April 2005 Newsletter


Student of the Month


Russell Kiernan


Q: What is martial arts to you?


A: I think the martial arts are primarily a way to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from physical harm. Luckily this isn't generally needed in my day-to-day life. It's also a way to develop a higher degree of physical fitness and mental awareness. Oh, and did I mention it's fun? Yeah, it's fun!


Q: How has training at PAMA helped you in other areas of your life?


A: It's helped me in many ways. One of the more interesting ways is the development of the ability to control fear-based emotional reactions to things. You can learn to breathe and center yourself even in pretty difficult situations. It's helpful to stay calm and think clearly even as things aren't exactly going your way.


Q: As a musician being more in touch with tempo and rhythm do you feel it helps in martial arts? What are your thoughts on that?


A: Many drills have a regular and repeating pattern or rhythm. The rhythm of these drills is obvious and practicing them can feel like playing music.

Many things like freelance drills or sparring have a more complicated, less obvious structure and have rhythms which aren't nearly as apparent. Most people, however, have some predictability to the timing of their movements and people generally try to establish a tempo which they prefer. Even though these rhythms and tempos may not be very regular and may fluctuate, they can still be felt. When people are predictable in this way, it's easier to defend against attacks as well as launch successful ones. Defensively, blocks and stop hits, etc. flow more naturally. Offensively, it's sometimes possible to gauge attacks to fall in between the beats of the opponent's rhythm or disturb the tempo by forcing a different pace. All of this feels musical to me. However, I'm not nearly as proficient as I would like to be and it's definitely easier to gauge some people than others.


I love it when other folks who are at a higher level play with rhythm and timing with ease - very cool. It makes me smile.


Q: How did you get your interest in martial arts? How did you hear about PAMA?


A: As a teen, I wrestled a bit. Also, I loved boxing. It was the time of Ali and Frazier. Yes, yes I'm that old. Occasionally I would put on the gloves with friends in the neighborhood. Nothing serious and certainly nothing good.


Later, as an adult I had a friend that I worked out with who was training Seido Karate in NY and encouraged me to start. I joined and have been training martial arts ever since.


Four years ago my son, Derek, who was 14 at the time, expressed an interest in learning martial arts. I decided it would be good to try to find a place where we could both train so we looked for a place closer to home here in NJ. We looked at a number of schools in the area and came across PAMA - I think we initially found it through the website. We tried a class. I was impressed with the level of instructors, students, the varied classes and the curriculum. We both joined PAMA at that time. I feel very fortunate that we found such a great place and I'm very thankful to Sifu for all his instruction, support and friendship though the years. By the way, now all three of my sons train at PAMA. It's become quite an important place in my family life.


Q: Which classes do you take? Which ones do you like the most and why?


A: Although I do periodically cross-train other arts, at this point I mainly train Kali and Jun Fan. As a weapons-based art, I feel that Kali is an important part of my training for self-defense purposes. Training Kali has definitely improved my reaction time and overall coordination. Kali has a very extensive curriculum and it seems that you could train for many, many years and still just be scratching the surface. I think Jun Fan is very effective and it's a blast. Sometimes, when things are going well in my training, there is a real rush and a flow that I experience. I hope that over time, with hard work, the state of "flow" can be tapped into more reliably. Now there's something to live for!!!



Amy's B-Day



The assistant instructors, Level II students, and staff treated Amy to a fun birthday dinner at TGI Fridays (can you tell by the tablecloth?). We had a good time and great laughs. We wish Amy the best of luck and a happy birthday.



Instructor of the Month


Kurt Komoda


Kurt has recently became an assistant instructor at PAMA. He is also a great graphic artist. He drafted a couple of PAMA's clothing designs, including the new PAMA jacket (see jacket at end of newsletter).


Q: How long have you been training at PAMA now? And in which arts?


A: I've been training at PAMA since April of 2001. Over the years I've trained in Silat, Jun Fan, Kali, mixed grappling, and Muay Thai. A little while back, I took advantage of the Capoeira classes being offered. I'm currently in the Level 2 Jun Fan class and I am a White Glove in Savate.


Q: How would you describe the path that got you to where you are today? What bumps or breakthroughs have you had along the road?


A: The path has been rough, grueling, frustrating, and with no small amount of pain, but it has always been exciting and definitely worth every aching moment. I've been in a few different schools, all of them good, but none have come close to the physical demands or martial arts education rewards that PAMA has. It's amazing. Sometimes you really think you have something down, and then you'll be working it in class one day and you realize that you have so much more to learn. It can be very daunting to see this long path ahead, but it is the path that I and every other student must take.


Q: What advice would you give new students having difficulty with physical aspects of training, such as flexibility, agility, or endurance?


A: You have to want it. The path can be made a little easier with the right equipment, supplements, and a good training partner who won't let you cheat or give up, but there is no magical shortcut. I think that people can sell themselves short when they, for example, can't kick high, so they say, "I'm not flexible," and then they just leave it at that. Three years go by, and they still can't kick higher than their waist. As long as they set it in their mind that they want to change, then they'll put themselves through the necessary steps, like stretching and flexibility exercises. This is a step that THEY have to take. You can't expect that, just because you're coming to class, that you'll somehow just become flexible (or agile or in possession of incredible endurance). There are drills and exercises and stretches, a great number of which can be shown in a class or two, but it's the student's decision to take it into their own and really work at it outside of class. This is a point that Sifu Rick makes often, and it's one of the most important aspects of martial arts training.


Q: Which ideas or concepts that you've learned over the years have stuck in your head that are constant reminders that guide your training?


A: Hmm, this is a tough question, because I don't know where to start. Don't worry, I'll try to keep it brief! As far as constant reminders, being hit by fellow students always gives me something to think about. Mary Jo's jab- right between my gloves, even when I "knew" she was going to jab- shows me the importance of speed, accuracy, and non-telegraphing. Bernie's sweeping Muay Thai kick, even when I think I'm dancing around him, shows me the importance of timing. I like trying to recognize, not just my opponents' strengths, but my vulnerabilities.


If you've ever had Sifu Rick work Chi Sao (or any trapping drill, for that matter) with you, you'll very quickly realize the power of trapping. Feeling Sifu's lop sao or pak sao for the first time is really an eye opener, and I cannot overstate that. You've all seen me thrown around and locked up by Sifu in class. I have to say, even though I'm not receiving anything close to the actual applied strength or pain of the technique, it really is important to feel it. Having these things "done right" on you is one of the best educational opportunities there is.


Also see the May 2004 Newsletter for Kurt's Student of the Month story.



Seminar in Belgium

by Neil Acevedo


Brussels is a unique small European city filled with lots of culture, churches, and wonderful architecture. As the home of the European Union and NATO, it only takes a few moments in Brussels to understand why it is called the "Heart of Europe." We were located in the center of the city and were within walking distance to much of what the city has to offer. Needless to say, we had our fill of Belgian culinary delights including waffles, crepes, and chocolate. Just ask Mary Jo about the many trips to the "Drug Opera."




Brussels is also a very international city containing a large Moroccan and Central African population. Much of their culture is dispersed throughout the city and is apparent in the local popular music and in the cuisine. The trip as always was packed with good times, laughter, belly dancing, and excellent training.



Over the course of the two-day seminar, Sifu Rick covered Jun Fun theory and history, as well as ranges, footwork, trapping, lead hand tool development, and most importantly form and mental attitude. Also taught were Kali training methods with a concentration on stroking and footwork. In addition, a substantial amount of the seminar was devoted to Silat principles of leverage, body positioning, and insightful details to enhance the proper execution of various techniques.




At the end, students were treated to a session with Sifu where he answered questions ranging from training methods to his take on the world of JKD today. The seminar ended with a rousing intellectual discussion that spurred all of the attendees to contemplate their perspective on martial arts and marital arts training. As always the integration of physical techniques and philosophical thought was greatly appreciated and an eye-opening experience for everyone.

From left, standing, Sylvain, David, Vincent, Sifu Rick, Frederic, Maryjo, Neil. Kneeling, Chris, Mike Lee, Helen


The seminar was a great experience for all that attended. Attendees of the seminar came from Belgium, several areas of France, and representatives from GAMA in Geneva including head instructor Chris Cornaz and former PAMA student Helen Chen. Many thanks to Sifu Rick for allowing us to share this experience with him and also many thanks to our wonderful hosts Vincent, David, and Frederic, whose efforts made the event possible.



Instructors Conference

March 10th to the 13th Guro Amy attended the instructor conference at the Inosanto Academy in Los Angeles. She trained for four days with Guro Dan Inosanto in various arts, Jean Jacques Machado (pictured below) in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Salem Assli in French Savate. This was Guro Amy's first trip back to LA in a while.




Congratulations !!!

Alexandra Silver, pictured here with Instructor Carrie, achieved her green sash this month in the 6-8 year old class. Along with classmate Nia Smith, she is now moving up to the 8-13 year old class and our congratulations and best wishes for continued growth in the martial arts go with them.




New PAMA Jacket

Check out the new PAMA jacket available in the Pro Shop. Kurt Komoda designed this great masterpiece. Most level II students and assistant instructors already have theirs. Get yours today.




Guro Dan Seminar Coming Soon...

Time to sign up. April 30th to May 1st Guro Dan Inosanto is providing a seminar in Princeton, New Jersey in Jeet Kune Do, Kali, and Silat, hosted by PAMA at the beautiful Hun School. This is the only time Guro Inosanto is visiting PAMA this year so don't miss it. Special prices available for PAMA members. For more information check out the Seminar Schedule, the Seminar Flyer, or simply drop by the Pro Shop.




Learn a Technique From Sifu

This month Sifu Rick and assistant instructor Mike Lee bring to us more excellent technique videos, this time from the Filipino martial art of kali. In both videos Sifu Rick and Mike Lee each stand off with a long weapon and a short weapon, a sword and a dagger. Sifu Rick proceeds to disarm his opponent from both the long and short weapons.


First Technique Video - Normal Speed - Half Speed


Second Technique Video - Normal Speed - Half Speed


Sifu Recommends a Book

Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts by Donn E Draeger and Robert W Smith


"A first approach to an encyclopaedic treatment of the subject. Draeger and Smith have endeavored to cover the fighting arts of China, Okinawa, Korea, Japan, India, Pakistan, Burma; Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In each they have sought to tell something of the history, techniques, and famous practitioners of the arts. Unfortunately, some of these are secret, have died out, or exist only in relatively inaccessible areas. Profusely illustrated, it is the work of two recognized authorities in the field... It will remain the definitive text in its field for the foreseeable future." - Choice



Dietary Supplement for the Conscious Mind

Quercetin 300 by NutriCology


"Quercetin acts as an antihistamine and has anti-inflammatory properties. As an antioxidant, it protects LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) from becoming damaged. A variety of evidence indicates that quercetin possesses potent antioxidant properties. Cardiologists believe that damage to LDL cholesterol is an underlying cause of heart disease. Quercetin blocks an enzyme that leads to accumulation of sorbitol, which has been linked to nerve, eye, and kidney damage in those with diabetes. However, no human research has demonstrated these actions of quercetin in people with diabetes patients." - Quoted from vitacost.com


To learn more please visit WholeHealthMD.com


Quotes from Great Thinkers

"Truth is a pathless land" - Krishnamurti
"Ultimately, you must forget about technique. the further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path" - Aikido Master Morihei Ueshiba
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"All goals apart from the means are illusions. Becoming is a denial of being" - Bruce Lee


Author: Asaf Ronen