Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do for Software


When you’re in the weeds in the middle of a software project, pair programming like there’s no tomorrow, ask yourself:

Who would you rather have watching your back?

Kent Beck

But hang on, Kato’s a fictional character. Why not ask the actor who brought the Green Hornet’s sidekick to life? That is,

What would Bruce Lee do?

Sure, Bruce is agile. He’s extreme. But is he is not locked into some process involving index cards or post-it notes and following a certified scrum master like a sheep. No way. Or rather, Bruce Lee’s way of no way, known in martial arts circles as:

Jeet Kune Do (截拳道)

Jeet Kune Do is the school of martial arts and philosophy founded by Bruce Lee. The following are excerpts from the Wikipedia article on Jeet Kune Do, with my own headings with lessons for coding.

Code Defensively: “One of the theories of JKD is that a fighter should do whatever is necessary to defend himself, regardless of where the techniques come from.”

Wikipedia's image of Bruce Lee

Be Pragmatic: “Additionally, JKD advocates that any practitioner be allowed to interpret techniques for themselves, and change them for their own purposes. … Lee felt the dynamic property of JKD was what enabled its practitioners to adapt to the constant changes and fluctuations of live combat.

Be Proactive “JKD practitioners also subscribe to the notion that the best defense is a strong offense, hence the principle of “Intercepting”.”

Be Economical: “JKD students are told to waste no time or movement. When it comes to combat JKD practitioners believe the simplest things work best. Economy of motion is the principle by which JKD practitioners achieve “efficiency” describe in the three parts of JKD. Utilizing this principle conserves both energy and time. Energy and time are two crucial components in a physical confrontation that often leads to success if employed efficiently.”

This last point, particularly, seems to be lost in heavy software processes.

Jeet Kune Do Logo

Bruce Lee’s own description of Jeet Kune Do is embedded in its koan-like motto:

“Using no way as way”

Hunt and Thomas couldn’t have said it better themselves.

One Response to “Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do for Software”

  1. NW Fighting Says:

    Nice post. first i want to pay my tribute to the legend. Your exertions are helpful get a guideline. Thanks. JKD is not just for fighting bot also for every aspect of life. If we eye on Bush Lee’s techniques we can find that those were very simple, direct and non-classical but very distinct. The flying side kick of him is awesome, i enjoy it very much but think it is risky enough if anybody try this without well training.

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