Last weekend was Kasumi Mountain Martial Art’s Chaos From Every Angle – A Seminar with 7 of Asheville’s Top Instructors. The Line up included Sean Kennedy from Kasumi Mountain Martial Arts with mastery in Budo Taijutsu; Steve Ledford from Asheville Integrated Combatives with mastery in Commando Krav Maga; Stephen Opper from Manual Medicine Asheville Massage with skills in qi-gong, Chinese Medicine and Tui-na; Spencer Bolejack from Land of the Sky – Wilderness/Martial Arts with mastery in Tang Soo Do; Charly Aurelia from Mountain Forge with mastery in Systema; Thabiti Sabahive from Honu Martial Arts Academy with mastery in DonZan Ryu Jujutsu; and Michael Dickinson from Sun Soo Tae kwon do. The vast amount of information acquired during the three days is to much to remember and to much to write. What you’ll read is an overview of what I’ve remembered and the most valuable principals I learned.
Friday night started with a bang. That bang more explicitly, was someone’s body hitting the floor. The private Friday night session gave each instructor 15 minutes each to demonstrate a technique centered on the theme of chaos, a taste of the next 2 days. Eye gouging, stealthy ninja tricks, and soft hands with incredible power were all demonstrated then executed by the participants. Everyone left that night with smile. I was particularly pumped!
Saturday and Sunday amalgamated into some form of ordered chaos. Here is my recount of it. Stephen Opper demonstrated body awareness exercises, as the class followed along. “Feel the weight in your legs, like heavy bags, drop all that weight into your legs.” I felt no pressure in my back, I was letting my bones hold the structure for me, no muscles. He invited us to reach our hands parallel to the floor, perpendicular to our chest and begin to pivot our hips. It was amazing, for each small rotation produced by your hips your arms had traveled a long distance. Strong stances are where the power comes, it was evident after this very simple exercise. My favorite ninja trick from Sean Kennedy, for dealing with multiple attackers was finger crawling. Rather than using large muscles or your hands to control your opponent, dig your fingers into the opposition and crawl up them, slowly, deeply. This hurts, no really it hurts! This was one of the coolest tricks that works in a variety of situations and positions. Michael Dickinson gave one of the best Tae Kwon Do classes I’ve experienced. The class was able to execute the three major kicks, front kick, round house, and side kick in a variety of different positions, from standing to on the ground. We were also treated to experience how these kicks work in chaotic environments. One example walking your opposition into a hook kick. One of my favorite instructors was Charly Aurelia, though he had the oddest “stances,” and body movement he gave a smaller guy like me hope as I saw how devastating and powerful his punches were. Among other techniques Charly’s no Bullshit approach was freshing as he taught what I dubbed, “face shmeer.” Using the bridge of the hand placing it under the nose, pushing the head away, up, then straight down to the floor hindered any chance for escape. It was a destructive technique. Steve Ledford has a similar principal regarding the nose… It WILL control the body, the whole thing, not just a part. Steve led us through a couple drills, which all held a similar principal. Step away then into the attacker, hit as many times on the way in, control the nose/face. Steve’s Krav Maga is not for the faint of heart, it is effective and brutal. Spencer Bolejack, in my opinion, had a gentle demeanor, a smile on his face 99% of the time, and somehow somewhere sat this intense, martial art that focused on sticks, knifes, and a principal that no matter what you hold in your hand you’re doing the same thing. It was exciting to practice the moves he showed the class on Saturday, in a live environment on Sunday with gear. Practical and awesome. Lastly, Thabiti Sabahive taught us one of the best core principals I’ve ever learned (currently, I still train with him). Head, Knee Toe alignment. Your body can only generate power on this alignment. Whether you are punching, kicking, or throwing, this is critical to being powerful with efficiency, and stable like a deeply rooted tree. I will say it again Head, Knee Toe, -> and again, Head, Knee, Toe.
After attending my first Palmetto Jujitsu Fall Clinic in 2013 I learned one core principal that permeates all EXCEPTIONAL martial arts. They all do the same thing, it’s just a different flavor. This seminar held the same principal and because of that I know the quality of instructors is exceptional as well. To paraphrase Thabiti, “Your body needs protein. You can eat meat, beans, or sprouts, but they all give the same thing, it’s just a different flavor.”