Sleeping on Floors, pt IV (Fat Cream/7Eleven Martial Arts)

The new age dating game and social media has cheapened relationships these days. There was a time that our parents picked our spouses (at least in my culture they did), and we married them and made it work. Over the course of the marriage even if she was not your Juliet, you treated her like she was. You had children, you worked and brought the money home, you took care of her, loved her, and one day in the future you could look back on the decades-old marriage you had that weathered many storms and see that you two were the unbreakable root of a strong tree.

For those who did not grow up in cultures of betrothal, you met your love somehow. You may have sought to earn her affections with love letters and gifts. You won her parents’ approval with a marriage-gift or by working hard and proving your worthiness by demonstrating your chivalry and income potential. Either way, marriage was the grand prize after a season of trials, and simply by finding, wooing and finally winning this woman–you did whatever it took to keep her happy and give her the best life you could.

In each of these examples, she didn’t have to do much outside of what the Creator had already put in her nature… The very fact of having a wife man a man whole and pure and complete, and gave him a sense of purpose.

Not so today. Men flip through pages and pages of profile pictures, and often base their heart’s desire on little else than how attractive she is. With a click, you can “meet” hundreds of women per hour, and based on your profile picture and what you tell them you make annually–win their attraction immediately. Add to that, the loss of morals our society has, an early stage of courtship is sex (one of the prizes of marriage), and like money in a bank–as soon as you make a withdrawal, you lose all interest…

So let’s try this new site, where I can meet rich women. Back online to meet another one.

The search for martial arts teachers in modern times is terribly similar. These websites are like dating sites, where masters who were once highly coveted and pursued now chase after students. They entice you with their flowing resumes, flowery descriptions of who and what, heart-pumping pictures and videos of what you might learn should you join up–even offers of a quick certification if you attend the camps and workshops. You “spy” on the material by buying the master’s DVD or going on youtube to perform a quick search on this teacher and his art. He knows this, so like the girl on HotSingles, he shows you his best stuff even reveals a little too much in the hopes that you click his link. And you do it, because you notice that he’ll be in town next month for $100, but if you register now, you get in for $75. He has a group that will entertain you during the rest of the year because the master only comes to your city 4 times a year, but if you’re truly committed–you pre-register all four times, buy his DVD set, attend the camp and pay for certification… one year later, when most guys are starting to get serious–you’ve already graduated with the grand prize:  A Guro certificate. And like the money in the bank, you pull out your benefits, and lose interest. Next year, it’ll be a new year, a new Guro, new system, new certificate. Two notches in your belt.

In the search for a teacher, you will encounter these teachers, or you will encounter men who studied under such teachers. You may find that your city simply does not have the exciting Guros like the one you saw on that one movie or read about in that magazine article or can move like the guy from that exciting clip on Facebook or has the resume including familiar names you hear so much about. I get emails all the time from students in cities all over the planet who have bypassed every qualified teacher in their own towns to inquire if I offer a DVD. Not so much because there are no martial arts schools in their cities; not even because there are no FMA Guros in their cities. But because those who teach in their cities did not sell themselves as well as I do, or Dan Inosanto and company do, or Doce Pares/Modern Arnis/Pekiti Tirsia/Kalis Ilustrisimo and their offshoots do, etc. In the modern western world, it is nearly impossible for the martial arts student to not be within 100 miles of an FMA Guro. Some school, somewhere, someday, in your city is offering a Filipino art I am positive. But like the guy on the internet, he isn’t looking to take a good one and make it work. No she has to look like Beyonce or one of Charlie’s Angels, or he won’t bite. You want the exotic, as many others do, and you would rather get it from a long distance course than what really needs to be done to get it:  Travel.

Question. I want to be a lawyer. I would love to attend law school. I don’t live in a city with a law school. I realize that I cannot practice law without a JD and pass the bar. But like I said, I don’t live in a city with a law school, and there are no seminars or correspondence course that are acceptable to the state bar. What does this mean?

Answer… You actually don’t want to be a lawyer, period.

The world is too small for us not to have the education we want. You can pursue the education available to you and build from there, or you can go big game hunting without a gun and never get that education. But there are too many schools, too many masters, for any man to aspire to learn the arts and never get to learn. The trouble is that most people are not willing to sleep on floors and miss a meal to gain the chance to study. Either that or they feel that sources closer to home are inferior without giving it a shot. I spent 17 years living in Sacramento, CA. There were two full-time FMA schools in my city, at least a dozen FMA classes offered in various other schools, countless classes in backyards and community centers, and the actual “Mecca” of the FMAs in the USA–Stockton, CA–with at least 10 or so real, authentic grandmasters living 45 miles down the freeway, and there are more people attending weekend certification seminars in this city than in any of our schools. Go figure.

The question was asked of me many times, if I want to study the Filipino arts and there are no schools near me, what should I do? My first question is “How bad do you want to study the FMAs?”  Second question is “Where do you live?”  I have never met a guy who did not live within 100 miles of an FMA teacher. But once we find a few, whether or not they are popular teachers, connected with a popular teacher, or Filipino (yes, there are still many who won’t study under a white/black guy lol), or using a popular method of teaching (like CQC/Concepts/blade-oriented/etc)–many potential students have a list of reasons not to study, and will always opt for the DVD or seminar route. No matter what, the majority of students will not study the arts if those arts are not easy to get or easy to get to. Unfortunately, unless you were willing to relocate, you have the take-what-you-can route or the easy instant Guro route.

And here’s the thing about the little-known Guro. He is often not much different than the celebrity teachers you’d like to study with. He can give you a good foundation to build from and pack the ground for the rest of your education to stand on, if you give him a chance. Very few of us stayed with the same teacher through our entire careers. Most of us started with one teacher and then expanded later. The martial arts student should be patient, diligent, committed, and sincere in this quest for knowledge. We cannot be picky. Learn from who’s available, build your skills to the best of your ability, and let your journey be guided by thirst, chance, and good fortune. You’d be surprised who you will encounter and what you will learn along the way. Don’t be swayed by certificates and flashy media campaigns in these arts. The real trenches are all around you, and they sure won’t be convenient like a 7Eleven or well-known like a McDonald’s.

A quick story. I was introduced to boxing through my paternal grandfather who was friends with an old man who taught in a Junior High School gym. I got my first lessons there; I moved on when my family relocated three times while growing up. My second gym was a converted grocery store, where the trainer had just left a community center where he had been for years. My third gym was a small warehouse space in the hood with no air conditioning. I wasn’t enticed by famous names or brand new equipment (although my second gym did have some) or famous bios–I just wanted to learn to fight, and I needed a school I could afford. Who were they? My first trainer’s name is Ham Johnson, whose son Mark would eventually become IBF champion (along with a few others in his crew). My second gym was Palmer Park gym, aka “Sugar Ray Leonard” gym under Mr. Hinton, trainer of many champions. My third was Mr. Adrian Davis, who’s crew included names like Sharmba Mitchell, Hasim Rahman, Riddick Bowe, and William Joppy. I don’t drop names often, but the point is that we learn from who we can, where we can and build from there. If you really want something specific, you must travel to get it. Even if you can only get your lessons once a year, never discount what wisdom is in your own backyard. A teacher once told me that “gems may be found in almost any dojo”. You’ll never find them if you don’t look. The best martial arts is never convenient or easy to find. It’s never cheap. And it is always worth the sacrifice. Happy Hunting.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

One thought on “Sleeping on Floors, pt IV (Fat Cream/7Eleven Martial Arts)”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this post. You have along with the other post this week, answered my questions :).


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