In the mid 1960’s there was a revolution in the Martial Arts world. The man who started this revolution was Bruce Lee. He recognized that traditional martial arts had abandoned their past. The focus had become less about developing an effective fighting style and learning to defend oneself, and more on belts and ranks. Sparring was focused not on developing a true fighting style, but on sport. Rules were developed, such as no hitting in the head or no low kicks. This limited the arts’ effectiveness in combat. Bruce Lee rightly recognized what every high school coach can tell you: you play the way you train, or, you fight the way you train. Bruce Lee recognized that in a street confrontation, the “bad guys” acknowledged no rules. He pointed out that the traditional martial arts had not only become useless in real combat, but in most cases it was a liability.
Bruce Lee recommended returning to a different style of training: one that focused on what worked in a real fight, and not on belts or rank. In his time this style of training was called full-contact; today it is called reality-based. This style of training teaches people to be effective fighters. It puts people in situations they may confront on the street. It gives them techniques to deal with the physical situations that may arise, but more importantly, it trains them to deal with the stress of real life situations. Bruce Lee affirmed an important concept: in combat, you do not rise to the level of your attacker, but rather you fall to the level of your training.
Our teacher, Master/Guru Dan Cepeda, learned Kenpo from Master Brian Adams, a first generation student of Ed Parker’s. Master/Guru Dan was heavily influenced by his training in the combat style Arnis De Mano. He and his brother, Sifu/Guru Fred Cepeda, were pioneers in the development of full contact weapons sparring. They recognized how important it was to train for real confrontations and were committed to making our “empty hand” system work on the street. Master/Guru Dan understood that the first enemy we have to overcome in a violent confrontation is our own fear and adrenaline. He developed drills and techniques that not only honed our fighting ability, but also forced us to confront and overcome our fears. However, he also believed that traditional martial arts had much to teach. Among these things were:
It is the tempering influence of these character traits which causes us to respect those who cannot defend themselves. Master/Guru Dan wanted his school to produce modern warriors that could truly defend themselves in the street, and yet conduct themselves with dignity, honor, and strength of character.
The goal of Brand X Martial Arts is to follow this path and combine the best of the traditional martial arts and the modern fighting arts.