FMAT: The Fork in the Road

Clark Kent

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Sep 11, 2006
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The Fork in the Road
By Bobbe - 11-13-2008 08:41 PM
Originally Posted at: FMATalk


The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.
You, that way; we, this.

Someone posted about my emotional housecleaning, as described on my blog, &#8220;Thick as Thieves&#8221;. After reading some of the responses, I wanted to clarify what I meant.

First thing, I haven&#8217;t &#8220;Invented&#8221; a new style of Kali, Pencak Silat, or Kuntao. I do believe my teaching style is unique, but I&#8217;m not actually doing anything new under the sun. My knowledge comes from my various teachers and my years in training. And I do still consider myself a student as well.

However, I call what I do &#8220;Edmonds Martial Arts&#8221; as opposed to &#8220;Doce Pares&#8221; &#8220;Mande Muda&#8221; &#8220;Inosanto&#8221; &#8220;Petrilli&#8221; &#8220;Wing Chun&#8221; or fifty-eleven other style names, not because I don&#8217;t wish to show respect, but because I won&#8217;t carry the flag of someone else. In this, I am probably going to catch some heat, but that&#8217;s just how it is: My loyalty and gratitude doesn&#8217;t extend THAT far. Not anymore it doesn&#8217;t.

As I look around this board, I can see where being the poster boy for some teachers or styles does nothing but bring added stress and grief to your life. It&#8217;s the same story for decades now, someone says something that your teacher disagrees with, and suddenly there is a blood feud between people who have never met, never trained together, and sometimes don&#8217;t even live in the same country. Sometimes new students simply inherit the feud that their teacher or school has had going for years before they decided to join. And a misguided sense of loyalty often throws them directly into a conflict they had no knowledge of or hand in a week earlier.

It&#8217;s happened to me more times than I can count. And always because I stood up for my teacher, only to find he wasn&#8217;t as squarely behind me as I thought.

The other reason is that I don&#8217;t adhere to a strictly Filipino curriculum, nor an Indo-Malay, nor Chinese, etc. There are places where I can see one system is stronger than another, and it&#8217;s not my job to go around &#8220;fixing&#8221; martial styles. I don&#8217;t see the need to create a sensible knife curriculum for Wing Chun, I just take the skills Wing Chun has to offer and keep going. I can&#8217;t really do that unless I do it alone.

As to the question of &#8220;when should you do this?&#8221; Only the individual can answer that. Nine years ago I had absolutely no intention of opening my own school, even though I had 17 years of experience. When Chris Petrilli left Seattle, I was willing to follow him to Mars if he moved that far. Now I chuckle to myself when I remember that I ever thought that way. There&#8217;s absolutely nothing wrong with Petrilli, he was one of my best teachers&#8230;I&#8217;m just not that person anymore.

Time is a funny thing, and given enough of it and you will see how mountains move, how the mighty are fallen, and how people change. And if you&#8217;re lucky enough, you&#8217;ll get to see how far you&#8217;ve come over the years.


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