My instructor at Wingate told us a story about his visit to Japan. The grandmaster was 89 years old, a 10th dan black belt. His student of many years, a 9th dan was 87. The 87 years old student brought the instructor his slippers.
My instructor said he never saw anything so beautiful.
But that is not the American way. That is not the Western way. These days you might say, what on earth is the deal that after all these years the 87 year old is still a student! When will it be his turn to be the master!
To such a question there can be no answer. For if you ask such a question there can never be an answer that will satisfy you.
Moshe Katz, training with instructors at Wingate. This is the only known photograph from that period. Moshe, front row seated.
I trained in New York in Kyokushin Karate under a certain teacher. I am told he was sent from Japan by his instructor to spread the style in America. He and his colleagues succeeded greatly.
And then, I imagine, one day they figured why keep sending the money back home to Japan? Why share the glory? Why be the employee when you can be the boss man?
And each founded his own school in New York. Each certified their own black belts. Each became the "founder" of a new style with a new name. Old katas were dropped, new and "Improved" ones were developed.
Fair enough, that's business.
The years passed and a certain student, an American, thinks to himself, Why should I be an underling? I have the skills, the tools, I can turn this karate business much more commercial. And he breaks off and starts his own commercial chain.
I mentioned this to the master; he could barely utter that student's name anymore. Backstabber!
What goes around comes around.
Bruce Lee was a student of Wing Chun Kung Fu, a student of Yip Man. Bruce Lee did not "break off" to found his own system. Lee always showed the greatest respect and honor to his teacher, but after working on his own for many years, and training with and against other styles of martial arts, he found his own truth.
He was not out to "start his own business". He simply evolved to the point that what he was doing was no longer pure Wing Chun. It was only natural to give it a different name.
For many years I brought my students to be tested by my teacher. One day he said, "Moshe, you no longer have to bring the yellow belts, you are ready to test those on your own". Sometime later he said the same for orange and so on. I never broke off. I never decided one bright day that "Hey, I could make more money by testing them myself". Never.
I personally never set out to found a new system. I never set out to found a new organization. The story of how that came about is still a private one, one that I only share with a few select people, but I will say this; When the forces that be set me on this path the first thing I did was seek the advice, support and blessing of my teachers and elders.
The blessing came from martial arts greats, my own teacher and others, leading rabbis in America and Israel and students and instructors who were waiting for this type of organization. In fact the organization was not even my idea; I was chosen for this task and asked to start up a new and different kind of Krav Maga association.
When the moment came, I turned to my teacher and I offered him the organization. Yes, I offered him all my ideas for this new Krav Maga organization. He was not interested, he correctly saw all the immense challenges, the hardship involved with running such an organization.
As usual, he was correct.
Running an international organization is indeed rewarding but more difficult and challenging that I ever could have imagined. My teacher was correct.
I offered him to be partners in this venture. I offered to relinquish my exclusive control. He offered his help but did not want the job.
To this day he is my friend and is always willing to offer help and advice. We have not parted ways. I did not break away. I built up.
We each need to seek our own success. And I am the first one to assist all our members, all of our students, in achieving this success.
Here is a test you can conduct. If you meet a martial arts instructor, ask him about his instructor. Are they in touch? Are they no longer speaking?
If the person who certified this instructor is no longer speaking with him, well that is a bad sign.
If you want your children to treat you with respect, show them how you treat your parents, your elders. You are setting an example for them.
If you dump your elderly parents in a cheap old age home, well, guess where you will spend the end of your days?
A true teacher will never stand in the way of your success, he will not keep you down. And a true teacher deserves your respect and loyalty.