This is a 100%, I'm-not-kidding, unembellished true story.
I started training in the martial arts in 2008 when I lived in a Mississippi suburb of Memphis, TN. I trained in a local variant of taekwondo (of course), a bit of Ryukyu Kempo, and most importantly, that is where I was introduced to - and fell in love with - Modern Arnis.
Job changes took me to Las Vegas, NV in 2009 and then to Fort Worth, TX in 2010. Each move involved searching for a teacher in martial arts, preferably in Modern Arnis. In the short time we lived in Las Vegas, we didn't find a teacher.
I had higher hopes when I moved to Texas.
My original Modern Arnis teacher had lived in the same area I moved to at one point before I knew him, so I thought for sure his contacts would help us find someone to bang sticks with. Alas, few of the people he knew were still in the area and training, so that quickly became a dead end.
We had some recommendations for related styles to try, and we did try them, but usually they were based an hour or more away and weren't practical or desirable for us to train in full-time (because it wasn't, y'know, Modern Arnis).
So we tried a few other Arnis styles, and joined two different martial arts schools teaching empty hand arts just so we could keep training in something, and none of that quite satisfied what we were looking for. They weren't bad, mind you, just... not what I wanted to do, y'know?
While we were trying schools, I also used my Google Fu to try to find someone online, and at one point, had a very promising lead on the discussion forum Martial Talk. This person, "Boar Man", talked about Modern Arnis training on that forum a lot, and he was based one town over according to his profile, but he didn't post very often and I wasn't sure he was still around. I messaged him privately on the forum but never got a response, so I figured he wasn't around any more or wasn't interested in teaching students.
After some time in a school that is the best-run school I've ever been in - but not teaching what I actually wanted to do - we realized that the money we spent there could be spent to go to my original teacher in Modern Arnis, David Jones, once every three months for a training weekend and we'd get to do what we really wanted to do.
MODERN ARNIS (and Ryukyu Kempo too, as a bonus).
We made the decision to do just that as October 2010 came to a close. I was picking up my daughter at that school (the plan was for her to stay in it as she liked it and as I said, it's a great school if you want to do what they teach) and one of the instructors there pointed to a stranger sitting on the sidelines.
"You do Presas style Arnis, right?" I agreed that I do, or at least, wanted to. "That guy does what you do, you should go meet him."
As I remember it, I coolly and nonchalantly sauntered over to the sideline to introduce myself and to slyly see what this guy was all about. As he remembers it, I ran across the room at break neck speed and excitedly started talking to him about Modern Arnis like a maniac.
I'll leave it to you to figure out which of us is remembering it correctly.
In any case, he did indeed teach Modern Arnis, and by the end of the conversation, he'd agreed to meet Mr. Chick and I and assess what we knew with an eye to maybe we could train together. He came over the next day, watches us, shook his head sadly, and took us on as students.
That man was my teacher Mark Lynn, and we started training with him in November 2010. I've trained with him ever since.
I subtitled this post "a (Weird) Martial Arts Story", but you haven't heard the weird stuff yet.
First off, after a short period of training with Mark, and I mentioned how hard it had been to find a teacher. In this discussion I mentioned messaging "someone" on Martial Talk who lived nearby. He asked if I remembered the screen name (I didn't at the time; I had to go look it up).
Turns out... he is "Boar Man" on Martial Talk. He just didn't know how the board messaging system worked and couldn't figure out how to reply. So I found him online months before I was introduced to him by chance at that martial arts school I was getting ready to leave (if I remember correctly, it was literally the last weekend we were going to be in that school). If he hadn't come by that school that exact day - on a whim, mind you - I might have never found him.
That's weird, but it gets weirder.
So we called our teacher in Mississippi and told him we'd finally found a teacher in Modern Arnis in Texas. When we told him who it was, David said, "Oh, yeah, I know him. I used to live two doors down from him when I lived in Texas. I forgot he was there!"
HE LITERALLY LIVED TWO DOORS DOWN FROM MARK LYNN IN TEXAS AND FORGOT HE WAS THERE.
That's right, my new teacher, the one I stumbled across completely by chance after that failed online attempt, at one point lived two doors down from the person I originally started training with in a completely different city hundreds of miles away.
We spent MONTHS searching for a teacher and he knew there was one teaching exactly what we wanted to learn, he just... forgot.
I don't necessarily believe in fate and stuff, but to have the same person sorta thrown at me three times in unrelated ways until I finally connected with him is a little... spooky. It's like he was meant to teach us, even before we knew him or even lived near him.
Now that's WEIRD.
Here's what you should learn from my experience:
MARTIAL ARTS STUDENTS:
Don't give up on searching for what you really want. You may find it in the strangest places, and don't be afraid to do stuff you might not be 100% excited to do to get there. Be persistent, be thorough, and put yourself out there as someone looking to train.
MARTIAL ARTS TEACHERS:
For Pete's sake, be good at the internet. Literally even if it's just a single social media channel (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever), use the right keywords for your style and post often enough so that you look like you're active so students can find you online.
If you use martial arts forums, know how the messaging system works!
Socialize and network with martial artists and schools around you. You never know where you might find a student.
That's my weird story of how I found my martial arts teacher. Did you find yours in a normal way, or was your story weird too? Either way, I'd love to know YOUR story of how you found your teacher. Let us know in the comments!