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Charity Seminar 1st Dec 2013

written by Master John Mellon.

instructors charity seminar


A raft of senior martial arts teachers came together to generate funds for disaster relief following the recent typhoon devastation in the Philippines.  The martial arts of this diverse archipelago have come to captivate and influence more and more teachers the world over in the last couple of decades, and there is a sense of gratitude and obligation towards our Filipino brothers and sisters for the arts and culture they have shared.


During the course of the day, this sense of responsibility came through again and again in the remarks of the teachers leading the training, and was present in the conversation and attitude of all those attending. 


PhilSemFull-5First up was Malcolm Taylor from Training for Warriors, who led the attendees through an intense warm-up session, challenging everyone’s conception of their own fitness levels! Malcolm kept his instruction simple, clear and precise – though not easy…definitely not easy.


One of the many heartening aspects of the day was the way in which so many people came together from diverse communities to support a very human cause.  The initiator of the event, Master Shamim Haque joked that here he was, a Bangladeshi, teaching a Filipino art, while the first of our star-studded line-up, Alvin Guinanao, himself Filipino, was teaching an Indonesian art.




PhilSemFull-14Alvin’s Silat Buka Lingkaran is a Pukulan based form of Pentjak Silat, intricate, flowing and devastating.  Guro Alvin is a fine teacher – Guro Maul Mornie recently described him as ‘the Spiderman of Silat’, and his agility in moving around the floor more than justified that remark.  He concentrated on teaching some key principles of silat body motion, emphasizing the characteristic ‘gelek’, or waist winding and unwinding, for power generation.  The sudden dropping of the body’s centre of gravity, to ensure stability and to maintain close contact with the opponent, to ensure every subsequent motion offered a follow up technique, was another element explored and taught.





PhilSemFull-34Next, the prime mover of the whole day, Master Shamim Haque, took the group through some of the basics of the knife training within Kalis Ilustrisimo Repeticion Orihinal, or KIRO for short.  KIRO is fundamentally a bladed art, even in its empty-hand techniques, and the participants were soon moving like seasoned knife-fighters.  It’s always wonderful to train with Master Shamim, whose own form is a model of flow and fine posture; no matter how quickly he moves, he is beautifully in balance and looking cool and unruffled.  There is an inevitability to the flowing techniques of Ilustrisimo; from the opponent’s first attack, it seems to be merely a matter of time before each choice is reduced to none.




PhilSemFull-53The renowned Guro Bob Breen, known as the ‘father of English JKD’, was the next master to teach.  Bob took us right back to practical basics, using Panantukan – Filipino boxing – as the vehicle.  His many years of experience showed in the economy of his motion and the simplicity, clarity and directness of his teaching.  There wasn’t a wasted word or an unnecessary movement in his session, a model of effectiveness.  Guro Bob was the surprised recipient of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the Council of British Kalis, Eskrima, Arnis Instructors presented by Grandmaster John Harvey at the end of the day’s teaching.


PhilSemFull-67Prof. Leon Jay, 2nd Generation Headmaster of the Small Circle Jujitsu system, son of and successor to Prof. Wally Jay taught next.  With only an hour to teach, Prof. Leon concentrated on certain key principles of the Small Circle’s characteristic mechanics that set it apart from most grappling systems. His session centred on the importance of how to exploit those mechanics in such a way as to give the opponent little opportunity to counter.  Faced with so little time, Leon showed the gathered students the basics of finger-locking, a signature skill within the system; the use of small-joint locking allows the exponent to apply techniques at extraordinary speed with little force and enormous effect.   He also emphasized the importance of flow.  As with the other masters teaching that day, he made it clear that one should ‘take the technique on offer’, rather than trying to shoe-horn a preferred application into the situation and forcing a technique against determined resistance.  Instead the Small Circle stylist moves effortlessly and efficiently from one lock or control to another, the choice depending entirely on the reactions of the opponent.


PhilSemFull-86The last master to take the stage was Grandmaster John Harvey of Kapitiran Arnis; he and Master Jude Tucker took the assembled martial artists through a range of stick-fighting combinations.  The sequences taught were often counter-intuitive, designed to catch out the opponent by making unexpected choices of response.  The session was a thoroughly upbeat finale to the day, with everyone present still throwing themselves into the flowing combinations with as much gusto as they started with some six hours earlier.







PhilSemFull-84As a whole the day exemplified the notion of brother – and sister – hood amongst martial artists, with none of the style rivalry that sometimes mars this wonderful activity.  All the masters teaching made a point of emphasizing the similarities between the arts rather than their differences, the debt we all owe to the Philippine nation for its contribution to martial culture, and the very human sense of compassion felt by all towards a proud people suffering through real tribulation through no fault of their own. 







The representative of the Muslim Aid foundation, who will distribute the very impressive £3,200 raised by the event, spoke impressively of the charity’s work in various disaster-hit locations around the world.  He made the very important point that we all tend to have a sympathetic reaction in the immediate aftermath to peoples hit by such calamities, but once the immediate crisis appears to be past, we forget that it takes a great deal of resource and effort to effect a true recovery.  The Philippines is now in that phase, and the recovery will need to be supported for some time, but the empathy and generosity of the students and teachers present auger well for the future.


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