Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Anthony DeLongis article and award

A quick note that Anthony DeLongis, Black Belt Magazine's 2008 Weapons Instructor of the Year, has the first of a two-part article on combative application of the whip appearing in the December 2008 issue.

Peter Freedman on Self-Esteem

This is a newsletter I received from Guro Peter Freedman, a colleague on the East Coast. As one who has studied NLP and hypnotherapy, I recognize and strongly agree with what he has to say. Too often I've seen students acquire skills but then fail to actualize their knowledge based on lack of self-esteem. With Peter's permission, I've posted his writing below.

Jeff "Stickman" Finder


Hello to All,

I want to take a moment to address some thing that has an effect on all of us, not just children but also adults. I want to take a moment and address that inner child that is in every adult. I want to address the issue of insecurity. This feeling of not being good enough or afraid to fail or even to look like a clown in front of others or afraid to make mistakes.

The fear of failing. Even the fear of not knowing some thing well enough. The fear of looking or sounding stupid. The fear of dancing etc.; the fear of being yourself. This inner fear started some where during our childhood and has remained with us into adulthood.

This inner fear we call insecurity keeps us from accomplishing our goals. It keeps us from getting ahead in a struggling world. It pulls us down from becoming happy. It stops us in our tracks from trying new adventures or even reaching our goals or setting new goals. This inner fear cripples us to a point where we feel and think we are not good enough to accomplish things on our own or to learn new skills. It stops us from just trying something, anything, new.

People who are insecure feel as though they must please others so they (the insecure) can get the approval from others to try something new with out worry of ridicule. This insecurity or inner fear prevents us from making new friends or getting into new relationships. It can also push us into bad relationships we will regret later. This insecurity (inner fear) can cause us to make bad business decisions that can effect our welfare for not just us but our families as well.

A Child's Confession - Wisdom of a Guro

I have been teaching martial arts since the 1970s and it has been quite a journey for me. Through the martial arts I have learned much about myself. Through the martial arts I have learned much about other people as well. What I call natural and common sense of reading people others might call psychic abilities. I say this is just wisdom gathered over the years of trying to understand myself and my interaction of others who share this planet with me. What I have come to take notice during my life time on this planet so far and up to this point in time I will share with you here and now openly.

I have been really listening to all my students for the past ten years now more clearly than I ever could have listened before. Not sure why this new ability has awakened in me - (my ability to hear more deeper and clearer) but it just did and I am thankful for it.

I have been listening to my kids in my kids martial art classes talk, both kids and teenagers alike. What I hear is saddening. I hear them say to me all the time that they are not worthy. I hear them say to me that they are not good enough. Now I have not only noticed this in the kids and teenagers class but also in the adults class. I have seen a common thread that links all of us together, children - teenagers - adults, a common mind that has brought us to live our lives for the belief or care of what others might think, or do think, of us. We become crippled so badly that we wave our own rights of happiness in favor of what others may think of us.


When teaching all ages I have come to notice what people say to me. I notice how they use their hands while they are explaining themselves. I watch their body language and facial expressions while they talk and I listen to the level of vibrations in their voice. Also I hear the volume of when their voice rises or falls when using certain key words. These key words coupled with their body language is what sets off my mind to start taking notice there is a problem that needs my attention.

This I call the wisdom of the Guro. Here is an example of what I mean.

One child confessed to me that he is not too bright and is in fact stupid. This hurt me deeply to hear such a young child say such a thing about himself. I asked him “where did you hear such a thing.”

He said “my mother, my father, my brother, my sister, my cousins, my friends,” even his school teacher. He mentioned that the only place he did not hear this was in my school and in my presence. So everywhere else he travels he has been made to believe he is stupid and not worthy of anything.

I was taken back by this and went against the grain and told him he is a very bright individual. Also I mentioned that he should not accept words like that because he will start believing in these words over a period of time and it will have ill effects on him when he grows up into an adult.

I have recently had talks with his parents and they did not recognize or know they were causing this kind of effect on their child. I told them they need to speak with the school teacher as well and other family members to curb how and what they say to this child.

They are destroying this young mind before it even can get a chance to grow into something positive. I explained to the parents that what they have been doing they have actually learned from their parents and without knowing it, they are actually keeping the chain going strong in their family now.

I have heard adults tell me the reason they can’t train with me now is because they don't have what it takes to be able to do what I am teaching them or sharing with them. They lack coordination to do the drills at hand. My question to these adults is, what else are you stopping yourself from experiencing in life in the belief lack of coordination or know how. Is that really the reason, or are you afraid of what others may think of you if you make a mistake or look foolish in front of these people?

You see it all starts in childhood. You wear some thing that your parents don't like and they tell you so and so will see you. Do you want so and so to think this of you? I say tell so and so to go get lost and start living your own life and let out your spirit.

Start enjoying your life now. Stop caring what others may think of you and be happy. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and try some thing new. After all our reason for being here on this planet is to experience life. Why not go and get the best experience you can before it is too late and life comes to an end for you.
Martial art is a great way to learn to express your self and grow your confidence, as long as your martial art teacher fosters this approach of allowing you to be yourself (and some do not).

Start checking in with your self and taking inventory. Start questioning all the reasons why you have not enjoyed yourself or taken on new adventures in life. Why are you afraid? Question everything.

I can go deeper on this subject but your eyeballs will fall out with all the reading you would be doing. Come to class & I will be happy to talk with you and explain more.

Bring a troubled friend. Give them the gift of freedom of soul through martial training.

NOW -- Don't Worry - Be Happy! And Experience life!

Please write to me with any questions you may have. I want to wish you all a very healthy and happy thanks giving.

Respectfully yours
Guro Peter Freedman

Weare - Manchester NH Dojo (603)529-3564

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fall odds and ends

It’s been a month since I last blogged as a lot has been happening.

First I want to start with a brief memory of master Luther Secrease. It’s been a long time since I last visited Luther’s school, 1989 to be exact, and that was for an escrima seminar by Serrada master Sultan Uddin. Though he’d assisted grandmaster Angel Cabales many times over a number of years, this was Sultan’s first time on his own. Since I was local, Angel called and asked me to drop by in case Sultan needed any assistance, but when I got there, I could see he had things well in hand.

As for Luther’s funeral, it was memorable for a number of reasons. What everyone says about black churches is true; they do have the best music! The church band was a well-seasoned group of three keyboard players (acoustic and electric piano and organ), guitar, bass and drums, plus several professional singers showed up to perform gospel and soul, and a 15 year old kid who did a long jazz saxophone solo that would have made Roland Kirk proud.

In attendance was an all-star gathering of top martial artists from Northern California, including luminaries like grandmaster Byong Yu, Al Reyes, Al Colavito, Sam Montgomery (a champion fighter and former teammate of Luther’s) … the list could go on and on, as the overwhelming majority there shared Luther’s deep passion for the martial arts. Even the minister was a black belt student of Byong Yu!

Later at the graveside service, the minister made a special request for all the black belts to gather to one side. Reflecting how the military gives a 21 gun salute to fallen veterans, he said he’d like to start a new tradition amongst us martial artists, and so he had the black belts (at least 30 went to the cemetery) get into horse stances to give a 21 kiai salute, with a strong punch for each kiai. It was a moving send-off to one of the finest teachers and fighters the Bay Area has known, and I hope this does catch on as a tradition in the martial community, sending off our own in a style that can be appreciated.

Meanwhile, in the last blog I mentioned taking stock of my life and making some changes. With the weeklong hypnotherapy training session a time to be deeply reflective, and framed on either end by the deaths of two influential martial artists, I decided the time had come to act on idea that had been floating around for the past year, so I proposed to the woman to whom I’m now married! Things indeed happened rapidly once we agreed to seal the deal, and within a couple of weeks we held a small ceremony along the Bay Area shoreline at the spot where we first met. Everything fell into place, from old Kenpo compadre Bob Ernst doing the ceremony, to the unexpected appearance of Tom Meadows, my good friend from the U.S. team at the inaugural 1989 WEKAF championships, who just happened to be working nearby in Richmond for three days!

The only snafu was the engraved wedding rings we ordered from Ireland didn’t arrive. Apparently U.S. Customs decided they were a security risk and confiscated them, or so we think. The U.S. Post Office has been typically unhelpful. While the tracking number on the registered package tells us the rings arrived in the U.S. at 2:25pm on October 2, 2008, the post office says that the package can no longer be tracked with the number that provided that information. I was given a Customs number to call, which got a recording saying if I was calling because the Post Office had provided the number, that was a mistake because Customs doesn’t track individual packages it seizes, and a notice would be mailed to the sender in about 30 days (hasn’t happened yet). I contacted my congressman; I even emailed the White House. No rings arrived for our wedding, so we had to use others. Today I got a call from a postal customer service person who gave me a number to call to start a trace on international shipping. I called, and they said they couldn’t do a trace; it had to come from Ireland, where authorities there have already stated that since the package had arrived in the U.S., it was out of their jurisdiction. Aside from this bureaucratic comedy of national security proportions, things have been great.

On the escrima front, I was invited by master Darren Tibon to join a demo for halftime at a Golden State Warrior’s basketball game, but that has now apparently been pushed back to Filipino Culture Week in March. The occasion is the NBA is going to retire the jersey of the first Filipino who played in the NBA to their Hall of Fame. I believe this is Raymond Townsend, a UCLA point guard who was drafted in the second round in 1978 by the Warriors and who played for four years in the league.

I don’t mind this getting pushed back, as I have some young kids (9-14) whom I’d like to bring to the demo, and they can use the extra time to improve. I know Darren has invited some other groups to participate, to put on a strong performance, and I know how hard Darren’s guys train. Tonight I got a call from him that they actually broke one of my sticks! They’ve had it over a year; when Darren said he thought my sticks were unbreakable, I laughed and used my standard line, that the Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable. Still, I continued, how many rattan sticks do you think you would have destroyed instead of using this one? About 50 he replied. That sounds about right to me!

Closing notes: Here is an upcoming event on the blog calendar. In less than two weeks, on November 15, grandmaster Bobby Tabimina will be doing his last Balintawak seminar before returning home to the Philippines. I have tremendous respect for his abilities and style of escrima. If you can train with him, it’s a memorable experience, and a skill set that is a valuable contribution to anyone’s repertoire. This will again be in Hayward, California, and it must be pre-paid by November 11.

Finally, for those who can find it, the January 2009 edition of Inside Kung-Fu has an article by Chris Suboreau and Steve Magness on Sonny Umpad’s escrima system! It’s great to see how Sonny’s students are working to continue his legacy of Visayan Style Corto Kadena.