Friends in martial arts,
You may or may not know me, but I’m one of Mike Genova and Keith Vitali’s blackbelts. I received my blackbelt in 1986, opened a school that same year in Harlingen Texas. Prior to that I was a sparring partner for Richard Jackson before he became Super-lightweight champion of the Professional Karate Association, when I turned forty I turned back to karate and started competing in tournaments again to only find out things were pretty much the same way they were when I left, to be honest they were actually worst. I’d go to local tournaments and in some of the divisions one could win a trophy by just registering, there were so few competitors in some divisions you could wait the entire day, for your division and maybe have only one fight or two and win first place.
So tell me what’s happening, what’s happening to tournaments? Is it MMA, why are we losing our zeal?
If you were to ask me, I would say it’s because we have nothing to offer beyond the tournament. Consider baseball, football or basketball. I can start as early as age 4,5 you learn the fundamentals gradually improve and as you get better you can still play or compete in elementary, middle school, high school, college and if things work out well for you maybe even becoming a professional. Let’s not forget the United States isn’t the only place where there are professional leagues for these sports but they usually start here in the United States.
I write to you because firstly I respect you as a martial artist, and secondly due to your expertise you have influence in the industry and your community. Have you made changes to your studio or school because of the boom of MMA? Are you one of the schools that have added boxing, and maybe grappling to your school because of the events you see on pay-per-view (MMA)? One would have you to believe this is new but boxing was added as early as 1960’s with John Coulon and grappling with Gene Lebell even earlier so these techniques have always been part of martial arts I personally think we’ve failed by not considering our mass population of the 18.1 million plus practitioners in the US and taking into consideration what platform would work best for the majority and not the few.
I think we would agree that a martial artist, with the proper training, education and dedication can be more brutal and deadly. So the fact that I choose to spar with kicking techniques versus grappling techniques has no real bearing to who is the better fighter. So with that being said I prefer we think of what we can to present the best package for entertaining the public. We’ve had the best marketing possible in martial arts movies like Enter the Dragon, Fist of Legend way too many to list, superstars and martial arts superstars. So we need to really think about what would be best to gain the majority of the public. I would say point or light to medium contact martial arts.
I write this memo to solicit your support in a realizing the possibilities a point league would provide for our sport.
So join me in my quest to implement a sport martial arts league. A light to medium contact league has the greatest potential for gaining world acceptance as a sport team league, high school and elementary sports and most importantly nationwide entertainment via two-hour events across America.
Please join us in our journey,