Martial arts are not for everyone

Peter Freedman – The Martial Arts Coach – Martial Arts & Self Defense Sensei.

Could you tell us about yourself and what did you studied today?

I started off in western style boxing very early from my father. He was a pro fighter in the boxing ring or sport boxing. Outside the ring he was a bare knuckle fist fighter with not too many rules.  As I got into street fights he switched my training over from sports style boxing to bare knuckle fighting. I am writing a book about this.
Later I got into Goju Ryu Karate under Ron Martian Sensei in the early 1970s. From there I got into Ketsugo Jujutsu and competed in Judo for the Academy of Ketsugo. Robert L Dickey Shihan was my teacher in Ketsugo. Later I switched over to Fu Jow Pai (Tiger Claw System) under Sifu Wah Don.

Grand master George Brewster

After that I got into Tae Kwon Do under Dom Pel Kim who was in the Korean ROK army. He taught a combat version of Tae Kwon Do. Over time I then switched over to another Tae Kwon Do teacher Jae Hun Kim. So I competed in some TKD tournaments for him. 
I met two more Ketsugo Jujutsu Sensei later in the 80s, Jim Jones Sensei and Jim Wade Sensei. Both were brown belts when I attended the Academy of Ketsugo in the 70s. From there I studied Aikido under Kanai Sensei in Cambridge Mass. Later my Ketsugo Jujutsu sensei introduced me to Grand master George Brewster of Brewster Arnis. Arnis is a Filipino martial art. It incorporates the use of all kinds of weapons. Somewhere in between I studied Tai Chi Chuan Yang style under Joshua Grant. I traded off different street fighting concepts with different street fighters I met throughout my life.

What schools do you lead today?

Today I teach privately at my home in New Hampshire. I moved up to NH twenty three years ago. I downsized to teach more privately so I could control what I teach and to whom I teach it to. I don’t have a public dojo (Martial art school). 

Which martial arts do you teach students?
I teach Ketsugo Jujutsu (Freedman’s Method) and Brewster Arnis. There are students who come here from around the world in all different martial arts and levels of rank. They come here to pick my brain. So I teach them martial science instead of a martial arts system or style unless they ask me to teach them Ketsugo Jujutsu or Brewster Arnis.

Ketsugo is a Japanese word that means – put together – combination – combine – mixture. By teaching the martial science everybody can apply this science to whatever system or style they are already studying. It helps add to what they already know and to better understand what they already have. This way, they don’t have to learn a new or different style.

What do you see are the main problems of masters in teaching their clients/students in our time?

So from what I have experienced and personally seen growing up and living through martial arts going from style to style and system to system is the belt program and other things like that. They seem to make the rank (belts) more important than the system of the martial art. They seem to sell out their art forms for money. Students become clients instead of being students. 

Another bad thing I see is the lack of science and anatomy. It seems teaching techniques so they can get to the next belt is more important than sharing the art. Lack of history as well is not being taught. How can you learn martial arts without learning about its rich history, its culture etc. science, physics, anatomy are just not being taught. 

Also, they all teach in a manner where their students are not allowed to be themselves or learn in their own ways. This is a quick way to kill a martial art. This is one of the main reasons a lot martial arts today have lost their effectiveness. Their students can’t defend themselves. It`s very sad. 

You were taught to kill with a knife. How to use a knife for self-defense?

Yes I learned edge weapons from a few different teachers. My first teacher was my father who actually taught me how to throw knives. After that a friend of the family who was ex-military taught me how to kill with a knife. Not knife fighting but rather where the pointy end goes to shut the person down or off. Later I learned knife fighting mainly from my Grand master Mr. Brewster. There were others who traded their knife science and experience for some of what I knew in empty hand and weapons play that I did.

Self-defense against a knife was my father’s boxing footwork. My first knife encounter helped me to realize that. Someone tried killing me with a knife and I used my boxing footwork to keep me safe. So today I teach all my students how to use this type of footwork through different types of drills. 

How to avoid being stabbed properly? Where does it all begin?

It all begins with learning how to use your eyes to first see angles. Once that has been established the next thing is footwork. If you can’t read the opponent’s body language and see the angle of attack before it happens, you won’t be able to get out of the way in time to survive the attack. So first learn the different angles of attack and defense, we have nine angles of attack and defense. Next comes footwork. Learn how to advance and retreat properly with good balance. 

Side stepping and how to circle around your opponent without losing balance. Next is the body defense drills. We teach every part of the body to defend itself. This will help you in close quarters encounters. 

How to correctly measure the distance?

Training in long weapons first, will help you to learn distance. As you advance in your ability, the weapons get shorter and shorter until you graduate to empty hands. You will learn distance from avoiding strikes or slashes from weapons. Weapons also help motivate you to move out of harm’s way better than the empty hand can. They hurt when you get whacked with a stick or training blade etc.

What methods of coping with fear do you use?

It depends on the person and the situation. Everybody handles fear differently. So when I teach my students here in New Hampshire I train them to learn very slowly. Move very slowly and understand their techniques objectives. Know the science behind each movement. 

Understand the physics of their techniques so when it is not working for them, they will understand why and be able to correct it in the middle of battle. The reason most people (students) are scared or have fear is because they don’t know what is going to happen. Another reason is they lack confidence in their martial physical abilities. So to combat this fear is to first teach them how to reflex without using their mind.

Their body must learn to react without thinking. So first they learn how to fight and then while learning how to fight they learn how to read facial expressions and body language. One concept that I teach that never changes here is when attacked, always get out of harm’s way first and then do whatever you want after. That concept never changes, ever. 

What determines the rate of human learning?

To understand this question you must first understand how your student learns. 

Are they a visual learner?

Are they an audio learner? 

Are they a physical learner? 

To teach is to first understand. If you do not understand how your student learns, then how can you teach them? I developed a teaching system called the Freedman’s Method. It is a teaching method. I teach students how to teach themselves. If you came here to New Hampshire in the United States and watched my students each one of them moves completely differently.  They all learned the same martial art from me, but they all do it very differently. Because I watch and learn how they learn and then teach them accordingly. Early I was asked.

Author: Myroslav Bekchyv