If you ever have the chance to train with Sensei Norm Bettencourt of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, consider yourself one of the luckiest persons on earth because you will have indeed found one of the best reality-based street combat instructors in the world. His system is real-world intensive in that his studio is made to look like real street environments. You do not wear any gis or exotic and ancient Oriental garb. You are not asked to go bear feet. You train there with your philadelphia phillies t shirt and/or boots. Your training environment are stairwells, alley ways, small tight spaced rooms with furniture and areas that look like street curbs. This is the real deal here! You get the look and feel of real life–where all of the violence takes place–not in the romantic musings of learning endless katas and forms, and having to memorize all of the moves and strikes–even having to learn them in the original Chinese or Japanese language. (I guess when you say “punch” or “kick” in Chinese or Japanese rather than in English, you do it better.)
Sensei Bettencourt can train almost anyone, male or female, to be combat-ready in only two days of 8 hours each day of intensive reality based situations and encounters.
Norm Bettencourt doesn’t believe in belts. As he laughingly likes to quip to me, “A belt is only good for holding up your pants or choking someone out who has taken a weapon to you.”
But Norm Bettencourt’s story started out like most of us with the romance of becoming a “martial artist”–usually right after seeing the latest Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie.
Norm Bettencourt’s turning point happened on one cold night in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He had at this time already earned his black belt, and had learned scores of moves, techniques and counters. He was waiting for a bus at a stop. An individual approaches him and bumps into his shoulder in a rude and intentional way.
“You got some kind of a problem, dude?” replies Norm when shoved by this guy, knowing that he was a black belt and could take him out with all of the techniques that he knew.
“Hey, buddy, I’m sorry I pushed you…” Pow! The guy cold cocks and punches Norm viciously in the jaw. Norm tries to respond, but this crazy continues to punch and punch, thus knocking Norm back on top of a hard concrete bus seat. Norm loses his balance completely. The assailant moves in for the kill. He begins to viciously kick Norm in the head knocking him unconscious.
When Norm comes too, he realizes that a bus driver had gotten out of a bus to help him on.
As Sensei Bettencourt told me, “This was a blessing in disguise and a turning point for me as I asked myself what had happened to have caused a guy off the street to get the best of me–a black belt–and knock me out! Then the answer hit me like a lightning bolt. This guy was street saavy when it came to fighting. He knew how to “sucker punch”. He knew only a few moves, but he knew how to execute them well and he was not afraid to follow through with continuous strikes until I was completely knocked out. He had the street fighter mentality while I had the martial artist mentality.” This was the birth of Norm Bettencourt–Street Fighter!
We can lift 3 little recognized facts from this story of Sensei Bettecourt.
Fact #1 – A Martial Artist Is Like A Fine Painter Or Graceful Dancer – The martial artist too often is concerned with style, form, grace and beauty which does not work well on the streets.
Fact #2 – The Street Fighter Is Like The Guy Who Cleans Up After The Painting Or Dancing Is Done – The street fighter has a serious job to do and he is not concerned about looking pretty, but rather on just getting the dirty job done as quickly and efficiently as possible–so that he is the last man standing.
Fact #3 – There Is No Such Thing As A Dirty Fighter, Only An Educated One – The guy who attacked Sensei Bettencourt knew how to “sucker punch” and he was not afraid nor did he care about causing serious damage by continuing the attack until Sensei was unconscious. As a street fighter you must be an educated fighter, that is, you must fight down and dirty until you are the last man standing and you are the one who walks through that door to kiss your daughter good night.
write by Farah