I studied with Grand Master Cook for six years prior to which I had studied with one of his top students learning pure Ou-Der Kun Tao, a military style from Taiwan that employs concepts of which the application is both brutal and efficient. I came to Master Cook with a background in Ju-Jitsu and Ou-Der and learned one thing: That everyone starts from the beginning, no exceptions. Master Cook’s conviction to start the student from scratch is in line with the greatest and most classical traditions in the martial arts. To “empty one’s cup” is not to forget what you know but to be open to what you must learn. Master Cook builds a foundation with each of his students that creates a fundamental knowledge of concept that the student will be able to apply throughout their training making learning the martial arts a seamless process. His approach allows the student the ability to not only see how their own style(s) relate but also how all martial arts relate. It is the quality of his instruction paired with the body of knowledge and unparalleled effectiveness of what he teaches that creates a martial artist second to none. Due to my time with Master Cook I have learned to be my own teacher and have acquired the ability to break down the traditional kata he teaches and apply them any way I choose. Furthermore, I gained the insight to see the unifying concepts in all martial arts which is only something that can be gained through proper instruction, hard work and an open mind.
Two things are essential for a martial artist: the understanding of how to teach yourself and the discipline to do so. I had the honor of studying under Master Cook for approximately fourteen years. We trained in basements, kitchens, parks, and backyards. We trained in pouring and freezing rain, in 100 degree heat, and even snow-storms as weather conditions never deterred class. Master Cook took me through various systems, styles, and an incalculable amount of lessons. He provided me with the physical tools to perform as a martial artist, but more importantly he guided me in the mental understanding of the concepts of martial arts. With Master Cook as my guide I have learned, yes, how to defend myself and my family, how to fight viciously and efficiently when necessary, but more importantly many of the priceless, life lessons a martial artist must learn to succeed. These lessons cannot be described fully in words; however, they are labeled in words like: virtue, respect, honor, discipline, and many others. He is a perfectionist by nature and holds students to the highest expectations. He approaches martial arts from levels of the body, the mind, and the spirit. Martial arts cannot be separated from life; they are one and the same. Besides the physical benefits the understanding of approaching concepts to teach myself and the discipline to do so affect everything I do. It has made me better at life. I have graduated with a masters degree in Global Affairs at NYU and have had great success teaching my own students in Rhode Island and New York. 'Knowing is Understanding the How, Wisdom is in the Doing, and the Way to Do is to Be.' Master Cook is an invaluable resource of knowledge, a phenomenal teacher who leads by example, and a friend. Through martial arts he has taught me the most valuable lesson of all--to Be.
I began studying martial arts when I was 9 years old. Over my lifetime I have studied various styles of Jiu Jitsu, Kempo and I have been to numerous seminars and demonstrations. Nothing I have ever seen even remotely compares to what Grand Master Jeff Cook has to offer as a martial artist, a teacher, or a person. Shifu Cook comes from a lineage of pure martial artists with a tradition directly from the Temples in China. I have seen many “good” martial artists but after almost 20 years of experience I can say without hesitancy, that the purest, most effective techniques I have ever seen are taught by Master Cook. Many schools teach a very “watered down” style or combination of either karate, kempo, kenpo, jiu jitsu, tae kwon do…etc. The traditional Kung Fu that is offered by Master Cook is absolutely second to none. He has learned from a very elite group of Grand Masters that have passed on only the most pure forms of Kung Fu. Anyone interested in learning not only “real” martial arts, but who are looking for something that will teach them a lot about themselves would be very pleased after a session with my Shifu, and friend, Grand Master Cook. I met Grand Master Jeff Cook when he would visit our school after he began training my Sensei when I was 12. I began taking classes with Shifu in his backyard “dojo” in New England where the temperature would reach as cold as below 0 degrees in the winter and as hot as 100 in the summer. His class prepared me for my life long quest for knowledge in both martial arts and in my professional field.