I've trained in a variety of martial arts from different countries. Due to demographics and limitations of money, I was, well, limited in what was available to me. I was literally "Stuck in Lodi". My first instructor moved away. Instructor #2 had a lot of what I was looking for, but he was a con-man(took the money and ran). The next guy I trained with was a Serrada player. I learned a lot from him in six months before he changed the class schedule that conflicted with everything. I'll exclude the rest of my bad experiences/luck.
I met my current instructor almost 11 years ago at Golds' Gym in Lodi. He was lying on a flat bench, doing tricep extensions with an E-Z Curl bar. I offered to spot him since he only had it loaded with 45 pounds, but he said no thanks. He had a workout logbook that was opened, and what caught my eye was a business card that said DeCuerdas Eskrima.I had heard of, and seen that emblem before...somewhere. I was verrrry lucky that I looked in that direction, because I almost NEVER eye-f--k someones' personal items. He invited me to the Stockton Martial Arts Academy, owned by Terry Joven. If not for that chance encounter, I would have been searching forever.
There are several reasons why I've remained at GM Arthur Gonzalez' academy of Tenios' DeCuerdas. His method of teaching is primarily through concepts. When we are given a technique, we are to destroy it and create a thousand new techniques. They become our own. I will echo what the first posters' reply basically said: we are not robots, we are all individuals. NONE of my fellow classmates move the same way, and he doesn't want us to emulate him(though we still try to). Try that with most martial arts and systems, FMA or otherwise. Our' instructor will offer us a better way of doing something if something doesn't fit. Other teachers will scold you if you use any technique unrecognized within that style, no matter if it's effective for you, or otherwise.
I like that he teaches us various weapons and styles, but shows it to us in hands 90% of the time. I like that we train to combat the criminal element and stay current on new crime trends, as well as old ones. I enjoy accompanying his group to the various martial arts organizations. We participate in their' short seminars, and when it is our turn to teach...Since they think all the FMA's are is just stick, our mission is to prove through skill that Filipinos have impeccable empty hand skills.
Oh, here's the main reason I've stayed, not with the SYSTEM, but the instructor!...
I used to be the whitest of all whiteboys I know-Hands down. I'm talkin' Beaver Cleaver. Through my training at this particular group, I am much more streetwise and confident. I am now better able to recognize when someone is trying to set me up for something bad. And that part of the training is extremely important to me where I live.
I started in Isshinryu back in the mid 60s when I was a young buck living in the Chicago area. After enlisting in the military in the early 70s, I started looking into the ww2 combatives and military combatives art after getting an exposure from one of my cousins who was a Marine during viet nam.. After enlisting, I bounced from system to system until I was stationed in Taiwan back in the early 70s and started studying the Chinese art of Kuntao which is also known as Chuan Fa. I studied there for the time I was fortunate to be stationed there, but time and the closing of the base required me to go to another location.. So it was off to the Philippines where I started studying the Maharlika Kuntao system under Conrado Turla and also was introduced to the Comjuka Kempo system under Rafael Reston.. It was during the time that I was studying these systems that I had the introduction to the Sinko Tiros and Balintawak eskrima systems under GM Reston and pretty much stayed with those systems until GM Reston died in 2006.. Since that time I have been working with the Dekiti Tirsia system under GT Jerson "Nene" Tortal sr after being introduced to the system by Guro John Bedarski in the Chicago area..
GT Tortal is going to be doing his first Guam seminar here in the middle part of October as part of the Filipino-American month celebration.. In the future, we hope to bring GM Vic Sanchez of the Cadenilla eskrima system here to do a seminar as I have a long time acquaintance here who is his rep on island as well as an instructor under Datu Bram Frank..