Archive for Mentors

Roundtable Discussion 011: Notable Influences

Posted in Discussion Question, Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by Combative Corner

“Who’s one person that has inspired/taught you in the martial art(s) and who may never be considered ‘well-known’?”

RONNIE YEE

This guy was just another student like myself, but he is Master Chen’s (Zhonghua) most senior disciple (seniority – not age).  Ronnie Yee lives and teaches in Regina, but was able to travel to our camp for Hunyuan World 2002.  I learned a lot from my time in Edmonton, but what really stood out was how easy it seemed for Ronnie to put complicated Taiji theory and concepts into a form that was more ‘palatable’ to our young minds.  He was a fellow wushu practitioner (so we had that background in common) as well as being a massage therapist.  He knew magic and played with some of the youngsters there (including myself- I love magic!) and introduced me to the rope dart… a weapon that is now my favorite to play and perform.  In just one weekend, Ronnie Yee had a pretty huge impact – and I feel very fortunate to be there at that date and time.  He didn’t MySpace, and he certainly doesn’t Facebook or Twitter (maybe one day in the future), but there is no doubt about it, he’s a fine martial artist and is somewhere working his “magic” ways on his students.

[Video]Ronnie pushing hands with Master Chen]

ARDEN COWHEARD

For me it is Arden Cowheard 6th Dan Kodokan Judo. He is almost 91 years old and still teaching. I still attend and teach there but Aikido and other arts are my true calling.  He opened his Dojo and heart to me. I grew up without a father but I had so many great father figures in my life and he is one that changed my life.
After my first class I never had to pay for a class from that point. But He knew my heart was into the study of Aikido. So I talked to him and said. ” Sensei, there is a very powerful Aikido teacher coming to topeka to teach for a weekend. May I go and train with him?”
He said ” Yes Robert!!! Go where your heart leads you.”  From that point I never left Aikido. I found my love. I still trained Karate and Judo. But without my Judo teach helping to raise me up and not holding me back he helped me to bloom into the person I am today.
He may not be well known. But he is a hero to me. A real Budoka. My family and countless others. Rei Sensei!!

GORD WOOD

He was my Krav Maga instructor in 2003, and he taught me how to teach kids martial arts. He taught me how to teach adult martial arts. He taught me how to be an excellent communicator. Above all, he was and remains to be an excellent friend. A finer man you would be hard-pressed to find.

[GORD WOOD’S WEBSITE]

MASTER SANG HO LEE

He was my very first martial arts instructor when I began Tae Kwon Do when I was 13. He started my martial arts career. As a teenager he not only instilled in me the confidence and self respect that made me the man I am today, he also helped me discover something that I seemed to be naturally good at. As someone who was never great at sports that was a big deal for me.

Master Lee taught me to never hold back when it came to my techniques or how hard I tried in class. He expected a lot from his students and never let us get away with doing things half way. He was a great instructor and I’ve shared stories of my time training with him with my students on more than one occasion.

MY FATHER

My father has taught me much about the ways of Tao and Buddha without saying a word, he just lives it. He goes on doing things without taking credit for all that he has accomplished. I was actually raised to live the Martial Way without even realizing it. I was born and raised living the Martial Way. My father will never be well-known because he has no desire to expose himself, he claims no titles, he is not a Martial Artist. He is a man of Gung Fu, but he does not realize it. He will never be “well-known” but if I am ever to be “well-known” then maybe my stories about him will be “well-known.”

GILLES BEAULIEU

My Karate teacher, Gilles Beaulieu, was my first martial arts teacher. Although he was teaching in a relatively small city, he still managed to have a thriving class for a while. I have memories of Gilles conditioning us by having us punch each other in the gut (which I don’t think is kosher anymore), running way more than I liked, and doing crazy things like 1000 crunches the day before I had a presidential fitness test at school. As a kid who was not in great shape and really hated the exercise conditioning, I still loved the class. Even though he was tough on us with the training, he was inspirational since he was doing all the work too and making it look easy. All the while, he maintained a positive energy, built up people’s confidence, and established a sense of community in the class.

WHO IS SOMEONE YOU ADMIRE ?

Roundtable Discussion 003: Mentor

Posted in Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2010 by Combative Corner

Six martial artists, from six different disciplines were asked,

“If you could train with any instructor/athlete/guru/etc (living or deceased) for a day, who would it be, and why?”

Gray Cook

JOHNNY KUO –  I had to think long and hard about this question. The simple answer would have been to pick my sifu Sam F.S. Chin, but I already get opportunities to train with him. Instead, I’m going to venture into the realm of physical therapy and pick Gray Cook.

I have a long-standing interests in strength and athletic training in addition to martial arts. The thing that carries over between those interests is functional movement. Any physical activity (sports, martial arts, or daily life) involves moving the body. Due to the sedentary nature of modern life, a lot of people don’t seem to move very well; people have tight muscles, immobile joints, weak muscles, weird movement compensations, poor proprioception, or just plain can’t fire their muscles in a coordinated fashion.

Since my primary non-work passions are movement based, I notice these movement dysfunctions all around me (and with myself also). As a teacher, I often have to correct movement patterns so that (a) the students don’t injure themselves and (b) the students learn what efficient and functional movement feels like. It’s not unusual for me to encounter a student with dysfunctional movement patterns beyond my ability to readily diagnose or correct.

I like hanging out with physical therapists and body workers because I learn so much about how the body is supposed to work and pick up little tricks for diagnosing and correcting poor movement. I realize there will always be students whose movement issues are beyond my abilities to correct, but I’m always striving to learn more and reduce the number of cases that elude my abilities.



Helio Gracie

ADAM DAVIS Being the Jiu-Jitsu fanatic that I am I would train with Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He took the ground techniques (ne-waza) from Judo which could be applied using leverage and momentum by a smaller guy, like himself, on a larger man and molded them into what is now the complexity of Jiu-Jitsu. Gracie would be the best person for me to train with not only because of his knowledge of the martial arts but also because of his views on the relationship of life and competition. He saw competition as essential to training due to the exercise, diet, and sportsmanship which came with it. Fighting for sport is what BJJ became known for as a result of Helio Gracie’s ideas and it was always my dream to meet him after I read a book about the origins of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Unfortunately, Helio Gracie passed away on January 29th, 2009 at the age of 95. He lived an extraordinarily healthy life (I heard stories of him tapping out Ricardo Arona while he was in his 90’s, rumors…maybe) and left an extensive family, full of world champion fighters, to carry on his legacy. I have been fortunate enough to train with a couple of his children (Royce and Rodrigo) and my experiences with them assure me that Helio Gracie, at any age, would be the best person to train with.


O'Sensei

ROBERT LARA SENSEI -If I could train with any teacher at anytime in history for one day it would have to be under Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei. The founder of Aikido. The reason why is because he founded the art that I live my life by. The art of peace. I know in just one days time with O’Sensei you would learn more of Aiki. In body,mind,spirit.

Some of my teachers were students of O’Sensei. And the stories they tell of their training under O’Sensei are so great. You won’t find most of those stories in books. These men and women who trained direct from the founder who are still with us are living treasures in my view point as they are links to the living teachings of O’Sensei.

The time I would love to train with O’Sensei is during the last years of his life. His Waza was so strong. Yet fluid and fully controlling. And upside to training in the internal arts is as you age you only get better at Aiki waza because you do not have the physical strength to over power. These are just my humble view points and I respect all arts.

Lao Tzu

SIFU FREDDIE LEE– I would love to meet and learn from Lao-Tzu.  Author to the “Tao Te Ching.”  The truth contained in the text is penetrating, that short simple text transformed my entire life and really got me to see the deeper meaning behind Martial Arts and life.  Bruce Lee died at an earlier age but there is still a decent amount of wisdom left behind from him of where you can grasp his spiritual essence, same with many sages and Artists.  But Lao-Tzu, there is very little known about him, I would be very interested in seeing his day to day way of living.  Applying the unique wisdom he had in a world filled with confusion.

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Jet Li

SENSEI BRANDON VAUGHN– I’m gonna have to go with Jet Lee for any living person. I think it would be an awesome experience and he seems like a really great guy who would be nice about showing you how much more he knows than you.

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Alan Watts

COACH MICHAEL JOYCEI approached this question from a practical point-of-reference.  Being that the duration of said event is only a day, my choice is based on someone I could have a deep and meaningful conversation with over tea.  Alan Watts, the British philosopher and writer was (and continues to be) a huge influence in how I came to understand myself and my environment.  Say what you want about the man (he had his eccentricities), but he was both brilliant and articulate.  He had a way of describing things, and opening people’s minds to concepts that, to me, made “only good sense.”

I often contemplate our existence, who we are, and how it is best to live.  I am forever grateful to Alan Watts, and to his son Mark (who is now the curator of his father’s works) for being so prolific and giving.  Alan Watts has a free podcast that is available for subscription on Itunes.  I suggest everyone give it a try.  That is, however, if you wish to view the world and yourself with great clarity.


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