Prepare a Successor

Today, I had a nice surprise, as my baby brother (who is 25 years old) stopped by to visit while I was working out. I had helped to raised him since he was 6 because my mother was sick, and when he was 12 he came to live with me full time. Out of all of my students, he had trained with me the most, and I controlled every aspect of his life during that time. For those who knew me when I first came to Sacramento in 1999, they will recall that as a 13 year old boy, he could whip most adults at the Black Belt level.

He is now married with a baby, but still trains in his garage despite having a successful telecommunications business. I am somewhat disappointed that he did not choose teaching for a living, but he likes expensive clothes (I buy my clothes in thrift stores) and eats in fancy restaurants (I cook every day despite having a wife who is an excellent cook) so a teacher’s life does not sound attractive to him. Still, I am proud of him and his accomplishments.

Anyway, we talked about my history as a teacher, as I have been teaching for as long as he can remember. He and my younger sister were the ones responsible for getting me into the 21st century… My brother created my first website, and opened and maintained my first email account in 1999, and for at least the first year “thekuntawman” existed, he was the kuntawman. Both of them, plus my younger brother who is 38, are all college-educated, while I chose the life my grandfather led. They are very Americanized and have western tastes; I eat Balut and have a 20 lb bag of cow intestines in the freezer of my school’s fridge (only because my wife won’t let me clean them at home). But don’t be fooled. My siblings come to my house several times a year and beg for me to make them Lumpia, Pakbit, Ukoy, and Dinaguan–which they secretly love more than hamburgers.

My brother and I have had our struggles, as I once tried to force Kuntaw and Eskrima down his throat as a teenager. I did not allow him to have a girlfriend or date, and he fought at every tournament I received a flier for. He trained at least 2 – 3 hours a day after school, and trained at least 4 to 6 hours on weekends. As a muscular 5′ 8″ 16 year old, he was my sparring partner and training dummy. But as soon as he had the money, he moved out and it took years before he began training again.

We have been discussing him starting an Eskrima and Tapado group for me in San Francisco, and I think I have him convinced.

One of the questions he had for me was, why didn’t I consider another profession, why did I try to make him teach instead of allow him to follow his own path, and if I will do the same to my boys. This was helpful, because no one has ever asked me.

My grandfather had long regretted not having a successor to his art and his (mostly failing) school. By the time my brother and I had come along, he had been teaching for 40 years and had no one to point to that could teach his art if he were to die the next day. He repeated this many times throughout my youth, and as a result–whether by divine intervention or by brainwashing–I became that student for him. I trained every day, 7 days a week, and my entire youth training and competing, rarely enjoying things kids in DC enjoyed, like music, video games and girls. At 18 years old, when most boys my age went away to college, I moved back to the Philippines and trained as a full-time job, paid for with saved tournament winnings and part-time work. During that time, I planned, in writing, how I would open my school without getting an SBA loan. When I returned, I completed my training with my grandfather and immediately went to work, implementing my plan. By the time I was 22, I had my school in Silver Spring, MD, and a local reputation to go along with it. I named my school “Gatdula’s Fighting Cobras”, as this was the name my grandfather had chosen for the school he never had. I put all the things he wanted for his place, but never had, like hand-made equipment and a collection of striking equipment. I also used things that he used, like tree trunks and sand bags and buckets of sand and pebbles. Although I had several masters, I followed his lead and did exactly what he wanted me to do because it was what he did.

My grandfather died on March 20th, 1992, the day I opened my shop at 905 Bonifant Street. But he died knowing that his dream was being carried forward. Many masters teach their entire lives, and never have the school they’d wanted, the perfect student, and the style to be taught just as they had prescribed it to be. As a dutiful grandson, I am proud to carry on this tradition and I only hope to ring true his advice to me about a martial arts master’s mission:

A martial arts teacher is lucky to have had one perfect student to pass all of his knowledge to, in the way that he planned to teach it.

We will always have students. We will always make money. We will always have those who train hard and perform well. But we are never guaranteed to have a student who will carry on the art and traditions exactly the way we want it done. No teacher wants to see his art die as he taught it. I have learned, that in the nearly two decades I have taught, that we and our dream will always have to compete with the student’s goals and dreams. They will rarely align themselves with what we want for our students. I have had students stay with me 8 years, and none have been able to commit and train the way I have wanted them to, except the ones I raise (and we see how well that turned out). I have two more boys, and if that doesn’t work out, I may have to take their firstborn sons. But we will see what becomes of Mustafa Gatdula’s Kuntaw and Eskrima.

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Producing Good FMA Instructors, pt V

This will be a short entry, because I have one small tip that really means a lot and I want it to have its own article.

I’ve discovered after 18 years of teaching the arts in my own school, and after over 1,000 students, that the best way to teach martial arts skills is in small, manageable bites of knowledge. When I was learning, I had traditional, patient teachers who demanded diligent, focused practice and perfection. While this may not be for everyone, for the teacher who wishes the best for his students it is the only path to this level of skill.

For my own students, I began them as advanced beginners by assigning them one technique to teach, demonstrate and explain during class. This got them to recall all of the details of a technique, and often opened their eyes to mistakes that they may not have been aware that they were making themselves. Another technique I used was to take the more advanced students, and give him a lower level classmate to tutor for a small number of skills. We have done this over the years with older students teaching younger students, having the better fighters lead a sparring class, and having students with better skill in one set of techniques (like kicking, or stick sparring) teach his method to his brothers. This leads to two things: 

  1. humility and respect–everyone realizes that someone may be better than someone else at one thing, but no one has it all. it also keeps the hierarchy of skills within my student body in check
  2. camaraderie–the students become closer brothers when they share information, and this is healthy for the growth of my school and my style

Teaching skill and fighting skill are by-products of this method.

When teaching students there are several philosophies about what method is best for developing skill in the shortest amount of time.  Here are my thoughts:

  • when explaining a skill, technique or strategy to the students, give them just the basic movements, and not too much detail. as they progress, add more details and variations, but only when they are beginning to develop proficiency at what they’ve already learned
  • it is not necessary to make every correction and micro-adjustments in the beginning. again, I advocate giving a few details at a time. this allows the students to retain more of what you say
  • always prove your point with actions, not words. students will understand better when they see it, than when they are asked to envision it. especially when a student asks, “will it work if… ?”  what better way to prove it than to show it in application
  • spar with a technique to demonstrate its effectiveness, and to test and rehearse their understanding of it
  • a good idea would be to spend an entire class session on one skill, one technique, or one strategy. it really gives the students a complete understanding of the material you are teaching by focusing attention on just that item, and giving them ample time to practice it
  • always utilize enough repetitions to drill the information into their memories, and then perform more. 10 reps is not ample.
  • i like to take one week, or several consecutive class sessions to spend time on many variations or parts of a technique. often one class alone, or a few minutes of a class, will not be enough time to properly convey what you want them to learn. we have actually spent 3 months developing one technique in my school.

These lessons should be built into your instructor candidates’ training, as they will be accepting students before you know it, and they should already be very familiar with these teaching techniques.

Of course, I have more on this subject, but I will expound on them in future articles. I hope you found this entry useful!

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Producing Good FMA Instructors, pt IV

When I was a young man, I knew only one method of living the martial arts, that of a young martial artist and fighter. Because of my exposure to older masters who still kept their skills up–including many who still fought (like Lemuel Talley, Billy Bryant, and James Wyatt)–I was critical of those who allowed physical skills to wane. As immature as this sounded, I was worse to martial artists who did not fight or couldn’t fight.

My outlook, of course, has changed as I am more mature and open-minded now. However, I still harbor many of these opinions, and I am almost as hard-headed and stubborn as I was when I was younger… with my opinions. But as a teacher, I respect many differing views to my own. I have to–I teach two families of students from all walks of life. They all have their own reasons for studying the martial arts. They have physical limitations as well as gifts. No two students are exactly alike, and my schools must appeal to several types of martial arts students if it is to have a life that supports mine. As one who considers myself an advanced teacher of the art, I must have the ability to teach nearly every type of student that comes my way. Before promoting any student of mine to the teacher level, I demand the same from them.

Not All Men Will Be Fighters

We all have our preferences. Some us enjoy the workout/body-building aspect of the martial arts. Others enjoy the combat. Then you have the ones who like to work with weapons. Still, you have the ones who just like learning the arts, and learning as much as they can. Not everyone wants to be a streetfighter.

Before I get into this section, let me first state that if you are teaching the martial arts, you have the duty to ensure that all students, regardless of what they choose to specialize in, must be capable of defending himself. If you cannot teach a student to defend himself, then either rename the class or program to “martial fitness” or something else, but not martial arts.

A teacher’s ability lies in more places than simply conveying a technique or principle. Don’t listen to the guys with the shallow knowledge who think that’s all there is. A teacher, at his most basic level, is also a fitness instructor and fight coach. He must know how to recognize his student’s weaknesses and fix them. He must be able to train students with physical limitations and erase them with the right combinations of exercises. At a deeper level, he is a martial psychologist who can alter a man’s courage or over confidence. He must build up his student’s fears until they become confidence, and must teach the overly aggressive man to become patient and calculating.

As I stated in part III, the instructor candidate should become a student of the teaching of the arts. This level of training is more academic than the lower levels, which are more physical. The instructor candidate should be close to perfecting his technique–not really learning new one, just refining–and should be studying martial philosophy and teaching ideology. At this time, he is also putting his theories to application under the Master’s observation… in the ring as well as in the classroom.

**In my school, we actually differentiate between two “Black Belt” levels (we don’t use belts, but the equivalent):  Expert, which is more technical and physical, and Instructor, which is philosophical.**

The teacher must understand that many students will not want to fight full contact, and most will never become instructors. He should be prepared to teach students who cannot do everything the younger, more fit students can. He should be able to develop these students at their own pace, even if that student is in the same class with the fighters. He must be willing to teach these students properly if he takes them on. He must respect those students and treat them fairly and justly. And he must be creative enough to set challenging goals and find ways for the student to meet them. Lastly, he must be knowledgeable enough to make the training worth that student’s time.

Turning Cowards Into Heroes

Not everyone who walks through your doors will be a tough guy. On the contrary, most of your students are going to be physically weak and probably afraid of everything. The teacher cannot be too macho or too hard core; he must be a charismatic, who can appeal to the desires of new students. Re-education is fine, but he must find a way to capture the beginning student’s attention and interest.

There is a saying that good teachers will see 99% of their students fail to get the one percent that will become good future Black Belts. I completely disagree with this saying. After all, are you a teacher? Or just a guy looking for self-motivated students? I would think that a teacher who experiences a 99% drop out rate is doing something wrong. The best teachers reach into the student’s minds and hearts and find a way to develop the warrior in them. As Guros, we are passing on more than just a few techniques and drills; we are teaching “average guys” in the modern world to walk the walk of warriors. You can’t do this by scaring off new students, or making training so hard no one completes a year of training. At the same time, most schools experience a high attrition rate because training is often hard, and most students simply aren’t cut out for a real program.

The solution to this is to make the class learnable (if there is such a word), and to build the student’s skills, confidence and courage little by little, step by step, goal by goal. This is the method of the Masters. Slow, goal-oriented, patient, challenging.

Help your instructor candidates understand this, and they will be successful students. I believe this is the main reason most martial arts schools close within the first year; the teachers have a weak knowledge of what it takes to have longevity in this business. I also believe this is the reason seminars are so popular for those looking to make a living off of their martial arts.

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Producing Good FMA Instructors, pt III

When I first began teaching, I was 15 years old and my Jow Ga Sifu, Master Dean Chin, had just died. Within our Kung Fu school, most of my older brothers were Sifu’s age or older and no one thought in a million years that we would be left with his legacy so quickly. A year earlier Sifu had told my Si Hing, Master Raymond Wong, that if anything would happen to him (Sifu) he would be responsible for my training. There was an agreement among us that I would be studying to become a teacher, and I was expected to be at the school every weekend, training for most of the day. The year Sifu died, Raymond had me teach the first half of his class and we would watch and talk to me about how I did. Soon, Raymond had me teaching entire classes and when he opened his school in 1987, I was one of his instructors (along with Sifu Craig Lee). The process of me learning to teach took about 4 years, longer than most people take to get a Black Belt.

Over the years I studied other Masters and Instructors, and their teaching methods. I noticed early on how teaching method directly affects student skill. Some teachers, like Raymond and Sifu Chin, seemed to abuse their students (this is an exaggeration–I am referring to the intensity of their clases), which resulted in highly skilled students. Others were too conceptual, and their students received no physical benefit from the training, only academic learning. One of my Si Hings, Master Rahim Muhammad, who taught the second class I attended at Jow Ga (along with countless more) treated children as if they were adults. He still gave information in bite sized pieces, but even today at 40 years old, I remember conversations he had with me when I was 12 about admiration, importance of practice, controlling one’s tongue–very profound lessons for an 8th grader. This is significant, because while others simply taught me technique because I was a child, Rahim actually spoke to me about philosophical ideas.

As I grew up, I observed how each teacher passed down his lessons and I would then reflect on how those lessons would be absorbed. At a young age–considering that I planned to be a teacher–I became a student of how to teach the martial arts. I read books, I read magazines, I talked to my Si Hings about their ideas about it. Years later, I spent countless hours with Master Boggs Lao, talking about his teaching philosophy. Boggs was an amazing teacher, because every single student in his schools was a good fighter. That was no exaggeration… every student.

During the year that preceded me opening my own school, I spent entire days with my Grandfather revising my method, and how I planned to utilize it. I was teaching for a Karate school chain, Kim’s Karate, and putting my ideas to work. In a short period of time, the students went from mediocre to fired up and kicking butt within a year. Some of these students had not trained hard for years, and within months they were formidable. Together, we drew the entire curriculum and method of delivery in a series of 3-ringed notebooks I carried with me everywhere I went.

Over the years, I added and took away and modified my method. As always, I put my ideas on paper and then reflected on it before instituting in the gym. This is an important lesson about teaching:

You must think about teaching–your curriculum, how you will teach the material, how the students will receive, practice, and develop the material, and how the lessons will be tested and refined. This “thinking” must be on paper before being thought through, then it must be thought through before being put to use.

Many teachers do not think of the art of teaching, and the result is that their students do not learn the lessons well. Of course, we begin with a good curriculum, but you must also have a method of delivery. Once you have identified your instructor candidates, talk to them about the art of teaching and give them a basic format… they will take it from there. I don’t believe that a formal course in teaching is necessary; about half of one’s ideology is self-reflection. However, you should provide input, commentary, and supervision.  I recommend allowing your students to teach classes while you observe, and doing this for at least 6 months and giving your feedback. As you “teach” your students how to teach, he will be developing his own ideas and methods in his mind and putting those ideas to practice while he is teaching classes.

The art of teaching, is just as important as the art of fighting–it is just the next level of development for the martial artist.

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Producing Good FMA Instructors, pt II

The premise behind my teaching philosophy is that we are first, trying to build strong fighters and secondly, trying to train new instructors. Underneath that philosophy is a second, more traditional philosophy that we “graduate” new instructors rather than create hierarchies of them. There are already hierarchies among martial artists based on skill, age, popularity of the style, ethnicity, lineage, fame, and many other things! In the Philippines–as in many other cultures–the influence of the media can often skew perception of what is most important:  skill/ability and knowledge. I believe in training the best possible fighters we can, and then teach them how to duplicate this feat so that they can produce quality students as well.

That said, once my boys have proven that they are the best fighters in their local community–even better than me–they deserve to be “one of us”. Why slap a “first degree” label on them and then allow some out of shape, less knowledgeable 7th degree (who probably holds a political or self-promoted rank) to look down on them?

I also believe in testing behind closed doors, and making these tests grueling tests of strength and courage–rather than some arbitrary “show-me-what you’ve-learned” dog and pony show so popular with the kids these days. Maybe I am just old school and my ideas are outdated; in my day we earned our stripes. I wouldn’t like the idea of doing it all over again, but I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute because it’s what made me who I am today. Your expert candidates should remember the end of their journey as fondly as one remembers completing a anguishing uphill battle, akin to braving dangerous waters or crossing burning sands. Not a party, but a survival.

The other side of me says, train them properly, and then introduce them to the community as your new instructors/experts, but ask members of the community to come and test your students themselves.

In my school, we do both. I train my guys as well as I can, I test them frequently, give them a huge undertaking (which they are in the middle of completing) and then introduce them to the public. Anyone who wants to doubt that they are the best fighters in the land are welcome to come to the ceremony and prove it.

And here, you have rule #2 to producing good instructors. After developing them as good fighters (rule #1), you have to prove to the instructor candidate as well as the public just how good they are. However you wish to do it–a test, a tournament, or simply to just declare them the best–your new instructors will be terribly ineffective if any of them doubt that they have reached the pinnacle of their ability. At this point, you are responsible for making sure that these instructors have their own experiences to teach from. Not the stories that you have lived, or in the stories of the ones who came before you, but their own. They must have walked the walk in order for them to ever talk about it.

Remember all those debates about whether one could be an effective teacher if he were not an effective fighter? Well, save it, because for these guys, such a discussion is immaterial. They will have an easier time selling memberships because skill sells. They will have plenty of good lessons to teach, because there is no better lesson than experience. They will be qualified to make innovations or alter their teaching and training methods, unlike many of their armchair counterparts. They will even be spared the task of fighting for respect because one thing about good fighters, as long as they are fair and just, everyone respects them. Not necessarily like them, but in their face they will be respected.

In part III we will talk about the technical side of teaching the martial arts…

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Perfection and Mastery in the Martial Arts

Can one ever actually master or otherwise achieve perfection in the martial arts?

Of course the so-called “experts” of the FMAs will answer emphatically, no. I expected that. Why? Because the Filipino martial artist today really has no depth to his martial arts due to the industry’s commercialism. He lacks strong understanding of fighting strategy and practical fighting skill–let alone any philosophical knowledge–so he must look to the Kung Fu movie… yes, I said it: THE KUNG FU MOVIE, to learn how to think and act, as a teacher of the martial arts. He believes that FMA teachers are supposed to be quiet, humble, neutered monks who avoid eye contact and speak in parables. As if the fighters who once challenged each other to test and prove skill and build reputations and forging new methods of fighting only existed in stories and anecdotes. Sorry, but that ain’t us, it isn’t our culture. This, my friend, is a warrior culture, not a temple!

I really hate to admit this because I love my kababayans (countrymen) so much, but even many FMA people in the Philippines do it, too. They try to be fake Filipino monks, with this air of peacefulness and non-violence they have to put on. They read American martial arts magazines to see what the trends are in the “sophisticated” side of the world, and then mock those trends back home. I mean, am I the only guy who notices Filipino pop stars wearing cold-weather gear while on stage performing Rap music in Taglish, in the Philippines? Where its HOT? What about Catholic Filipinos running around in Muslim costumes to live up to the imagery of Dan Inosanto’s Kali Warrior? Wrestling with karabaw in the mud and wearing straw hats and naming everything in this beautiful art rather than using numbers like the rest of us?

Sorry, I lost my head for a minute.

Anyway, while many Filipinos are peaceful, friendly, non-violent people, our martial artists are not. We don’t wear belts and hang up certificates because we don’t need them. We brag. We talk trash. We look at foreign arts and think, I can whip that guy. We try to make our students better than the lousy students up the road or in the next town. We still train well into our 50s and will cross sticks (and hands) with you to prove how good we are. We drag our students to matches to build our reputations, we train harder when they lose, and then we tell potential students that we have the best fighters in town because this is what we strive for.

All that to say, this fake-me-out humility in the FMA is new, it’s phony, and it sucks. It’s not a Filipino martial principle. If all you strive for is mediocrity, why are you even training? Are we not training for combat? Who are you preparing to fight? A boy scout? A 60 year old man with a walker? Are we not studying to win fights, but studying to fight only to a draw? Come on, people, we are allowing our weak counterparts to represent the art of our country of origin! And they are doing all the talking!

Perfection in the martial arts is possible. Mastery in the martial arts is the goal. If you don’t believe that it is possible or that you are capable, then I say you are unworthy of calling yourself a teacher–let alone Master–of the Philippine martial arts. The purpose of training hard is to forge the body into something that cannot be duplicated in a gym and 99% of the martial arts schools out here. We are developing our skills and our bodies so that no man on the street poses a real threat–armed or unarmed. And while it is true that this goal is not right around the corner, it is a possibility that will meet us halfway if we devote enough time and energy towards it. The martial artist must never be satisfied with his skills, because this is what keeps him in the gym and at the top of the food chain.. and out of the hospital or the morgue. He is alway striving for a better, stronger, faster punch or kick. He wants to possess an unstoppable attack, and and impenetrable defense. He wants his knife to have a light saber-like ability to penetrate anything, and for his stick to crash through any defense. He is always striving for more, better, faster, stronger. He is always demanding his body to put out more, and he gives it the attention it needs in order to make sure that he remains capable of keeping up with his desires. He has turned down other endeavors for his martial arts journey; therefore, he enjoys a level of skill and confidence most of his martial arts peers only dream about and pretend to have on the internet and around kid brothers. In the company of his inferior martial arts counterparts, this is the only time he can really be non-violent and not have to pretend to be peace-loving and humble; these people are truly no match to his ability.

When I see mediocre martial artists acting like they have no fear, and then attempting to outsmart those with more physical prowess, I laugh because I know that it isn’t arrogance. Rather, these men really are insecure, and they are hoping you are not as bright as they are so that they can feel superior about something. Now, when he says that he doesn’t believe in mastery and perfection, he’s telling the truth; he doesn’t believe in it… for himself. When he claims to have no fear in combat, he is again telling the truth! He feels no fear of fighting, because he has no intention of ever fighting and will avoid it at all costs.

Want a test? Ask a martial artist you know about fighting, sparring and competition. If he gives you the speech about how fighting has nothing to do with sparring and competitions, or how even NHB fighters are not going to be effective on the street, you are in the company of a martial arts “wuss”. lol

These guys use logic to explain away how martial arts ain’t about fighting, and how the guys who do fight “just don’t get it”, and how guys like me who talk about fighting are the real cowards… It’s all to distract you from the fact that he can’t fight, and that his martial art is weak.

The bottom line:  If a man spent his lifetime training his arts, refining, testing and training even more, he will one day master his art; it is the only outcome. If he spends enough time fine-tuning, revising, fine-tuning some more, revising, and then fine-tuning some more–looking at his skills critically and attempting to smooth out the rough edges and build up his weaknesses until they disappear–he will one day perfect his art. But only when he has spent a good portion of his life in pursuit of these goals will it happen. And finally, others must see and recognize the results before he will… Only then can one truly say that the goal has been reached. He may be confident, but never satisfied with his skills; although he may be pleased with his accomplishments, he will always believe that he is capable of achieving more.  Remember this saying:

The Master is never satisfied with himself. Perfection is always close, but never completely within one’s grasp. Only when he sees how close he is to it, will he actually achieve it. It is a level of attainment for onlookers to enjoy–it is never for the Master himself.

When you are training for combat, you are aiming for mastery and perfection so that you will arrive at the highest level of physical ability possible. There is no other method of studying and training in these arts. This is why I say that for the serious martial artist, “part time student” status does not exist. This is not an undertaking or a hobby, it is a lifestyle. It is not a career for the teacher, it is a calling. You cannot claim to be a martial artist and separate it from your identity. We do this for life because it takes a lifetime to  complete its goals. Yes, the art in its truest form is not for everyone. But it is here for everyone that wants it; you simply have to pursue it. And pursue it long enough that someone tells you that you’ve got it. It’s complicated and complex, but it’s just that simple.

Thank you for reading my blog. Hopefully most of you are not more confused than you were 15 minutes ago.

If you like what you’ve read, you’re going to love my upcoming book, Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months. Available December 2009, but you can order advance copies by visiting my Offerings Page!

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Training versus Teaching Students

Original, unedited post from 2006. We will have a more detailed, edited post up soon, but I thought I’d tease everyone with something from the “kuntawman” archives:

training vs teaching

many FMA people, i noticed, spend a lot of time teaching the student and not training them. what makes a fighter effective, is what he can do, not what he knows.

there’s a lot of 400 pound couch potatos who “know” how the Clippers can win a game, but they are not very valuable to the clippers themself, are they. not saying they can’t coach the clippers, but who will give them the job.

martial artists spend too much time with knowledge not enough time with skill. this is bad for the art, because it allows us to respect ideas more than skill. how many discussions have we battled because some people believe you need to “know” how to teach, more important than you “know” how to fight. i’m sorry, if a man cant fight, i would not study under him, i dont give a damn what he knows. if you will spend hundreds of dollars to follow a guy and you dont care about his ability, then you really dont want to fight.

this is why the tournament is so valuable to the martial artist. especially for FMA artists, because there is so small numbers of arnis people around that are willing to fight, the last thing we need is more FMA philosophizers. Philosphy and ideas mean nothing if you do not make them work. and skill is developed in training, not practice, and definitely not in learning. you can learn how to throw a punch but it is the guy who threw it thousands of times, full speed, full power, that will be successful in a fight. no matter how many different ways you learn to throw that punch.

so fma people, train your skill, stop taking all these damn seminars. the rest of the martial arts world is laughing at us because of our 9th degree masters who cant fight. and stop putting down tournaments like WEKAF, unless you are willing to go there and prove that you can do it better.