“Back when I was in college, before I met Mark Mikita, I thought I knew a lot about the martial arts, and what I loved about martial arts. After meeting Mark in the summer of 1988, though, I was no longer quite sure I was pursuing martial arts with the right goals in mind.
Nothing has opened my eyes more than training with Mark. Besides the very practical, realistic physical training, I’ve come away with a much more discerning mind. In a very real sense, Mark taught me how to teach myself, not just in the martial arts, but also in my everyday approach to the world. Whereas many teachers will lead you by the nose, Mark’s approach is to develop students who can problem solve on their own.
You can’t possibly prepare for every conceivable variable that may occur in your life (or in combat); but if you can think on your feet, adapt and flow with each unique situation and not be hamstrung by the rigidity of pre-rehearsed tactics and techniques that might not apply or fit perfectly for the circumstance you find yourself in, then you should be able to “make it up” as it happens, in dealing with the problem. In a world where you typically find teachers jealously guarding their students, Mark encouraged me to go out and train with a variety of people and learn from a variety of teachers, outside of his school.
Ever the student of the art himself, Mark seeks to develop his students not to become blind followers, but to be unique interpreters of the art, from whom he himself can learn. He demonstrates perfectly the paradox of selfishness and altruism, for it is for selfish reasons that he wants his students to reach their full potential. He wants martial artists willing to explore the art alongside him; training partners who can push his own understanding and skills through the prism of martial art. And in turn, it is absolutely altruistic, the time he invests and the sacrifices he personally makes on behalf of each and everyone of his students. Mark strips away the false securities and pretentious “moral trappings” that hamper other arts and other schools, as well as the baggage of much of the rituals and politics instructors and organizations inevitably weigh their students down with. By not taking a pacifist’s approach to martial arts, preaching fanciful utopian notions of non-violence, Mark prepares his students to “face the beast” and honestly explore what it means to engage in unmitigated acts of violence to protect their life or the life of another. It is a much more adult approach; one that develops maturity and realism in how one deals with conflict and conflict resolution.”
Former UCLA Gymnast
20 Year Student of Mark Mikita