Happiness is a benefit of Iron Mantis.
I was born in Oakland, California 1967. I started training Kajukenbo in 1974 when I was around 7 years old and then living in Vacaville, California. I started training because I loved martial arts and the environment I was living in called for it. Starting Kajukenbo allowed me to defeat the school bully and set the stage for my life as a martial artist. I loved to watch martial arts and tried to mimic everything I saw on T.V.
My mother enrolled me in a dojo in Fairfiled, CA. because she felt I needed to learn self-defense – the neighborhoods were a little tough. I was not looking for fitness, community, a future business opportunity, money or glory. I joined because I just loved martial arts, I was born to do it. I loved to train; it made me happy. And how I loved the martial arts movies: Bruce Lee, David Carradine, Shaw brothers, and Sunday Kung Fu theater!
Discipline is a benefit of Iron Mantis.
In the early 1980’s I started training Hapkido and Kuk Sool Won. The training was brutal and ass-whoppings were a part of daily training. Blood, sweat and tears was served every evening. Many times to and from school, on the school yard during recess, throughout elementary and Junior High was a constant challenge. Because I moved around so much, I was always dealing with bullies all the way through High School. I was constantly tested and was able to refine my martial art along the way. Gangs were a part of life growing up in California. I first encountered gangs in elementary school in Concord, CA. As a teenager in the rough areas of Seattle then in Pittsburg, CA as a teenager and throughout my early 20s. Drive-by’s, stabbings, gang turf, and ratt-packing was a part of daily life. Life on the streets was my teacher, survival on the streets was a constant challenge.
Believe it or not, one of the toughest places I lived was in Kilgore, TX. Fighting was just a way of life. It’s hard for some people to understand, but fighting was a way of defending yourself, gaining respect and making new friends. It took discipline to keep training martial arts whether I won or lost fights. All this fighting shaped the way I view martial arts training for the mind, body and spirit.
Health is a benefit of Iron Mantis.
As a child I had many health issues with my knees, my stomach, and migraines. I started training martial arts and I became stronger. Later in life, I realized the benefits of health and longevity. Through massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, nutrition, adequate rest, and a positive mindset, I was able to further my understanding that health comes first above all in the martial arts. My health got better and I started to mature as a martial artist. You have to believe you can get better and realize you can shape your body and mnd.
Confidence is a benefit of Iron Mantis.
I learned after many years of sparring in Karate tournaments throughout the 1980s what worked and what did not. This built confidence in my delivery and understanding of techniques. It takes a lot to take yourself to tournaments were other men want to hurt you. It takes courage and it builds a non-quitting spirit.
It was in the early 1990s that my interest changed to the art of traditional Kung Fu. The Chinese styles also offered self-defense through the fighting skills of chi sau, san shou (full-contat kickboxing), wrestling and push-hands. I ended up studying extensively in several Chinese systems: 7-Star Mantis, Wah Lum Tam Tui Praying Mantis, Hung Ga (Tiger/Crane), Eagle Claw and Yang Family style Tai Chi Chuan. My love for fighting led me to full-contact events and back yard fight clubs. I have always enjoyed the brutality and the beauty of martial arts.
Compassion is a benefit of Iron Mantis.
The martial arts has allowed me to be around many different types of people – people I may normally have not spent time with. When I first joined Kung Fu, I was young, in my early 20s, and I was very judgmental. My mindset was: “If you were not tough, you were weak,” and I had no respect for the weak.
In time, this chaged due to the teachings of my sifu. It takes a master and a dedicated student to make spiritual progress because there are no short-cuts to making real gains. A teacher only points the way to the student. The master leads the way the best he can by example, lectures and showing great patience along the way. Whether it’s Wude or the Bushido Code, the message is the same – develop strong morals and ethics.
Flexibility is a benefit of Iron Mantis.
It’s important to gain flexibility and then never lose it. Flexibility of the body helps develop flexibility of the mind to manifest true health and fitness. It also takes flexibility to be open to new ideas and training methods.
Someone with a flexible mind enriches their life with a strong network of friends and a happy home life.
Self-defense is a benefit of Iron Mantis.
What is the best self-defense system? First, it’s training with a real master. No teacher knows everything, but a master will give you a solid foundation and point you in the right direction in the dojo and in life. My first Mantis Kung Fu teacher also has a black belt in Judo and Tae Kwoon Do. He is a ex-marine ranger who served in Vietnam. Classes under him were always 3 hours long and we sparred every night, no gear. Five of my teachers were ex-military. Some of the toughest men I ever met taught Kung Fu. Kung Fu is a true war art. In the Kung Fu community there are only a few people upholding the authentic training systems that yield true fighters.
I recommend you test your skills in your own dojo or in tournaments, but not on the streets; the consequences may be to high. These days, people are more likely to shoot you or try to sue you; very few “man-up and and throw down.” The street is for self-defense and should be looked at as life or death.
Having fun is a benefit to Iron Mantis.
A true master who leads in these ways will become harmonious. A true master is comfortable with himself and knows how to enjoy life. If he teaches, he will yield many great students who in turn create a better community for us all. The people you meet along the way to mastering martial arts are a true gift. Iron Mantis is a great way to develop self-defense and live a long happy life.
2014 makes 40 years since I started training martial arts. Martial arts has been my saving grace. There are many benefits to Iron Mantis and other martial arts systems if you put in the time and hard work. Invest in the truth and stay on the warriors path.
Life is Good!
Train Hard, Train Smart, Finish Healthy