Sunday, 07 October 2018 18:03

The Many Faces of the Dojo, Pt. 5 (or 'Titular Tantrums')

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In the first three parts of this series, we looked at some interesting characters you might train with (here are parts one, two and three). In part four (read it here), we looked at some fo the interesting teachers you might come across when training in the martial arts.

Let’s look at a few more grandiose grandmasters, tapped teachers and lunatic leaders in the martial arts!

My usual disclaimer: This is not directed at you. Yeah, you. This is stuff that I’ve seen and experienced and, at times, have also been.  Enjoy!

  1. The Supreme Professor Chief Great Grandmaster – This guy has a title. It’s a long title. It’s a big title. And he’s very, very fond of his long, big title. He’s so fond of his long, big title that everyone must refer to him by his title – his students, his peers, his neighbours, his wife and his kids. His personal Facebook page will include his title. His Instagram account will include an abbreviation of his title. He will introduce himself using his title to people he meets on the street. But fair enough, if you had such a long, big title, you would probably want everyone to know it. Still, it makes you wonder if he’s compensating for something…

  2. The Soke – The Soke invented his own system, after having trained in pretty much everything. It’s the ultimate self defence system because it combines elements from Karate, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wing Chun, Taekwondo, Jujutsu, Aikido, Judo, Kempo, BJJ, Kali, Wrestling, Kung Fu, Silat, Tai Chi, Krav Maga, Fencing, Capoeira, Ninjutsu, Tang Soo Do, Hapkido and Yoga. He doesn’t like to brag, but that’s pretty similar to what Bruce Lee did with Jeet Kune Do – he took the best things of the styles he trained in, and left out what didn’t work. Oh, and he did it before MMA was a thing so you can say this is a freestyle martial art that’s like MMA but for the street. ‘I hate to bring Bruce Lee up again, but it’s pretty much the same’ he’ll exclaim while mentioning Bruce Lee for the 54th time in the conversation.
    Oh… and often he will insist that you refer to him by his title, which might be something like the Supreme Professor Chief Great Grandmaster or some such thing.

  3. The Celebrity – the celebrity trained with everyone from Bruce Lee to Connor McGregor. He rolled with the Gracies back before they were famous, and even showed them a thing or two. He sparred with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and even landed some shots on him. He has trained with EVERYONE. He’s got stories of hanging out with Van Damme, reckons Steven Seagal is a sham (ok, but so does everyone…), and traded blows with Chuck Norris. Because of his extensive connections in the industry, every technique that he teaches will start with ‘this was shown to me by [insert celebrity name here] back in [insert year] when we trained in [insert name of island in southeast Asia]’. The celebrity has some cool stories indeed, and he loves sharing them before, during and after training. ‘Did I tell you about the time that I beat Mike Tyson in an arm wrestle?’ he’ll say as students quickly scurry towards the door, mumbling something about their [insert relative] who needs help with their [insert limb] ache.

  4. The Old School Sensei– There’s no school like the old school! The Old School Sensei trained back in the 70’s and 80’s, when men were real men, martial arts were real martial arts and mullets and moustaches were real mullets and moustaches. He doesn’t mind watching some boxing, but will inevitably exclaim that back in the day, boxing was real boxing. MMA’s pretty cool, but back in the day we didn’t call it MMA and it was much more hardcore than it is now. BJJ is great, sure, but back in the day we called in catch wrestling/Judo/Jujutsu/Dumog/Shooto/whatever and it was real grappling. And self defence is also pretty cool. He did Krav Maga back in the day, before it was the cool new thing that kids are into nowadays. The Old School Sensei is not about to change his training or how he runs his school just because you kids think he needs to. He doesn’t need a website or a Facebook page because back in the day we used to just hand out flyers and that was good enough! He’s been doing this for 40 years and you sure ain’t about to tell him how to do things, so stop complaining, pay your $10 (in cash, he doesn’t an eftpos machine), put up with the cheesy music and get on with it. Like we did in the old days!

Such wonderful characters! And as per usual, while I use a touch of sarcasm when writing, I do mean it honestly. They all have lessons to teach; The great grandmaster worked long and hard for several decades to earn his title, and is a lesson is perseverance and dedication. The Soke has an open mind and learns from everyone as much as he can. The Celebrity shares knowledge and experience gained by training with the world’s best. The Old School Sensei has respect for tradition and hard work that is often missing nowadays.

Yes, training with all of these amazing, crazy, eccentric people can be a challenge. But when we stop and think about the lessons we learn from our teachers we find what a powerful influence they are on out lives.

I can say without a doubt that other than my parents, my martial arts teachers have had the most profound positive impact on my growth as a human being than anyone else. And I am infinitely grateful for the lessons I learned and that I continue to learn.

Do you have a teacher that has made a huge impact on your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay tuned, stay safe.


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