What made you want to join this group? Is your primary goal increasing your physical fitness, learning self-defense, preparing for a competition, promoting self-growth, or something else (or possibly all of the above)?
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What martial arts experience - if any - do you already have?
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If you could fight any historical figure, who would it be?
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Do you promise to leave your ego at the door, to learn, to train hard, and to help your fellow fight club members grow?
If you're looking to learn practical martial arts skills in a friendly, informal, and non-traditional environment, the Philly Ronin's Fight Club is for you!
This group is the result of my decade-plus journey through the world of martial arts - from boxing, to Jeet Kune Do, to Muay Thai, to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, to MMA, and more recently to the Flow Arts & XMA. It's also a product of my general dissatisfaction with the way martial arts is taught at most commercial schools: they're overpriced, their contracts keep you paying even if you want to leave, many of their techniques are unrealistic, their classes are seldom separated by skill level, their curriculum is often a jumbled mess, and their "code of honor" is often entirely absent or used as a vehicle for hazing students and enforcing a pecking order. This is an attempt to create something different...
"Styles tend to not only separate men - because they have their own doctrines and then the doctrine became the gospel truth that you cannot change. But if you do not have a style, if you just say: Well, here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely? Now, that way you won't create a style, because style is a crystallization. That way, it's a process of continuing growth."
- Bruce Lee
The kickboxing classes focus on a hybrid, eclectic style that mixes techniques from various arts to provide an effective platform for both ring competition and street self-defense. The weapons classes focus on a blend of the Traditional Martial Arts, and modern, acrobatic performance arts - usually termed "Flow Arts" or Xtreme Martial Arts (XMA). The "alive" training methods and "open source" teaching style distinguish us from virtually all the other martial arts schools in the city. The fact that we get to train in the former Rocky's Gym in South Philly - the very same boxing gym Sylvester Stallone used while filming the original "Rocky" - is just an added bonus.
“The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”
- Miyamoto Musashi,The Book of Five Rings
For those who don't know, "Ronin" is the term for a Japanese samurai without a master, and that's a key part of the reason I started this meetup - I don't want a master. I don't want to bow to anyone or have anyone bow to me. This is a martial arts training group with no belts, no uniforms, no titles, no elaborate rituals, no hierarchies, and no "master" to worship. Yes, there will be experienced trainers leading the classes, but they are merely the first among equals. Everyone is welcome to share techniques, help their fellow students, suggest different training methods, and question the instructors if anything they're teaching ever seems impractical. All perspectives are valid, and the training hall will act as our laboratory and our proving ground for what works & what doesn't.
"You aren't alive anywhere like you're alive at fight club.... Fight club isn't about winning or losing fights. There's grunting and noise at fight club like at the gym, but fight club isn't about looking good. There's hysterical shouting in tongues like at church, and when you wake up Sunday afternoon you feel saved."
- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
As for the "Fight Club" moniker, this is NOT an underground venue for street brawls. I chose it because Chuck Palaniuk's novel "Fight Club" and the film do a great job of showing that when you move past all the macho BS that surrounds fighting, you can tap into something much more experiential & vital. It's a reawakening of the primal self, something so powerful that all the trivial aspects of your life fade away in its presence. Top athletes talk about being "in the zone", and the samurai used to speak of entering the state of "no mind" (mushin) in the midst of life-or-death combat. That is what we are seeking. It takes hard work, and eventually it takes some hard contact. While students trained at commercial schools can eventually become technically proficient fighters, they often miss the higher purpose of self-development. On the other hand, the camaraderie of a club naturally tends to encourage innovation & growth, and that's the environment we're aiming to create.
It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
If any of this resonates with you, come on down & join us for a session. If you like it and want to stay, great! If not, that's okay too - at least you didn't get roped into an expensive long-term contract.