Student of the Month
- Joseph Arenas -
Please share with our readers a little bit of your non-martial arts background.
I'm a Clinical Database Analyst at Johnson & Johnson where I work on the data management aspect of clinical trials. My work involves building electronic data entry forms to capture clinical data, as well as programming. Outside of work, I used to swim, and play water polo and volleyball. I've done a couple of open-water swims including two in the Hudson River, which were part of an awareness campaign on the river's improving water quality. I also used to play water polo for the Lawrenceville Stingrays club as well as the Princeton Tigers club team. If I had more time, I would like to get back into water polo because it really builds one's stamina. On the creative side of things, I like to take photographs, of which street photography is my favorite. I would be happy to show some of my photographs if anyone is interested.
What made you first interested in Martial Arts?
Like many others, movies and TV are what probably got me interested in Martial Arts. Perhaps, it is Si Jo Bruce Lee who is the ultimate inspiration for getting me interested in the Martial Arts. I remember that whenever I saw a cool move on film or on TV, my brother and I would try out this move and would further experiment on it. I also remember having bought a couple of books on Karate, Kung Fu, and ninjas. And several years after arriving here in the US in 1995, I saw some of the early UFC fights on DVDs that my brother had, which made me interested in the Martial Arts once more. Then in winter of 2008, I found PAMA on the Internet.
How did you hear about PAMA? What influenced you to join PAMA?
I first noticed PAMA several years ago from the car wash across the street. At that time, I had no idea what was being taught at PAMA. It wasn't until winter of last year that I seriously thought of learning martial arts again. At that time, I was working seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, for a couple of months straight. Oftentimes, my legs would get numb from sitting too long in front of the computer. I also noticed a deterioration in my eye sight, presumably from staring at a computer screen for too long. During certain days when I was working from home, I would do some stretching and side/round kicks in order to get my blood circulating in my legs. This is actually what gave me the idea of taking up martial arts once more. On the Internet, I searched for martial arts schools in the area and found PAMA. It is the variety of arts offered by PAMA, including JKD, Kali, and Silat that influenced me to pick PAMA. It is also because of the direct lineage from great masters like Si Jo Bruce Lee, Guro Dan Inosanto, Punong Guro Edgar Sulite, Pendekar Paul De Thouars, and Pendekar Herman Suwanda to Sifu Rick Tucci that makes PAMA special.
Which martial arts have you studied to date and for how long?
The only martial arts I had formally studied was Karate (Shotokan, I think). I first took this in grade school, but I only advanced to yellow belt. My interest in Karate resumed when I was in high school, but I also advanced to yellow belt only. I think if I wasn't into swimming and water polo in high school, I probably would have advanced further. I also remember asking my ex-girlfriend's brother (who was studying Arnis De Mano in school) to get me a pair of sticks. I didn't have any formal instructions in Arnis; I just twirled the sticks and had no idea what I was doing.
What are your favorite arts and why?
My favorite arts in PAMA are Jun Fan, Kali, and Silat. These were actually the three arts that I had originally intended to take before I decided to join PAMA. I like Jun Fan because of the quickness and economy of motion that Bruce Lee had developed. It is so different from the rigid and heavy stances that I had learned in Karate.
I like Kali because, being Filipino, I thought that I should at least know the martial art from where I was born. To be honest, I did not think highly of Arnis (the term that I was familiar with at that time) when I was still living in the Philippines. I used to have a higher regard for the Japanese and Korean martial arts like Karate and Tae Kwon Do. This changed when I saw on the Internet how extensive and effective Kali is, and how it is being taught to law enforcement and the military around the world. After I joined PAMA, my brother also gave me some books on Filipino Martial Arts. Now, I am really impressed with Kali, and proud to be practicing this martial art from my native country. If I had known more about Arnis when I was still living in the Philippines, I probably would have studied it there.
Similarly, I like Silat because of its connection to the Philippines. I understand from Sifu Rick that this is being practiced in certain parts of Mindanao (one of the three main islands), which is very close to Malaysia and Indonesia. The movements are quite different from what I have previously seen in other martial arts. Like Kali, the movements are quite beautiful to look at, but at the same time, very effective.
Although Jun Fan, Kali, and Silat are my favorite, I am also attending Muay Thai, boxing, and grappling classes. As Sifu Rick has said, it is advantageous to cross train in different arts.
What are some of the key things that Martial Arts has taught you?
I would say that the top lessons I have learned from Martial Arts are discipline and respect. I think discpline is very important if I one is to advance far in martial arts. One will certainly get hit, thrown, and possibly hurt the during practice, but with discipline and perseverance, one should be able get past that initial shock. I also have this constant uncomfortable feeling before coming to practice, fearing that I won't have the energy to do all the drills. But with a little discipline, I force myself to come and I actually feel a lot better having survived a strenous workout and having learned new skills.
You are Filipino. How has our training in Kali helped you connect to your heritage and culture?
I found it interesting that Tagalog is being used widely in naming or describing different aspects of Kali: in drills, in the movements and strikes, and in the salutation. This, and the rich history of Kali that is being taught at PAMA has helped me in re-connecting myself to my heritage and culture.
What is your impression of PAMA today? What do you like most about PAMA?
I think PAMA is one of the best and most complete martial arts schools that one can find in the area. It is evident that the PAMA instructors are continously sharpening their skills, which are directly being handed down to the students. This, the variety of arts being offered, and the direct lineage from masters, is what that I like about PAMA.
Anything else additional you would like to add?
PAMA is not only a good place to learn martial arts; it also great place to make new friends, and to learn alongside people of different ages and backgrounds.
- Tibetan Bön Lama Visits PAMA -
It was PAMA's great honor to host Ratsa Geshe Tenzin Dargye, Khenpo, abbot of the Bön monastery in Dhorpatan of west Nepal. Khenpo is a high medical Lama in the Bön religion, Tibet's oldest spiritual tradition, and he is also a Doctor of Philosophy.
PAMA students had several opportunities to sit with the Khenpo and learn some ancient breathing and meditations. These techniques clear the energy channels of the body and rebalance both body and mind. Khenpo also shared with us some ancient Tibetian Yoga techniques. We also received blessing and prayers (mantras) for us individually as well for the Academy and the light it brings into the world. Some students also shared private sessions with the Khenpo in which he employed pulse examination, astrology, and divination to reveal the true nature of one's health and well being.
We would like to thank Khenpo for his presence and kindness in sharing his knowledge and wisdom with us. It was our great honor to join with him in these practices.
More about the Khenpo and Bön:
Khenpo Tenzin Dargye Rinpoche is the abbot of Tashi Gegye Thaten Ling monastery in Dhorpaten, Nepal, near the ancient kingdom of Mustang in Western Nepal. This monastery's primary activity is the gathering of nearly 300 medicinal plants that are used in Tibetan medicines.
He has also worked as a organizer of Bön Children Welfare and was able to help renovate Bön Monasteries and help poor old-aged and homeless people. In addition, his monastery in Nepal the Khempo supports poor children to get their education and he is still working for the dispensary in Dhorpatan. Moreover, he established a Tibetan medicine center to provide good health services in rural areas. He aims to help poor people in Nepal and eliminate poverty in Nepal.
Most of the world is unaware of this ancient religion that predates Buddhism by over one thousand years. The Bön tradition has received explicit support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who made a two day visit to Menri Monastery, Dolanji, where he was impressed by the students' educational achievements. In addition he had made statements in which he stressed the importance of preserving the Bön tradition, as representing the indigenous source of Tibetan culture, and acknowledging the major role it has had in shaping Tibet's unique identity.
You can see his website at the link: http://www.khyungding.org/Home.html
- Jun Fan 4 and 8 Month Tests -
Sifu Recommends a Video
- The Knowledge of Healing -
The first feature documentary dealing extensively with Tibetan medicine, one of the most highly developed medical systems, The Knowledge of Healing presents evidence that deserves serious consideration as a supplement to Western medical technology.
The original Tibetan book of medicine - the Gyuschi (knowledge of healing) - dates back to the 12th century. The medications used comprise herbs, roots, minerals, etc. Successes have been achieved with chronic sicknesses that, in the West, are regarded as incurable.
Instead of being based on biochemistry, Tibetan medical thinking, which is strongly rooted in Buddhist principles, views the human body as governed by an elaborately organized and codified system of energies flowing through a system of channels. Its practice has been taught over last four centuries in Tibetan medical schools, most of which were destroyed by the Chinese in the late 1950's and early 60's.
The few Tibetan physicians who weren't executed went into exile. Some of them reestablished themselves in Dharamsala, in northern India. The film introduces Tenzin Choedrak, a leading Tibetan medical authority, and shows him treating the 14th Dalai Lama for a minor ailment. The Dalai Lama himself appears twice in the film to argue forcefully for the acceptance of Tibetan medicine as a valuable addition to the Western system.
VISIT OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL for many great techniques and videos by Sifu Rick.
- Don't miss out on great prizes! Get your PAMA photo content submissions in before the content comes to a close!!! See the July Newsletter for details.
- Sifu Rick will be conducting a seminar in Malmo, Sweden on October 31 & November 1. For more info, contact Dan Johansson or check out the seminar page.
- MultiplexTM-1 with Iron -
Multiplex dietary supplements are comprehensive, hypoallergenic multivitamin and mineral supplements formulated with clinically effective levels of nutrients. The high-potency combination of essential vitamins, minerals, and key nutrients are formulated for maximum bioavailability with activated coenzyme forms of vitamins B2 and B6 and flush-free inositol hexaniacinate (NiacinolTM).
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Video/Pictures: Mary Jo Colli, Kurt Komoda, Mike Lee
Stories: Mary Jo Colli, Mike Lee