I’m going to get a lot of hate for posting this but I owe my allegiance to my comrades, students of the Martial Arts, as well as my own values that have put me where I am today. I could say nothing and count my cash as well as my blessings but I refuse to be a hypocrite and speak behind backs. I recognize my responsibility to educate others so they can reap some of the same benefits that I have. This will undoubtedly be a farewell to many fans, and associates but it’s a must for me:
I’ve been in the Martial Arts for 40 years now. I’ve been fortunate enough to train with the widest array of elite, top level Martial Artists than anyone else I know: SHIGERU OYAMA, BOBBY LOWE(8dan Kyokushin), JOE LEWIS, BILL WALLACE, WU BIN (Jet Li’s teacher), SHOKEI MATSUI (current head of Kyokushin), ERIC CHEN (head of National Wu Shu training) BENNY URQUIDEZ, TSUTOMU OSHIMA (Head of Shotokan), FUMIO DEMURA. These men are simply at the top of achievement as well as their styles and none of them refer to themselves as “MASTER!” …WHY?
You can argue that they all befit the title of Grand Master and sometimes, being humble men, they allow being called Master or Grand Master by their students and fans but the term has never become part of their official titles. “Master” is an English word that found it’s place in Asian Martial Arts through the cinema and “Kung Fu” TV series and has been used to death in recent years. “He’s a Master!” has a connotation that is mystical and hypnotic to those eager to worship, as well as those eager to be worshiped. I feel a true Martial Artist knows the value of humility. Respect for our superiors is of the utmost of virtues and if I’m called Master, then who’s my superior? If I’m called a Master or Grand Master, where do I go? Am I done and have no more to learn? I understand when men reach a certain age, “titles” mean an awful lot! You maybe a janitor but you’re “The Head Usher” at Church…You spend years in the Martial Arts, training or not, and by virtue of remaining to be alive your years in the Martial Arts increase and you want them to stand for something. Besides, you see your peers adorn themselves with rank, SO WHY NOT YOU? But THAT’S an “ego thing” and THIS is the “MARTIAL ARTS.” The principals should be bigger than YOU and this “Everyone-Get’s-A-Trophy society.” In our art, to be ego driven is to be driving in the wrong direction. Now we have countless Professors, Gurus, Grand Masters and while there are few legitimate ones, there is an onslought of ILLegitimate ones who know who they are. In my observation I’ve seen the terms “Master” and “Grand Master” subsequently followed by a very large belly because they have simply stopped training! If you’re called Grand Master, where do you go from there? The men I mentioned at the top of this post NEVER STOPPED TRAINING, a few, up until the time of their deaths. Is it a coinsidence that their indomitable spirits, humility, physical and mental strengths are tantamount to the virtues of what Martial Arts was based on? Could it be that they knew by branding themselves with western “titles” that it would be corruptive to those virtues? None the less, these are the men are who I yearn to follow! I am a fraternal brother of ALL martial artist no matter what they call themselves. As a brother, I want all my brothers to prosper despite my disregard for political correctness as I am after all, “My Brother’s Keeper.” I have received my best gifts in this life through the discipline of Martial Arts principles and I wish the same for my brothers and sisters in the Art. I owe much to these values and would be remiss not to pass them on. I am honored by gesture of those who dub me the title out of respect. Please honor my wish that you not call me the M-word.
I am Sempai, Michael Jai White