On the 8th of September 2016 Myself and Guro Dan Bartlett travelled to the USA to conduct a training camp and lessons and to see our Filipino Kyusho instructors and friends Greg and Kellie Blasingame and Matt Graham, we were greeted at the airport with warm conditions not only from the weather but seeing Greg again was a happy feeling. It was great to see him in the USA for a change after his visits to the UK. Arriving at the car park to a pleasant surprise, we were treated to a drive in that iconic American symbol a 5 litre Mustang, now we knew we had arrived in America, of course I do my usual trick of getting in the wrong side (we drive on the left in England) much to the amusement of Greg and Dan.
After catching up with all the news the hour and forty minutes ride whizzed by and we soon arrived at our host’s home.
Encountering the time differences around the globe you never get used to the jet lag and even a seasoned traveller gets caught out, it was soon apparent that it was catching up with us. USA is 5 hours behind the UK, so we tried to stay up for the extra hours to get on that time frame and it is strange you just catch up with it only to lose them when you get back to the UK and have to readjust again.
After we rested and had a bite to eat, we were soon inching to start training; Greg has a well equipped private dojo and pleasant surrounding areas which we would utilise for the duration of the camp. We first concentrated on our basic martial arts principles, Posture, Footwork and Elbows in, then of course in a natural progression we explored Absorption, Deflection and Projection, this easily took the first three hours up but we were not rushed as you cannot hurry your understanding of the principles.
After a good night sleep we were up early, before breakfast Guro Dan and I worked out every morning during our stay on stretching and mobility drills, then on to covering all the topics we were going to introduce at the lessons and camp that day.
This is a good moment to say thank you to all the students, friends and visitors who joined us for training, laughter and fun. People came from great distances to join us and we are always very grateful, we always think of it is a privilege for us to be able share what little knowledge we have, we are so grateful to everyone who supported us. A big special thanks to Greg and Kellie Blasingame who welcomed us into their home and looked after us so well during our stay.
After breakfast we showered and got ready for the first lessons of the day, we were greeted eagerly by the students who were very keen to learn the principles of martial arts. At seminars and camps we never teach techniques just principles. Anyone who has been on a seminar will understand.
When you understand the principles you can do and make any technique work the only reason you do techniques is to study the principles contained in the techniques. The techniques are not the art it’s self, please don’t get confused about this.
The lessons and camp covered many topics and mediums including how to break your opponents posture, absorption, deflection and projection, kinetic loading and power generation, empty hands, sticks, knifes, karambit, locking, pressure points, but the principles were always stressed and this led to some interesting questions from the participants which we would then take time to explore and understand. There are well over 350 principles that you have to study in martial arts and that is why it takes a long time to become proficient, having said that once you start learning some of them your martial arts will change and improve rapidly. Please email me for a list of principles I am happy to share them.
After a full day training in the evening we went to watch Greg’s son Sam play American Football for his college Athens, it was really fun and we did not really understand how popular it was until we got there. (Go Dawgs). The university stadium in Georgia holds around 93,000 fans and the university facilities we toured around were so professional.
Back to the training, after Dan and I had completed our morning workout, we had breakfast, showered and changed, we started the camp again and a question was asked how do we defend against kicks, we covered a full explanation with demonstrations and then kept a watchful eye while everyone practiced and got to grips with the spatial awareness principle.
The weather in Athens was very pleasant 30 degrees plus but we were informed that it was quite mild now as it was the end of summer even so it was most welcome to go around to Ken’s house to use his swimming pool for a swim and spa. Thanks Ken.
We went out to a Soul Food restaurant where we had very southern delicacies of Sweet potatoes, Southern fried chicken, okra, corn bread etc, but the best corn bread was made by Kellie (Greg’s wife) who also introduced us to black eye peas (not the pop group) and collard greens. The food was fantastic and different to what we are used to. In the South of America BBQ is like a religion and the slow pulled pork is sublime taking many days to smoke to get that flavour. As a thank you I wanted to cook a little something for our hosts so I made some pasta with thin steaks stuffed with herbs and allowed to cook in to the tomato sauce for two hours.
We continued our morning work outs and teaching the lessons at the camp it was a lot of fun to see people really wanting to learn and study the martial arts. Our aim is not just to get people to do copy paste martial arts but to learn and use the principles and make them their own.
That evening a Women’s self defence lesson was scheduled and it was very well attended, when doing these classes it is best to keep it as simple as you can, because if the moves are too complex people don’t remember them and not only that when under pressure your motor skills can sometimes give way to nerves and adrenalin. We decided to concentrate on the 3 B’s, Blinding, Breathing and Balance then everyone was quick to apply the attacks to these areas of the eyes, throat and ears, we also advocate the use of kick and punch pads as if you are not used to hitting anything then how do you know you can generate enough power to defend yourself. Punching is not encouraged as there are better tools to use, palms, elbows, knees or P.E.N as we like to call it, everyone was smashing the bags too enthusiastically in the end and it was a job just to get them to stop. We hope they were not thinking of Dan and me. Thanks to Dan, Sam, G, and Matt for helping to hold the bags and being dummies for the women to hit. The last segment of the self defence lesson was about how to use the deadly dolphin which is a weapon designed by me that you can put on your key ring and use to strike the pressure points, very painful but very effective. These are sold through my site with a DVD to follow on its many applications.
After a few days we pretty much had our routine sorted out with training, camp, lessons, swimming, eating, visiting and socialising. Thank you again to our hosts and all the kind people we met. Now we know what southern hospitality means. We had a lot of fun and laughs along the way.
Greg thought it would be a good fun to let us shoot some live guns at a hunting lodge, Dan and I relished the opportunity to do some target practice, as soon as I started to shoot Greg reminded me of relaxing and keeping on posture, It is good to know that I will always be an eternal student and it was a pertinent reminder to me that the principles are in everything not just for martial arts. Dan was shooting well, I think I caught him late at night going out for a practice but he denies it and said he just wanted to see a deer, not that old chestnut. (English humour)
On the last day of the camp Guro Greg Blasingame and Guro Matt Graham were graded to 1st Dan black belt in Filipino Kyusho, We are so proud as these two are the first black belts in America in the art of Filipino Kyusho to be graded to black belt, they have done a lot of work over the years and the improvement was self evident. Congratulations again, thoroughly deserved.
Our time was coming to an end and it was time to say our goodbyes although sad we were happy in the knowledge that we had made lots of new friends and that Filipino Kyusho is spreading fast in the USA.
Big Thank You to Guro Dan who accompanied me on the adventure and helped with the teaching, you carried yourself with distinction and are an asset to the Filipino Kyusho family.
Thank you USA by GM Angelo