Alex Lawrence wrote:
I'm Alex, I'm 22. My father started teaching me martial arts, mainly Ju-jitsu and a bit of boxing when I was small, I have a half brother who's way older than me, way wiser than me and his training is mostly in Aikido, although he's done other stuff, Thai boxing couple of other things, not too sure. He's never been around much but I used to train with him when he was living with us, plus most of my family have been in the army so they taught me stuff too. All this got put to good use at school because for the first 17 years of my life I was pretty much always picked on everywhere I went, literally first to last day of school, in the scouts, cadets, everywhere. I'm quiet, shy and far too easy going for my own good, so I'm a good target, that said I also have a bit of a defiant streak which meant that being in fights inside and outside school was never anything unusual for me. There was a point where I got so angry I was going to punch someone even if he and his mates jumped me for it. Being small didn't help either so if someone wanted to show off how hard they were or impress their girlfriend, yours truely got jumped. Occasionally I dished out more than I took but not usually. 5 or 6 on one isn't good and no-one would take me on one on one.
Anyway when I was 14 or so I started formally learning Ju-jitsu which lasted for about 2 years or so until my Sensei left the country to work abroad at which point the dojo closed and I went and studied TKD for about 6 months but left that when I found a place that was teaching TKD, Ju-jitsu and Aikido and I stayed there for nearly 3 years until they got facinated by kickboxing at which point I decided I'd rather not be there because they were basically training me to jump into a ring and beat people up for no reason. After that I went on to do Lau Gar style Kung fu and Kickboxing, my Sifu taught both, 3 hour lessons, 1st hour and a half would be kickboxing, second would be Kung Fu, that lasted about 6 months until the club folded and my Sifu suggested I go and see my present Sensei and that was about two years ago. Reccently I've also started back at Ju-jitsu. Also looking for somewhere that teaches Krav Maga.
During that time I've been in more than enough trouble. People have tried to mug me 4 times, been in 3 fights involving knives about 6 involving broken bottles or glasses, one with an iron bar, various other scuffels the last serious one being in 2002 when I changed where I hang out to somewhere with less trouble. Being a goth doesn't help either. Certain sections of the community feel they have a god given right to start on you. I've also worked in bars where basically there were no bouncers so I was security and have had to deal with drunk aggressive people that basically wanted a fight.
As I said earlier pretty much everyone I know does some form of martial art, most of them are Dan grade and above and we're always training with each other since were all students and have far too much time on our hands.
Hi. I'm Michael, I'm 40, and I have been doing martial arts for half of my life.
I was the skinny kid who got picked on a lot, although there were maybe less than a dozen altercations growing up. There was one time in Junior High when, as I was cutting through the gym between classes, some kid I didn't know ataccked me, punching me and kicking me as I tried to get a across the gym, and he didn't say who he was or why he was doing it. I never cut through that gym ever again. Now that I think about it, in first or second grade, I was attacked by a kid I'd thought was my friend; I do not know why he did it. He just beat me up in front of the school and ran off, again, no explanation. You could say that friendship ended. No muggings, knife fights, or people coming at me with broken bottles, though, which I suppose is good, although nowadays I guess one of those aforementioned kids would have brought a gun and I'd be dead.
When I was in college, my roommate found out there was a karate class there. I'd known about it, but I had hesitated to take it. Steve, however, badgered me about it every day for a week. I signed up just to shut him up. Didn't work -- he and a girl who'd done karate for about three months told me about all the ways you can die doing karate. Didn't inspire confidence. My first shito-ryu karate class was the following Tuseday, the first week of February, 1985. The Sensei, Dean Gordon, advised us to practice between classes, so I took those words to heart and did that. I am still plugging away after twenty years. Steve started in the same class I did and dropped out after three weeks. Her name was Pam.
The following year, 1986, I tried my hand at fencing while I continued karate. However, I was struggling to pull up my grades and missed a lot of fencing classes. I don't think my fencing coach liked me very much. However, I came out of it with a fencing team jacket I later gave to an English friend of mine in 1992; I think she still has it. But I digress.
In the fall of 1986, having flunked out of Utica College, I took classes at Tompkins Cortland Community College, and they had an Aikido class there. I had read about Aikido and O Sensei's feats and wanted to learn to do that!
So I started Seidokan Aikido under Sensei Jim Wallace. I was also continuing in the same style of karate, shito-ryu, under Sensei Ed Ferraro at Cornell University. For about two years I did both karate and Aikido, but for a variety of reasons I will not go into here, I dropped out of Aikido. I maintaned an interest in it, though, and occassionally bought books on it.
In the Spring of 1991, I began classes at the University of Maine near Bangor, Maine, about 600 miles from where I live ( http://www.umaine.edu
). I'd scoped out the univeristy and local karate teachers when my mother and I had taken out vacations in Maine during previous years. My first choice was a Shotokan teacher, but by the time I came out to Maine, he had relocated to Maryland. So I went with my second choice, Sensei Bruce Barker, who taught at UMaine. I'd been a strict traditionalist at that time, and Bruce's mix of traditional Shotokan, modern TKD, and Chinese forms wasn't to my liking. But I joined the class and found I liked it; it opened my eyes to a certain extent. I studied with Sensei Bruce until I graduated from UMaine in 1994, but I still visit and train with him when I go out there on vacation. Back home in Cortland, I resumed doing Shito-Ryu karate at Cornell.
In 1997, I got in a flame war in rec.martial-arts over the value of kata training. Anyone who'd been surfing that group at that time will probably remember it, so I don't have to go into details. Suffice it to say my behavior in that thread was not something I am proud of. However, one of the people I was arguing with accused me of being closed-minded, and (in his mind) that was why I'd blown my stack a couple of days before, not because of anything he'd said! I couldn't beleive it! Would a closed-minded person have ventured beyond one art or style? I didn't think so.
Well, I'd thought about FMA for a while, and there was a school in my area that I knew taught it. So a couple of days after being called closed-minded, I was driving by, and thought, I'll show that (*&&^% who has a closed mind!
So that day I drove into East West Martial Arts and talked to Guro Kevin Seaman about his Kali program. I sat in on the advanced class that Friday and tried the beginner's class the following Monday, where I met Guro Andy Astle.
I stayed with it that summer, but in the Fall, I had a problem: I wanted to do both Cornell karate classes per week, on Monday and Wednesday, because I felt I owed it to Sensei to show up for everything; but I didn't want to give up going to East West. Lo and Behold, that Fall, Guro Andy began teaching a Wing Chun class on Tuesdays
. So I did that. And when I trained on my own, I did as Guro Kevin had advised me and played with the stick. The following summer, in 1998, I resumed taking Kali, and have stayed with it ever since. I took the level 1 (newbie) test in 1999. That same year, IIRC, Guro Andy folded up his Wing Chun class. You want to know why, you'll have to ask him.
That same year, Guro Kevin's son had a boxing class on Saturdays, and I joined that. Kali's unarmed portion included Filipino Boxing which, to put it mildly, had an influence on Western Boxing. So I wanted to get a little more on boxing. We never sparred, but I got the basics and did focus mit work. I skipped one class because I was sick, and the following week, went to an Eric Paulson seminar. The next week, the boxing class was no more. To this day, I do not know why.
In 2000, my mother had had a lot of health problems, so I wanted to get her exercises. Sensei Mike Eschenbrenner, who had taken over the Cornell class after Sensei Ed had retired, suggested Tai Chi. Lo and Behold, East West inaugurated a Tai Chi class on Friday nights! My mother and I started in that in November. And we continued going faithfully until Devember of 2002. The following Spring, her health deteriorated and she passed away on March 2, 2003. I still go to Tai Chi.
In July of 2003, Guro Kevin closed his academy. Sifu Rex, my Tai Chi teacher, had his own school in Ithaca. I'd visited the web site and knew there was an Aikido class there, but I wanted to continue Tai Chi. It just so happened Guro Andy was going to offer a class there, so I joined it to continue Kali. The first 45 minutes of that class is Kali; the second is Pentjak Silat Serak. Pembantu Andy is not a Serak instructor but he has permission to teach it from his instructor, Maha Guru Victor de Thouars. (I have to add that by Andy's request.) So that is how I got into Serak.
Serak has lots and LOTS of throws, so it helps to have crash mats, and at that school, the mats are owned by the Aikido class, which I'd been thinking about joining for months. Well, a few months after we arrived, a little sign appeared on the mat stack: "Please do not use without permission from the Aikido head instructor." So we stopped using the mats ..... but we still did throws! So I would intermittentantly bug Andy about asking for permission, but he kept forgetting it. (Although he had a lot on his mind since he'd had to find a new job when the factory he'd worked at closed.)
Finally, in March of 2004, while I was on vacation in Ottawa, I decided I would join the Aikido class after I got home. I'd meant to check it out during the summer, but I moved up my plans. On Friday nights, Aikido and Kali are back-to-back. So I thought the sight of me leaving the Aikido class as Andy arrived to teach his class would give him the subliminal nudge required to ask about the mats. I called him form the hotel (I'd ask him to check up on my house) and he mentioned that he'd got permission from Sensei to use the mats -- it had been a misunderstanding, and the sign had not been aimed at us (it was aimed at whomever was suffing them up, and to this day, I don't think anyone knows who did it).
"Ok," I said, "then I don't have to start Aikido until---"
"You're going to take Aikido?" he said; I could hear his grin from ear to ear. "That's great."
"No, I'm nuts -- I'll be wiped out at the end of the week."
"No, no, do it,.do it! You'll be a better martial artist."
So the next week I started in Aikido. I'm still plugging away at that.
So currently I am doing karate, Kali, Serak, Tai Chi, and Aikido. I have also done seminars with Sifu Dan Inosanto, Sifu Francis Fong, and Maha Guru Victor de Thouars. Guro Andy has been emphasizing how deadly the knife is and the reality of knife attacks, and that is what I have been speaking from in my posts. He has 15 years experience in Kali and Jun Fan Gung Fu/JKD and has been studying Serak for 3 to 5 years, so I think he might know what he's talking about.
We done marking territory now?