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If you’re expecting a story about honor, respect, discipline, commitment, and all the other bullshit that Hollywood and the storefront family karate schools tell you is synonymous with martial arts; you’re going to be disappointed.
If you’re expecting a story that paints the martial arts community as a group of humble, deadly yet-insightful warriors, who shape lost, wayward youths into confident productive members of society; you are going to be similarly disappointed.
If you’re expecting a chronicle of kicking-ass-and-taking-names; once again, sorry.
That shit is for the tourists, the rubes, the blissfully ignorant suburban middle-class couple that cheerfully forks over their hard-earned cash to watch some barely-qualified instructor wrap a piece of black electrical tape around their child’s belt every three months and think about how wonderful it will be when their pride and joy has earned the rank of Master before his balls drop. They don’t know what really goes on behind the scenes in world of martial arts, and they don’t want to know.
If that sounds like you, it’s probably best that you stop reading now.
The truth is this is a world filled with bullshit artists, child-molesters, petty criminals, egomaniacs and hustlers, all of which will be discussed in-depth. This is a world where the deadliest instructors are usually guys you’ve never heard of, who often can’t hold on to students because, whether it’s motivated by deep-seeded psychological issues, drug addiction, arrogance or just plain run-of-the-mill cruelty, they like to dance on the line between ‘hard training’ and ‘physical abuse'.
This is a world where the most respected and influential people are often the shadiest of the bunch. A world where brainwashing children into believing you’re a superhuman, unstoppable, magic killing machine is just part of doing business; if you can get their parents to buy into it, so much the better.
This is a world where politics rule, where alliances are forged, backroom deals are made, and friends and mentors are betrayed.
This is a world where rank (and therefore respect) is a largely for sale, a commodity to by bought and sold. At the highest levels titles and rank are often awarded through running in the right circles, paying dues to the right people, and kissing the right asses. Of course, if that seems distasteful to you, you can always just award yourself the rank – it happens a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some talented, well-meaning, honest, wise, ass-kicking people in this field. Unfortunately, as you will see, they are the exception to the rule.
Moving on, if you are expecting a story about a bullied kid who uses his martial arts training as a tool to defeat his tormentors, gain self-respect, and win the respect of his peers; you’re not exactly on the money, but you’re getting closer. But be aware that there is going to be a lot of darkness and self-destructive behavior along the way. It’s a journey filled with self-doubt and disappointment, often at the hands of the unsavory types mentioned above.
Though this is, in large part, an expose’ on the lessor-known elements of the martial arts world, it is also a very personal story about the first twenty-seven years of my journey in the martial arts.
It’s the story of how the martial arts, despite the harsh realities that will be discussed, allowed me to overcome paralyzing low self-esteem and life-threatening depression through the tools that my training gave me. This is the story of how a depressed, introverted youth endured two-and-a-half decades of lies, corruption and abuse to learn the skills needed to be a success in life.
This is also, in part, a story of my family, and how my mother’s drug addiction and criminal behavior played a pivotal role in setting me on the path I now walk today. There are some things in here I have never told another human being, not even my wife, and to be honest I have no idea why I’m sharing it now.
Finally it’s the story of Libre Fighting, the knife fighting system I created, and the brave new world in which Libre Fighting now thrives. A world free of the bullshit I endured coming up through the ranks. A new philosophy and new approach to how combat skills are taught, learned and passed on from generation to generation. For the first time the whole story of the history, development and growth of Libre as a worldwide entity will be told.
I’ll apologize in advance for the language contained within these pages, and also for some of the horrible and offensive behavior I displayed in some of the darker moments chronicled here. I wanted this to be an honest depiction of who I am, and my journey in the martial arts, so I attempted to be as brutally honest as I could.
You’ll find that many times I use only initials in place of names when discussing individuals, and I will at occasionally mention that the name I am using to describe a person on organization is a pseudonym. Real names where only used with the individual’s permission. Anyone I couldn’t contact, or preferred not to speak to, has had their identity protected.
(photo courtesy of Ed's Manifesto)