Saturday, August 23, 2014

Guro Dan Inosanto

Guro Inosanto 1985 at Raymond Crow's school demonstrating a kali counter to a turn kick



My Influences in the Martial Arts



This was originally part 7 of a series on the main influences on my training in the martial arts of what has yet to be posted, but then since Guro Dan was the man who got me started in the FMAs, I guess it is appropriate he is first one I post about.



In a few hours I’ll be attending a seminar with Guro Dan Inosanto in Hurst TX, as usual for events like this I couldn’t sleep so I’m up at 4:30am ready to get going, I thought I should write. 



It was about 32  years ago (in 1982) I saw a flyer about a Dan Inosanto seminar in Sherman/Dennison TX that ended up changing my life. I was 20 at the time and was as a Orange belt in American karate.  I knew nothing about the FMAs but I knew Dan had worked with Bruce Lee. I called up the instructor to find out about the seminar and he tried to explain the FMAs to me, finally telling me that “Do you remember the cellar scene in Enter the Dragon?  Do you remember Bruce Lee using the two sticks?  That’s Filipino martial arts and Dan taught those sticks to Bruce.”    Cool, I was sold.



Guro Dan, Sifu Larry Hartsell, and I think Cass Magda were there at that seminar, Since I had needed to get a pair of rattan sticks, I went to my friend who was in the SCA at the time and got some huge piece of rattan (like 1 ½ “ diameter) 5 ft long and I put in a lot of work cutting, sanding and heat treating those sticks.  I was swinging those sticks and beating the crap out of my partner’s sticks during Sinawali drills and I remember Larry laughing at them (as he took a look at them).  I think he let me borrow a pair of his for the remainder of that seminar.



Anyway what I saw and practiced at the seminar influenced me enough that it changed my direction in the martial arts in many ways.

·        It sparked my interest in the FMAs (which became a HUGE influence on my martial arts journey)

·        It sparked my interest in JKDC (and adapting other techniques and strategies to my primary art)
  ·        It sparked my interest in training with other martial artists in other martial arts; such as Larry Hartsell (JKD, boxing and grappling), Master Chai (Thai Boxing), Master Toddy (Thai boxing), Ted Lucay (JKD Kali), Tuhon Gaje (Pekiti Tirsa) and others.

Guro Dan and Sifu Hartsell demonstrating a Thai Boxing drill/technique at the same seminar
·        One of the biggest areas of influence was that it got me thinking about recording or taking notes of the seminar (this came from a conversation about the Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee).  It is this practice that allows me to draw drills and instruction for my classes today from things I did 25+ years ago.



During the 1980's-1990's I attended several seminars with Guro Dan and what always impressed me was his interest in history, his interest in promoting the FMAs and teaching and documenting what he learned from his teachers or his influences.  Guro Dan is a great communicator so his instruction is pretty clear if you understand where he is coming from.  



Over the years I stopped going to Guro Dan’s seminars, the last one I went to was in 2000 so it’s been almost 14 years since I last saw him.  My main interest was in his FMA instruction and that was getting less and less time in his seminars, so I went elsewhere for that instruction.  But what Guro Dan for me did was to lay a solid foundation that others (my other influences) built on.


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