In our studies of the martial art we often come across many deeply hidden secret life treasures, but so very often we are so blind to these precious treasures, because we are seeking perfection, recognition and personal rewards, that all only provide us with illusions. Competitive martial art competitions seem to give us everything we seek, but do they really genuinely give us what all what we think we are seeking? On the surface they do, or at least they seem to, because by competing and winning, we receive recognition for the perfection level we have reached and the reward of the winning trophy!
For several years I worked with Master Tim Armstrong who had a very successful martial art school in the Hartford City area of Indiana and about a year later he also opening another very successful school in Muncie, Indiana. Tim and I were introduced by one of my senior students John (Ben) Williams, who was also a student with Tim at his Hartford City school, and at our first introduction I gave a class with Tim and his students, introducing bladed weapons and sharing with them how to grapple with a variety of martial art weapons.
That introductory first class was so well received by Tim and his students that I was asked to assist Tim with his competition teams, often giving public demonstrations while of course advertising Tim’s martial art facilities. During the following years I often worked with Tim and his teams, assisting them in working out multiple opponent attack weapon scenarios, and of course including weapon grappling, weapon retention and weapon disarming, combined with their empty hand techniques, really dazzling tournament audiences in the Midwest. I was very delighted being of assistance to Tim and his very dedicated students and watching Tim’s school and students grow, continuously being very successful.
That experience was definitely a life treasure for me and in the years I traveled around many states, I was blessed with many such life treasure experiences assisting many school owners and operators build their martial art scope and growth in their abilities, especially where ancient hand held martial art weapons were concerned, as most schools just performed with the weapons.
I was really amazed and totally shocked when I realized that most martial artists utilized martial art weapons during their “championship performances,” never spared or fought with the weapons they used, only practiced forms or kata, and never actually combatively utilized the weapons aggressively.
I won’t mention any names with this section, but I got the opportunity to work with a martial art weapons expert champion who was very successful, winning every competition he entered and after one of his competition performances he had actually gotten a long standing ovation from the tournament spectators and even other tournament competitors.
Once the group around him disbursed after congratulating him on his winning performance, I casually walked over asking him how long he had been working with the Bo staff, which was the weapon he always won with. Without hesitation he told me, then I asked him if he ever sparred or fought with the Bo staff he preferred using and amazingly he said, “No”, adding, “I just practice performing Bo staff routines for competitions.”
Then I asked him if he would be interested in learning how to use his Bo staff combatively, with controlled sparring, and even free flow fighting, eventually even against multiple opponents that were using Bo staffs or other martial art weapons. Well his face lit up like a thousand watt light bulb saying, “Absolutely! All I have ever been taught with the Bo staff were the forms I win with in tournaments.”
I gave him my name and phone number saying, Just give me a call whenever you are ready, but when he read my name on the piece of paper I handed him he instantly asked me, are you by chance the guy who choreographed those weapons fights that competitors from schools up in the northern part of the state do?
Well to make a long very gratifying story short, he spent a couple years working with me, driving one hundred miles (one way, 200 miles round trip), to attend my two hour classes, plus a one hour private class after my other students were gone.
That is another very rewarding life treasure experience for me, especially seeing him introduce live martial arts weapon sparring in tournaments. Honestly I have been blessed with so many such truly wonderful life treasure experiences that I could write a book just trying to share them all with everyone.