Kirby Smart demonstrates the art of Jeet Kune Do on Braden Crocker, who has been one of his students for the past five-and-a-half years and currently holds a purple belt in Jeet Kune Do. - John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca
By John DeCoste
A North Kentville man is building on the teachings of martial artist and actor Bruce Lee in his home-based studio.
Jeet Kune Do is basically used for self-defence and incorporates the four ‘styles’ Lee envisioned teaching his students – kicking, striking, trapping and grappling.
Kirby Smart runs the only Jeet Kune Do studio in Nova Scotia, with almost 20 students learning the discipline. He explained that by the time of his death, Lee had incorporated the first three of the four styles. In terms of the grappling, ”he died before he could really get into it.”
An ordained Baptist minister and certified pastoral counsellor, Smart has been involved in martial arts for more than 30 years. He started out in karate in his native Ontario, earning a green belt, before being introduced to Jeet Kune Do.
He reached the black belt level in Jeet Kune Do in 1987, and since that time, has worked steadily at improving his credentials.
In 2004, he achieved his third degree black belt, then earned his fourth degree in 2005, his fifth in 2007 and sixth last month.
“The 10th degree is the highest level of Black Belt you can get,” he says, “but it takes a lifetime of work to achieve that.”
Smart also holds a black belt in a free style, reality-based karate called Wado-Ryu in combination with Jiu-Jitsu.
He’s passionate about sharing the art and holds classes three times a week, which concentrate on techniques or sparring, weights and the bag.
Smart points out that Lee, prior to his sudden death in 1974, “was the most holistic teacher of martial arts of his day,” promoting “physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It’s not just physical training.”
Moreover, it’s strictly self-defence.
“We won’t accept people who simply want to learn to do this to beat people up,” he said.
As part of the training, students “learn more about themselves, meet new friends, have fun and learn a new discipline.”
The sessions stress “a combination of fun and discipline. If it’s fun all the time,
you don’t learn anything. You have to strike a balance between fun and discipline.”
Smart recently began providing space for the Shin Thai classes taught by Jammie Weagle, who also holds a black belt in his discipline.
“I feel our two schools are working together very well,“ he says. “”I’m still the only Jeet Kune Do studio in Nova Scotia, and Jammie’s is the only Shin Thai studio. They’re quite different disciplines, but there is enough in common that they can both be taught out of the same studio at different times.”
For more information, contact Smart at 678-0801 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.