-Interview by Holger HoffmannHome2
Mr. Hoffmann: Please tell me your name
Suro Hart: My name is Emanuel Hart
Mr. Hoffmann: What kind of style do you practice?
Suro Hart: I’m practicing the Inayan System of Eskrima as taught by Suro Mike Inay.
Mr. Hoffmann: Since when do you practice this art?
Suro Hart: I started learning it in 1984 and I’m still going.
Mr. Hoffmann: Did you ever do anything else?
Suro Hart: I have never studied any other martial art. I’ve participated in kickboxing events and things of that nature but never studied anything else.
Mr. Hoffmann: What do you think makes your art special?
Suro Hart: My teacher, I would have to say.
Mr. Hoffmann: Why your teacher?
Suro Hart: The way he taught me and the way he used the art to show me about myself and the world and the things around me and just about the nature of life, basically.
Mr. Hoffmann: Did he teach you more than just the fighting-skills?
Suro Hart: I would have to say so, definitely.
Mr. Hoffmann: How did he do it?
Suro Hart: I would say he used examples within fighting-skills to demonstrate the natural relationship between people, ideas and philosophy or interactions in general and sense of value.
Mr. Hoffmann: What is important within your art?
Suro Hart: That is a big question. Ok, I guess we could start on a physical level and say in terms of what is important in my art specifically is understanding the basics of the system and understanding the importance of maintaining the basics and not putting my own personal ideas about what is good and what is bad in those basics and accepting the fact that those basics were put together by warriors. They stood the test of combat and time. That is, I would say, the most important thing in terms of myself, and my objectives and my goals of continuing the art that my teacher taught me.
Mr. Hoffmann: You mentioned something about philosophy before, what is the philosophy behind Inayan Eskrima?
Suro Hart: That’s a good question. I think it would depend on the practitioner. Because again I think the media of the martial art is, exactly that, a media. A media in which the lessons learned and within the physical relationships of combatants, one can demonstrate a number of different aspects within philosophy or relationships. It can go really deep so I would say the foundation is that we are trying to survive in a hostile environment.
Through the martial arts we learn respect for our self, for other people, and the world along many other things. We learn respect, basically, and through that we gain a sense of honor. We gain a sense of value in how we can conduct our self, how our actions relate to other people and things in general. I think there are a number of different areas within philosophy that are incorporated in the Inayan System. Each individual instructor would find many different ideas or different values. I mean we are not all of the same religion, or we all have different ideas and different philosophies. Yet through the art and the common understanding of the basics, we have something in common in our philosophies.
Mr. Hoffmann: So personally, what are the most important values you try to teach to your students?
Suro Hart: As an individual that practices these arts, it’s hard to stay violent, because it’s not always violent – I think it takes a certain state of mind in combination with action to be a violent person. You can have certain actions with a very peaceful state of mind, and it’s not necessarily a violent thing. So, I think it is important to understand how these actions can affect the world, yourself and the people you interact with. As well, to have a certain sense of responsibility in those actions that you do and through that you gain self-respect. So I would say that those are probably the most important things, to have a good sense of respect for your self and respect for other people. And if you have that, I think it sort of takes care for itself.
Mr. Hoffmann: Do you see a potential danger in the combination of someone’s bad attitudes and your art? Do you see a dangerous aspect in teaching people to injure or kill other people?
Suro Hart: I think anytime you teach somebody how to take life, it’s a dangerous endeavor. There needs to be a certain understanding, again of respect for life, attached and associated with that teaching. Otherwise you run the risk of destroying yourself. In that, the person that you teach if they have no sense of value, no sense of respect, or no sense of life, they have the ability to kill you as well. And if they don’t respect you or themselves, for that matter, it’s a loose cannon and it turns into a chaotic situation, a chaotic world. As technologies advance and the human race becomes more and more efficient in taking life, it gets more and more dangerous. If you just spread that knowledge around in a irresponsible way, you don’t do anything for the world in terms of being positive. If you are a honorable person, pretty much you try to live your life with respect for other things, other lives, and try to make it a better world. So there is a very dangerous aspect in passing on that kind of knowledge to irresponsible people.
Mr. Hoffmann: How do you make sure that you don’t show your art to irresponsible people?
Suro Hart: I try to know them. I try to take the time and make sure that they are patient. I guess that would be the same, I try to get to know them. I take the time to understand who they are, and what intentions they have in learning the art and what their goals and desires are in terms of their future, how they want to use the art, and things like that. It’s a time factor, in that you try to take the time to know them and develop them as a student or as a person or as a friend, before you start really getting into the more deep aspects and intricacies and efficiencies in the art.
Mr. Hoffmann: Did you ever come along persons who used the art for bad things in the streets?
Suro Hart: I don’t have any record of anybody that I’ve taught going out and using it in a bad way. However I had students that I have stopped teaching because, through the time we spent together, I realized they are not somebody that I wanted to teach. I either didn’t agree with them in terms of the way that they conducted themselves, and/or they didn’t agree with me in terms of the way that I see my students conducting themselves. And therefore, I decided I didn’t want to teach them anymore. So I stopped teaching them and they are no longer my student.
Mr. Hoffmann: What do you think, why are people coming to you to learn your style?
Suro Hart: I think there are many different reasons why students come to martial arts in general. Specifically to my style, being that it is a weapons-based system, I would say about 80 percent of the people have some sort of interest in weaponry. After that I think there is, you know, individuals have many different reasons for getting involved in active movement and martial arts in general. There is a endless list, from just wanting to get together with somebody and move around and/ or being a disciple of somebody and trying to really seriously study the intricacies of movement, the philosophy and art; artistic expression. There are many different reasons and probably as many as there are students in the art.
Mr. Hoffmann: Do you think that there is a difference between martial arts and combat sports?
Suro Hart: Definitely. I think the basic different would be intention. In combat sports it’s either to gain a point, gain a medal, a title, being champion of the world, something like that and when you talk about martial arts in terms of combat, you are talking about a warrior art, a combatant. The intention is deadly. Or it’s survival, so it depends on your perspective on what side of the coin you are on in that interaction. There is a very big difference between them in my opinion.
Mr. Hoffmann: Do you think your students come to you to learn how to survive, say if you are teaching a martial art?
Suro Hart: Again, I think they arrive with many different ideas, reasons for why they come. Why they stay, maybe that’s a little bit of a different question. Or maybe that’s the question you are trying to ask. Why did they stay? The ones that stay so long, why did they stay with you? I think the ones that stay, in the end, if they are going to be here for a long time, they are here to learn my art of combat, and to learn what was taught to me. Now, I think it’s important to stress that if you are learning an art of combat, at the moment there are different sport applications of that going on, different tournaments and different things of that nature, and therefore if they stay with me long enough and are learning my art, they can participate in those sport tournaments, and understand how to be able to make adjustments for rules and so on. But I don’t teach a sport art. I teach a combative art. So in terms of people that make it to my instructor levels, to stick around for a long time, in the end that is going to
be there focus and their direction, to maintain that art and make sure that that combat art survives.
Mr. Hoffmann: Does self-defense fits in one of these two parts – Combat sports or Martial Arts? Or is self-defense something special?
Suro Hart: I think the root of self-defense exists in the combative arts. I think the combative arts in most cases were formed from some sort of self-defense, whether it was defending pirates coming to attack your village, or some type of individual interaction of defending yourself. I think self-defense has been modified by laws of society, in that, now you are regulated by the laws of society as to how far you can take your self defense. Is it just a point to where you can escape or it is a point where you can kill that individual so that they can’t come back and do it again. So I think in terms of self-defense, its something that the past, I don’t know, 20 years or so has changed, or has adjusted the meaning. And if you go back farther, 400 years or 500 years it’s changed even more. So it’s an interesting term- self-defense. I think if you look at it in terms of intention again, I don’t think self defense can be classified within a sport.
I don’t think your objective is points or champion of the world, I think it’s survival. Therefore it’s more of a combative kind of engagement.
Mr. Hoffmann: When would you start to use your art outside of the dojo?
Suro Hart: When I was attacked.
Mr. Hoffmann: Any kind of attack?
Suro Hart: An attack is an attack. I mean, ok, a verbal attack is a thing that is not physical, and my values in terms of what hurts me, people can pretty much say almost what they want, but when it turns into a physical intention of harm, yes application of the art is immediate. One should know the legal level of force that is dictated by the laws of the place that you are in. And I think every individual needs to except the responsibility of that and understand the consequences of there actions with relation to society and the laws that society has established. And therefore for me and my students we are dictated by society. When they leave the dojo or when I leave the dojo or the classroom I am a member of society. Therefore I follow the rules. And I think there is some natural instincts that can affect that depending on the level or severity of the attack, in that, it’s hard to think along those lines when your life is in danger and when your life is threatened. So, again, it comes back to the level of intensity and vindictiveness of the attack.
Mr. Hoffmann: Did it ever happen that you had to use your art to defend yourself?
Suro Hart: Yes
Mr. Hoffmann: Do you think that your style is better than other styles around?
Suro Hart: For me personally, yes. I think it is for me, it fits me well. And I think it does come down to that. It comes down to the individual. Again, what is the individual trying to get or trying to do, or accomplish? And in the end, in terms of some aspects of growth in the individual it doesn’t matter what style, it’s a matter of will, a matter of work. It’s a matter of practice. And then on other levels, I think it does depend on the style. Some styles don’t teach weaponry. Therefore if your goal is to learn weaponry I don’t think you should study those styles. So I think there are some aspects that are affected by the styles. And then it’s a matter of what is that individual trying to achieve.