Why the forums are good practice for the FMAist (and Why Dan is a better fighter)

The online forums are sometimes considered a waste of time by many in the FMA world. I believe this is because we are human and do not want to hear views that conflict with our own, or worse… to hear someone say that our way of training, our style, sometimes our teachers–are wrong. Emotions can run high when these discussions occur, and feelings are hurt, reputations can be ruined, etc. And to make matters worse, many schools, masters and teachers are openly ridiculed by nobodies and other teachers alike.

So how can you call this a good thing, Mustafa?

One of the things a fighter must have is toughness. How tough can a man be if his skin is fragile? If his feelings are hurt easily? If his anger cannot be controlled? The forums are a place where people can face opposition without having to fight. Isn’t that great? You won’t get called all the way onto the carpet? I understand that many martial artists will not fight. That’s okay, you have your way, and we have ours. But one must at least be willing to hear a dissenting view…

Let’s look back to 1999, when I was arguing that Kinomutai does not exist in the Philippines, Kali is not the Mother Art, and the way most FMA people practice their art will get them killed. Guess what? I was ridiculed, folks thought I didn’t know anything about “real” FMA, and most FMA people with experience who looked for schools bypassed my place. Today, in 2009, a decade later, most of the FMA world knows that Kali is no Mother Art, and that Dan Inosanto’s terms and stories are most likely not accurate.

So, who was the prophet where most of you first heard the news?

And where did you hear it?

I had many of those moments, but through it all, I still look at the 30 or so teachers I often had feuds with online as my brothers. Though many of them would like to nail me to a cross with their “karambit”, I don’t hold grudges and still grew within the art. My point of this is that too often, the FMA person hides from the dissenting voice, and is really afraid to hear someone question their art. Want to really piss off a Filipino Martial Artist? Tell him that you don’t think his art will work.

This is one of the secrets of the Filipino arts. That your art does not grow by having a bunch of nut-huggers. This is what happened to Jeet Kune Do. People swallowed it whole because Bruce Lee created it, and Dan Inosanto’s skill made it look so good. Remind me to tell you something I haven’t said much in public, btw.

Jeet Kune Do had 30 something years to get marketed and develop WITHOUT having people question and put it down. See, each time someone tells you to your face that your art doesn’t look effective, you have just received a chance to grow your art. Prove it works. Test it out to see how it does. One of the best things to happen to Emin Botzepe and William Cheung is that Emin went to a seminar and kicked his ass… not with kung fu, but very bad streetfighting. What it did to Emin was to give him the confidence to do it again, and make sure that no one ambushes him in a seminar. For William, I’m sure it made him go back to the drawing board and revise his comfy Wing Chun and how he promotes it. While some of the momma-boys-turned-martial-artists saw it as a black eye, it was actually a wake-up call. That you can’t hide behind seminars, popularity and surrounding yourself with friends. That even though you have hundreds, maybe thousands of people, call you “Master”, you are a man like everyone else and will have to keep your blade sharpened. That if you’re going to be out there teaching, you better be ready to back up your reputation anytime, anywhere.

Now, if you are so closed-minded that you can’t bear to hear another person question your credentials or skills or ideas, you won’t be able to focus when someone wants to see your skills… right now. Forums, for this reason, helps you prepare to defend yourself–at least verbally. Learn to face contradicting voices and ideas. You’ll never grow if you can’t.

Reason #2 that forums are a good idea: You will hear about training methods, styles, techniques, stories about other masters and histories, and many, many other things that you may not have heard before (nor will you hear them in your own school)! Not everything will be true, but your martial education will be enhanced by what you will read. Sure, there will be the occasional Angela Blancia (or whatever her name is), but many historical facts, stories and new training ideas are discussed there. Many of these are news to even your teachers! You can always benefit from more education, and the discussion forums–MartialTalk, Defend.net, Eskrima Digest, Dragonslist, and others–are a great place to supplement your martial education.

Now, about Dan Inosanto. I have always thought, that as a fighter, I thought Dan was better than Bruce. Even when I was in high school, I had a lot of non-martial art friends as well as martial artist friends who thought I was crazy for thinking that (even saying I thought so because he was Filipino.) Here are some of the reasons:

  • Inosanto fought in tournaments, and it’s documented. Yeah, so Bruce Lee fought on the streets, whatever. I’m sorry, but from what I read, he didn’t handle doubters very well. Anyone who is this way is not secure enough to know without a doubt that his art works. Bruce Lee may have been in tremendous shape, blah blah blah, but skill isn’t always packaged nicely.
  • Inosanto exchanged with many more fighters, than Bruce Lee, who spent a lot of time with his “laboratory” ALONE. Having a lot of partners who were not in awe of you will make you work harder. When Inosanto earned his black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu, I am sure he earned it. No offense, but Bruce Lee learned from books, we all know this. If he had stepped into the Kronk Gym instead of studying Ali videos, JKD would have had a completely different set of hand techniques. If he had gone to a Muay Thai gym JKD would have been different. In my opinion, Dan improved JKD. Dan humbly chased arts, Bruce arrogantly tried to “make his own path”, possibly because he thought no one could teach him, and that he could teach (and train himself).
  • Bruce Lee tested himself on students. This is why we always heard how much of a bad-ass he was. If you talked to my students, they’d say the same thing about me that people say about Bruce Lee. But talk to competitors I fought with, or other instructors I sparred with. That’s convincing. Like I said, Dan is the one with the record.

Now, if I had put this on the forums, I’d probably get flamed more than Bruno. But this is my blog, and I felt like writing it, and hopefully Mike doesn’t edit it out (like he does everything else!)…