I am very fortunate to have had several incredible teachers during my journey, starting officially from age 14 until now. They taught me not only martial arts techniques, but so much about the world and my place in it. I can honestly say that without my teachers I could never have achieved the things I have done or become who I have become – a teacher now focused on sharing what I have learned with the next generations.
My teachers have always appeared just when I needed them to. Whenever I felt a plateau on the path or began to lose my way, a teacher would always be there to bring me back and keep me moving forward. Sometimes it felt like inches at a time, but forward nonetheless.
However, if I am honest, I learned just as much from my training partners. Together we explored every technique making countless mistakes along the way. We found out what worked and what didn’t and the trust in each other kept us from injury. They, too, were my teachers.
Now I find that I learn so much from my students. They come to class with bright eyes and focus, eager for each new bit of knowledge. Their questions and the way they move teaches me a lot about how people understand our art. Among our black belts we take some things for granted – newer students do not. They don’t assume something works (or that it doesn’t). I am fascinated by how to make the art easier for them to absorb. In many ways, they are now my teachers.
Punong Guro Fred Evrard and Guro Lila Evrard have been among the most important of my teachers. Starting me on my current path and selflessly sharing their lifetime of experience in arts I had never seen before. They changed my mind about so many things, and I am forever grateful.
At the same time, Guro Fred was always clear that he was not the art. The art is the art. What does it mean??
Make no mistake, I started Kali Majapahit because of them. I continued (and still do) because of everyone else, the other teachers and students and the broader KM global community we have built together. I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, and certainly not as often as I did when we were all in Singapore. However, that does not mean that I don’t still learn from them. It means that at my level I must focus more on adding to the art by incorporating my own background and experience (25+ years of traditional Japanese arts) into KM. That is our KM Japan “flavor”.
My students will outgrow me. That’s what I want. Then they will take the art even further. That’s also what I want. To do this, the students cannot sit back passively and wait to be “spoon fed” the knowledge by me. They must become proactive and seek out understanding on their own so they can discover THEIR Kali Majapahit. It is THEIR journey after all.
For the past 10 years I have tried to be at every class. However, try as I may I can’t always be there. This shouldn’t matter. I am not the art. The art is the art.
Come to class regularly and learn from each other. You will be glad you did.
That is all.