I’ve been contemplating whether or not I should write this post for a while now. It’s been sitting in the “draft bin” while I’ve hemmed and hawed. Things have been going peacefully for me lately in the politics category and the AO has been quiet… so part of me is saying “just leave it be”, but I think that my experience could be useful for a person looking to start studying martial arts.
The thing people have to realize is that martial arts are a human endeavor and as such are subject to human weaknesses; ego, greed, envy, miscommunication, stubbornness and just plain old politics. Some of the people involved in this little story probably read this blog every once and a while so I am going to do my best not to offend anybody. I am only going to describe my understanding of the situation and my experience with it. I am going to leave any opinion on peoples behavior out of the equation.
Before I start let me say that I’m not claiming that this story is “common”, but from looking, listening and reading I am pretty confident that the reader can find similar situations nearby. And in the long run, my little part in this story is very tame. There have been situations involving lawsuits, violence and outright murder over similar events so this is going to be sort of “milk toast” by comparison.
The names have been changed (or just abbreviated) to protect the innocent…the guilty…and myself. 😉
My experience with the martial arts began back in the early 1980’s. After years of fascination with the Saturday Kung-Fu Cinema, and playing “Ninja” with my good friend Paul (this was the height of the “ninja craze” 80’s mind you), I convinced my parents to enroll me in a small local Shorinji Kempo school. I attended regularly until my parents and I had a bit of a falling out with the instructor. In kind of “Kobra-Kai” fashion, the Sensei there had a bizarre rule that if you missed a class (as in one) and your excuse wasn’t acceptable to him that you would be “banished” for a month. Being in high-school at the time, I had to stay after school for an academic reason one evening (read: I wasn’t doing well in science class and needed some extra credit by volunteering to help at parent night). I told a fellow classmate and martial arts student to tell the instructor that I would not be able to attend and would bring a written excuse from my parents next session. Well that wasn’t acceptable..I was “banished” for a month after my very first missed class. Since that month was already paid for my parents went ballistic, made a big scene (and got their money back…good for them) and I never returned there.
1 to 1 1/2 years later, my uncle married a woman who was studying Chinese Kenpo at a local school that I eventually joined and attended into college. Well…my Uncle and her are divorced now and I think that part of the reason may have been “something going on” between her and one of the instructors. That school closed down after I achieved a couple of belts and I was a Ronin once again.
As I was going through college my buddy Paul decided to join Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children and on his worldwide tour studied a few various arts. Upon his return he decided to attend a local community college and this is when the main issue of this little biography began.
Paul saw that the college was offering a self-defense class and took it. It was being taught by a professor DB. DBhad a base in Chinese Kenpo and had brought a then little known Filipino master to the area, this master was teaching a “new” art that was then little known in the US. DB received an instructor level ranking in this art and was teaching a personal blend of it at the college. With the written approval of the Master.
There was another group of people in the area that started following this Filipino Master and DB began to meet and associate with them at various seminars, one of them was a man named TH. After a while, TH started proclaiming himself the “number one” man in the art around our area. This sort of perturbed DB, who had been running a successful collegiate program for a number of years and was never informed of his “subordinate” status to TH. This began a feud that lasted for years and currently seems to be in a North/South Korea style cease-fire.
Eventually, I began going with my friend Paul to weekly training sessions with DB. I attended seminars and assisted Paul with instructing various groups he started up after he attained his instructors certification. I bumped into THa few times, but I was not involved in any of the dojo politics.
The internet… being the gateway to hell that it is though that was about to change.