Bringing Martial Artists Together (originally published in Australasian Martial Arts Nov 2000)
It's not a new thing Martial Artists putting their differences aside to train and learn from each other but, it just does not happen very often. However there is a large group established for over 7 years that has developed especially to bring martial artists together, it is called the International Martial Arts Alliance. The group boasts that it has members in over 15 countries with Regional Directors facilitating training circles in most states of Australia and those countries. Regular meetings are made available in a safe, non-political and friendly learning environment whereby instructors of all styles come together and share their experiences and techniques in a literal melting pot of martial arts knowledge. Participants are free to accept or reject any of the material presented at the meetings. If there is something you would like to take home and share with your students you are encouraged to do so.
Although the group was created for mainly karate instructors (hence the name) they only make up around 60% of membership as instructors from most styles are now involved. The IMA was founded in Australia by Graham Slater. It started off initially as a group called the "Circle of Knowledge" , which was developed in the late 1980's. From the "circle" the IMA was officially launched in 1993 with Australia, England and Japan being the founding countries. The organisation continues to grow rapidly with members from new countries joining all the time.
Graham is a 5th Dan in Karate and a veteran of nearly 30 years training in several Karate systems and other martial arts such as Shintaido, Kickboxing, Aikido, Jujitsu and recently the Chinese arts. During his career he has been fortunate enough to have researched and taught in most states of Australia, England, Japan, Thailand, India, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands. Along the way he has trained with many teachers of all ranks and these people have become the basis for the IMA. Having so many highly qualified and experienced teachers involved in the group it was a natural progression to draw upon them to create grading panels. This gives members the opportunity to be officially and credibly evaluated to a higher rank in their own system. Of course there are strict criteria and guidelines to be met in order to keep the value and credibility of the testing system.
The IMA also utilises the talents of its local and overseas instructors to run seminars in specialised subjects capturing most on video as a reference library for all members to access. Videos help the group keep in contact where as long distances prevent some members from attending. Regular Newsletters and the newly set up web site are the main source of communication for members.
The biggest item for us in Australia this year is the Master Camp 2000 which is a 10 day event. We start off with a multi styled weekend camp in Angelsea, Victoria 6th – 8th October then, specialised seminars in several martial arts combined with the World All Styles Organisation (WASO) coaching accreditation workshops. There is also a martial arts Expo being run over this period all in a big lead up to the 2 day WASO Tournament.
The IMA has arranged training tours overseas for many years especially to Japan and Indonesia. It's biggest achievement in this area is the forthcoming China Tour in November, to trace the origins of Karate. The principal tour guide will be Master Tang Laiwei a Wushu exponent of some 30 years who will be making sure everything runs smoothly and all the rights doors open for everyone. The trip starts in Bejing incorporating the Wushu institute, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Summer palace, Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall to mention a few. Continuing onto the Shaolin Temple and then to Fujian where most of the training will be concentrated. Finally the group will spend 3 days in Shanghai before returning home. The Tour is open to everyone, not just members or martial artists.