Loyalty Honour and the Arts

mean? Fighting, Tradition, Loyalty and Honour. When you think of the martial arts, what are the first words that would describe what they
The history and tradition would lead to the honour in the arts.  You would be proud to be a part of a long line of people that forged a path for you in your chosen art, with tales of great warriors, great battles or great sporting fights, give you pride to be doing such an amazing art. You should feel honoured to carry it on with the backing of your martial forefathers.
 When you start in the arts you are told about great people that have lived and died for the art, you then have the responsibility to uphold the tradition and honour of the art.  I remember trying not to giggle when I went on my first course for Ninjutsu, Brian McCarthy stood in front of over fifty black clad people, he talked about what ninjas were all about, what they did how they lived and the honour it would have been to fight for your clan, so we should train to our best of abilities and ensure we would not bring the art into disrepute or we would be dealt with …
It sent a shiver down my spine in a mixture of excitement and nervous energy all wrapped into one tight ball. I never forgot that feeling of being a part of something and it was an honour to carry the flag for the art I loved. Ever since that day I was hooked defending the arts in all their guises. When you immerse yourself into an art you become very loyal to the people that are passing on that knowledge, even when they sometimes don`t treat you well. In my own sick head I somehow justify their actions, for example one coach broke my little finger demonstrating a finger lock, so when I told him he asked me to grab with the other hand so I promptly did for him to then break the other one to show that it was no fluke, I was left with two broken fingers to carry on the rest of the seminar with and a few weeks of painful hands; Trying to explain what happened in school nearly got a meeting with social services until I announced it was all part of the training!
You end up having a fucked-up style of loyalty but it still is loyalty.
When I teach, I will give the student 100% commitment and I am honoured that they train with me, unlike some people that treat them badly and force respect out of them, you know the one’s I mean like out of the Karate Kid … “fear does not live in this dojo” unless you step out of line and you get a tongue bashing or worse a real one.  You should not live in fear of your coach or Instructor, you should have mutual respect for everyone, just like when people bow to me I find it a little uncomfortable and I say ”you don’t need to bow I only work here”.  I feel that we are all on the same path learning together but my ethos has back fired on me on more than one occasion.
Over the years you get very close to your students, it is amazing to see their development in the arts but this leads to them thinking it is ok to treat the gym like their own personal living room, not tidying up and then act with arrogance and tell people to train with them and not me. They have stolen money directly or indirectly from me and try and lie about it to cover their tracks. Former students you graded to blackbelt then went out on their own to teach then call the AFC behind my back, not knowing that people would tell me what they said and for them to say it was not about me.
I am proud of the Gym I have created and with the amazing help of my lovely wife Kerry and the loyal blackbelts and thousands of students I have taught from all over the world, the AFC is me and I am the AFC,
It hurts on a personal basis not a professional one because I struggle every day to help people and I love helping people, even willing to cut costs and help anyone that is struggling to keep them training because I am a loyal person.  Not just for the good times but to be there when people are struggling in their lives, not just for techniques or fight camps but for life. Myself and Kerry lie awake talking about the classes and the people in them, worrying about them and find ways to help them even when we are struggling with our lives and problems, but we can’t change who we are and we will always help people. Some people say we are too soft, this is true, we try to see the good in people and we get hurt when things go bad and they don’t talk to us or spread rumours about us or the gym. I am always gutted about the situation then must learn to get over it or work through it always saying that I won’t let people make me feel like this again, but at this moment in time I am a work in progress.
As I get older and less agile and can’t fight or train as much as I did, people see this as a weakness and seek out teachers that can fight with them, but what they don’t see is the knowledge I still have, but because I don’t let you punch me or grapple with me as much as I used to.  I am past my sell by date and #old-school; The reason I am mostly in this state is that for over 23 years full time I have let people practice on me choke me kick me and throw me to make them better, because I wanted them to succeed. I always encourage people to train with other coaches in different arts that can improve their ‘fight game’ but what I did not tell them was to only listen to the new breed of coaches and ignore my advice! Yes, I am old school but I have over 35 years of martial arts experience to offer. In bygone years, the ‘Master’ was the one with the most experience and was listened to but now people will jump ship because the training is cheaper or the gym is shinier or a cooler place to be…
The loyalty I once saw in the arts have gave way to the art suave culture like having a trendy hair style or growing a beard and pretending that you’re a lumberjack. I hope this is not the end of Martial Arts teaching, respect, honour and loyalty as it will be a true shame to let the arts go the way of most sports.  Like football were the players play for the money and not for the team, the individual is the most important thing and they will change teams if it benefits them and the passion for the arts have given in to ego maniacs that only look after number one!
I might stop helping people and other clubs and become an ego loving prick you can all call demi god or other suitable title and I will be available for a private audience when I tell you!
I know I can’t turn into the above but I still would love to tell some people what I thought of them after some of the disloyal, disrespectful and not so honourable things that have happened while being in the arts rather than say little or nothing. I am getting better as one of my friends and black belts Garry said a few months ago
“John if you have told someone off then they needed to be told a long time ago, you always try to see the good in people”
Be warned I put up with less bullsh*t as I get older.
Big love from the AFC.

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