I hope you have enjoyed reading these snippets of the seminars and great Martial Artist I have had the pleasure of training with, a big thank you must go to Krishna Godhania for having the foresight to bringing these people to the UK as without his influence these arts would not be as widely spread or as popular I am sure. Also a big thank you to Pete Lewis in introducing Bakbakan and Bahad Zu’Bu to the UK.
This seminar organised by Krishna was the first DBMA in UK and Mark Denny was the instructor. It was not that well attended for someone of this quality and considering the interest in this type of training it surprised me but I can only assume people thought it would be a gathering and so stayed away but it was a great seminar.
Mark was very technical and explained everything step by step and we then paired off and he came around to check at one point he used me as an example and stick grappled me to the ground and into half guard the applied a punch and choke combination really good stuff.
After the break Mark showed some stuff from Bando and utilising empty hand which was a great experience. Mark was full of anecdotes throughout the seminar and it was really good to hear about the gatherings first hand and about the others who founded DBMA.
The second seminar I attended with Mark was about a year later again organised by Krishna, this seminar would concentrate on the staff and double sticks, a lot of time was spent on the correct way to strike with the staff but again my training in Gung Fu helped and it showed as Mark made a video of us doing the techniques and was impressed with my skill level, I also demonstrated with him some double stick as he was checking everyone and it was a great experience to learn from him.
Though I never pursued DBMA I really liked Mark and his approach to teaching his art. It was a very good experience and helped me look at what I was doing in a new light.
This two day seminar was held in Newcastle and was to be an introduction to the Pekiti Tersia system. The seminar was hosted by Bill Lowery and after the introductions we got right down to an hour of full power strikes in the air in very low stances. Grand Tuhon Gaje was assisted by Uli Weidle who is the European representative for Pekiti Tersia. The first day was all about basic techniques and drilling them. On the evening of the first day Bill had organised a Filipino banquet and as I had gone with Rob Campion and Krishna was there also it was a great experience.
The second day was more about the knife and again after about 45 minutes of power stick work we got down to some great techniques, Tuhon Gaje did a great demo of arrest techniques and it was a fantastic experience. We all received a certificate of attendance and it was a brilliant weekend.
I was very lucky to be asked by Krishna to the first Sayoc Kali seminar in the UK. All the Tuhons from Sayoc Kali were in attendance including the newly promoted Ray Dionaldo.
We covered the 3 of 9 template and added a lot of other stuff including breaking down the techniques and covering damage limitation when fighting against another knife. All the Tuhons were good but the highlight for me was Ray Dionaldo demonstrating the Kerambit and Tuhon Felix Cortes who did double extendable batons. I got on really well with Tuhon Felix and he said I had very fast hands for a big guy. I attended the seminar with a few of my warriors guys and we got a lot out of the seminar.
The second Sayoc seminar I attended was with Tuhon Tom Kier, his speed and power are awesome to behold and for a big guy he moves really well it was a real privilege to be given access to this level of instruction, overall I enjoyed the seminars and practicing the Sayoc Kali system but for me I wanted to work with Felix Cortes more but it was Tuhon Tom Kier who was to visit the UK more and teach the seminars.
I attended Mark’s first seminar in the UK organised by Krishna in Warwick where he taught Kali Ilustrisimo. It was fantastic to be doing a lot of blade work and the techniques he showed were really excellent. Unfortunately Mark also did some Kung Fu which went down like a lead balloon with most people but as I had previous experience I loved it and Mark noticed this and after being introduced properly by Krishna we got on really well exchanging email and keeping in contact afterwards.
The second seminar I attended was also organised by Krishna and was covering the art of Cabales Serrada Eskrima, I loved this seminar and had taken some guys along as well which was great for our club, again Mark spent a lot of time with me and I was one of only a few guys who understood and could do the stuff he was showing. After attending these seminars and keeping in contact with Mark he asked if I would be interested in becoming an apprentice instructor under him and though it was tempting I preferred to stay with Krishna as Mark was teaching his integrated Eskrima and I was more interested in studying the Ilustrisimo and the cabales as separate arts. I think this was a missed opportunity on my part but I have no regrets we make our own choices and walk our own path based on those choices.
It was around 1985-86 when I heard a guy called Dave Fairclough was organising a seminar with William Cheung.
It was going to be a two day seminar in Blackpool and I signed up immediately as this would be an opportunity to train with the man who taught Bruce Lee, was friends with Wong Sheung Leung and was a legend in Wing Chun Circles.
The first day was spent on basics and learning the entry techniques that were so different to anything else in Wing Chun along with his spin on traditional drills like Lap Sao. The second day focused on Chi Sao and again it was his unique way of utilizing footwork that got me buzzing about his way of doing Wing Chun. We covered Sil Lum Tao the first form of Wing Chin again in his own unique way that explained a lot about how to use Wing Chun.
During the break we could ask him questions but people seemed to be afraid to approach him but I went and asked him some technical questions about the entry techniques and spoke to him about his interest in TCM and if Wing Chun had its own Dit Da Jow.
In the last session he spent a lot of time explaining and showing the drills and techniques it was an awesome experience and we were given a certificate of attendance.
About a year later I was contacted by Dave Fairclough again saying GM Cheung would be in Blackpool for a one night seminar and would I be interested in attending again no hesitation and this time John Farrell was coming with me. The seminar was fantastic and we covered a lot in such a short time GM Cheung was impressed with John and myself that he asked if we would be interested in representing him as Dave was going to Australia. I had my picture taken with GM Cheung hitting me with a straight punch and this picture made the European martial arts magazines as a friend from Italy sent me a message saying he had seen me in a magazine.
For me these seminars were an ambition fulfilled and it marked a bit of closure for me in Wing Chun as I never really practiced it too much after meeting him as for me his way was the best and as I could not train with him regularly I felt I could not practice anymore.
These are a great way for the teacher to impart knowledge to a large amount of students who because of location or time cannot get to train with the teacher on a regular basis, I find myself in this position now as I travel to China on a regular basis and I only return to UK once a year so my regular guys have to either come to visit me in Thailand or wait for me to get back to teach them.
This is not the ideal situation as I worked long and hard learning the styles I teach but it is great that seminars and workshops have become the norm in martial arts circles.
In this series of blogs I would like to write about the seminars I have attended and how they influenced me, I hope they will encourage people to seek out teachers and spread the martial arts word.