Here’s another interview, this time with Mark Mireles. Mark is one of the most decorated police officers in the history of the LAPD and also has extensive martial arts training. He’s written a couple books on street-grappling with Loren W. Christensen and you can find out more about him here. Enjoy the interview.
Q: How did you get started in the martial arts? Was it a specific incident that drove you to them?
I can recall when I was 8 or 9 years old I began entertaining the thought of studying martial arts. I grew up in a suburb right outside of San Francisco and there was a large Chinese population in the city. That meant Kung Fu Theater on television every Saturday afternoon; Bruce Lee was on the silver screen, Game of Death had been released, and Chuck Norris was getting started with Good Guys Wear Black. The future was bright and Kung Fu seemed right for me.
There was a kung fu academy around the corner from my house and it had the look of what I thought a dojo should look like. I walked in for the free introduction lesson and learned the X-block in a nifty private room. The whole studio was magnificent. There were pictures of dragons and tigers on the wall and the upper students were wearing black Gi’s. This studio not only taught kung fu but it had also incorporated the word karate into the sign. With so much to offer, I could really see myself fitting into the world of crouching tigers and hidden dragons. Looking back over the last 30 years, the term McDojo hadn’t been coined yet but this studio may have been the first of many.
Only one problem stymied my quest for kung fu greatness: no cold hard cash. I grew up with everything I needed but I certainly didn’t get everything I wanted. Kung fu fell into the “everything I wanted” category. The preferred method of fighting for my parents was a fighting art that was economic. My dad was a master of the way of the intercepting wallet. Sometimes life takes funny little turns. You’ve heard the saying “be careful what you wish for because you may get it” well that wasn’t the case. My circumstance was a twist that was beyond fate. It was just being in the right place even though no one really knew what they were doing. My dad selected the most economical marital art: Judo.
In the United States, Judo is taught in numerous Japanese-American cultural centers. Judo is taught as part of the culture and not for commercial purposes. That meant it fit my parents sole requirement. The fees for learning Judo were nominal, a big hit with my folks.
What I learned quickly is that you paid in other ways. Judo is physically demanding and taught in a very disciplined setting. You paid with a little blood, a lot of sweat, and a few tears. Judo was fun, but it was also a lot of work and required dedication and reverence even at a young age. [Read more…]