Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts

private school  |

Friday, December 14, 2012

the downhill

We are moving into the final stages of having an official school location. The lease runs through March 31, 2013 and we will be spending march shutting down the school and moving things out. After that, we will be going back underground and returning to a more exclusive club with rotating locations.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer's Over

It’s that time of year again! You could be headed back to college or this could be your first time away from home with no one’s rules to follow buy your own. You’re excited and nervous, scared but invigorated. This exciting journey can be full of fantastic memories and discoveries, IF you stay diligent about your personal safety. For you upperclassman, this is a good review of what you’ve been doing, right?

The following are a few simple rules to always keep in mind while you enjoy the next four amazing years.
  • Drink responsibly. If you follow any of these rules, follow this one. You make yourself a very accessible target when you are intoxicated. Always be aware of your drinks –  even if you are drinking water or soda – an open drink is easy to drop something into.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Texting and wearing ear buds also make you an easy target. Watch, listen and be in the now. Know where you are and be sure to stay in well lit, well traveled areas.

  • Secured buildings are secure for a reason – YOUR safety. Not to mention all the other people in the building. For that reason, do not leave outside doors propped open and make sure the door closes behind you.

  • Keep your own door locked as well. Even if you will only be away for a short period of time. Leaving your door unlock opens up your personal space and everything that is in it.

  • If your phone is not automatically equipped with ICE (In Case of Emergency) hot buttons, set it up manually. Most authorities know this is a common practice and will first look under ‘I’ if they need to get in touch with someone due to an emergency.

  • And last, and certainly not least, always let someone know your plans. A friend or a roommate’s knowledge of your whereabouts could help find you if you happen to go missing.
Be safe and be well!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

KSMA Summer Jam 2012

The Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts 2012 Summer Jam was a success! Terry Trahan, co-director of KSMA and leader of KSMA Denver made the trek with two of his students, along with several of my students as well as a couple others who heard about us attended also. The first day started off with Terry discussing and having us spend time in his Pikal methodology. This was good to participate in as it ties and blends in well with what we do locally as there are similar roots. The fundamentals help reduce telegraphing movement and encourage closing in. It’s the subtile movements that can be difficult to learn, but Terry has a way of loosening up those learning from him to get them to understand.

My first session was a drill we call Nick’s Stick which is a modified medio sumbrada using two sticks which I took back to largo range. This is one of a few drills we use to help understand how to use each hand independently of the other. Aside from being tools of blunt force trauma, the movements of the sticks translate to other tools or empty hands and we also could see the way they integrate well with the Pikal Terry showed just before this session.

After lunch, we kept the fun rolling with a session with hubud with switches and their applications within that. It was a good exploration in taking things outside the drill. An aside - if you have a number of drill-like components in your system, you really should look at busting out of that in ways that break the rhythm and allow you to move in on control the situation. Once the cognitive aspects of the principle movements are established, time to see what else you can do with it. Try it, you’ll grow.

Terry then led us through some flow sparring. This is always an eye-opener for some and a workout for all. The biggest hurdle most have to overcome is actually going slow. It is a great way to feel and understand how you move and how your opponent moves. We were all pretty spent. Johnny head-butted me in the nose...still hurts to blow it. Nice one, Johnny.  

That evening we had the hanging out time that has become such a regular feature of these gatherings we can’t think of not having it. Food, a little libation and good times all around. Sunday morning (usually a struggle but not this time - guess we are mellowing some) Terry and I began what became pretty much an all day lecture. Terry and I touched on the legal term, “self defense,” preclusion along with Means, Opportunity and Intent, your responsibilities, the OODA loop, E&E, and the realities of an attack. All of those were fleshed out pretty well through the day along with some medical things and the “check yourself jurus.” As a break from all that, a few guys from another school in the area came by and show us a small bit of what they do in the samurai arts (thanks for walking all over us, guys! If you were there, you’d know what I mean).

Sunday evening was mediocre cajun food and then hanging out watching Metal Evolution episodes from VH1 Classic - a really good series by and by. Took Terry down memory lanes with that - always a good time.

Who is in for the next one?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bad "Good" Habits

We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.
Achilochus, Greek soldier  - circa 650 BCE

When you are training and practicing, you want to establish tools. Tools you want to be able to call on if you should ever need to use them. This takes time and dedication. Our training includes one-on-one work with a human partner. While we, of course, do not want to hurt each other, we do train as hard as necessary. After all, going all out every class would lead to attrition from injury. On the flip side of that, sometimes we are too nice, and this can lead to bad “good” habits.

The primary example of this involves helping someone up just after you have dropped them to the floor. Sure, you want to play nice and help your training buddy, but stop and think about what you are establishing in your head. Do you really want to help the guy who was trying to assault you back up? As much as you may want to assist, let your partner get themselves up.

Another example is not trying to hit your training partner. This develops an avoidance to actually hit if you need to. When you are training, regardless of what level of intent you are using, have that intention to hit. Swing like you mean it at the intensity level you are working at. You can only hinder the learning for both you and your training partner by pulling your attack.

Will you get bumps and bruises? Sure. But you know that’s par for the course in what we do. Can you pick yourself up after getting knocked to the floor? Yeah, that builds character. If, as Achilochus stated so long ago, we are going to fall to the level of our training, let’s make that training what we need it to be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Button Pusher

How many of you, when at the crosswalk or elevator, hit the button more than once, or even push it and wait a little, then push it again?

Be honest!

Now, how many of you push it once then kick back and wait knowing what you set into motion will pan out?

What happens?

Well, both scenarios have the same result, right? The hand sign changes to a walking person allowing for safe passage, or the elevator doors open to ferry you to another floor.

However, button pushers can begin to get frustrated and antsy, and quite possibly become impatient enough to jaywalk or take the stairs. Easily adding an unneeded anxiety to their day.


For some reason, our society has become one of instant gratification. When we set out to accomplish something, we want the immediate results. We look for short cuts or alternatives to get done faster. However, letting things unfold the way they are meant to will have a better reward.

Think about that. Would you want the surgeon to cut through your liver to get to your heart? How about a contractor building your home using leftover bits on your plumbing to make it work? Sure, those are “big” ones. How about a cook not washing his hands, because the restaurant is hopping and he needs the food to go out? Unwrapping your breakfast while driving?

Take your time, be in the moment, set life in motion and see what happens. All these take a bit of faith in you -- in the plotting, in the goal and reaching it.

With the martial arts, the training and practice have rewards along the way. Inspiration can come from the instructor or fellow students when you see how they move and you aspire (and perspire) to reach that level of experience. I still look at people I have learned from and with and am motivated to push myself a little harder in practice. The key is to not become frustrated with where you are on the path, it’s just where you are at the moment. The more you dedicate yourself to learning, the sooner things will begin to flow for you.

Overnight sensations are anything but. The hard fought battles are seldom seen behind the blinding success, but they are there. Every one of us sets our sights. Every one of us takes a deep breath. Every one of us pushes the button.

Do you double tap?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Who is this guy?

When I was a kid I had a fascination with Japan. I mean it was the Eighties and ninja were everywhere from TV shows to movies and literature. I distinctly recall going to a martial arts-themed bookstore and buying books on ninja and a translation of The Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi. At the time, I was studying tae kwon do at a little school in Bellevue, NE. That ended when my instructor moved and I didn’t find a place to continue. I took a physical education elective in college with another TKD instructor and that was an easy A, but didn’t pursue anything beyond that semester. Ah, the dalliances of youth!

It wasn’t until a few years later that I was gaining weight and felt I needed to do something active again. I tend not to go to the gym, so I knew that was out. Then, one day on my way to work, I noticed a new place open up - The Ryan Academy of Martial Arts. When I walked in to check out the place, everyone was rolling around on the floor, so this was something new to me and I was intrigued. I found out they were training in something called, Jeet Kune Do (JKD) and was informed that was the art of Bruce Lee. Now, I had heard of Bruce Lee and remembered watching some of his flicks when I was a kid, but it never crossed my mind that there were schools training in what he did. So, I enrolled for two classes a week. Sifu Robert Ryan taught Jun Fan/Jeet June Do Concepts from the lineage of Sifu Larry Hartsell’s Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do Grappling Association.

It wasn’t long before that was nowhere near enough and I upped it to three times a week which evolved into six times a week soon after. It was immersion training and the best way to learn is to keep doing something. I had hurtles to overcome to be sure. I was overweight and ran out of breath easily and some of the movements were hard for my brain to tackle, but I persisted.

I was jazzed to be exploring more and more; not only in the physical realms but I started touching on internal dialogues. I felt a kinship when reading the works of ancient China via the words of Bruce Lee and one of his philosophical influences, Alan Watts. One aspect of this was an emphasis on discovering who you are and living the best way you know how. Expressing oneself via whatever you are passionate about was a hallmark of the philosophy of Bruce Lee with his vehicle of Jeet Kune Do. This was something I could relate to!

A fellow student at the school, Brandt Smith, and I started hanging out more and more outside of class. We discussed a lot about the martial arts community and the arts. This reopened my fascination with Asian culture, but it was more focused to the Southeast now with our studies of Kali and Pencak Silat which we were both attracted to via our studies in JKD.

Over time, we both left the school and moved from Nebraska. We stayed in contact during those times and when Brandt formed Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts in 1998, I was onboard and we started to host seminars with a variety of players - primarily from the arts of pencak silat and kali. The largest influence on our growth was when we started having more frequent gatherings where a large variety of people could come together and share thoughts and just hang out in general as any tribe should. These continue to this day and are a great opportunity to stay in touch as well as meet new people. I became the director of KSMA in 2006 and have studied with world class instructors from around the country and continue to explore my own expression of the arts I have learned which evolved into the art Aneh Palu Kali-Silat and that is what I primarily teach, but I occasionally bust out the Jun Fan Gung Fu for some fun! In 2011, I stepped back slightly from leading the global group and brought in my friend, Terry Trahan to assist with running the group as a whole which allows me to focus more on the Des Moines school.

I get the most satisfaction from a student reaching an understanding of a movement and being able to make it their own. That’s when I begin to see real change in the person. They tend to move to being more of who they are meant to be and start leaping lines in the sand, striving to live a more fulfilled life. Seeing that happening in people led me to become a certified life coach which I found to be a natural progression out of the martial arts. I am able to draw on that to help people see the barriers that may be holding them back and give them tools to get past them.

I love what I do immensely and look forward to sharing it with you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

KSMA Summer Jam

KSMA has had a long standing commitment to coming together to share what we know with others in tandem with learning from whom we are able. In that tradition, we are having the first KSMA Summer Jam in Des Moines, IA, on June 23 and 24 of 2012.

This is a chance to train with a variety of people, see old friends and make new ones.

A major part focus for this event is for instructors to share aspects of their arts with those outside their normal circle. We welcome any who wish to participate. We will be following a format similar to past successful events. There will be a series of sessions throughout the weekend from the various instructors. While we encourage you to attend all sessions to get a full appreciation of the event, it is not required. Please contact us if you have an interest in sharing what you know, and we can establish a time for you to do so during the Summer Jam.

Co-directors Terry Trahan and Jay Carstensen will be teaching elements of Aneh Palu Kali-Silat. Others will be announced as they come on board.

Saturday evening will consist of a hang out session/potluck dinner as breaking bread and sharing water is an essential aspect of our community. This is a time for us to swap stories of high adventure and just kick back and build relationships.

Cost will be $50. Contact Jay about lodging options.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I heard two stories recently about how the skills of improvisation comedy apply to everyday life and business. One of those referenced Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, specifically the section, “Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat”. This struck a cord with me. I feel a few of those points can be applied to martial arts and then back to life. Let’s go down her list and compare.
“Agree and say yes.” In Fey’s words, she means to keep an open mind and start with yes and see where that takes you. You may not agree with what is happening, but it is a place to start. To me, this means accepting what is happening right now and acknowledge it is occurring. An apt analogy could be, “man that looks like a fist coming my way. And it’s getting bigger.” It may not be physical either. The verbal equivalent could be if someone is getting in your face, check yourself. Don’t escalate the situation. Keep control of the situation by repeating back what they are telling you, let them know you hear what they are saying and attempt to de-escalate the scene.
“Yes, And...” Ms. Fey suggests at his point, we add something to the conversation. In the case of the fist above, you could see it and (re)act (to)on that stimulus with something you have practiced for just such an instance. With de-escalating, you may agree with what they are saying and offer a way to defuse what’s going on.
“Make statements.” Ms. Fey suggests now is the point to offer your opinions and be part of the solution. In the case of a non-verbal confrontation, you will be hitting and doing damage. Verbally, you can state clearly that you are going to make things right by leaving.
“There are no mistakes, only opportunities.” Here, Ms. Fey states that you have to make to best of the situation you are in and recognize that things could go wrong. In a physical confrontation, actions performed by you may not go off they way you had hoped, but you can’t linger on that. You need to keep plugging away to get out of the circumstance. In the verbal situation, you may say the wrong thing at the wrong time, so you need to accept that, apologize, and move on.

As is true with improvisation, the same goes with martial arts: practice. The more you explore, the more you are able to adapt to the moment and just flow with it to get what needs done, done. Join us at Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts to learn the skills you need to get out of a situation when you have to.

©1998-2013 Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts