Training With a Master

This past weekend we attended a seminar with one of our instructors, Guro Dan Inosanto, and his faithful sidekick, Joel, at the Francis Fong Academy in Norcross, GA.  As always, it was an inspiring experience spending time around a true master, who is 73 years young.  I have often looked to him as a model of how I want to age, and he shares his philosophy of training and how he adapts as he ages.  I remember Dan saying one time, “I would rather wear out than rust out.”  Certainly both my parents “rusted out” at relatively early ages due to their lack of physical activity, and I see Dan as an example of what to do differently.  

We trained JKD concepts and went over a lot of basics, including the various attacks and fakes, and the importance of timing.  He brought up an interesting point about how even the best fighters among us, can have days when their biorhythms are off, and therefore their timing is also off—even the most skilled can be beaten on a bad day by the most unskilled practitioner.  We played with plenty of Silat (always hard for me), Krabi Krabong (parent art of Muay Thai) basics, and Kali.  As usual, by day two of the seminar, my brain was totally full and I was having trouble shoving more into it.  But, I diligently took notes—sure hope I can remember what it all means. 

I gained a renewed appreciation for how amazing our instructor is, and for the sheer vastness of the Filipino Martial Arts.  He talked not only about all of the instructors that influenced his JKD and Kali, but about the many different cultural influences of the Philippines: European, Tibetan, Japanese, Mexican (believe it or not!), Chinese, Persian and Arab.  We always get a history lesson during seminars.  🙂  Everyone’s system of “Kali” is different, which is why no one agrees on exactly what Kali is (many students ask this question), but then again, everyone’s JKD is different, if he or she truly embodies the ideal of absorbing “what is useful”.  Guro embraces all styles and systems, and emphasizes that none is “better” than the other; Bruce Lee recognized and wrote about the strengths and weaknesses in all systems.  Lee also focused on what he preferred based on what worked best for him, his body type and abilities.  Lee’s Jeet Kune Do was different from Dan’s, as my JKD is different from yours, or anyone else’s.  Interestingly enough, Guro Dan trains ground fighting 7 or 8 times a week, though it is not his preference to go to the ground; it is so he understands how the game is played and can defend against it.  He knows what to look for and avoid.  We talk about the same concept in our Gutterfighting and combatives, in general: avoid the fight whenever you can, but if it is time to be mean, fight as fiercely and aggressively as the predator that seeks to prey upon you, and become like the predator–your odds of winning the street “game” significantly rise.  This is more like self-offense, really.  Understand your environment as best you can—context is everything!  Dan brought up one other interesting point: a culture cannot exist without a martial art because in order to survive over any length of time, that culture must defend itself.  It reminds me of why I continue on with martial arts; it never gets boring and though many arts share so much, you could spend many lifetimes studying and never get it all.  There is always more to know!  

Check out the Inosanto Academy website: 

and, the website of another great master, our gracious host, Francis Fong Academy:



  1. An amazing weekend I won’t soon forget. I’m new to the more advanced martial arts (only a year now) and have the privilege of training at the Francis Fong Academy. The skill level present at this workshop was truly amazing and inspiring at the same time. Hearing Guro Dan Inosanto talk about Bruce Lee’s blazing speed while sparring with him was priceless. Witnessing Sifu Francis Fong knock someone off balance without physically touching them always blows my mind. However, the thing that impressed me the most was the humility that everyone from the instructors to the participates demonstrated throughout the weekend. Even though I’m a huge MMA fan and I hardly ever miss an Ultimate Fight, I detest the inflated egos that go along with most professional fighting. When it comes to learning an art such as JKD or Wing Chun, you must turn to the true masters of the martial arts and that’s who I had the honor of training with last weekend. CS

    • Yes. I, too am always inpsired by the humility and I look these masters as an example of that quality. It helps me keep the proper perspective on myself and my training.

      Thank you so much for your comments, Chris, and for visiting the blog!

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