Joe Lewis-Style

“The Official Joe Lewis-Style™ Jeet Kune Do: Bruce Lee Era.”

Bruce Lee Era-Joe Lewis-Style™ Jeet Kune Do. Designed for the Street: works in the Ring!

Bruce Lee was proud of his champion fighting protégé. And why not? Over a period of about 16 months between 1968 and 1969 Lee had helped refine the undisputed world heavy weight champion, Joe Lewis. Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis worked together closely to create the signature Joe Lewis-Style™. While other martial artist of the day (1968-1971) practiced a form of non-contact fighting Joe Lewis, as did his mentor Bruce Lee, fought with full contact. As Bruce Lee predicted when you test your skills under the pressure of full contact you quickly learn to abandon the artistic skills and absorb what is useful. The time Joe spent under the guidance of Bruce Lee would totally shape his future career.  At Joe we focus entirely on the research collected during the Bruce Lee Era 1968-1971.  Join us.

Said Joe Lewis about training with Bruce Lee “Bruce and I would train together and then study the strategies of different fighters on film and then we would go to tournaments and watch guys fight, and we would analyze them together. I was like the test tube.  I would go out and get in the street fight or I’d go out in a tournament and I’d prove whether it worked or not.  You can’t have a better setup that that.  We would watch boxing on TV and do the same thing, so it’s like a research center, like research laboratory.  I thought it was the greatest life that ever existed.  And I don’t think there was ever anything like it before or ever will be again.” (Excerpted from Joe Lewis by Jerry Beasley, 1998)


Joe Lewis and the Bruce Lee Era

“For almost two years, Lewis learned the most advanced martial arts theory of the day directly from the innovative mind of Bruce Lee. When you combine Joe’s natural athleticism with Bruce Lee’s advanced martial theory you create a fighter the likes of which had never been seen. In tournament competition Lewis became simply unstoppable. He won the top karate and kickboxing titles of his day, not once but two and three times.” (Excerpted from Joe Lewis by Jerry Beasley, 1998)

Bruce had told legendary screen writer Stirling Silliphant that, in his opinion, “Joe Lewis was the greatest tournament fighter in the history of the sport”. Between the years 1968 and 1971 Joe Lewis was considered “The Most Feared Fighter on the Planet.” A former US Marine and super athlete, during the almost two years Joe was being coached by the legendary Bruce Lee, Lewis won 11 straight national and world championships in 68 and 69 alone. Unlike champions Norris and Stone, Joe Lewis publicly acknowledged the fact that he was being coached and trained by Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee had asked Joe to refer to his style as jeet kune do. According to Sports Illustrated (1971) by the end of 1969 Joe, in collaboration with Bruce, had started his own style which he preferred to call Joe Lewis-Style™ Self-Defense.

“Use what works” was a principle made famous by Joe Lewis. If you practice self-defense drills then suit up and try it against a non-compliant attacker. If it still works, keep it.  The Joe Lewis-Style™ self-defense had no forms and few rules. Joe Lewis-Style™ was intended to be scientific street fighting that you could apply in the ring or street. Wearing shoes, chops to the back of the neck, using elbows, knees, low kicks, sweeps, throws and take-downs and the occasional head butt in competition were not considered fouls. Street or ring: to a full-contact fighter, it’s all just real estate.

There are no Black Belts in JL-S™. Why? Because Joe posed the question, “How do you rank a street-fighter?” Joe said “In the ring you fight to win the fight. But in the street, “You fight to ‘end’ the fight.” And anything goes. Still, the fighting strategies that Bruce and Joe worked on are just as applicable to the street as they are to the ring. Joe hated the idea of having to apply his skills to a lesser-trained streetfighter. That did happen a few times. Once in Atlanta Joe had to head butt a Black Belt looking to build his reputation. Once in Tijuana Joe and an ex-Marine buddy were invited to a hotel room. When Joe walked out in disgust he was met by three locals with knives. Joe dispatched the first so quick that the other two ran leaving their buddy asleep on the ground. Another time Joe was at a rest stop off I77 in WVA. A woman stopped him for some directions and a very large accomplice quickly approached claiming Joe had insulted his wife. It was a scam and Joe knew it. Joe looked at the guy with “evil intent” and the guy cowered and left. Bruce Lee would call this “the art of fighting without fighting.” Some say Joe “invented” kickboxing so he could express his desire to fight for real in a legal environment.

When Joe worked with Bruce, according to Ted Wong, “Bruce would teach a technique or theory and Joe would put it to the test, “earning Joe the title: “Bruce Lee’s Test Tube.” Bruce Lee’s famous straight lead was tested and evolved under fire by Joe Lewis. According to Mrs. Linda Lee, “Joe and Bruce were “research partners because they learned together.” It was Bruce Lee’s “scientific street fighting” and Joe Lewis’ “scientific ring fighting” blended together.



Sports Illustrated, April 1971

Sports Illustrated notes, “Karate, Joe Lewis began to realize, was an art whose skills could never be fully used competitively. The only legal outlets for its blows were the breaking of boards that TV is so crazy about—”show business,” Lewis says derisively—or self-defense, and who was going to pick on Joe Lewis? “I could never understand why we couldn’t put on boxing gloves and just go at it,” he says, so in 1969 he began developing and teaching a brand of super-karate called, not too pithily, Joe Lewis-Style™ Self-Defense. JLSSD differed radically from karate, with its straight punches and limited bare-handed contact. Lewis and his followers not only put on the gloves, they threw all-out hooks and uppercuts plus kicks.”




Joe Lewis-Style™ “Fighting”

How it all began: Joe Lewis left the Shorin-ryu Karate style fighting system in the fall of 1967 when he was fed up with Karate systems and their politics. Bruce Lee offered a new way. Although he had just opened a new Karate school with Bob Wall, Joe decided to sell his interest in the school to Chuck Norris and follow the model that Bruce Lee had introduced by teaching all private lessons to wealthy clients who could afford to pay for the equivalent of two months of group lessons in return for a single one hour private lesson. Today we would call Joe a self-defense personal trainer.

Bruce Lee closed his JKD clubs in January 1970 to focus on personal training and acting. That same month, Joe Lewis-Style fighting became a reality.  According to the already noted Sports Illustrated article, Joe had recruited heavyweight champion Greg Baines to be his opponent in what Joe expected to be called the Joe Lewis-Style Self-Defense method. Joe planned to use the publicity to attract self-defense clients who would want to learn the Bruce Lee-Joe Lewis-Style™ of full contact fighting for the street. For the first time ever jeet kune do would be tested in a full-contact fight in a ring where the winner walks and the loser gets knocked out.

Remember that full-contact martial arts style street-fighting with boxing gloves had never been tried in a public event before 1970. To get ready for the first ever Joe Lewis-Style™ fight, Joe purchased two pairs of boxing gloves, one for him and a pair to be worn by his opponent. At ringside that night, January 1970, the ring commentator, who had seen other kickboxing events in the same arena, saw that both fighters were wearing boxing gloves and immediately began to identify the fighters as “kickboxers” and Joe’s new full-contact fighting system as “kickboxing.”

While Joe had intended to use the event to promote Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do as the Joe Lewis-Style™ self-defense, the term “kickboxing” stuck and for the rest of his career the Joe Lewis-Style™ became known as American Kickboxing. In 1970 and 1971 Joe defended his “kickboxing” title 10 times with 10 wins by the KO. No opponent made it past the second round. At the time Joe Lewis was the most dominant fighter in his field and was the only martial arts competitor to be featured in Sports Illustrated. The Joe Lewis-Style™ during the Bruce Lee era may have been called “kickboxing” but it was a lot more!



The new Joe Lewis-Style™

In the spring of 1982 I had been commissioned to write a book about Bruce Lee and his method of jeet kune do by a martial arts magazine publisher. When I met Joe in March of 1982 he was 38. Joe had won the world full-contact championships in 1974 and was now intent on regaining his PKA title. I was intent on learning the Joe Lewis-Style™ of jeet kune do but he didn’t give lessons. Joe understood fully that I was interested in learning exactly what Bruce Lee had taught him and how he had made it work in the street and in the ring. To learn from Joe you became his sparring partner. So for the next few years I would travel monthly to Raleigh, NC or any number of other locations to “spar.” At least once per month Joe would stay at my home in Christiansburg, VA for a few days at a time. Once here we would create articles, organize seminar tours and spar.

After leaving Hollywood for good, Joe needed an income. So to begin a seminar circuit Joe and I decided on the name “Joe Lewis American Karate Systems” in 1983. We called it “American Karate” to identify the full-contact Joe Lewis-Style™ fighting only version from the more traditional forms of Karate. And, because Bruce Lee’s fighting system was also referred to by some as “non-classical karate.” To earn rank you had to fight 3 rounds full contact Joe Lewis-Style ™. Joe and I also started an organization we called the American Independent Karate/Kickboxing Instructors Association™ or for short to certify more traditional styles including student and Black Belt ranks.

Together Joe and I worked closely as partners in seminars, camps, writing and promotions for the next 20+ years. In the early 90’s Joe and I had decided to write a book to be titled: How to Fight, Joe Lewis-Style™. We took photos and designated book chapters. In 1997 I was selected by Panther Productions to star in the jeet kune do video series focusing on the Joe Lewis-Style™ of JKD. That same year Paladin Press requested a book manuscript so Joe and I decided on the title “The Greatest Karate Fighter of All Time”. Instead of using the original Joe Lewis-Style™ as the title we went with Joe Lewis American Karate Systems.


Joe Lewis-Style™ Jeet Kune Do on video by Dr. Jerry Beasley

In the video series you are about to watch I demonstrate in volumes 1, 2, 3 exactly what Bruce Lee taught Joe Lewis and what Joe Lewis taught me. Joe didn’t teach this in seminars. Recall that I had to specifically make it clear that the Bruce Lee fighting method inspired Joe Lewis-Style™ was the subject matter I wanted to learn. In 1993, after 10 years as a sparring partner, business partner and confidant Joe issued to me the only authorization to teach JKD fighting methods that he had ever given. I had previously earned the 7th Dan in JLAKS/Joe Lewis Kickboxing in 1990 and the 8th Dan in JLAKS/Joe Lewis Kickboxing in 1995, which made me, in 1995 the highest ranked in a Joe Lewis-Style™. The JKD certification issued personally by Joe Lewis was one-of-a-kind. Why? Because I was single-minded in my interests and, because no one else asked the questions, completed the training and mastered the material designed specifically by Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis.


I am pleased to make available the video program describing in detail the original lessons Joe Lewis taught me about the exact method taught to him by Bruce Lee. This method was tested in the ring and in the street by the legendary Joe Lewis. The video series was professionally produced by Panther Video in 1998 and is still the only JKD videos ever personally endorsed by Joe Lewis. The series sold thousands of copies and remained on the Top 10 list in its genre for over 10 years. Train hard and I hope to see you at the annual Karate College all martial arts training camp held every June in Radford, VA. Or, you can contact me at [email protected] to set up a weekend train and certify seminar at BeasleyMartialArts in Christiansburg, VA. By the way, Joe Lewis never ever charged me for lessons or promotions. To carry on his legacy and honor his partnership with me I am making the video instruction free.

Jerry Beasley, Ed. D.

Black Belt © magazine Hall of Fame

Instructor of the Year 2000


© 2018

Join us: In 1971 pioneered martial arts instruction in the NRV. Specializing in the Bruce Lee/Joe Lewis systems we offer expert instruction in Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu and Self-Defense with personal fitness training by a certified personal trainer. Travel in for a train and certify weekend by contacting [email protected] for times and prices. “Train like a Fighter, Think like a Champion, Feel like a million bucks!”


Most Often Asked Questions

Introduction:  How does Joe Lewis-Style™ Jeet Kune Do fit in with the Original JKD versus JKD Concepts schools? The JKD Concepts school intends that by learning different arts including kali, silat, wing chun Jun Fan arts etc. the student will be able to experience self-expression as he/she performs a “flow” from one art to another. The Original school of JKD, a term coined by Dr. Jerry Beasley in the 1980s for use in magazines, was intended to refer to the practice of JKD as taught by Bruce Lee between 1967 and 1969. Remember that Bruce Lee began to eliminate wing chun structure and trapping from his art of JKD after he determined that close adherence to wing chun had resulted in a failed performance against Wong Jack Man. Bruce Lee closed his JKD Chinatown club in January 1970 to make movies full time. Even though Bruce Lee increasingly developed modified boxing and kickboxing as his basic structure it can be said that a majority of OJKD advocates still focus on the art of wing chun with modifications.

According to Ted Wong “In 1967, the early stages of JKD, there was still a heavy Wing Chun influence in his art. Then he refined and simplified what he was doing, especially the stance. If you look at the stance in 1967 and then in 1971, you can see how he had streamlined it and made it more efficient. In 1967 his art was still Wing Chun oriented, and the stance was more square and open to allow for traps such as pak sao, lop sao and so on. As he evolved, he realized trapping wasn’t that efficient and didn’t fit his evolving structure of fighting. When he changed his stance to be more speed oriented, he pretty much eliminated the trapping. If you understand his JKD philosophy of simplicity and directness, you can understand that trapping was complex and not very direct. It also included a lot of passive moves — for example, taking several moves to get the job done.”

Joe Lewis had this to say “Bruce Lee was phasing out much of the trapping from his wing chun training. He was incorporating a lot from kickboxing at the time I was working with him. One example was when he threw his round kick. He was teaching people how to roll the hip into the kick before you release the knee extension at contact. Another example was that instead of kicking with your toes or the ball of your foot on the round kick, he began teaching making contact with the anklebone and the lower part of the shin. He was also starting to add more in and out type engaging drills. The old wing chun practitioners would penetrate their opponent’s defensive perimeter, engage with a combination but neglect to pull out or disengage at the end. Bruce was correcting this tactical oversight.”

The version of jeet kune do that was taught to Joe Lewis has never been promoted on a national basis.


1- By what authority can you offer this organization?

Answer: History. We encourage you to do the research. The evidence of the Joe Lewis-Style was first published in Sports illustrated in 1971. Dr. Jerry Beasley, a University professor, trained researcher, and Black Belt™ Hall of Fame Instructor of the Year 2000 is arguably Joe Lewis’s most prominent student. More than a student he was Joe’s chief publicists, business and training partner, co-author, promoter and long-time personal friend. Joe once said of his friend, “Jerry has written more books and articles about me than any other person.”

2- Why re-introduce the Bruce Lee Era- Joe Lewis-Style ™ now?

Answer: Joe Lewis passed in 2012. Dr. Beasley is 67. In order to pass on the legacy of the Joe Lewis-Style of jeet kune do during the Bruce Lee era (1968-1971), a time in which Joe Lewis was at his absolute peak as a fighter, a time that greatly shaped Joe’s future career, we must act now. To fully understand what Joe Lewis meant to thousands you must research the original Joe Lewis-Style™. The acknowledged expert in the style is Dr. Jerry Beasley. He is the one person that Joe Lewis entrusted with the Bruce Lee era material.

3- Can you get a Black Belt in the Joe Lewis-Style™?

Answer: No. As late at the early 1980s Joe was adamant about wanting no “phony baloney” black belts. Joe said “I am a fighter, see.” In the JL-S™ there are students, apprentice coaches, assistant coaches, coaches and head coaches. Joe preferred the term coach over instructor because frankly Joe didn’t like the traditional chain of command. It should be understood that Joe did employ of a more traditional rank system for his competition arts. However the Bruce Lee era material is not traditional, nor was it intended to be packaged into typical under belt and black belt programs. Joe also preferred, like his mentor Bruce Lee, to teach private and small group lessons. If you are a black belt instructor of any style consider adding the Joe Lewis-Style™ to your curriculum. JL-S™ blends with all systems. You practice up to full-contact (with protective equipment) sparring and perform self-defense drills with protective equipment and non-compliance. And you are guided by the same principles and fighting strategies that Bruce Lee created and taught to his pupil and world champion, Joe Lewis. Use what works!

4- I trained with Joe Lewis so I already know the material right?

Answer: No. Joe publicly taught competition fighting. You have learned the sport form of the Joe Lewis System. Competition fighting is not street-fighting. Some of the principles are similar. For example the Offensive Approach is a code word for JKD. The angular attack is code for Bruce Lee’s 5 Ways of Attack. Set Point control was originally defined by Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis as it related to 60s era boxers. On every authentic Joe Lewis Black Belt certificate is the term “Non-Classical Combative Methodologies.” This is a term coined by Joe’s co-author and research partner Dr. Jerry Beasley to identify specific material from the Bruce Lee era. Including the term N-CCM was a “tip of the hat” by Joe to acknowledge Dr. Beasley’s contributions and partnership.

Imagine taking the same “research material” that Joe taught almost exclusively as application in competitions and ring sports but this time it is applied to street level self-defense. That’s Bruce Lee Era Joe Lewis-Style™. We invite you to join us and share the info.

All Joe Lewis systems are not the same.

For Joe Lewis devotes there are several “eras” that represent the totality of the Joe Lewis life learning series. Joe practiced and taught Okinawan karate between 1964 and 1967. Then he met Bruce Lee. The Bruce Lee Era can be identified roughly as 1968-1971. During this time Joe served as a ‘personal-trainer’ providing private lessons in how to fight with jeet kune do in both the street and the ring. In 1968 at the USKC in Dallas, TX, Joe Lewis gave the first public seminar teaching the Black Belt competitors how to use Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do in competition. When the original Joe Lewis-Style™ kickboxing era came to an end in 1971 Joe elected to adapt more of a competition strategy. The full contact karate era can be used to best describe Joe’s interest between 1973 and 1975. He won the World Heavyweight Full-Contact Karate/Kickboxing title in 1974. Between the years 1976 and 1982 Joe Lewis was enjoying a career change as actor and movie star and was less active in martial arts circles.

From 1983-1999 we typically identify as the “AIKIA” era in which Joe (with partner Dr. Jerry Beasley sought to build his brand working with independent martial arts schools worldwide. The Joe Lewis American Karate Systems became the primary vehicle for instruction. The famous “Karate Kid” franchise became the rage in 1984. Karate was at the time the generic term used to identify striking arts of Asian descent. Joe Lewis “karate” referred to the full-contact jeet kune do-kickboxing style and not to classical karate routines. The Karate College program designed in 1988 by Dr. Beasley, and world champions Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith and Bill Wallace had promoted a mixing of martial arts as early as 1990. As the MMA format became popular with the public Joe sought to align his name with the mixed competition format and in 2000 developed a new direction for competition and sport fighting he called the Joe Lewis Fighting Systems. JLFS had moved far away from the personal defense concept of the original Joe Lewis-Style™ toward a dedicated focus on mixed competitions. During the era of the JLFS Dr. Beasley served only as personal promotional advisor to his friend and with Joe’s blessing remained true to the original intent of the (1968-1971) Joe Lewis-Style™.

5- I have studied jeet kune do. Is this the same as the Joe Lewis-Style™?

Answer. In most cases, no. Modern day JKD seems to identify closely with either the classical Chinese or Filipino arts. Bruce Lee had sought to “free his comrades” from the limitations of classical martial arts. Although Joe was originally required to learn various wing chun drills from Bruce, Joe Lewis made it clear that he did not believe in the wing chun postures and theory. Bruce was at the time distancing himself from the need for a classical art like wing chun. The classical wing chun postures, drills and theories used in the modern take on the “Original” JKD are not included in the Joe Lewis-Style of Jeet Kune do.

JL-S™ combines Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method aka scientific street fighting with the advanced ring science of boxing and includes functional kicks with the various grappling methods Joe and Bruce had been independently learning from judo-jiujitsu and from Wally Jay and Gene LeBelle. Bruce Lee’s essential principles of fencing’s 5 ways of attack were reformulated by Joe Lewis as the angular attack methodology and became the cornerstone of the Joe Lewis-Style™. Both right lead and orthodox stances are used. One could conclude that without Bruce Lee there would not be a Joe Lewis-Style™. For proponents of JKD the Joe Lewis-Style™ exemplifies the evolution of Bruce Lee’s “all-out sparring” method incorporating the essential and advanced JKD theory and practice. It’s not the techniques that you collect but the skills you can use that separates JL-S™ from modern JKD. For followers of the Joe Lewis-Style™ the way of the intercepting fist is a lot more than just the preemptive strike.

Also consider the fact that the term “Jun Fan Kickboxing” was used to describe the original full-contact fighting and training method created by Bruce Lee only after he had passed. Between 1967 and his death in 1973 Bruce Lee taught and practiced only jeet kune do. Bruce Lee taught jeet kune do, no more, no less. Joe was trained in the full-contact “all-out” sparring method, principles and strategies, that Bruce called jeet kune do. Hence, Joe Lewis was taught jeet kune do, no more, no less.  Bruce Lee had asked his star pupil, the world champion Joe Lewis to use the name “jeet kune do” but Joe elected instead to promote his own name by identifying his personal practice of jeet kune do as the Joe Lewis-Style™ self-defense. (Joe was the first JKD instructor to identify his version of JKD by using his own name first. Decades later Joe was followed by Ted Wong style JKD, Jerry Poteet style JKD etc.) Joe intended to promote the intercepting fist,  all-out sparring “street-fighting in the ring” Joe Lewis-Style™ in January, 1970 but instead of using the term Joe Lewis-Style™ the commentator used the term kickboxing. Joe intended to offer a sport where two combatants could conduct a street-fight in the ring sans legal consequences of street-fighting. Hence Joe Lewis-Style™ has been mislabeled as just kickboxing. Joe Lewis-Style™ is jeet kune do.

6- How can I learn the Joe Lewis-Style™?

To begin, study and practice the videos made available free by Dr. Beasley. This information is as close as possible to the exact material taught from Bruce Lee to Joe Lewis, from Joe Lewis to Dr. Beasley and from Dr. Beasley to you. You can schedule a weekend training and certification program at the Beasley Martial Arts studio in Christiansburg, VA for a nominal fee. Contact [email protected] for scheduling and pricing.

If you ever had the privilege to study with or earn rank from our late Joe Lewis please consider joining our efforts to keep the original Bruce lee Era Joe Lewis-Style™ self-defense systems alive. If you are new to the Joe Lewis-Style™ you too can trace your roots to the beginning of the full-contact self-defense systems originally envisioned by research partners Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis (1968-1971).


Your homework assignment: Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis were cerebral fighters. Following no tradition they created their own way of fighting.  Think about this. Fighting is a skill. Driving is a skill. We must drive defensively. Driving fast, driving slow are principles. What are all the ways we can drive? What are all the things we can do by driving? For example we can move from one city to another city. We can sight-see while we drive. What attributes best suit recreational driving versus corporate driving versus long haul driving etc.? How is competition martial arts different from self-defense martial arts?

What is the best vehicle for driving? Does it depend on purpose? If you are a long haul driver hauling chemicals do the ‘principles’ of driving remain the same as if you were a race car driver? What is the best style? Does it not depend on the need?

Should you change vehicles to suit the task or should you adapt the vehicle you have? If you fail to score should you change the art or change the delivery? This is jeet kune do… Joe Lewis-Style™.