October 2004 Newsletter

16th Ajarn Chai Seminar

Seminar participants practicing a drill

For the sixteenth year Ajarn Chai Sirisute (click for his profile) has returned to Princeton to provide a two day seminar at the Hun School sponsored by the Princeton Academy of Martial Arts. Some people drove as much as five hours from surrounding states to experience Ajarn Chai. The seminar was packed with people. When working in pairs in a straight line the line was longer then the length of the basketball court the seminar was held in.

Khun Kru Rick (left) accepting associate level instructor certificate from Ajarn Chai (right)

This seminar took special meaning this year as Ajarn Chai presented Sifu Rick with his long overdue certificate promoting him to Associate level instructor in Muay Thai and thereby entitling Sifu Rick to the title of Khun Kru. Rick took and passed the Associate level test in 1994, but Ajarn Chai waited until this year to present the promotion because the certificate was authorized by the government of Thailand.

Ajarn Chai explaining a technique

As a first time participant in an Ajarn Chai Thai-boxing seminar, even though I am a long time PAMA student, I have to say the two days with Ajarn Chai made an impact on my personal martial arts attitude and understanding I missed for many years. Ajarn Chai gave a level of personal attention to all the seminar participants not seen in seminars of this size from such a high level instructor. Good instructors like Sifu Rick and Ajarn Chai don't come by every day, and us PAMA members should feel very luck in this time and age to have Sifu Rick in our neighborhood and to have him bring to us seminars from such high caliber instructors as Ajarn Chai.

Ajarn Chai demonstrating a technique with Khun Kru Rick's help

Ajarn Chai started the seminar on the first day with proper basic boxing technique, giving much attention to detail. By the end of the second day we were doing compound Muay Thai techniques with kicks, knees, punches, and elbows. Besides being loaded with great technical information, the seminar focused on lots of supervised practice time and drilling. The seminar proved to be a great work out. My body begged for more for days after the seminar.

Ajarn Chai demonstrating a technique with Khun Kru Rick's help

A selected number of PAMA students were invited for a third night special seminar by Ajarn Chai at the PAMA facility. In an unprecedented turn of events Ajarn Chai focused a great deal of the special seminar on his personal favorite and one of his strongest attributes, the elbow. Here PAMA students learned the intricate details of effective elow techniques and elbow training.

PAMA students with Ajarn Chai, Khun Kru Rick, and Kru Amy after the special seminar.

Thai Boxing Teachers Day

Just a reminder for all Thai Boxing students: October 16 is the official day to pay respect to your Thai Boxing teacher. According to the Thai Boxing Association of theUSA, students will give the following to their teacher:

Flowers - either fresh or dry arrangements
3 sticks of incense
1 candle

PAMA students may observe Teacher's Day any day during the month of October.

Student of the Month

NAME: Bill Schuler

Q: What is your favorite martial art at PAMA? Why do you like it? What do you like about it?

A: Pinning down a single favorite is difficult. I joined PAMA at the end of '99 and in the 5 years since have consistently trained in nearly all of PAMA's core classes as well as in Capoeira. I've taken 450 classes in that time, at the following ratio: 30% Jun Fan, 28% Kali, 19% Silat, 14% Muay Thai, 6% Capoeira and 3% across Grappling, Trapping, and Empty Hands/Knife combined. This mix was further amplified by the 17+ seminars/workshops I attended across Muay Thai, Jui Jitsu, Silat, Grappling, and those of Guro Dan. These drill-down sessions reinforce and add depth to my development in each style. Because this "blend" is the only way I've ever known, my initial instinct is to answer "a blend of all."

Practically speaking, each has its own application and seems to fill in what another lacks for me. When I trained and competed in Tae Kwon Do for five years preceding PAMA, I never lost sight of the hand defense/boxing, close-range fighting, weapons and ground work it lacked. This is the beauty of PAMA; students may supplement and enhance the skills they're comfortable with by cross-training to sharpen weaker attributes and technique.

In terms of which I like most, that shifts. While Jun Fan has always been my foundation, I was initially drawn to Muay Thai & Silat due to their directness and close-range impacts, something previously foreign to me. I can remember then gravitating towards Kali for nearly a year as my "favorite." Besides the improvements to my hand-eye coordination and left/weak hand development, I found the reflexiveness required in Kali transferred to other disciplines like JKD, improving my hand-combat reaction-time. Then in my 4th year when my schedule became more limited I started focusing on and enjoying Muay Thai more than anything. Again, for its directness, fitness level, and heavy impact it seemed to best fit my nature. In the midst of that two-year Kali/Muay Thai period, Sifu Rick helped me to discover the virtues of Capoeira as a huge aerobic fitness, agility, and whole-body coordination builder that elevated my development in all PAMA's styles. I concentrated on Muay Thai to the point of contemplating competing until I sustained a severe internal injury that kept me out for 6 months.

These days, I'd have to say my "favorite" is a cross between Southern Kali & Silat. This hybrid seems to flow into all others: ground, hands/knees/elbows, weapons, close range.

The Sijo really nailed it when he said flow…I'm sure I'll flow back & forth into different styles as I strive to evolve in all.

Q: What line of work are you in?

A: Sales. I've sold the products of and managed the sales forces of pharmaceutical and technology companies for my entire career. Martial arts value/influence on my career? Extreme commuter traffic temperament and road-rage management. The Art of War.

Q: What attribute(s) would you like to improve? What attribute(s) do you feel you mastered or reached some level of comfort?

A: Improvement: I believe a major factor that leads to my migration towards different styles is my desire to improve in areas I feel weak in. Right now? All need work. I'm not trying to be noble here; just when you feel you get on top of one attribute, another reveals itself as an opportunity for improvement. Presently, I most need improvement in my nearly non-existent grappling work. I also need to focus on knife-disarming and boxing…ducking that ever annoying jab that always finds its mark on my nose.

Mastered: Is Sifu Rick reading this?? Trick question! For the time being, I feel most comfortable with Muay Thai & Silat. Again, these seem to come most natural to me.

Q: What is your favorite empty hands weapon? A particular kick, elbows, a particular technique, or fighting method, etc.

A: Based on my previous descriptions, I'd have to say Muay Thai/Southern Kali/Silat elbow strikes and Silat's close-in characteristics, such as its gunting arm-destructions and beautifully devastating take-down methods such as Puter Kapala*, Kenjit*, and leg weaves & ties.

Q: How did you get interested in martial arts? What got you started?

A: Mine is a storied beginning, commencing 24 years ago but with a 13-year gap in between.

Like many, I was mesmerized by the original Bruce Lee movies and old-time East Shaolin movies shown every Saturday afternoon on channels 5 & 11 in NY during the mid- to late-'70s. Since childhood I had always been involved in sports -little league baseball, pop-warner then JV football, JV wrestling, skiing- but never had access to martial arts. Then, just after turning 15, new neighbors moved in. The father was an Okinaowan* Karate instructor from W. VA. Since he hadn't yet set up classes in a formal setting, he began training in his basement. Since I was cutting other neighbors' lawns for money, he invited me to cut his 2-acre lawn in return for training with him and his co-worker. Thus began my induction into martial arts. A marathon runner, he was a major advocate of extreme fitness and attribute-development. For the first 6 months, we didn't touch Karate. Instead, we boxed, worked his heavy-bag, did free-weight squats and ran...and ran...and ran. Mostly off-road over varied terrain. -I swear I'm not making this up! Hitting distances of 6-8 miles and reaching 1,000 consecutive squats (followed by vomiting), we then moved into katas and contact drills until I got hit by a car towards the end of that first year.

I was out of sports for nearly a year. Upon recovering after my sophomore year, I let weightlifting, football-fever, and girlfriends pull me away from returning to Karate through graduation. I played rugby, lifted weights and continued to ski through college. Rugby continued as my main post-college passion until I tired of the injuries (e.g., separated shoulder) and mangled-face appearance that clashed with my suit and business life. I then cycled competitively for a year at my all-time (and long forgotten!) lowest body weight. I returned to rugby for another season until the late-night twice-weekly commute to S. NJ wore me out. Besides lifting, skiing, and scuba-diving-all hobbies/exercise rather than sports to me-I was a sports orphan for only the 2nd time in my life. Early on during this period ('89) as I lived in Plainsboro, I lifted frequently with a guy who later got into Tae Kwon Do. In the gym he would tell me about his classes and tournament fights. Although he encouraged me to join his school, I was stuck on ruby. Still, I always thought back to my one year of martial arts 8 years prior. It never left me. So after hanging up my cleats for the final time, a girlfriend persuaded me to join her Tae Kwon Do school...to "balance the relationship." After my first of year of classes & tournaments, I ran into the guy from the gym. I'll never forget his words: "I've moved on from TKD to a more practical art; you have your base, now come with me to the real world of martial arts." That was approximately 1995 and that guy was Dec, one of Sifu Rick's students who later went on to become a certified instructor* under Ajarn Chai and run his own school/classes where he moved down south.

Still, I was once again too devoted & loyal to my current sport, this time TKD instead of rugby. The years went by, I saw Dec occasionally, each time he goaded me to ascend from TKD to "the next level in martial arts." After five years, I became disenchanted after my TKD school changed hands. This triggered the lead instructor's departure, the person I most looked up to. Around the same time, a funny string of coincidences happened, all in a 1-week period: " I saw Sifu Rick & Simo Amy in a Plainsboro pizza shop; I knew them by name/face only. " I began working for a new company in Philly. Upon hiring a receptionist, she told me her roommate was "a martial artist at a school called PAMA"...Carrie. " I ran into Dec, in Market Fair of all places, who said he was up from Georgia* for a martial arts seminar held by PAMA and featuring a legend named Dan Inosanto. He pointed out the people he was lunching with: Sifu, Guro Dan, and the PAMA staff.

Yet again, Deck beckoned me to a new world of martial arts. After 10 years of harassment, I caved. I went to the 10/99 seminar, joined PAMA that Monday and never looked back.

A long answer to how I got started in martial arts, but a long & winding path between my start, TKD restart, and PAMA rebirth over a 24-year period.

A long journey I'm certain will continue through all my future. Since my time in a neighbor's basement at 15, at PAMA I felt I'd come full-circle. Thank you Sifu, thank you Dec.

Technique of the Month

This month Sifu Rick demonstrates a Muay Thai kickboxing technique with help from assistant instructor Mike Lee.

(click image to start frame sequence)

Nattokinase Dietary Supplement

Nattokinase Fibrenase I

This month we bring you Nattokinase Fibrenase I. The Allergy Research Group makes this product and claims to be an innovative leader in research and formulation of nutritional supplements. According to the Nattokinase Fibrenase I PDF Information Sheet on the Allergy Research Group website it helps in the process of thining blood reducing clotting, supports healthy blood pressure levels, and enhances cardiovascular health. See information sheet for more details.

Book of the Month

This book is part of a selection of rare Filipiniana books which have long been out of print and are no longer available. Sifu Rick owns a copy of this rare book. Due to the many requests for copies of the reprinted book which, ironically, have become as rare as the original, Bakbakan International has undertaken to publish the complete manuscript on the Internet so that we may be able to share with many this priceless record of history.

Here are some excerpts from the book's Forward section:

The region of Mindanao and Sulu is one of the oldest battlegrounds in the world. Until the coming of America, these dark jungles and blue seas knew only the law of the strong, whose song was the song of the kris.

Men of all creeds and colors have scrambled for a foothold in Mindanao--from India, Ceylon, Borneo, Celebes, Java, China, Japan, Portugal, France, Spain, Holland, England. Their bones moulder there, and only the spirits of intrepid adventurers remain. They reckoned not on the courage of the defenders of this soil.

East meets West today in peace upon this centuries-old field of battle. Still in possession of his beloved isles remains the Moro.

The close of the unsuccessful Spanish conquest of Moroland marked the beginning of the end of one of the most remarkable resistance in the annals of military history. The Moslems had staged a bitter and uninterrupted warfare against the might of Spain for a period of 377 years. It is doubtful if this record has been equalled in the whole bloody history of military aggression. The Dons, accustomed to the easy conquests of Peru and Mexico, met their match and more in the jungles of Mindanao.

As a fighting man of the highest caliber, the Moro has won for himself a distinguished place. This mighty krisman of the jungle has woven a thread of red into the fabric of the history of the East Indian Archipelago.

The Mayas, the Aztecs and the Incas fell before the Toledo steel of the Spaniards, and their language and institutions perished with them. Their temples were destroyed and their literature burned by over-zealous bishops of the Romish church. A few of their cities remain desolated sepulchers of an ancient civilization which melted before the fanaticism of the conquistadores.

Not so with the Moros; sturdy and intact, their religion still flourishes on the shores of Sulu. The conquistadores came, fought vainly, and retired. The Moros remain.

Author: Asaf Ronen