It's been months since I last wrote in the
newsletter. I apologized for that. I've been busy cross-training and liaising
with many great instructors all over the world. One of them is someone I respect
very much and is a highly acclaimed expert in the realm of unarmed combative and
self defense: Shinan Carl Cestari, who is also the founder of Tekkenryu (Iron
Fist System) Jujutsu.
Below is an interesting article from him,
which I find especially useful for beginners of martial arts who want learn
everything quickly but give up easily when they see no "significant
improvements". Then they go on searching for the next "ultimate"
martial art to learn.
Hope you enjoy the article as much as I do.
CATHOLIC SELF DEFENSE
by CARL CESTARI
Catholic, by definition, means universal or "broad minded".
I could pull out STACKS of manuals, syllabuses, films, and related research material that cover an ENTIRE range of unarmed combat.
Some methods advocate wrestling as their base, others use boxing or savate. Some jujutsu and judo while others call their systems "rough and
tumble" or "all in", and there is even a system based on American SPORTS. I have an old manual on YOGA for self defense. The material ranges from
current to OLD, some very old.
These varied systems have everything! Striking and kicking methods drawn from EVERY method and "nationality", GRAPPLING methods from Lutte
to Judo, from Sambo to All-In Wrestling. They range from standing to the ground;
all aspects, all methods.
The guys in our crew have trained in an impressive array of systems and methods. They have a fantastic "pool" of knowledge, SKILL, and TRAINING to draw from.
OKAY, so WHAT?
See if this makes sense............
Damian, Clint, and I worked out a comprehensive syllabus of instruction. It is based on a catholic approach to combatives. We drew these methods from a
number of varied sources and training. The problem as we saw it was in the PROGRESSION
of instruction. Here's how we attempted to solve this fundamental problem:
Very few individuals will start so-called "martial arts" instruction or training and stay with it for any real length of time. Many combative
skills are JUST that, SKILLS! They require dedicated time and training to inculcate to the extent that they will be "useful" in a REAL fight or even
in a controlled "free sparring" environment.
Japanese Judoka have a saying - "One year for Newaza, TEN years for Tachiwaza". In other words, proficiency in groundwork can be gained
in a year, standing techniques require ten. So, here we see an acknowledgement that
"different" SKILLS require varied amounts of TIME, TRAINING,
So that was our problem. MOST people will simply NOT invest the time and effort to "master" MANY of the skills involved. MOST people will "train" for a limited amount of time and then move on to the
next "thing" that catches their interest.
What then is OUR responsibility as "instructors"? What we did is set a curriculum that takes this into account. The syllabus, for the first
three to six months, includes NOTHING but the most BASIC, easily UNDERSTOOD, SIMPLEST METHODS of EFFECTIVE PERSONAL PROTECTION. Someone can train for a
limited time AND still get something USEFUL in terms of "SKILL".
What was our basis on selection of "method”?
"Hence the reason for a simple type of instruction with a great deal of emphasis on the
FEW elementary methods which can be easily and instinctively used in combat after
practice…..basis of selection was the theory of what the smallest man can do to the
I'm quoting Applegate from the 1943 edition of Kill Or Get Killed
(This DOES NOT, I hope, portray me as a zealot).
Continued training and "dedication" will result in learning
more and more "complex" skills. However, if an individual ceases practice after a "limited" amount of time, we feel that we have at
LEAST given something of VALUE in terms of personal survival.
Damian is a highly skilled grappler in any venue, i.e., wrestling, judo, and submission. Clint is a walking encyclopedia of "waza"; Ralph
is amazing in his knowledge of close combat and weapons. Each of these men could teach to a high level of SKILL and COMPLEXITY with NO PROBLEM. However,
they fully understand that you must "walk before you run". So, they are strong advocates of BASICS. First!
Judokas (like any other combative athletes) have a term called "Tokuiwaza" or "favored" technique. It is that one
method that it is worked on incessantly, continually for YEARS in search of "perfection". Whether it be "Judo" Kimura, Gerry
Cooney, "Strangler" Lewis, or Georges Carpentier, this approach holds true. So, realistically, does this apply to MOST PEOPLE? NO. That's why "champions" are revered. They are the EXCEPTIONS.
Why would anyone "teach" a middle aged businessman or a small petite housewife a technique or method that requires complex skills developed
over YEARS and that requires a "set" of physical adjuncts in order to be even somewhat effective?
Well, you wouldn't, at least NOT initially. Like building a house, you
start with a SOLID foundation, and then BUILD from there. So the simplest
approach in regards to personal protection is to start with techniques based on what
the "smallest can do to the largest". Is that a guarantee of SUCCESS? NO, that's not how life works. Is it a LOGICAL place to "start"? I believe so.
Damian, Clint or I could teach DOZENS of different chokeholds and strangleholds. Ralph could teach DOZENS of highly complex drills and
methods of stick and knife work. DOZENS! So what! Without the time, training and dedication to master these techniques they are WORSE than useless. The same goes for any "class" of techniques.
Training and the DEVELOPMENT of skill is what makes ANYTHING "WORK".
So ALL we advocate is that simple common sense basic approach. Start with the SIMPLEST methods and build from there.
It has NOTHING to do with "blind" allegiance to any one method or man. It has NOTHING to do with being a "zealot". It has
NOTHING to do with following any "gospel" in ignorance.
It has EVERYTHING to do with a sincere dedication to seeking the best, most rational and logical "solutions" to the multitude of complex
problems inherent in real world survival.
This is why on going, dedicated research is SO CRUCIAL. Some question that "validity" of certain methods. DO NOT assume that these "questions" have NOT been asked and answered by others. Only a
fool would blindly follow any "doctrine" without questioning and validating the information presented.
Can a skilled grappler apply his craft? Of course. Could a skilled boxer or muay thai fighter ply his trade with success? Of course. That's NOT the question.
The question is "what can YOU do?" What one can do
at twenty is different than what one can do at fifty. What one can do after several years of training is different than what one can do after
several months of training. What one can do against an opponent of equal strength and weight is different than what one can do against a much larger, stronger adversary, or for that matter, a much smaller, lighter one.
So what's the point to all of this? Simple. Know who you are. What YOU
are capable of. What YOUR abilities are. YOUR strengths, YOUR weaknesses, YOUR goals. Take a hard long realistic appraisal and find the answer to that question.
And then work from there.
Read about simple and proven combative methods from this classic book, Kill Or Get Killed.