Student of the Month
- Robert Patel -
Tell us a little about your life outside of PAMA. What is your profession?
My name is Robert Patel and I am a physician at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where I specialize in Internal Medicine. My focus is in-patient hospital care. When I'm not at work I enjoy various hobbies. Besides martial arts, I enjoy traveling around the world and learning different languages. Currently, I speak four languages: English, Spanish, Gujurati, and Hindi. Although I have been to various places around the world, there are so many more places I want to explore and learn about.
What first enticed you into martial arts?
I have always been fond of martial arts, ever since I was young. I began to formally train when I was a teenager, but put it on hold for many years because of my studies. I resumed my martial arts training about four years ago. I started off training in Tae Kwon Do for several years, but then decided to try new arts.
How did you first hear about PAMA and what motivated you to join the PAMA family?
After browsing the internet for a school that offered multiple disciplines, I came across PAMA. I tried a few classes and was convinced immediately that PAMA was the school for me.
What do you enjoy most about your training? Beyond the physical, in what ways has your Martial Arts training changed you?
After joining the PAMA family I have not only become more physically sound, but it has helped me mentally as well. I am now more focused and disciplined in all aspects of my life. What I enjoy most about PAMA is that I am constantly being pushed to be a better martial artist.
What inspires you?
My biggest inspiration throughout the years has been my parents, who gave me everything when they had nothing. I would also like to thank my wife who puts up with my hectic work schedule and pushes me to go to martial arts training even on those days when I am dragging the most.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank PAMA for honoring me as student of the month. For those looking for stress relief, better physical condition, or just want to become martial arts connoisseurs, I highly recommend PAMA.
- 19th Pacific Northwest Muay Thai Camp -
This year's 19th Annual Pacific Northwest Muay Thai Camp was similar to years past, but with some new improvements. Instructors Ajarn/Guru Dan Inosanto, Ajarn Greg Nelson and Khun Kru Brian Dobler all returned. Lt. Col. Nattapong (retired), a Krabi Krabong expert, and Ajarn Vichai Supkitpol, better known as Ajarn Rex, also stepped in and blessed us with their knowledge.
As a camp veteran, I'm familiar with the routine and cadence of Ajarn Chai's Muay Thai Camp. It begins with early morning runs through the Oregon Mountains at 6am against heavy fog and beneath 10- to 15-story-tall trees followed by 45 minutes of shadow boxing and footwork, with the latter being the most important technique drilled into each of us. The routine followed a strict schedule: two 3-4 hours sessions consisting of three-minute rounds at six training stations: heavy bag, Thai pads, timing, sparring, clinch, and shadow boxing. After that, those opting to be in the fighters group continued on...
The fighter group is tailored to those who have upcoming fights and individuals who want to test their cardiovascular, physical, and mental stamina. All three were tested on the first day during the morning workout with four hours of station drills, finished off by 20 minutes of three-to-one clinching, over a half mile of straight knees going uphill, and 40 body builder exercises also uphill led by Khun Kru Mike Lee. At lunch, I heard rumblings of "I've never done anything like that before." Everyone was exhausted.
After lunch, we had the pleasure of learning authentic Krabi Krabong from Lt. Col. Nattapong, an instructor for Thai Army's weapons (Krabi Krabong) and empty hand (Muay Boran) training. He also taught Krabi Krabong to the Royal Family of Thailand, his main pupil being the Queen of Thailand. It was truly a privilege to learn from one of the masters. Throughout the week as we trained in Krabi Krabong, we each realized that certain techniques used in Muay Thai (i.e. footwork, knees and parrying techniques) are derived from Krabi Krabong.
Holding pads for your partner is very important; it gives the holder a chance to become the trainer. Ajarn Rex, a well-known referee , fight veteran with 150 bouts to his credit and champion trainer to fighters such as Khun Kru Bryan Dobler, was in charge of the pad holding station. Ajarn Chai recalled working with Ajarn Rex during the early 70s doing demonstrations to promote Muay Thai. He said that he and Ajarn Rex didn't have a plan; the two simply looked at each other and went at it. Ajarn Chai told us that they hit each other pretty hard, wanting to give everyone a good demonstration.
On the last day of camp, Ajarn Chai promoted a few handpicked associate and full instructors. After the Wai Kru ceremony, Ajarn Chai asked Ajarn/Guru Dan Inosanto, Ajarn Greg Nelson and Ajarn Rex to say a few words to the newly promoted instructors. Ajarn Rex expressed his gratitude for Ajarn Chai and how much he has done to promote Muay Thai. "When I first came to this country, I did everything, everything I could to help Muay Thai. Now, I look around and I see all these white guys. We dug a hole and planted a seed. Now that seed has grown and the tree is growing bigger, and my dream has come true," he said with emotion in his voice. Ajarn Rex's tearful confession of his humble beginnings was the most memorable and emotional moment for me.
We sometimes take for granted the availability of all the martial arts we can study. We're often not aware of the hardships our masters endured to bring their arts to us. Sijo Bruce Lee's fellow martial artist discouraged him from teaching Americans the art of Wing Chun, and later Jeet Kune Do/Jun Fan Gung Fu. He had to fight for the right to do so. I remember growing up in the Philippines, if you wanted to train in Kali, it was nearly impossible. No one would teach you anything, as the art is held closely by the practitioners (mostly families and tribes), and as knife fighting is still alive in the Philippines.
When I step through the doors at PAMA, I can't help but be amazed by our lineage of Masters, Senseis, Ajarns, Gurus and Sifus and their amazing stories, from humble beginnings in dingy, small spaces to their travels to faraway lands to bring the martial arts to us.
Sifu Recommends a Book
- Clearing Away Clouds: Nine Lessons For Life From The Martial Arts -
The first foreigner ever to win the gold medal in the All-Japan Toyamu Ryu swordsmanship competition, Stephen Fabian is presently U.S. Branch Head of the Hontai Yoshin Ryu system and senior advisor to the International Shudokan Martial Arts Association, as well as professor of anthropology at North Central College in Illinois. In this edifying and inspiring personal account, Professor Fabian's background in anthropology and his scholarly knowledge of Zen Buddhism and Japanese culture are brought to bear on over two decades of training in Asian martial arts. The result is an illuminating and often entertaining presentation of nine key lessons for mastering life and self. Although each lesson is gleaned from a discreet phase in the author's life experience or martial career, taken together they form a coherent, step-by-step program for personal mastery and success in life, one that can be understood and embraced by all, even those with no interest in the martial arts.
VISIT OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL for many great techniques and videos by Sifu Rick.
- Don't forget, summer is quickly passing by. Get your pictures in while you still have a chance for the PAMA Photo Contents!!! See the July Newsletter for details.
- Rhodio-Bolic from Amazon Therapeutic Laboratories -
This is an outstanding combination for anyone attempting to enhance physical or mental performance. Speed up a sluggish metabolism, increase energy and stamina, stimulate the immune system, increase muscle and improbe fat metabolism - All without side effects or adding stress.
Video/Pictures: Mary Jo Colli, Mike Lee, Poney Boy Miller
Stories: Mary Jo Colli, Mike Lee, Poney Boy Miller