Sunday, July 15, 2012
I still remember my first class in Karate. I had worn a black track suit and had gone to Cricket Club Of India (C.C.I) to train. Years have gone by and all the moments have been blissful.
Between 1970 - 1980 the martial art fever had hit India with movies of The Dragon (Bruce Lee), Jackie Chan and numerous other Chinese martial art movies being shown at theaters. The movies had influenced me too and I had started jumping, kicking and breaking lots of things at home at the age of 4. One Sunday I was going for dinner with my parents and we happened to meet Shihan Vispy Kapadia at the restaurant. He was known to my parents and in due conversation the idea of me joining his classes came up. The coming Wednesday I had started training in Goju - Ryu Karate. In those days the training was very hard. If 100 students joined a class there would be barely 25 left by the time the batch reached green belt. In those days the belt system was smaller so we had white I, white II, yellow then green. In just climbing 3 belts up most students would run away. After every class you would come home with the body strained and exhausted. I feel the general population also was tougher then.
It is impossible to mention all the Sensei's (instructors) that have taught me and influenced me as a martial artist. However I value all of them and have the deepest respect and gratitude for all of them. There are many Sensei's with whom the only memories I have are in my head since I do not have a picture with them.
I consider myself very blessed as have had the privilege of training with not only wonderful teachers from India but from all over the world and in numerous martial arts.
I may sound selfish but if I could go back in time I would love to spend more time with all my teachers and train more.
When I had started training the 6 monthly training camps would draw in over 400 plus students of all age groups. There were no luxuries, no pampering just serious training at them for 5-6days. However nowadays the students specially the younger ones are much softer than we were back then. The first thing I get asked by most parents and students today before signing up for a camp is - is there tv with cable, do the rooms have air conditioning, will they get time to play and rest, can they carry their ipod, mp3 player, cell phones and so on. In the days I had started training there was no guarantee of even getting a mattress to sleep on we use to carry sleeping bags with us.
Years passed I grew up but martial arts always remained at the epicenter of my existence. Any free time has always been used by me to train even today if I have more than an hour to spare then you will find me training, reading, researching or watching training videos to further improve myself.
In the beginning martial arts used to be free of politics and the only thing that mattered to all martial artists was to train harder every day. Over the year’s politics, back stabbing, speaking ill of other martial artists started seeping into the martial art community. This is what I am totally against and I have never been part of it nor hope to do so in the future.
At a point I just could not bare all these things which were spoiling martial arts and with a heavy heart I decided to leave and start on my own. My vision was to keep martial arts clean, simple, authentic, practical and keep the training very very hard like it use to be in the 80's. Initially many students ran away but slowly I started getting students who were just as crazy as me and only wanted to train. Martial arts have 3 basic aspects – the strikes (punches, kicks etc) , the grappling (throws) and the joint manipulations (locks and chokes). Keeping all these aspects in mind and to make training more self defense oriented I formed JUKAADO - An unarmed combat training form combining everything that makes sense and usable in a real life situation.
Today I have a nice lot of students of all age groups many who have been on the journey of martial arts with me for more than 8years. Some have had to move to other countries for studies or work or are unable to come to train due to work timings or academic pressure. Most of them are still in touch with me. I feel the bond that forms when 2 people train hard in martial arts, beat each other up and yet meet again to train, lasts forever.
At heart I am and always will be a martial artist and hope to train till the last day of my existence.
Posted by Farzaan Merchant at 11:33 AM