Take A Seat In My Chair

written by Joseph Singleton

Now that I am in my third year as an apprentice with the Inosanto Academy there are a few things that I want to address to the members of the Inosanto Academy family. I am very fortunate to have been so welcomed and loved over the years when I attended any of Guro Dan’s seminars. I am a voice that is rising to be heard. Recently, there has been an awareness amongst a group of individuals who have sought out the Inosanto Academy family. As an apprentice instructor under the Inosanto Academy i am asking that as senior instructors as well as perspective instructors reach out and touch us. Guro Dan has said many times that he does not want us to mimic him, but to make what he teaches personal. We have a chance to test the theory that the martial arts should fit around the individual, not the individual around the martial art. I am sometimes disappointed that we are sitting on the sidelines at a seminar watching instead of participating. Of course, there will be limitations on what we can do, but I truly believe that it can be a short list if there were more willingness to share and explore.

I am blessed that I have been around long enough to speak to you frankly about my concerns. I will take it upon myself to open this door to my life and those in a similar position. We are showing our desire to learn Jun Fan and the Filipino martial arts, but we do need help. I believe that every instructor in this Inosanto family should touch us by taking a seat in our chair. Teach us what is useful through your experience and imagination. Please take the time to help, to lead, and to follow. Together we will do our family justice by not leaving anyone behind. It is important that you see what we can do instead of what we cannot do. It is obvious that mistakes will be made, but isn’t that what learning is all about?

What I will collect from my senior instructors will make them even more skilled of the unique opportunity to take a seat in my chair and see the world from a different point of view. I have learned many things in this family, such as, acceptance, inclusion, compassion, and commitment.

A friend of mine has a motto: “If better is possible, then good isn’t enough!”. I tried to live by this because it gives me a challenge for self-improvement. For this reason, I do understand where we stand in the tree of the Academy and if this tree is to grow tall and strong, all branches must be tended. Let us together agree and pledge that your knowledge and education will not just be a sponge for Guro Dan. Let us not make taking a photo with Guro Dan be the highlight of the seminar.

The first person to instruct me on the adaptation of the Inosanto Academy was Simo Paula. I am urging all senior instructors as well as fellow students to stop by and take a seat. Show and tell us how we can interpret what our beloved teacher wants us to do by expanding, exploring, and challenging yourself. Let me say that I am proud to be in this family and that is why I feel I can freely express my feelings. I felt loved from this family for many years. Even when I left to explore other opportunities, my family was there to welcome me back home. For me to become a better teacher and student of the Inosanto Academy, I must plead to my fellow students and instructors to take a leadership role and show us what can be usefully acquired in the study of martial arts under Guro Dan.

As different as we are as individuals, we are the best representation of what a skilled instructor can touch if he/she is willing to reach out beyond their box. In my culture, we are raised to believe that it takes a village to raise a child, so let us come together at the table and take a seat in my chair. Let’s talk. May I have the wisdom and courage to speak from my heart with conviction and sincerity. Together we can do it! Please read, discuss, and comment on what I have said here in this article. Together we can find a solution before it becomes a problem. Let us be the progressive school that believes in inclusion, and not another example of separatism. We have learned throughout history that this does not work.