Thursday, September 11, 2014

And Now a Word from Our Canadian Host

Aye Jeff,

Nice little place you have here ! :)

It's been awhile since we rapped. Believe me, we've been busy, training non stop. I broke two fingers, cross training with jiu jitsu.  It's proven to be a blessing in disguise.

A funny thing happened, a book had fallen out of my bookshelf. I picked it up and gave it a look, it was titled "the art of team coaching". It wasn't until I opened it up and started glancing through it, that I realized, I was meant to find that book. The opening quote in the book was written by a lad that although I didn't recognize, we played for the same lacrosse team growing up, the "whitby warriors". Could it just be coincidence? I don't think so. Intrigued, I kept reading and reading and reading...

As I progressed through the book, I realized that although I'm a fighter first, there are people close to me, who view me also as a coach and leader and that a part of me needs to fill those roles. I made notes, planned new drills and approaches to drilling techniques so that my teammates could not only reproduce the drills, but could understand the drills and make it their own.

I went back to the videos of your seminar and ran those exercises until every member of our team knew them. On my days off, I arranged to have one on one training sessions with different members of our clan to not only polish techniques but to build on them. Another funny thing happened, in the process of trying to make my teammates better at our craft, I was able to understand techniques differently, to make them my own and string them together, sometimes seamlessly, with other techniques.

I... and I do mean "we" had found a new "flow". Steve was a big part of that. In trying to make him a better fighter, he is making me a better fighter and a better coach. At 15 yrs old, he is holding his own against grown men who have far more experience and rank than himself. He has forgotten fear. His heart, skill and ability to push the pace of a fight speak for themselves. I credit him with a lot, but it isn't just him. Every member of our clan has added a puzzle piece to a larger picture. We are piecing together video clips to show you what we've been up to.

I want to thank you again for your time spent here with us, you and Jeff Danuloff.

I trust you are well and I look forward to sitting down again and exchanging thoughts and stories. I am intrigued by the picture you have posted on your blog of the gentleman standing amongst the various weapons.

It is only now that I see the link between that picture and a story you told me about your travels.

A good story to hear around a fire,
or a titty bar.... ;)

Take good care my friend.

Ps- your ancient Chinese secret ju-ju in a bottle is very potent. I've been calling it
"Boo boo, be gone". You weren't kidding about it healing bruises. Wow does it work well.

My very best, from myself and the rest of the warparty clan.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Seminar Review!

Guru Jeff Danuloff, Kirk Rodrigues, Guru Jeff Davidson
My name is Kirk Rodrigues, I represent “Warparty Tradecraft”.  We practice the sport and art of “Apache” knife fighting.  Apache knife fighting takes components of several different martial arts: the knife skills of Kali, the footwork and body movement of boxing, the strategies of point sparring and combines them for competitive sport application.

We practice many Kali knife drills for skill but as competitors, we have found many of the drills do not mesh well in high speed sparring. We have found that drills and sparring are often times, two very different animals. As a coach, it is my responsibility to push my team to be the very best they can be. Although it is a side factor, our goal is not for self defense but rather for performance.

We compete in a charity event every November called “Kick the Crap Out of Cancer”. The event showcases knife and stick fighting and competitors come from all over.

To give my team an egde on the competition, I wanted to bridge the gap between drills and sparring, by bringing in members of the Brotherhood of the Blade Guru Jeff Davidson and assistant Guru Jeff Danuloff, who specialize in tactical knife applications.

They were great company and are always welcome in my home.  I brought them with me to see a typical Friday night, training at multiple gyms so they could analyze and help me forge the nexus I was hoping for.

Their seminar was nothing short of fantastic. I heard one student say “It’s like they’re doing magic” when they started running their drills. Guru Davidson gave us a set of drills to practice which should help us bridge the divide. We video tape everything for reference and Guru Davidson’s material was no exception.

We are still dissecting and perfecting his lessons each day, developing them and finding a better flow each time, teaching our bodies to perform through repetition.

Not only was I looking for help with our training, I was looking to bond a new relationship between our schools, expanding our tribe. In the company of our new Brothers, we found that.

I want to thank them and show respect for the time they traveled and spent with us. We look forward to having them join us again.

My sincere and absolute best,

Kirk Church Alexander Rodrigues.
– Warparty Tradecraft and Toro Clan Niagara

Monday, September 01, 2014

Knife Skillz in Ontario!


This past weekend I had the pleasure of teaching a small seminar – Basic Knife Skillz – to a dedicated and enthusiastic group of martial artists in the scenic town of Port Colborne, Ontario.  I had a great time, and I think everyone else did as well.  One thing for sure, I LOVE teaching and reviewing the basics.  Solid basics make for a firm foundation on the path to Mastery.   

A special thanks to our gracious host Kirk Rodrigues.  Welcome to The Family!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How to stand a keris

A well made keris will have the properties of pliability, strength and balance. In times of war, the first two are tested for their mettle. But in times of peace, keris lovers spend their time testing the third property by standing a keris.
An interesting spectacle, many people have come to view it as an unattainable skill personally. As for myself, having stood many a keris before, I will say that it is very possible for a beginner to stand his own keris for the first time.
Now, if anyone out there once thought that standing a keris has to do with mantras and magic, I apologise for bursting your bubble. The ability to stand is just a testament to the smith's magic, which is in making the blade.
There are two ways to stand a keris. One is on its handle, and another is on its tip. Believe it or not, it is easier to stand a keris on its tip than it is on its handle. So, today, we'll choose the easier one to do.
First, you will need a keris. Two types are generally available, a Keris Sepokal, which only has one lok or a Keris Semenanjung, which has three and more loks. Choose a Keris Semenanjung with between 3 to 9 loks which is the easier to stand, since the loks act as fine counterbalancers against each other.
Be careful of choosing one with too many loks, since this will mean that the keris is inherently heavy and won't be able to support itself on the sampir of the sarung.
Second, remove the keris from the sarung and find a rough area to practise on. A good place to start is a carpet about 5mm thick. This will give the tip a good foothold. Place the sarung on the carpet and position the tip of the keris at a 45 degree angle to the neck of the sarung. Make sure the hulu is facing outwards. This will create a triangular shape between the sarung and the keris. Make sure the tip touches the sarung.
Third, with one hand steadying the tip, hold the hulu lightly in your other hand using your index finger and thumb. This gets tricky. You have to carefully find the sweet spot where the weight of the hulu will make the tip rest on the side of the sarung. This can take between a few seconds to a few minutes. Keep going until you get it. Practise makes perfect.
After you've practised on the carpet, challenge yourself by trying out other difficult surfaces, such as linoleum, a tiled floor or even glass. After standing your own keris, you'll want to try standing other kerises as well. 
Good luck!

Draw your weapon

The markings on weaponry offer a window to a culture’s aesthetical values and into the character of the weapon. This is what I learnt at the recent exhibition of traditional weaponry at the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex, which showcased decorative art on classic weapons.

Reflection of the maker
According to Zainal Abidin Che Pa, director of Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation’s Conservation Department, the decorative elements on traditional weapons differ from one weapon to another.

“Weapons made by the Melayu often carry floral motifs and those made by the Chinese feature turtles, bells or dragons. For the Indians, their design elements often feature elephants,” explains Zainal.

“Weapons that feature ‘heavy’ decorative markings were also used as accessories for special events such as weddings,” he adds.

The decorations often indicated the status of the owner. In the olden days, weapons with engravings complemented with gemstones usually belonged to nobility and dignitaries, or those in the higher hierarchy of a community.

Types of weapons
There are various types of traditional weapons. Among them, the badik, golok, kelewang, keris, sword and sundang.

The badik is a small dagger used for self-defence. It was widely used after the keris was banned by the British government. The badik’s blade is made of metal and the hilt of wood or ivory horn, decorated with gold, silver and brass. Badik was the weapon of choice for women in the olden days.

The golok is a machete used in battles. Its shape is influenced by the Javanese and European swords. The shape of its blade is slightly rounded and sharp on one side. There are a variety of golok — Golok Kelantan, Golok Bugis, Golok Perak and Golok Minangkabau, among others.

The kelewang is a shorter version of a sword. But its blade’s design makes it prominent. Popular in the East Coast states, especially in Kelantan at the end of the 18th Century, its length measures 0.6m. Its blade tapers on one side and the size increases towards the tip. The blade has two tips with oneside carved.

But the traditional weapon with the most extensive decorative elements would be the keris. This weapon is synonymous with the Melayu community. To some extent, it speaks of the Malay identity. Having been in existence for six centuries, a keris’ hilt has the most weight in design.

Carved by master craftsmen, the process of carving a keris can be quite complicated. The carving styles for a keris’ hilt involves several processes. Before the hilt receives its beautifying finishing touches, the craftsman will first have to do a low-relief carving to define the outer facet of the hilt.

Then the base motifs, which have been traced using carving blocks, will be defined using a wooden chisel. The hilt’s carving technique is very fine.

“Craftsmen believe that the keris is very special and mystical. It is not something to toy with,” says Zainal.

Besides the keris, the sword is just as special. Designs in the country are influenced by designs from India, Pakistan, Persia (Iran), Japan, Sumatra and Java. For example, a type of sword called cenangkas looks like a sword from India and another type, jenawi, is somewhat similar to the Japanese katana or Samurai sword.

Then there’s the sundang. It is the largest item in the keris family. Its design too can be elaborate as it is used for royal installation ceremonies.

Hunting and protection
The traditional weapons of the Orang Asli in the country have completely different decorative features. The designs are influenced by the environment. Among the Orang Asli’s arsenal are blowpipes, spears, the adze and trident. They are made using materials found in the environment.

These weapons are decorated with inks of different colours. The weapons are used for self-defence and hunting. For Sabah’s Murut and Bajau communities, their most favoured weapon is the machete, which is available in different sizes.

Decades ago, the machetes were used to kill. In the olden days, enemies were beheaded using the weapons. But, not anymore. For Sabah-born machete craftsman Jamawid Soh, modern Sabah machetes are these days made as souvenir items and for personal collections.

Jamawid makes hand-carved Bajau machetes for a living. Among the machetes from the Bajau community are the gaya and barong.

“The Bajau machete is different because the carving is not only on the sleeve but also on the blade,” says the 42-year-old. Jamawid learnt to make the machete from his father. He started making machetes when young. He takes about three days to make a machete. The Bajau machete features a significant motif, a replica of the head of a bird. Jamawid says this design is called the Sigai.

In Sarawak, one of the better known weapons is the ilang machete also known as mandau. Like in Sabah, this machete was used for self-defence. The head-hunters would decapitate their enemies with it.

According to Zainal, the ilang machete is synonymous with the Iban community. Other types of machetes in Sarawak are the nyabur machete (used by the Sea Dayak people), and spear, pipe and jepur (sword).

These three weapons are significant to the Bidayuh people. Traditional weapons in Sarawak are made beautiful by decorations and carvings. Like the keris, the hilt is carved. The sheaths are made of animal skin or wood.

Often, the motifs for these weapons are geometrical. Additional features of the weapons include shells, beads and animal teeth.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

7-11-2014: GURU'S DAY!

From The Times of India:

Indian scriptures have their own 'teachers day' in the form of Guru Purnima. The calendar offers this day to pay obeisance to those who have helped shaped your life.

The Vyas purnima, popularly called Guru Purnima, is actually the birthday of Guru Ved Vyas, who edited the four Vedas, wrote 18 Puranas, Mahabharat and Srimad Bhagavata.

Ved Vyas is honored by all students of Vedas today. Vedas are considered to be the fountainhead of all knowledge, and grateful students of the scriptures perform pujas and aarti of the great saint. Explaining the significance of Guru Purnima, Sanskrit scholar and a teacher of Yajur Veda at the Bhosala Ved Pathshaala in Mahal says, "Vyaso chishtam jagat sarvam, is a popular saying in Sanskrit. It means that all knowledge that comes from the Vedas is very superior. The students of Vedas thus express their gratitude to the great sage."

However, Pathak says that everybody should observe this day. "Guru Purnima is observed by those who are under the guidance of a guru. But those who are not, can pay their respects to their parents. Scriptures say that the mother is the first teacher followed by the father."

For Nandani Sahastrabudhhe, who heads the Swarali musical group, which had featured in the second season of TV show India Has Got Talent, Guru Purnima is a day of giving and receiving. "My students express their gratitude on this day. Though the tradition is to offer a garland but now floral bouquets are more common. I too make it a point to visit my guru Shubhda Pendharkar to pay respects."