This is a continuation of this post, written yesterday. It might be a little wordy, I wrote it after getting home about 1 a.m., and when I’m sleepy I am both cranky and loquacious.
So, back to Tim. No my brother, I won’t teach you. We have been friends for over 25 years, I would loan you money, I’d let you camp out on my couch if you found yourself homeless. But my art? That’s like asking to marry my daughter. We’re close friends, but not close enough. We have more memories and know more of each other than a student walking through my door. You have more money and willing to pay more than a guy walking through my door. Yet, despite all of that, you will betray me as a student (if you would be willing to call yourself such) and for the sake our friendship and my love for my arts–I won’t teach you any more than what you will find on this blog.
Trust me. I tried to bring you over. When you first flirted with the idea of studying the FMAs, you chose to pay seminar clowns for lessons rather than be a training partner to me and possibly learn directly from my grandfather. When we were in our 20s, you wanted to attend a Greek picnic in Philadelphia to chase girls than wait for me to complete my practice on a Saturday morning. When I showed you that you could make an income by fighting, you called my tournaments “pussy” even when my friends could give you major problems at Raymond Wong’s school on Florida Avenue (and Kim’s in Landover, and my cousin’s birthday party… lol) When I opened my school you wanted to talk me into hosting your teacher for a seminar and got mad when I didn’t. When I took you to the Arbutus Boxing club, you chickened out of sparring with country boys but slammed them in the car on the way to dinner. When I was in DC three years ago, at the Inns of America in Springfield/Alexandria, you watched me spar without participating and even when I showed you why the techniques you demoed were impractical–you still teach them today. 5 months ago, I met a man in Tennessee who says he learned Kuntaw from you.
Yes we are friends. I love you like a brother. But you are not true to the art by MY standard, and as one who considers myself a Master of the art–money and friendship doesn’t mean shit. The art and my integrity as a martial artist comes first and we chase two different goals in this art. You cannot guarantee that my system won’t end up on youtube (which is why I won’t record), that the seminar pussies won’t get my system and techniques, and you cannot commit realistically to the type of training I require to qualify as a recipient of my system. You’re past experience, in a way, disqualified you as a student only because you won’t let go of the bullshit Industry. We are friends as men, but as martial artists we are rivals. I recognize that, you don’t. The fact that it took almost 30 years to take me up on my offer to learn my system is no longer hurtful; the offer expired decades ago. Continue to hold fast to the art you are hoping will one day rival mine. But this art is for my people only, and I do rarely allow my martial arts to intersect with my personal life.
This is for my martial arts friends as well. I can like you, support your efforts (and you know, I don’t participate in shit if I don’t like it)–but asking me to show you or teach you is out of order for a man like me. My desire is for this art to remain unique, superior, dominant, private, and under the same banner that it is under today. It is my version of the knowledge that was bequeathed to me. I travelled thousands and thousands of miles, slept on floors, walked around hungry, broke bones, took stitches, lost marriages, caught the bus for to earn and develop–just as the teachers did who gave it to me. I will not disrespect their selectiveness by putting it out for the martial arts voyeurs to jerk off to in the privacy of their phones and laptops, in seminars and backyard sparring groups in the name of “sharing”. And unlike what most of you love to say: I do have something to prove. I want to prove that my way is the best and there is only one way, and can only be done personally and truthfully, one opponent at a time. My Eskrima is the Strongest Eskrima. My Kuntaw is the Strongest Kuntaw. My Kung Fu is the Strongest Kung Fu. I will not lend it to a guy who puts his shit out on youtube or for oohs and ahs in circles of other guys looking for another martial arts shortcut at some seminar somewhere. I will put my guys up against anyone’s students of similar rank and experience. You know damned well that you will not–nor will any of those teachers you mentioned to me last time. Don’t believe me? Ask to fight one next time you attend a seminar. I am of that caliber from the community, and I am only interested in men who wish the same.
As always, I say all of this in love and honesty. I put it in an article because you are not my only friend who asks for the same thing. And as always, I am refusing for the same reason. If I were convinced that you were both feet in on my philosophy, maybe. But too many martial artists like you are vested too deeply in the BS to totally let go.
Finally, let me say this. I grew up with my Grandfather, watched him teach students, but he did not allow me to study for years until I agreed to a verbal contract with him at a movie theater (we had just watched a Chuck Norris film), where I could not quit and promised to practice on Saturdays and then as an adult, teach for a living. When I met my teacher Dean Chin, I was 11 years old. It took three visits before he accepted me. When I was a paying student, it took him nearly a year to begin teaching me himself. When I met Bogs Lao, it took a week for him to accept me as well. He made me come to the gym and fight 5 guys before he accepted me (if you’re on my Facebook page, add him, it’s a true story). When I met Ernesto Presas, I had to make three visits to Manila, 3 days at a time before he accepted me personally. The real masters don’t beg for students. They don’t haggle over money or terms and conditions. And they certainly don’t take anyone just because they ask. This is a business, but it is an art first. If you could truly understand where my art came from, you would understand that our friendship was irrelevant in this discussion. Don’t take it personal.
Thank you for visiting my blog.