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Aldo Nadi on Fencing's Straight Thrust and the Related Jeet Kune Do Principles

Updated on December 28, 2016

Bruce Lee's art of Jeet Kune Do -- Way of the Intercepting Fist -- is comprised of three core martial arts: boxing, fencing, and wing chun. A tremendous amount of the later years of Jeet Kune Do's developments owes much to fencing. Bruce Lee drew upon several different sources for his fencing material. The expert fencer Aldo Nadi is one of them.

Nadi believed very strongly in straight line attacks and simplicity. In his seminal book, Nadi on Fencing, the master shared some very helpful thoughts and advice on how to maximum success with the straight thrust -- a concept that could be applied to any martial art's offensive repertoire.

The Advancing Fencer and Boxer

Nadi points out "the simplest of all attacks is the straight thrust". The attack entails no retraction of the blade and is directed right at the target. The intention here is to land the attack without ever coming in contact with the opposing partner's blade.

The direct attack goes for the score with the intention of landing without any additional movement. Such points are definitely worth embodying in training. Nadi does present a caveat here. The straight thrust requires a few components in order to be successful.

Nadi notes an implication exists that "striking distance was offered to you by an advancing adversary but also that he advanced with his target exposed, his point not threatening your target".

Those walking or otherwise advancing do make it easier to be intercepted, but they also have to leave a line open for attack. In boxing, a sport that tracings its lineage and development to European schools of fencing, advancing in a straight line is ill-advised unless there is head movement, jabbing, or a heavy cover. Forward motion in an exposed manner puts the boxer, fencer, or any combative participant at a disadvantage.

In order for the disadvantage to exist, the target has to be advancing and must leave a target open. When these elements are missing, attacking becomes different although not necessarily difficult.

A boxer who is standing still with a tight guard and an active jab is harder to land a punch on. If he is backing away and jabbing or pivot stepping and jabbing, he is not providing neither forward movement or an open target. Either a completely different tactic would be required to land offense or the straight attack would need to be set up with a proceeding movement or combination of movement.

The straight attack never ceases to be simple, but performance of the technique cannot be put into an oversimplified box in which the technique loses effectiveness.,

Making the Simple Move Simple

Nadi's advice on simplicity is profound.

"Because of its simplicity....the attack is the most to execute...it requires perfect timing, exact distance, and tremendous speed."

Do not let those words undermine confidence. Anyone hoping to master aggressive straight line offensive attacks can easily develop those attributes. Not everyone is going to reach Olympic fencer levels of skill. However, whatever level these attributes may exist at now can be improved to a higher level with proper consistent practice.

Effective training methods are required in order to achieve equally effective performance in combat. Poor training methods and inconsistent practice won't lead to any legitimate skill capable of being duplicated in sport or self-defense.

Boxers, fencers, Jeet Kune Do practitioners, and martial arts enthusiasts of many backgrounds should read up on Nadi's exceptional work. The training advice and philosophy are sure to be of great help in many ways.

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