In 1986 I attended a seminar with Guro Dan Inosanto partly because I wanted to meet him again and partly because I was bored with martial arts. My previous experience was mainly around boxing, fencing and Muay Thai with some grappling (Judo/Wresting) and a small amount of what we would call Combatives today. Mainly sport orientated and ultra-competitive environments. Leaving aside my military exploits, I was mostly a recreational martial artist.
After the first couple of hours of Dan covering JKD, we took a lunch break, and I had the excellent luck that Dan sat next to me whilst we were all scrambling around our Head sports bags looking for our sandwiches crushed by our Eskrima sticks. Over the years, I have noticed he can chat to just about anyone, and we discussed being fed up with combat sports or putting it more succinctly bored.
Dan recommended that I looked into other arts as a researcher who trained. We chatted about FMA and also Krabi Krabong and cross over into other skills. From that chat, I realised a few things about myself. I was interested in arts that most people had not trained in. I wanted that backyard training experience that was slightly edgy and underground, but I also wanted to go deep into the art I was learning.
I decided to limit myself to researching and learning one art at a time and to put the other arts on the back burner for the time being unless there was a direct cross over. Some people can study (train and learn) multiple arts in-depth simultaneously; I am not one of those people. I tend to spend at least five years learning an art and then investigating another one. I found that’s about enough time to get the core essence of an art.
Later, when I began to teach classes, I taught Boxing, Muay Thai and the weapons side of FMA, and I found I could make training gains and research one other art at the same time. By the early nineties, I was able to see the connections between the arts and cross-reference them; I started to build a list of common traits and training methods. This evolved as my classes change to Vale Tudo and then MMA, with some full contact stick along the way into a sort of hybrid blend.
Since 2015 I have been concentring on Pukulan Sera, a different branch to one I originally studied, and it’s my core art. When I stick fight, I mostly use Krabi Krabong and some FMA. I am or was studying sword pre-Covid and intend to restart classes in that as soon as I can.
It’s worth noting how rewarding the arts have been personally in my private and work life. Having research and training goals has transferred over into my life. I believe that studying martial arts has allowed me to avoid some of the pitfalls some of my former military colleagues have fallen into. I would also point out that had I not had the twenty minutes chatting to Guro Dan, I would probably have missed out on a lot. I have gained a lot socially and also spiritually, mentally and physically from my studies.
So, if you are bored and if this text rings a bell with you, think about what you want and why and set out some ideas on paper and start planning your own journey.
Bon Voyage (as my Savate friends say).