Instructors > Joe McSorley
Joe started his early praying mantis studies in the early 70's. He was a student of Taoism under Dr.Wei Hsun Fu in 1972 and it was on Dr Fu's recommendation that he sought out a kung fu school. Dr Fu felt that he was concentrated too much on just mental development and needed to balance it with physical training. Joe went door to door in Chinatown Philadelphia until he met a clerk at the Wing On grocery on Race Street, guiding him to Sifu Mark's school at 10th and Arch. Joe spent several years there studying under Tommy Chin and Richard Mercurio, both disciples of Sifu Mark Foon and continues his relationship with Sifu Mark to this day.
A few years into his training he joined the Shotokan Karate school under Teryuki Okasaki and spent two years with him. He later studied Aikido under Muriyama Sensei but never stopped studying praying mantis. Sifu Mark often stated that if you understood the principles of Jook Lum you could enhance other styles. Unlike other masters who were displeased if you studied other styles, Sifu Mark encouraged it, saying that you needed to have an understanding of how other systems fight to be an effective martial artist. Joe was also greatly influenced by the boxers he would meet from Joe Frazier's gym and greatly impressed by how unforgiving they were in their offense. He years later got to work professionally with Teddy Atlas who trained Mike Tyson among others. In recent years he been able to spend time with Bas Rutten and other champs on his work with the World Series of Fighting MMA and Glory Kickboxing along with his work for Showtime Boxing. Joe greatly stresses rigorous training along with real time application. He has always held the belief that you cannot learn to swim standing next to the pool, you must jump in to learn.
In 1973 Joe met Dr. Richard DeMartino at Temple University and studied Zen under him for many years. Dr. DeMartino was a long time student of the great Zen teacher D.T. Suzuki and Suzuki said that DeMartino was the only Westerner who truly understood Zen. Dr. DeMartino also studied under Shin ichi Hisamatsu sensei in Japan. In the early 80's Joe went to NYC Chinatown to study qigong under Mantak Chia at Confucius Plaza. There he learned the microcosmic orbit, fusion of the five elements and iron shirt qigong. In the mid 80's Joe met and studied with Dr. Masao Abe (ah-bay) of the Kyoto School of Zen, a contemporary of Dr. DeMartino and also a student of D.T. Suzuki's. Dr. Abe is world renowned for his books on Zen and was declared a living art treasure by the emperor of Japan in 1986. Joe spent a couple of years with Dr. Abe and his wife and they lived with him for several months in 1987 before going back to Kyoto. It was Dr. Abe that gave Joe permission to teach Zen in the US. Joe continued his relationship with Dr DeMartino until his death 5 years ago.. He also speaks regularly to Abe sensei's wife, Ikuko, since he passed on September 10, 2006 at 91 years of age.
Joe eschews titles and rank and does not like being called Sifu. He says we can all learn from each other and one should not be held above the other. He believes respect should be earned by experience and not just given because someone has a title. He is sensitive to the difference in cultures between the US and the east and acts accordingly.