What On Earth Is a “Supreme” Grandmaster Anyway?

Is this a cat who used to train with Diana Ross in Motown, or something?

Is it that grown men–FREE men–calling another man “Master” isn’t enough? You need to lower yourself and grovel even lower?

Is it that having your butt kissed by your students isn’t enough? Don’t let me get graphic here, guys.

The FMAs have become so mainstream, it’s disgusting. Let alone that we no longer have the natural-born killers representing our arts like we did 20, 30 years ago. We have degenerated to self-promoting ranks, selling teaching certificates, promising students that they will be unbeatable in “10 seminars (ahem, easy lessons) or less”!  Our arts are now “too deadly for tournaments” and now we have to listen to the same garbage we use to laugh at being spewed by our own masters and many of you feel obligated to defend it!

Come on now, big boy… you don’t really believe that your master is undeafeated in 100 death matches, do you? See if you can get him to spar ONE “bloody nose” match with me, will you? Oh, he’s old and I’m young. Okay, since you are the one holding his jockstraps, and plan to be the “inheritor” of his system, why don’t you fight me in a light contact, friendly match?

Oh, I see. Your grandmaster is a direct descendant of Lapu Lapu. His art is 8 generations old. Okay, name each successive grandmaster/grandfather going back 4 generations.

These guys will tell you that their art goes back 9 generations, but they can’t name their great, great grandfather. Come on!

Instructorship in the FMAs use to be a graduation. Once you’ve learned an art, you knew it, and your rank depended on your skill level and knowledge base. Now, it is a level with titles and numbers (6th degree Black Belts). People ran out of numbers to give themselves–I actually met a guy who told me his Great-Grandmaster was a 15th degree Black Belter (whew!)–and titles, so now they are reaching for more things to call themselves. Heck, next these guys will start calling themselves the “Pope of Arnis de Mano”, or “Great Grandma Guro”. This is getting out of hand!

When my guys have learned my art all the way through, they will know more than I did when I first opened my school because I have had 18 years of knowledge more than I did at 22. They should be better than I was because they had more classmates than I did. They deserve to be more than just my Instructor-level student; they deserve to be my peer. And that’s the reason for these higher numbers and lofty ranks. Teachers want to remain superior, despite that they no longer can do what they use to, and that their Black Belt students will be better than they ever were, and that’s just plain wrong. What says more about a teacher:  His best students are still lesser skilled than they are at 40 or 50? Or his best students surpasses his own abilities?

May I suggest, brothers and sisters, that the best Master should be able to produce students who become better than the Master himself. I am 40, I have arthritis. Two weekends ago I performed 100 pushups–which is a basic requirement of my advanced students–and I ached for nearly 7 days, when I use to do that as a part of a regular workout. By contrast, my advanced Kuntaw students do this regularly as a warm-up. I blistered last week when I threw 1,000 strikes with my sticks (yet I was shooting for 2,500… remember the “Challenge” article?). 1,000 hits use to be a demo I performed for students complaining about 500 hits! I am a shadow of who I was, as are most men calling themselves “Master” and “Grandmaster” or more. Still, it is ego that makes some men accept this fact and still shoot for more power and arrogance, and cease to strive for improvement.

My Grandfather once said that a man’s fighting career should end in his 30s, when he begins his teaching career, then becomes a master in his 40s, when his peers begin to consider him a master. But he must continue to hone and improve his skills until his body quits, and this would be in his late 50s and 60s. My Grandfather could still spar at 78, and he never adopted the title of Grandmaster. I’ve seen only a few old men who could compare to him at an advanced age, yet most Masters with fewer abilities and younger years dare to make up titles like “Supreme Great Grandmaster” and stuff like that?

The FMA way of doing business just perplexes me, and we are going by the way of Big Business Tae Kwon Do with the ranks, multi-level marketing schemes and de-emphasis on skill development and testing. When men make up these crazy titles and wear them proudly and without shame, I know that my beloved FMAs have become the next Amway.

I believe that when a student graduates from the Advanced Level, he should have two or three more levels to aim for:  the Expert level–when he has learned the entire art and can utilize the art with great effectiveness;  the Teacher level–when he has attained an entire fighting career worth of his own fighting experiences as well as supervised teaching experience; and if you decide to (I don’t), a Senior Teacher level–which is your political/business/social status level (which I believe any rank higher than a 3rd Degree Black Belt is anyway). There is no need to test at those levels; you’ve seen what they can do in class and on the mat. I would hold a presentation ceremony and maybe a demonstration, but nothing more is necessary.

I had always been taught that the title “Master” was to be bestowed not by an organization or by oneself, but by the community you belong to. I had two significant  experiences with  the title Master around 10 years ago, and I believe that teachers should achieve it this way, rather than to pay for certification. The first was shortly after my arrival to California, when I was still on the tournament circuit and making friends among the instructors. A few times when I had visited a school, I would be introduced to students as “Master Gatdula”. This is aligned with the saying that teachers become masters when the community recognizes you as one. The second was at Manong Leo Giron’s school and house, when he and Grandmaster Vince Tinga introduced me to another teacher from the Bay as “Master” Gatdula. When I suggested that I was just a teacher, Manong Leo said, “you are a master because I say you are one…” Vince Tinga introduced me to the community as his nephew, and adopted my school as family (he actually taught in my school 7 days a week for nearly 2 years before his death). This is how one becomes a master, not through some ceremony.

Like I said in my previous articles, return to basics. Train yourself, train your students, give them plenty of opportunity to prove their sklls to you and themselves. Don’t try to make money off them forever. Give your students the respect they deserve and give your art the respect it deserves. Don’t pimp your martial arts. If you want to pimp something, throw 24s on your ride, put some bass in your trunk, but leave the arts and our traditions alone.

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Who Is Really Tough?

The martial artist is really obsessed with looking tough and sounding tough, but does not spend enough trying to be tough.

They like to tout resumes, tatoos, show strength in numbers, and take on the persona of a tough guy… but rarely are they truly strong men, and even more rare will they actually be good fighters. The biggest giveaways are martial artists who add arts and certifications to their belts, body build, and those who teach a lot of public seminars. I have always said that the best fighters among the martial artists are those who fight in tournaments and bring their students to tournaments.

Oh, the tournament is not street, you say.

Okay, tough guy, when was the last time you got into a fight in the street?

We have a saying where I come from (as a teenager)… stop frontin’ dawg. The guys who fight in tournaments are quicker to take the gloves off and hand you an ass-whipping personally, than the dude in the muscle shirt sitting in the bleachers complaining how pussified the tournaments have gotten. This whole “nothing is worthy of my martial arts skills but an actual kill-or-be-killed-streetfight” garbage is making me nauseous, and really, it’s exposing the rainbow sticker in your back window, tough guy.

You see, fighting is a skill. You can be a martial artist and not know how to fight. You can hit focus mitts, strike tires, and slap hands till you’re blue in the face, but you’re not a fighter until you actually start fighting. This is the dry-land swimming Bruce Lee is talking about, not all those stupid drills you like to do. Well, like all skills, you use or lose. You have to stay off the internet forums, out of the magazines, and away from the seminar circuits, and spend more time in the gym training, and on the floor “skilling”. I remember an Eskrima tournament years back, when the promoter decided to hold an “empty hands” sparring division and announced it mid-tournament. There would be no winners and losers declared, no trophies, just to showcase your empty hand sparring skills. Dammit, we had KARATE guys there, and only my students volunteered. It was embarassing. See, we like to show, we like to know, but we don’t like to GO, and we damned sure don’t like to DO.

There is a saying that the empty barrel makes the most noise…

There is another saying, that the toughest men have softness on the outside because their toughness is on the inside. But the most cowardly wear their toughness on the outside, because on the inside they are extra soft.

This article is not just for the Filipino martial artist, but for martial artists in general. It is not just for the martial artist as well… it is for men in general. I can think of an entire generation of young men and teenage boys who can benefit from this lesson.

You see, we tread ground lightly so that if we were to attack, our enemy would not hear us. And there are too many for us to announce ourselves everywhere we go. It is the weak who announce themselves, because they must bluff in order to fool the ones they actually fear.

Return to basics, my brothers and sisters. Train hard, test yourself often, and walk as a warrior carrying a concealed, deadly weapon… among the sheep. There is no need to act tough when you are around those weaker than you are, IF you are really stronger. There is a saying that the real warrior rarely bares his weapon because everyone around him sees that he has it. When you have superior firepower, you enjoy a level of peace those who are vulnerable will never have. Train so that no man threatens you, and you will find that you can simply relax and be yourself. If you do not prepare for combat properly, you will always have to worry, posture and act like a bigger man, and that is no way to live.

Not just that, but you aren’t fooling anyone.


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Fallacy of Jeet Kune Do

When I was a boy, I read with great interest Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Right after I read that, I read Dan Inosanto’s Absorb What Is Useful and Guide to Martial Arts Training Equipment. Being young and easily influenced, I was immediately drawn in and sold on the philosophy. As I matured, I slowly removed myself from many of Bruce Lee’s ideas until I nearly rejected all of them. Today, I am a combination of admirer and critic of Lee’s JKD. My methodology was born of my experiences and observations as well as tested theories.

My philosophy is all over the internet, and hopefully we can bring all of those writings to this blog. I am not interested in arguing point-for-point every detail, because much of what I wrote 10 years ago is no longer my position today. This is a vast subject, and being a “nobody” (since Jeet Kune Do people like to point out that I am a nobody) my martial arts career will neither be broken nor made because of this position. I would like to share some of these things in this article, and I hope that at least some of you will find what is in this article helpful.

The Paradox of Bruce Lee’s Philosophy

Bruce Lee’s JKD is a style that claims not to be a style. It has a curriculum, a philosophy, teachers, schools, a TRADEMARK, students arguing about lineage and authenticity (just like every traditional legacy I’ve seen) and even “forms”. Although these “forms” are combinations and drills, what is a form but a series of blocks, attacks and counters that have been prearranged? Do JKD practitioners not do the same thing? You strike me here, and then I do this and that? One person holds out an arm while the defender blocks and counters with X, Y, and Z? Looks like Kenpo from here. Bruce Lee himself came from the traditional system (Wing Chun), which is apparent in his system. Yeah, call it Jun Fan Kickboxing, whatever… but his system of no systems sure looks like a system to me. From what I hear, he even tried to dismantle the art shortly before he died because he saw it going down the same road the traditional styles travelled. Did Lee practice forms? Sure. Those of you who know Ying Jow Pai may recognize the first few moves of “Jeet Kune” an Eagle Claw FORM, being performed by Lee in “Return of the Dragon” in the alley before he whips up the Italian guy–and in the Game of Death, he does the end of the form while in his room the first day on Han’s Island (ironically, Shek Kin is an Eagle Claw Sifu–he is my kung fu Uncle). Surely, he practiced the 4 forms of Wing Chun:  Siu Lum Tao, Chum Kiu, Biu Jee, and the Mook Yan Jong form. But he didn’t teach them to his students… or did he? Ever seen any of the students from his early days? They do those forms. In my opinion, they seemed to be more fighters than the ones who came along in later years. The truth is, Bruce Lee benefitted from traditional martial arts training, but he preached against it. It was his traditional training that encouraged his search for “non-traditional” martial arts. I believe in fighters with a strong foundation creating their own methods–but only after they have a base of knowledge to grow from. Bruce Lee’s ideas were good, but in my opinion not well thought out and tested. We love him because of his movies and his profoundness as a martial arts philosopher. But keep in mind that he was a young man without a master, without a lot of actual learning (he learned mostly by books, except for limited exchanges with others and his short time with Yip Man). He was a talented specimen who trained full time in a young martial arts community without a lot of exposure to martial arts masters. Was he in great shape? Yes. Was he a skilled fighter? I don’t know, no one really questioned or tested him. And that was the problem.

The Process of Development

Where was Bruce Lee’s laboratory? Who did he test his theories on? How long did he test those theories? How was his art tempered?

Let me answer those questions with a question:  Who taught Bruce Lee how to box?

The answer:  no one. Create your own path, remember? Bruce Lee studied boxing the same way most of you do. Not by going into the gym and boxing, but by looking at youtube clips and HBO. Oh, he didn’t have youtube and HBO, so he really had less exposure than many of you have. Bruce Lee learned to box by observation, and came up with his own theories. This is the common method of young men who thought they knew everything. Hey, I was the same way myself at one time… but I was given the opportunity to get older and I had the humility to go and learn from those who know more than me. Imagine where his JKD had been if Lee had walked into a boxing gym instead of looking at Muhammad Ali fights. (By the way, Ali was one of the worst people to learn how to fight by observing. He only used a portion of boxing basics, and relied more on his natural talents and hard work than by boxing basics)

Bottom line, Bruce Lee was a fine physical specimen among a community of martial artists who were in awe of him. I believe many men who admired him could actually have beaten him–Jim Kelly, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, among others. This was one of Bruce Lee’s main flaws (keep in mind, he was young and human):  that he believed he was not in need of a master and that he could teach himself better than if he had gone to the masters personally. Mostly everything he incorporated was self-taught…. Fencing, boxing, wrestling, judo. What would you say if a man appeared today and announced that this was how he learned, and today he is introducing his own art? Be honest! His celebrity status and his strength and prowess prevented him from improving his art because he lacked the two things that every master needs to forge his art:  doubters and humility. He needs the doubters to fine tune his art and prove his theories on. And he needs the humility to seek the information and foundation that his art would be built on.

The Double Standard

Bruce Lee said you cannot swim on dry land; that a fighter needed to fight to test himself out. But Lee tested himself out on students and friends, if at all. He did not meet Jim Kelly and fight him to see where he stood. He trained alone, and showcased his abilities before a camera and his students. He did not care for fighting with rules, but he did not fight without rules. Every fight has rules. If this was the case, when he sparred with Chuck Norris, one of them would be dead, now wouldn’t they?

I am going to end this article here, but would like to close with a few statements. Bruce Lee did revolutionize the martia arts generation he lived in and the one that followed because he made them think. Yet his ideas were not the absolute truth, and included many inaccuracies. We admired the man and his encouragement to test and question, but no one wanted to test and question his art. Today, nearly 40 years after his death, martial artists quote Bruce Lee sayings as one quotes the Bible. His theories are considered to be the most valid of philosophies and anything contrary to be foolish. Despite that in his last years, Bruce Lee wished to alter his art and ideas. His followers are stuck in the “Original JKD” vs. “Concepts”  and Seattle vs. Oakland vs. LA feuds, as if the version they received was better than another.

I would like to suggest several things to consider:

  1. Making one’s own path is useless with no sense of direction. You need a structure and foundation to build from; otherwise you are guilty of building a home on sand
  2. Every style or system is one man’s “path”. If he has tested his art, proven it on opponents and fine-tuned it, the art is valid. You cannot skip the testing of an art by saying he chose his own “path”. Contrary to popular belief, there is a such thing as “bad” or “weak” martial arts styles–regardless of how tough the student of that style is
  3. Teachers who point students down a path that he did not travel is either not confident in the path he took, or sending his student down an unfamiliar road
  4. You cannot confuse admiration, respect, or love with confirmation of your teacher’s theory. You must prove everything, and to accept a dogma without testing is nothing more than “blindly following”. Failing to question a man’s theories because you like his movies, his ideas or his body is foolish
  5. An inexperienced martial artist teaching himself is always foolish. Just as a 6 year old cannot raise himself, a man cannot teach himself an art and expect to be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter how ripped his abs are, how good his movies are, or how many thumb-push-ups he can do
  6. I am a great admirer of both Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto. They are heroes and highly significant characters in martial arts history. However, no man is above reproach or criticism

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Slow Down to Move Faster

When I was 18 years old, I read a book by one of my boyhood heroes, Master Chuck Norris.  It was called Secret of Inner Strength. This book really changed how I viewed Master Norris, and how I developed as a martial artist.

I just realized something. I picked up a copy of Secret Power Within a few weeks ago, thinking it was the same book. As I read it a few days ago, I remember thinking, “this book must have been edited heavily!” It really talked a lot about Zen, and the book I read 20-something years ago did not. Now I know why. Well, I heavily recommend these two books to anyone who wants to improve himself as a martial artist and a teacher. Norris overcame great odds to become the man he is today, and I admire him greatly. I’ll leave it at that; get the books. Inner Strength is out of print, but you can find copies on the internet. I will have to buy a copy, because my copy is sitting on my bookshelf at my home in Rizal, Philippines! Both books have many valuable lessons.

Anyway, my best friend lost his vision last year, and I have been travelling to the East Coast to visit him and my elderly father every month. When I find good books, I get him the audio version so that he can hear them. When I’m not doing that, I read him what I can over the phone. I have been telling him about Inner Strength since we were boys, and I decided to read him this one (remember, I was reading Secret Power Within by mistake). So last night, I read pages 68 – 72 (it took a long time, I do better reading silently than I do audibly, lol! Chris was educated at Georgetown U. but not me!), where Norris is talking about training with Bruce Lee at his house.


I was sparring with Bruce one day and scored on him repeatedly. No matter how much he tried, he had problems blocking my kicks. When we were done, we picked some oranges, and sat under a tree to peel them. I noticed that the bark on one side of the tree was gone, and commented on that fact. Bruce laughed and said that he used the tree to train his kicks and punches (wow!). He then got down to perform one-handed push ups. After around 50 of them, he asked me, “No matter how I tried, I couldn’t stop your kicks. What did I do wrong?”

“You were moving too fast, and your timing was off. Sometimes, you have to slow down to be able to see what’s going on and then move faster.”

Bruce commented that it was a Zen saying, and that he liked it…. 

After I read this passage to Chris and my wife, we talked about it for a few minutes, then I had to get to the children (I’ve got 8 of them!) because they were fighting with each other and knocking on our door telling on each other… you know children. My wife and I talked about it for a few hours afterwards.

This was great advice.

See, sometimes we move so fast, we have no time to observe what’s going on, and to be able to see every move our opponent makes and every move WE make. This is where mistakes are made, and when mistakes can be capitalized upon by opponents. This is one of the main reasons emotions must be controlled while fighting:  fear, anger, etc. When your emotions are out of control, you do not have all your senses, and your physical skills are now slowed. Remaining calm while in combat will allow you to fully observe your surroundings and understand what is happening. Of course, the drawback to controlling emotions is that you will feel pain–fighting while on an adrenaline rush can remove the feeling of pain and injury–but what you lose may be less important than what you will gain.

Back to the Bruce Lee example, the biggest thing was that Lee’s timing was off, and if what I have read about him is correct, he had little control over his anger. When I read his words “what did I do wrong?” what I heard underneath that question was “I know I’m better than you, how could I not stop you?”  There’s nothing strange about that, we often lose to opponents we believe we are superior to. But understand this, that Bruce Lee was not a fighter in the sense that Chuck Norris was at that time (I believe this was in the 60s). Bruce Lee may have been in great shape, he may have had plenty of exposure to various styles and arts, he may train 8 hours a day. But Chuck Norris was a fighter who fought all the time (look at wikipedia’s entry on his fight record), and his timing was better suited for fighting. Lee’s knowledge was mostly in concept, and may have been tested on his students and friends, if tested at all. Norris tested all his theories on opponents. In my opinion, there isn’t much Lee could have done to stop a more experienced fighter.

By the way, this is where your definition of “experienced” may be different than mine. Experience is a word that is often misused and overused in the martial arts. People seem to think that time in grade and how many arts you learned makes one “experienced”. I consider a man “experienced” when he has been in front of many more opponents than the average martial artist. Chuck Norris, as a competitor, has fought far more men–and it can be verified–than Bruce Lee. This is why his timing, his eye-hand coordination, his knowledge about fighting and opponents is superior to most martial artists, even the great Bruce Lee.

But the advice he gave Master Lee would have helped him use his advantages more effectively, his speed and his tenacity. By treating Norris’ attacks individually, he might have been able to counter them easier. Instead, I am sure he was busy thinking about the next move, or his counter to Norris’ attacks, instead of dealing with the issues at hand–whatever kick was coming at him at that time. Many good martial artists have been done in by their failure to treat each opponent’s attacks, one at a time. Also, by doing so, he could have saved some frustration by having mini successes:  successful blocks and counters. These mini successes help you grow confident in the match, and will improve your own timing because you are able to remain calm and in control of your emotions and thinking. Often, fighting can be a blur. You are nervous. You may be trying to focus on a specific strategy and the opponent simply isn’t complying with what you thought he’d do. There are many variables involved, and although you do not have control over the external things, you do have control over what you feel, think and do. Step back from the match, move around, send out a few “feeler” techniques and fake attacks. This will open your opponent up and show you what he may be planning to do. It may even throw off his concentration. Calm yourself down, plan a strategy, then act on it. This is much better than the chaos of just jumping at the opponent and licking your wounds while reflecting on what happened later.

Another thing. When learning a new technique, do you move at top speed while practicing, or do you practice slowly until you “get it” and speed it up later?

When trying to come up with a set of counters for a specific attack, do you have your feeder come at you full speed? Or do you have him come at you medium speed until you know what you want to work on?

If you have projects around the house for the wife, do you start cutting the grass, and stop after a minute, then move two items of furniture, and then take two or three boxes into the attic, and then back to the grass? Or do you finish one project, then move on to the next, and do the third when the second is complete?

When training for strength, do you lift the weights quickly, or do you lift them slowly?

Get the point?

Sometimes, it is better to move a little slower so that you can really do a good job. It’s even important when the opponent is moving at top speed.  Mostly because you may be able to uncover mistakes and flaws in his technique that you would not have noticed had you rushed to counter what you thought was coming right away. The old people use to say “slower is faster”. There’s a lot of wisdom in that.

A young warrior tells the old warrior, “I see the enemy at the beach, let’s run over there and take out a couple!”

The old warrior said, “No, let’s creep over there, hide, and take them all out… one at at time.”

Thanks for reading my blog, I hope this post was helpful to you…. Look out for my new book, coming soon!  Mustafa Gatdula’s Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months!

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Cobra Kai Brothers, RISE UP!!! (“Self Defense” Is an Illusion)

This was first written just for fun, then I thought about it, and realized that there is something more here.

I don’t know about you, but in the movie “The Karate Kid”, I actually liked the Cobra Kai guys better. Sure, they were jerks, but as a martial artist studying from physically agressive teachers in a physically aggressive environment, I wasn’t “feeling” the Daniel-san experience. And I certainly wasn’t convinced.

Does this make me a bad guy? I’m sorry you feel that way, but not everyone who doesn’t root for the underdog is wrong.

You see, martial artists have this thing, that they want to believe you can be the weak man, the scared man, the man who is less prepared–and still be victorious over the bad guy. I don’t think so. We are talking the truth here, aren’t we? Excuse me, I’m a practical, forward person by nature. I don’t like to lie, and I don’t like to promise what cannot be delivered. Martial artists want to be the baddest guys in the streets, without doing what is necessary to be the baddest dudes on the street. We want to be great fighters…. without fighting. Huh? What’s that all about? They don’t want to train too hard. They don’t want to dedicate their time, effort, money, blood and tears towards the goal of being a superior fighter. But at the same time, they are constantly looking for the one style, the one technique, method, teacher, who will make them unbeatable. Yeah, so you want to train part time, and not even give 150% when you train, but you think you’ll be able to take on a parolee who spent the last 10 years pumping iron and bashing other people’s brains in… and defeat him? You’ve been reading too many comic book ads!

Here’s the truth about Self Defense:  It doesn’t exist. Sorry. Either you fall prey to the natural-born killers, or you become one. There is no short cut towards success in this arena. Learn to kill people, then train until your body is fully capable of doing it. And even then, you will have to mentally prepare to hurt people. What good is it to be a perfect shot on the gun range, when you lack the emotional and mental ability to pull that trigger with another human in your sights? Your “realistic” self defense class runs a 0% risk of someone getting a bloody nose, yet you believe you will actually be able to prevent someone from giving you one?

You are fooling yourself, and so has your teacher. In this arena–fighting on the pavement–the bad guy is the expert. You will have to be prepared in every way to deal with him. You must be stronger, have better tactics, have more durability to withstand his attacks, and have a mental aggression you can switch on and off at the drop of a dime if you are to beat him at his game. This ain’t no seminar, brothers, I’m talking about a real fight. A guy wants your wallet, or the keys to your car while you still have a 2 year old strapped in the back seat. Two guys have entered your home while you’re in bed with your wife, and they won’t accept that you’ve just given them all the money you’ve got in the house. Some jerk on the subway wants to prove to all the passengers and his boys that he can scare a yuppie, and you’re it. Some young punks need to jump on somebody to validate themselves as thugs, and you’re the one they plan to use.

Martial artists are usually afraid of guys like this, but you should be emulating him
Martial artists are usually afraid of guys like this, but you should be emulating him

I sure hope you can turn yourself into Johnny Lawrence when it happens. He’s the one that most guys are going to avoid, and if they fight him, he’s the one who’s going to ruin their day.

Wait. I’m not saying to run around bullying people. But I am saying to be the guy that no one will mess with. You can’t be that guy acting like a Daniel San. You must train to be indomitable, and learn to do all it takes to exercise this attitude. That means, you’ll have to mix it up in some way; whether in tournaments, on the mat, or in the street, but you’ll have to do something. They say that boards don’t hit back, but then neither do people who get hit by fists that break boards.

 As a martial arts teacher you have to answer a question about your students:  Do I believe that a mugger will be successful against each student of mine? Or will he get his jaw cracked and sent to the hospital? One night very recently, I was teaching a student of mine with this very thought in mind. He is an older student of mine, in his early 50s, has knee problems, an immigrant Mexican who still has the language barrier. He is a family man, doesn’t drink or smoke, and dances at the California State Fair as a part of a Mexican dance troop performing traditional Mexican dances. Nothing about this gentleman says he has a mean streak or any other killer qualities. However, he is a hog on the floor, and trains very hard. Lately, he had told me that he wanted to focus on forms, as his reason for training was more to get in shape than anything else. I hear this all the time, because I have a natural inclination to spend more class time on sparring than anything else. Anyway, I had this student spend more time in my Jow Ga Kung Fu class than my FMA class. That night, after I pondered this question I went out back to get fresh air and when I came back into the gym, I see him in gear, fighting full contact with my young guys from the kickboxing class! Not just that, but he was kicking my guy’s ass!

If Daniel had studied with Sensei John Kreese instead of Miyagi, it would have made a much more interesting movie.... LOL
If Daniel-San had studied with Cobra Kai Dojo's Sensei John Kreese instead of Miyagi, it would have been a much more interesting movie!

The point of this was that as teachers we owe it to our students to gauge our progress as teachers, by gauging their progress as fighters. We need to ask ourselves, “would each one of these guys be a victim, or the vigilante?”  I don’t want to have to worry about any of my students in an altercation, because they are trusting me to prepare them for combat, and I must have a way to know if we are successful or not. One thing I can say about Martin Kove’s character John Kreese in “The Karate Kid” is that he has prepared his students for combat. Can you?

Self Defense as we know it is not preparing you for taking the attacker-victim relationship and turning it around. I want the guy who decides to attack you to walk funny and talk funny for the rest of his life. Let’s look at how we can make this happen…

But next time. The wife just fried me some fish, and I’ve got a plate full of rice waiting on me!

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