I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime - writing for Black Belt and being a black belt instructor all at the same time. This is my life, or, part of it anyway. I get to collaborate with the leading martial artists in all the lands and help them deliver their teachings and methods to martial artists all over the world. It’s the greatest. (Occasionally I get to write my own material where I’m both subject and writer.) What do you think the bonus is for me? Is it the triumph of getting published? The splendor of having my name appear in a magazine? Is it the paycheck? When I’m asked what’s in it for me, my answer is always the same. I like us (the subject and me in collaboration) getting published, I love spreading the subject’s message, and I enjoy the challenge of creating a simple coherent manuscript. Above all that, I absolutely enjoy the learning. There’s no way around it. Whatever I write about, some of it has to stick. As time goes on and more stories happen, eventually some of that knowledge and insight is going to become cerebral.
Most people know I’ve trained with Wallace. But maybe not Abbott, Joe Lewis, Stephen Hayes, and many others. I even trained with David Carradine. When Black Belt had me contact him the first time in 1999, the first time we spoke on the phone to set up a meeting, Carradine talked me into agreeing to go to his home and do Shaolin kung-fu with him and his trainer, Rob Moses. He thought I needed to know some Shaolin so I could do a better job writing about it. So, I found myself blocking, striking and moving with those two at his San Fernando, California residence. We went on to collaborate many times up until his passing. That opportunity, no matter how one slices it, helped to instill some Shaolin kung-fu inside me.
That learning angle never occurred to me before I started, but it did from the first work until the present. Ironically, I’d never thought about the other side of the coin – it (the learning) being a two way street – but it is. Case in point. Last summer, kali master Apolo Ladra told me he had learned a great deal from the interview process we’d just completed – and he also said he was going to use some of what he’d just learned in a speech he was going to deliver later on in the day. I’m sure some of what he learned was bringing back some dormant material that he hadn’t thought about for awhile, but nevertheless, he attributed it to the collaboration. What a compliment. I really appreciated that.
I encourage anyone who wants to be a writer to give it a shot. It’s an honorable pursuit and a wholesome way to spend your extra time. If anyone reading this wants advice about martial arts writing or insight about getting started, all you need to do is ask. – Sensei Floyd Burk