Training with a Legend: Guro Dan Inosanto
By Paul S. Lewis
The internationally famous Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts is a self-defense training Mecca...Around the world, martial artists in the know may travel thousands of miles to train there.
While most eagerly come in order to learn from one of the world's leading authorities; Guro Dan Inosanto, others simply visit to pay their respects to Bruce Lee's martial arts.
Known for it's diverse curriculum, including; Filipino Kali-Escrima-Arnis, Muay Thai-Kickboxing, Shooto, Jujitsu, Silat, Vale Tudo, and Boxing, among many other exotic fighting systems, the I.A.M.A. is also the outgrowth of the "Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute" which was founded in the Chinatown District of Los Angeles, California on February 1967 by the late Bruce Lee.
Dan Inosanto was appointed head instructor of the "Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute".
Bruce Lee made only three Senior instructors in his lifetime: Taky Kimura, James Lee (deceased), and Dan Inosanto.
In 1970, Bruce Lee advised Dan Inosanto to "officially" close the doors of the J.F.G.F. Institute, and continue teaching the students in his "backyard gym" in Carson, California. It is said that Lee was becoming concerned that his growing popularity might somehow spawn a commercial chain of school's with his name on them.
In 1973, at the time of Bruce's death, Dan Inosanto became the official heir and head of the arts and systems developed and taught by the late Bruce Lee.
Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo opened the first Filipino martial arts academy in Southern California in April of 1974. Named the "Kali-Jun Fan" Academy, this school became the only authentic and legitimate training center for the arts of Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do, as developed by the late Bruce Lee. This academy closed in 1982.
In 1983 Dan Inosanto officially opened the doors of the original Inosanto Academy in West Los Angeles, California, replacing the "Kali-Jun Fan" Academy.
In March 1994 the Inosanto Academy moved into a brand new 4,000 square foot, located near LAX in Los Angeles, where it remained for years
The Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts has now moved into another new location at 13348-13352 Beach Avenue in Marina Del Rey, California 90292. It is a larger two-story air-conditioned structure that is a fully equipped facility, featuring a regulation sized boxing ring, over a dozen different heavy bags, Wing Chun training dummies, tons of high-quality training equipment, and a huge amount of floor space.
For info call: (310) 578-7773.
To this day the Inosanto Academy continues to research and promote arts from different countries and cultures.
Every year the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts plays host to a weekend-or-longer series of training with a variety of very special respected guest instructors. A highly-anticipated event, it is a great opportunity for inspired students and self-defense enthusiasts to train with some of the "Legends" in the martial arts community. This unique program allows its anxious attendees some comprehensive exposure to a select collection of true pioneers in their individulaized fields.
The lineup of instructors usually includes; Jiu-Jitsu Professor Jean-Jacques Machado, Muay Thai-Boxer extraordinare Chai Sirisuti Ahjon, Wing Chun Master Francis Fong and Guro Dan Inosanto.
It is truly a privilege to take part in many of these valuable training sessions, and an honor to have some direct interaction with Guro Dan Inosanto himself!
He begin's these sessions with a morning of Kali, Eskrima-Arnis drills. The repeated sound of wooden training sticks connecting together rang out across the expansive floor of the academy, while the first two-hour session commenced. Then Guro soon had everyone add some knife to our stick-fighting combinations.
These drills were very good for improving ones timing, footwork and coordination.
I was amazed by the way Dan Inosanto, now in his early 70's, was able to move so deftly through these drills with his assistant while still able to keep eye contact and speak to his class of students...his flow of physical movements seemed unparalled!
During the second two-hour session, Guro Dan introduced the class to much of the original Jun Fan Gung Fu and evolved Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do "Entering into Trapping" sensitivity drills, which he learned directly from the late Sigung Bruce Lee.
The class learned how to Pak-Sao, Ton-Sao, Jit-Tek, Lop-Sao, Jun-Tek, Chun-Chuie, Single-Direct Attack, Attack by Combination, sweep the legs, and much more!
Much of these impressive techniques were actually modified from the Wing Chun system, then revamped by Bruce Lee to better accommodate defending oneself against a practiced Boxer or Kick-boxer, while Guro Dan also added certain organic Filipino-Boxing elements into the overall mix.
Every one of these particular "Trapping" passages that Guro Dan taught to us were very intriguing and...effective! I will always strive to become better at this, however, these highly technical drills are slightly more complicated than most of the Kali he taught us and will require a higher level of continued practice with a partner in order to master.
Along with a variety of J.K.D. concepts, he also added a lot of insight and even amusing stories of the times he spent training with his friend and mentor Bruce Lee. Guro Dan gave us all a first hand explanation of the true speed that Bruce Lee possessed. He also spoke of how no one was ever really able to match Bruce's abilities.
Guro Dan took many pictures with the group and openly answered dozen's of questions. He even invited my small group of AMAM students aside for several minutes to show us some of Bruce Lee's original hand-written training notes and photos!
By the end of the day, along with the rest of the class, I was in complete awe. Training with a real legend like Guro Dan Inosanto was truly an honor I will never forget.
Every year, I will look forward to participating in the next "Legends" program at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts!
Don't miss out on this great opportunity to train with true martial arts legends!