Also known as “FMAs Are Not Spectator Sports”.
Also known as “Too Many Chiefs (or Grandmasters)”.
Also known as “Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours”.
I met the most interesting sleeping Tiger last week; you may not have heard of him. If you’re a somebody in the FMAs, I guarantee that you have heard of him–though you may not like him, respect or honor him. I tell you what: If you knew his story, and you’re a REAL martial artist, you would honor and respect him regardless of whether or not you liked him.
Funny thing about martial artists. We love to throw around all these lofty titles and pretending to be respectful men of morals. We spend a lot of time aligning ourselves with big names, popular styles and trends, and self-promoting–yet we try to portray ourselves as humble public servant-warriors. When it comes down to it, most of us are selfish, cowardly pricks who can’t fight our way out of a paper bag. We ass kiss when it will benefit us, and we will avoid helping others when it won’t. We will accept fast-food martial arts titles, and feign offense when someone tells us that they have a differing or opposing view to ours (or they doubt the validity of our view). If there was a real master among us, but he is holding out for the best student rather than offer it on DVD or in a one-day seminar… we’ll look past him and opt for the big name guy who will make us look good the next time we decide to name-drop who we’ve taken pictures–excuse me, trained–with.
I just love when an old school, true warrior comes out of the woodwork and I am fortunate enough to meet him. Just when I start to think everyone in the FMA community are seminar pansies who like to hold hands on Facebook and in seminars and other knitting circles online for “sinawali” experts–I meet another true martial artist.
You know the type. The guy whose paid his dues on the floor of the dojo AND the ring. The guy who has had more fights than he could remember, forgotten more martial arts than most guys can learn with a camcorder in a whole week of seminars. The guy who is high on skill, but low on resume notches and certificates and degrees. A true martial artist who could give a rat’s ass about which young buck gets a grandmaster certificate (NEWSFLASH: Real Grandmasterships cannot be awarded by anyone. A grandmaster “certificate” is like certifying somebody as a “nice” guy. Matter of fact, only “nice” guys get those things), shuns receiving one, signing one, or sucking up because you have one. The 60 year old guy wth a 3rd degree who can kick your 10th degree grandmaster’s ass on his worst day.
That kind of guy, lol.
So, I’m at the school when a very fit couple walk into my gym the other day while I was finishing a Jow Ga class. They look old enough to be my parents (no offense!) but then they don’t look a day over “old enough to be my parents”. He isn’t interested in Kung Fu or MMA or kickboxing, he wants to know about my FMA. This guy is an FMA guy, I think, so I kick my students out and prepare myself for the conversation about no-i-dont-want-to-teach-a-seminar-for-you-and-it’s-going-to-take-you-hecka-years-to-learn-my-art-and-i-dont-give-certificates-or-belts speech. Whew!
To my surprise, he tells me that he is very familiar with mainstream FMA (which I am NOT a part of) and has no interest in politics, ranks and seminars, commercialism, or any of that other bullshit. Boy! I like this guy already!
We hit it off like two old friends. Well, I to leave, so we made a promise to catch up with each other the next day, exchanged numbers and parted ways.
Before I go further, his name is Frank Landers (wife, Cathy) and he is a very important man in the martial arts community. If you don’t know who he is, Google him–you may already know who he is without realizing it. I love that he is such an accomplished gentleman and not only is he real and humble, he has just enough cockiness you understand that this is a guy who can kick someone’s ass half his age, and he doesn’t need to tell you. We will do a separate article on Mr. Landers another day. If you are too lazy to hit the link, don’t feel bad I will tell you all you need to know. Just make sure you subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a thing!
One thing Frank and I certainly agree on is that the martial arts–the REAL thing–is not for entertainment purposes. If you are spending a lot of time putting on demos, choosing your teachers based on personality and showmanship, asking people who don’t know you to use titles with you, have so more certifications than you have Black Belts… You’re doing this crap for entertainment purposes only, and you are not doing the real thing.
Maybe that’s why you haven’t heard of Frank Landers. See, while your Grandmasters and Supreme Burrito Masters (or whatever you call them) were butt-licking martial celebrities and promoting articles, websites and signing and collecting certificates–Frank Landers was training. So he doesn’t have a lot of degree, certificates, titles or PR skills. But he can see his belly button without looking in the mirror (unlike a lot of Grandmasters), he can still move like a young guy, and he is satisfied with having people who dislike him resort to name calling because one thing they can’t say is that his martial arts skill is no good.
Which leads me to my next point. Has anyone seen him put on a demo? Can we get a youtube clip of him showing what he knows? How can I get certified in his personal fighting system?
Frank is old school and in order to learn from him, well, you have to learn from him. Not attend a martial arts “concert” or pop in a DVD like you were about to watch a Spongebob video. This is the real martial arts world, and it ain’t for spectators. They don’t make many Masters like him anymore that’s for damned sure.
In part II, I’m going to let you be a fly on the wall into part of our conversation.
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