Saturday, August 23, 2014

Guro Dan Inosanto

Guro Inosanto 1985 at Raymond Crow's school demonstrating a kali counter to a turn kick

My Influences in the Martial Arts

This was originally part 7 of a series on the main influences on my training in the martial arts of what has yet to be posted, but then since Guro Dan was the man who got me started in the FMAs, I guess it is appropriate he is first one I post about.

In a few hours I’ll be attending a seminar with Guro Dan Inosanto in Hurst TX, as usual for events like this I couldn’t sleep so I’m up at 4:30am ready to get going, I thought I should write. 

It was about 32  years ago (in 1982) I saw a flyer about a Dan Inosanto seminar in Sherman/Dennison TX that ended up changing my life. I was 20 at the time and was as a Orange belt in American karate.  I knew nothing about the FMAs but I knew Dan had worked with Bruce Lee. I called up the instructor to find out about the seminar and he tried to explain the FMAs to me, finally telling me that “Do you remember the cellar scene in Enter the Dragon?  Do you remember Bruce Lee using the two sticks?  That’s Filipino martial arts and Dan taught those sticks to Bruce.”    Cool, I was sold.

Guro Dan, Sifu Larry Hartsell, and I think Cass Magda were there at that seminar, Since I had needed to get a pair of rattan sticks, I went to my friend who was in the SCA at the time and got some huge piece of rattan (like 1 ½ “ diameter) 5 ft long and I put in a lot of work cutting, sanding and heat treating those sticks.  I was swinging those sticks and beating the crap out of my partner’s sticks during Sinawali drills and I remember Larry laughing at them (as he took a look at them).  I think he let me borrow a pair of his for the remainder of that seminar.

Anyway what I saw and practiced at the seminar influenced me enough that it changed my direction in the martial arts in many ways.

·        It sparked my interest in the FMAs (which became a HUGE influence on my martial arts journey)

·        It sparked my interest in JKDC (and adapting other techniques and strategies to my primary art)
  ·        It sparked my interest in training with other martial artists in other martial arts; such as Larry Hartsell (JKD, boxing and grappling), Master Chai (Thai Boxing), Master Toddy (Thai boxing), Ted Lucay (JKD Kali), Tuhon Gaje (Pekiti Tirsa) and others.

Guro Dan and Sifu Hartsell demonstrating a Thai Boxing drill/technique at the same seminar
·        One of the biggest areas of influence was that it got me thinking about recording or taking notes of the seminar (this came from a conversation about the Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee).  It is this practice that allows me to draw drills and instruction for my classes today from things I did 25+ years ago.

During the 1980's-1990's I attended several seminars with Guro Dan and what always impressed me was his interest in history, his interest in promoting the FMAs and teaching and documenting what he learned from his teachers or his influences.  Guro Dan is a great communicator so his instruction is pretty clear if you understand where he is coming from.  

Over the years I stopped going to Guro Dan’s seminars, the last one I went to was in 2000 so it’s been almost 14 years since I last saw him.  My main interest was in his FMA instruction and that was getting less and less time in his seminars, so I went elsewhere for that instruction.  But what Guro Dan for me did was to lay a solid foundation that others (my other influences) built on.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance seminar #2

Participants at the 2nd Mapa seminar

Last Saturday (August 2nd) we held the 2nd Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance seminar hosted by Beck Martial Arts in Richardson Tx, and it was a great success.  First off you might wonder what is the Metroplex Arnis Players Alliance or MAPA for short.  Basically it is an loosely based organization to promote cross training in the Filipino Martial Arts (FMAs), and to promote the FMA instructors in the Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex.  We mainly do this by hosting small seminars every 2-3 months in various schools in the DFW area.  The 1st seminar we held here at the Roanoke Rec. Center and Hidden Sword Martial Arts was the host school, and the 2nd MAPA seminar guro Beck hosted at Jerome’s gym where he teaches martial arts classes.  Our 3rd seminar is currently scheduled for Nov. 1st 2014 and will be hosted by guro John Bain’s school.

Guro Bain demonstrating a point with Dylan
So far the feed back I received from my students and those people who attended the seminar was that it was a great time and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  Currently the teaching format has been 3 - 4 instructors teaching for about an 1hour on a subject matter of their choice.  This time guro Abel Martinez started off with teaching a session on the use of the Abaniko or fan strike, he taught drills related to using the fan motion in disarming and double stick flow drills.  Guro John Bain then taught on knife to knife skills and disarming and empty hand to knife skills.  Guro Beck then taught a brief session on a group sinawali drill, after which I taught a session on Policing techniques from Kombatan.  Guro Beck then finished the seminar with a session based on the use of the punyo or butt of the stick in locking and controlling techniques.

Guro Beck demonstrating a wrist lock
The great thing about this format has been that my students (and I’m sure it is the same for everyone else) get to see a wider view of the FMA expressions or styles.  They get to see that the way they might practice isn’t the only way but that there are variations in techniques or strategies.  They also get to work with others of various sizes, skills, gender, age etc. etc. outside of their classmates which I believe is vital for proper growth in the martial arts.   They get to interact and problem solve with other individuals asking for and giving input to learn new techniques or maybe gaining a new view point on an old technique.  

As an instructor I believe the additional input makes me a better instructor.  For instance guro Beck’s material on the use of the punyo allowed me to practice the side by side throw/take down in a manner in which I hadn’t thought about in almost 15-20 years.   On Monday night I was asked to review that technique by my students, thus teaching it to students who couldn’t come to the seminar.  Likewise in my adult class Kevin taught a different version off the lock, one that  he was shown by another instructor at the seminar.  Then we went over some of the knife work that guro Bain taught and so on.  In my advanced karate class on Tuesday we went over some more material from the seminar but I related it to techniques found within a Tae Kwon Do kata. Tonight will be some more review on guro Abel’s material and so on.

In the end for me; I view my participation in MAPA as a supporter, organizer, promoter, and teacher as really more of an investment in my school, my students, and others then just having a good time for myself. 

If you want to get involved, to see more photos from both MAPA seminars, or to find out more about MAPA visit and like our FB page at