Wednesday, April 26, 2006


One morning last week, as I sleepily scanned my usual deluge of daily email, one jumped at me because of the title and the address of the sender. The title was “Long Lost Friend in Afghanistan” and the address was “”

I immediately recognized the sender of the email. His name was Markanthony Meditz, a Filipino Fighting Arts (FFA) student in the early 1990’s in San Jose, California. If you go to the school website at, you should spot his mugshot for the San Jose school. He reported in his email that as a reservist, he had been shipped out to Afghanistan as part of the U.S. war on terror.

Arguably, the toughest school I owned and taught was probably the one in San Jose, CA. It was strictly a garage dojo operation. We seldom used the garage dojo except to hack at knife posts lined up on one side of the garage. The garage emptied into a private alley used only by residents. Deserted most of the time, it was the FFA training dojo. We would chase each other up and down that alley, swinging weapons at each other, dodging parked cars, garbage cans and an occasional startled neighbor.

Predictably, there were quite a few hardcases at the school. In addition to Mark, there were a couple of security guards, a group of black belt kempo senseis, a couple of ex-gang bangers now working as student counselors, an ex-Marine fresh out of Desert Storm and assorted characters. One example was Rick, who worked as a warehouse forklift operator, and wore (and kicked with) his steel-toed boots during workouts. Straight from his day job as armed security for a computer chip company, Markanthony would swagger to class, wearing his weapon duty belt complete with firearm, baton, knife folder and mace.

Reading his email now fifteen years later, I was glad to see that Mark still considered me a friend after all the lumps and bruises he sustained at my hands (and feet). In fact, part of his email reads, “History is never to be forgotten…The skills that I had learned from you long ago have never gone away, and have only gotten better.” A wee bit thick and dramatic, that last comment almost reminds me of that saying about the battles of Britain being won in the playing fields of Eton. But that is not the direction of this commentary.

On the surface, it was probably not a big leap from what he was doing in San Jose California, to whatever it is he is doing in Afghanistan. But I also found out Mark was now married, leaving a wife and a blended family behind in Reno, Nevada. He is of course looking forward to ending his tour of duty safely, and returning home to his family. He mentioned he would love to attend one of my many martial arts seminars late next year, possibly with several alumni of the San Jose gladiator school.

In our email communication, I typed out a hearty acquiescence to future plans. In private, I just said a quiet prayer that a soldier would come home safely to a waiting family in Reno, Nevada, and to a band of brothers who in another life and time shared his warrior ways.

Part II will detail what Markanthony does in Afghanistan.


Blogger Honeya9705 said...

Reading your blog put a smile on my face... I was his girlfriend 14 years ago and remember him talking about you and the FFA. Just to let you know he left monday to go back to Afghanistan...

2:28 PM  

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