Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
by Kyosanim Giovanni Dejesus
I always heard throughout my training that, though the chance of a physical encounter is minimal; I should always be trained and ready. My master would state even further that trouble won’t find you when you are 100% ready and able. It always seems to find you at unfortunate times. Well, who would have thought that I would be tested at night, towards the end of a hot physical day at work. I was a 1st brown at the time, and I worked as a valet attendant at a hotel. I cannot name the hotel or any intellectual property due to an NDA. Continuing on, I had carried on about my day as usual running, picking up luggage, and moving/parking cars.
Around 10pm we start to do a count of cars in the parking lot; before we close for the night. As I had entered the parking lot, I had noticed a commotion going on by one of the vehicles. Three guys, ranging from my age at the time to a little older, were breaking into a BMW I had recently parked. I followed procedure and called in on my walkie-talkie to the front desk to phone the police about the crime. From there, I proceeded to confront them. I had drove up to them in the golf cart and sternly asked what they were up to. Caught by the surprise, they really didn’t know how to respond. I had told them that the cops were on their way to the scene and it’s best if they remain. Their response to me was not too kind.
I had turned to my golf cart to grab an incident report and before I knew it, they had taken one of their skateboards and broke it across my back. Good thing it wasn’t the chuck side of the skateboard hitting me then or this story would be very different. As I turned back around, the young man who had hit me with the skateboard decided to throw a straight right to my face. I stepped to the outside using practical self defense #2 and used my elbow in a downward motion striking the top of his shoulder as hard I could. He had almost instantaneously fell to the floor from excruciating pain, holding on to his shoulder. I then turned my attention to the other two. One had decided to make a run for it however the biggest of the 3 decided to have a go. He had taken a few steps towards me then started a quick sprint to tackle me by my waist. I used a Hapkido move I had practiced often; sidestepping to avoid and using a circular motion with my arms against his to send his energy to the ground. Once he fell, he was trying to get up to face me again. I capitalized on his fall and put all my strength into a sidekick against his femur while the target was vulnerable. Suffice enough to keep him down for good.
All this happened in the span of 15 seconds.
I am not telling this story to glorify our martial arts, my name, or for acknowledgement. I am telling this story so that we may have a better understanding of self defense. I wasn’t as still as water, I didn’t have any plan of action in my head. My adrenaline was peaked, I was breathing hard, my mind was running at a million thoughts per second. If it wasn’t for putting in dedication, sweat, hard work, and yes even blood I will say this situation could have ended up dire for me. Self defense training is there for our benefit and should never be taken lightly.
I understood one thing clearly that night, my biggest enemy out there could have been myself had I not trained properly.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
by Master Travis Willis
The world of martial arts is ever changing. The old techniques are still taught while many new methods are evolving with the needs of a modern world. In the beginning it was very simple. The arts were taught for a person to protect themselves against “animals and other humans.” Over time they evolved into a form of military combat used mostly by the protectors of royals. When the common people started learning the arts they had to practice in secret or at night so as not to be discovered by the powerful. In order to continue the practice they had to hide their techniques in forms so the oppressors would not know what they were doing. The evolution continues today as we watch fight sports and amateur tournaments modify and utilize the moves for competition. The problem is that, in my opinion, we are evolving away from forms.
All students of the traditional martial arts that practice forms have been taught about hidden self defense techniques contained therein. Yet when they are practiced many students will ask about a particular movement, “Did they really do that in a fight?” When they refer to a move that makes no sense to them and the teacher’s explanation offers no help either, they will always wonder why they do these “dances.” When a student is told that a move is a block and they know they would never use it in a real fight they truly loose a little faith in us all and start to move toward a system that is more suited for a fighter. There is nothing wrong with those types of programs if one wants to be a fighter but not everyone will stay in a rigorous fight training school. They just want good self defense. When they go to a self defense class that doesn’t do forms and perhaps includes firearms training they get what they want but the forms are no longer being passed down.
As instructors we all understand the aesthetic values of form practice such as breathing, conditioning, timing, and balance. Probably one thing I recognize in the value of form is the practice of moves that allow me to grow old in much better condition than many people my same age. The long stride of the forward stance keeps me from walking at a snails pace and the regular movements of forms help promote good flexibility and strength. However the understanding of the real self defense has been lost. I see this problem as two fold.
First, it is our responsibility as instructors to not just rest on our black belts and teach kids to fight in a tournament. We should endeavor to understand what we have already learned and are teaching, and not just learn another form for yet another promotion. The other problem is that there is no longer a need for the secrecy and that is where the defense classes that don’t do forms are so attractive to the unknowing prospective student.
As a traditional artist I truly love the forms we do but without good explanations for what we are doing we will chase our prospects to those other programs. Without the need for secrecy we have lost the need for forms. The students will get what they want from another program for a little while and then just quit. They will never understand the true value of “Lifestyle Martial Arts” or what a life study of the arts is really all about.
Contributions by: Master Rick L. Crose
Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
by Master Travis Willis
Recently, in the news, we saw a man defending his daughter from a bullying situation on a school bus. Most thought he was a little out of line but because he committed no actual violence I applaud his action. It seems the school system had failed to address this type of behavior in an effective manner therefore this man had to step up to protect his little girl. If the school system had thought seriously about how to handle bullies and engaged a more realistic approach then I believe the problem would not be so severe.
I am a martial arts instructor and for over 25 years many parents have asked me what can be done to curb this problem. When I teach a self defense class I always emphasize the need for awareness. A criminal of any sort will always choose the easiest victim. A burglar will choose a house with no outside lights and no dogs in the yard or a rapist will always choose the woman that is alone in an isolated area, and a bully will always choose a timid or weak child to assault and therein lays a possible answer.
Friday, June 11th, 2010
by Master Travis Willis
There are numerous benefits a young person can derive from martial arts training. Most martial arts schools boast about giving discipline, self-confidence, and other aesthetic traits attainable from no other source. While these things are very true, any honest karate instructor will have to admit that there are many, many cases where even the most dedicated teacher with an excellent program will not have the total affect the parents are looking for. A student may respond quite well in class but the parents will say that the child does not take his training home.