Teachers in my Life

The spirit and mind of a warrior!

From my teen years out, I have found that the teachings of the martial arts worked not only in the dojo but on the street as well. I learned this in single and multiple attacker confrontations as well as ambush situations throughout my life. I have worked for and with doctors, lawyers, butchers and bakers to name a few jobs that I’ve have had. I have also worked in security and law enforcement. I never fully trusted people due to a rash of bad experiences with individuals that ran organizations that had become a law unto themselves. Connected to this I have survived many “accidents” that my doctors have been amazed to see that I’m still walking.

My skepticism and distrust of organizations applied to my martial arts instruction as well. My first few instructors had given a foundation of hard work to develop my skills. Hard work gave me confidence, and awareness, as I continued with my training in grappling, striking and throws. Although they taught nothing in the way of concepts, with the exception of James Zora Messer a retired Army officer that taught me in my parents’ home. He instructed me in both magic (sleight of hand), and martial arts. He was my first teacher and the greatest lessons I learned from him was the importance of analyzed practice and leading the mind.

For the most part the others utilized solely a list of fitness goals and based it on the mere repetition of techniques required to go from rank to rank. Some of these teachers had a great pedigree while others did not. Still, I knew something was missing that my teachers either didn’t know or that they were not willing to tell me. This was where my greatest benefit in the martial arts was derived from an instructor that I met years into my development. While he didn’t have a great pedigree, (or so I thought and according to the folks at Bullshido). Yet when it came to the martial arts, he knew his stuff. More importantly he had experience in the field with non-cooperative individuals too. He also encouraged me to train with other top ranked people.

So, even if others thought of him as a fake, holding the title of a Soke (which simply meant head of the federation to us). I didn’t mind that much because he opened my eyes to the study and concept and principles. In a similar fashion that Joe Lewis had taught. As it was I had only trained under Joe Lewis in just over a dozen seminars over the years and I trusted his opinion.

My teacher was big into scenario based training, and he taught that everything was situational. Nonetheless I always have held people off because of my early life experiences and I tell you this just to give you an idea of how hard it was for me to join my teacher’s federation. Even though he (my teacher), hated the politics of martial arts and he had set up a primarily law enforcement type of family organization that only covered an area of a few connected states. I was still leary, I wondered where my teacher ranked along this line. So I brought up the subject with Joe Lewis one time. It pleased me to hear that Joe knew all about my teacher’s instructor from the old days of martial arts. I considered the validity of Joe’s reputation and training to be without question.

I was surprised when speaking with Joe that he knew the group that my teacher had come up through. My sensei had left his old group after he had achieved a 7th dan in karate, and a similar rank in jujutsu and a 4th in a Tomiki Aikido and an off shoot of it that had been specialized for LEO’s, (law enforcement officers).

At the time I joined my teachers federation, most of the leaders of the federation were LEO’s. My sensei (Tom Manson), was also in charge of self defense training for three fifths of the districts in Ohio at the time. He had written the states sexual assault handbook along with another officer (master instructor in our federation). Plus, he taught armed and unarmed tactics to parole and probation officers, state troopers, county deputies, as well as municipal police departments.

The tactics include pepper spray, shooting, hand-to-hand defense, rappelling, etc. and he was a gun armourer (certified by Glock, S&W and Colt), for the state. He also taught special classes that Federal Marshals, and the Langley type guys attended and I had the privilege to work with him. What drew me to his classes was that the men in his organization were on par with many of the greats that I had trained under. I was used to working with the likes of Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, Michael DePasquale both Sr. and Jr. (Sr. was considered the father of American Ju-jitsu) and he (DePasquale Sr,) had received the only lifetime achievement award from Black Belt Magazine before his passing in 2006.

My sensei introduced me to men like John Saylor, Mark Shuey, and Tony Annesi to name a few, all of whom were inspirations. The writings of Tony Annesi had been a huge influence on me from my youth. Along this line I have also been training under James Williams. Williams, sensei has opened my eyes to how the principles and teaching of the sword can further refine and polish our skills. This being that there are no good ways to trade blows with giant sized razor blades. The sword teaches us the importance of surviving conflict with modern applications in real world situations. From this we learn the spirit and mind of a warrior and for me how to adjust to my injuries as I try to emulate James Williams, sensei example of continuing to train and improve in our distinguished years.

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