For the last 41 years, I have taught martial arts to the many adults and children including my four kids. Joanna, Lee, Jennifer, and Jaden. Now, teaching my grandkids martial arts has its perks. I get hugs from them all the time plus my lecturing side of life.
Mentoring children are quite different in teaching martial arts to the children and adults. You have to understand people both children and adults alike. It comes easy with years of teaching experience the psyche that we all go through. I asked my self, what am I going to learn in teaching what I already know teaching to these students of mine.
When I first started teaching in Dayton, it was all about training without any much thought in carrying a conversation with the students. It was the just direct old approach of “do this and do that.” It was too much perfection to a “T.” Those did not mind the idea got awesome good, and it is beyond their comprehension since I had delivered such fearless students that they could do almost anything in life to achieve. I did not give them the compliment that they deserve, but I let them know their pitfalls and mistake they made. I was not a sociable teacher either; I was quiet back then. I was to myself. I did not think that I was any better from anyone, it was my upbringing lifestyle from my families and my early martial arts teacher. One of the student name Linda Vigos asked me a question and shared some thoughts. “Master Taningco, you scare me. And why don’t you smile?”. That was the beginning of change back in 1979. But it took a long for me to change because of my upbringing and habit.
My Uncle Geroge, brother Alex, and both Grandmaster Gasper and Grandmaster Huang taught me humility as well as my Aunt (my parents died when I was at the age of 10), whom I stayed and moved in, in Salinas, California. I was rarely complemented by my teachers and my Aunt and Uncle’s family it was always feeling being compared to their grandchildren how they did in school and how straight A’s they got. It was the idea to strive better than good. Because they were the first generation to arrive here in the USA. My three Uncles arrived here back in 1924 when they were just barely in their 20’s. My Uncle George, whom I stayed with was a real man’s man. I did not quite understand that at all back then when I was young, but he taught me how to be a man. My Aunt who was very very strong both emotionally, spiritually and mentally, she taught me many things what the woman does, like sewing my clothes, washing my clothes by hands, ironing them and folding them and taking care of the house like cleaning with perfection. I was like the Cinderfella living with my Aunt and Uncle doing things the way they wanted me to do. This became a habit that they had instilled in me to this day-the discipline and obedience.
My wife, Judy, saw my OCD, which I did not know what that was then that I had this. OCD- Obsessive-compulsive disorder. That didn’t sound good at all!. I remembered, my wife was helping me carry some lumber, and I was building one of my decks at home. I was a quarter of an inch short, and I had to redo it. I insisted that I had to do it right and had to be perfect. That was when my wife, told me that I am OCD. Of course, it was everything that I did was like that in my life since because of the ways, my Aunt taught me. My Uncle George on the other hand, was very very quiet, man. He had the patience in teaching me how to use the knife to defend myself, how to fish in the Califonia coast, how to farm, how to harvest, how to prepare the land for the next season and how to irrigate them. Of course, I also worked in the California farms for as long as 10 to 12 hours at the age of 12 to 15. I was able to work that long since my uncle’s brother in law is my foreman, he allowed me to work long hours to save the money during the summer. This is where I saw and learned the art of Kali on display by many Filipino Kali practitioners who was working on the farms in Salinas. I was very intrigued by these first generation older Filipinos in motion doing their Kali ways. Uncle George taught me how to use the knife to cut the meats and cut the chicken properly, how to clean the fish we caught and how to take care of the house outside and cooking! Both my aunt and my uncle taught me how to cook, and uncle George taught me some of the old ways of the Kali art.
Back in the Phillippines, when my mother was alive, we would visit for almost three months at my grandfather’s house and his huge farm. My grandfather would teach me how to hang the tobacco leafs to dry, and how to pick green beans, gather eggs from the chicken house and plant rice on the rice fields. How to catch a fish without a fishing pole with your own hands, with a homemade fish basket to set in the river to catch. I was also taught how to cut the rice stalks down and how to unshell the rice. And there were times, he would show his martial arts skills to me by surprise. My families were farmers and very gentle people. But they know how to fight and defend themselves even during World War II. They knew the ancient art of Kali – the Philippine martial arts. They had survived. My mother was one of 16 children. My grandfather was very tall and strong and did not give a crap to anyone mistreating him and his family in his hometown. He is a man’s man, a real man. Some man is just babies in which I have grown to know by teaching martial arts. They like to complain a lot and like to apologize for every second, and when they did not get their ways, they do more than pout, they get angry and just turn ugly.
My mother, kind and generous, who was a school teacher by profession moved to the big city of Manila away from the country lifestyle she knew from up north of Philippines. She became a teacher and taught many subjects to elementary students. I would remember, back then when we visited up north in Bacarra where she was born and raised, that people we met in the streets always bow to her. I did not quite understand that back then when I was a very young child. Neighbors would bow to her while holding her hand walking to go someplace or visit some other member of the families.
I remembered my mother as my teacher in 4th grade. It was very tough for me, none of the kids wanted to be my friends. She was very tough on me at the same time as my teacher. Little did I know this, she was dying of cancer slowly. I was too young to understand, but life and God have something for me.
I had the Fine Art scholarship to New Mexico State University since I was living with my brother Alex in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I also received another scholarship on my performance before ending the first year in NMSU. I wanted to teach fine art back then. The first scholarship is based on good grades. After one year of college, I came here in Ohio to visit, and I have been on vacation for the last 41 years of my life here. It has been a very good trip of my life. I am blessed with kids and grandkids. I have six grandkids.
Seeing my grandkids teach other kids martial arts is an awesome feeling. Both Ryan and Luc has the patience to share their knowledge. And that goes to my two sons, both Lee and Jaden who help teach at the Tama studio. Adam, my second oldest grandson, has now joined us in learning martial arts too. Seeing him in action is great. I hope that all these grandkids keep learning martial arts as part of learning their life skills of success rather than just kicking and punching or grappling. It is beyond than the physical training aspects of martial arts. It is developing their mental abilities as well as emotional attributes.
And now, teaching my grandkids martial arts is awesome to see their expression and another emotional expression that they have that is both good and bad. It is a challenge and an honor to teach someone else’s children. I am accountable to our community on how we teach our children, and especially someone else’s child. The joy of teaching and understanding kids through martial arts training has been a blessing to me. I love these children and thank you, parents, for allowing me to be part of their lives.