Friday, January 26, 2018

Three of our assistant instructors tested for Shodan in Kobudo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Congratulations to our new Kobudo Black Belts here at Hidden Sword

On November 18th 2017 three of the Hidden Sword assistant instructors took their shodan (1st degree black belt) exam in Kobudo.  In January of 2015 they started the AKATO class with 35 students who were all brown belts to multi degreed black belts.   Over the course of almost three years they took their green belt exam, their brown belt exam and finally now their black belt exam.  All of the while the class kept shrinking.   In the end there were eight women and seven men taking the exam.

Jackie Bradbury was a shoe in for the class, Kimberly was 11 years old (truthfully, I thought she was 12) so I had to ask special permission for her to attend since the requirement was the student was a brown belt and 13 years old.   Both Jackie and Kimberly had been training in the Kobudo class at Hidden Sword for over a year so GM Proctor and GM Yates allowed Kimberly to join.   After the first year Tomas who had since rejoined our HSMA program was allowed to also start the AKATO Kobudo program.   Tomas had been working with our Kobudo students during the year so while he had some slight catching up he practiced hard in between the AKATO classes and kept up in the class.

Tomas, Jackie, and Kimberly all worked very hard getting ready for the black belt exam often times spending several hours a week on the material.  For this exam they had to know and demonstrate several drills, one steps, and several kata.   The kata or forms were more numerous than in the past classes; for the Bo (staff) there were 3 kata, for sai there were 2 kata, for tonfa (rice grinder) there were 2 kata, and for the nunchaku (flail) there were 2 kata.

Over all Tomas, Jackie, and Kimberly all had a good exam since they were well prepared.  Jackie for the most part took on the leadership role encouraging and really working with both Kimberly and Tomas.   Tomas would spend the hour before our arnis class working on his material or stay after and work.   In the end Kimberly who was the youngest and smallest student starting the class was mentioned by GM Proctor as having the best test over all.

I’m proud to have these students/assistant instructors here at Hidden Sword, while we aren’t the home of former “World Champions” like some schools in our area advertise, our assistant instructors have been a good example for our students in other ways; like having strong work ethic, and continuing to train and explore other martial arts. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Congrats to Kaitlyn for taking 1st place in Weapons Kata at the 2017 AKATO tournament

Congrats to Kaitlyn for taking first place in weapons at the AKATO Invitational tournament

I am thrilled when our students do good at tournaments.  At the outset I must state that we are not a tournament focused school; this year we only went to three, and I’m proud of the all of the students who participate in them.   We participated in three because it gives our students chances to test themselves in a venue outside of our school, yet I’m not going to subject my students to the circus. 

I forget who I heard this name “The Circus” (when referring to “Open” tournaments) from but the last time couple of times we (as a school) went to an open tournament the name fit.   We saw people throwing swords into the air only to catch them as they screamed KIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!   People were twirling their swords between their fingers as others were hooping and a hollering as they back flipped and landed in the splits.  Seriously, I even saw one guy actually squat down in front of the head referee (like he was going to the bathroom) where he then reached behind himself to toss his kama upwards in between his legs only to catch it again with the same hand in front of this crotch.   Seeing this kind of behavior, I thought I’m going to lose more students than have students who want to compete in these tournaments so now we only go to three tournaments where are students are competing apples to apples.

The first tournament is the Monica Lopez Cancer Benefit tournament, which all of the proceeds go to a family whom cancer has touched and impacted.  The second is the Hearts for Honduras tournament where all of the proceeds go to help fund a mission trip to Honduras.   The last is the biggest, which is the AKATO Invitational Tournament.  In all three we compete against other like-minded schools so our students are competing apples to apples instead of against performance artists.   Now let me be clear here I'm not saying these performance artists aren't skilled or talented. I just don't find anything martial "of or relating to war, war like" in someone squatting like they are going to the bathroom and tossing a toy up between their legs, or someone throwing their demo sword in the air catching it and posing to scream their head off and call attention to themselves.   We can't compete with that cause I won't teach my students to do that. 

At the 2017 AKATO Invitational tournament several of our students entered in the Kobudo (weapons) division.   Because it was a small division they lumped our kids into the adult division.  So Kaitlyn (10 yrs old and a red belt), Kennan (8 yrs old and a 3rd brown), Gabriel (10 yrs old and a red belt), and Kimberly (14 yrs old and a black belt) ended up all competing against four adults three of which were black belts and one red belt.

Kaitlyn and Kimberly
Kaitlyn took first place performing a combination kata of two Modern Arnis stick forms (form 1 and 3).   One of the senior instructors (the head judge.) came up to me afterwards and said Kaitlyn moved “so smoothly from her center”.   That was much nicer than hearing that she really threw her bolo high in the air, or that he was impressed with how loud she yelled (KKKIIIIIAAAAAA!!!!), etc. etc.  Kaitlyn even beat out her sister Kimberly who performed a traditional Bo kata.   Kaitlyn’s form wasn’t the hardest by any stretch of the imagination, it wasn’t the longest, she certainly didn’t demonstrate the most power (she’s 10 competing against adults).  Kaitlyn simply demonstrated her form with a training bolo the way the bolo should be used and she was judged on that as opposed to some act of showmanship.

Good job Kaitlyn you represented Hidden Sword well.   While Kaitlyn did beat out adults in this division she did go on to medal, or place, in both sparring and empty hand kata competing against other juniors that were her rank and age.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking for a new school to host the HSMA Presas Arnis Instructor Development Course classes in 2018

New Presas Arnis Instructor Development Course class to start in early 2018

Students and instructors attending one of the 2017 Presas Arnis Instructor Development classes at North Texas Karate Academy in Bridgeport TX.

Hidden Sword is currently looking for another school to host a new Presas Arnis Instructor Development Course for 2018 as expand the course.    The goal is to find a school in the DFW area that is willing to host the classes during the 2018 year.  If you are wondering what the Presas Arnis Instructor Development Course is read on.

In 2016 at the suggestion of GM Dieter Knuttel, who is the technical director of the German Arnis Federation (DAV), guro Lynn created the Presas Arnis Instructor Development Course for 2017.  Over the course of a year the students and instructors who took part in the Instructor Development course and tested for the basic levels of the Presas Arnis curriculum at the December class.  This class will continue on learning the intermediate levels in 2018.

The first class which started in 2017 meets in Bridgeport TX at the North Texas Karate Academy, with instructors coming from Oklahoma, Jacksboro, and North Richland Hills. Next year this group will continue on to learning the intermediate levels of the curriculum.    In 2018 Hidden Sword is planning on starting another class to further “beta” test the basic levels of the Presas Arnis curriculum and we are currently looking for a school to host the class.

The Presas Arnis Instructor Development course is designed to reach out to students, instructors, and schools who are not primarily studying the Filipino Martial Arts (FMAs), but are well grounded in their primary styles; be they karate, kung fu, krav maga etc. etc.. By building on the foundation (business model) that GM Remy Presas laid by reaching out to interested students and instructors who are looking for a martial art program to augment their primary style instead of replacing it. 

Guro Lynn is the chief instructor at Hidden Sword Martial Arts and has been involved with the martial arts for 36 years and involved with the FMAs for 35.  Guro Lynn has earned black belts in five different systems of various degrees so he has designed this course to reach out to other styles and help them to see how Presas Arnis can enhance their primary system, and not to tear it down.  The focus of the class is to teach instructors how to potentially use Presas Arnis as a revenue generation vehicle for their school as an potential upgrade program, or to enhance their weapons self-defense tactics for their primary art, or perhaps as a vehicle for personal growth for the student by giving them a better understanding of impact and edged weapon defense. 

Currently students meet once a month at the host school for three hours and go over the curriculum.   Afterwards the students are encouraged to work together to practice till the next class.  Students and instructors who are enrolled in the Presas Arnis Instructors Development course are given access to the private Hidden Sword Presas Arnis Instructor Development Face Book page; where videos, photos, and discussions take place as another method of support.  Students can also visit the Mark Lynn Hidden Sword you tube channel for more videos.

If you are interested in attending or hosting a course class please email guro Lynn at

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 HSMA Presas Arnis Instructor Development Course overview

2017 Hidden Sword Presas Arnis Instructors Development Course

In February of 2017 Hidden Sword started their Presas Arnis Instructor Development Course at the North Texas Karate Academy in Bridgeport TX.  The Presas Arns Instructor Development Course is based on the Modern Arnis/Presas Arnis program that is taught at Hidden Sword.   Once a month the class meets for a three-hour class where guro Lynn would teach the attendees the Presas Arnis system.
As the name of the class implies this course is designed to develop instructors in hopes of them teaching the system and spreading the art. So guro Lynn concentrated on not only teaching the drills and skills of Presas Arnis but also the history of the art and instruction concepts behind the drills.  Over the course of the year the Presas Arnis Instructor Development class has also been helping to develop the students and instructors of Hidden Sword. Guros Jackie Bradbury, and Tomas Mendoza have each month assisted guro Lynn in the instruction of the class by walking the floor helping and training the students. However, it has also been a time of cross training for several of Hidden Sword’s students as well; Scott, Gabriel, Kaitlyn, and Kimberly have all traveled out to the school to train with the students of the class at one time or another.  

Currently there are two groups of students in the class; we have students who are interested in learning the art and improving their weapon based skills, and we have a select group of instructors who are interested in learning the art and being an instructor.  While the class was envisioned to primarily consist of senior students and black belt instructors of different arts, it has developed over time to include under black belt students of various ages as well.  On the 16th of December 2017 the instructors at Hidden Sword tested two of the students for belt rank in the Presas Arnis system as well as four students for the  Basic Instructor Rank for those black belt instructors in other martial arts.

 (Note all photos are from earlier classes throughout 2017 North Texas Karate Academy in Bridgeport TX.)

In the photo to the right Jackie Bradbury is working with Randy Redus from Oklahoma on the supported blocking drill, she has just checked his stick hand with her empty hand.

 Photo to the left shows HSMA's chief instructor Mark Lynn translating the double stick material to empty hand techniques to the class.

In the photo below guro Lynn is demonstrating how a double stick  technique can be adapted to the Okinawan sai.

 In 2018 the Bridgeport class has elected to continue and will move on to learning the intermediate level material in the HSMA Presas Arnis curriculum.

HSMA is currently looking to start another beginner program at another school.  If interested in either hosting  or attending this class, please email guro Lynn. 

In the photo below guro Mendoza is helping a junior student on a double stick disarm.

Friday, December 8, 2017

2017 Hidden Sword Martial Arts Christmas Party
On December 15th from 6-8:00pm HSMA will have it’s 5th annual Christmas party in our room upstairs.   We will have a pot lock dinner and the sign-up sheet is available on our Facebook page where we have created an event for the party.

Come join us as we wind down our year of training and relax while meeting with the other families that train at Hidden Sword.  Here are some photos from last year.

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Meet our Photographer

Added on 12/8/17 
This post was written in July of 2014, and was written about Emily as she was going to take photos for the black belt exam.   Now in 2017 Emily is still interested in photography and taking photos.  She's taken photos at several of our events and classes here at Hidden Sword.

Today will be our second black belt exam at our school, and it will be a big day for all of us.  We have four students testing for 1st black, and three testing for 2nd brown.  Likewise, what I teach and how I teach will be graded or evaluated by outside instructors who know me but don’t really know my students.  My daughter Emily, will also be put to a test, but a test of a different sort as she will be our photographer for the event.

Emily is as old as most of the students testing for black belt and while she is young for the task that is set before her, she has, like her peers testing I believe, risen to the challenge.   Those students all had to make choices about testing; did they want to work hard, did they want to practice, did they practice when they didn’t want to but knew they should, did they listen to the instructions I gave them in class, and did they apply those instructions in their practice of the martial arts.  Emily had to do the same with her photography but with only a week’s notice.

Emily has taken pictures for us (me) before, but it has always been just for fun, she enjoyed it and I never knew what I would get out of it.  She wasn’t serious and I didn’t take to seriously instructing her on it.  That changed this week.

Leilani practicing bunkai from her nunchaku kata
Last Friday I bought a new camera and on Monday, we went to take a class on how to use my new camera, so we could get use to the controls, she listened to the instructor but it was over her head.  With some instruction on my part she spent 2 ½ hours later that night shooting the Modern Arnis classes.

The next morning we spent another couple of hours going over what she shot; we just sat down at the computer and discussed what made a good photo; composition, lighting, focus, and how to get it.  That night she spent 4 and ½ hours shooting my classes.

Kimberly taking the stick away from Julia
Hunter and Bryce practicing self defense
Wednesday found us once again in front of the computer going over her photos, but now she had much more input.  Soon she was going into great detail about the photos “I like the lighting in this one, but it is a bit blurry here, this is slightly out of focus.  I like this one and then I don’t because the light reflects in the mirror and my eye is drawn to it.”  Soon we were in lock step about rating each photo for it’s quality and then in agreement on deleting others.  Her subject matters changed some as well, as she got more confident in her shooting.   Later we went back to the camera store to try and solve a lighting problem with their subject matter experts.  That night she again spent time shooting the Junior Modern Arnis class and then trained in her regular arnis class.
Thursday we spent more time with the camera shooting during the day and
Another application for the spear hand?
No just  Kate being Kate always lending a hand
while I taught Crea’, then that evening we applied what we were told by taking off the automatic modes to full creative mode where she had to adjust the camera while she shot (in order to solve the lighting issue) and her pictures improved.  She again spent 3 ½ hours taking pictures of the students over the course of the night.

Emily isn’t a pro photographer, she is only a beginner.  She was trained to do one thing for this big day for our school.  However like the students testing today, she had a passion (she enjoys taking pictures), she learned about the subject, she practiced and applied what she learned.   Like the students testing for black belt and brown belt today, I am proud of her for stepping up to the task and for all of the hard work she has done getting ready. 

Part 3 of the black belt exam held on 5/7/16

After all of the one steps the students got to spar.  This I feel is an important and fun part of the exam, but I don’t believe it is by no means the most important.   Personally I feel that many schools use the sparring as the way to say we are tough and our students are tough; so a requirement is set that you must spar for X amount of rounds.   I see my students spar in school every week, I know which ones are tough and I know the ones who don’t care for it but still do it.   For them it is a struggle just to get out and do it, and for whatever reason they don’t enjoy it.  Not liking sparring doesn’t mean they don’t like training, that they are wimps or anything of the sort, they just don’t care for hitting others for prolonged periods.

So we do spar, if we have a large test the students get to fight a lot, if we have a small test they get to fight some matches and I waive requirements such as multiples and endless rounds of sparring.   In this exam I waived the multiples and instead Bryce, Kimberly, Olivia and Kaitlyn all got to padded weapon spar.   In padded weapon sparring the students choose a weapon and then face off against their opponent and go after it.  Sometimes the students choose the same weapon such as the escrima sticks and sometimes they choose unequal weapons such as the nunchaku (flail or flexible weapon) vs. bo (staff).   You know while some of the kids don’t like to spar, they have no problem hitting each other with padded weapons, even though they are wearing less gear and the weapons hurt more.  Go figure.

Bringing it back around to why I believe things haven’t changed much since that first test 32 years ago.   Back then we still sparred, my students still had to do one steps for their belt.   Self-defense was still an important part of the exam.   When sensei Proctor told Holly to defend herself against David (my roommate) he just wanted to see her win, he didn’t care how, it was simply to win.  So she hit him a few times to loosen his grip and then threw him to the ground BOOM!   A much smaller person defeated the bigger person.

Likewise, now after earning black belt rank in five systems, teaching here at the Rec. Center for nine straight years, raising several students to black belt rank, etc. etc. I still focus on trying to have the student learn to defend themselves and I really care more about that part of the art than how high they can kick, how many trophies they won, how loud they can scream, or how many rounds they fight.

After our first black belt exam sensei Proctor told me “Mark, your kids did real good. I could pick apart their kata, I could pick apart their sparring, but their self defense was great.  And that is really the way it should be.”   After this test he told me once again that the kids did great and “their self-defense was still excellent”.   And that is really the way it should be.