I’ve just looked at a martial arts forum for probably only the second or third time in my life. A person was asking about the club and various people responded. This of course then got involved in sort of claim and counter claim. Generally the news was very good. Like all clubs we’ve had our ups and downs. Back in the eighties we were very focused on functionality and did lots of sparring. Then by the late nineties when we moved to different premises business took over as our costs were high and though still one of the leading clubs I think for a time we lost that zeal.
Now that eighties zeal is definitely back. It’s like the old days again, everything tested and slimmed down for action. The aim of our training is for you to understand both the technique and the concept plus the soft skills like timing and distance. It’s about less is more. Then once you’ve got the core stuff down and can use it the other stuff just slides in easily. Of course you have to train that stuff hard too so we squeeze as much into a session as we can. Instructor Neil Mcleod one of the Academy’s seniors often says. ‘ self protection then self perfection’ so that’s the path.
People often ask if I teach the complete Inosanto-lacoste system and I”d have to say not exactly. I’ve studied that system for thirty years and love it but what i teach is my own blend based around what I’ve learnt in forty plus years of training plus what works and also what I like doing. Being crippled for all of the nineties forged me and what i do. When you’re like that there’s no way you can do everything. You start to analyse and look at how to simplify and make functional. You look at ways to leverage your body to the maximum. As a result what I teach is a unique blend. With new titanium hips I’m a lover of movement and evasion but the close quarter stuff I learnt in that fifteen years is hard wired. I Love to pass this on to others. Whilst I didn’t like the constant pain I learnt lots about both myself and about technique and position. When you’ve got less you use it more wisely. At the moment I teach a blend based around Filipino martial arts but it’s got hints of Karate (the discipline, work ethic and perfectionism ) its got the flow and realness of Filipino styles, some of the structure of Lee’s Jun fan gung fu, the grit, grind and subtlety of boxing and Thai boxing. In many ways it’s true JKD, the original MMA. Not sport based but where sport, reality and art meet.
Is it the best? As my friend Andy Norman of KFM would say ‘it is what it is’. It’s been my pleasure over the years to have played a formative part in the development of many of the leading instructors in the U.K and throughout Europe. Did I teach them everything? Of course not. Hopefully what I did teach them is how to think and look and to train hard and cleverly. This is what I continue to try to do now. I try to keep the bar high so that people excel. Our grading system is organised so by the time you’re black belt you have an INTEGRATED knowledge of all areas. I often get called the grandfather of JKD or Kali but these terms were originated by others. Basically I just did my work. The Tao Te ching the chinese classic says’ to do your work and make no ado.’ So that’s what we’re trying to do . Our work should be our greatest promotional tool.
My thanks to my good friends David O, Carl and Gordon and Winston who share the load with me and to all our old friends out there flying the flag even though not currently training. In particular Pat O’Malley who unlike me seems to relish forums.