I’ve always viewed the JKD I’ve been taught as a physical expression of the principles, theories and philosophy that Bruce Lee spoke and wrote about in his notes.
There is a certain way to do the things that Bruce described and taught in his classes, ‘the guiding principles of JKD’ if you will. If you’re interested in JKD then what better than to seek out an individual who is close to the source and teaching JKD (as an art), since it should embody specific structure, principles and theories Bruce wanted to be taught to begin with? The only downside of it perhaps is that there is a natural tendency for people to concentrate on what works best for that person, which then gets passed on to the students who feel that it is the ‘only’ way… when it’s only ‘a way’. But at least it’s a start…
I think the problem lies when people take the whole “add what is specifically your own” and use it as the vehicle to do their own thing and calling it JKD without knowing what JKD should consist of in the first place. Anyone can adapt JKD principles and theories into their own arts and make it awesome. Maybe even better than JKD. But if they’re not abiding by the structure and principles of JKD they should in my view call it by another name…
The idea of learning JKD as an ‘art’ first is to learn the material Bruce wanted taught by his instructors. And once learned, it will serve as a good way to develop your own BS meter when observing other arts. This in my view is how you get to the whole “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own” idea. Then you can begin to add material into your own JKD without permanently changing the foundational structure of JKD.
Having said all of this does it even matter…?
Bruce Lee told Bob Bremer, “The best way to win the fight is just to reach over and knock him out.”
I think that’s a pretty good place to start working towards.