by Tak Ishikawa
February 4, 2003
I have always been interested in the martial arts. I had been training off and on in martial arts since childhood. I’ve trained in various forms including karate, kung fu, judo, aikido and boxing. While I value those experiences, during my training, I always felt somewhat confined by the boundaries imposed by those arts. I felt that while the art I was studying would be applicable for certain situations, it may be ineffective in a different scenario. In addition, I felt that certain techniques would not work for me as an individual.
I then heard about the International Martial Arts and Boxing Academy (“IMB”) and chief instructor Richard Bustillo. When I first visited IMB, I was surprised to find the world-renowned Richard Bustillo actually teaching classes to his students, beginners and advanced. So many new students are drawn to a school by a marquee name, only to discover that their famous instructor is visibly absent and the day-to-day curriculum is entrusted to a senior student. In my years at IMB, I’ve found Sifu Bustillo to be consistently generous, enthusiastic and committed to his students. Sifu Bustillo is always there. Though he is quite busy with the seminar circuit, his seminars are primarily scheduled on weekends, so that he could be at IMB and with his students during the week.
Another bonus to IMB is the camaraderie. This is also attributed to Sifu Bustillo. Sifu is originally from Hawaii and has made it a point to make the “aloha spirit” an integral part of the school. In my previous experience with other schools, students often left as soon as classes were over. I’ve made a lot of good friends at IMB. Here, not only do the students train together but hang out. Favorite activities include attending martial arts events, parties, potlucks and going out for plate lunch.
At my first visit, Sifu Bustillo sat with me and explained the philosophy of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (“JFJKD”) and the importance of the individual being more important than any established style or system. Sifu Bustillo also explained the value of understanding the three combative ranges: the long range ofweaponry, the middle range of the striking arts and the close range of the grappling arts. I then realized that this was the style or “no style” that I was looking for.
The IMB Academy is different from other traditional martial arts schools in that it stresses the importance of the individual and open mindedness to all forms of martial arts. Sifu Bustillo and many of his students have prior experience in different martial arts, so there is a constant exchange of techniques and philosophies. Furthermore, IMB has been cross training in the combative martial arts long before it was trendy. Martial arts cross training at IMB includes jujitsu/wrestling, boxing/muay thai and kali/eskrima. The concepts, principles, philosophy and training methods of Bruce Lee’s JFJKD encompass IMB’s curriculum. Simply stated, IMB teaches the individual to evolve and adapt to changes.
Bruce Lee stressed the importance of the individual and to not be confined by the limitations of the traditional art. What may work for one student may not for another. This philosophy is embraced wholeheartedly by Sifu Bustillo and the IMB Academy. And this is where Sifu Bustillo differs from other Jeet Kune Do (“JKD”) instructors. In my previous search for martial arts instruction, I researched various JKD schools and instructors. While Sifu Bustillo teaches the actual JFJKD techniques that were taught to Bruce Lee’s original students, he evolves to other methods as well. More importantly, he tailors his instruction for the benefit of the individual. In contrast, it appears that many of the other JKD instructors have come to rely solely on these JFJKD techniques. While I respect these instructors and their technical proficiency, ironically, it seems that some have closed their minds to other arts and have actually become restrained by JFJKD. In essence they have made JFJKD a limited and traditional art, the very thing Bruce Lee had preached against.