Today I would like to share some thoughts that may help you on your martial arts journey. That is open mindedness and I am sure you have heard this before from instructors and students alike spouting out how they are so open minded but what does it mean to you?

For me it is the realization that I don’t have all the facts or information about martial arts and that I am prepared to forget what I already know in order to gain new knowledge and to advance further in my martial art study.

There are instructors who refuse to look at things objectively and are instead trapped in the copy paste mode way of doing martial arts or just by doing the same thing over and over again for last 40 years, I guess for some that is not a bad thing but I have dedicated my life to martial arts and don’t want to limit myself or to stop my own learning and growth. It would have been easy for me to rest on my laurels after 35 years of karate but I choose to open my mind and learn new things and really study the principles of martial arts. So I started doing aikido, small circle jujitsu, Filipino martial arts, Kyusho jitsu (pressure points), Thai boxing, Kung Fu etc. and travelling around the world just to study with different masters and systems. This was in an effort to understand more and to be a more complete rounded martial artist.

Some masters will not want you to go training with anyone else or to learn a new style, way or anything different to what they are doing in case it is better than theirs. This is very short sighted and in the long run you just will lose students and people like that.

A training session with my students is a very different thing now as I share my experiences of what I have collectively learnt from each style/system and from each master I have encountered. Then a friendship and respectful trust will develop between the instructor and students as we jointly set the foundation for a new understanding of our martial arts and how it should be studied namely the principles and ultimately how it should be taught and passed down to other students.

When I go to a new martial art club I start at the beginning and I will not tell the instructor that I have practiced martial arts before this is so I take on board everything that is being taught and so that I do not cloud my thinking with preconceived ideas and notions of what I think it should be. This is not an easy task to do as your ego always wants to butt in to put comments and dialogues in a place where it is not needed.

“Preconceived ideas and prejudices always prevent us from seeing the truth.”

At seminars sometimes you get people taking part in them that have not come to learn but to teach and I have seen on many occasions them holding a mini seminar while the seminar instructor does his best to gain some sort of control and trying desperately to get back on topic. Students can sometimes be just as bad coming to a class or seminar just wanting to hurt people by being aggressive and showing off. This of course is just their ego and close mindedness coming through.

After 50 years of training I still know there is still so much to learn and I am prepared to listen, chat and exchange ideas with anyone who does it in a sharing, spiritual way with mutual benefits as their motivation.

“Some people want to be taught everything in one sitting. It’s not possible.”

It takes time to grow a strong oak tree and different seasons and storms must be weathered.

Keep moving forward, be safe

GM Angelo