ACT was invited to give a series of seminars and workshops in US and that trip, well, something to remember.
The team (Noah Gross and Alex Zhelezniak) gave the first two day seminar at North Valley Aikikai dojo in LA ,led by a wonderful teacher Lee Lavi Ramirez (4-th dan Aikido). A true Family dojo, that is filled with Budo spirit and tradition and a place that makes you forget everything and just practice the art.
Day 1-we taught ACT katana or as some people call it – dirty Kenjutsu and Jo fighting. The participants – Kendo, Aikido, Kenjutsu and Iaido, and “plain” blade work enthusiasts. Full contact bouts were had by everyone, including some blood chilling 1 vs. 3 fights and some group melee. Lots of fun and lots of battle testing went on and everybody present went away with a feeling of better understanding of what works in combat and what doesn’t.
Day2 – we were studying knife combat and machete, finished it all with some free sparring with different weapons, all in all a great training day.
In the words of Lee: “The beauty of training with ACT was that we got to test everything we know in combat. To develop fighting responses when there is no safety net given by the uke, when you have to respond to an unpredicted and violent threat of an uncooperative opponent, to simply not close your eyes, to pull of the techniques that you have been drilling so long and make them work in the ever changing environment of free combat, all of these made training with ACT something that hones the fighting ability of any martial artist and for that I am grateful to have studied with you.”
We are honored to have taught in this great dojo and to have had the privilege to train with Lee and her husband, to stay in their lovely home and to train together and share knowledge with each other.
It was during this event that we also had the chance to meet and to train with Guro Roger Agbulos, the head of Astig Lameco FMA School. It was a real treat as Roger is a superb martial artist and fighter and it was a wonderful experience to cross blades and share knowledge with each other. Our thanks and respect to him.
All in all , we have gained a lot of experience and insights from teaching ACT to core budo practitioners and our heartfelt thanks go to all the fighters, participants and of course to Lee sensei and her wonderful family for this opportunity and hospitality of her home.
Day 3 – The team went to Boston and in that very evening gave a workshop to a group of martial artists, ranging from Ninjutsu, Kempo and boxing to law enforcement agents and Taekwondo. A true mix of martial artists with the sole purpose of getting better at what they do. Mike Tang (4th dan), accomplished competitor who has won medals in the national and international levels in Taekwondo, is a gracious host and it was a real treat to train in his club. We were using every ounce of skill and left everything on the floor because these guys don’t play around :). Be it Jo or knife, machete or katana, it was always all the way take it to the limit kind of thing and for that they have our thanks , cause that’s the only way to go.
Mike Zaino (5th dan – Ninjutus) was the mastermind behind this event and we thank him as well as Mike Tang of course and all the fighters who were present at the event. When we could fight no longer and everyone was thinking about where to replenish the lost calories there was an unforgettable moment when Mike’s father, a Vietnam War veteran who was quietly observing the event gave a short but powerful praise: “That’s some real fighting”. That kind of summed up the workshop for us.
Day 4- We were invited to give two workshops on the same day (like we weren’t tired already :)). We started by teaching at Herman Occasio’s True martial arts club and finished at Jeff Saab’s East Coast Martial arts club. Great fighting was displayed in both places, our heartfelt thanks for the opportunity and the camaraderie.
Following that we went to visit a boxing gym owned by Ken sievers, did some test driving of our kubotan skills when Ken would jump at us from behind the corners to see how we’d respond, all in the maze of an old, building in which the club operates. Some dark moments let me be clear about that but hey, the look on Ken’s face when he saw the techniques shown work under pressure of an unexpected attack was priceless. And the atmosphere in that old boxing club – straight out of the Rocky movie and clichés be damned :). So much fun indeed had by all there, Jeff, Herman, Ken – thanks so much again.
Day 5 found us exchanging friendly blows with the European swords in the Forte school of western martial arts led by Jeff Tsay. Tired as we were, the honor of the school was at stake and though the longsword is arguably the most difficult weapon to wield, what, after the bolo and the knife and the kubotan, we summoned the reserves to give our best. And best we got in return – the “cutting edge” research of the German manuscripts in form of power slices and rushes with the butt of the sword in our faces. Much fun. You had to be there to understand :). Many friends made and many techniques learned, in real time, so to speak.
Then to pack all the incapacitated body parts in their respective bandages and onwards to the airport. One of the highlights of the ACT school and a truly unforgettable chain of events.