For the past year or so, I’ve been telling myself I’m going to write an
awesome review for the folks at CFMAF. Each time I sit down and write
something out, I find myself editing and re-editing because I just cant seem
to find the words to express just how truly amazing CFMAF, their staff, the
training, and the family really are!
Let me start by saying that I have been training with Master Isaac Costley
at CFMAF since April of 2014. Our paths crossed after I returned from my
third combat deployment to Afghanistan. After perusing the interwebs in
search of a quality martial arts experience, I had 3 simple requirements:
The first, a practical self-defense style that focuses more on real world
scenarios rather than the pretty jump kicks, forms, and katas that a
majority of schools specialize in. After training in Karate in my youth, I
was subjected and taught some forms and katas that I just didn’t understand.
I merely memorized some movements and did punch-punch, kick-kick to earn my
next rank. Knowing what I know now, I can see there is a purpose behind
that, but I certainly didn’t understand it at the time. For real life, on
the street, these forms and katas are very impractical. At CFMAF, they don’t
focus on that but rather explaining and demonstrating what techniques are
effective for the street, and which techniques are merely part of the Art.
The second requirement for me was to find a school that didn’t focus on
producing black belts. At 7 of the local schools that I checked out, they
claimed that I could be a black belt in ‘X’ amount of years. Master C never
mentioned the progression to get to black belt during our first visit.
Instead, he equipped me with enough knowledge to do my own research. I found
out that in Master C’s decades of teaching experience, he had only promoted
16 (at the time) people to the rank of first degree black belt – something
he wears as a badge of honor. This told me right away that he cares more
about developing a person as a whole, ensuring their techniques and
fundamentals are on the level of a black belt, and engraining quality
leadership skills more than giving people belts. At CFMAF, belt ranks are
earned, never given. Too many people focus on what color belt they wear
around their waist instead of what is truly important. I remember watching
some demonstrations at other local schools and watching their black belts
perform their forms. I wasn’t impressed. In fact, at CFMAF, we are taught at
very junior levels not just techniques, but appropriate application of those
techniques in given situations. Master C and the instructors at CFMAF do a
great job of teaching concepts and allow their students to develop their own
critical thinking skills that just might be the difference between life and
death in the real world.
The third requirement for me was flexibility and cost. Of the schools that
checked out, there were certainly schools that were ‘cheaper,’ and some that
were more expensive. My first reaction was of course to take the cheapest
route; but, those were the schools that overcrowded, offered little to no
personal attention from the instructors, and just simply didn’t care about
their students. They were all about the bottom line and making money. The
more expensive schools I explored clearly showed where the money was going.
The owners were driving fancy cars, they had vacations written out on the
school’s calendar, and they put their money into décor for the school. None
of these schools had their own gym with free weights and machines, none of
them had extra equipment for students to use, and only two of the schools
even had bags and pads to use. CFMAF offers more than just self-defense
instruction. They offer a full line of workout equipment, certified personal
trainers on staff, quality morals and values, discipline and work ethic, and
even friendly advice and guidance. The instructor staff there may only be
paid for the time instructing, but they are so much more. They are mentors.
I have witnessed children who lack discipline and direction come in to CFMAF
and watch them turn in to respectable citizens who will be a positive
contribution to society. That is something we don’t pay them to do, but
something I have seen them do time and time again. I chose CFMAF because I
saw the value of what I was paying for. Frankly, I’m surprised they don’t
charge more than they do – they certainly deserve more. Additionally, they
are constantly giving back to the community and their students. I remember
them offering free training for an entire month to the local community; they
periodically host free seminars for women’s self defense, anti-abduction
clinics, summer safety classes, back to school classes, and the like –
ABSOLUTELY FREE! Ladies and Gentlemen, I cant imagine putting myself through
that kind of stress on a regular basis without being paid for it. They
genuinely care about the safety of our community and continue to amaze even
me. They even visit local elementary schools in district 11 on a regular
basis to teach students the dangers of the real world and how to avoid nasty
situations, but in the event they find themselves in one, they are equipped
to defend themselves and attract attention to the situation. Simply amazing!
For their students, CFMAF often has free give aways: trips to Las Vegas for
free, bicycles, video game consoles, and even a back to school picnic every
year completely free to the students. I did not find another school in the
area that offered anything even remotely close to that.
Finally, the students at CFMAF are more than just another face I see twice a
week. Some have become great friends. We treat eachother with dignity and
respect regardless of our different backgrounds. We have members from all
walks of life, different races, ethnicities, and religions. We even have
disabled students and students with certain limitations. No worries though,
the staff is knowledgeable enough and willing to adapt our curriculum to
what they are capable of doing. Don’t feel discouraged because you may half
to walk with a cane, or stuck in a wheel chair. You can still prepare
yourself for the real world and learn potentially life saving techniques
regardless of your capabilities.
To Master Costley and Mrs. Heather, I sincerely appreciate everything you
have done not only for me and my family, but for the community and your
students. You are an inspiration and exhibit qualities that I admire and
will continue to strive to mimic. I have learned so much from both of you
and your staff over the past few years and look forward to many many more.