This weekend’s seminar was hugely successful. I say that not because a bunch of money was made, or someone looked really cool doing something, but because so many different instructors and students from up and down the East Coast came together. I was more than honored to be a part of this event. One of my fellow Aikido instructors, a wonderful gentleman by the name of James Woodard, visited us as a guest and participated in the entire seminar. He is senior to me in rank, experience, and ability, so it was wonderful to get to roll around with him and receive knowledge from him as such.

Let’s get on with it. Guro Israel Cruz also served in the Special Forces with my Kali instructor, Guro Sean Hurst. He is currently employed by NYPD. He taught a simple yet highly effective entry against aggressive punching, followed by a fundamental controlling position. From there, we did several follow ups based on how the partner would try to recover from the control position. He then showed us what I felt was the most painful compliance hold I have felt in a long time. Essentially a variation of what we call Yonkyo in Aikido, it’s right up there with Nikyo and Sankyo, extremely painful!!!

Anthony Peters taught a section using a tee shirt to counter knife attacks. He showed three methods that allow you to quickly remove your shirt and use it for combat. Then he addressed the basic angles of attack from long range, followed by using the shirt in middle range to cinch the attacking hand and disarm the knife.

Sean then went on to address our roles as Martial Artists in society, whether we are military, LEO, or civilian. Essentially, since we are equipped with the necessary skills, we are expected to act on the behalf of those that need our help, whether it’s providing CPR, or just writing down a license plate number. He then demonstrated the efficacy of the tactical light with two systems, one from Surefire and one from Phantom Warrior. Phantom Warrior only sells to military, so you can imagine that this unit had several special features for those that serve. Sean and Israel went on to demonstrate a very thorough overview of knife defense, covering all of the basic principles from the slash, thrust, hostage scenario, and knife versus knife grappling.

Then I did my portion, which felt like so little considering the pedigree of the instructors that came before, and in front of James, who is a senior Martial Artist as well. I went over a few basic trapping drills from Wing Chun/JKD, and briefly explained the purpose of trapping. I used the trapping drills as a review and a prefix for Aikido/grappling suffixes. In other words, each trap was concluded with a takedown or joint lock. In keeping with my current trend to emphasize individual critical thinking along with learning as a group, I encourage everyone to see these as patterns for ideas, rather than rigid facts to be memorized. I asked everyone to consider why these things would even be relevant to them, and if not, to freely discard them. Of course, afterwards, I gave my little speech about the role of Martial Artists.

Then my brother Joey did an awesome presentation of Panantukan striking sectors, along with the basic ideas of ground fighting for self defense. These were drawn from Silat. A lot of the stuff that he does is frankly over my head, and it’s hard for me to detail it without know exactly how to express what he taught.

Overall, the whole experience has left me feeling light and elated. I really love Martial Arts. Words are not enough.