Teachers and Mentors

By Mike Suyematsu

I have had many great teachers and mentors in my life. Number one would be my Dad, Taro Suyematsu. He worked two and sometimes three jobs his whole life. He raised a family of five rowdy boys who never really gave him rest until the later years of his life. He had his share of dust ups and fights through out his life first as a young boy protecting my Aunts from “Jap” haters and later as a bartender.

Dad was big on teaching us boys to behave, but always gave us permission to stand up for ourselves. He hated bullies. I was raised in a small town where I stood out as a complete oddity being mixed race. I got picked on and jumped in school, at the park, on the way to the store, at the carnival, etc, etc.

One time when I was about 12, I was afraid to go to school because this idiot kept picking on me and I knew if I fought him I would get suspended. I told Dad about it and I remember our conversation like it was yesterday…

“Hey Dad I’m afraid I might get in trouble at school. This kid keeps on picking on me and he won’t leave me alone.”

Dad looked up from his dinner and asked, “Is this guy an idiot?”

“Yeah Dad he just won’t leave me alone and I don’t know what to do.”

“Mike, if this guy is an idiot you don’t have a choice. You can’t talk to an idiot. The only thing an idiot understands is pain. The only thing you do with an idiot is beat the shit out of him. He will understand that.”

The next day I got suspended from school. The idiot walked up to me in the hall before first period and started his shit. I lit him up with a single punch to the nose which dropped him into a pile of sobbing snot and blood.

It was the best day I ever had at school. Dad made me do chores and kept me busy for the three days I was off from school. I had lots of witnesses who came to the principal to testify that my actions were in self defense.

I had to apologize to the idiot, but everything was cool from then on. Pain is a great communicator. At that point, my Dad set my attitude in stone…

I have great respect for Dan Inosanto, Vut Kamnark, the sayoc system, etc. the reason I studied Martial Arts was not to compete, it was to save my ass. The number one thing you have to have is attitude. The system you learn may or may not work for you. You can develop tools, like punches, kicks, take downs and chokes. You can develop attributes like timing, speed, agility and strength.

But everything is worthless until the mind is engaged. Some of the absolute best fighters I have ever met have no name recognition. In fact some of them are dead or in jail. Most of them never opened schools or made it in to Black Belt Magazine.

Here is a short list of names of some of the most dangerous fighters I have ever trained with:

Henry R.
Alfred C.
Angel Cabales
Tony Blauer
Eric Shingu
Vince Lopez
Raymond Lopez
Mike S. (not me!)
Brandon B.
Ryan M.
Hank D.
Keith K.

I have left out the last name of some on the list because they are in prison or don’t wish to be identified. At least one of them is currently in a witness protection program. A few are active LEO’S, SWAT Officers, Snipers and have experience in MMA and Kick Boxing as well as BJJ. A few have killed doing crimes and a few have killed in the line of duty protecting us from the bad guys.

Most of my life has been spent looking for what works in the street. Ring sports like MMA and Boxing are sources of entertainment and knowledge. There is some overlap between ring or cage sports and street, but they are definitely not the same.

In order to train for the street you must include dealing with multiples opponents and opponents with weapons, single or multiple. It is in this arena that things get radically different than the cage or ring.

That being said, on the physical side of things you must be able to mount a good unarmed attack because you won’t in most cases have your weapon out and ready to in everyday life. Learning to take contact is critical. Anyone can do it, safely and scientifically with the right teacher and equipment. I love Tony Blauer’s High Gear just for that purpose. If you do MMA, Kick Boxing or Boxing, you can deal with contact.

Here is my first lesson for anyone who is interested in learning about learning to protect yourself or loved ones from a street assault.

1. Check out Tony Blauer’s Cerebral  Self Defense audio CDs.
2. Check out Marc McYoung’s website.
3. Pick up a copy of Rory Miller’s book, “Meditations on Violence

That’s it for now.

Take Care,

Mike

TAKU’s NOTE: Last December I mentioned that we would add some new articles about Self defense from one of our inner circle Mike Suyematsu. Well it took me a while to get around to it… Thanks to Mike S. for sharing some of his stories with us. I’ll be looking forward to many more in the not too distant future.

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