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

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Spring 2007 Gathering of the Tribes

This was by far the most exciting gathering we have had to date, and for so many reasons I hardly know where to start.

It was also the largest gathering we have had to date, with over thirty five participants. Here is a picture of most of us, though we never managed to get everyone in the room at the same time.

2007 Spring Gathering

At the moment I am just going to run down the highlights of the event as best I may . We are still going over the 3000 + photos that were taken, so my illustrations may be a little sparse, but when we have them all sorted out you will be able to view them on the Innovative Martial Arts website.

Here's how the weekend went.


Meet and Greet
(or, "hey, that's a cool knife")

People started arriving from various and sundry places Friday morning. The day and afternoon was focused on getting people from the airport and settled in.

While this was going on I prepared the evening's meal, New Mexico style venison chili, a recipe I got from my grandmother no less. This was part of a plot to make sure Bobbe Edmonds got here (or perhaps a bribe).

By dinner time most folks were here and it was the usual free for all, with people catching up, folks getting acquainted with people who were new to the gathering, and the inevitable "show and tell" of new knives, swords, saps and other fun toys that has been made or acquired since the last gathering. Of particular note, Bill Bednarick had started producing a line of the sweetest saps and blackjacks you have ever seen, and had brought a number of them along. Soon bruises and welts were appearing on everyone within arms reach as we tested out his wares. (I will be reviewing his saps soon so keep a look-out)

The Friday meet and greet was, as always, a delightful time. The only thing that I could complain about was that we were missing a couple of important people. Bill Anderson is back on Guam at the moment, so could not make it this Spring, and Todd Elner was ill and could not travel on doctor's orders. Steve Van Harn just had shoulder surgery and so had to go to the Indie 500 instead, poor fellow. They were missed.


The formal clinics started as always on Saturday morning. This Saturday was a little different, as I explained to our attendees. Chuck was testing for his fourth dan today. We had been intending to do this three years ago, but Chuck got really ill for a while, so we had to put it off until he was well again. Everything that would hapen this day was part of the test, and the board of testers would be evaluating Chuck, not just for his skills but also for what kind of teacher he is as well as what kind of student he is.

Josh Dunnigan and Andrew Tegellar of Cabildo

One of the real treats of this Gathering was that we had live drumming thanks to Andrew and Josh, two friends of Buddha (that would be our Buddha, not the enlightened guy). It really added a nice touch to the practice.

This is how it went down.

The Beginning
Silat Zulfikari

I took the first session, as is the usual for the Gatherings (get the old guy up there before he needs his nap).

I concentrated on the positional and flow aspects of my art. I used a meta movement called "dragon's tail" which is sort of horizontal figure-eight, to generate various techniques, entries and such.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and it was a good warm-up.

Cunning, Deception and Treachery
Maharlika Kuntaw

The second session was taken by our own Guro Buzz Smith.

One of our best kept secrets here in Michigan is Maharlika Kuntaw as taught by Guro Buzz, it is a superior martial art that very few people have any experience of. It is always a pleasure to delve into Buzz's vast experience at the gatherings, and everyone comes away the better for it.

Guro Buzz covered some really interesting aspects of his Kuntaw, focusing on the idea of the Shield and of deception.

(Alas, I haven't gotten the photos of the first two sessions yet)

The Pointy End Goes in the Other Guy
Congress Knife Work

The third session of the day had Sensei Chuck Pippin and Sensei Don Young going over some of the knife work from the Scientific Fighting Congress. Don and Chuck have been renewing their acquaintance with Hock Hochheim lately, and wanted to share some of the interesting things they had been exploring.

Mariah Moore and Guru Bobbe Edmonds playing with knives

Everyone had much fun trying out the different variations that Chuck and Don presented.

Grand Master
Balintawak Arnis Cuentada

One of the great treats of the Gathering was a complete surprise. We found out shortly before the event that we would be having a special guest, Grand Master Bobby Tabaoda of Balintawak Arnis Cuentada.

Grand Master Bobby Tabaoda and Guro Robert Klampfer

These days you can find a "grand master" at just about any strip mall dojo, but as Rumi pointed out "If it were not for fools gold you would not recognize real gold when you see it".

Well, Grand Master Bobby is the real deal in every sense of the phrase.

Grand Master Bobby Tabaoda keeps the group riveted with his stories

This was the first time I had met him, though of course I had heard of him for years, and he was everything I could have hoped for, profoundly knowledgeable, highly skilled, yet humble, open and friendly. He was a great example of what a grand master truly is.

He was also very generous with his knowledge. Rather than just showing us some techniques, he shared with us the training methodology of Balintawak. During this session he taught how to gain power, control and speed with a stick.

Rock'n out

When Grand Master Bobby was not teaching he enjoyed sitting in with the drummers.

Sticks and Stones
San Yun Do Cane method

As part of Don and Chuck's test I instructed them to develop an original weapons curriculum. They chose the walking stick length cane for this purpose.

Chuck and Don teach Cane

They first taught a set of basics with a series of exercises to develop attributes.

Exploring the intricacies of cane work

Then they worked a series of drills to develop flow with the cane.

Bobbe attempts to smack me up-side the head with a stick

We finished with some free sparring with padded sticks.

Life is a Test
Chuck and Don go for their fourth Dan

After the cane session we got right into the formal testing. The test was conducted by a panel of senior members of The League of Nonaligned Martial Artists, consisting of Guro Buzz Smith of Maharlika Kuntaw, Guru Bobbe Edmonds of Pak Bambang Sawanda's Sundanese Silat, Guro Jay Carstensen of Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts, and myself.

The test consisted of several phases starting with the origins and history of San Yun Do. We then progressed to a detailed examination of the first San Yun Do form in all its details, with an eye toward both practical and and artistic application.

Then we got down to the fun stuff.

Chuck and Don were put through a series of multiple attacker scenarios that included defending themselves, working together, and defending each other. It was something that was designed to test the limits of their skills, and it worked well for this.

Then they each got to knife spar with Guru Bobbe.

Chuck and Bobbe free spar with knives.

Don and Bobbe try to gut each other (just for fun)

After the sparring the panel conferred, went over all our considerations of how the test went, what was good, what needed improvement, and voted unanimously to raise Don and Chuck to the rank of fourth degree black sash.
Chuck with his certificate

Did I mention that Don did not know that he was testing? Well, that was part of the test. Chuck had to make sure that Don was ready and prepared without ever letting him know what was up.

Don discovers he's been had
So he was just a bit surprised when I handed him his new rank certificate.

Grand Master Taboada witness the certificates

We were very honored to have Grand Master Bobby witness Chuck and Don's new certificates.

We then called an end to the formalities and had a pot luck dinner that couldn't be beat!


Fighter Heal Thyself
RMAX Circular Strength Training

The Sunday morning session is traditionally dedicated to ways of keeping ourselves healthy and injury free, This gathering was the same but even better.

My good friend Coach Cody Fielding of RMAX International attended this spring's gathering, so I prevailed on him to take the morning session.

Cody having too much fun again
Everyone was quite excited about this since I have been talking about the value of RMAX material for years now, so the chance to experience working with an RMAX Circular strength Coach was one that everyone was looking forward to.

Cody started his session with material from Intu-flow to help everyone work the kinks out, them moved on to various related exercises.

After Cody got everyones blood flowing again he introduced some material from the "SoftWork to HardWork" continuum specifically to help us develop the skills necessary to be good training partners for each other.

A brief CST consultation with Coach Cody

Cody was a very popular person at the gathering with any number of people taking a little time with him to get advice on training throughout the weekend.

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright
Sundanese Silat

Guru Bobbe getting all Harimau with Sensei Aaron

For the next session we had Guru Bobbe Edmonds of Sundanese Silat out of Seattle WA give us a taste of Silat from West Java and Sumatra.

We indulged ourselves in a lot of tripping, sweeping and kneeling on tender bits at Bobbe's urging, and everyone had quite the good time.

This was Bobbe's first gathering, and the consensus from everyone was that we would all be happy to see him teaching here again.

Sneakiness as a Vocation

Terry Trahan is such a quiet, unassuming person (when he isn't giving Bobbe a hard time) that it is easy to forget his well earned reputation as one of the more dangerous street combat artists you will ever meet.

Terry Trahan and Bill Bednarick explore the finer points of a knife in the dark

Terry gave us a session on reverse edge method knife combat that was quite eye opening. One of the things I really liked about Terry's session was that he worked everything from a sheathed blade, adding both an extra level of complexity and realism to his presentation.

Grand Master Redux
Balintawak Arnis Cuentada part two

Next up was Grand Master Bobby. This time he concentrated on empty hand skills.

Grand Master Bobby Taboada teaching Balintawak empty hand skills

Again, rather than just doing technique, he concentrated on his training protocols, emphasizing how to coach each other to bring out the best in one's partner.

Grand Master Bobby coaches Mariah Moore in striking and kicking skills

Grand Master Bobby worked with everyone and then had us all working with each other as coach and student.

Grand Master Bobby Taboada and Sensei Aaron Baily doing a little free flow

By the end of the session everyone was dripping sweat, but was very satisfied.


Third Time's the Charm
Balintawak Arnis Cuentada

Guro Robert Klampfer Took an impromptu Monday morning session. He gave everyone a welcome review of material already covered and then expanded on it. He discovered that this group are really gluttons for punishment.

Snakes on a Plane
Gulat, Indonesian Grappling

In the afternoon I did a clinic in the clinch phase of Indonesian style grappling, and we did a little rolling to everyone's delight.

Fun Fun Fun 'til her Daddy Took Her T-Bird Away
The Rest of the Evening

The Rest of the evening was pretty free form with lots of good fellowship and swapping of stories and skills. We finally packed it in around 2:30 am with promises of being in touch soon.

All in all it was the best gathering yet.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Keith Olbermann
Says what we're all thinking

Damn, I like this guy!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Note to Trolls

Just so we are clear on something.

If you want to post a diatribe to the comments section here you will need to sign your message. Posting a comment here is not a "right" it is a privilege, and I am not disposed to allow comments from people who have so little conviction in their words that they hide behind anonymity.