Friday Feature: #FlatMindy

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…

Today I get to promote someone very close to my heart, #FlatMindy. The Florida State PTA has started a program called the Flat Mindy project. According to the website, “The purpose of the 2016 Flat Mindy Project is to highlight some of the many wonderful Family Engagement and Health & Wellness activities and concepts that are being put into action with children and youth from around our state.” That’s our own, very special person, (only flat when she sings) Mindy Haas, thank you very much…Mindy in Tally

I am so proud of the difference that Mindy has made in the West Boca community, Palm Beach County and the entire state of Florida, as a leading advocate for children, and in particular, health and wellness.

Mindy and I decided a long time ago that we were going to use the lessons we have learned in martial arts to have as big of an impact on our community as possible. It has been very difficult balancing the demands of her various PTA positions that she has held (including President of Whispering Pines Elementary School PTA two times, President of Palm Beach County Council of PTA’s, and President of Florida State PTA) and her martial arts training. She has achieved black belt rank in both American Kenpo Karate and Cacoy Doce Pares systems and is cuurently ranked at 2nd brown in CTS over the past twenty some years. Somehow, she has managed to avoid the controversy of how sexy she is, and has been able to negotiate the inevitable hypocrites as mentioned in the song…

From the Florida State PTA website:

“Florida PTA is looking forward to receiving lots and lots of Flat Mindy photos! Decorate your Flat Mindy, and take a picture of your group – your school/community/family – enjoying a healthy and fun activity with Flat Mindy and send it in! For complete rules, visit our web site!


Here are some of the wonderful submissions so far:

#FlatMindy getting her Haastyle on with Sensei Gator here at Fuguitt today. Maybe she can show him some of her moves?”10610846_10154261303699123_6346873718919360480_n

#FlatMindy wanted to help count the girls laps during the skate-a-thon tonight. Gotta support your local team and get out and be active! Way to go Pinellas County Junior Derby”12654359_10154261697934123_936166642997395261_n 12647173_10208343840934528_7961222263428704983_n#FlatMindy (Mindy Braunstein Haas) helping @ #Math after a great #Karate class at Haas Style Karate (sic)


At HMAA everyone is so proud to have Mindy representing us, and #FlatMindy representing her. As for me, I’m just lucky to have her!


I want to see some pics of my martial arts friends and CTS brothers and sisters training with #FlatMindy…

  • please tag #FlatMindy #FlatMrsHaas and #trainingHaastyle
  • Then I’ll update the blog post with you and #FlatMindy

See you and #FlatMindy on the mat! RH





Friday Feature: Flashback to Pre CTS

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of the best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy (HMAA) and throughout the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS). I’ll try to illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy or into CTS, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are training with us, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. If not, get on the mat already…a-long-time-ago-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away

Today is for the old school. I’m going back in the archives to share some videos from the days before the birth of CTS. Most of Master Z.’s CTS materials are copy-written in 2007, so I pulled the following from my Haastyle YouTube Channel:

In the days before global warming made the Florida sun so hot that you couldn’t train outside any more, we would set up a little canopy and train in my backyard when Zach came to visit.

Freestyling with the big Pekiti Tirsia sticks.

This is putting together the legendary PTK 64 attacks, for which I was certified in 2005.

When I started with Zach Whitson, it was my intent to learn Pekiti Tirsia kali and Kenpo Counterpoint exclusively. I loved training with Manny Reyes Sr., it just seemed like the next logical step in my progression as a Kenpoist. That was the subject of my latest article.

How Kenpo Karate led me to CTS

These were definitely good times and, if you are wondering, I miss the dreads, but not the extra hundred pounds…

See you on the mat! RH

BTW – If superhero movies interest you, I write for MoviePilot. This post has almost 10,000 views!

4 Characters We Could See in

Captain America: Civil War

4 characters pic

Bowie Style

Alternate title:

How a Gay, Ginger, Bonk-eyed, Snaggle-toothed Freak in a Dress Led Me on a Path to Martial Arts Success

We interrupt this blog that is primarily dedicated to shamelessly promoting Haastyle Martial Arts Academy and the Counterpoint Tactical System (<– please visit the website for more details), to address a gaping hole in the universe; the passing of one Mr. David Robert Jones (January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016), always known to his fans as David Bowie. I’m aware that most folks reading these words are becoming ever thoroughly dependent upon ingesting my periodic wisdom vis-a-vis martial arts and fight sport, but this day demands another tactic. So, as I have always known since my formative years, and applied for so long now with Master Whitson, you must do what feels right, and the unexpected output may often be the better choice. I know this to be true in martial arts, so let’s see if it carries over to my writing. Master Z is famous for saying “I don’t know, let’s try it and see,” when asked how he would respond to a particular attack. How will this article be received? I don’t know, we’ll see…

My martial arts training has had myriad  influences, probably starting with the G.O.A.T Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee in the early 1970’s, but, around that same time, I was discovering music. The only thing that has impacted my life more than my training is music. David Bowie was one of the musicians that influenced me, beginning as early as I can remember. I don’t know when exactly, I’m thinking it was seeing footage of the screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo singing “Space Oddity” from the documentary, concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars which came out in 1973 (I was 9 years old)?

The influence then became unexpectedly reinforced as I sat with my Mom and Dad, thus gaining their approval, for his legendary performance with Bing Crosby in 1977. Here is the Funny or Die version (a fairly reverential take, btw), lest we suffer from Bowie overload this week.

The early influence was solidified with the revolutionary effects in his “Ashes to Ashes” video (from his 1980 disc, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)) that was touted at the time as one of the first music videos. The song itself,  with it’s ‘death of the zeitgeist’ proclamation:

“Ashes to ashes, funk to funky; We know Major Tom’s a junkie; Strung out in heaven’s high, hitting an all-time low”

This was heavy stuff for a 16 year old who could take or leave the ’70’s. This line alone has had a great impact on my life and, indeed, my martial arts training. Things will not stay what they were yesterday; what you once thought, may not be true; and, with perseverance (and the intrusion of alternative influences), hitting an all-time low need not mean the end of the line.

True influence is only achieved through generations. So as I moved on in my life, I continued to feel the great influence the man, now nattily attired in a white suit, presenting himself as a ‘serious, modern man’, had on me. I’ll never forget putting the record (yes, vinyl) on in my dorm room at Tobey Hall on the first day of my sophomore year. By the time I had to flip the record over, half of the hall was gathered listening to the funk get funky and the great, then pretty much unknown, Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar for Bowie’sLemmy-Kilmister-RIP-2015 Let’s Dance (1983). Admittedly, an album of it’s time, but I met a lot of good friends that day. To be sure, most of those guys would like to see a tip of the hat to another recently passed legend, one, Lemmy Kilmister, a man who has also been an influence.

Moving on to the next generation, an early recordings of Bowie’s, turned up as a favorite for sing alongs back in the day at the Haasienda. One of his first singles, “Love You ’til Tuesday” was on a compilation we had of early punk rock influences called “Alter-No-Daze” (I can’t find a link online, but if I do I will update). My daughter Marissa (now the lead singer of the great punk rock band out of Greenville, NC called No Brainer) and I, used to listen to this on a loop. The Ramones, Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees et al., were punks early influences.  The irony in this song was that, despite what a downer Bowie could be in the ’70’s when I was introduced, this was a very fun, uplifting song, and my kids loved it!

I want to wrap up this incredibly self indulgent post by saying that I continue to update my Bowie collection and have followed Bowie’s ch-ch-ch-changes, literally, until the day he died. ChangesOneBowie, his first greatest hits set, has been on my desert island list for more than 30 years without hesitation, and his new record, Blackstar, came out on his 60th birthday just two days before he passed are the bookends. His previous collection called The Next Day came out in 2013 and started up a bit of a Bowie renaissance for me, as I revisited his entire catalog. Has there ever been someone that has combined music and the visual presentation with such amazing diversity, passion and, don’t be mad bro, success, for so many years like he has?

 “His death was no different from his life — a work of Art,”

Tony Visconti, Bowie’s long-time collaborator

No, Bowie was not my favorite, but he has had a tremendous influence on all of them: Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, The Pretenders, Social Distortion, REM, Nirvana and Frank Turner, just to name a few.

I could never do justice to a eulogy, so if you need more, check out this great article from one of my favorites sites, Consequence of Sound, David Bowie Lives! The Cunning Exit of a Post-Modern Lazarus.  It provided the final push, and inspired me to go this route with my writing today.   I also thought this was funny – God Finalizes Supergroup Lineup ; or maybe he had a divine plan, according to this article in The Telegraph (sounds English), David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale.

David Bowie made me understand that I should think outside the box, that I should question what I have been presented, that I don’t have to (and maybe I shouldn’t) be today, the same as I was yesterday and, in his final movement, the finale, if you will, to show grace Under Pressure. These are well known themes that he first helped me with as a child and stay with me to this day, the light of the universe shines ever brighter now that you are among the stars. Godspeed Starman…

Over here on E Street, we’re feeling the great loss of David Bowie. David was a visionary artist and an early supporter of our music. Always changing and ahead of the curve, he was an artist whose excellence you aspired to. He will be sorely missed. – Bruce

“He was the artist who had the most influence on me, both musically and personally. His courage and fearless creativity was a model to follow. I didn’t know him well, but I will always love him. He was supportive, and lent his help, when it meant the most. There will never be another like him, and the world will not be the same without David Bowie.” – Joan Jett

You were the single flame in the center of it all.
Thank you David
X chrissie

His music got me through a troubled childhood. He provided joy, imagination, and escape. His phrasing when he sings, his poetic and stylish lyrics…this man shaped thousands of boys and girls who went on to be their own rock stars. Thank you, Mr. Bowie, for the special gifts you gave all of us. – Mike Ness

Right now, it feels as if the solar system is off its axis, as if one of our main planetary anchors has lost it’s orbit. That said—I am certain that wherever Bowie is now—I want to be there someday. —Michael Stipe

RIP Bieber


See you on the mat! RH




Feature Friday – Ez-E

Welcome to my Friday Feature, a weekly post designed to introduce to you some of our best and brightest students at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy and illuminate where their success comes from, what brought them to our Academy, and discuss some of the challenges they may have faced along the way. If you are not yet a member, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the upcoming weekly features. We started just last week with an introduction to one of our Youth Phase II students, Tyler K.

This week I want to introduce to you my good friend Ezara–Ez-E (pronounced E-Z-E) as I call him. He contacted me for the first time, as I recall, way back in 2008. We exchanged several Facebook messages through the Miami Cacoy Doce Pares page . Ez was unable to begin


Here’s me with Ezara and Bryan circa June 2014

training with me for a variety of reasons until 2011. I always use him as one of the examples of getting in to train when you are ready. This should not translate to eternal procrastination, just realistic expectations of time, finances, and desire.

I have students come to me for all kinds of reasons: health and fitness, the search for a hobby, and, of course, the desire to learn some form of personal protection. Ezara is one of THE most motivated students who has ever come my way, partly because he was the victim of a terrible assault that landed him in the hospital, and almost worse. Prior to reaching out to me, he had done a tremendous amount of research: he knew a bit about the Cacoy Doce Pares (CDP) system and found the best instruction in South Florida at HMAA. It turns out we had a common background. We both had trained extensively in Bruce Lee’s, Jeet Kune Do and Ed Parker’s American Kenpo Karate. The funny thing is, Ez actually came to me to learn CDP, a deceptively simple, easy-to-learn system that we train primarily for close quarters blunt weapons. We teach CDP in our youth classes, as well as having it as a main part of our Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) program.

Here’s Ez-E, early last year, as he was preparing for his blue belt test in Counterpoint Tactical System…

Ezara is in his 50s, keeps himself in good shape, is happily married, and travels up from Hollywood as often as three times a week to train with me privately. He works as a professional musician with a nightly gig as the piano man at Runyon’s in Coral Springs. As a musician he needs to look after his hands, so HMAA training is perfect for him as we train safe 100% of the time. He’s awesome–so for crying out loud, put some bread in his jar. Like so many of us, Ezara has had some financial challenges through the years, but has always maintained his personal commitment to be able to protect himself should he ever be attacked again. Ez has very bad knees as a result of spending his younger days “on the boards,” amongst other things, so over the years we have had to modify some of the tactics to accommodate that limitation.

Well, it’s four plus years since Ez started training with me. He is a good friend, confidant, and training partner. He has helped to make me a better martial artist. Ezara was awarded his 1st degree black belt in Cacoy Doce Pares in October 2015 and is a red belt in CTS. Congratulations, Ezara, on your diligence and dedication to training. You are a fine example of what can be accomplished by a student in our adult program at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy!

See you on the mat…

Russ Haas

FMA Training with Music Will Make You Better!

bob_marley__you_feel_no_painSo we begin this week with an expansion of one of the points that was made in last weeks post “CTS is NOT for Everybody…”, if you haven’t read it, check it out. One of the points that I made was that the Counterpoint Tactical System (and Filipino Martial Arts training) may not be for you if you don’t like music. Now, of course, this is an over generalization, it’s clear, when we get together, that many of my CTShello-is-this-thing-on brothers and sisters are not only tone deaf, but one might wonder if they can hear any music playing at all? Yet somehow they still manage great success in their training. As for me, “it sure helps m’trainin’ when the right tunes are a’playin.” There are a couple of elements of my solo practice, and in group classes at Haastyle Martial Arts Academy, where I feel that music has been particularly useful by improving the process, and thus improving the results. That’s what we’re all about, right? Give a few of these ideas a try and let me know if you get the feeling.

Warm-up – The first thing that I do when I step on the mat to begin class is turn on some upbeat songs and this is the only instance where I, personally, will put up with “pop” music. Yeah, I’m taking one for the team here, although, truth be told, I have used this tool when training alone. It’s easier for everybody to get going on the mat when you transition with something you may have heard on the radio on the way over. It’s got to be something upbeat, maybe something that you can sing along to (in your head, I mean, nobody, nobody wants to hear you singing on the mat… **cough cough – Shaun – cough cough**. We’ll get some footwork done, maybe some push-ups, sit-ups, etc. 10-15 fifteen minutes, for me, that’s about my tolerance for this type of music. Here are some good tunes that we have used over the years for this purpose:

  1. Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5 (when they were tolerable)
  2. Poker Face – Lady GaGa (before she became the Queen of England)
  3. Misery Business – Paramore (a guilty pleasure)

“Pop” warm-up fails include Adele, Maroon 5 (new stuff), and ANY country music recorded this century.

Solo Weapon training – Every FMA practitioner spends a good bit of time where it’s just you and your tools. Many of us have weapon racks and displays where we keep our tools/ toys. In CTS and most other systems there are many striking patterns and defensive tactics that are to be practiced on the regs, in an effort to stay sharp (a bit of blade humor there for you). In my training, I always begin with straight up curriculum and work up to freestyle, sometimes going back and forth. I’ll grab a weapon and start to play, I use the music to give me queues. The music will tell me to speed up, slow down, change my timing, or change my weapon. For this type of training, I listen to drum music. Drum music can come from all over the world, in my collection, I have several Japanese taiko drum groups, Scottish, German, African, native American and several Latin drum groups. This type of music tends to vary rhythmically in tempo and time. The use of different percussion instruments and the sturm and drang nature of it can change what you are doing in an instant. Back in the day, I used to workout with Jason Bonham (yes, THAT Jason Bonham) and I was always hoping he would give FMA a try, alas, I did get his son in for a while, but never him. Here are some great drum corps that I listen to:

  1. Fushu Daiko (far and away my favorite)
  2. Wolgemut (German/ renaissance style)
  3. Albannach (Scottish drum corps)

Double Stick banging

“I don’t like to hammer out some nice sinawali’s to hard rock music.”

said no FMA player ever…

At HMAA, all of our Cacoy Doce Pares classes begin with pengke-pengke. For this double stick practice I reserve our best hard rock/ old school punk music. The slamming guitars and super fast tempo lends itself to pushing the pace, forgetting about the minutiae and, above all, don’t stop. The only problem is many of the songs won’t fill a two or three minute round, anyway, go, go, go!

Here are some of my faves:

  1. Bad Reputation – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (THE best)
  2. Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
  3. Ring of Fire – Social Distortion (I love Johnny Cash, but this is the one you want)

This music is also great for pad work, oh, and, listening to every day…

Doce Pares sparring – Zach Whitson (the founder of CTS) and I always have some music on when we train. The best is when we throw some blues or reggae music on and spar in the way of Supreme Grandmaster “Cacoy” Canete. The chilled out vibe of some Buddy Guy or Muddy Waters blues records, I mean CD’s, I mean MP3’s; or the cool riddims of Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff or, of course Brother Bob really set the tone for a relaxed feeling of the movement of “Cacoy”. Try these:

  1. Peter Tosh – Live & Dangerous: Boston 1976
  2. The Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters – Live at the Checkerboard Lounge 1981
  3. Cyndi Lauper – Memphis Blues (2010)

For me music is as much a part of my life as my heartbeat or breathing and training is as much a part of my life as music, so let the music move you in more than your heart and your head.

So if you’ve come in off the street
And you’re beginning to feel the heat
Well listen buster
You’d better to start to move your feet
To the rockin’est, rock-steady beat
Of Madness
One step beyond!


Like Brother Bob says “one good thing about music, when it hits you you feel no pain.” For a bunch folks who are used to getting whacked with stick all day, well, that’s not nothing. So take advantage of the heavy heavy monster sound. Get on your feet and take your training ONE STEP BEYOND!

See you on the mat!