Tuesday, December 27, 2011

East Coast TFAF meet 2011

I had the great pleasure of having Ryan and Jeff, fellow martial arts aficionados, over at my home for some talk about the arts, bunkai play time, and black beans & rice.  I've met Ryan and Jeff at the Traditional Fighting Arts Forum run by our Aussie friend Dan Djurdjevic, check out the forum at this link: http://www.traditionalfightingartsforum.com.
We've had many online exchanges on everything related to the arts: self defense, traditional kata, techniques and tactics of modern and classical systems, history, videos, etc.

I had met Jeff once a couple years ago for coffee at a Starbucks in PA, and had a nice chat on an outside deck with a small lake for a view. We talked about Higaonna Sensei, how Jeff doesn't get aikido, knife defense training... also talked about our families, Filipino and Spanish culture similarities, and of his upcoming symposium held at Susquehanna University (which I've managed to miss twice already, hope to change that in 2012).  As for Ryan, this was our first face to face; last time we were supposed to meet I got awfully sick and had to call out my trip to Jeff's symposium.  His nom de plume on TFAF, Kumaken, is most apt; wonder if anyone on the forum got the Tekken reference to the bear...

We spent a long time talking while Jeff's kids had a fun time with my two boys; running around, playing Wii and arming themselves to the teeth with all sorts of weapons to play war out front and in the house. Boys... Between coffee and snickerdoodle cookies we shared views on Jesse's writing style (funny guy, so much great material intertwined with his humorous look at karate) and his book The Karate Code (getting e-book soon), and made fun of my vintage Ashida Kim publications Secrets of the Ninja and Ninja: Secrets of Invisibility (I have mastered the knowledge of the books already; hopefully next meet Jeff & Ryan will be ready to perform the deadly Hands of Death so we can make a video of it).  So funny the things we believe when we are young... We pumped Jeff for info on his upcoming book on Zen and Budo, Ryan talked about his experiences as counselor, groaned at mukashimantis diatribes on the forum and shared opinions on a martial artist's responsibilities when faced with a situation that might end up being volatile.

Afterward we recruited my wife Amy (thanks honey!) for some video recording of an idea for bunkai Jeff had on the opening move of seiunchin kata to share with forum members.  It was an awesome impromptu session: three guys, with a similar kata on their background studies as base, working something possibly new (and even if it isn't it was new to us).  Such "A-ha!!" moments are way better when shared with people who appreciate what they mean, both as a personal possibility of growth and a pathway to development of karate study as a whole.  Who would have thought I'd be part of showing the world a potential new kote gaeshi application (to be known from today forth as Jeff Mann kote gaeshi)? So cool...

Following the bunkai recording, I asked Ryan to show some chi sao drills; he is quite good at redirecting force while remaining stationary. I've had similar experience but always while being able to move in/out or around with circle stepping, a lot harder when you can't use movement to redirect incoming force or to get off a line of attack.  After we had a most satisfying lunch courtesy of my mother (Puerto Rican rice & beans with chicken is just the best!!), we took some time to work on some arnis sinawali and redonda as well as some single stick disarms for angles 1, 3, 5 and 7. While I am fairly practiced on solo baston technique from my cinco teros studies, only recently have I done any serious work with double stick drills; so Jeff and I tried our best to not bungle the drills too badly... Ryan has had minimal experience with Filipino arts so I showed him how to do a single sinawali drill with both empty hand motions as well as the sticks, and he got the hang of it after a short time. Jeff and I exchanged stick disarms variations, and I showed a couple that follow the disarm with an entry and knee push against the attacker's knee to collapse him rather than moving away from the opponent after the disarm.

I have to say, this was one the best times I've had on the day after Xmas. What better way to enjoy the holidays than doing something you love with friends who feel the same way?  Finding common ground over differences is the basic ingredient for harmony, and that is what Christmas is all about...


  1. Jo, excellent job putting that together. You captured the essence of the day very well.

  2. Thanks Ryan, we definitely have to do it again, and not wait so long for a next time!