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 were 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 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! As a Senior Chief in the United States Navy, I often have other commitments that prevent me from making it to practice regularly. CFMAF understands and acknowledges my commitment to our country that they gave me 12 months of additional training for FREE to make up for the class time that I missed. This isn't something they are obligated to do, but did for me out of the kindness of their heart.
I cant stress enough how awesome CFMAF and the staff have been. I will learn under their guidance for the rest of my life! I cant wait to have my son start training there in just a few short months!