In my last post I talked about How Kenpo Karate led me to CTS, I took a look at the time I began training in earnest and started to believe, and achieve some legit goals in martial arts, but there is much more to the story of my Kenpo Genesis. (That was the name of episode one, stick with me here on the Star Wars theme. HEY, I hear a new one came out; I bet it bombed…)
Anyways, shortly after I began training at my Kenpo school in West Boca, my instructor came across a Jeet Kune Do instructor that ruined his life. He would teach seminars and even train us (the staff) privately. My first instructor, for his part, was a determined Kenpoist (in that, he was determined to be sure that Kenpo was the answer to all his problems, from wanting to be a martial artist, to wanting to have some money) before he met Sifu Neil. Neil had answers to questions that we didn’t even have, and I was in a ball of confusion…
Episode II: Finding the Flow
My training in JKD allowed me to move faster and more sure in my Kenpo and my Kali. I was being creative in my movement, less choreographed, and was finding the flow that all martial artists (should) strive for.
The first thing that I noticed about JKD is that it had less esoteric techniques. Jab, cross hook, cover, took the place of the memorized, preconceived/conditioned responses found in Kenpo. One of the issues that I always had with Kenpo is that it tried to give you too much. In an effort to use some of the more ‘fancy looking’ basics from the Kenpo that he learned from his teachers, Ed Parker had inserted some freakishly flamboyant motions into his system of American Kenpo Karate. My first attraction to JKD was the charm held in it’s simplicity. Secondly, JKD possessed a less mechanical motion. Initially, I assumed, this was a product of it’s simplicity, but soon came to understand that it was the training methodology.
I really liked the folks that I trained Jeet Kune Do with at American Dragon Martial Arts Academy, and the instructors, Sifu Neil and Sijay Helena were good teachers. Classes were usually broken down into three parts: First we did our calisthenics and trained our basics with hand targets and/or body shields for 15-20 minutes. Now that we were warmed up, we would practice Jun Fan Kickboxing interactive drills while wearing protective gear (45-60 minutes). There was always a theme to the drills, and they were designed to develop certain attributes, much like we do in Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) today. We would finish most classes practicing Jun Fan Gung Fu (essentially, Bruce Lee’s version of Wing Chun Gung Fu). While training at American Dragon, I also participated in their, Filipino Kali Classes and Muay Thai Kickboxing (best. cardio. ever.).
Here’s a video of MMA world champion Anderson Silva training the same stuff that I was doing at the time:
My training in JKD lasted nearly three years (Jan. ’99-Dec. ’01). The only reason that I stopped was because I was asked to be an instructor at a school of my own. For Christmas that year, knowing my disappointment in not having a Kali teacher (I had never stopped training Kenpo with Manny Reyes Sr. every Tuesday morning in Hialeah), Mindy (my wife) bought me a block of private lessons with Sifu Neil. My intention was for him to teach me Pekiti Tirsia Kali as apposed to the Inosanto System (PTK is a major component of Guro Dan’s Kali). Sifu Neil was a certified instructor in PTK (I believe, under Tom Bisio, if memory serves), but, for some reason, I didn’t get the vibe that he was into teaching me solely PTK, it turned out I was correct and thus began my search for a new Pekiti Tirsia Kali instructor (and episode three of this series).
I am very thankful for my training in JKD, it helped me to understand that I should never be satisfied with, just “knowing” a technique. The experience led me, for the first time in my training (as a 2nd degree black belt in Kenpo, mind you), to aquiring some real skills ‘hard wired’, as we say in CTS. Jeet Kune Do was a major upgrade to what is now referred to as #trainingHaastyle. Where to go from here? I wonder…
See you on the mat! RH
There are a lot of avenue’s to CTS, Eric Primm’s was grappling, you can read about it here…