Bruce Lee Dan Inosanto

I know you know already. Your patience is appreciated. But Dan Inosanto is very important.

And while that part is known, it might be worthwhile to suggest a connection to MMA. Not meant here is that obvious connection that most agree (and strongly assert) exists. Namely, that MMA's history is inexorably linked to Bruce Lee and of course Inosanto his most famous baton-carrying (Kali/Arnis/Eskrima stick?) student. Every fan of MMA shouts at the screen and at any poor soul joining them in the umpteenth viewing of any of the Dragon's films with grappling; "See, I told you! MMA!" Guilty as charged here.


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But there are other nuggets to mine for here. The reader is no doubt aware or should be that Dan Inosanto still has teachers. Students would be expected, but teachers? And not just teachers, but teachers in disciplines he has not been known for in his history. It must be admitted that Jeet Kune Do as usually thought of is a no way is the way lifestyle and as such actually offers the way out of needing to invest oneself in particular disciplines in an exhaustive sense. This is actually probably a genuine benefit of JKD, namely, that it really does open doors to adaptation and the description Inosanto gives of his teacher Lee: open-mindedness. The hybrid nature of JKD's philosophy almost begs to have its practitioners not be anchored down to whole schools of thought. But like other good things that can be misemployed, the no way approach might give opportunity to the less-initiated to cut corners as it were. In other words, only mastering parts of specific disciplines might keep someone from the hard work of the more challenging parts of the particular art. An analogy might be an athlete only ever wanting to bat in baseball or shoot free-throws in basketball – who needs all that running and defense stuff, right?

Inosanto is not merely claiming white belt status in his known or comfortable fields either, he really digs deep into other fields. He doesn't play the hobbyist – He doesn't master JKD and toy with BJJ. He has spoken often of Lee's love of cross-training, but also about his proficiency in forms. Meaning, Lee did not merely dabble. Likewise, Lee's student himself is not merely looking at leglocks or armbars in Jiu Jistsu and subsequently adding them as single cogs to a machine, but spending time on all of the fundamentals. He is training with some of the best to do it. Just go look up the name Machado and BJJ – maybe second only to Gracie. And lest we forget, this student we speak of is in his seventies.

Dan Inosanto

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Here is the plot twist and thesis. In addition to a call for the respecting of Insanto, there might be an indictment against (at worst) and a lesson for (at best) MMA fighters who think it a bad idea to dig down in areas outside of their comfort zone. Avoiding names here, there is a growing list of pro fighters whose primary skills are systematically decoded while others that are potentially underdeveloped in their arsenals are found lacking. The very best can be confronted in areas they spend copious amounts of time on. Go back and look at GOAT candidate (full disclosure – winner to this writer while the Usman train tallies miles) Georges St-Pierre apply his armbar (might also apply to the kimura) to Dan Hardy and not get the finish. No criticism from this armchair at all and of course it speaks volumes to Dan Hardy's determination, but in his own words GSP felt he needed work on technique. GSP said that. This is what appears to be reflected in Sifu Inosanto.

There is of course the other end of the pendulum's oscillation error where fighters ignore their bread and butter for new skills, but we are here speaking of the fundamental attitude of a legend in the MA of MMA. Willingness to grow and not merely try. Without question it is admirable, but even further, it is a mindset that can be applied not only to MMA, but to all of life for that matter.

That a director of my city's opera company would call me seemed a little odd. There are probably some monkeys who know more about opera than I do. But the director was inviting me to lunch, so of course I went.

It turned out the company was producing a performance of Madame Butterfly, the Puccini opera that tells the story of a doomed love between a French military officer and a geisha in early 19th-century Japan. The opera has come under fire for its stereotyped, utterly fanciful depictions of Japanese culture. The local company was trying to anticipate such criticism, and the director asked me, since I serve on the board of some organizations related to Japanese culture, what I thought.
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