In my mid-thirties, a pastor in Jacksonville, Florida told me that I had an “Old Soul.” I did not know if I were to say thank you or to feel insulted. However, I know that the pastor was trying to tell me that I had a maturity past my years of life. I am now in my mid-forties; I consider myself healthy and expect to die at an old age. However, I am already thinking about the future. I am already thinking about the young men and young women that will carry my program into the future.
As I return to the teaching of martial arts, I only have two students that are beyond Green Belt; my son Angelo, who is a Brown Belt, and my daughter Ileana, who is a Purple Belt. They both used to be my students back in the days when I used to teach in Jacksonville, Florida at “Good Fight Ministry.” It seems like I am starting all over again.
I am not the creator of any form of martial arts. I am, however, the president and founder of “Good Fight Taekwondo and Kickboxing Academy,” with a business license to operate in Hertford and Gates County, North Carolina. I combine elements of Boxing, Kickboxing and Taekwondo as the foundation of my program; I incorporate some basic elements of ground fighting and recently have found a new born passion for practical and effective self-defense techniques. However, this program is alive and flexible for growth. As I grow as a Martial Artist, the program grows, also! We do have a curriculum that serves as our martial arts foundation, but I have given this curriculum plenty of space for self-expression and creativity for future instructors, for my current students and for myself.
I do not claim to be an expert in Bruce Lee’s “Martial Arts philosophy,” but I know enough to stand in total agreement with his ways. As I said before, Bruce Lee was ahead of his time. He understood that one system is not superior to the other and that we must take into consideration each individual, their abilities and the nature of the unpredictability of real life combat. I want that kind of honesty in my program; I want that kind of freedom! Boxing, Kickboxing and Taekwondo are the three styles that more directly affected me, so they serve as my foundation; however, we are always open for development as we understand that the learning process is never-ending.
From boxing, we learn good hard training, food work, balance and true preparation for full-body contact. Many people like to attack Taekwondo, but from it, I learned organization in teaching, good discipline, respect, the importance of moral values, good emphasis on kicks and good training. Kickboxing for me brought it all together beautifully. I believe that this combination creates a good foundation for stand-up fighting. However, my curriculum also provides flexibility so that other styles’ ways may be incorporated. A Martial Arts program is incomplete without offering our students good, commonly sensible, practical and effective self-defense techniques. We start to really incorporate these techniques to our curriculum as soon as the student enters the Yellow Belt Rank.
I believe in offering our student experience in different dimensions:
I want our students to enjoy a deep spiritual experience. Our Program is a Christian Program. The Word of God is our foundation and only through Jesus Christ can we truly be saved. The Bible is filled with life lessons that we are able to incorporate in small periods during class, in between classes and in one-to-one conversations to our students as opportunities present themselves.
I want our students to get a good quality and challenging workout. Our students must strive to be in good physical condition.
If our students desire to be involved in any Martial Artistic sports, we support them 100%. We prepare the student for the Boxing, Kickboxing and any other Martial Artistic sport experience. We heavily discourage trash talking and arrogance; we believe that our skills will do the talking for us. We will compete to win and will give 100% in our efforts to do so; however, we will also be humble and respectful when faced with defeat.
I want my students to feel comfortable on the ground also; I do not want the ground to catch them by surprise if they ever find themselves there.
I want my students to learn, not a million self-defense techniques, but a few effective ones. I want them to also be aware of the kind of self-defense that does not require physical confrontation by being aware of their surroundings, avoiding certain places, etc.
I want our program to; as we keep the foundation as a symbol of respect for our elderly; in this case me, to always be open for growth and development. At GFTKA, we respect all styles of Martial Arts. We strongly believe that every style has something positive and effective to offer. We will never claim to be the best program out there; we let others be the judge of that; but we will offer the best program possible.
I want our students to have fun. There must be time when we leave all the seriousness and just enjoy a fun time together as part of the GFTKA.
Once a student becomes a Second Degree Black Belt, he or she will be able to open his/her own program and teach. If this student came in to my school with a good background in ground fighting, he/she will have the flexibility to incorporate that knowledge into his/her program. Furthermore, I can have ten of my instructors opening programs in different locations and there is a great possibility that even as the curriculum will be the same, the flavor of what they teach will be different; why? Because, I do not close the doors for them to be able to express themselves and the individual experiences that they posses. That is why in my program I always honor students that come in with higher ranks from other schools. As they line up in my school, they do so with whatever color belt they earned before, regardless of their abilities. They will learn my program from white belt, but I will not have them line up as white belts, unless they come in with disrespectful attitudes.
I hope that this article will serve you as a basic guideline of my heart as it refers to Martial Arts and the legacy I desire to leave for the future and for the other instructors to come. God bless you!