Recap: Warriors Weekend
01 Jun 2015
Many of you may know that on March 1st and March 2nd we hosted the first ever Warrior’s Weekend! From the outside world, this may even seem like another training seminar like so many others that we host over the year. However, it simply was not!
Before I tell you about the weekend itself, let me give you a little background on this event. Warrior’s Weekend was something that I have dreamed about doing for over half a decade. After being a part of, and witnessing so many martial arts schools that talk about community, or being the cutting edge in training, or brotherhood…but don’t actually stand for anything…I wanted to do something different. I truly wanted to do something that went beyond the walls of our studio, beyond the thought of martial arts.
The martial arts business is kind of dirty, there is a lot of back biting, comparing, “bash” marketing, and greed. But with over 6 million people in Chicagoland alone, I personally never felt that any of that was necessary or conducive to what martial arts is about. We can all coexist, network, exchange, and truly learn from each other. Styles separate man, schools separate man, and ego separates man. Warrior’s Weekend was designed to break that mold. No more separation….and a new found unity!
It’s Saturday morning and I am driving to the studio to open the doors. Although I feel excited, my nerves were kicking in. Did I cover everything? Will everyone show? Is this the right thing to do? How will the attendees feel about this event? At 9:30am the bodies began to pour in! We had people from IL, MI, UT, WA, and other distant lands! Instantly everyone was shaking hands and giving man-hugs! We are off to the right start.
After a brief intro, I turned the floor over to the first instructor…Carlos Flores. Carlos has been a friend for over a decade and represents the Dog Brothers Martial Arts. In his spiritual way, he began his session with a 5 min meditation. We gathered in a circle, at peace, and as one. He then took us into footwork and agility drills that complimented his actual lesson. Carlos began to show us the Dos Triques curriculum from DBMA. Something that only Guru Mark Denny has taught publically in the past, and now Carlos (wth Guru’s blessing) is sharing with us. For the next 2 hours Carlos delved deeply into the double stick combat method. I think I saw mouths salivating! This was very special.
After a quick lunch we returned to the mats. Heading the class was my dear friend Dominick Izzo with his Wing Chun. Dom is a YouTube sensation with nearly 13,000 subscribers to his channel. Some consider him to be the black sheep of Wing Chun for his very outspoken ways….I consider him to the best resource for Wing Chun that I have ever encountered. Dominick began to blow up the myths of Wing Chun that people have. He criticized the WC community, and himself to show us how he came to his opinions. But it wasn’t all talk, Dom being the whooping 5’5″ man that he is exchanged with everyone in the room….and he was easily moving people and getting inside their guard. He gave us his philosophy of “facing” and “attacking” then put it to work like a BOSS! A few sttendees came to me after and said, “Your friend is f***ing bad ass! I’ve never seen Wing Chun like this!” I smiled.
Closing out the day was my close friend and Jiu Jitsu mentor Alex Embry. I haven’t known Alex for as long as the others, but him and I had an instant click! He’s been learning my Jeet Kune Do methods, and in exchange has been helping my Jiu Jitsu game. One of the reasons I chose him for this event is due to his pure heart, his excellent ability to teach, and his background as a SWAT team Sgt. Alex opened the floor with a bit of his history, and a story of some violence that he faced in the field, and explained how it affected his Jiu Jitsu. He instantly had the attention of 25+ type A personalities! As he led us through his progression on the ground dealing with positional dominance…he absolutely smoked our minds. So simple, yet so effective! Whether it was an advanced Jiu Jitsu practitioner, or a brand new person….his content was nothing short of amazing! He ended day 1…..and we all wanted more.
Day 2 is here and I didn’t sleep more than 2 hours! Up all night with sheer excitement and butterflies. Everyone arrived on time despite the snow storm…eager to learn was an understatement.
Here we go…Paul Ingram. I’ve known Paul for many moons….and have watched him grow up from being a young man to now being the leader in the Pekiti Tirsia Kali world. Paul related the single stick training methods to the long blade then to the short blade. He gave some breath taking demo’s with a REAL knife and moved with absolute precision. Fair to say…this kid is DANGEROUS! Paul walked us thru the fundamentals of edged weapons and the PTK system. He spoke with enthusiasm, and it was received with greater enthusiasm. I think he truly gave many of us a new outlook on blade training!
Now it’s my turn. I wanted to give an element of Jeet Kune Do that was hard earned, hard learned, and simply not seen in ANY other JKD studio. For years people have noticed something about my game that other JKD guys don’t have…today I was going to show people what it is, and how it works. Low Line Attacking! How to explosively bridge the gap, and absolutely devastate someone’s balance and mobility. I started with some brief techniques for the non-kickers. But when I broke down the formula, and showed how it relates to punching, kicking, trapping, takedowns, and weapons….I saw a lot of “ah-ha” moments.
Now to the most amazing exchange I have ever witnessed. We all sat in a circle, the “circle of brotherhood” as I coined it. We passed a knife, he/she who holds the knife spoke on what their experience was. The brotherhood was tight, abundant, and overwhelming. Instead of hearing “niec work” we heard “thank you for sharing”…and it wasn’t just to the 5 instructors…it was amongst everyone.
Interesting to see how once we broke out of the walls of our studio, style, or business…how much we can unite and what affects it will carry for the rest of our lives. I stated that this event was to be a stone in the middle of a pond meant to cause ripples. I shared Mahatma Ghandi’s saying “Be the change you seek”, which means instead of bitching about every other martial arts school who shows no support of another, no true sense of community, no sharing of information…..we are to be of the few who actually do.
I thank the instructors who came and taught at this event. I thank the students who attended and shared this event. I praise the brotherhood it formed by example, and I hold on to a moment that I feel WILL change the martial arts community for the better…starting now.
Until Next Time.