrated within many JKD circles include:

Dumog: Filipino wrestling 

Kali: Primarily based in edged weaponry 

Arnis: Modern Filipino stick fighting 

Escrima: Classical Filipino stick fighting (fencing) 

Pentak-Silat: Indonesian art of attack and defense 

Panajackman: Low line kicking combined with upper body strikes 

Kino Mutai: Biting and eye gouging

Many of the arts have been time tested, even up to the recent wars in the South Pacific. The practitioners of these arts used sticks and blades against guns and mortars on many occasions. Needless to say, the functionality of these Filipino Martial Arts were a perfect match for Bruce Lee’s JKD criteria for “Absorbing what is useful…”.



Among the many concepts and techniques in these very combative arts, there is one concept that pleasantly surprises new practitioners, while flooring older practitioners to its effectiveness and ease. The concept that is being talked about here is called the “Destruction”, taken from Kali. It surprises practitioners because most martial arts deal with attacks, such as punches and kicks, with moves that are inefficient and unrealistic. For example, take an old traditional artist and throw a punch at them. In the majority of cases the traditional art would respond with a “blocking” move.

The person who threw the punch suffers no negative consequences for doing so. Meaning that a punch was thrown, then a block… guess what will happen next? In most combative situations the attacker will throw another strike of some sort. This will force 2the practitioner to counter with another block. If that is successfully pulled off, another strike will come – maybe even a kick – and the response will be similar… a good old block. How many times will it take, until the defendant misses the block, or the attacker acts too quickly?

The thought process of blocking probably originated from weapon’s defense, mostly sword use, in the “samurai” days. One warrior would take a mighty swing with a very heavy sword, while the other would counter with a block. Because of the size and immense weight of these swords, one could have the time to block, and then counter with their own strike. This is a little bit more different when one turns to empty hands, dealing with 50mph punches, and 80mph kicks. Now, time is not a luxury.

When these people face an opponent who uses combinations, like a boxer – time is definitely not a luxury. For instance, let’s assume a person who uses blocks is up against a person who fights as most people do: with a boxer-like structure. There are five major tools that these people will use: the jab, cross, hook, upper cut, and overhand punch. Multiply this by two, as most people have both a right and a left hand. Let us also assume that the person blocking has at least two blocks per punch. This now leaves a minimum of twenty blocks, that this person has to quickly decide as to which one they will use, in a very short amount of time. Realistic? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that we are going after techniques that can be learned and executed quickly.



Speaking of boxers, they are not that much different in their response to a punch or attack. They either “cover” and take the hit, parry the shot, or move out of range. Although the latter two are smarter moves than the block, the attacker still suffers no consequences. (Who wants to absorb a 50mph punch anyway?) Bruce Lee has taught us that blocking, parrying, covering, and moving out of the way of attacks are not “bad” options, as they all have their place in a fight. However, the Filipino Martial Arts concept of the destruction inflicts pain immediately to one’s opponent once they attack in their respective ways.

If one observes any combative competition, whether it is a boxing match, stick fighting bout, or karate tournament, they will see a rhythm that is being exchanged between the opponents. Some rhythms are simple (i.e. 1,2…1,2…1,2), while other are complex with broken rhythms, half beats, and with multiple lines of attack (i.e. 1,2…1,2,3,1,2…1,1,1,…2). This is why in street fighting or sparring with an experienced practitioner, blocking and covering are difficult. Blocking maybe one or two punches in five to six seconds is possible. Trying to block a punch, fake, high line kick, punch, and low line kick in a couple seconds should be saved for the next “Matrix” movie.



Many practitioners are familiar with the Filipino weapon’s concept of “Defanging the Snake”. For example, instead of “blocking” a weapon coming at your face, one simply strikes the opponent’s hand with their weapon. If you have a knife, and so does your opponent, then you would cut their hand. If you have a non-sharp weapon, as stick of some sort, you would smack the opponent’s weapon hand. This results in immediate pain and most likely a disarm of the attacker. If you “Defang the Snake”, the snake is rendered useless. In other words, if you “de-weapon” your opponent, through striking their weapon hand, the opponent is not as threatening. After this has occurred you may then follow-up to other targets.

The concept of the Destruction in empty hand applications inflicts pain using nerve destructions to whatever limb is being thrown (i.e. right jab – right arm). By attacking these vulnerable areas on the first beat, one cuts off the opponent’s attack immediately. This then produces a moment where the pain registers in their body. Using this moment of pain (or pause), many Filipino practitioners follow up, or JKD practitioners enter in to “Trapping Range”, or close quarters. Therefore, if a front jab punch is thrown, one could attack the hand (fist), forearm nerves, or bicep nerve, among others. If a left hook (thigh) kick is thrown, one can attack the foot, ankle, shin, or inner thigh nerve.

Remember, blocks, covers, and parries, are not useless. Governed by Lee’s philosophy of “the moment”, everything has it’s place. If a block is the most effective and efficient move at the moment – then do it! But, why use a cover and absorb pain, when one can inflict pain immediately? Why use a block and take up time, when one can counter on the first beat with an immediate consequence? Why parry and postpone the overall outcome, which is to inflict pain anyway? It just seems that the Destruction is more effective and efficient most of the time. Although it is true that Lee never worked with the destruction itself, it is obvious that this concept has a solid place in Jeet Kune Do and combat.

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