Jeet Kune Do was conceived by the late Bruce Lee in 1967; literally "way of the intercepting fist." Unlike many other martial arts, there are no senses of rules or techniques that constitute a distinct Jeet Kune Do (JKD) method of fighting; JKD utilizes all ways and means to serve its end. It is bound by nothing and therefore 'free," it possesses everything, but in itself is possessed by nothing. Those who understand are primarily interested in its effects of liberation when it is used as a mirror for self-examination. In the past, many have tried to define JKD in terms of a distinct style, i.e., Bruce Lee's gung-fu, Bruce Lee', karate, Bruce Lee's kick-boxing, or Bruce Lee's Method of fighting. To label JKD Bruce Lee's martial art is to miss its meaning; its concepts cannot be confined within a system. To understand this, a martial artist must transcend from the duality of the "for" and against" into one unity which is without distinction. The understanding of JKD is a direct intuition of this unity. The truth cannot be understood until we have come to full understanding of ourselves and our potential. According to Lee, knowledge in the martial arts ultimately means self knowledge.
Jeet Kune Do is not a new style of karate or kung-fu. Bruce Lee did not invent a new style or a composite, or modify any style to set it apart from any existing method. His main concept was to free his followers from clinging to a style, pattern, or mould. It must be emphasized that Jeet Kune do is merely a name; a mirror in which we see ourselves. There is some of progressive approach to its training, but as Lee said, To create a method of fighting is pretty much like putting a pound of water into wrapping paper and shaping it." Structurally, many people tend to mistake JKD as a composite style because of its efficiency. At any given time, it can resemble Thai boxing, Wing Chung, wrestling, or karate. Its weaponry resembles Filipino Eskrima and kali, and, at long range, northern Chinese gung-fu or Tae kwon do. According to Lee, the efficiency of the style depends upon circumstances and range: a staff, for example, would be the wrong weapon to bring into a telephone booth to fight, whereas a knife would be appropriate. A good JKD practitioner must develop intuition. According to Lee, "a style should never be like a bible in which the principles and laws of which can never be violated. There will always be a difference with regards to quality of training, physical make-up, level of understanding, environmental conditioning, and likes and dislikes. Thus JKD is not an organization or an institution to which one can belong. Either you understand or you don't, and that is that," in Lee's words.
When Lee was teaching a Chinese system of gung-fu upon his arrival in the U.S., he did have an institute of learning but after that he didn't believe in a style or system, Chinese or otherwise. According to him, to reach the masses some sort of organization had to be formed, both domestic and foreign branches with affiliations: but he also felt it was not necessary to have these because a martial artist finds himself more often in places that are contrary. To reach the growing numbers of students some sort of pre-conformed sets had to be established as the standard for these branches. As a result, many members will be conditioned according to the prescribed system; many will probably end up as prisoners of systematic, drilling.