I’m really not a jerk. If you ask people who know me personally, they will attest to that. I would say that the only people who think I’m an arrogant bastard with no manners are either folks who haven’t met me yet (and base this opinion on my internet activity and writings) or people who meet me in person, disagree, and then decline a sparring match.
You see, all “arguments” in the martial arts really is a waste of time. You can’t prove your point with words or even a demo. Only by crossing sticks and crossing hands, can a point make its way all the way home–and even then, one cannot make an absolute judgment about a technique or strategy since variables can cause the outcome to turn either way. Well many martial artists can only speak in theory because they have yet to develop their theories into skills. So, folks armed with theories argue, and folks armed with skills speak with authority because they can back up what they say. Sorry if that makes people think I’m an asshole.
Anyway, I am very outspoken about my opinions about the martial arts–namely, the Filipino arts. And within the FMAs…. Seminars and the Instructional DVD market. I will not bite my tongue if asked about it, and often I run the risk of offending my own friends within the FMAs. Hey, disagreeing doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground. And being friends doesn’t mean we should suppress our opinions, so I run my mouth.
Well, in a nutshell, I don’t like the Seminar industry and the Instructional market. Out of all martial arts systems, next to Krap Maga, the Filipino art is the most mass-marketed, bastardized and pimped forms of “combat”. Majority of the time you meet an FMA guy, he is trained through seminars, or seminar-trained Guros. He has probably never had anyone try and prove that his art will fail–and this is a vital part of the growth of a martial artist of any style: He must have had someone challenge his ability many times, and suffered defeat as well as enjoyed victory. The FMA guy of today, he knows nothing of this experience. He has most likely never tried his Eskrima against another non-Eskrima guy. He has never used his “Pangamut/Mano-Mano/Panantukan” against a non-FMA guy determined to beat him. He is so used to being around like-minded FMA guys, he is offended if someone says those drills you do are mostly new creations less than 50 years old and the masters of yesteryear didn’t do them. He gets bent out of shape when a guy says that FMA empty hand you do won’t work in a fight, when the easiest thing to do–the most logical thing to do–is take 3 minutes to prove them wrong. There is too much damned hand-holding, butt kissing, “sharing” of technique, and cooperative practice in today’s FMA guy’s training, he has become soft as mashed potatoes.
But don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that all of the industry is bad. But I have ONE litmus test I challenge EVERY FMA Guro/GM/Master with, and 100% of them fail when I throw it out there…
Are you willing to bet any of your Black Belt fighter against me or one of my Black Belts?
If you are a real-deal FMA guy, put any of your guys out there with full confidence that he’s going to whip pretty much anyone we put in front of him. But if you can’t do that with all your “expert” level guys–not just your BEST fighter, I’m talking about every last one of them–you need to review how you certify your guys.
I talk of Mas Oyama a lot because he has kept his quality standard so high, he believed that ANY Kyokushinkai Black Belter could defeat any Black Belter of any other style. He called his art the “Strongest Karate”, and he made sure that only the best of his best was of that caliber. Shit, most of you FMA Guros don’t even believe that YOU can whip most comers. So when it comes to your students, you don’t care that your guys aren’t the best fighters around. As long as they “know” the curriculum, they can teach, and you have neither tested their knowledge against guys from other schools, other styles, nor have you taken care to ensure that they are the best of what you can produce. Hell, most of you can’t even NAME every Black Belt/Instructor in your systems.
I have attended seminars all over this country as a guest, and I have never once seen the guys have that learning tested to see if it will stand up to some else’s style. Most seminars throw so much at the students so quickly, the students don’t even have enough time to fully absorb what they were taught. And 99% of those seminars give these guys a certificate with no “pass/fail” involved. I know guys who have amassed more than 50 seminars, and name-drop more Masters than an NBA groupie chick… and none of them have enough skill to beat one of my intermediate Eskrima guys.
Don’t get me started on the DVD industry. Hopefully no one certifies though correspondence course anymore.
But that doesn’t mean I’m 100% against it.
Seminars are a good way to introduce someone to a style or a teacher, although if the seminar was taught like a real class should be taught, it would be boring as hell. Most guys I know who teach seminars are excellent showmen; they put on humorous or dazzling displays of choreographed “skill”. This is what brings people back to the show over and over, not real training. That’s okay, I get that. But the question is, do we do these seminars because we really want people to learn? Are we trying to arm them with skill that will make them unbeatable? Do we want these guys to be examples of the best quality fighter we can produce? Or do we care?
If I taught seminars and made instructional videos, I would teach very basic technique to get people started. I would answer the question, “If I have NO access to a teacher, what could you teach me to protect myself with?” Screw trying to learn a style. Martial arts is serious business, and if some guy already had a background and he was just looking to satisfy his fetish for exotic arts or learn a few trick to impress people with–I’m not the one. Periodically, I do teach seminars. In these seminars, I want to pass on to attendees my basic philosophy of learning and practicing the art. I teach people how to train, I test what they know against their own classmates. If there are Black Belts in the room, I let them test themselves on me. No man should be calling himself an expert if he is unwilling to put his skill and knowledge to the test. I’m also aware that most students will probably never have someone “test” their art and theories, so in my classes, I make sure that they get this experience. I’ve only done a handful in the last 25 years or so, but I have had many FMA men say that they never looked at the martial arts the same way after my presentation. Students love it, Masters and experts hate it. But it’s all to assist with the progress of the Filipino arts. We have allowed the FMAs to become an add-on art, something taught in “Ten Easy Lessons” (excuse me, seminars); most FMA guys today will not allow themselves to be trained hardcore in these arts.
Because when they encounter someone who tries to introduce them to the “hard core FMA” concept, they walk away calling me an asshole.
The teaching of the martial arts is serious business, and should not be something that just skims the surface but marketed as a survival art.
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