I read with great interest the article, Martial arts alive and well in Kentville, Aug. 20, 2013, regarding Rev. Kirby Smart and his martial arts studio and accolades.
My interest in this article stems from the fact that I too have been involved in the martial arts for well over 30 years and I am an instructor in Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee’s martial art that Rev. Smart purports to be instructing and a bearer of a sixth degree black belt in).
While an entertaining story about a man who obviously loves the martial arts and is active in his community helping improve the lives of people with the great things that participation in the martial arts brings, I would be passing on a fault if I did not bring forward errors and clear misunderstandings that are in the story.
To the point; Rev. Smart is not a Jeet Kune Do instructor. He is a man who has been teaching martial arts that have been influenced by Bruce Lee. While to the average person it may be hard to see the difference think about it in terms of someone who is a trained medical doctor and someone who has never been to medical school but is influenced by Dr. Oz.
This isn’t to say you can’t learn some great things from Rev. Smart, but it isn’t accurate to say he is teaching Jeet Kune Do – more, he is teaching martial arts inspired by Bruce Lee and inspired by Jeet Kune Do.
Bruce Lee only certified three people to teach his martial art, Taky Kimura, James Lee and Dan Inosanto. Of these men, Taky Kimura has maintained a low key profile and has only a couple of people certified to teach through him. James Lee passed away before his teacher, Bruce Lee, died and certified nobody to teach. This leaves Dan Inosanto, who has almost single-handedly been responsible for keeping the art of Jeet Kune Do alive.
All legitimate instructors teaching Jeet Kune Do today must be able to trace their lineage and credentials to teach through one of these men.
My own certification to teach Jeet Kune Do (and other martial arts) comes through Mr. Inosanto as well as Rob Doley (of Fredericton, NB, who has been certified and teaching under Mr. Inosanto for decades). In Eastern Canada there are only two instructors who are certified to teach Jeet Kune Do by Mr. Inosanto (neither of which are Rev. Smart).
In your story, Rev. Smart takes credit with being the only Jeet Kune Do instructor in Nova Scotia when in reality, there are a few instructors teaching in Halifax who have been certified by Mr. Doley.
The other issue that needs address is that Rev. Smart says that he has a sixth degree black belt in Jeet Kune Do. There is no belt ranking in the system. Even Mr. Inosanto and Mr. Kimura, who have been teaching and training in Bruce Lee’s system since before Lee died in 1973, do not have any black belt (or any other coloured belt) in Jeet Kune Do – so how could Rev. Smart have a sixth degree black belt in it?
While I respect the work that Rev. Smart has done in spreading the martial arts in his community and admire his respect for Bruce Lee, I would hope that if he reads this that he pays the respect to the system those of us who have spent a long time studying and teaching and cease promoting himself as an instructor in Jeet Kune Do. That isn’t to say that he cannot pursue the system and I would encourage him to contact Rob Doley in Fredericton or one of the Halifax instructors under him so that he can get a more complete view of a great legacy and perhaps seek teaching credentials if he wishes.
I would personally like to thank you (and Rev. Smart) for bringing a story on Jeet Kune Do to the public. The martial arts are a powerful vehicle for personal liberation and change – an art that can improve your life in so many ways.
Eke Academy of Martial Arts