In one of my conversations with Rizo (or more to the point, I was boring him to death..), I related the story of one of my former Kung Fu teachers. Sifu was one heckuva nice guy, and he ran a kwoon with a great training atmosphere that was well equipped and patronised by eager students of the noble art. I used to travel an hour just to get to his place and never once to this day regretted those lessons. There was one problem though…
He couldn’t fight very well
As far as teaching was concerned, he was great. But he had a reputation for being the target of ‘dojo-storming’ back in those days by other teachers. This was back in the heyday of the infamous Wing Chun wars where so-and-so Sifu talked smacked about another sifu, so his students would go to war with the other clan over this supposed dishonour. It was all so Wah-La-Toi-ish.
Anyway, not only did my sifu get jumped on by other members of the same style; practioners from other non Gong Fu arts like karateka got their licks in. I know this because one of my other teachers claimed to be one of those guys…which was something I never told my sifu about due to the political complications, to say the least.
Which goes back to the topic at hand: Should your teacher/coach/sifu be able to fight?
These days, things are a lot more professional. If you want to prove that you are a mensch, you get into the Octagon, if you have the huevos. Should you indulge in uninvited ‘testing’ at another martial arts place, be prepared for the cops at your door and to be sued by your friendly local law firm. Bruce Lee would have been in Sungei Buloh prison by now if he tried his schickt from the movies now.
But that does mean that the teacher/coach/sifu is now off the hook?
Here’s my take on it. Whatever you are teaching, you better make sure you can do what your art says it claims to do according to how you teach it. Fair enough?
That means that if you teach MMA, you have to be able to spar all ranges with all your students because that’s what they do, and that’s what you are supposed to do. If you are a BJJ coach and don’t roll, you don’t deserve that title. You may deserve the belt due to your efforts in the past – but not the present role of ‘coach’
If you do Tai-Chi for health reasons, you shouldn’t have to take challenges from idiots who want to see whether it ‘works in self-defence’. Why? Because you never claimed to teach it for those skill sets in the first place.Those aforementioned twits should take it to an RBSD practitioner if the want to try their skills out. Why the latter? Well, they did put themselves in the position that their art is for self-defence and not sport, right? So, that means that theoretically, they are open to testing and real-life attacks 24-7.
My aim here is not to stir up shite. Okay, maybe a little. All I am contesting is that you should be accountable for what you say you do, teach and are. I have no problem telling people that I am an out of shape desk jockey that does some Jits and Judo twice a week. In no way in the known Universe does that make my Royler Gracie or Yamashiro Yamashita. So,I am a coward and am not a fighter - nor would I claim to be. There’s no point bragging about what doesn’t exist
Now, if one day I started teaching and bragged about how I could sub and throw anyone, and Mr Gracie and Yamashita-san came to the door of my school; then I’d better be prepared to back those words up or sign up for some medical insurance pretty damn quick..