Action movie star Michael Jai White has published a lengthy post on his Facebook page regarding how martial artists should be properly addressed.
White himself has Black belts in 7 styles of martial arts. He has 26 titles including U.S. Open, North American Open, and New England Grand Champion. White holds black belts in following martial arts: Shotokan Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Okinawan Kobudo, Goju Ryu, Tang Soo Do, Wushu, and Kyokushin Karate.
“I’m going to get a lot of hate for posting this but I owe my allegiance to my comrades, students of the Martial Arts, as well as my own values that have put me where I am today,” said White’s message.
“I could say nothing and count my cash as well as my blessings but I refuse to be a hypocrite and speak behind backs. I recognize my responsibility to educate others so they can reap some of the same benefits that I have. This will undoubtedly be a farewell to many fans, and associates but it’s a must for me,” he said.
White started off by saying that he has been in the martial arts for 40 years already, and has been fortunate to train with the top level martial artists, such as Shigeru Oyama, Bobby Lowe, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, Wu Bin, Shokei Matsui, Eric Chen, Benny Urquidez, Tsutomu Oshima, Fumio Demura.
“These men are simply at the top of achievement as well as their styles, and none of them refer to themselves as “Master”, why?,” White asks. “You can argue that they all befit the title of Grand Master and sometimes, being humble men, they allow being called Master or Grand Master by their students and fans, but the term has never become part of their official titles.
White said “Master” is an English word that found it’s place in Asian Martial Arts through the cinema and “Kung Fu” TV series and has been used to death in recent years.
“I feel a true martial artist knows the value of humility,” White said. “Respect for our superiors is of the utmost of virtues and if I’m called Master, then who’s my superior? If I’m called a Master or Grand Master, where do I go? Am I done and have no more to learn? I understand when men reach a certain age, “titles” mean an awful lot!”
“You maybe a janitor but you’re “The Head Usher” at Church…You spend years in the Martial Arts, training or not, and by virtue of remaining to be alive your years in the Martial Arts increase and you want them to stand for something. Besides, you see your peers adorn themselves with rank, so why not you? ” White said.
He believes that is an “ego thing” that has nothing to do with martial arts.
“The principals should be bigger than you and this “Everyone-Get’s-A-Trophy society,” White said in his post.
“In our art, to be ego driven is to be driving in the wrong direction,” White said. “Now we have countless Professors, Gurus, Grand Masters and while there are few legitimate ones, there is an onslaught of illegitimate ones who know who they are.”
“In my observation I’ve seen the terms “Master” and “Grand Master” subsequently followed by a very large belly because they have simply stopped training! If you’re called Grand Master, where do you go from there?,” he said.
White noted that the men he mentioned early in the post never stopped training, “a few, up until the time of their deaths.”
“Is it a coincidence that their indomitable spirits, humility, physical and mental strengths are tantamount to the virtues of what Martial Arts was based on? Could it be that they knew by branding themselves with western “titles” that it would be corruptive to those virtues?,” said White’s post.
The star of “Spawn” and “Undisputed 2” said that the mentioned martial artists are men who he yearns to follow.
“I am a fraternal brother of all martial artists, no matter what they call themselves,” he said.
“I have received my best gifts in this life through the discipline of Martial Arts principles and I wish the same for my brothers and sisters in the Art,” White said.
“I owe much to these values and would be remiss not to pass them on,” he said. “I am honored by gesture of those who dub me the title out of respect. Please honor my wish that you not call me the M-word.”
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