With kind permission of my friend Eric Taimanglo, I'm reposting his article here.
Forward to the present: I teach Kali at the park on weekends for free. I have a facebook page and a craigslist ad. This has led to many interesting encounters, such as people who show up once or twice, and then never come back, people who want to meet me with no intention of training at all but want to recruit me as a building block for a pyramid marketing scheme, and those who want to learn "in order to add some stuff to what I already know". People who "hop" from instructor to instructor, from place to place, grabbing what seems "cool", and then traipsing off to the next training venue. I call these people "collectors".
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that one art, system, style or instructor has all the solutions. Far from it. Bruce Lee made a LOT of people angry when he said that no range of combat was superior to any other, and that skills in weapons, kicking, punching, trapping and grappling were necessary to be successful. The problem arises when individuals believe that they can forge a good foundation by taking a little bit from column A, adding a dash from column B, sprinkle a little from column C, and then call what they have a working knowledge base of self defense.
"But, but Eric, Bruce Lee studied all kinds of systems and styles." Yes, he did. But he also had a solid foundation in Chinese martial arts, to which he then assimilated all the others he came across, and made it work together in a flowing, cohesive way. I believe the word for that is systematization.
Try this. Settle into a horse stance from Kung Fu. Try throwing a Western Boxing jab and cross. Now try performing a Tae Kwon Do turning side kick. These elements are all good by themselves, but how well do they work together? The examples here may not be as obvious in real life, but hopefully you get the picture. All aspects of physical self defense, be it stance presentation, defensive motions, countering motions, attacking motions, even escape, need to work together, not run into each other like cars at a demolition derby.
When things get physical in self defense, you really need to be able to flow with the circumstances. This means decision making in split seconds. If the cogs that make up the machine of your physical "knowledge base" aren't running together smoothly and systematically, then how does the machine perform? How will you perform?
Get a foundation in something, anything. Then go from there. It's that simple.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eric Taimanglo has 20 years of martial arts experience, specializing in Southeast Asian systems. He has recently returned from overseas where he led one of two Dogbrother Martial Arts training groups, instructing US Military, State Department, and Private Security personnel in stick, knife, and...