Instructor of the Month
NAME: Luca Staeger
Luca is an assistant instructor at GAMA under Chris Cornaz (November instructor of the month). Luca visited PAMA and attended the Guru Dan Inosanto seminar in Princeton last month with Chris and a few other GAMA students and instructors from Switzerland. It was his eighth visit to the United States to train. Luca has been training at GAMA for ten years in JKD, Silat, Kali, and combat submission wrestling, and has been an assistant instructor at GAMA for six of those ten years.
Luca has been helping in keeping the peace on Geneva streets for eight years as a police officer. He is a chief and instructor of techniques appropriate for keeping the peace on the streets. He instructs in self defense, empty hands, police equipment, and tactical and technical intervention.
Luca also has ten years experience in Jujitsu from his police club. He practiced with the Switzerland national team of Jujitsu. He earned first place in the first national championship in Jujitsu for fighters under 77kg, and eleventh place in the Jujitsu world championship of 2000. Luca was even a regional coach in Jujitsu for the national team.
With seventeen years of kickboxing experience behind his belt Luca recently received his black belt. Luca even studied Kung Fu at a Shaolin temple in China for a while. He competed all around Europe in martial arts.
Luca says martial arts is an important part of his life and career. It is hard work and he loves it. Luca wanted to thank Sifu Rick and Guru Dan Inosanto for making a significant impact in his life.
Student of the Month
NAME: Sam Levine
Q: When did you start training at PAMA? Which styles do you train at PAMA? What's your favorite and why?
A: I actually first started training at PAMA in 1993. I injured my ankle at a Savate seminar after about a year, and thought I would be back in no time. Wrong. I ended up on crutches for three months and could not even run for another 6 months. Scheduling became difficult and I just worked out at a gym to stay in shape until I got into Tae Kwon Do. I came back to PAMA (I always knew I would eventually) in January 2002.
I mostly train Jun Fan, not only for the style but for the phenomenal workout. It requires both physical and mental discipline and no matter how many times a drill is done, there is always something new to learn the next time you do it. But the reason that I came to PAMA in the first place in 1993 was because of Kali. While studying Kempo in center city Philadelphia, Arnis was also part of the curriculum. Later I discovered that few people teach the Fillipino arts and only very few, such as Sifu Rick, teach them well. I've tended to go in and out of Kali though and I need to correct this, but I would still say that it is my favorite art. I am much more of a visual learner and Kali lends itself quite well to this. You have to constantly watch and pay attention to what is going on so I find it much more challenging from a mental aspect. Just to add another dimension to my training, I also recently started in the grappling class.
Q: What other martial arts have you trained in outside of PAMA and what levels have you reached?
A: When I was in college, at 18, I started martial arts training in Go Ju Ryu and spent three years in that style. It was ok, but it wasn't until I came to Kempo (Ed Parker's style) six years later that I understood what was lacking. Looking back, I felt that Go Ju was too restrictive and in Kempo I found a much more open or flexible style. I trained in Kempo for four years but, to be honest, I can't remember what belt I attained. Belts did not mean that much to me except as an indication of what I had learned so I only tested when I felt like testing or when my instructor said I needed to test. I was much more interested in the workout and just simply learning the art. As I said above, I came to PAMA in 1993 but left after a year due to injury. I eventually trained at a Tae Kwon Do school because I liked how the instructors taught. I stayed there until I was awarded my 1st Dan and continued training for another two years. During my last year in TKD I also was also doing some training in Krav Maga which I found to be a very interesting and practical art. But I still felt something was lacking with what I was doing so my wife, Nancy, finally said to me to go back to PAMA. As always, she was right (I hope she sees this).
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in Princeton, NJ. And (believe it or not), I've never worried about injuring my hands.
Q: People have different goals at PAMA, such as conditioning, attribute development, or learning techniques. What is your main goal right now at PAMA?
A: I guess at this point in my life, and I am 51, conditioning is probably the most important aspect to me, which is why I spend most of my time with Jun Fan and the Attributes class. Any sports medicine doctor or exercise physiologist will tell you that exercise becomes even more important as you get older (of course I don't consider myself to be old ..I'm still and will always be a baby boomer) and I plan on doing this at 61 and 71 and maybe more. But, in reality, you can get conditioning from any other aspect even if you are just trying to learn a new technique. It's simply a matter of how much effort you put into your training. At the beginning of his Wing Chun book, James Lee says "Fighting skill is very seldom required: often never. But health and conditioning benefit people everyday of their lives."
Q: Being a long time student what would you advise new student?
A: The first and probably most important advice I would give to a new student is to not become discouraged and give up. This is a lifelong process and the benefits of martial arts training can be applied to any other aspect of your life. It would probably take three lifetimes for me to get to Sifu's level, but that does not stop me from trying. This is precisely why Sifu constantly pushes you to do more, so you don't stop trying. But ultimately, he can only do so much and, in the end, it is really up to you. And to the people who trained in karate prior to PAMA (and yes, it's easy to tell who you are), I can tell you that I was very frustrated about four to five months after coming back. I felt that the karate was getting in the way of the flexible and open aspect of Jun Fan, particularly the trapping, and it took a while for me to come to understand what was going on. I eventually worked through it not by trying to forget all that I learned previously, but by learning where it would or would not fit in to what we were doing. It wasn't easy and it did not happen overnight, but if I could do it, so could you.
Muay Thai Test
In November Brian Matson, Mike Wolhfert, David Ramsay, and Chris Cornaz took the Level I Muay Thai test. They all passed the test qualifying them to take the Muay Thai level II class. Congratulations!
The test included multiple rounds of treacherous live feed by the instructors requiring constant execution of kicks, knees, elbows and punches. The test also included performance of the "dance", or Wai Kru, typically carried out by competitors before a fight in respect to their style and teacher.
Book of the Month
This month's book is a very important book that is a must have for every JKD student. It contains notes and thoughts Bruce Lee captured on paper along with some of his illustrations. As you progress in your martial arts training you will get something new from this book every time you read it. This international best seller includes the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do, mental and physical training, and strategy among other things.
"To watch Bruce Lee on film is an amazing experience. Those who have read Tao of Jeet Kune Do, however, know that Lee's prose can also be exhilarating. This praiseworthy and enduring bestseller compiles philisophical aphorisms, explanations on technique, and sketches by the master himself."
Sifu's Seminar in Paris
On November 27th and 28th Sifu Rick, accompanied by a group of PAMA assistant instructors including Mike Lee, Mary Jo Colli, and Hank Goodhue, taught a seminar in Paris, France covering Jun Fan, Kali, and Silat.
"We had a fantastic time walking through Paris many areas and seeing its many sites including Musée du Louvre, Notre Dame, the Church of St. Sulpice, the Pantheon, the Champs-Elysées, and the Luxembourg Gardens. Au Printemps had a wonderful café on the roof that gave us a magnificent view of the entire city. The trip as always was packed with laughter and great times as well as excellent training. Make sure to ask Mike Lee about his new footwork technique that gained him the title of the Chinese Rabbit!"
Dietary Supplement of the Month
This month we introduce to you Coenzyme Q10, available for the first time as chewable wafers at the Pro Shop. Below are some sources of information about this supplement.
"Heart disease. Cancer. AIDS. As unbelievable as it might sound, each of these deadly diseases often responds to a coenzyme Q10, a little known nutrient that can make a big difference in your health. Granted, such "cure all" statements leave people wondering whether CoQ10 is just the latest panacea of the month. Rest assured: the benefits of this nutrient are well documented in the medical journals. It's one of the most frequently prescribed heart "drugs" in Japan and widely used in Europe-and one company even owns the patent for the CoQ10 treatment of AIDS." - Quoted from The Nutrition Reporter
"Coenzyme Q10 is a compound that is made naturally in the body. A coenzyme is a substance needed for the proper functioning of an enzyme, a protein that speeds up the rate at which chemical reactions take place in the body. The Q and the 10 in coenzyme Q10 refer to parts of the compounds chemical structure. Coenzyme Q10 is used by cells to produce energy needed for cell growth and maintenance. It is also used by the body as an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that can damage important parts of cells, including deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). (DNA is a molecule inside cells that carries genetic information and passes it from one generation to the next.) This damage may play a role in the development of cancer. Coenzyme Q10 is found in most body tissues. The highest amounts are found in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. The lowest amounts are found in the lungs. Tissue levels of coenzyme Q10 decrease as people get older." - Quoted from the National Cancer Institute
Sifu's Birthday Party
On the eve of Saturday November 13th the Princeton Academy of Martial Arts was totally transformed into a party house for Sifu Rick's birthday. The assistant instructors organized a surprise party for Sifu Rick. The place was packed with students and their significant others. Sifu Rick walked in to a large crowd yelling "surprise" and a totally transformed room. We don't know if Sifu Rick was actually surprised given his keen awareness and sharp senses, but he acted surprised and everybody was happy.
It was really nice to see everybody dressed up for a change and meet the spouses, husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends of all the people we know so well from PAMA. It was a blast. The party included an all you can eat buffet with exotic foods from around the world and free refills on all drinks. Mike Lee gave a touching speech in front of everybody. He is truely a natural speaker. Consider him for your next anniversary.
The best part of the party was the concert. Sifu Rick and his band, which seemed to include practically everybody on this special day, played rocking music into the night. The band just kept growing and growing with people playing any instrument they could grab and singing their lungs out.
Those that were not singing were either dancing or eating. And those that didn't have their mouth full mingled with others. In fact a few of us (two couples to be exact, me, my wife, and another couple I forced) danced Salsa to some latin beat, but you won't see proof in the pictures. Instead here is me in a slightly insane state.
Toys for Tots
Donate a new toy to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Until December 15th there will be a box in the front of the main traing room. Drop a new toy in the box. Make sure the toy is not gift wraped.
Technique of the Month
This month Sifu Rick demonstrates a Kali technique with help from assistant instructor Mike Lee.