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18-03-2013

My Idea of the Ultimate Art

My martial arts journey started as a kid getting books from the library on judo, karate, kendo, and aikido. And lots of Bruce Tegner books. I hung out with guys who idolized Bruce Lee like I did. Then I started Kenju, a combination of kenpo and judo under Kirk Ellis Sensei. Later in Fresno I studied the Filipino martial arts, primarily Kabaroan under GM Estalilla and Muay Thai under Khru Paul Metayo.

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I love the martial arts, and I learned all I could. Like most of you, I was always looking to advance to the next level, to find the ultimate style and the best techniques. At some point I began to think of forming my own style, not because I wanted to be the bigshot, but because I wanted to create something of my own, to be a breakout martial artist, a pioneer like Bruce Lee whose system was so advanced that it left other styles behind.

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But for years I couldn’t think of anything. I could have just combined different styles into “KenjuThaiKabar.” A lot of styles are like this, what I call “additive.” If I learn judo and kung-fu, then I create “Kung-Ju” or “Ju-Kung.” I may try to get creative, go to a Chinese restaurant and ask the waiter how to say “Death Dragon Claw” in Cantonese, but it’s the same additive style, piled high like a Dagwood Bumstead sandwich.

Dagwood Bumstead Sandwich

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I had a breakthrough when I studied Modified Tapado in Bacolod under GM Vasquez. I realized that the long stick is a two-handed weapon. Then when I saw Sifu Doyle use the shillelagh, it led me to the baseball bat. Hey, I’m an American, I played Little League baseball for years, played slowpitch, bats are common in the US…Why not use a baseball bat as a weapon? And as I looked at it, I began to see the advantages of the baseball bat over the classic Filipino stick. So I began to grasp a first principle in my ideal martial art.

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My Concept of the Ideal Martial Art

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1)  It Is Based in American Realities

The best martial art for me is based in America, in current life here in the United States. I aim to strip away the artifacts of other cultures, such as kimonos, bare feet, machetes, nunchaku, and so on. I wear shoes at work and on the street, so it makes sense for me to wear shoes when I train.

I also need to examine the assumptions of other arts. I believe that key assumptions of the traditional Filipino larga mano systems are combatants are known to each other (not a mugging on the street), in the open, such as a rice field, and have long bladed weapons such as machetes. I see these conditions in the Philippines, but they don’t exist in the US.

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2) The Art Is Firearm Based

You probably didn’t see this one coming. I lived in California where concealed carry permits were issued only to the rich and well-connected. While I was free to apply for a concealed carry permit, my odds of getting one were zilch. I now live in a “shall-issue” state, which means that I can get a CCW permit. Increasingly more and more states are becoming shall-issue concealed carry states, barring a few backward hellholes like New York, California, and Illinois.

It seems to me that an American art is rooted in a concealed firearm, both due to its growing practicality and the sheer effectiveness of a firearm. If we are honest, we have to admit that a firearm is the single most effective means of self-defense.

Admittedly, this is one area where I need to become more knowledgeable and proficient.

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3)  It Is an Integrated Art

It’s not enough to carry a gun. You may need to defend yourself with your bare hands until you can get to your firearm. You can’t use a firearm to solve every problem, such as the belligerent drunk or the family member having a psychotic episode, as a co-worker of mine experienced when his mentally-ill son threatened him with a knife.

There tends to be separate camps of martial artists –the unarmed stylists, the armed (sticks, knives) practitioners, and the gun enthusiasts. Sometimes people practice multiple styles, and I’ve written before of the “real kali” styles who practice 48 different weapons. To me, the key is integration. Instead of empty-hand techniques, and stick techniques, and a gun at home under the bed, my aim is a style that is predicated on the constant carry of multiple weapons, and seamlessly transitions from empty hand, to knife, to gun in response to an ambush.

Heavily influenced by Rory Miller’s thinking, I believe the martial arts need to stress situational awareness, scenario-based training, and instinctive response. These instinctive responses should include multiple weapons.

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4) It Is Flexible

Depending upon the state I live in, I may not be able to get a concealed carry permit, or if I have one, I may not be able to take my pistol into the courthouse or schoolhouse. In my workplace or locality I may not be able to carry an expandable baton or a knife. It makes sense to have a system of analogous weapons (such as a pen filling in for a knife) utilizing the same techniques, so that the practitioner is able to use the same techniques with weapons tailored to local laws and his particular situation.

 

Extraído de Big Stick Combat.
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