Vital Point Martial Arts & Fitness

Be a Warrior, not a Worrier.


Vital Point Visits Guro Dan
(L-R Joe Memminger, Bryan Castro, Tom Macaluso, Dan Inosanto, Lou Greco)

Sifu Tom Macaluso and a group of his students participated in a seminar presented by Guro Dan Inosanto in Scarborough, Ontario on August 24th and 25th. For Tom, it was a chance to visit his teacher. For his students, Lou Greco, Joe Memminger, and Bryan Castro, it was a chance to meet and learn from a martial arts legend.

Guro Dan, often known as the protege of Bruce Lee, has dedicated his life to researching various martial arts systems from around the world and educating others. Based in California at the Inosanto Academy, Guro Dan travels around the world learning and teaching aspects of various martial arts, including Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, Shootfighting, Wing Chun Gung Fu, and Muay Thai among others. On this weekend, his main topics were martial arts from the Philippines and Indonesia.

The seminar was hosted by Guro Jun De Leon, a Filipino martial arts master who teaches in Toronto. The spacious gym at the Mid-Scarborough Community Center provided the participants a great environment for training.

Guro Dan began the seminar with a brief history of the Filipino martial arts. He noted that many of the masters he had trained with lived in California (a major location of Filipino immigration to the United States) and were introduced to him by his father. He then showed pictures of several of his Kali and Escrima instructors, which included such legends as John LaCoste, Floro Villabraille, Tatang Antonio Illustrisimo, Angel Caballes, Edgar Sulite, Leo Gaje, and Max Sarmiento among others. He displayed much respect for his instructors, noting that many of them had to put their skills to the test through life and death situations on the street or during war.

He then taught material using double daggers. With his assistant Joel Clark, Guro Dan demonstrated several methods of disarming and defending against knife attacks from different angles. Guro Dan and Joel displayed blistering speed and extreme skill in demonstrating the techniques, often having to slow down so that the students could note the details.

Showing vast knowledge of several Kali systems, he demonstrated the similarities and differences between the methods of several masters. Progressing from double dagger, he taught training methods using doble baston (double sticks), espada y daga (stick and dagger), and solo baston (single stick). Each training drill provided a logical progression to the next, allowing the students to build upon each drill.

On the second day, Guro Dan continued to instruct in methods with single stick, presenting drills and techniques from several systems. He then moved on to instruction in aspects of Silat. Following a brief history of his Silat instructors from Indonesia and the Philippines, he took the students through a variety of entries, throws, sweeps, and locks. He demonstrated several Harimau techniques, noting that the ground-based squatting, kneeling, and crawling techniques were necessary because of the terrain in Indonesia and the Philippines. He also had several techniques utilizing the sarong. He finished the seminar with a couple "games" utilizing elbow control and neck clinches, noting that these games allowed the practicioners to playfully enhance their sensitivity and speed in a safe environment.

Throughout the seminar, Guro Dan gave insightful comments regarding the philosophy behind the training methods he taught. For example, with regard to the multitude of variations within the different styles, he noted that the personal attributes of one master may have differed from another causing him to prefer a certain set of movements. As a teacher, he said this allowed him to let his students decide after learning the material what worked best for them.

Guro Dan used several well-chosen analogies to illustrate his points. With regard to the reality of the training methods, he stressed that although one did not fight exactly as a drill was practiced, that it was necessary to progress from set drills to freestyle sparring, humorously comparing it to reading a Kindergarten-level book. Although when one is young, a child must read "See the dog. See Jane run..." it would be impractical for an adult to continue to carry this book around, but it was necessary at the time. Similarly, with regard to the practicality of specific techniques, he stressed that there was a time and place for everything: "Bunting is baseball is a good thing, but not if you do it every at bat!"

Guro Dan Inosanto demonstrated great skill and wisdom in providing the seminar participants with training methods, philosophy, and history of the Filipino and Indonesian martial arts. Guro Jun De Leon was a gracious host during the well-organized event. Overall, the seminar was a great experience for the members of Vital Point Martial Arts.

- Bryan Castro
August 26, 2002

Dr. Gyi Comes to Buffalo, NY
(L-R Tom Macaluso, Dr. Gyi, Boyd Ritchie)

October 18-20, 2002
Buffalo, NY

Training with Dr. Gyi is always a learning experience. This seminar was no exception. On Friday night, we worked with the Dha or long sword. Its size and length make it a unique weapon. While it is not one you will encounter on main street in most American cities, training with it brings out body mechanics that carry over very well to other weapons, especially those that are large and unorthodox. If you are a fan of historical martial arts, it is fun to train with because it is a true battlefield weapon. Dr. Gyi provided a written syllabus outlining drills with the wooden training Dha that will keep us busy for a long time.

On Saturday, we spent the entire day learning about and training with the Kukri. The Kukri is the familiar weapon of the famous Gurkha soldiers. First we learned how to care and clean the weapon. Next the history of the weapon was presented followed by a discussion of the safety "zones." We learned about the different salutations of different Gurkha regiments and their significance and then practiced them. This leads naturally into how to properly draw the weapon. We trained in the different basic draws, target zones, and basic training exercises. Using wooden Kukri, we practiced combat drills against multiple attackers and realistic combat techniques for dispatching an enemy. It is truly a functional, practical and effective weapon that dates back to Alexander the Great but is still used effectively world wide by modern soldiers.

On Sunday, Dr. Gyi presented Letha Yoga and the healing arts of Burma. These included meditation techniques for preparation, discussion on the energy channels and chakras in the human body followed by hand-on training with partners in stretches and healing practices.

All in all it was a great seminar. If you have a chance to train with Dr. Gyi, please take advantage of it. He refers to his art as a "dump truck" martial art in that it may not look as good as a "Ferrari" martial art but it will get you where you need to go when you need it. His art (Burmese Bando) is a functional, practical combative martial art.

- Boyd Ritchie

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