Can’t Steal This Glory

Recently I have had some conversation with a young teacher who is hoping to open his own school and teach a fusion of the various systems he has studied over the years. I certainly have some reservations about his age and level of experience before striking out on his own. Yet those of you who have children older than 15 know that attempting to sway a determined young dreamer’s mind (even trying to talk “sense” into them) is a futile endeavor. Hell, we were all 25 once, and I’m sure you as well I am one track minded once we have a desire to do something.

Opening a school is one thing. But starting your own system?

Why not? Take any system of combat–they all started as a young man’s idea at some point. Sometimes, the young man isn’t as young. Perhaps that teacher had a strong master who kept him long enough to fully develop, but perhaps not. If you look back into most systems’ history, you will find that your founder was young enough to be your son and may have even spent less time learning than you would recommend. There is no sense in arguing with a young man, and the best we can do–if you are respected enough to have his ear–is to guide him toward success.

Any system can be made to work. I strongly believe in this. Show me a guy who swears that some system is garbage, and I will show you a man who never fought someone from that style. What is important is how that system is treated–how the students are trained, how the teachers have tested the system’s principles and techniques, how the teacher has learned to guide the students. Many a young, inexperienced teacher has blossomed into a seasoned expert with the right philosophy and right attitude. It takes years and patience, but every teacher who sticks with it eventually has his coming of age in the art.

Of course, it does come at a price.

The idea that a man can pull himself up by his bootstraps is a valid one. But if he has some help, and at least the right plan, things are much easier. There are several steps to follow:

  • You need a mentor. Yes, you can find your way through the dark without one. But many of the mistakes you will make and lessons you will learn the hard way can be avoided and made easier by having a confidant. One who has your best interest at heart and wants to see you succeed. A martial arts mentor will be the one who gives you good advice without discrediting you. He will hide your flaws, prop you up when you are weak. At the same time, he is not a teacher; your martial arts mentor is simply the other voice of reason who questions your thinking and gives you an alternate view that you may not have forseen. You want to cozy next to either a well-established teacher, or one who has seen more than you can imagine. And notice I did not say well-connected. This has nothing to do with politics, but knowledge.
  • You need training and sparring partner. Someone who is your equal, and definitely not your student. As the saying goes, stone sharpens stone, and if you have a counterpart who is equally strong and skilled as you (or better)–the quality of your martial arts can only improve. Too many martial artists will go through life without one, especially when they are teaching. Imagine a scholar who only associates with students. How can he maintain his skills conversing with people who is not intellectually his equal? I would like to come back to this subtopic at a later time and devote an entire article to this idea. It’s that necessary.
  • You need a rival. All great masters and fighters have a rival. The same way that stone sharpens stone, a blade needs things to cut. How can you tell if your sword is sharp if you never test it against other objects? In the world of martial arts, there exists many so-called fighters and masters who have avoided an enemy their entire career… until they find themselves as old men who are revered for dull lives and experiences and embellished adventures. Even if your rival was superior to you, some of their light reflects off you simply because you were in their presence–whether you beat them or not. Want proof? Real quick, tell me who else Marvin Fraizer fought besides Ali. Who else did George Foreman fight before Ali? It’s not that easy, huh? And let me tell you, Fraizer and Foreman were excellent fighters. But their claim to fame is that they fought–lost, but nearly beat–the great Muhammad Ali. Not everyone will be an Ali. But it doesn’t mean you can’t be a damned good fighter. Avoid guys like Ali, and you never will.
  • You need students and your own reputation. Many martial artists are satisfied with remaining in the shadows of their masters or the popularity of their systems, and fear stepping out into the light on their own. Sometimes, there are very good martial artists who have their own ideas within their systems–some even have ideas that are contradictory to what their teachers taught–but either out of respect or lack of self-respect, they never present their knowledge to the community. You can learn from your teachers, but until you move out from under his wing, there is a level of understanding and development that will never be realized. And let me tell you this:  You honestly don’t need any man’s permission to do so. You don’t. I would like to return to this subject at another time as well.

The word count is coming up on a thousand, so I will close here. But please understand this very important lesson:  When you feel you have matured in the art and would like to experiment with your own ideas, you own technique, and your own students, don’t let anyone steal your thunder. If they do not support you, the journey may be difficult, but it is very far from impossible. Credibility in the martial arts is a self-determined thing.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Beware of the Orphan

The Quran warns us to be kind to orphans and treat them justly. These are the most vulnerable of us:  the orphan is parentless and has no one to protect him or speak for him with the fervor that a mother or father would. The orphan is often poor and disadvantaged. The orphan usually has no ties to familial lines or lineage. And finally–the orphan has little loyalty he owes.

So beware the orphan.

Many poor, lonely, disadvantaged youths have grown up to be feared, loved and respected men. One such man was Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Others include Julius Caesar, Malcolm X, Cyrus the Great, Nelson Mandela and former President Bill Clinton. The same argument can go for allowing a fetus to grow to term, or not banishing the child product of a rape–you never know what this child will grow up to become. You slight a child when he is young–treat him poorly, dismiss his worth–or treat him well, and you may very well come to regret or be glad of the actions you took when he grows up. That poor little dusty kid may grow up to become a powerful and grateful ally or a powerful and vengeful enemy.

“But what is all this ‘orphan’ talk about anyway?”, you might wonder. Because in the martial arts, we have many orphans who deserve better treatment than many of us administer. I am a martial arts orphan. My Kung Fu teacher died when I was 15, and I was the youngest of the advanced class. Two of my older brothers in the family took me under their wing, and I grew up to become one of the senior Sifu of the American Jow Ga family. In the same year, I lost contact with three of my teachers–two due to the Mt Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines and the death of my Grandfather, leaving me teacherless at 21 years old. Without direction, I first became a reckless, misguided martial artist who drank heavily and got into fights in night clubs and openly challenged the seniors in my community–but due to the efforts of some close martial arts and boxing family members and friends I was brought back to the middle and guided to become a respected teacher. Meeting me today, you would be surprised to find out I took my last martial arts class with my teachers at 20 years old.

On the other hand, I have a good brother (ST) who joined the Kung Fu school in 1986. It was a year after the death of our teacher, and the same year that the headquarters’ leadership split and went their separate ways. My brother was first the student of my older brother, and then went to study with a few other brothers. One could say that he was a martial arts orphan, because on at least three occasions, he heard the ill-spoken words “I am your Sifu now.”  Were these men who wanted genuinely to teach him? Or did they see a young lion cub growing before their eyes, and wanted to be one to feed him? Sometimes, teachers will adopt an up and coming tiger in order to take credit for his skill when he is older. You can see it in some students. They are hard working, they are athletic, they are strong and fearless. But worst of all–they are naiive, easily misguided, and easy to take advantage of. I have seen it many times; I’ve even lost some of my young lion cubs to such teachers.

So twenty years later, you have a fighter, now mature and powerful, skilled, experienced and intelligent. And there are some who would like to discredit him, take credit for him, or see him fail because he was not easy to manipulate when he grew up.

We also have orphaned teachers–men and women who have teachers, but have broken away from tradition in order to create their own paths. They may have had two or three teachers and wanted to combine their systems. Perhaps the teachers disallowed the fusion or excommunicated those young teachers from their schools because they went their own way. Or (using myself again) the young teacher relocates to a new city where he has no lineage or home organization to hide behind. The community doesn’t want to recognize the credibility of the young teacher and his school. Or they gang up against him because they see that he has potential to become a pillar master in the community. Let me tell you; these young, wet-behind-the-ears fighter/teachers won’t stay young and wet-behind-the-ears forever. That’s all I’m saying.

I would like to bring your attention to two young orphaned martial artists…. ready?

Bruce Lee and Remy Presas.

They both came here without the strength of numbers behind them. Neither one carried a certificate or fancy titles. Both used titles that were self-declared. And both taught systems that they came up with in notebooks and in their minds, testing with themselves as crash-test-dummies. When some doubter walked up and said, “How do I know that crap you’re teaching is valid?”–who did they put forward to accept the challenge? No one; they had to do it alone. And many well-connected, big name martial celebrity have been put on their ass by the young, unconnected, no-name martial arts orphan without a school or master to run and cry to. Validation for the true martial artist is a very lonely fight; it is self-declared and self-proven.

And dare I say it… The martial arts orphan is among the strongest of us, simply because they dared to go it alone. The next time some 20-something freelance Sensei, Sifu or Guro walk through your doors–show him respect. He just might end up the next Remy Presas.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

The Mean and Nasty Old Master

This will be really quick. I am sure I’ve posted on this subject several times before, but I felt compelled to write on it one more time.

Experience has told me that when I meet a rude, nasty old man who appears to not want new students–I should perhaps tolerate his barbs and earn the right to learn from him. Some of you martial arts-consumers probably couldn’t fathom what I mean. I will attempt to convey pronto.

Much of the martial arts that is easily found for anyone with a few bucks–whether by seminar, video, youtube clip, or dojo–is decent, good material. However, most of it is not taught correctly and that fact alone renders the validity of the art and techniques irrelevant. I could know how to throw the most vicious and powerful hook; one that Mike Tyson himself would feel all warm and fuzzy about if he saw me hit someone with it. Yet, if I don’t properly train you on how to actually DO that technique correctly–if I don’t pass on to you the full understanding of how to counter with it, how to counter the counters your opponent will throw, how to force the technique through if the opponent closes his openings, how to generate power with it when I’m exhausted, how to use the technique against a faster opponent… everything that should accompany the knowledge of how to throw that hook, your knowledge will be as useless as your 11th grade Spanish class. It’s not in the knowledge, it’s in the application. Those things cannot be learned from a teacher or medium that is ill-equipped to ensure you possess those things. In other words, a qualified teacher. And not just a qualified teacher, but a teacher that will not end the lesson just because he needs to get to the next city and collect another $5,000 bucks. A teacher who will stay with you until you fully understand all those things–not one who will just drop the technique on you and hope you practice when he gets on that plane. Or a method of learning that is over when the pizza arrives and you have to shut down the computer.

The best teachers you will find are not going to be accepted by the masses. He will be patient with information he imparts to you. He will be an absolute authoritarian in the class room. He will not give you breaks when you feel like you will pass out. He will tell you to shut up and train when you ask to learn those cool weapons on the wall. He will make you train the same techniques until you hurt, train till you get bored, train till you get mad and quit. Because the kind of training one will need to totally submit to  in the effort to attain the level of skill that satisfies him enough to promote you will suck. It will be less attractive than anything money can buy. It will be harder to obtain and and moment you will be allowed to say that you “know” it is a vague, mysterious point in the future that seems to move further and further away each time you think you’re getting closer.

And most people who pursue the martial arts is not wired for this kind of commitment. This is why some martial arts students still have their first set of sparring gear to show friends, and why others (very few others, I might add) can’t even remember what happened to their first set of sparring gear because they’ve owned about 50 sets in their lifetime. I would say that the percentage of martial arts students who really want the real, serious stuff is about a fraction of 1% of those who actually sign up for a school. Notice I am not including the guys who “self-train” and only work out in small groups and attend seminars:  The most serious of martial arts students will actually commit to a teacher and school and stick with it for years–1% of them. Sadly, most of the schools that one would find are not led by a teacher knowledgeable enough to provide this kind of training as well.

So, what happens is that martial arts students will join a school, achieve the Black Belt, train for years after that, then leave to seek out something/someone higher and deeper, go from school to school, style to style, and if he’s lucky–one day he may encounter that old man who may or may not have a school.

Let me tell you about that old man. If you know or have learned or seen anything about the martial arts–he has seen and learned and knows more. Depending on his age, he may have forgotten more than you have seen. If you truly are the serious student of the arts that you hope to be–he was once a man like you, encountering a man like him. Sometimes, that old man has a school and will be open to taking on students. If you approach him correctly, he will teach you in the manner that is necessary to achieve the skill level you covet. More likely than not, if he takes you as a student, you will get the foo-foo lessons and will have to prove yourself to get the real lessons. You may have to grovel. In this day and age, whether you are in America or the Philippines (trust me, they are getting pretty bad in the Philippines these days)–students try to control their teachers with power of money and the power of going elsewhere–and you won’t grovel. Or on the other hand, he may not want to take on any new students. He believes that today’s student is an uncommitted, impatient, lazy oaf who does not deserve his time and knowledge. Your money and flattering compliments mean nothing to him. You must convince him to take him as a student. He had schools, many years ago, just like he had a wife. His students ruined him financially by quitting and/or paying tuition late. His students made him second guess his chosen calling by being far less than appreciative and consistent than he had been in his youth. They were lazy and complained too much. In all these years, he was unable to find a student willing to sleep on floors, sit at his feet, and pay his stinking bills on time. So here he is, at the dawn of his life, with all that knowledge and skill and experiences… and along comes one more asshole who interrupts his nap, talking about he’s a *different* kind of martial arts students. Yeah right, go stand in line kid. They all say that.

So he takes you as a student, finally, and shows you his first three hits in his system. He sends you to the back yard or the classroom, and tells you to throw 2,000 strikes and let him know when you’re done. After that workout, you attend one or two, but then work gets busy. Or the cost of a plane ticket doesn’t justify the four days of callouses and sore joints you experience–just to go home empty handed. Or you find an authorized representative of a well-known master who will introduce you to a celebrity master or two. For the rest of your life, possibly after that mean and nasty old master had died, you recall that time you got ripped for $300 worth of shit lessons in some old codger’s back yard. You are still searching for the path to mastery, unaware that you had and lost that one brush with the possibility of achieving it. So, like the rest of the guys you once said you’d be nothing like–you join associations, you pad your resume and rank with easy-to-obtain add-on arts, you avoid the younger versions of that old man to hang out with non-confrontational sissies like you. And you wonder if true masters and martial arts secrets really do exist.

They do.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Forgotten Key to Dominance in Street Self Defense, Pt I

One of my frequent debates is over the subject of self-defense. In this series, I’d like to introduce my basic approach to preparing students for Street Self-Defense Dominance.

We often get potential students who will come in and tell us something silly like, “I’m not looking for a full martial arts program, I’m just looking for some basic self defense.” If you’re a school owner, you know what I’m talking about. We encounter these guys all the time. Hell, many teachers even create courses just for them! But self-defense is a fallacy, isn’t it?

Let me explain with an analogy.

I’d like to win debates with scholars. I have no education. Please just give me the basics, so that when I encounter your basic, run-of-the-mill, knowitall PhD, I can defeat him in an argument with the skills you give me.

So, you do what I do, and tell this uninformed sucker that he is not going to find it–save for a few unscrupulous charlatans who will promise to fulfill this unrealistic request and thusly, take his money.

And what does he do then? He buys books. He buys videos. He tries to self-teach at home with a dictionary and a “How to Win Arguments” books or two. Except for a few equally equipped buffoons in his circle of friends–he can’t impress anyone but a guy who simply doesn’t speak English. This is what your average quasi-military, Israeli, street-oriented self-defense  seeking, unwilling-to-commit-to-anything-serious nut is going to do.

And there are a crapload of people out there willing to teach him what he claims he wants to learn. The sad thing is, he will never learn it. He is looking for a short cut, and short cuts don’t exist in the real world. Here in my town, I’ve seen a flyer that says, “Be a world class MMA fighter—or just look like one”. <— That is what most self-defense courses are promising. Don’t really become a fighter, just pretend and dress up like one. I can teach you stop an attacker who just spent the last 5 to 10 years working out, who’s had so many victims he can’t give a real number, with just a few moves–and get this:  Strength is not necessary!

B.S. Yeah, and you think you might be able to teach a guy who could barely read (or can read pretty well but lacks the qualifications) to win a debate against a scholar. Trust me, it’s the same thing.

Understand this:  the guy on  the street knocking people over the head to take their money is an “expert” at fighting. Believe that. He’s done it a lot. He’s had live practice. He can do it with his eyes closed. He has a sixth sense to spot victims. And in a few months, we are supposed to teach you how to stop him–even without making you just as strong as him? Friend, please. Just to get through kindergarten, it will take 9 months of learning 4 hours a day, 5 days a week just to get the basics. And you can’t even commit to half of that to learn how to save your life! Wow. The world really is flat.

Here’s the thing:  Self defense is an illusion. When you are attacked by a wolf, you need to be able to transform yourself into a wolf/tiger/whatever to stop him. You can’t be a sheep with teeth. Unless you live in the world of make-believe. When you want to protect yourself against wolves, you will need to equip yourself like a wolf. And if some guy will spend a prison term preparing himself to fight YOU and take YOUR money–you’d better be willing to spend the same amount of time getting ready. Don’t forget this:  A few months before announcing to yourself that you’re ready to defend yourself is not enough time.

Oh, wait. You didn’t know that you get to determine when you’ll be ready? Why do you think Krav Maga classes give out 6 month memberships? Because that way, their students can join 6 months before a mugger decides to attack them!

Seriously, preparing to defend yourself on the street is a full-time thing. There is no shortcut to preparation. The more time you spend preparing, the better the chance that you will be successful in fighting. It isn’t painless. It is very time consuming. It is life-consuming. There are no Cleft notes version of the training either. Either you learn to be a fighter, or you just sign up for a foo foo class to look like one. The first key to self-defense is to know that there is no such thing as self-defense. Only Street Dominance. And that path to proficiency is a long, uphill battle where you don’t get to know where the point of arrival will be. Don’t focus on the destination, just the journey. If some guy tells you he has a better, shorter, painless way, ask him how many times he had been punched in the mouth, and how many people he’s punched in the mouth.

If he is qualified to teach you properly, the answer to either question will be a simple “I can’t remember”. And by the time you arrive, your answer will be the same. To prepare students for street dominance, it will take a physique-altering, life-changing, full-time commitment. 6 months will barely expose you to the surface.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Learn to Fight by Fighting *Back*

A week ago I was talking to a gentleman who is returning to martial arts training after about 20 years of a layoff. From what he tells me, the school he belonged to in the early 90s was a good one. While still commercial (I believe the teacher’s name was Jack Corey/Curry, cannot recall the man’s name I had met), his teacher had a healthy balance of children and adults–fluffy as well as killer training.

Let me break to give you some advice. We teachers encounter former martial artists and self-claiming experts all the time. I have a technique I use when talking to someone which helps me gauge who I am speaking to. Some of you call it the “BS detector”. My BS detector has 2 catalysts:  Lineage and Technique. When having a conversation, you can quickly find out the caliber of martial artist you are in front of (or gain a sense of what kind of art he was learning) by asking about his lineage, and then engaging him in a conversation about technique. Without spending too much time on it, what your fellow discursist says will give you the scoop on whether this guy is just flapping his lips or whether or not he knows what he knows. Saves time.

So he began in Korean martial arts, and in that school he gained plenty of sparring experience. In addition, and most importantly, he learned from his teacher the importance of drilling and training. Not “drilling” like many of you might think:  as a younger man, he would execute hundreds of repetitions of strikes, punches, kicks, blocks and combinations per session. He is now in one of those “fluffy” hybrid schools, but he still retained the hard-work ethic of his teacher 20 years ago. I like this guy.

In his former school, he fought against others with backgrounds in Karate and Tae Kwon Do, who punched like Karate and TKD people. In his new school, his classmates use semi-boxing techniques and Wing Chun. I can imagine this would be a very frustrating adjustment. We talked about working with punch combinations, spending more time sparring to develop the sixth sense for close-range/in-fighting, and other tips. But he mentioned that his specialty years ago was in counter-fighting, and how it simply doesn’t work against these guys.

I disagree.

First, I’d like to say that any fighting style can work against any style. Fighting is not an exact science, where boxing beats grappling, and kickers beat boxers, etc. While some techniques may be better suited to counter other techniques, there are so many variables to determine what will work vs what won’t work that it would be impossible to make such a judgment without actually slugging it out. And even when you resolve an argument that way, it only proved that fighter A can beat fighter B with that technique. Someone else using the same technique may have more or less success, depending on his attributes and abilities.

So, I gave the gentleman some basic, generic advice, and I hope you can draw some benefit out of the same tips. I will only list a few.

Tips for Counter Fighting

  • First, counter fighting as a strategy is not necessarily “waiting for an attack”. I find this misconception to be the norm for FMA fighters, as many of our styles teach the counter as the primary form of learning to fight. Think about it. When you ask an Eskrimador to show you something, what is the first thing he says? “Feed me a number X”. Basically, he has not learned to attack, so in order to apply his art, he needs you to attack him first. That’s why–
  • Counter-fighting is also called Counter-attacking. I prefer to use the term “counter-attack” over “defense”. We are not just trying to stop an opponent–we want to BEAT him. You can’t beat a man with blocks, and you can’t beat him moving defensively. Therefore
  • Rather than sit and wait, throw attacks at your opponent to get him to block, move and most importantly—> Attack. You get your opponent to attack by attacking him. Then, when he attacks you on your command (remember you knew he would attack because he’s actually attacking you back), counter that. Where I come from, this is called
  • “Controlling the fight”. If you don’t feel like fighting, move around. When you’re ready to attack, stop moving and counter him as he chases you, or attack him to get him to attack you back. This really is a “chicken-before-the-egg” strategy. Who is actually countering whom? Good questions. Here’s the answer:  Whom cares? Really!
  • The idea is that opponents are most vulnerable when attacking, and the counter attacker is actually determining when the two combatants will engage. He seizes the opportunity to attack by doing it while the opponent is busy attacking. It is very hard to throw a block while punching or kicking when you didn’t know an attack would be coming.
  • I consider blocking and evasive movements performed without an accompanying counter to be a waste of time. Basically, your “shuffle-back, catch, return jab” could have ended the fight simply by changing it to “shuffle-forward, catch AND return jab” all in one motion. Don’t miss the opportunity to end the fight simply because you were selfishly trying to protect that pretty face of yours. Take the punch on your forehead and make him eat a fist before his jab/cross/kick has had an opportunity to retract.
  • Remember this very important rule of thumb, if nothing else. Matter of fact, I’ll highlight it:

There are three best times to hit an opponent:

1. While he is punching

2. At the moment he completes the punch

3. Immediately after the completion of the punch (while retracting)

Each of these points has a set of techniques that fits the point. And the timing must be perfect. So in countering, you don’t want to learn timing, you want to learn perfect timing. A fraction of a second off from that moment, and you will miss your mark.

Back to the man I had met, we will have to meet in person for me to show him how to improve his success in sparring with those guys. But the above advice will help him utilize his preference to counter attacks instead of initiating them.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Exceed the Teacher

I have long held the opinion that the best teachers train his students to beat him.

Many take pride in saying that they could never best their masters, as if to say that “My teacher was so good, even as an old man–he could beat me and all my classmates.” Supposedly, this meant that because the speaker had a master who was that good, he must be that good because he is his student. How untrue. Now, if you trained full-time as a young man, and can not develop the skill using knowledge an old man gave you to beat the old man who can no longer do the things he used to… One can deduce one of three conclusions:

  1. Your teacher was not that good.
  2. You are not that good.
  3. You are lying.

Hope this doesn’t hurt too much…

First, a good teacher must at least be able to duplicate his own skill in his students. He should be more knowledgeable by the time he is a teacher than when he was young. He would know all the mistakes he made when he was younger. He would foresee the barriers to perfection he encountered himself, and remove them so that his students do not have to face those hurdles. On top of that, many of the lessons he learned on his own, through reflection, experimentation and practice should have all been manifested in his teachings. Ultimately, they should have all come out in the next generation. Each generation of students should be an improvement over the previous generation, as the teacher becomes more experienced and knowledgeable as he ages. If not, then his teaching has not benefited from experience. Either that, or the teacher possesses the knowledge, but not the ability to transmit the knowledge. Bad teaching.

Secondly, a student must be able to take what the master has taught him and drill them to proficiency. He must baptize himself in the memory and stories of what his teacher once was and strive to exceed that level. What good is a student if he cannot live up to the expectations of his teacher? Of course, your masters took pupils to make sure that his knowledge and experience is not wasted. If the master spent all those years researching, training and testing–and then taught someone, and that someone is inferior to his own ability–what good was it? Teach to create something mediocre? Do businessmen go into business to barely scrape out a living? Students who accept mediocrity in order to brown nose their teacher’s legacy are indeed unworthy of being taught. I would hope that my all my advanced students can defeat me. I take pride in being able to still move like a young man at my age, but there are many things I can no longer do. I’ll be damned if I pour 7 years of instruction and eating home-packed lunches in order to give my students better training and instruction–just for them to be unable to whip a 43 year old, balding man. Exceed my ability, or you are a waste of my time. Please aspire to become better than me. That’s why I teach.

Lastly, there is a misconception that your martial arts is superior if your teacher could defeat everyone, including you at your fighting peak. Please. That stuff is for Kung Fu movies. In the real world, people get old. We get thyroid disorder, arthritis, cancer, we gain weight, we get tired, some of us have suffered brain damage from fights when we were young (all of the above). No one expects you to look like you were 23 at 43, except in Hollywood. If a man must embellish stories to make himself look good as a teacher or student of a teacher, then I would say that man suffers from misplaced priorities. And the more dominant your master was when he was young, the more beat up he will be when he is older. Yes, we will stay in somewhat good shape for men our age. But fighting damages the body. Show me a former fighter who at 50 does not have old stitches and missing teeth and joint problems, and I will show you a man who spent all his time on the sidelines–not the mat. Like I said, I love to see old fighters who can still move. All of my teachers were such men. But they were all shadows of what they once were, and there is no need for me to make up stories of how they somehow found the fountain of youth. If you want credibility, then let’s tell credible stories. My teachers lived hard lives. They were not always law-abiding men. They had things in their lives I would be embarrassed to post on this blog. But they had good fighting arts, and my youth was proof of that, and my students’ skill is proof of that.

If you want your fighting art to be timeless, them train your students to beat you. There is no shame in losing to a student; it just means their master was one hell of a teacher. If you are a student, try, try, and try again to kick your teacher’s ass. Because when you do, he gets all the credit you want him to have.

Thanks for visiting my blog.