Emerald Coast Seminar 2009

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Training with KaJuKenBo Grandmaster Ron Pierce

19 September-Saturday

Sunny Florida was the stage for Grandmaster Ron Pierce. It was the annual End of Summer seminar hosted by Shotokan Master Joe Cayer through Emerald Coast Martial Arts of Ft. Walton Beach FL

Grandmaster Ron Pierce

A true martial arts pioneer Grandmaster Pierce has 48 years of experience training martial artists, law enforcement and military personnel in a variety of diverse arts. He is a first generation Black Belt in the Sijo Adriano Emperado KaJuKenBo Fighting System. The first American martial art, founded in Hawaii in 1947. He is an original member of the Black Dragon Fighting Society and a Grandmaster of the Black Dragon Fighting Monks Society as well as co-founder of his personal KaJuKenBo art, Pierce Family Gung Fu, which is composed of forms and techniques thousands of years old, adapted for modern day use. These methods have been taught by Grandmaster Pierce to police departments and military personnel all over the world. As he explained, “I have often played the victim. Some staggering old bum people think they can rob. Sometimes the cops don’t get there in time to rescue me quick enough and I have to kind of explode on the bad guys. That’s why it’s good to know forms, but surviving the parking lot is also good health.”

Other grandmasters in attendance included Doug Dwyer, one of the original Black Dragon members who had trained with John Keehan and Robert Trias in the early days of American Karate and founder of the Midwest Yudanshakai in the early nineteen sixties.

Grandmasters Ron Pierce, Stoffel van Vuuren, Frank Dux and Doug Dwyer

Grandmaster Lawrence Day

10th Dan Grand Master Lawrence Day, who began his Martial Arts journey with the Black Dragon Fighting Society under Count Dante whose real name was Grandmaster John Keehan was there. Most of the teaching was done by Grandmaster Doug Dwyer, John's best friend in the late or mid 60's. In the 70's and mid 80's he studied with Grandmaster Sin The, Grandmaster Robert Trias and Grandmaster Don Madden. He has studied Tai-chi and Chi-kung from Yuzee Yeh. He has also studied with Grandmaster Tanaka. Dr. Day was honored by being named a 37th generation Warrior Monk under Grandmaster Young Di of the Shaolin Temple. Dr. Day continues teaching and learning Tai-chi, Chi-kung and his passion, Chi-ma, or Fa-ching poison hand for over 45 years.

Hanshi Frank Dux

Frank Dux, of Bloodsport fame, was present. From 1975 through 1980, Frank Dux honed his personal protection skills to the point it where they transformed him into the first truly Ultimate Fighting Champion. He held the title of Kokuryukai World Full Contact Kumite (no-holds-barred) Champion, retiring undefeated after establishing 16 WORLD RECORDS; many of which have remain unbroken for more than 25 years. As a result he has been inducted into five Martial Arts Halls of Fame as a “Living Legend.” His name became so world renowned in the underground fight world that it came to be immortalized by the 1988 motion picture based upon his early life achievements, entitled Bloodsport, responsible for launching the film career of Jean Claude Van Damme - it is a cult classic, globally popular - attributed to Frank Dux inspiring story and implementation of a new, realistic type of fight choreography, Hollywood film makers adopted and still use today. While visiting Ft. Walton Beach Hanshi Dux also stopped by the Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast’s Okaloosa County Teen Center. He didn’t speak to them to tout himself or relive the glory days that made him famous. Instead he offered advice and wise counsel. “The point of martial arts is not the mastering of others, but the mastering of yourself,” explained Dux, who received the California Youth Karate Dragon Award for his humanitarian work with disadvantaged and disabled children. “Whenever I go to a new place, I try to either visit with veterans or kids,” Dux added between autographs. “It’s just who I am as a person.”

International Grandmaster Stoffel van Vuuren

Prof. Stoffel van Vuuren from South Africa, who started his martial arts training at a very young age and whose first mentor was Sensei Ken Wittstock who had a Dojo in Randfontein, South Africa, had come to share his knowledge and techniiques as well. He also trained with Sensei such as Stan Smith, Johan Roets and in June 1978, when the International Representative Sensei from Japan traveled to South Africa he was graded and promoted to Shodan. In 1979 he was called to Military service and during this period had the opportunity to train in various other Martial Arts Systems, including Funakosi Karate, Small Circle Ju Jutsu, Kickboxing and Knife Fighting. On completion of his military service, he moved to East London were he met with John Gerber who trained him to 1st Degree Black Belt in Small Circle Ju Jutsu. Still searching for something more, he found his first Ninjutsu Instructor – Barry Pictor 6th Degree- and trained under him until he achieved his Yudansha 4th Degree. He started to travel the globe searching for new teachers and new skills and ending in USA and training until receiving his 6th Degree in 1989. In April 2004 he was promoted by a Council of six (6) Masters to Judan Level and has served as President of the BDFS International which he founded with Doctor Lawrence Day and Doctor Ernie Reynolds from the USA since that time.

These three were on hand for testing and promotions of John Lee (left) to 2nd Dan Black Belt, Joe Cayer (center) to 8th Dan Grand Master and Jr. Cobb, a current 5th Dan (right) to the Black Dragon Masters Council. 

Grandmaster Ernie Reynolds, another original Black Dragon member, traveled from Tennessee to participate and brought his number one student. Kendo player, Judo player, bodybuilding champ, grappling expert, karate master and Martial Arts Hall of Famer are just a few of the accomplishments of Dr. Reynolds. He is a member of the I.M.A.A. and the N.R.A. and is a certified weapons instructor and V.I.P. Bodyguard who has protected many famous celebrities. He has appeared in many books and has a series of 25 video tapes on Iaido, quick-drawing of the live blade. As an instructor he has taught countless children and adults. He has taught many handicapped children martial arts as well. Blind, deaf, autistic, not one was ignored. His personality and dedication never fails to inspire.

Grandmaster David Harris, honored this year by the Martial Arts Hall of Fame as the founder of the Shun Shen Tao style, recipient of the Wong Fei Hung Excellence in Martial Arts Award, and Black Dragon member, was there as well. He had brought his cups and rods and Dit Da Jow and Chi Kung skills to demonstrate the subtleties of traditional Chinese medicine on those willing to endure the treatment.

Mysterious Ninja Photographer

And, there was a strange Ninja figure some said was Ashida Kim, lurking about the crowd, quietly videotaping the seminar as a memento of the event and a notebook for those who attended. These DVDs are available through Master Joe Cayer. There were Black Belt students from Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama. No one wanted to miss an opportunity to train with the legendary Grandmaster Ron Pierce.

The Seminar

The class was called to order at 9 a.m. Grandmaster Pierce went over the syllabus of the day. He began by explaining the movements, meaning and symbolism of the KaJuKenBo bow used to start the first practice form. It was Palama #9 One of the kata or formal exercises of the Hawaiian based system. KaJuKenBo is an American style martial art created by Professor Adriano D. Emperado. The name stands for the styles from which it was developed: Ka - Karate; Ju - Judo Jujitsu; Ken - Kenpo Karate; Bo - Chinese Boxing. It was founded in 1947 at the Palamas Settlement on Oahu, Hawai with the aid of several other martial artists, by Professor Adriano Emperado who founded the Black Belt Society, which consisted of black belts from various martial arts backgrounds who met to train and learn with each other. This was the beginning of an evolutionary, adaptive style designed to combine the most useful aspects of the arts. The emphasis during training was on realism - so much so that students routinely broke bones, fainted from exhaustion, or were knocked unconscious.

Grandmaster Pierce demonstrating the practice forms

The practice forms, however, are performed against imaginary opponents. This is part of the practice, to visualize the opponent and the vital and fatal points of his anatomy. In each of these combinations, the technique begins with a block and finishes with a hand weapon strike to a specific Dim Mak Target Point, any one of which will render an opponent unconscious with less than ten pounds of pressure. Then the applications are practiced with a partner to discover the subtle actions of balance and leverage that enable the secret fighting arts methods to be so highly effective and deadly. This was the first “dance of death” to be learned that day. After ninety non-stop minutes and many repetitions Grandmaster Pierce was satisfied that most of the Black Belt class had grasped the sequence sufficiently to move on. As he explained he was not demonstrating any new techniques, only new combinations and ways to use strikes and takedowns with which most in attendance were familiar. The class was relaxed and familiar, with his good humor making the time go swiftly. When he asked if they were “ready for number two?” All snapped to attention and made the appropriate response, “Yessir!” And, they moved on. There was no break, no need to rest, no one was tired, they were all enthusiastic.

In another hour, they paused and Grandmaster Dwyer walked among them and explained some of the subtle points of what his friend had been showing. He spoke of how speed was a weapon that could be used to break the opponent’s balance. And, pointed out that what appeared to be a simple blocking action was, in fact, many small movements, all contributing to the opponent’s downfall. Everyone listened with rapt attention. For these were words and teachings from men who had fought for there lives many times. In alleys against gangs, on the streets against muggers, in the ring against fighters many times there size. And, they had prevailed. You can’t buy experience and wisdom like that. You can only hope to learn from it.

Before lunch they practiced the Snake Style, sinuous, shifting movements back and forth, twisting to and fro to tone the stomach muscles, the symbol of the Earth element, represented by the snake. It is an ancient kung fu form. In modern times many martial artists seek to “invent” a new kata. They string their favorite techniques into a chain and work to make the transitions between the combinations smooth. But, true kata conform to the Laws of the Five Elements and the principles of Yin and Yang. The snake is only one such example.

And, Grandmaster Pierce instructed them in the use and concealment of a simple Kung Fu weapon, easily manufactured anywhere in the world and easily hidden on the person in such a way that it can be quickly drawn in self-defense and slash any attacker to the bone with a single swipe. As the grandmasters agreed, it is not about the fame or the fancy footwork or the notoriety. It is about being able to defend yourself and survive. And, no one would leave any of these classes without that ability. After a quick review of the first two forms, everyone took a break for lunch.

Grandmaster Pierce demonstrating application of the techniques

When they returned Grandmaster Dwyer taught the class Uke Gata Waza. This is a dynamic blocking technique used to pull an opponent forward off balance into a devastating secondary strike. Every student had an opportunity to try his hand at unbalancing the master so they could learn firsthand with actual experience the hidden meaning and application of the technique. He also discussed the importance of breathing and breath control, explaining the relationship between rapid breathing and heart rate and how this releases pheromones that can be sensed by many animals in nature and those who have practiced martial arts. It is the smell of fear. And, it could cost you your life. To overcome this the ancients have taught to breathe slowly and deeply. That too is part of the formal practice of kata.

Grandmaster Pierce then taught the fourth Dance of Death form that he had come to share with us- Tai Chi Chuan. He demonstrated how even to seemingly softest and most flowing movements, when directed by intent to harm the enemy, could transform such gentle actions as Hold the Ball and Dragon Takes a Step into crippling armlocks and leg breakers. All the while pointing out that each of these exercises was also providing a therapeutic movement for a specific internal organ, the corresponding organ of which in the destructive cycle of Five Element energy was the target point on the enemy’s body. Snake Style being Earth, for example. Earth destroys water by damming it up. Therefore, many strikes in the snake style act at the Kidneys, the organ associated with the Water Element.

In the afternoon there was a review of all that had gone before and a question and answer session, with Grandmaster Pierce fielding questions from the class and answering all with good humor and simplicity. The day concluded with group pictures all ‘round and a good time was had by all. The assembled crew gathered at Sensei Cayer’s house thereafter for steak, hamburgers and hot dogs. The party lasted long into the night. No one wanted it to end. Many old friendships were renewed and many new ones formed. There is a brotherhood in the martial arts that is not easily understood by others. You see it in these gatherings. The respect for the old masters, the admiration for what they have accomplished, the eagerness to learn what they know and become better people. To love what you do, and believe it makes a difference, there is no greater joy. For this tremendous opportunity we express our deepest gratitude to Sensei Cayer and Emerald Coast Martial Arts.

Grandmasters and students assembled at the end of class

(l-r) Grandmasters David Harris, Doug Dwyer, Health Club Director Jennifer, Frank Dux, Lawrence Day, Ernie Reynolds, Ashida Kim, Stoffel van Vuuren (Grandmaster Pierce is hidden in the class)

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Ashida Kim
American Representative
DOJO-Academy of Martial Arts

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