Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Gathering of the Tribes

For those of you that have been wondering why I have been so quiet lately, it is because of being taken up with the Fall gathering that happened this last weekend.

This year's Fall Gathering was an outstanding success.

The group This year

We had a great turnout for the event, with people coming from as far away as Portland, OR. We were especially happy to have as our guests instructors and students of Maharlika Kuntaw this year.

As is our tradition, the gathering was hosted in Grand Rapids, MI by Sensei Chuck Pippin of Innovative Martial Arts.


Sensei Chuck

The Seminar started Friday evening with the usual informal "meet and greet" hosted by Jeanne Pippin. We sat around Chuck and Jeanne's living room and got to know each other over tea and coffee. As usually happens, we got a good "show and tell" going around knives, swords, and other interesting tools of the trade that people had brought with them (or that just happened to be laying around).

It turned out that one of our guests, Bill Bednarick, was a fellow knife smith so we had a very pleasant time discussing that craft.

After getting to know everyone I was sure it was going to be a great weekend (and I was right). I think a bunch of us were up until two in the morning hanging out.

Saturday morning was the start of the formal program. The first session began with Tagaturo Steve Van Harn of Arnis Sikaran Jornales System Sandatahan.

Tagaturo Steve

Steve, who is a world class competitor on the WEKAF circuit, shared with us some of the training methods he uses to take the traditional drills of Arnis and bring them into the combat arena.


People really took to Steve's instruction and soon the smell of burning rattan was in the air.

The next session was lead by Professor Phil Lewis with the able assistance of his daughter Cynthia.

Professor Phil Lewis of Shinsei Ryu Kenpo

Professor Phil introduced us to various two person training drills of his art.


We all enjoyed the way Professor Phil blended techniques and concepts from Kenpo, Arnis and Wing Chun to develop good fighting skills.

We took a break for lunch, and then it was my turn to present.

Guru Mushtaq Ali demonstrating a neck thrust with Sensei Don Young

I used my time to introduce the attendees to the basics of South African style knife work. Everyone seemed to enjoy the material though it is a bit different than the South East Asian methods of using a blade.

We had a lot of lively movement going on in a very short time. The gathering was also the first introduction of the knives of Tribal Arts Bladeworks to the public. I mention this here because our premiere offering is the "Zulu", a knife I designed specifically for the South African style of knife use.

The Zulu

The Zulu is made with a high carbon tool steel blade and a epoxy soaked hemp cord wrapped grip.

The Zulu Trainer

We also created a training knife to complement the Zulu.


Another blade we introduced this weekend is the "Ugly Knife". It is a very useful utility knife made from 1095 steel at a very affordable price. Our company motto was coined for this knife "Even poor folk deserve a custom knife".

Roach Belly

The last knife I will show you is one of our early American knives, the Roach Belly. It was very popular with trappers because it is a very efficient skinning knife. But enough self promotion.

This was the first time I have presented this material publicly, and I was a little concerned about how it would be received, but everyone seemed to like it.

The last session of the day was devoted to San Yun Do and was lead by Sensei Chuck Pippin with the able assistance of Sensei Sterling Heibeck and Sensei Don Young.


Sensei Sterling Heibeck

The first part of this session dealt with guns, but rather than going over the usual gun disarms, Stirling focused on proper movement with a pistol and weapon retention.

The second part of the session covered the sophisticated kicking methods of San Yun Do and their applications to real world combat.

Then came the part of the day everyone was looking forward to, the feast.

One of the traditions of the gathering is the Saturday night pot-luck dinner, and as always this was a wonderful meal with both good food and good fellowship.

Sunday started with another presentation by myself on active recovery for martial artists. We concentrated on breath work for this session.

Then we has one of the real treats of the seminar. After getting to know the Maharlika Kuntaw people we all realized beside being really good folk, they had an interesting approach to martial arts, so we prevailed on them to take the last time slot of the day and teach us a little of their art.


(From L to R) Guru Bill Anderson, Guru Bill Bednarick, and Guru Buzz Smith

We were particularly fortunate because the art is not well known, and two slightly different streams of the art were represented by Guru Bill and Guru Buzz.

My impression? Maharlika Kuntaw is an extremely sophisticated, high level martial art.

It is principle based rather than technique based which makes it very adaptable to whatever situation one might find themselves in. It is both effective and efficient, so you are getting the most amount of work done with the least energy expenditure. And it is a "reality based" art.

If you ever get a chance to check this art out you should, it was a rare treat.

That ended the formal part of the gathering, though people hung out for a while after and socialized some more.

I found it to be a great weekend and am already looking forward to the next one

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