Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rule #16

I have a list of rules that has come down through a few people. It is great, and I refer to it often in class. For this post, I want to look at Rule #16. It reads as follows and has commentary (in italics) by my good friend, Terry Trahan:

I am so dangerous I can afford to be polite, reasonable, and mellow.

Only the weak, insecure, and those who live in fear need to woof. Always treat others with respect, strive to understand all points of view, and never let yourself be controlled by negative emotions.

I thought of this rule outside of class during a conversation about teaching and training the martial arts. The subject came up that the public persona of a martial artist can be that of a thug (their word) or a person looking to prove themselves. The person who brought this up had studied an art in college and was saying how the majority of his classmates became more gentile over time and sought resolution over aggression. They did, however, have the ability and willingness to use what they knew should they need to. That being said, this doesn’t mean there aren’t people with Cobra Kai attitudes out there, they just don’t come from my school.

Because of the nature of what we do, I took away a lesson long ago from Marc “Animal” MacYoung about injecting humor into the lesson to keep things from getting to that point where aggression is the overruling emotion. One other lesson about humor I learned along the way is that humor helps the brain retain more information because you relax and things happen more easily without the tensions of various stresses. Ultimately, we want to enjoy and have fun with what we do, so we have a good time while training with the understanding that we are doing something Rory Miller refers to as the practice of “creating cripples and corpses.” Dire, I know.

The further down the road of studying the martial arts you go, the more you come to understand Rule #16 and see that it is not a statement of contempt but of compassion.


  1. You're talking about Mushtaq's Rules that he wrote for his students. (That's actually Rule 12) Here's where you can find them:

  2. I started with the Rules in the late '90's learning them from both Mushtaq and Marc MacYoung. All credit and thanks to Mushtaq for sharing these and they have been very helpful. They have been reworked and adjusted by a few people over the years.

  3. That was a direct quote stolen from his blog and credited to you, Terry. Are you saying those were your words originally? I'm not buying it. Mushtaq is impeccable with crediting his sources.

  4. Janet,
    You know better than that. Mushtaq was my teacher for more then 10 years, which is almost a quarter of my life, and was a major influence on my development. I will never claim his work for mine. I reworked the order they were in, changed some of the commentary, and kept some the same, both from Mushtaq and from Marc. No matter how he and my relationship ended, I still respect him and give him proper respect and credit for what he taught me. But, as he taught me, when you learn something and make it your own, it becomes a part of you. So I took it and made it mine, while still crediting my sources. Nothing occurs in a vacuum, learning included. I learned from Mushtaq, and pass what I learned to those I now teach, which is how everything is passed on, martial arts, yoga, or cooking.
    No offense intended or offered to you or Mushtaq.

  5. Well Terry, I appreciate your response. I'd be interested in seeing where you have them posted in your re-worked form, with credit. It must be somewhere, cuz Jay is quoting you. While Marc and Mushtaq may have worked on the rules together, the commentary posted on his blog was created specifically for my son, Adam and Scooter, who were new students, hungry for more insight. It's really not okay to "re-work"it by changing the order and using the exact same words and call it your own. Sorry.

  6. Janet, I have not posted them anywhere. I have them written on paper. Since Jay is a friend, I gave him a copy to get his thoughts. I intentionally do not post much online any more, and have only shared these with my students, who know where my knowledge comes from, because I tell them. I do not want to engage in this kind of exchange. I have no ill will towards Mushtaq, and do not wish to dredge up any drama from the past. I respect what I got from him to much, and that kind of behavior is not acceptable. I can accept what happened between he and I, no matter how it occurred, but I will not cheapen he or I by giving the appearance of flame wars or ego games. I have never claimed anything for mine, and always give proper credit. Thank you.

  7. As mentioned above in the first comment by Janet, it seems that authorship should go to Mushtaq. I was ambiguous in my post as I had four sources for the material going back to my introduction to it in 1999. I was not aware of Mushtaq's post in 2005 that had the commentary (I only had the list of rules and the first time I saw commentary was from Terry) and it fleshes out the rest of the rules for all to appreciate and take in. My intention was not to slight only to educate and I offer my apologies.

  8. Thank you. Much appreciated.

  9. Greetings,

    I am new to this site, and your blog. I have no personal connection to anyone, or to any issue regarding authorship of Rule # 16.

    I respond to this simply to say that the rule seems quite spot on. Bullies are most often eaten up with fear, though they work hard to veil it with woofing.

    Thanks for this.

    All good wishes,



©1998-2013 Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts