It's amazing what people are willing to believe without seeing, willing to believe what they hear and willing to believe it all without experiencing. You cannot build a reputation on what you are going to do. Theoretical fighters are just that. Foundations built on words.
A friend of mine who works the midnight shift in security at Burger King in the heart of the city has survived countless violent confrontations. He's 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs no more than 145 pounds (66 kilos). He's faced multiple attackers and armed attackers. He has no black belts, he's no master nor does he teach any kind of martial art… yet he can teach a thing or two to and wipe the floor with most of the martial arts instructors in the greater Montreal area including those who preach "street wise".
However, being a great or experienced fighter doesn't automatically state that you are a good teacher either. One must also possess teaching skills in order to properly and accurately transmit the information accordingly. Sugar Ray Leonard who was a world champion and pound for pound at the time, the greatest Boxer of his era turned to teaching and coaching once retired. He never produced a champion. He was not capable of transmitting his knowledge and ring experience to others.
There's something I don't get. What's with the scams? What's with all the ego battles? What's with the "I'm the best in the world and could kill 73.5 men in 0.002 seconds using only my pinkie while blindfolded and intoxicated under water"?
Do these people seriously think that they can teach the entire planet on their own once the entire planet realizes that they are truly the best and everyone else sucks? Why don't we see this kind of ego crap in ballroom dancing or Tennis? Because the frail martial artists have to hide their insecurity of the fact that they can't really fight or defend themselves by boosting their false bravado and embellishing their resumes and credentials with such crap as the examples mentioned above. Sounds harsh? It is. I am not generalizing nor am I condemning the qualified hard working instructors who are truly trying to make a difference in this world by giving people the gift of confidence, personal protection and/or a traditional style with values and philosophy.
The con artists, charlatans, masters of verbal diarrhea and money hungry fraudulent make it very difficult for the proficient and qualified to get their teachings across. After all, whom are you going to believe?
There are a handful of qualified teachers, masters, instructors and coaches out there both in the traditional realm and eclectic circles. They are hard to find among the wannabes and charlatan's as the latter use the same lingo and marketing tools to promote themselves as the qualified do. Be weary of marketing scams and promotional tools. Seek not the self-promoted schools but rather those with experience, look at the students the school has provided and not so much the instructor's skills verbally spewing their curriculum.
If there's a skip in beat between the upper paragraph and this one, it's because a guy and his buddy just walked into my school as I was writing this, asking for information. I decided to write about this because I was fascinated by the ignorance (Ignorance: lack of knowledge on a given subject) and stupidity (Stupidity: a conscious restraint of knowledge imparted with the ignorant) of the two individuals and it is pretty much on the topic of what I have been discussing thus far.
One of these clowns had trained in wudokan kung fu for a year and a half and was looking for more sparring experience since in a few traditional arts, sparring is rather limited. He arrogantly stated that one of his friends had come into my school years back and put one of my guys down.
Now, I don't like getting into this game of who's genitals are bigger than who's but if I had a penny for every idiot who put me down I'd have a home in Switzerland and a Mercedes 500SL parked in my San Fernando mansion.
I proceeded on clarifying this matter by informing this gent of the errors of his statement and we continued talking. After telling me how effective his style is, and I just don't believe unless I see for myself, I took a wooden knife and placed it at his carotid artery demanding his money. I asked him what he would do in such a case. He proceeded on trying to grab my arm in a downward swooping motion to which I immediately slit his throat. I asked him to try again. Same result. He said there's nothing anyone could do when the knife is that close, so I obliged him to hold the knife up at my neck. After a subtle psychological distraction, I disarmed him and simulated ripping his eyes out in one flowing move.
He was stunned. I had him try again and again. 5 times in total to which I disarmed him every time while simulating ripping his eyes out of his skull. His brilliant friend (Brilliant: in this case, sarcastically stated implying "No s#$% Sherlock!") then gets a stroke of genius and says "But your messing his mind with words first". I wish I could have nominated this fu#!%ng Einstein for a Nobel prize for the incredible level of intelligence he had just displayed.
I then let him try to disarm me again, 4 more failures. Then… then the excuses began to flow freer than a natural spring river as it thaws from the winter's grasp (damn poetic don't you think?). Here they are, word for word. "If this was real I would have…" "If you wanted my money, well, I would have pretended to give it to you and then… blah blah blah." "Point being", I told him, "you can give me all the excuses in the world pal, in reality, your blood would be spewing out your neck and you'd be talking to God".
After what seemed like he understood, I told him to take a wooden knife and place it at his wudokan instructor's neck and slice the charlatan's neck as soon as he moved aggressively. I believe he was finally convinced in the end because he said he was going to be back to take some private instruction. His Einstein friend however, well, bright boy might be a deterrent to his coming back because every hero who doesn't walk their talk unfortunately continue to walk and talk.
Why did I tell you this story? Because it unfortunately illustrates allot of what goes on in the martial arts world. Because I've seen and heard the above story umpteen times in thousands of variations. Because, amazingly enough, even after physically disproving these individuals, they still think they're right. Because a professional Thai Boxer walked into my school once and challenged me to a no holds barred match because he was convinced that Thai Boxing was the most street effective art. I left him semi conscious lying on the floor in his own drool after approx. one and a half minutes of the fight in front of 22 of my students and my father. This guy, after wiping the drool off his face, had the unbelievable gall to say he still thought he was better. I asked him if he wanted to try again and he declined. I wonder why?
Because a Tae Kwon Do Olympics candidate insisted he could use his art successfully in the street and that he could beat me easily. Because I choked this Tae Kwon Do expert out 6 times in a row, 4 of which we were still standing after every single time he said "I wasn't ready". Because you're always 100% prepared and ready for a surprise attack in the street. Because 2 months later, a guy who's in my school asking for information tells me how a Tae Kwon Do buddy of his beat me in my school. I couldn't help but laugh when I later that week saw him cycling on a stationary bike in the Gym above my school. I walked up to him and asked him about that time he beat me loud enough for everyone within a 5-foot distance from us could hear. The guy turned white and said that his friend made that up. I asked him if he was sure and that we could go again right now, right here and have it videotaped. He declined. I wonder why?
A year later, I get a call from a friend of mine who's at a restaurant and hears this cook bragging to all the waiters that he beat me in my own school. I rush over there and low and behold; whom do I find shooting his mouth off once again? Same Tae Kwon Do guy. So, I walk over to him and ask him to recount the story again in front of the waiters and this time around, the waiters hear a different version. He goes on saying that Tae Kwon Do and Senshido are just different and none is better or worse. Fair and true enough when taken in the context that a Senshido practitioner fighting in a Tae Kwon Do tournament following the Tae Kwon Do rules would get his ass kicked and that a Tae Kwon Do practitioner would get his butt whipped in a real street fight. But the waiters aren't satisfied, they go on to tell me that Mr. TKD was bragging about kicking my butt which he automatically denied in front of me and the waiters. That was enough for me, so I left him there looking like an idiot coward in front of his peers.
What do you call someone who claims the world is flat and is shown scientific evidence that it 's round but he still insists it's flat? Faithful? Stupid? What?
If and when someone beats me or shows me different I will embrace the new found knowledge and add it to my repertoire (as I have before). This is not about ego; it is about truth, knowledge, experience and saving lives. I know what we do works not because someone told me it did and I blindly accepted it but because I have seen it work. I have used it myself and I have countless testimonials of those who have successfully used it to defend themselves in potential rapes, armed muggings, bar fights, security situations and much more.
I do not claim to know everything nor do I claim to be the best and have the best system around, I'm not, there are many excellent instructors out there and I am still learning. Senshido is in constant development and state of progression. It is not the same system it was 5 years ago or 2 years ago for that matter. But we, like many others out there are on the right track. So research what you're getting into and make sure you are getting what you want. But don't let yourself be diluted by manipulative salesmen and charlatans who are out for your hard earned money.
Train intelligently and diligently.