by Rick Faye
￼Guro/Sifu Dan Inosanto,
In the many years I have been associated with you I have been constantly thankful for your influence, inspiration, knowledge and example. Being your student has been nothing short of life changing.
Through your teaching I have learned the martial art methods of many different cultures. I have seen some of the depth of your research and I am amazed at your intellect and dedication to this day. You have taught me to see the positive in each art. Each element that you have brought out has been shown with respect for the people who developed it and shared it with you. Over the years I have been privileged to learn the good parts of so many cultures and to truly see that they each has something good to offer.
As you have shown these arts and methods you have truly used the principles of Jeet Kune Do in blending the methods. I know you have been criticized for some of your research. I also know that some of it hurt you personally. Please rest assured that I am one of many who understand and appreciate you and the way you have brought this art forward. With constant improvement and innovation you have made this an ongoing process that is truly fascinating. Not all the things you have taught are doable by me but I have enjoyed seeing them and being exposed to them.
As I have aged and life has gone on you have shown me a way to stay in the art. Develop areas of weakness using different methods for attribute development, that was the first concept. Early, the work that you prescribed got us in great shape. Skill developed, to the best of our abilities. I started to understand why you spoke about hours of repetition at every seminar. Being a “Seminar Trained Instructor” I tried not to be an embarrassment to you and your organization.
As time went on it seemed I could do more things and adopt more methods as “my own”. You gave us the freedom to do this art our own way and that “way” emerged for me over time. I realized early on that trying to imitate you was futile and I had to digest the things I could and then simply marvel at the rest.
I understand the term Sifu as a Father in the art and Guro as a life guide or teacher. You have certainly been both to me. You have guided my development in martial art and given me the parts of the art that I could take in. Through your example I have learned to look for the good in each person. You told me once that “bad is just undeveloped good”. This is a philosophy that matched my faith. I have watched you, time after time, live this statement. Though I still struggle with judgement of others, I try to think of your example when I do.
During my most stressful times you have been encouraging and understanding. I hope that someday I can return the kindness at the same time I hope you never need it.
You have given me a profession and a passion. You gave me permission to teach what I had and to mold it to fit myself and my students. The true genius behind your Instructor’s Association is the freedom within it. Each of us has been allowed to express and teach this art as we think best. This allowed me to use the “tools” in this art to better the lives of many people. There is no other job where I would been able to watch so many people change for the better.
The paradox of this art hit me many years ago – In Chicago at the Degerberg Academy. You were in the middle of giving the most violent demonstration I had ever seen. (for those reading this, Guro is and always was the best martial artist I have ever seen, by far) in the middle of this demo. you stopped and gave a lecture. You spoke of the reasons for training and the philosophy behind the arts. You spoke about love for family, love for community and love for your self as the reasons for doing this. You spoke of gifts from the creator. The paradox between the violent efficiency of your art and the loving purpose behind it made it very powerful when you spoke of living a loving, caring lifestyle. It dawned on me right there that that is what I wanted to do.
As we have moved forward and my body has started to age, your words come back to me often. You told me I would be a beginner in the art at 50. I truly feel that. You said that the real art was maintenance and that has certainly proven true. You said that after 50 muscle mass was hard to maintain, I feel that as well.
I am particularly thankful that you have shared so much Kali with me over the years. This art is one of the best ways to stay ahead of aging. From your brain on down through every joint, the practice of Kali is healthful.
The people you have introduced me to have also been a great influence on my life. From the very first days you encouraged me to learn from other people. That guidance brought me to so many good martial artists, all of whom clarified a small piece of what you were trying to communicate. Thank you for giving me the freedom and encouragement to try new things.
As you turn 77 I hope you feel as well as you look. You still move like a man 1/2 that age, and he would have to be very talented even at that. Happy Birthday Guro. I look forward to many more years of your guidance and friendship.
It is my honor to be your student,
Minnesota Kali Group