On Dan Inosanto
Martial art people travel around the world to meet him They arrive with expectation with desire (or enlightenment. Some leave disappointed, like an enthusiastic prospect for the mile run, hoping to be another Jim Ryan and then finding out that becoming a Jim Ryan is a long. hard, difficult road to follow. They soon become disillusioned. These students leave disappointed They leave disappointed due to the lack of understanding and level of awareness and perseverance In the martial arts There is nothing to give those people, the ones who come with Bruce Lee In their minds, chasing his memory, looking for his afterglow.
True. Danny is the conservator of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do philosophies and training He names the late Jimmy Lee and Taky Kimura as his seniors, but no one was closer to the late Oriental miracle than was Danny, Bruce's friend and student.
But Danny Inosanto t% not Bruce Lee. he's entirely different. Bruce Lee was a thoroughbred of constant, insistent, dynamic energy He spoke with energy, he walked with energy, he filled every moment of hks waking life with pending explosiveness. Danny, though not lacking dynamism, is quiet, shy and more contained Probably the reason Bruce and Danny became such friends was because Danny was the opposite of Bruce's nature, the ytn to Bruce's yang. Around people he respects and around people he doesn't know, he's totally passive, giving them voice and confidence
If they talk, he listens; if they push, he giver.. "'Whatever you want." he'll say. If it's a situation where he's working to be tolerant, he'll smile a slight, one sided smile But more often, his giving attitude is a genuine effort to please, an open door This is the way he learned from Bruce and this is the way he continues to learn from sources that most people would never see
Learning from Danny s a similar process Nothing Is force*!. I le casts lessons to them when they're least expected and. though they're usually meant for a specific person if that person cares to listen, they fall .is indiscriminately as rain upon everyone around him The ones who meet the level of the lesson can pick it up and from the rest It falls as harmlessly as water.
In a room full of students, he stands one up to demonstrate a move Hi-, hands are always quick, flukl. full of subtleties
"This little movement, the important Muff. just disappears in a demonstration." he says They never see it. Maybe for demonstrations we should use wider movements, because they miss it If you do ;! realistically."
He turns to a guy sitting by the coke machine, tying his shoelace
'You know why sinawalH drills are good? So you can develop the left hand by relating :t to the movements of your right hand It's reversed »f you're left-handed
The guy at the coke machine nods He's just visiting and doesn't know what s^nateafiV but nodding seerns polite. Sometimes Danny directs his mental work toward bystanders who don't understand what he's saying. It doesn't matter. Dur.ng times like this. Danny Is using them for sounding boards Sometimes he's talking to himself, honing and reshaping the principles of his art. defining them verbally to set them In his mind If you're one of hi-, students though, you stand In front of him and let him talk, hoping to catch bits and p-.eces of information that might have taken you years to leam on your own Danny's years of inward seeking and personal observation are reinforced by what he's received from all his past instructors and most of them are recognized as "masters."
Danny's introduction to the martial arts was at the age of ten In his hometown of Stockton. California, a man the people called Ur.cJe Vincent Evangelista tried to spark his interest :n Okinawa re and Jiu-Jitsu. Danny didn't know at the time that his 'uncle' was also an Escrimador. .
The summer of martial aTts with Uncle Evangelista !eft a favorable impression that would develop in later years But for the next ten years, young Danny engrossed himself in sports, primarily football and track Football was his favorite sport sn high school and he was the leading ground gornvr in his junior and senior years. Later, .it Whit worth College In Spokane. Washington, he put his running abilities to work on the cinders and won a college track conference with 9.5 seconds in the 100 yard dash In his senior year In Whit worth College he was the leading ground gainer for the football team Today, he supplements his martial arts career by teaching Jr High School physical education. Track times and football plays are always In the back of his mind Several times he's explained difficult concepts to his martial arts students by compar ing them to football maneuvers. "If it works, use it." Bruce used to say.
Ten years after Danny s first experience with the martial art'-, he returned to stay. When he Came home from college, about 1957. he wasn't running track or playing football so he took up Judo with a man named Duke Yoshlmura He continued lessons with Yoshimura until 1959. when he entered the service to ultimately become a paratrooper m the 101st Airborne Division He was looking for Judo at Fort Campbell. Kentucky, when he met Henry Slomansky.
Slomansky was a Chito-Ryu instructor and. though Danny didn't know what that was. he remembered seeing Karate kicks done by Uncle Vincent (Evangelista) The tour at Fort Campbell gave Danny a look at various styles In Karate since the base was a melting pot of Navy. Marine. Air Fores' and Army personnel and a potpourri of martial arts styles from all over the globe
Thlm Ittu t il Parker'n 1965 Kcnpu Kurule team after a tournament In Soft take City. Bob Coofc (left) wot the ('»ram! Champion. Steve Sunder» (right) u«i the uhlte belt champion. Steix u^ll luter gain International recognition a* one of the founder* nf the Muck Kutate Federal inn (BKF).
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