Archive for the 'Inside Kung-Fu Columns' Category

22
Jan
09

KI Online Training- IKF January 2009

IKF Magazine

January 2009

Vol. 37

KI Online Training

By Joseph Simonet

In the fall of 1995, Addy Hernandez was attending college near Spokane, Wash. The three hours of travel time from our hometown to Spokane created a bit of a challenge for us to get together and train. We would usually alternate travel on weekends; she would come home one weekend and I would travel to Spokane the next weekend. Though not an ideal situation for quality training time, we managed to make it work. On one of my trips to Spokane, Addy and I wandered into a used bookstore. The owner of the store asked us if we would like to see the “Internet” in action. Remember this was 1995 and at that point in time, I had never seen anything on the World Wide Web. So we proceeded to the store owner’s office and were amazed at all of his fancy computer stuff. At that moment, I felt like I was stepping into the future. He asked me what I was interested in searching, and I replied martial arts.

In a matter of seconds he was showing me photos and text from a Web site somewhere in Europe. Initially, I was blown away. The marvel of visiting all these different martial art sites soon dimmed as I became more disappointed in the quality, or should I say “lack of quality,” of the actual karate, kung-fu and so on. The technical genius of the Internet was overshadowed by the unimpressive and sloppy presentations of the so-called “masters” I observed. I remember saying at the time, “You can bounce it off the moon and circle it around the sun and back, but it’s still watered-down karate to me.”

The Internet has grown in availability, quality and enormous technical advances. Since my first chance encounter with the Web, I have waded through eight different “webmasters.” (It’s interesting to me how as a martial artist we spend a lifetime training to master our craft, and tech geeks take a weekend Web design workshop and call themselves “webmasters”). Our Web site, KIFightingConcepts.com, still isn’t finished nor shall it ever be. We are constantly evolving despite the long run of “masters.”

Developing, maintaining and improving one’s Web site is an enormous task. One of my main objectives for ours is to offer online martial arts training. The challenge has been waiting for technology to catch up with the public’s demands. The public is looking for affordability, availability and high-speed quality. I believe we’ve finally arrived.

Addy and I are now offering online training through our site. The subjects are many and varied. We are teaching kenpo karate, wing chun, Filipino arts (stick and blade), Pentjak silat, tai chi, boxing, weapons, wooden dummy, lock flow, sensitivity drills and grappling. Our intent is to make available the most comprehensive collection of preeminent martial arts training on the Web. We both realize that to complete this task will ultimately take years. However, we already have several hundred downloads available right now. I estimate we’ll have several thousand training choices before we are done. The idea is to show the world our vision of what training martial arts is all about.

Sometimes people ask me if I’m worried that other martial artists will take our “secrets” and call them their own. First, there are no secrets. I once read that to make an apple pie from scratch, you would first have to reinvent the universe.

Addy and I have unique and highly functional training methods that are fun, challenging, practical and thus valuable. We are opening up our art and training methods to the world. We have already made several DVDs with Unique Publications and Paladin Press. Offering downloads is not intended to replace or dismiss our Unique or Paladin DVDs. On the contrary; we believe all our projects, books, articles, DVDs, seminars, camps and now online training are part of an integral tapestry of our life’s work.

Our DVDs are comprehensive presentations of specific arts and training methods. Someone interested in defensive knife training in particular would be advised to purchase the “A Cut Above” DVD from Unique Publications. If someone was interested in Sinawali (double-stick drills) I would suggest getting our “Secrets of Sinawali” from Paladin Press. What is useful about our online training is that once you sign up, you can have both knife and stick training available to you as well as hundreds of other training tips and drills. It just depends on your interest and, of course, your depth of knowledge.

We encourage beginners to high-level black belts to reference our material somewhat as an e-University. Everyone has something to gain. We will also address questions by choosing the most interesting or relevant ones, and creating downloads to represent our answers. We will demonstrate the why’s of our answers in this format. We believe we can show and share the depth of our skills and knowledge. So every week, ask us the tough questions. We’ll pick the best ones and address it right on our site. Addy and I are excited about this aspect of our online training. Come visit us at www.kifightingconcepts.com.

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22
Jan
09

Following a Vision- IKF February 2009

Inside Kung-Fu Magazineikf-feb-2009

February 2009

Vol. 37

Following a vision

By Addy Hernandez

Late last summer, my instructor Joseph Simonet and I had just finished an amazing tai chi session together. I was sitting in the center of our Bagua (the name of one of our training platforms at Wind and Rock) as Joseph went and gathered some organic apricots from one of our trees. He brought them to me without a word as we sat and enjoyed the sweet fruits of our labor. It was one of those moments!

This feeling of wholeness and well-being overtook me. As a cool breeze and warm sun intoxicated my senses, I felt and intuitive vibration of being here in the now. Breaching the silence, I simply said, “Thank you.” Without hesitation Joseph replied, “Don’t thank me, thank Lillian, Lillian Susumi.”

I learned from Joseph that Lillian was one of his earliest tai chi instructors back in the 1980’s. She specialized in tai chi chueh and was the one who introduced Joseph to Gao-fu, his most prolific tai chi teacher. Joseph told me the story of Lillian calling him from several states away, asking permission to come and visit him on her vision quest of enlightenment. Apparently, she was seeking a favorable location to live her art. She felt a need and a calling to reach out to Joseph. A few days later she arrived and visited with Joseph for several days.

During her visit, she had identified several vortexes on Joseph’s property. After a few days rest, she left, never to return.

As Joseph told me this story, once again, I was enveloped in this sense of bliss. “So,” I asked, “Are you telling me that I’m sitting in the center of a vortex?”

Joseph replied, “It’s not that simple; let me explain.”

Joseph proceeded to tell me that he felt his art, “The Art and Science of Mook Jong,” was really very simple. It was really more like the “Art of Intuition.” He summed it up by saying it was all about, “the skill of thinking intuitively” and manifesting it physically through the notion of synchronicity.

Intrigued, I replied, “What is synchronicity?”

Joseph answered, “Synchronicity is a theory from Carl Jung relating to meaningful coincidences. Jung was a student of the I-Ching.” Joseph later confided in me that during Lillian’s visit she had also opened a gate for him. He learned to let go of knowing and began accessing the not knowing – an intuitive synchronicity. Joseph proceeded to tell me that when he built the “Bagua” training platform, he simply let go and filled in the blanks. He had a vision of what the platform was meant to be and followed that vision literally.

However, after designing, building and training on the Bagua, the intuitive, metaphysical, spiritual and historical significance has only now begun to reveal itself. This is where the story gets interesting. Unbeknownst to him, in building his “training platform” Joseph tapped into a 100 million-year-old life form-one of the oldest and most valuable written texts on the planet, all the while creating a giant natural magnet out of earth crystals.

Starting with the “vortex” location that Lillian had sensed, Joseph outlined an octagon shaped with basalt rock columns. Basalt rocks have a strong magnetic property, are hexagonal in shape (six-sided), and are a group of rock formations referred to as metamorphic rock or changes in form. This coincides with the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching (The Book of Changes) and Bagua’s palm changes. At the center of our platform is a brown Moroccan marble yin/yang symbol, which is also a part of the metamorphic rock classification. Captured in the brown marble is a fossil from the cretaceous period (150 million years ago). It’s a nautilus fossil whose species has survived several severe extinction events. Joseph also built an 8-foot waterfall which crashes into rocks and emits negative ions. Negative ions help purify the air, similar to the surrounding trees which create negative ions during photosynthesis. Imbedded in the concrete octagon are the 8 trigrams and the 64 hexagrams of I-Ching. Granite is known for its high level of oxygen composition.

Adding up all these “coincidences,” I realized that when Joseph said Lillian had opened up a gate for him, he truly tapped into a universal matrix of intuitive synchronicity. No wonder I feel an amazing energy when I train on the “Bagua.”

22
Jan
09

Finding Balance- IKF February 2008

ikf-feb-20081Inside Kung-Fu

“Finding Balance”

By Addy Hernandez

February 2008

Pg. 24

I have been a business partner and student of Joseph Simonet’s for about 14 years. It has been an amazing delight and a daunting challenge to keep up with his energy and creative mind. Joseph has explosive motor skills, coupled with an innovative mind. I’ll never have his size, speed or strength. However, I am developing physically, spiritually, intellectually and creatively on my own.

As a female martial artist, it is up to me to extract and discern the value of the lessons I am taught. It is my choice and/or decision to understand that Joseph, as well as other influential people in my life, are my guides not my guardians. It is through my eyes, and my eyes alone, through which I view the world.

I choose to be the perpetual student. I maintain an insatiable appetite to grow and become an evolved woman/person. My fields of interest are endless: martial arts, cooking, running, gardening, pottery, reading, collecting wine, business, teaching and herbology.

I have met a lot of high achievers in my life. However, many seem to be out of balance and out of sync with those around them, as though they have sacrificed love, serenity and the simple things in life for money or places of high social rank. To me, the key to a life of harmony is one of balance.

Finding balance and peace in one’s life is all about making the right choices. I am convinced that I can make positive choices, which will almost always produce harmonious results. Certainly, life confronts us with many challenges and sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I am, however, a believer in the old adage, “chance favors the prepared mind.”

One of the ways in which I prepare is a combination-training program I have personally developed called, “Yo Qigong.” This is an abbreviated term, which combines yoga, tai chi and qigong.

I have been developing and teaching Yo Qigong for about 10 years. I do not have any official certification in yoga. However, I have learned from books, DVD’s and by attending yoga classes. Whenever I travel, I always seek out a yoga class. I am always open to new experiences and methods of teaching and learning. From San Francisco to New York, Toronto to Shanghai, I have experienced a wide variety of yoga practices and ideas. Every yoga class I attend sheds new light and perspective, which then enriches my personal yoga growth.

One of my first martial arts lessons as a 17-year-old schoolgirl was in Yang-style long-form tai chi. My teacher, Joseph—yes, that Joseph—started me on my lifetime path of Chinese internal arts. One of Joseph’s first points to me as a beginning tai chi practitioner was that it takes about 20 years of internal training to begin to understand the value and way of the art.

I was intimidated and humbled by Joseph’s words. However, it also galvanized my resolve to learn, practice and live the way of tai chi. I have been practicing Yang style for about 14 years, with a lifetime to go.

Joseph learned the long form from John Candea in Manitou Springs, Colo. Mr. Candea was a doctor of acupuncture and herbology. Joseph always felt privileged to have Mr. Candea for his first instructor. I say “first” because Joseph has ought out many tai chi and qigong instructor over the years.

Perhaps the most notable of internal teachers Joseph learned form was master Gao Fu. It was summer 1994 when Joseph trained with Gao Fu privately in Seattle, Wash. Joseph’s eyes always sparkle brightly as he recalls lessons he learned from her. He refers to her as “living light.” Gao Fu died in 2005. And though I never met her, I swear I feel her spirit move through me as I practice my tai chi.

When teaching my Yo Qigong, I alternate yoga positions and tai chi flow with natural patterns of spontaneity and organic feel. Depending on the energy of the students, each class is like its own entity – unique and full. Some aspect of yoga, tai chi and qigong is represented at every class. All these arts are energy-cultivating activities, with a combination of harmony and vitality emerging form our efforts.

I am only a beginner, one barely scratching the surface of such ancient and holy disciplines. It is with my deepest love, respect and humility I open my heart to the universe. To those over-achievers whose life seems to be out of balance, try yoga, tai chi or qigong classes and discover the harmonious and balanced life awaiting you.

22
Jan
09

Way of the Blade- IKF August 2007

Inside Kung-Fu

Way of the Blade

ikf-august-20071By Addy Hernandez

August 2007

Pg. 24

My martial arts training began in the early summer of my 17th year. I was a bright-eyed, impressionable, high school senior ready to conquer the world. I wanted to leave my past behind and strive full throttle into the future. Paradoxically, fate had already intervened as my past and future were on a collision course in which my reality would be forever forged.

From the beginning, training with sifu Joseph Simonet was physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. Intuitively, he seemed to know my limitation – real or imagined. Sifu Simonet introduced me to several training methods. We boxed, grappled, weight-trained, ran, hiked and worked endless rounds of focus pad combinations. I learned aspects of wing chun, silat, kenpo, doce pares and Yang-style tai chi. Each art offered a unique and challenging expression of fighting dynamics. My passion for the martial arts was insatiable as several years of training ensued.

One day during a private lesson, sifu Simonet handed me a training blade and asked me to show him my knife fighting skills. I assured him , I didn’t know any knife fighting techniques or methods. “Actually, it’s everything you know,” he replied. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” I said. Unbeknown to me, sifu had specifically taught me techniques and methods of movements, which were translatable to knife application. My jurus from silat, my kenpo techniques, the stick drills, everything became knife. My astonishment soon turned into delight, as I realized edged weapons had already been an integral part of my life.

I was born in Mexico in 1976. I was just four years old when my mother died while giving birth to my baby sister. With five very young children, my father packed up and headed north to America in search of work in the orchards of Washington State.

My father is a hard-working man, proud of his craft and Mexican heritage. He grew his own vegetables and butchered livestock to feed his family. Of all the children, I was the one who did not shy from the process of butchering our animals. Very early on, I would learn the skills by watching my father kill, skin, gut and clean animals. For me using an ax, knife and machete became a natural and necessary part of growing up. I would cut off the head of chickens using an ax and then clean and bone them with the sharpest knife my father owned. I have cut up rabbits, pigs, turkeys, deer and even a bear. It was not unusual to see my father and me side by side cutting down alfalfa and corn stocks with a machete. The use of edged tools has always been a part of my Mexican culture.

Growing up, I wanted to be like all the “American kids.” Being young and immature, I was sometimes embarrassed that we slaughtered our animals for food. Now, as a woman and martial artist, I have come to appreciate my heritage with pride and renewed respect.

It was when I was six or seven that I first witnessed an underground Mexican pastime –cockfighting. During harvest every fall my father would hire dozens of workers to pick apples. This was a time of excitement as well as long, hard hours in the orchard. At night the men would gather to drink, play music and gamble on cockfights. The scene of men gathered around a circle of rope yelling and cheering during these cockfights is both surreal and vivid. These vicious rituals would often end with dead or several injured roosters.

Unfortunately, there were some mean who would cheat to win at any cost. In cockfighting, the cheaters would secretly attach thin razors to the cock’s feet, which of course would destroy its opponent by slashing it into a bloody mess. On one particular night, the crowd was loud and frenzied. Apparently, two cheaters had been caught. In punishment, they were forced to arm each rooster with razors and fight. Here I was, a young girl, witnessing a vicious reality of contesting with blades. My recollection of the night ended in chaos, spurting blood and yelling men.

The next day, I asked my father about the cheaters and the fighting, “Papa, I don’t understand. Who was the winner of the fight?” In a somber voice my father replied, “Hija, in a real cockfight with blades – the winner is the second one who dies.”

Through my father and our culture’s necessity to survive, killing and cutting up animals taught me respect in the blade and a strong value for life. Through sifu Simonet and my passion in the martial arts, I understand the lethality of bladework through osmosis and practical self-defense application. The philosophy of these two men has merged and allowed me to forge my own way of the blade.

22
Jan
09

Choosing a Knife- IKF June 2007

ikf-june-2007Inside Kung-Fu

“Choosing a Knife”

By Addy Hernandez

June 2007

Carrying a weapon for self-defense is a serious commitment. If you are going to trust your life to a piece of gear, you owe it to yourself to choose that gear carefully. When it comes to choosing a knife for personal defense, there are some specific qualities you should consider.

Strength tops the list of qualities that a good self-defense knife should have – particularly if it is a folding knife. The design, engineering and quality of execution of a folding knife lock all affect a knife’s inherent strength and its ability to withstand the physical stresses of powerful cuts and thrusts. A lock failure could cause a folding knife to not only live up to its name at the wrong time, but it could also cost you a few fingers in the process.

Functionality is another necessary characteristic. The blade style, shape of the point, edge geometry and sharpness all have a direct bearing on how well the knife actually cuts and punctures when employed in a high-speed defensive situation. The best way to understand this quality is through actual test cutting on targets that replicate the body parts you would be cutting with your style of knife tactics. For example, if you focus on disabling cuts that target the connective tissues of the arms and legs, you can make test targets using meat roasts wrapped in plastic (to simulate skin) and covered with clothing. If your knife performs well and creates the depth of cut necessary to hit your preferred targets, you’ve validated the functionality of your knife. You’ll also have a realistic understanding of the true destructive power of your blade.

Another aspect of functionality has to do with the shape and construction of the knife’s handle. A good knife handle must provide you with a secure grip and allow you to manage the shock that is transferred back into your hand during full-power cuts and thrusts. Slippery, poorly shaped handles can compromise your control of the knife and, in extreme cases, could even result in self-inflicted cuts. Imagine thrusting full force at a soft-tissue target and hitting solid bone. If the shape and material of your knife handle won’t allow you to positively manage that type of shock, you need to keep shopping.

Convenient carry must also be a prerequisite of a defensive knife. To ensure that the knife is available when you need it, it should be carried in a comfortable, accessible location on your body at all times. That carry position must work with all the styles of clothing and allow you to carry the knife in a consistent location on your body. Many knife collectors brag about their “rotation” of knives, and often have a different carry knife (or knives) and carry style for every day of the week. Knife players who truly understand self-defense, however, know that the rapid deployment of a knife is a critical component in effective fighting. Always carrying your knife in the same position is one of the keys to rapid deployment, since reflexes are based on consistent, repetitive actions.

Quick, reliable deployment of a knife begins with carry location, but there is more to it than that. That’s why “deploy-ability” – a combination of design characteristics that allow the knife to be rapidly drawn and opened to a ready position – is also an essential quality of a personal defense knife. For folding knives, this usually means a combination of a clothing clip and some type of hole, stud or disk in the blade that allows it to be opened with one hand. For fixed blades, it’s typically a synergy of knife and sheath design that supports comfortable concealed carry and a fast reflexive draw.

The final basic quality of a good personal defense knife is that it is legal to carry in the areas in which you operate. Research of the knife laws in your area – both state and municipal – will help define the types of knives and methods of carry that are legally permissible. In many cases, the terminology of the laws may seem unclear, but if you focus on key elements like blade length restrictions on double-edged blades and other specific characteristics, you can usually get a pretty good idea of what is and isn’t legal.

By choosing a knife that clearly falls within these parameters, you will not only be able to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones, but you will be in a much better position to justify your actions in court. And unfortunately in today’s world, defending your actions just as real a challenge as defending your safety. Do your research, choose your knife wisely and you’ll be well prepared to do both.

22
Jan
09

A Week of a Lifetime- IKF March 2008

ikf-march-2008Inside Kung-Fu

“Week of a Lifetime Part 1”

By Joseph Simonet

March 2008

Pg. 24

In the spring of 1986, I saw an ad in Inside Kung-Fu magazine offering a weeklong workshop/seminar on wooden dummy training. The location of the seminar was at a lodge on Whistler Mountain, British Columbia, Canada. The seminar was to be taught by master Wang Kiu, an original core student from grandmaster Yip Man himself. Finally, I thought, a unique opportunity to train hands-on with a real kung-fu master from China. I jumped at the chance.

By 1986, I had been dabbling in non-classical wing chun for about three-to-four years. I built my first wooden dummy (crude as it was) in 1982. At the time, Seattle, Wash., was a melting pot of martial arts practitioners, especially wing chun-based arts.

James DeMile was teaching his Wing Chun Do, as were some of his students. There were several derivations of Bruce Lee’s methods being taught by local legends such as Jesse Glover, Ed Hart and Taky Kimura. I never had the opportunity to train with any of these teachers. However, I trained with some of their students.

The non-classical wing chun being taught in those days was heavy-loaded chi sau, thousands of straight punches and a general attitude of aggression. Some of the classes were taught in closed-door, underground perversity. The word was that these men were tough with a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners kind of approach. This, of course, fell right into my perspective of training at that time.

Nevertheless, I was limited (if not blackballed) in my ability to train with the top guns. In some cases, I was flat-out denied even an opportunity to meet these men. So, I decided to go around them. Whenever people, situations or any particular obstacle confronts me, I become more resolved in my pursuit of my ultimate goal to evolve and succeed. After all, success is the best revenge, and it’s the only one that pays.

So , when the wooden dummy training seminar became available, I was elated to say the least. The weeklong training camp was hosted by Dr. Khoe and his staff from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Khoe was a professor of engineering at U.B.C. The training with master Wang Kiu and Dr. Khoe was a stark contrast in comparison to Seattle’s non-classical approach. These men were highly educated, esteemed professionals in their own right, exemplifying competence and humility.

For five days, Dr. Khoe and his staff patiently assisted us beginners every step of the way. Master Wang Kiu was as highly evolved a teacher as he was a practitioner of wing chun. On one occasion, I was getting upset and impatient with myself, letting my ego get in the way. Wang Kiu came up and assisted me with great agility. He calmed me down and corrected my movement, I thanked him for his help and he said, “Just relax, don’t worry, there are 1,000 doors to the same room.”

The original form taught was the 108 classical mook jong. There are 10 sections, with each of the first nine sections having 10 movements and with section 10 having 18. We were taught two sections per day. Learning this form was a huge challenge for me; most of the movements were quite different from anything I had done before.

Thankfully, the sequences were taught in a linear and logical order. I as able to mimic the entire form by the time I left Friday night. To ensure that I wouldn’t forget it, I stopped along the way home to seattle (a four-hour drive) and practiced the 10 sections in the air. One of the places I stopped to work the form was atop a waterfall in the mountains of British Columbia. I hiked along a river and found this incredible waterfall. Being energized by the week’s rich experience, I hiked up to the top of this waterfall and did the 108 Mook Jong 10 times in the air (without a dummy). In between sets, I did 100 straight punches. I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time I was done. After that workout, I made a promise to myself: I would never forget this treasured form and I would always practice it.

So, for an entire year I performed the 108 classical set at lease once for 365 days straight. Without a doubt, the event of that week’s training and the ensuing 365 continuous days of training had an indelible impact on my training and my entire year.

Note: In part II, which will appear in the May issue, I will examine the physical differences between wing chun and non-classical wing chun. I will also share some of my training experiences and commitment perspectives.

22
Jan
09

Master of All Trades -IKF March 2007

ikf-march-2007Inside Kung-Fu

“Master of All Trades”

By Joseph Simonet

March 2007

Pg. 24

Last year Inside Kung-Fu magazine asked me to appear on one of its covers with an accompanying interview. My initial reply was, “Absolutely.” However, soon after “hurray” came my question: “Are you sure you want me on the cover? Am I qualified? The editor replied quickly and matter-of-factly: “Look, enough people hate you so you must be doing something right.”

Fast forward to today. My partner, Addy Hernandez, and I are now being asked to share a monthly column. “Absolutely,” was our immediate reply. Sound familiar? Of course, the same questioned followed: “Are we qualified?” This time the editor said, “I believe you are. However, there are critics who question your credentials and think you’re a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. It’s up to you to convince doubters that your martial skill, credentials, insight, innovation and past instructors are worthy of ‘master’ or ‘expert witness’ status. Good luck.”

First, to my critics and doubters I would ask: ‘How many of you have actually met and trained with me?” My guess is probably none. Addy and I have taught seminars for New York to Shanghai, Houston to Minneapolis, and everywhere in between. The feedback we get from every seminar is, “Amazing,” “Thank you,” “That was incredible.” I’m born-again martial artist. Not once has anyone questioned my knowledge and ability face to face.

So, am I a jack-of-all-trades, master of none? To really answer the question I would have to first reply with another question. “Who can observe the observer?”

It has been my experience that “the biggest trap of all is the one you do not know you are in.” More often than not, a critic will project his abilities, values and/or lack thereof onto others without the prospective of truth or objectivity. My suggestion to all my critics would be to come over, talk and train with me, then express your critique. All I know is that after 35 years of training in the martial arts, I truly feel like a beginner.

The definition of a qualification and/or credential has become blurred with the changing tides in the martial arts. Is it a stamp of approval on the a certificate that some other so-called expert gave you? If so, I have several on my wall. Or, are credentials the accumulation of a lifetime of events, people, places, poignant insights and bruises – physically and otherwise – you have experienced along the way?

Looking back on my martial arts journey, in 1972, I was privileged enough to observe and meet master Gogen Yamaguchi at the Heck Edmusen Pavilion at the University of Washington in Seattle. As a young man, Yamaguchi studied several martial arts systems such as judo, kendo, iaido, jodo and kusarigama as well as goju. Though he was known as a goju master, he was never considered a jack-of-all-trades. Why not? What made him different?

My 35-year background in the martial arts has been laden with multiple martial arts systems. For instance, I have been in kenpo karate for 34 years. Wing chun gung-fu, mook jong (wooden dummy) training and the Filipino arts have been a part of my training for 24 years. I have studied Yang-style tai chi for 20 years and pentjak silat for the last 15 years. All the while, I have been enveloped in the physical culture of fitness and weight training. I have been able to bench press 300-plus pounds consecutively for the last 37 years.

I believe credentials and life experiences are imperative to be considered a master. However, I also believe you must have physical prowess, an ability to teach, a high fitness level and the conceptual ability to innovate. All my certificates, instructors and places of travel throughout my martial arts career have simply amounted to my continued education.

Today, I am extracting essential elements from all the arts I have studied and synthesizing them into what I call “The Art and Science of Mook Jong (ASMJ).” The fundamental aspects of The Art and Science of Mook Jong are that it must be teachable, learnable, practical and marketable. Within this foundational formula is the “seamless transitional integration” of al the aforementioned arts and training methods.

The process behind “seamless transitional integration” is for the practitioner to move from empty hand to blade, to club and back again in a natural and spontaneous flow. This process achievable because our skill sets and training methods call upon nearly identical motor skills and attributes. Individual training in The Art and Science of Mook Jong is done by working the wooden dummy forms “Slam Set,” “Blade Set” and “Club Set.” Partner training consists of two-person drills such as, “Argument of Movement” empty hand and “Point Counterpoint” applied with a knife and repeated utilizing a club.

At this point, I do not consider myself a jack-of-all-trades; nor do I consider myself a master. I would define myself a master. I would define myself as a pursuer of truth and a scientist, which inevitably means I am an innovator striving for martial arts excellence. I will proceed along my own path regardless of doubters, critics or those putting their own interests above martial arts.

Joseph Simonet and Addy Hernandez will be sharing insight on training tips, philosophy, innovative ideas and concepts each moth beginning with this issue.