Respect for the teacher is what characterizes a martial artist. Even though due to space reasons I will not list here all those instructors with whom I was lucky to learn in my martial path, my intention is to pay tribute to those who, to a greater or lesser extent, forged my way and influenced me the most in my perception of the art of fighting. All of them have my deepest gratitude and respect.
I started with master Uzawa, 8ª Dan of Kodokan, at 6 years old, and I went on my training under him until I was 17. I learned Judo in its purest form from him. Master Uzawa had studied with master Kotany, who was direct student of Judo´s founder Jigoro Kano, and Uzawa shared with his students the same philosophy he learned from his master.
He never lost his elegance of motion even when doing sparring, and no matter as much as you struggled to unbalance him, he always reacted in a way that you were the one who tapped the tatami out. Master Uzawa was the living example of what “the art of gentleness” should be, and I am very grateful to this man of kind manners who introduced the seed of martial arts into me.
In the spacious living room of his house in South Los Robles was where I took my first lessons of Kenpo directly from its founder. Parker was a charismatic person, with depth in his eyes. He had a wide first-hand knowledge of the circumstances and characters that forged the beginning of martial arts schools in the USA. With a sharp perceptiveness, he could correct the slightest detail in the movement of a technique, of which you couldn't have been aware ever before.
Bodyguard and one of Elvis Presley´s trusted men (master of personalities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Blake Edwards), learning from master Ed Parker was actually an honor for me. It was learning from the history of martial arts in America. (I don't want to fail to mention my gratitude to Frank Trejo, for his teachings in the school of Pasadena, and Christian Springer and Luis González, who were the basis of my “martial teens”.)
It could be said that Inosanto was the one responsible for me to give up my years of practice in Kenpo and deciding to embark in a project totally new for me. From 1988 to 1991 I traveled annually to train at the Inosanto Academy. Then, the Academy was a paradise for those who loved martial arts in general. Although more focused on the Southeastern Asian martial arts (eskrima, pentjak silat, bersilat, bando, thai boxing...), other styles also where taught like wing chun, boxing, savate, shooting and the so-called Jun Fan Gung Fu. Such martial repertoire for you to study and train was something completely novel in those days.
Guro Inosanto is actually a martial arts encyclopedia, an artist flowing from one art to another, and I feel fortunate to have been able to be close to him in those years, accompanying him to the morning lessons at IMB and attending his classes of the 4th phase, where a great training atmosphere was present. Without any doubt, the Inosanto Academy was an enriching experience in my martial path.
One can understand the origin of the clash of the two approaches that were created around JKD by combining the training at Jerry's house with the Inosanto Academy.
The trainings with Jerry those days were mainly focused on the directness of the techniques, the understanding of the interception as a combative tactic and trapping-hands when you came into contact with your opponent´s arms.
In my fourth year of training, during the course of a class, he removed the furniture of his living room and asked me to fight against Vern Rochon, instructor under him. That was my exam and I became his instructor number 12, and the first one outside of the USA. Although after some time I looked for new horizons in JKD, I will always be grateful to him for the commitment of his teachings and making me feel at home in his own house at Venice Beach. (I would like also to thanks his wife Fran).
I used to define him as a "master of motion”. He taught traditional kali, wing chun and boxing on Saturday mornings at the Inosanto Academy, and because of my admiration towards him I asked him for private classes. He was the first person that I saw applying fencing to martial arts. An expert in the use of the "olisi" and how to use your own body to get more power with your blows. His father, Lucky Lucaylucay, was one of the teachers of Inosanto in Filipino martial arts and he gave us several boxing classes in the best possible way: doing sparring and watching your mistakes while you are in full action. I consider both, father and son, the kind of martial artists that mark an era.
Paul De Thouars
Pendekar Paul was the creator of the system Pentjak Silat Bukti Negara. I had the opportunity of training with him thanks to his classes at the Inosanto Academy, and subsequently I asked for permission to attend a small selected group that used to train regularly in the backyard of his house in Arcadia. I had the fortune of being accepted.
In classes of a small group of 5-6 people I got to understand better the focus of Pentjak Silat. The approach given by Pendekar Paul de Thouars helped me to better understand some principles of the human biomechanics when you are at close-quarters with the adversary.
He came to Spain in 1989 for a seminar in Lloret de Mar (Gerona), and during my stay in Los Angeles I used to spend some days at his home in Redlands to go on learning from him.
He is an intelligent teacher with a great sense for the teachings. He has good training ideas, and he has an educational focus that greatly helps the development of the student. I keep great personal memories of Tim and he is a person who I hold in high esteem.
Professor Dan Lee was the next step in my stairway of knowledge in Jeet Kune Do. I knew he was very selective when accepting students, and I was fortunate to be admitted after some trainings in his house in Duarte. The following year he came to Madrid to teach a private seminar for my small JKD group and also an open Tai Chi Chuan seminar.
Dan Lee was an eye-opener for me. His wisdom about the use of energy in the human body and how to get the most of it gave a deeper perspective to my knowledge on what it is called "philosophy in action". He had good experience in boxing (he was welterweight champion of China when he was 18 years old) and he was an expert in applying the broken rhythm. According to several sources, Bruce had a great respect for Dan Lee´s pugilistic skills. Professor Lee's teachings had a great effect, both in my understanding of JKD as well as in my everyday life.
I saw in Sifu Ted all the qualities I wanted to find in an instructor: his footwork was in a different league from all the martial artists I had met, his view of JKD was what I had always been looking for, his technical level was really high, and his humbleness and integrity made me feel the deepest respect towards him. In Autumn, 1993, he accepted my request to train in his house and according to Sifu Ted himself, I was his first private student outside of the USA. In April, 1995, I brought him to Madrid for a public seminar and the following year he came again to Barcelona, Málaga and Tenerife. This was the beginning of the path of Sifu Ted´s teachings in Spain.
He was the person with whom I could experience on my own body Bruce´s words: “your strike should be felt before it seen”. In his private classes, he constantly emphasized the importance of footwork in any action. He used to say that footwork is everything in Jeet Kune Do. Mobility, alignment, distance, timing... his teachings had a deep impact on my view of JKD and fighting in general, and he was my teacher until he passed away. My view of Sifu was not only that of an instructor. He was also a loyal friend who you could trust, a shoulder to lean on in hard times and a counselor in the ups and downs of life. Sifu Ted left a deep mark on those students that were fortunate to share with him some more than a workout. Besides feeling the power of his punches, we will always feel sorry about the loss of a man with such high human values.