Tomorrow I am sparring twelve or more rounds with four times Lightweight EFC Champ Costa Iaonnou. Costa is a long time student of mine, a trainer in Crazy Monkey Defence, and one of my BJJ Black Belts. This is a ritual we do three times a week. I really look forward to it. It’s loads of fun and personally challenging. I can see every time we spar, that he has thought about the previous session, then purposively changes his game up, adding new strategies to it. I do the same. In a real sense, we help ‘level up’ each others games, by constantly trying to out strategize each other. The rounds are fast paced, but we never go out to hurt each other. Not only does this make the experience more enjoyable, but with the myriad of injuries I now have to contend with in my 40’s, I need to be careful with my body.
I wasn’t always the anti-Tough Guy of martial arts . . . in fact, I was that Tough-Guy! But being the Tough Guy was not a choice—it was a necessity. I thought I needed to be the Tough Guy to be taken seriously in the world of modern martial arts.
Calling myself a martial ARTIST in my industry of modern martial arts gets a bad wrap. When you mention that you are a martial ARTIST to the new hyper-competitive or reality based self defence crowd, they immediately think of guys running around in white PJ’s practicing tradition or doing kata. If you are brave enough to say that you are not into competing, or that self-defence really isn’t your primary goal for training, expect to be labeled a fraud, a poser, a wannabe. How did we get to this sad state of affairs?