Thanks to my long time dear friend and mentor, the world-renowned Dan Inosanto, I have been blessed with meeting and studying with several of the world’s greatest martial art masters, and they were all wonderful people and very gracious to me.
Dan Inosanto was the great Bruce Lee’s dear close friend and training partner for the last ten years of Bruce’s short life, and while I never got to meet Bruce, through Dan Inosanto, I very possibly got to know Bruce much better than most others ever could, because Dan could talk for hours about his dear friend and what they had accomplished together. Their relationship was very much an equal sharing and assisting friendship, even with Bruce and Dan’s children playing together. Together Bruce and Dan developed a variety of camera angle techniques that are still used in action fight scenes in motion pictures today. They also developed angle shots to make fight scenes look far more realistic.
Dan actually appeared in “The Game of Death” in a fight scene with Bruce working the camera’s angles and weapon techniques. “The Game of Death” film was put on hold while Bruce worked with American producers to make his greatest success, “Enter the Dragon.” Dan also taught Bruce Filipino Kali weaponry and in Bruce’s most successful film “Enter the Dragon”, Bruce utilized double Kali sticks and Nunchaku that really sold many of the action scenes, as Dan taught Bruce Nunchaku too.
“The Game of Death,” as I mentioned, was put on hold, but what was eventually released after Bruce’s untimely death that was actually Bruce were the fight scenes that had been filmed before Bruce left to go work on “Enter the Dragon” and the fight scene up in the tower with Dan and Bruce was incredible, with the two of them actually having so much fun working out the fight scene and getting the camera angles right.
Dan has appeared in MANY FILMS with many other great star personalities, plus I would venture to suggest that nearly all action motion picture personalities have trained to varying degrees with Dan Inosanto, but getting Dan to talk about things like that is like pulling teeth, because Dan really is such a genuinely modest and humble person.
The great grappler Larry Hartsell was also one of Bruce Lee’s original students, along with Dan, with Larry and Dan being very close long-time friends. It was through Dan that I met Larry and trained with him, bringing him to Indianapolis to do seminars for my friends for several years. Larry always remembered Bruce in his seminars, always sharing much of what Bruce taught him. I really loved Larry’s ground grappling, and in case you didn’t know it, Bruce was also quite a grappler.
Another one of the really great martial artists I met through Dan was Grand Tuhon Supremo Leo T. Gaje Jr., who years ago was sharing Arnis De Mano from his family system of Pekiti Tirsia. It was from Leo’s urging that my school was then named The Indiana Arni’s Association. I loved Leo’s grappling too, but what I really enjoyed were his incredible knife tactics, as he was also the trainer of the Filipino recon marines and those boys are tough to say the very least. Leo also became a dear friend and long time mentor to me and my students.
I met Paul Dethouars through Danny too, in Chicago at Fred Degerberg’s martial art facility, as Dan was of course giving another great seminar and toward the end of his seminar Dan introduced Paul to the seminar participants with Paul sharing his Buti Negara Silat. It surprised me that there were a few people that did not receive Paul very well and questioned his ability. Can you believe that? Its true, as I was there watching as one of the non-believers received a not too gentle introduction to Paul’s very devostating form of Indonesian silat.
Paul and I became good friends and I brought him to Indianapolis to share his art many times, building a very large following for him with my friends. Dan also often did two week camps and I very fortunately thanks to Ben Willams, one of my senior students, was able to attend several of those incredible camps, where I met so many other fantastic masters who were also teaching their art as portions of the camp.
Nino Bernardo was a great Wing Chun master and he shared with me how to also do Wing Chun on the ground, and that was really great. I met Salem Asale up in Michigan sharing his French Savate at a camp with Dan, Larry Hartsell, Paul de Thouras and Nino Bernardo, that was so cool.
At a camp in St Louis with Dan Inosanto and a couple of Dan’s students and very close friends Larry Hartsell and Cass Magda, with Cass and Larry giving my student Ben and me private lessons during the off-time from the camp. Are you kidding me? Of course I have private video’s of all of this and they are priceless to me!
My friend from Indiana, Kickboxing Champion Bill “Superfoot” Wallace was there cutting up, as usual, having fun with everyone, and I also met Stephen K. Hayes, then riding the crest of his “Ninja Craze,” as I was also studying with two of Steve’s senior students, Bob Johnson and Garry Grow, who were also Deputy Sheriffs back in Indiana.
Some day I should write a book about my experiences with my great mentors!