The Mirror

written by Bryan K. Mossey

Guro Dan Inosanto always has said that you can tell more about a man in 5 minutes of training than you can from 5 years of conversation.

What do others see when you train?  What do you see in the mirror?  More importantly what are you going to do about it.

Stop for a moment and think about that.  When you look in the mirror what do you see?  Are you training hard enough?  Are you giving it everything you have?  Are you helping others achieve their goals?  Are you pushing yourself?  Are you pushing others?  Are you helpful to a new student, or are you a bully?  Are you completely consumed with your own development to the detriment of others?  Who you are when you train is who you really are – not who you would have the world believe you are through titles, promotions, belts, the house you live in, or the car you drive.  Anyone who has trained hard enough and long enough has had the arts bring up his own demons. Perhaps they are from past failures, past success, insecurities, current physical limitations, ways in which you were wronged, or voices that told you that you could not succeed.  Perhaps you are short, or fat, or don’t learn quickly, or are not athletic, or not popular, or had abusive parents.  Perhaps you were always successful, and now you are faced with challenges that seem overwhelming.  Whatever your personal challenges, they will come to the forefront through the mirror of martial arts.

For some, that can even be the fear of success.  When this happens, you have two choices: face your short comings head on and decide to overcome them and grow as a human being, or tuck tail and run.  As Sifu Mike Mathews said to me, “You must face the bear!”  The bear comes in many forms.  It is not always the man standing in front of you, but more often than not, it is the man you are today.  You can make excuses, talk your way around it, or go into denial and say that your shortcomings don’t exist.  We all have areas where we need to grow as people and martial artists, myself included.

The arts can help us all grow if we commit to pushing ourselves. There are many paths to self-knowledge.  However, in the arts, this only comes through constant conditioning and working to achieve your goals of self-improvement.  The secrets of the arts lay in self-discovery and ultimately self-knowledge.  Hurting someone is easy.  Knowing yourself and helping others is difficult.  Only by pushing yourself beyond the limits of what is comfortable, and what is normal, will you grow as a martial artist and human being.  If you never push yourself, you will never understand the real value of the arts. Integration of the self with the mind, body, and the spirit  starts with hard work, honest evaluation, and setting goals.  At my last seminar with Guro Inosanto, I had one of these self-reflecting moments with my man in the mirror.

I had just had knee surgery and was struggling with the pain to keep up. Jun Fan drills on one leg can be quite a challenge.  I remember telling Guro I was sorry that I was not in top condition, but was giving it all that I had. Then I saw my good friend, Sifu Clay Johnson.  He asked me how I was doing and I started complaining about the pain in my knee from just having surgery.  With a wisdom that only a man who has dedicated his life to the arts in the face of insurmountable physical challenges few can ever understand, he smiled at me and said “Don’t quit.  Hang in there!”  For those of you who don’t know Sifu Clay, he  is confined to a wheelchair and has no use of his legs.  Here is a man who faces physical limitations that challenge every aspect of his life.  The pain he endures daily is something most of us will never understand.  Yet here he was, training harder than most people who have no disabilities.  With a smile on his face, he was knocking the heck out of the focus mitts and smashing sticks like the true Escrimador that he is.

Now I ask you, what is your limitation? Sifu Clay answered that question for me and gave me a new perspective that day.  Perhaps he can answer it for you as well: Jeet Kune Do, “having no limit as limitation.”



Martial Arts Goal

To remain a humble student of the arts, with an open heart and mind. To uncover my ignorance and seek my own path to liberation. To continually develop as a human being and martial artist. To never grow complacent with what is, but always look though discovery to what could be. To honor the legacy of my instructors, and show reverence for the knowledge that has been faithfully passed down to me. To protect and serve my instructors, students, family, and friends to the greater glory of my Creator.


  • 24 Years Martial Science Exploration
  • Competition Experience Ranging from College Football, Baseball, Basketball, Track, Gymnastics, Golden Gloves Boxing, Thai Boxing, State and College Power Lifting, Fencing, Grappling
  • Retired 1st Lieutenant, US Army, Expert Infantry, Air Assault
  • Divemaster, Master Scuba Diver, and Open Water Scuba Instructor, PADI, SDI-TDI
  • IDPA Qualified Sharpshooter and 3 Gun Competitor, Jay Laluz
  • Full Instructor, Black Belt, “Uchi Deshi” Mike Mathews – Aiki-Jujitsu, Jun Fan Gung Fu, Filipino Martial Arts, Maphilindo Silat, Thai Boxing, Ground Fighting
  • Associate Instructor, Marc McFann, Jun Fan Gung Fu, Filipino Martial Arts, Mande Muda Silat, Thai Boxing, Combat Submission Wrestling
  • Associate Instructor, Dan Inosanto, Jun Fan Gung Fu
  • Associate Instructor, Dan Inosanto, Filipino Martial Arts
  • Apprentice Instructor, Ajarn Surachai Sirisute, Muay Thai
  • Apprentice Instructor, Paul Vunak, Jun Fan Gung Fu / Filipino Martial Arts
  • Blue Belt Instructor, Professor Pedro Sauer, Gracie

Grandmaster Tony Somera Workshop Review

written by Dan Inosanto

Review:  Grandmaster Tony Somera Workshop March 9, 2007

My wife Paula and I, along with the Inosanto Academy, thank Grandmaster Tony Somera and the Bahala Na Martial Arts Association for a fantastic workshop on March 9, 2007 examining key concepts from the Giron System of Arnis Escrima.

I think of Grandmaster Leo Giron as my second father and I am proud to be the first graduating student from the Giron System.  It is important to me that Manong Leo’s art be remembered and carried on.  Having Grandmaster Somera at our school is important for us because it keeps Manong Leo’s legacy alive.

During the workshop, as I watched Tony, I recalled the day Grandmaster Giron called many years ago to let us know that he was making his choice and decision to promote Guro Tony Somera to Master.  Paula was on the other line, and we both told Manong how happy we were that he had decided to promote Tony.  We agreed with Grandmaster Giron’s decision then, and we agree with his decision now.

As the first student of the Giron Sstem, as an instructor in the Giron System, and as a lifetime member of the Bahala Na Martial Arts Association, I was equally as pleased when another call came letting us know that GME Giron had promoted Master Tony Somera to the rank of Grandmaster.  To pass on the full responsibilities and tradition of an art like the Giron System is not done lightly, but with great care and diligence.

The excellent instruction and true Bahala Na spirit shown at this workshop by Grandmaster Somera is only one small window into the continuing wisdom of Grandmaster Leo Giron.  His legacy is in good hands.

Grandmaster Tony Somera, assisted by Master Kirk McCune, Master Joel Juanitas, and other top students from the Bahala Na Martial Arts Association, proved that the Giron System of Arnis Escrima is alive and well and moving into the future.  I was honored to be part of this event, and I enjoyed playing the true art of the great Grandmaster, Leo Giron.

In closing, I believe Manong Leo said it best:

By virtue of the powers conferred upon me as Grandmaster under the Constitution and Bylaws of the BAHALA NA MARTIAL ARTS ASSOCIATION under Article III, Section 3, I hereby appoint TONY SOMERA as the Grandmaster with such appointment to be effective as of December 1, 1999.
Given my age and health, I believe the exaltation of Master Tony Somera from Master to Grandmaster will provide the organization with little or no transition upon my passing and will insure that the growth and direction of the organization will continue as I have directed during my tenure as Grandmaster.
I shall continue to serve in an advisory capacity as Grandmaster emeritus for so long as I shall live. I intend to appoint a successor Master to fill the void created by Master Tony Somera’s appointment to Grandmaster. Such appointment will be made on or before November 1, 1999 to be effective as of December 1, 1999. In the event I make no such appointment in writing on or before December 1, 1999, the power to make such appointment will be transferred to Master Tony Somera in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws upon his assuming the title and office of Grandmaster.
By virtue of Article III Section 3 of the Bylaws of the Bahala Na Organization, I hereby set my hand and affix my signature this 20th day of the month of August, in the year of our Lord, 1999, as the true testimony to the genuineness of this promotion.
The weight and force of the order of the Master in promoting the welfare of the organization is equivalent to the authority emanating from the Grandmaster.
s// Leo M. Giron
Leo M. Giron

Use Your Leadership Skills To Grow Your Students And Your School

written by Charles Chi

Having good leadership skills can insure success in almost any field of endeavor. Whether you are a small business owner or in the military, how far you go and how much you grow can be directly attributed to your leadership abilities.  Certainly not everyone can lead nor is every leader destined for glory, but most of us have a potential to go far beyond what we think possible if would just spend some time developing our leadership skills.

Before we start talking about how to become a better leader, we must first take a look at what a leader is and what he isn’t. Leadership is not about the prestige of your title, but the quality of your character.  Real leadership is not about the position you hold; it’s about the actions you take.  Great leaders spend their days helping those around them manifest their highest human potential while they work towards a vision that adds value to the world at large.  As Robin S. Sharma wrote in Leadership Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, “The greatest privilege of leadership is the chance to elevate others’ lives.”

Some of the best martial arts fighters in history have often turned out to be the worst teachers.  Have you ever wondered why? To be a good teacher there are certain attributes necessary to be not only successful, but to inspire students to greatness.

Skills such as being patient, compassionate, a good communicator, intuitive, and of course physical skills are all necessary parts of the equation but most importantly without leadership skills no one will follow you.  A leader must continually be able to show his students that he has a very clear destination for himself and his followers. If a leader fails in that he will quickly find himself alone as he wanders aimlessly throughout life’s journey.

Your job as the leader is to inspire, motivate, hold and communicate your vision to your students and staff.  Leadership is very proactive – you want to be in front of the situation instead of catching up to it or feeling like it’s being dropped on you.

Success coach and leadership expert John C. Maxwell states that there is a lid on how far any leader can go, but that without exception, every leader can improve his leadership skills with the proper guidance. Sadly many people just will not admit that they have to develop themselves and continue to blame everything on anything else, from the economy to other people.  One of the first things to learn about leadership is to accept responsibility for your failures and for the failure of your team or organization.

Evaluating Your Success
One of the easiest ways to judge your success in anything you to do is to count.  If you want to see how good you are at making friends then count how many you have.  If you want to see how successful you have been at saving money just start counting. The same is true for leadership skills as an instructor: just count your students and their personal victories.  I’m not just talking about students who have been involved in martial arts competitions. Some students have come to you to lose weight, while others just want to be able to run up a flight of stairs without feeling winded. Your student’s success must be measured according to what their personal goals were when they first came to you.  Keep in mind that everyone who comes through your doors does not have the same love for martial arts that you do, most people just want to look better and feel better.  Only a very small percentage of the potential students that come to you will ever want to become fighters and enter competitions; certainly there will rarely be enough to run a successful school.  It is your job to help people at whatever level they present themselves.  Their passion for martial arts will be cultivated as they start to feel the benefits from their training. Ultimately you will have the biggest influence on their lives if you do your job correctly as a leader.  Remember, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. A true leader is loved by his students – not feared.

Now you might say, “I’m a really good teacher, but I don’t have a lot of students.”  As a leader, you have to evaluate the situation and ask yourself why? Have you failed to communicate the benefits of being involved in your program to the general public?  If you are indeed a good teacher, you need to let people know that you can help them.  That involves marketing. You can either fire yourself as a marketer and have someone help you who knows what they are doing, or start reading books and attending seminars that can give you the necessary information you need.

Some instructors report, “I have a lot of people come into my school and start training, but they usually quit in the first three months.”  As a leader you must understand that if people came to you with a specific, need and you were not filling, it they will go to someone who will.  In addition, you may have overwhelmed them with a too-complicated curriculum and they felt frustrated.  On the other hand, you might have bored them to death by not teaching them enough.  As a leader, you must evaluate each new student to establish his needs and goals on an individual basis before you just throw them into your program.

Time to Make Some Changes
Smart leaders know that the time is now.  If you don’t act on life, life has a habit of acting on you.  The days slip into weeks, the weeks slip into months and the months slip into years.  Then we wake up one day, in the twilight of our lives, and wonder what could have been.

Give Yourself a Test
In her best selling book on leadership, award winning author Loral Langemeier describes the 5 C’s of Leadership that she believes are necessary characteristics required to build a great a leader.

The “5 C’s of Leadership” are:

Character – your internal makeup, your personal DNA.  To develop a stronger sense of character, get to know yourself: assess,  evaluate and correct.
Capacity – your mental ability to conceive or perceive. Internalize and lead a concept until it is expressed through your vision.  The company’s results are your feedback.
Credibility – your personal integrity, a mirror of your actions as opposed to words.
Courage – the inner strength required to overcome obstacles and move your business toward your vision.
Communication – the ability to translate your vision into actions.

Of these five qualities, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being low, how do you rate yourself? What will you do to increase your capacity in all of these areas?

What will you do?
What do you want?
What will the impact be?
How does it impact the strategy/project/goal?

Remember that leaders strive for mastery over mediocrity.  The quality of your professional and personal life ultimately comes down to the quality of the choices you make every minute of every hour of every day.

Three Children Inosanto Academy

written by Nalani Reish

Three kali sticks
Solid, straight, new bamboo
Black tee shirts
Gold lettering, triangle, symbols
Inosanto Academy

Strong, competent martial artists
Adjusting self talent to basics
Inspiring instructors
Inosanto Academy

Clacking sticks, joyful voices
Warm eyes, gentle corrections
Laughing acceptance, patience.
Trust, confidence blends
Inosanto Academy

Respect for self, others
Steady, strong responses
Muscle, reflex, mind, temperament, character
Inosanto Academy

Three children, grown
Mature, responsible, productive
Lifetime teachers, friends
Inosanto Academy

Three kali sticks
Frayed, bowed, pulpy
Fibrous, sharp, splayed
Inosanto Academy

He Said / She Said

written by John & Suzanne Spezzano


When I started training at the Inosanto Academy (a while ago…) I never thought I’d meet my wife there; I just wanted to learn how to fight! I came from a traditional Japanese martial arts background of Karate, Judo and Aikido, with over a decade spent in those arts) but after joining the Academy, I quickly realized that my training, while enjoyable, wasn’t the most appropriate for real combat. After years of hardcore training later with Damon Caro and Chad Stahelski, I recognized that fighting is pure improvisation and much easier than most people think. Either he’s better than you or you’re better than him – that day. Like Guro Dan says, even hall of fame baseball players strike out 2 of 3 times at bat.
Constantly intrigued by the fight, I find myself also interested now in finding where and how all of the above unite: the point where the look of the art, the range required for the technique, the appropriate and possible counters to the technique, and the simplest line from A to B to accomplish all. Where does effectiveness join simplicity–the nearest humans can come to perfection. This deeper quest has been made more possible through my relationship with my wife Suzanne.
Martial arts are a way of life for Suzanne and me. One of the most foundational aspects of our relationship is the fact that we both love martial arts. When I say “love” I mean LOVE. I simply couldn’t be married to someone who didn’t share my passion for martial arts. It just wouldn’t last. Between the two of us, Suzanne and I train for a combined 30 hours a week. That’s just training time, not teaching! In addition to fitness and self-defense, our training is also a path of introspection towards self-perfection, a long journey indeed. A newer student’s foundation in martial arts, gleaned from a few years of training and teaching, is barely the beginning and should never be confused with a true depth of knowledge. Getting to the nitty gritty – the core of the movement – that is the true challenge, and it takes considerable time, effort and perseverance. Having a relationship that nurtures this thirst for knowledge makes such extensive training both possible and fruitful.
Through my marriage, I am able to improve myself as a martial artist in ways that I otherwise would not be able to if not for this relationship. Some men are threatened by women who can fight; they don’t like being “shown up” by a girl. Years ago Lucia Rijker taught me how ridiculous that mindset could be with a single left hook to the body. I remember that punch clearly to this day, and am in fact eternally grateful to her for showing me the beauty of the body hook. I have employed it many a time myself over the years since eating that one!
Although I was Suzanne’s first instructor at the Academy, after many years of training and hard work, she has become an instructor herself and does certain things better than me. As a man, it’s easy to focus primarily on the brute force that can be applied for the desired result. My challenge is often times is realizing the artistic qualities of an art more so than the fighting aspect. The “look” is something that eludes me and is something at which Suzanne excels. I appreciate the importance of grace of movement, though I still rarely display it! However, the smart person doesn’t continue to rely on his strengths, rather he improves his weaknesses. Like Sifu Francis Fong says, “You don’t want to compete head to head, you want to use competition as a means for self-improvement.” Being married to Suzanne helps me clear that competitive hurdle on a daily basis and work towards self-perfection, constantly avoiding the ego and its pitfalls.


I am the luckiest girl in the world. Truthfully, I could end my portion of this article there and be very satisfied.

Training with my husband, John Spezzano, is one of the great joys of my life. I have said this over and over again…I can be having the worst day and I’ll walk into the Inosanto Academy and start the night’s training and my problems and woes will inevitably disappear. Pretty powerful stuff: Now take that kind of power and couple it with the person you love most on the planet being there with you, and well, frankly, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.

For me, martial arts is a way of training my mind and body. Stripped down, it is one of the most honest things you can ever participate in. Once you walk on the mat, it no longer matters what kind of car you drive, who your friends are, or if you have the next big hit screenplay (forgive me, I live in Hollywood.). What matters is how well your body is moving on that day. That’s it, no hiding! To participate in something so honest with someone you love and trust, sharing your successes and your failures, giving each other help and perspective, well, I’d be hard pressed to find a better way to stay real and be in the moment with each other.

No one walks into the academy knowing everything. There is a learning curve for even the most talented and naturally gifted. How great to witness your spouse improving; you get to see progress, or maybe as in my cases, you’re the one who has the longer way to go. Who better than your spouse to cheer you on, to give you advice, to want more than anyone for you to succeed?

Sometimes I am a very slow learner. I can be pretty dense. John will see me struggling and he will find a way, a phrase, an adjustment in how I’m standing; he’ll find the something that will make whatever I am struggling with crystal clear. He’s such a great teacher that way. With as much knowledge and experience as John has, he still listens when I talk about the artistic side of a technique. He can kick my butt six ways from Sunday, but still values when I say, “If you bent your knees a little more it would look better.”

On a practical level, I personally don’t believe in the romanticism of the damsel in distress scenario. What I think is way more romantic than being “saved” by a knight in shining armor is my standing next to John, and should something go down, being an asset – not a liability. Now that’s romantic.

John Spezzano and Sifu Francis Fong

Suzanne Spezzano and fellow IAMA instructor, Mike Wise

An Interview With Dori Pongas

written by C.P. Bergman

CPB:  Dori, what prompted you to begin studying martial arts?
DP:   Simo Paula Inosanto was the biggest influence, by being such a strong woman and so good in the martial arts.  When I first came out to California, I never thought I would be able to do anything, punching, kicking, or any of it.  I was never athletic.

CPB: You study Thai Boxing.  What made you decide on Thai Boxing?
DP:  At first, it looked like it was the easiest!  Seriously, it looked very powerful, with all the natural elements of elbows, knees and kicks.  The first day I was in class, I was so nervous.  Shadowboxing was the worst thing!  I thought everyone was watching me, but then I realized, they were all too busy worrying about how they were doing.   Another strong, powerful female who influenced me is Tonya Elliott, who was my workout partner.  My first Ajarn Chai Sirisute (President of the Thai Boxing Association, U.S.A.)  seminar, was my third or 4th training experience, and I got to work out with Guro Dan Inosanto.  I was so awed to be working out with him; it’s like working out with your father; I kneed him in the stomach, and Guro turned to me and said, “That’s okay, it was supposed to hurt.”  Now I attend all the California Ajarn Chai seminars, but first I was afraid of him.  I was afraid he would make me work so hard, I would throw up or something.

CPB:  How has your training helped you in general?
DP:  I have more self-confidence.  I’ve come out of my shell, made some great friends, and I look forward to my workouts.  It becomes a lifestyle.

CPB:  What other arts are you studying?
DP:  I study Kali with Mike Wise, and I do plan on expanding into other arts.  You constantly learn.  There is always something new to learn.

CPB:  Tell us about some experiences that stand out.
DP:  Once Guro told me to throw a jab, and instead, I threw a cross three times.  I also recall that I looked like a giant bumble bee during my Level II Thai Boxing test.

CPB:  What advice do you have for other women interested in beginning the martial arts?
DP:  Try it at least once.  You never know, you might really like it.  You can get over the idea that only men can do the arts.  Even if you don’t like the first lesson, you will still learn something.  If you try one art and don’t like it, try another.  Explore.

CPB:  Do you have any long term goals:
DP:  I would one day like to become an instructor.

CPB:  Any parting words?
DP:  I will be forever grateful to Simo Paula and Guro Dan Inosanto for all the encouragement, kindness, and support they have given me.  Without them I would never have had the courage to try the martial arts.

Ministry And The Martial Arts

written by Michael Wise

Ministry, law enforcement and the martial arts have been a truly interesting blend of seemingly different pursuits.  Yet what appears to be unusual blends together very well.  I have had the privilege of studying under martial arts masters Guro Dan Inosanto and Sifu Damon Caro, and following their examples of honor, humility and honesty, the fighting aspects of the arts became the least of what I would learn under their tutelage.

Blending the martial arts is exactly what the Inosanto Academy is about.  Tolerance and respect for arts that others practice and earning useful components from others comes with understanding and knowledge.  Various religions follow similar guidelines; unfortunately, others don’t.  The world we all share suffers from the intolerance of the few.  The most respected martial arts instructor of modern times, Dan Inosanto, teaches this by using his own life as an example.  Respect the ways of others: only from this can understanding and peaceful coexistence take place.  From sharing comes learning; from learning comes true knowledge, self-growth and wisdom.

Just as the arts teach this, so does modern religion.  As a police chaplain, I am given a certain amount of latitude because my peers see me working the street.  As an instructor, other instructors and students see me more as one of them instead of just a person of the cloth.  It’s working in both areas that God has opened doors of communication that would otherwise be closed.  The student/instructor relationships are both special and unique.  With the training comes a certain level of trust and respect.  As students come to know and trust you, quite often they open up with situations and problems in their lives.  The position of being a chaplain often helps them take you into their confidence.  Many times, it’s just as a sounding board; other times, you find yourself trying to help someone out of a difficult situation.  Either way, martial arts has opened the door and allowed me to work closely with many people – both inside professional relationships and outside.

There are so many styles of martial arts, and while many try to prove why their way is superior, in the end, a punch is still a punch.  Some are hard styles; some are short.  Some are based on power, some on fluidity; some are internal and some are external.  Religions are the same, yet there is only one God, in my own belief.  So, in the end, one can try to demonstrate why theirs is best, or one can try to understand another’s belief and respect that belief even when you don’t see things the same way.  As a police chaplain, I am generic.  This means, I must work within specified guidelines and try to help wherever possible.  It’s not my job to make others see things my way, or to convert anyone to my beliefs, but just as I would try to understand someone and talk equally to them, I would try to understand different styles and take what is useful while offering them the same in return.

Last, but not least, the martial arts have given me a measure of confidence in some difficult situations.  Any skilled martial artist knows that at best, he or she has a slight edge in any arena of combat, but only a slight edge.  It’s being secure in my beliefs that are the extension of my life, allowing me to go into places where another person needs assistance.  Both the path of the teacher and that of the chaplain are paths of service.  Whichever path is taken, at some point in time, they intersect along the road of life.  The only certainty is that life offers many roads to choose from.  Being allowed to serve in either way or both, each road will end, and more than likely, they will be tied to one another.

Happiness Is Training At The Inosanto Academy

written by Ann Monteclaro

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.  That is clear….we are all seeking something better in life.  So, I think the very motion of our life is toward happiness.”

– The Dalai Lama

I know one thing that makes me happy – training at the Inosanto Academy.  Since enrolling in the young adult’s class in 1996, I have enjoyed the physical results and self-defense techniques I have gained from training in martial arts.  At the age of 15, I was taking classes along with my older brother, who was far more into martial arts and far more familiar with the fame of Guro Dan Inosanto.  Not knowing too much about Guro Dan, but being one of the few Filipinos in the neighborhood, I was proud to be part of an organization run by a prominent Filipino figure.

Unfortunately, after only one year of training, my brother had to leave for college, and my parents did not allow me to continue training. Throughout most of my childhood, my mother taught me that girls stayed in the house and that they did not go out alone.  So, I accepted this way of thinking and stopped training when my brother left.

Deep down, I know this was of thinking is not universal.  My girlfriends had the opportunity to go out alone or in a group, even when it was just to go to the mall or grab a bite to eat.  Eventually, against my mother’s will, I began to leave the house more, until I had the freedom in college and began to take up martial arts training on my own.

I took it upon myself to return to the Academy during the summers and take Phase Classes during the week.  My mother would always speak down to me about training.  She thought that it was not for girls; that it would make me manly, and she would say things like, “No boy will like you if you do that martial arts.”  In the back of my mind, I was self-conscious of what others thought of me and was concerned about becoming unattractive.

Although my mother did not approve of my training, I knew there was something about it that made me feel good.  I noticed that I felt healthier and physically fit after a period of time and I realized that I enjoyed the fact that I actively worked my mind while I got a good physical workout.  It beat working out at the gym.  Running the treadmill or elliptical machine was boring and unproductive for me: I felt like a human machine.  I craved something more interesting and constructive – something more satisfying.

While in college, I enrolled in a Thai Boxing class that was offered at my campus recreational center.  It was at this time that I began to realize how much I wanted to train in the martial arts, and also to train at the Inosanto Academy.  Once I mentioned it to my teacher; he acknowledged the Academy and I realized how renowned Guro Dan was.

I also felt fortunate to know how useful martial arts were in self-defense and in my philosophies of life.  Compared to other students who trained in the class (where their expectations were to take a “Tae Bo” class and get a cardio workout) I perceived the class as a very efficient art for self-defense and training for my mind.  I learned that I could control my body and take it to extremes that I never felt before.  To me it was rewarding to know this.  I gained a sense of self-awareness and confidence knowing what my limits and potentials were.

Right out of college, I took my first job in the very stressful entertainment world, working at a talent agency.  I needed a way out, or at least a way to calm me down after work. Once again, I turned to martial arts and re-enrolled in the Inosanto Academy.

For the next two years, I only took the Saturday Thai Boxing class, since that was the most accommodating class for me.  Throughout that time, I began to really appreciate martial arts.  It was different from my young adult’s class back in 1996. The concepts and applications made more sense to me. I also developed an appreciation for my Filipino background, and eventually started taking the Kali and Silat classes because of the sense of identity.  I learned from Guro Dan and his lectures about Southeast Asian culture.  I have also learned respect and discipline from my teachers, and I am so grateful for the knowledge and wisdom they have shared with me.

At the Academy, I also gained a wonderful group of friends.  I look up to them and appreciate the emotional support they give, and I learned that training at the Academy is not only a breeding ground for martial artists, but also a place to build and grow valuable relationships.

Most importantly to me, I found something that was really my own.  I made the decision to take classes and continue training on my own. Although my mother gave me grief for it, at least I knew that it was my decision to continue training, and she could not take it away from me, indeed, no one could.  Besides, I am convinced there is a feminine side to martial arts.  The Wai Kru, for example, is a graceful dance to show our respects to our teacher.  In no way do I feel like a man when I perform it.

At this point in my life, I feel that I have matured, and continue to mature, as an individual by training at the Academy.  I have definitely come to know that at least one thing makes me happy in life, and that is training in martial arts at the Inosanto Academy.

Silat Serak

© 2002 By “Pak” Victor de Thouars
Maha Guru to the International VDT Academy

In my years of teaching and practicing Pentjak Silat Serak, it has been a blessing and an avenue. With so many great people coming to train from me, friends as well as students it has been a rich and rewarding experience. From my student Kees Boering from forty-two years ago and my friend and brother Guru Dan Inosanto. Guru Dan has certainly earned the recognition from the VDT Academy as Guru Tua Serak or Senior Serak Instructor. With the Ring of Fire 2002 in Las Vegas Nevada on June 29, 2002 at the gathering he will receive the certificate for full Guru Tua In Pentjak Silat Serak. Certainly this martial arts Icon made silat a household word in the United States. In my own early training days in 1948 from my first teacher Pak Tisari Mardjoeki it has been sometimes an uphill battle in propagating the system, ever since I came here in the United States on May 11, 1960. The internal understanding in Silat Sera/Serak is never given, and many have tried to coach the Guru in giving the system and failed. But once you have been accepted as a murid or student then information is freely given up to a level. Still many levels and years of trust must be developed to be given all that is required. And many of the sub and “major keys” for each individual Guru is different, on accepting murids. Sometimes times from a month to years. Gut feeling has played a major role in many instances. Why you may ask, why would a Guru go through such a steps, in guarding? Well, one main reason would be that Silat Sera is an extremely violent system. For sure the Guru with many of years of experience has the forethought to preserve, and give the knowledge to levelheaded persons. Another reason could be that the time element in learning the system is lengthy. The main key is education of how to become an instructor or guru. And with that responsibility, it becomes obvious that the exact knowledge must be past on. At the time of this writing information and the major Silat Sera players in advanced age, essentially no book has ever been written about the whole system. With the start of the Silat Sera system plan, it is well known who has the full knowledge of Sera. This short article however, will give you the information that was withheld for so many years. But you still need a qualified Silat Sera Instructor or Guru for the inside knowledge that is handed down personally. Unfortunately for the three decades when the sixties began, no true information had been handed down. Sparingly, information trickled down trough sub-systems and sometimes when a prospective murid was eager to learn, only half-information was given. The legacy of the founder of Silat Sera, Pak Sera must go on and this written information will enhance the understanding, when internal teachings are covered. These then one of the major keys to understand and grasp about the system of Sera. When you look at the Sera system, remember to view it as a tool of understanding, and a weapon that can either harm or not harm an opponent who have deadly intentions to your loved ones or yourself. Remember what is written, the words “Opponent who have deadly intentions.” Also understand with the understanding that when you produce the Serak techniques, many consequences may confront you, that you may not have not counted on. Also to count on that the system of Sera has the philosophical, as well as the harsh reality of eliminating the violent adversary that has deadly intentions. Understand clearly that no adversary is to be taken for granted, and of course these actions can be sensed in two ways. When the adversary has taken the initiative of doing harm to you with killing intentions in a frontal assault, or in a covert way of eliminating. Regardless of the intention, the action has to be counted on as “intentions to harm with the intent to kill.”

It is hoped that with this information, a good understanding is within the person that warlike intention does not belong in situation of growing and giving. It is only when no other recourse exists, then the system of Sera can be likened to total devastation. So it must be understood that with learning the system also comes understanding of peace and healing. But make no mistake in grasping the system of Sera as a system of peace, it is not. In many instances it is a reactionary system, and in other rare cases it can be proactive. When you are given the physical jurus to learn, that is still a Luar or outside application. One of the major keys of understanding would be the many of intricate interwoven movement that is taught. Also to understand that you must stay close to the Guru who is teaching you. This providing the Guru has the full system under his belt.

These are the eight basic lessons of understanding to interact on: The intricate reactive: 1. Dempet and 2. Dalam Principle and Philosophy of Sera. The intricate reactive: 3. Longar and 4. Dalam Principle and Philosophy of Sera. The intricate proactive: 5. Dempet and 6. Dalam Principle and Philosophy of Sera. The intricate proactive: 7. Longar and 8. Luar Principle and Philosophy of Sera.

Were many of misunderstanding came is when the Guru spoke of “To have your hands or posture in a ‘Dempet” position. These positions are only in reference to the action or stances called “Sikap.” Many reasons are why it is so important to understand the difference. With the progression and training of the jurus and techniques on the platforms, it will become apparent why the need to understand the meaning of Dempet, Longar, Luar and Dalam.

“Luar” and “Dalam,” or literally translated “Outside” or “Inside.”

The Luar can be described in two ways: 1. When you exercise and do the jurus, or when you do Latihan or exercises. 2. Understanding of an outside technique. The Dalam is in similar fashion also described as two parts: 1. When you are given the understanding what a juru or technique is. 2. Understanding of an inside technique.

With this information given and truly understood by the murid, Sera can be a system that may not be as difficult to understand as many believed. When you are given the basic jurus or movements, then we can count on eighteen jurus to be within the curriculum of Silat Sera. The main idea to remember is that it is a good idea to visualize having to fight off multiple opponents. While it is true, the “Puter” (Balik) or turn around was never labeled as a juru. But with closer examination of all the movements, it becomes apparent that the Puter is a juru. For sure the Puter then a juru with no number of its own, or could it be said that the Puter is juru number twenty-five. Yes of course it could, for when you work the platforms, it becomes apparent that the Puter is in constant use. To put it lightly every time a single movement is done could be construed as a juru.

Let’s examine the much-discussed movement, and see where it can be such a precise tool to be in a ready mode at all times. Here the importance of the platform and lines from Langka Pantjar becomes imperative. Were you can learn to dissect the lines of the meridian structure of an opponent. This of course with the help of a qualified Silat Serak Guru or instructor. The idea is to have a perception that you have eyes in the back of your head. And while it is impossible to have the physical eyes in the back of your head, it is possible to have one hundred and twenty degrees of vision. And finally, a somewhat of an additional blurred peripheral vision of an additional thirty degrees at each end will be required to get the full prospectus of what the ability of Vision should be. Of course a constant and rigorous training is called for to become an expert at this. I foresee a great future ahead, and for a certainty I advocate cross training and many arts have great things to offer. Ultimately a practitioner will take the easy out to progress in combat either to defend or take the offensive stand when pushed in a corner. For a certainty myself and many of the qualified Serak Instructors making the inroads in teaching the system of Serak in seminars.

Thai Boxing’s Rising Star

written by Wayne Quintyne

It was the first day of the Train with the Legends Camp 2006 and I was looking forward to it being over. One segment left, two hours to go! This was not to say that I wasn’t enjoying the training. You see, I had only arrived the day before, having traveled close to ten hours to get there. I was still recuperating from the long flight and my body hadn’t yet gotten used to the 3 hour time difference. You might say that I was more than a little bit tired. After eight hours of training, I was about to go into what was traditionally the most physically challenging part of the Camp – Muay Thai. I wondered if I could make it. It was somewhat surprising then that my eyes were attracted to the far corner of the room.

The Muay Thai portion of the Camp has always attracted a favorable number of participants and this year was no exception. There were perhaps 50 or more persons there – some were native Californians, some from other parts of the U.S. and like me, some were from farther afield. Some faces were familiar to me – persons I had met at previous Camps or Instructors’ Conferences – but I found my attention drawn to one person in particular. Maybe it was his aura, or perhaps that he seemed out of place amongst the others in attendance. I wasn’t sure which, but something told me that I should keep my eye on him.

Ajarn Chai (Surachai Sirisute) President of the Thai Boxing Association of the U.S.A. and the Camp Instructor for Muay Thai, began the session by having us do some light shadowboxing. This was my first opportunity to see the young man who caught my attention in action and boy was I surprised! His form was at a very high standard, better than many of the other participants there. “Never judge a book by its cover” I thought. Still I decided to reserve any judgment. Not a good idea to jump to conclusions. After all, it was only shadowboxing.

Next, Ajarn Chai took us through a counter-offensive sequence of 14 movements employing all 8 weapons of Muay Thai. I would need to stop and take notes to ensure that I would be able to retain the information, not certain of my next opportunity to learn these new drills. By the time my notes were complete, I noticed that the young man was already practicing the drill with his partner. He seemed unfazed by the fact that his partner was a more seasoned practitioner. What was even more remarkable was the fact that he had the drill down pat!

I wasn’t the only one whose attention he had caught. Ajarn Chai had been taking careful note of his performance and nodded his approval.
“What is your name, sir?” Ajarn Chai asked.”
“Khayman, sir.”
“How old are you, sir?”
“Nine years old, sir.” came the matter-of-fact reply.
This was my first introduction to Khayman McDaniels.

It is said that the first five years of a child’s life are the most important, as this is when his character is shaped and he is most susceptible to influence – good or bad. If this is true, then kudos to Khayman’s parents Don and Michelle McDaniels, for they have certainly done an excellent job in helping to shape the character of their son. Not only is he an exceptionally gifted individual, but the level of discipline and respect he demonstrates is remarkable for a child of his age. Khayman’s dad, Don has expressed a strong desire in ensuring that his son is able to achieve his full potential in life, whether academically, artistically or athletically. To this end, Khayman has been enrolled in the California Virtual Academy’s (CAVA) Home School Program. There, he is, a 3rd Grade student, participating in private reading, mathematics and art.

Khayman has opted for the martial arts above the usual forms of physical activities for a boy of his age. At age 3, while most other children were content to run around on the playground, he decided to take up Tae Kwon Do. After three years in that discipline, it was felt that he needed to expand his training further. Don, Khayman’s father, is an avid fan of Bruce Lee and well acquainted with his philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. He believed that this approach to martial arts training would provide his son with the knowledge and skills necessary to become a functional, well-rounded martial artist.

He had also heard of Daniel Inosanto, protégé and premier disciple of Bruce Lee, and for some time had wanted to enroll his son at the Inosanto’s academy, but this had proven to be logistically impossible. It was only when the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts moved to its current location at 13348-13352 Beach Ave., Marina Del Rey that it became feasible for him to enroll Khayman at the school. The decision to have Khayman train at the Inosanto Academy has proven to be a good one. As his dad states, “We wanted him to train in an environment that reflects the same ideals we hold for our son’s development. Here, he is surrounded by positive role models, great instructors and there is a lot of discipline and respect shown.”

Khayman was 6-years-old by this time, and entered into the Academy’s Little Dragons program. The base of the program is Kajukenbo, taught by program instructor Ray Rosales, with influences of Jun Fan Gung Fu, Kali and Silat. It was also here that Khayman got his first introduction to Muay Thai. He is one of only three children who have been taught Muay Thai at the Academy and is the only one active at this time.

Khayman has excelled so much in his training that he became the first junior to be allowed to participate in the adult Mixed Martial Arts and the Adult Muay Thai classes conducted by Sifu Dan Inosanto. Sifu Inosanto has himself commented that Khayman possesses physical attributes the likes of which he has not seen in about 40 years. He describes him as a “mature miniature adult” who is emotionally stable, well mannered, easy to get along with, has a great attitude and very importantly, a teachable spirit.

What has been the secret to his exceptional talent? Perhaps it is that he trains 4 times a week. Maybe it’s the benefit of cross-training., or simply, it may be the passion he has for the martial arts and the pure enjoyment he derives from doing them.

Of all the years I have trained in Muay Thai, and of all the times I have benefitted from the counsel of Ajarn Chai, there has been one comment he has made that has always stuck with me: “The discipline and respect are most important.” It is clear to me – having spoken to his instructors and parents, and having trained with him at the Camp – that Khayman fully appreciates the importance of these values. His application of these values in his life has not only reaped benefits for him in his martial pursuits but has created opportunities for him in both an acting and modeling career. He is signed with the Ford Modeling Agency and ABRAMS Artist Hollywood, and there is strong interest in him doing a production called “Ninja Chronicles” for Nickalodeon.

What are his future aspirations for the martial arts? Well, Khayman sees no immediate end to his pursuit of martial excellence. His parents are considering allowing him to compete in Muay Thai in the not too distant future, but as his dad has expressed, this will have to be discussed between his instructors and family, and only when, and if, he wants to. Though he is too young at present to test under the current TBA structure, it is hoped that a junior grading syllabus will be developed to allow him and other juniors to test for Muay Thai.

It is my hope that one day he will become an instructor of Muay Thai. I believe that he will prove to be a great asset to the TBA, and as Ajarn Chai rightly stated, he and others like him are the future of Muay Thai. The legacy of Muay Thai and the TBA lies with the generation of young martial artist now coming up and we must do everything in our power to encourage them. Khayman McDaniels is an inspiration to me, and I am certain to many others who attended this year’s Legends Camp. When I am having difficulty with my Muay Thai form, I will remember him and the words of Ajarn Chai: “If they can, you can!”

Wayne Quintyne