I began my martial arts training informally at the age of 8 from my father, and formally around the age of 11. Over the past two decades, I have studied a wide variety of styles. I began in UFAF Chun Kuk Do, which is Chuck Norris' derivative of Tang Soo Do Mo Duk Kwan. Later, I became a Wah Lum student under Sifu Dave Joyner and a distance student of Kenpo and RBWI under Grandmaster Al Farnsworth and Robert Bussey, respectively. In my late teens and early twenties, I began researching martial arts of African origin and incorporating techniques from the continent and diaspora into my martial repertoire.
Today, I do not adhere to any particular system, but I appreciate the best things that I have learned from all that I have studied. I have my own philosophy that I began calling "FIWAI" back in 1996 and still use to this day.
The traditional dojo/dojang/kwoon has been placed under a microscope for the past 20 something years (especially with the advent of the UFC), and more reality based combatives and mixed martial arts philosophies have become the norm. While I myself identify as a reality based martial artist, I still appreciate the life lessons that I learned from the dojo: discipline, character, respect, honor, and patience.
Today, I am seeking a balance. I want my 2 year old daughter to learn to defend herself. She is growing up in a sexist and racist world that will seek to mistreat her for being a black female, and I have an obligation as her father to prepare her to survive in it. And I absolutely do not want to do this by filling her mind with unrealistic preparation techniques that will only get in her way when she finds herself in a situation where she has to fight her way out of being taken advantage of. However, I want her to have the character development that comes with a traditional school.