Socrates’ Teacher: A Fool for a Teacher, pt II (The Other Side)

About 6 months ago, we published an article entitled “A Fool for a Teacher“. When you are done with this one, hit the link and check it out.

I have a Facebook friend who is a friend to several of my students and a fellow FMAer who follows this blog. His name is Mustafa Miroku Nemeth, a student of Guro Antonio Lucero–where he studies Kajukenbo and Doce Pares Eskrima. He is a scholar and a warrior (remind me to tell you guys how important the scholar/warrior is to Asian cultures):  Mustafa is a high school and college teacher who is more than just a teacher to his students. He engages them, gets them to think, poke and prod, investigate, question, discuss, argue and take the colored glasses off and see the world for what is really is. “Mr. Nemeth”, as he is known by, is a true hero to his students. He appears to be a demanding teacher, yet, semester after semester I see kids of all walks of life posting on his wall:  “Mr. Nemeth what class are you teaching this semester?” He has his own followers, which a real teacher has. Not just an instructor who imparts curriculum material, he is a Master who guides young minds and each student is a protegè who is no longer the same after a semester with him; hungry for more, they follow him from course to course and I am positive they will talk about him for the rest of their lives. Rarely does one encounter teachers like this, whether in the academic world or the martial arts world.  I am rarely on Facebook for anything other than business, and my email is answered more by my students than me. But when I am on Facebook, his exchanges with his students engage me more than his martial arts posts. I know from his approach to education that his approach to the fighting arts is holistic and pure.

As a teacher of teachers, I appreciate that, and I recognize the power of teaching with a passion rather than with degrees. I once heard a Christian friend tell me that some church preachers teach their followers the part about the Shepherd, while the good ones introduce them to him. I’ll give you a few minutes to reflect on that one.

Question:  Who was Socrates’ teacher?

One of the greatest educators and philosophers to ever come out of Europe, Socrates taught his followers to think and question and understand the world they live in. Notice I did not say “students”. I said “followers”. I doubt that Socrates licensed others to teach his method. He probably did not travel the world teaching for a buck, while he may have travelled to study–those who wanted to learn from him travelled to see him, study with him, and they were forever changed. There was no rush to get “certified” and run out to teach and certify others. I don’t know for sure, but I am willing to bet that over the years, his curriculum changed as he understood more and more about the world he lived in and he hoped to get his followers to evolve from his research and theories, and improve and improve, until his own methods became antiquated and elementary. In other words, the great teacher hopes to make his students better than he ever was. He is slow about running out and hanging his shingle. His purpose for studying is for understanding and developing. When he feels that he understands his subject enough to want to share it, he then begins to teach while continuing to evolve and grow. Those who canonize what they know and instruct others not to deviate from their method, excuse my language, don’t know what the hell they are doing. Some teachers who are not very confident with themselves will try and convince others not to learn anything else. They may feel that they have the best method, and will encourage their students to argue and prove their theories to be superior–but they will never try to supress their students’ growth. Some may even want to be known as the best fighter in their school. Yet the best teachers, the true Masters, will do all they can to ensure that their students surpass anything they accomplished themselves.

The difficult part is to find the student who will do what is necessary in order to be taught that well.

Back to the martial arts, my friend Mustafa trains like a warrior. I don’t know if this originated from something he read on my blog or in my book, but I noticed that Mustafa (great name, btw) throws 500 kicks and strikes daily. He is as diligent in his commitment to his fighting art, as he is to the art of teaching. Careful not to take credit for anything he knows, he credits the source of all his knowledge each time he shares it, and is constantly searching for more information. From what I’ve read of Socrates, this was the life he led in his quest for knowledge. And the reason we don’t know who Socrates’ teachers are, is because Socrates was a Master who made Masters. Socrates gave us Plato, Plato gave us Aristotle. The students surpassed the teacher, as it happens in the best of martial arts schools.

When this commitment is made by the teacher, he often creates tigers who can beat the teacher. And when the tiger himself is committed to the true study of the art, the true development of the skills, and true testing of his progress–he becomes the Master. Tigers who become Masters don’t always come from other Tigers. Jet Li came from Wu Bin. Mike Tyson came from Cus D’Amato. Emin Botzepe came from Leung Ting. Bruce Lee came from Yip Man.

But what about those who’s skill seemed to come out of thin air? Who can take claim for the power of Mas Oyama? Who taught the Mayweathers? Who was Jigoro Kano’s teacher? More than just martial arts, some of the greatest of any craft have had “fools for teachers”. Who taught Prince to play the guitar? Who taught Michael Jordan to play basketball so well? We know that the poet Rumi was taught by Shams, but who taught Shams? Maria Ranier Rilke, a German poet, inspired thousands with his “Letters to a Young Poet” but who taught him to write? Sometimes we are fortunate to find great teachers to show us the way, but often we are not. The big question is: How can we ensure greatness when we must guide ourselves?

The answer is simple. Intense research, intense study and training, and then when you “get it”–intense teaching. Like the immigrant father who sacrifices his work career with low paying wages in order for his children to get a better education and make a better living than the father–you must use your own life in order to build for those who will come after you. Sometimes, you were not meant to be the student of some great Master, perhaps the fortunate students will be the ones who will follow you. Instead, you must build that greatness yourself in order to impart this to them. What I see in the martial arts today is that too many of us strive to become fighters when we lack the skill foundation for success, some of us strive to become Masters and teachers of teachers when we lack the knowledge and experience to teach from, and not enough of us are simply searching for truth. We should be looking to learn as much as we can about the art, develop the skills to our full potential, gain the experience for our full understanding, and then in complete sincerity, impart this knowledge to the students who will continue our work, our progress and surpass us. Some are fortunate to find teachers and guides in the art like Mr. Nemeth, and whether we do or not, we must pursue perfection as if our teacher was a fool, and strive to surpass our teachers. And when we feel we have accomplished this, pass what we know to someone else, with instructions to do as we have. For a teacher who remains the best fighter in his school has given his students no one but a fool to learn from. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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My Problem with “Create Your Own Path”

This weekend I was talking to a young man who was around 25 and had been studying various martial arts since the age of 6. He is a huge MMA fan as well as a great spokesperson for the Filipino Martial Arts. After hearing him talk to his friend about the martial arts, I couldn’t help but to slide into that conversation. He is currently studying Jeet Kune Do in the Bay area and picks up FMAs whenever he could. Looking at him, he is in good shape and I wondered if he had done any fighting.

Of course not.

And I knew it. See, he is a dabbler, and while you may find some dabblers who do engage in fighting, most dabblers, if they do anything, just train. They rarely have a strong core of training partners because they don’t belong to any community of martial artists. And what’s worse than not having a community to pull training partners from, he has no master. That’s right. He is a patient with a fool for a doctor. A client with a fool for an attorney. A student trying to “create his own path, just like Bruce.”

That really irritates me when people call him “Bruce” as if they know him.

But I digress.

We talked about his vast background, his long trail of impractical and incomplete martial arts styles, and his many masters whom he only learned a little bit of shit from (my words), and how he is combining the best of the systems to create his own fighting style. And right now, he is only skimming the surface of Bruce Lee’s art. Let that one sink in…

Okay for those of you who are a little slow: This guy took Bruce Lee’s philosophy of create your own style by taking a little of this and a little of that (btw, that is NOT what Bruce Lee did)–which he considers to be the best of the fighting systems–and not only will he not commit to fully learning any martial arts style, this stupid young man won’t even fully learn the art Bruce Lee created! In other words, this guy thinks he knows better. He knows better than every master of every art that he’s ever studied. Better than Bruce Lee Himself. I am not one to mince words, but this young man doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.

I am not an enemy of innovation. The greatest of every field you could think of were all innovators. Bruce Lee was an innovator. But here’s the difference:  Bruce Lee was not a novice at a whole bunch of stuff. Those who think they know better will one day get old to become either self-proclaimed masters or they will become nobodies in the art who still can’t fight. And here, we arrive to my original point:  This self-guided (not self-taught, he has teachers, it’s just that he leaves before he learns anything) young man doesn’t fight because he doesn’t stay in anything long enough to get the skill or confidence to last in a fight with well-trained fighters.

That’s not to say that you can’t do it. I’m just saying you have to have a foundation in something to build on while you “create your own path”. So you learn a little bit of boxing, a little Kenpo, a little Jujitsu, a little Muay Thai, a little Eskrima… so basically that means you suck at 5 different arts. Plenty of martial artists do this. It is my main issue with teachers who “dabble” in arts, get certified (which means nothing when we’re talking about proficiency) and then teach side classes. However, a guy who takes the art seriously, doesn’t get any particular advanced ranking, but trains like an animal and logs plenty of sparring rounds with superior opponents can “create his own path”. Creating one’s own path is a valid martial arts philosophy, but it is not for the dabbler, it is not for the know-it-all, and not for the guy who refuses to accept advice and learning.

The one creating his own path must have an open mind to learn whatever he can, but he must equally be willing to test his theories and accept feedback from those with more wisdom than himself. For a beginner to read Bruce Lee’s story, or watch MMA on TV and hear the rhetoric about being “well-rounded”–and then go forth to recreate what those experts have done, is foolish. Those men put a lifetime of research, training and testing together and some 25 year old who only watches real fighters duke it out  on TV will never be able to duplicate this in TWO lifetimes. The blind leading the blind only find themselves lost. All men who were innovators began with a guide or mentor.

And almost all experts fine-tuned their craft by doing their craft hundreds of times more than his peers. Doing a little of this and a little of that will get you nowhere.

Or you could just do what this young man does, and lecture non-martial artists. Let me say this. Anytime you form a strong opinion or revolutionary theory about a subject, and you express this opinion around your peers (or around REAL experts), be prepared to be challenged on those theories and be capable or proving it. No man unwilling to put his art to the test, aka fight, should be creating his own path. Leave that to the dedicated.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

You Might Get Hurt

One of the my favorite, most telling quotes from the martial arts movies is a scene from Bruce Lee’s “Way of the Dragon” (also known as “Return of the Dragon”). He goes into the back of the restaurant where the staff is practicing martial arts, and they ask him for a demonstration. He politely declines, and when they press him, he genuinely warns them:   You might get hurt…

I love that.

See, when the martial artist is properly trained, he cannot fully do his martial arts because of a sincerely concerned for his opponents. There is a joke in the arts, that when a martial artist is unskilled, he avoids sparring because he doesn’t want to maim or kill his opponent. Yet for some, this is a real concern. It’s sort of like when you spar with kids, how you play around and tone down what you are capable of doing 90% because you don’t want to hurt him. When the skilled martial artist is sparring even with other Black belts, he must hold back because of safety. It’s not in your mind; this is a reality that some martial artists must live with when he is of the highest caliber.

To illustrate, take a look at the following video (embedding is disabled. you’ll have to go to youtube to view it):

Had this been any other man being interviewed, the dynamic between interviewer and expert would be completely different. Size is irrelevant; I am speaking solely of the differences between their skill levels and ability. Even if the interviewer wanted a match with Iron Mike, he could never oblige or fight him as if he were an opponent.

Here is my point. I have seen some martial artists who fight with novices and people on the street, and defeat them easily. These men are not of the caliber I am speaking of. Although they may dominate their opponents, they are of the lowest level of “experts” because of the quality of opponents they choose to accept. Can you imagine Mike Tyson accepting a fist fight from a random drunk in a bar? How stupid is that? In fact, Tyson has more to lose by fighting such a man, as it will ruin more than his reputation–he could be sued or have to carry the guilt of killing a man over something insignificant. The martial artists of the highest order does not accept such fights because they are beneath him, and for him to beat an unqualified opponent is a waste of energy and time. This is why any Black Belter who comes into my school and asks for a match with my students is automatically treated as a beginner, because he is either mentally or physically inferior to me or the instructors under me. The Black Belt who sees beginners as possible opponents either has poor skills or he lacks the maturity to match his ability.

The martial arts expert of today, however, is often not cut of this cloth anyway. He is rarely skilled and knowledgeable enough to have the need to warn others of his skill. He often lacks the confidence a man of his level should possess. I blame this is on the impatience many teachers have in promoting new Black Belters and certifying “experts”. Most so-called instructors have spent less than 5 years studying their arts and have neither the strength nor the experience to dominate his peers. He boasts of multiple fields of expertise, and often is not much better skilled than most of his advanced students. He has never had the pleasure of being proven the top fighter in his community. So many others carry the same rank he has, that the title “expert” or Black Belt, in his case, is meaningless. In some styles, grown men have the same certificates from their masters as 12 year old boys–yet they want to be respected as equal to the real experts.

The first thing a martial artist must do is to train his skills to its limit. I have a suggestion on how to accomplish this:

  • pick 10 techniques and 10 attack or counter combinations
  • train those 10 items 100 repetitions per training session
  • give yourself 100 training sessions to develop basic ability in those 20 items
  • at the end of the 100th session, change to another 20 items
  • do this with everything in your arsenal

I consider this to be necessary for one to be considered an intermediate in the art. When you’re ready, get with me and I’ll give you my ideas on the advanced and expert level.

But wait! Mustafa, didn’t you say “train to your ability’s limits”?

Yes, I did. But I am positive no one reading this blog has ever done this first step, and you damn sure can’t expect to start at the top, do you? LOL. Yes, you DO…. And that’s the problem, my martial arts brothers. You’re in too much of a rush to call yourselves Black Belts and experts, but you haven’t achieved the skill level of an expert yet. I know some of you personally, and I have seen you bypass learning the hard way and opting to take easy classes from seminar trained experts or just taking seminars yourself. What I want you to do, is give yourself 100 workouts to improving your skill level to a point that 99% of your peers will never arrive to. 100 workouts. Train every day, and you will be there in a little over three months. Do it 4 days a week and get there in about 7 months. You were in a huge rush to strap on the title “Instructor”, so how much of a rush will you be in to have the skill to accompany that title?

And I haven’t even touched on the fact that you purport to be an expert on fighting, but remind me again of how many fights you’ve actually had?

Yeah, exactly. So, when some guy asks you for a match or a demonstration of your martial arts ability–and you warn him that he might get hurt, you don’t really mean that, do you?

But you know how dangerous you really are, don’t you? Take 100 workouts, and call me when you’re done. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Training for the Street vs. the Ring

I recently reconnected with an old friend from the DC area who is planning to begin teaching the martial arts soon. We had not seen each other since the late 90s and have been catching up with each other, in between classes and the time difference. A few weeks ago, we were discussing what I was doing before coming to California and we ended up talking about how my school transitioned from an FMA school that fought in point tournaments to one that did full contact, to Muay Thai and MMA, then my present focus–the traditional martial art. He said something that offended me slightly, but it inspired this article:

“I remembered you as a serious martial artist, but then everyone said you got so much into sport fighting. I’m glad you returned to  the traditional arts…”

As if one couldn’t be a traditional fighter and still fight in the ring.

I agree, that many teachers go so deep into the tournament style of fighting they lose focus on real combat, but my question is, what is REAL combat? What are “traditional” martial arts? Martial arts without rules? Question, have you ever fought someone without rules? I seriously doubt many readers here have ever fought without rules. That would be a life-or-death fight. Even those masters you love to tell stories about had some type of rules in those “death matches”. If any Eskrimada master told you he fought a real death match, I’d say that master lied to you. The Philippines was not the Old West, devoid of law and order. I know it sells books and videos, but it simply isn’t true.

Here is my point, all fighters need some type of fighting experience. the more fighting experience they get while learning and developing the art, the better prepared and more knowledgeable they will be in order to teach someone else to fight. None of us who teach Eskrima have ever really killed someone with our sticks and knives. I’ve met quite a few Eskrimadors who claim to have had real live experience with their weapons, and I have yet to meet a man who makes this claim who will fight a match with me. Yes, we all spar with our weapons, but no halfway intelligent martial artist will be stupid enough to engage in the criminal act of pulling out a real blade and testing his skill via mutual combat with another Eskrimador. I am not referring to a real self-defense situation–I have done this myself. But all matches–with my students, with another teacher, with challenges I have accepted or issued–all had rules. I won’t disrespect you by asking to be so stupid to believe that I have done anything more.

In order for the martial artist to properly learn the art he has been taught, he must have the experience of using this skills with another combatant. Not a partner. Not a classmate. An opponent. It’s the only way he will be able to fully understand his martial art. And ring fighting is the safest way to find a multitude of opponents and gain a lifetime of experience. Once a fighter has had so many fights that he cannot remember how many opponents he has had, he cannot remember how many wins versus losses he experienced, he has had more matches with no winner/loser declared than he can remember–he has had “enough”. When a martial artist is engaging in refereed matches with rules, he is doing what is traditional in the martial arts: He is finding opponents to test his art on, and is discovering all those fine points that his teacher could never teach him, and he would never discover on his own. No master has arrived to the true level of mastery without it. One could spend a lifetime teaching and innovating to his imagination’s limits, but without these ever-so-important matches, he is no Master of fighting.

I would like to share with you the basic differences between training for the ring and training for the street. They are vastly different, and so I consider them distinct, but equally important, stages of development in the martial arts student’s education.

  1. When training for the ring, stamina is extremely important. We want to be prepared for a lengthy, multi-round fight. When training for the street, stamina is important as well–but a different type of stamina. We are not preparing for a long fight, however, you will train to exert yourself 100% of speed, power and intensity for the duration of your altercation.
  2. For the ring, you will focus a lot of calisthenics on the midsection, in order to take the body punch and kicks to the body. On the street, you are unlikely to be hit in the body (although it is a good idea to use body shots. You will likely destroy an opponent without risking killing your opponent by hitting him in the head). Street fighters must perform a lot of pushups and dips, to develop punching muscles.
  3. Street fighters focus on power, point and full contact fighters focus on speed and timing. Speed and timing are good for the street as well, but in the ring they are extra vital. You must be able to out point your opponent in the event you cannot knock him out.
  4. Ring fighters fight from a further distance than streetfighters. Most likely when fighting for self defense, your opponent is not experienced and will not utilize position, distance and faking. In the ring, the fight is more of a chess match. Footwork is more relevant in the ring because you have the advantage of the clock.
  5. Streetfighters must learn to improvise with using walls, tables and objects to their advantage. Ring fighters enter with only themselves. The most a fighter may use for his advantage are the ropes of a ring (if he fights in a ring)
  6. Streetfighters must be aware of additional opponents and hidden weapons (self explanatory). Ring fighters do not.
  7. Streetfighters should work on attack combinations of 4 or more strikes, and be able to utilize them to end their fights. The ring fighter must fight in short bursts, between 2 and 5 strikes and kicks.
  8. Ring fighters spend at least 50% of their time on defense. Streetfighter training should be attack-oriented. (This is the #1 reason I say that Modern Eskrima is out of touch with reality for Street Self Defense!)

If I keep going, I will reveal the secret of Mustafa Gatdula’s FMA. Take this information and absorb it. And don’t shy away from the ring. You will benefit greatly if you learn it’s lessons.  If you like this article (or if you *don’t* like it), please share! And you may also enjoy my books as well. Take a look at my “Offerings” page for more information! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Learning Wisdom

I have read, with disgust, many stories of teachers molesting their students, bilking students out of money and creating cult-like schools. People fall for this and are easily misled because they believe that a martial arts expert is automatically an expert in everything. To misquote Bruce Lee, “We are not all wise men…”

Both martial arts students and teachers all seem to think that martial arts education imparts wisdom. The teacher is many things to his student, when in fact, he may not be qualified to play some of those roles. The martial arts teacher may be in the arts for several decades and the only expertise he has is in the technical side of the martial arts. Martial arts knowledge does not bequeath fighting skill, fighting skill does not lead to teaching skill, teaching skill does not lead to wisdom. Teachers and Masters must know their place, and be disciplined and humble enough to stay in that place.

I have two good friends, one Chinese and the other African American, who had been friends since the 1970s. In the mid 80s, the Chinese friend encouraged a group of his students not to leave for college, and instead remain in town to complete their martial arts education. My African American friend was terribly offended by this and voiced his opinion. His complaints:

  1. YOU aren’t making a good living at this, why would you lead these young men away from the path where they would make a living?
  2. They won’t be accepted as a teacher like you; they are Black. What future would they have doing what you do, in a Chinese-dominated industry?
  3. How dare you convince young men from pursuing an education when they fought so hard to get college acceptance letters? They already have two strikes against them: they are poor and they are Black. Now a third, they’ll be uneducated.

Twenty years later, both my friends still teach, they are actually prospering. But the young men? There were four. Only one is teaching and doing well. Fortunately, he used his winnings from competition and teaching, and completed his education. He is a master chef with a good job with Hilton, and has income to open a nice school in a downtown area with wealthy clients. The other three? One drives a cab. One drives a truck. I hadn’t heard about the fourth. None of those three are involved with the arts.

I agree with my African American friend, but for a different reason. First, the martial arts is a difficult business. However, there is good money to be made in the arts. I just don’t measure success in terms of financial rewards. Secondly, social acceptance in the art, being amiable or popular have NO bearing on one’s ability to make a living. Take me, for example. I am disliked greatly in the FMA world. I don’t have many FMA people I do like. I am seen as a troll by some, jealous by a few, and unqualified by others. But none of those things hurts me or my reputation as a fighter or teacher. In the Chinese martial arts community, I am seen as a senior teacher and I’m not Chinese. One thing I have that many don’t have is skill. It goes a long way in the martial arts community. College education? Irrelevant.

I know the four young men, and none were exceptionally talented. And that is why I thought it was a bad idea to talk them out of a formal education. A martial arts education, in my opinion, is just as valid, however. These young men were decent as martial artists. They just weren’t die-hard expert material. They had to think about what they wanted to do. The path to instructorship in the martial arts is not a decision or a career goal; it is a calling. If you have to be convinced, it simply isn’t for you.

My point of all of this is this:  My Chinese friend, while an expert in the art of fighting–is not an expert in life. He is not wise. Without getting into his personal business, Kung Fu is the only thing he had going for him. He is not an authority on finding a spouse, he is not a spiritual leader, he is not a guidance counselor. He is not a family therapist. He is not qualified to turn misbehaving children into obedient soldiers. He cannot teach anyone the value of life. If you’re depressed, he is no qualified to hear your problems than the pretty librarian at the  local library. He can teach you a form, he can show you how to generate power out of a kick, he can teach you to prevent getting your butt kicked by three guys. But he does not have the wisdom to guide young men into anything but the martial arts. And apparently, he is not even qualified to recognize teacher material either.

The martial arts teacher must understand this about himself. He is not that old monk from the Kung Fu movies who tells the young fighter to make amends with his father. He will never have to tell a student to forgive an old enemy and not kill him. The way martial arts are taught, I doubt if any of the masters of the past possessed this kind of wisdom. They had a high rate of divorce. Most were broke. Many were alcoholics, used drugs, and without their martial arts legends to keep their story going–most were by our definition, losers. The martial artist, if he gave his art what it needed to rise to the level where he would be dominant in his community, probably ignored everything in his life in order to master his art. Therefore, the martial arts master is most likely only a master of the art he teaches. Hate to burst your bubble, but it’s true.

Most of the martial artists I have known over the years have been womanizers or woman abusers. Few were “normal” guys. The ones who were “normal guys” weren’t all that great at the arts. Something about the arts, if you hadn’t noticed…. it keeps us looking fit and trim and young. We are good looking men for our age. We are vibrant, and we have healthy sex drives. You know what happens when you combine a good looking guy, with a strong drive, a gleam in our eye for a dream school we will never achieve? Um, yeah. We divorce because our wives don’t support our dreams. They want us to close our schools and get “real” jobs. We, in turn, become single men who run businesses where our kids’ moms are single and looking to us to fill in where their Dads won’t. Don’t shake your heads, I’m speaking truth right now…. Few of us who struggle are still married.

On the other end, the martial artists who excel in the art are a little more high strung than most guys. We have hot tempers–forget all that calm crap you think we’re supposed to represent, I’m speaking about fighters–so we are prone to arguing and fighting. Our up and down relationships. Other teachers. Guys at the bar. Cops. I don’t know about you, but in my circle of martial arts friends, most of my friends who are good fighters and train regularly seem to all have legal histories, myself included. I sure hope you didn’t think you were coming to FFSL to get lied to. There is a disproportionate percentage of people in our field who have had fist fights past the age of 25, and you can blame the training. Hot temper is a by-product of good training. Yeah, put that in your “Back-to-School” advertisements. Want to curb it? Stop sparring and training hard. It’s that simple.

The martial arts has many benefits. But we mustn’t act as if the arts were replacements for Ritalyn, it doesn’t cure Adult ADHD, and it sure as hell won’t solve relationship woes. We are not training to learn to be honest men. Our arts do not make us better citizens, just because we practice 1,000 punches a week. There have been many masters who have combined philosophy, morality, and fighting arts–but those things are not side effects of training. If you wish to be a wise martial arts teacher, study philosophy or religion. If you happen to be involved in an art where that is already done, then good for you. For the rest of us, we are not automatically becoming wise in anything but martial-related things when we train–and even then, we are only becoming wise in the fields that we pursue our expertise in. What virtues I possess outside of martial arts related topic, I achieved through reading and studying my religion. But I claim no expertise in anything but what I teach. The martial arts teacher must understand that he is a teacher of the arts, and nothing else. The martial arts student must understand this as well. Martial arts masters are not wise old sages, who impart lessons of life, love and secrets about them. If we fully understand that, we can then avoid cult-like schools and masters, and bad decisions made at the hands of teachers who don’t know their place.

Thank you for visiting my blog.