Training With A Legend


Twice a year we attend seminar here in Atlanta with one of our instructors, Guro Dan Inosanto.  Seminars, and I’m specifically talking about fitness and martial arts seminars, are a dramatic spectacle to behold.  Lots of egos, hero worship (and sycophantic behavior that goes along with it), folks taking themselves way too seriously, and big showmanship by those stepping up to demo.  The rumor mill is hard at work, giving the political factions plenty of fodder to occupy their time.  When I began attending many years ago, it was a lot like drinking from the fire hose, to borrow a phrase from a former training mate.  Too much too much!  It is difficult to grasp, much less retain that much information crammed into your gray matter in the space of eight hours.  Nevertheless, it has gotten easier with repetition.  I began to realize that I have seen much of the material before at different intervals, and through no conscious effort, it has begun to jell. 


I always enter a strange head space during and after the event.  Guro Dan makes me think about things differently, and I see in his words, actions and approach to martial arts a philosophy for everyday living.  He is a student of life, just as Bruce Lee was, and everything he learns in other areas adds to his purpose and his passion, which is martial arts.  Even at 70+ years young, he is expanding, honing, overcoming adversities, and generally absorbing what is useful.  He shows no indication of stopping any time soon, though he admits adapting to physical aging with each passing decade; it is a must for longevity, he posits.  He exposes his personal struggles in his stories; he is human, and a very humble one.  I think his warnings about pitfalls are just as much a reminder to himself as they are to his faithful students.  Some would love to elevate him to the status of a god, which is folly.  His is not THE way, but A way.  He encourages us all to find our own, as any great mentor would.  He has my greatest respect.


I walk away from seminar each time with similar thoughts in my mind.  One is that I can never stop learning.  Another is that I must be tested in order to approach mastery, and true mastery often requires teaching concepts to another.  It is so easy to become complacent in the idea of mastery, and I must humble myself continually by remaining a student in many disciplines with many instructors.  A third is that following a passion takes discipline.  Last and most important is this: I can just never stop.  Period.  The key to life is getting in motion and staying in motion.  Stopping is akin to dying.  I have heard Guro Dan say in the past that he would rather wear out than rust out, and I must agree.


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