Carter Hargrave is one of the state's three instructors certified to
teach Jeet Kune Do, which was developed by Bruce Lee.
However, don't expect Hargrave to teach the kicks Lee made famous in his
movies or television shows from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"Some people come in and want to see some of those kicks," said Hargrave.
"I'll say, `Well, I'm sorry but that's not Jeet Kune Do.'
"They'll say, `Are you sure you teach Jeet Kune Do?' I'll
tell them all the high flashy kicks you see in his movies
are Tae Kwon Do. That's usually enough to satisfy them."
Hargrave, a 32-year-old Tulsa native, is president of the World Jeet Kune
Do Federation and headmaster of Combat Martial Arts, which moved to its new
location at 8263 S. Harvard last week. It is the first commercial Tulsa
school to teach Lee's Jeet Kund Do.
"This is Tulsa's self-defense headquarters," he said. "This is not a
school for those who want to go to the Olympics or compete in tournaments.
How many people go to the Olympics anyway? When anyone asked Bruce Lee about
his schools, he said, `The elite don't compete.' That's my theory, too,
carrying on that tradition."
Hargrave was first exposed to Jeet Kune Do about five years ago.
"A friend of mine who was into martial arts invited me to his house and
when I got there, I met one of Bruce Lee's original students," said
Hargrave. "He said, `I hear you're pretty good at Tae Kwon Do, show me your
best techniques, come and get me.'
"No matter what I did, he effortlessly dropped me like
a dog and didn't even break a sweat. He said, `See what
your Tae Kwon Do does for you?' I hadn't even touched him."
That meeting eventually led Hargrave to open a school teaching Jeet Kune
"I've conducted the school out of my home since I started
it 2 1/2-3 years ago," he said. "But we outgrew my home.
We've become the largest Jeet Kune Do school in the world."
Jeet Kune Do, developed by Lee in 1968, is a scientific
streetfighting style. Because the system utilizes speed
and simultaneous blocks and strikes, it can be especially
useful to smaller individuals. Students wear street clothes
and classes are informal.
Jeet Kune Do, "way of the intercepting fist," is made
up of three different styles: Wing Chun Kung Fu; French
fencing techniques for fast movements; and Wing Chun Kung
Fu combined with boxing.
"Bruce Lee was a big fan of Muhammad Ali," said Hargrave.
"Back in 1967 and '68, before most people had one, he had
a VCR and studied tapes of all of Ali's fights."
Jeet Kune Do was not greeted enthusiastically by the martial
arts community when it debuted.
"It wasn't readily accepted by the establishment, because
it was a slap in the face of tradition," said Hargrave.
"The reason there are less than 50 instructors is that
about six months before he died, (in 1973) he (Lee) closed
all three of his schools."
Hargrave refers to Jeet Kune Do as "the assault weapon
of martial arts."
"It's not pretty but it can do a lot of damage in a short
period of time," said Hargrave. "When people come in I
talk to them about why they want to learn it.
"If they don't give me the right reason, I tell them to
go on down the road. That's another reason why I don't teach
it to kids under 9. You can seriously injure someone so
you don't use it unless you really need to."
In 1993, Hargrave was named as the Instructor of the Year
by the World Jeet Kune Do Federation and was inducted into
the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
Those are impressive credentials for someone whose first
exposures to martial arts were not encouraging.
"When I was about 7, I started in Gojeu, an old Karate
style, and I didn't last very long at all in that. We had
to do knuckle push-ups, and kids and knuckle push-ups don't
go well together," said Hargrave.
"Then when I was in my teens, I got involved in Tae Kwon
Do, and I had a Korean instructor. We couldn't understand
each other and it made for a very uncomfortable situation.
I realized it would be best if I just moved along.
"In 1988, I realized I was at an age where it was now or
never to get back into it (martial arts) and I got involved
in Tae Kwon Do."
In addition to Jeet Kune Do, Hargrave teaches Kempo Karate,
which also is designed to be used for self-defense and not
in tournaments. Improved physical conditioning can be a
side benefit of practicing Jeet Kune Do and Kempo Karate,
but its not a primary goal for Hargrave.
"I don't enjoy watching people do push-ups," he said.
"In most of my classes, we don't do a lot of extra exercises.
I've added a Friday and Saturday conditioning class for
those who want to lose weight and get in shape. But most
other schools do sit-ups and push-ups, and I've never been
big on having people do that.
"I think schools that have a lot of exercises scare off
a lot of people. When people come in, most are not in very
good shape. They have an underlying reason why they are
coming in but won't tell you. Usually someone is bothering them.
"I feel like I'm the doctor of self-defense and like a
patient should, you should tell me your symptoms so I can
help you out, because I can tailor instruction to a specific need."
Unlike some martial arts schools, Hargrave does not have
a maximum age limit. Although he won't teach Jeet Kune Do
to students under 9, he will instruct students starting
at age 5 in Kempo Karate. For more information, call 494-3607.