Extreme Prejudice

November 9, 20150 Comments

This article, “Extreme Prejudice” was written by Sifu Dan Inosanto as part of a monthly column called “In the 20th Century” in IKF magazine in the late 80s.

Sifu Dan Inosanto at the Smithsonian-301pxIt has always been my goal that through martial arts all cultures could be appreciated and unified in the spirit of brotherhood. This might be considered idealistic in today’s world with all the existing problems we have among races, cultures and countries. I hope that through the media of martial art brotherhood, instructors will try to unite different groups, cultures, races and even countries.

Sometimes it is very frustrating, for even within one group there is petty jealousy and dissension. Most people will say I’m a dreamer, but through the study of martial arts from different cultures, a person can get a better understanding, appreciation and respect for different cultures. If everyone would do his small part, the world would be a better place in which to live.

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What is disturbing is that even within the same ethnic group, such as the Filipino martial arts, some instructors breed hate and disrespect for other groups in their art. Some instructors “brainwash” their students into appreciating only their system. It is no wonder their students reflect their arrogant behavior toward other systems, and that their attitude and behavior only breed hate, misunderstanding and contempt among groups.

If a style or system is superior, it need not ridicule or malign other groups. A fighter within any system understands that victory and defeat is a matter of so many existing factors.

Even in pro football and pro basketball the top team might be beaten on any given day by any other team. Among fighters, there should be respect for each others’ skills and training methods.

Just as a superior singer need not put down a third-grader attempting a simple tune, “great” martial artists need not ridicule another martial artist trying to do his thing. Yet in the martial arts some instructors castigate other systems at every turn. People in the martial arts should realize there are different levels of achievement, skill and understanding, and remember there will always be people above and below you.

Remember: man is a living, creating individual and he is always more important than any established style and dogma which is limited by nature.

Even the skill and techniques which Bruce Lee used to great advantage will not necessarily work for others. The body and rhythm of that individual will require methods which are unique to that person. To blindly follow Bruce Lee’s teaching is to imprison oneself in that personal method.

It is perhaps this issue which has resulted in the greatest disharmony since Bruce Lee’s death. Division and competition have resulted, even among those who trained and learned from Bruce, James Lee, Taky Kimura and myself. Ironically, the very factions Bruce tried so hard to eliminate have started all over again among some of his followers. It is truly hard to understand the lesson of “do what is right for you.”

Yet Bruce himself often said, “A teacher or model cannot give truth – he can only guide you to the truth. Do not take the finger to be the moon or fix your gaze so constantly on the finger that as to miss all the beautiful sights of heaven.” If the followers of the Jeet Kune Do concept and Jun Fan Gung-Fu groups were truly to understand this essential, they would not look to Bruce lee for the most important answers; they would look inside themselves for the greatest wisdom. Bruce Lee himself is not important; what is important is that he served as a symbol for the people to follow. This is what counts. If it helps inspire another to discover his own path, the purpose of Bruce’s life as a martial artist has been achieved.

The concepts of Jeet Kune Do deal with what is ‘right for the moment, not what is right in general’. In other words, there are no better or worse disciplines. Any discipline could be right for any given situation.

Bruce Lee’s goal was that all cultures be unified through the medium of martial arts. his goal was to create a standard of excellence for the progress and evolution fo all martial arts regardless of country of origin. This is my goal as a martial art instructor and this is the concept I advocate.

Written by Sifu Dan Inosanto and published in the August 1988 issue of IKF. You can learn more about Sifu Dan Inosanto and his school, Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts, by visiting: Inosanto.com

Extreme Prejudice Article by Dan Inosanto

About the video: Interview by “World of Martial Arts Television” (WOMA) with Sifu Dan Inosanto on meeting Bruce Lee and the early days of training. 

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