by Ed DellaCroce
N.C. Director, World Dragon Kenpo
In the realm of Martial artist there are those who succeed and those who fail. Many enter the arts with high hopes and dreams of becoming the next, new, legendary Bruce Lee. Somewhere along the way, many become disillusioned and fade away quietly into the shadows. Some fail to meet their own standards or expectations. Do we set ourselves up for failure?
Have Hollywood filmmakers created illusions which cannot be duplicated in reality? We must examine ourselves when we fail or succeed. Realizing what produces our traits, good or bad, can allow us to build on or eliminate.
To perfect our Martial Art skills, we should be aware of our strengths and weaknesses. Realistically, we must also face our own personal limitations. In order to grow, set attainable goals, and develop structured daily training. Keeping a record of progress can become a motivator as we track our efforts. A positive mindset will prevent discouragement and the chance of failure. Maturity, both physical and mental, can change the road you walk upon many times. Become humble in the early stages of your training. Set a firm foundation from which you can build upon.
As a student, you will also become a teacher, for you will be able to share your knowledge with others. Your behavior can set an example for others to follow. Do you control your anger, or does it control you?
It is said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Become a role model to a younger person interested in the martial art ways. You possess the ability to leave behind a proud legacy.
You should expect positive results from positive efforts and expect negative results from negative efforts. Expectations will play a major part in your development: "Make them positive". Reach for the stars in your quest to explore the universe and never stop learning. Keep your mind open and your heart sincere. Never fall prey to useless boasting. Each day, look into your mirror and be happy with whom you have become.
If you have fallen short from your goals, blame only the person that you view in the mirror. Most importantly, take responsibility for your own actions!
A closing thought...
"The eyes may be the mirror of your soul, but remember it is the hands and feet which can kill you."
By Phoebe Nelson Oshirak, RN, Tai Chi Student
Each week while driving to Tai Chi class at the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin YMCA, I think about a question Coach Ron is sure to ask each and every one of his students. I am so sure he will ask the question, I’d bet my rich uncle’s money (If I had a rich uncle) and we would both be sure winners.
Our Tai Chi class always starts with a warm up exercise to stretch our muscles and clear our minds. After the warm up, we position ourselves for the first routine of the evening: “Tai Chi for Arthritis.” Before we begin, we place our feet at a ninety degree angle, heel to heel, al la the actor Charlie Chaplin. (If you are too young to remember Mr. Chaplin please keep it to yourself… thank you very much!!) As we begin the exercise, Coach Ron reminds us of the imaginary “Golden Thread” that runs through our body, pulling us higher toward the clouds, making us stand straight and tall. He reminds us to relax, let the cares of the day ebb and to focus on our breathing. We take a deep abdominal breath letting our stomachs push forward… then we release it, allowing our tensions to flow out. I try to keep my mind focused, but I am thinking about the inevitable question.
We finish the exercise and stand at rest while Coach talks about up-coming Tai Chi events. He walks from side to side a bit and then stops, looking straight at the class. My knees feel a bit like rubber and I think to myself, “Yup, here it comes.”
Then Coach Ron asks, “How many of you were able to practice your Tai Chi this week?”
I want to shrink into an invisible speck. My eyes shift from Coach to the floor, avoiding eye contact. I imagine a spot light is pointing directly at me and I pray Coach is not looking my way. The truth be known, I did not practice this week. I know I should have but I put it off until an entire seven days passed and brought me to this moment. My decision comes quickly. I realize I would fool no one but myself if I raise my hand, so I shake my head indicating I did not practice. To my relief, lightning does not strike nor does anyone admonish me. Coach simply encourages all of us to try and make Tai Chi a part of our life-style. He urges us to discipline ourselves to take the time and work toward improving our Tai Chi form. Even if we have only a few minutes to devote to Tai Chi, he assures us we will reap the benefits.
As class resumes I hear Coach saying, “Smooth, even and continuous,” and I attempt to slow my movements and allow them to flow into one another. I forget the guilt and the spotlight…I move on, relax and enjoy the class. By evening’s end I feel rejuvenated and very pleased that tonight I have learned something new about Tai Chi as well as something about myself. I learned that no matter what I do, I should try to do my best. The emphasis is on TRY. Just trying is, in itself, a success. And I realize one other thing too. If I find the time to practice, that’s great. If I don’t, I can forgive myself. After all, the reason for doing Tai Chi in the first place is not just for the many health benefits it provides but for the sheer joy of having a good time.
Fundamentals of Pilates
by Steve Amoia
In 1880, Joseph Pilatu was born in Germany. His father was originally from Greece, and was a noted gymnast. His mother, a native of Germany, practiced naturopathy. During his youth, the family changed its name to “Pilates.”
As a child, Mr. Pilates was often ill and physically weak. For this reason, he began to study gymnastics and weight training. “He came to believe that our modern life-style, bad posture, and inefficient breathing were the roots of poor health and ultimately devised a series of exercises, training techniques and engineered all the equipment, specifications and tuning required to teach them properly.” (1) Ultimately, he developed over 500 exercises for his system that is today known as “Pilates.”
Mr. Pilates and his wife, Clara, arrived in the United States after World War I. They opened an exercise studio in Manhattan. The term, “Contrology,” referred to their belief that our minds should control our muscular systems. The prime theme in the Pilates method was proper breathing and spinal alignment. The exercises strengthened the muscles of the torso region, which Mr. Pilates felt was the foundation to prevent back pain. As well as assist in recuperation from back injuries, and to increase flexibility. Dancers in New York City began to embrace this new form of exercise, and the Pilates’ studio grew in prominence. “Well known dancers such as George Balanchine and Martha Graham became devotees and regularly sent their students to them for training and rehabilitation.” (2)
“Your Health,” by Joseph Pilates, 1934.
“Return to Life Through Contrology,” by Joseph Pilates and William Miller, 1945.
Romana’s Pilates: “Romana Kryzanowska is the world-renowned protégé of Joseph Pilates and has been teaching the method for nearly six decades. Long ago Romana made a commitment to Joe and Clara Pilates to continue their life's work and Romana continues to deliver on that promise today by traveling the world and teaching the next generation of instructors.”
You will find Amazon links on her site to purchase the books of Mr. Pilates.
(1-2) Wikipedia Article on Joseph Pilates.
Lifetime member International Dragon Kenpo Association 2001
Team Murcigalo, Pro Mixed Martial Arts with UFC fighters Rashad Evans & Noe Hernandez and there trainers in Boxing, Mauy Tai, and Brazilian Ji Jistu, 2007
Yang Style Tai Chi 2yrs with Sifu Dan Jones
U.S. Army Combat Training, 1990 Fort Benning GA.
Hello my name is Chris Gregurich and I have been in martial arts for about 29 years now. I started training when I was 5 in Tae Park Tai Kwon Do at the local Y center going twice a week for about 2 years. Then changed to Judo when I was 8 and did that till I was in high school .During high school I took a break and was competing only in high school athletics such as wrestling and football but that changed when I entered the military. I was with a combat military police unit stationed in Kuwait in 1990 and 1991 with a lot of training in combat survival. When I came back to the states I went back to Judo and finished my 1st Dan. I also studied different martial arts in different areas to fill in my self defense gaps. In the 90s I began studying the Dragon Kenpo Karate System with Ed Hutchinson and received my 3rd Degree in 2001 with the International Dragon Kenpo Association from Coach Ron Pfeiffer. In the winter of 2006 I was asked to teach at the Jackson Boxing Club & Mixed Martial Art Gym I gladly accepted and have not looked back since.
The Jackson County Boxing Club & Mixed Martial Art Gym. Is a 5000 square foot facility with training areas for different arts. I have had the privilege of offering dragon kenpo classes twice a week and several 6 week woman’s and children self defense programs. While here I was able to meet some very big Martial Artist in the field of Mixed Martial Art competition and have had the opportunity to train with them for the last year in Boxing, Mauy Tai, and Brazilian Ju Jitsu. With the experience I have learned with them my Dragon Kenpo has evolved to a higher standard for myself and my teaching. My newest adventure along with my school is I will be a student of Kinesiology and teacher at Lansing Community College in Sport Karate and looking forward to this also I will be a member of the World Dragon Kenpo organization with Coach Ron Pfeiffer working to improve my skills and my knowledge of this art and the tai chi concept.
LIVE TO TRAIN, TRAIN TO LIVE
I haven’t been a very good correspondent for the last month or so. I’m sorry. It’s been hectic.
First of all, please extend my congratulations to Ronnie on his achievement. He’s accomplished something that he can be proud of for the rest of his life.
Jacob and his mom came up from Florida the first weekend of June; that first week really flew by.
The next weekend was Jacob’s birthday and, together with son Matt, we had our annual three day camping trip to The Dream late model stock car race at Eldora Raceway in Ohio. Next year we want to get my dad involved; he’s 88 and owned a racecar in the 1940s. I think he will get a charge out of it. Camping with his son and grandsons should be a plus.
The next weekend we spent five days at Camp Okinawa, a Universal Martial Arts Association seminar at Camp Le Jeune in North Carolina.
June was fun in that we did martial arts almost every day but it was difficult trying to get my hours in at work and Jacob’s summer visit is also the time to catch up on doctoring and the dentist. The oncologist is insisting that the growth on Jacob’s tibia is nothing to worry about. Everyone but me was glad that he did not want to do surgery; I would feel a lot easier about it if they had a better idea what it is. I spent most of last week taking Jacob to the dentist. Four days of agony for him and $1,000.00 of expense for me.
I’ve been pretty busy at work revamping our student advising system at Ivy Tech. Getting folks to do things that make sense is a real battle. Most would much rather do what we have always done whether or not it has ever worked. The Chancellor at Ivy Tech Sellersburg sent out a nice email to all faculty and staff lauding our Tai Chi initiative at Fairington apartments, an elderly Section 8 community. She received a nice letter from the residents thanking her for making me available. We will start another session next week. They have requested going over Tai Chi for Back Pain from scratch. This is probably good because it will give new people a chance to join in. I hope we can get more interest in Dragon Kenpo next semester. It’s amazing how often I run into students who have been here for a while who say, “I had no idea you were doing this at Ivy Tech.”
Camp Okinawa was very interesting. Attendees from our group were Jacob, Allen Taylor, and Mike Gregory. We were hoping that the UMAA could help keep us straight on our kata. Thanks to the seminar we haven’t given up.
One of the presenters was Hanshi Tony Sandoval from Bardstown Kentucky. He was one of the first to bring Okinawan White Crane to the United States. We were sitting together during one of the breaks and he asked me about my background. I told him that the majority of my early training was in Judo and Shotokan but that my black belt was in Dragon Kenpo and that that was now my primary style. He raised questioning eyebrows so I added that Dragon Kenpo was a system developed by one of Jay T. Wills’ students. Apparently that rang a bell for Hanshi Sandoval because he immediately volunteered that he had been a friend of Ed Parker’s and that they had trained together. Sensei Sandoval presented two sessions of White Crane. It gave me a whole new insight into our white belt techniques.
Another presenter was Shihan Jerry Offutt, an eighth degree black belt in Shotokan from Arkansas. He conducted one session on Shotokan kata and another on AAU coaching. Sensei Offutt has a small organization that broke away from the JKA. He said he would be glad to mentor us in traditional Shotokan kata. When I told him that I had no intention of giving up Dragon Kenpo he just smiled and said, “Know one way by learning ten thousand.” Allen has family in Arkansas so Allen, Jacob, Mike, and I are going to try to schedule a weekend with Sensei Offutt to have him critique our Shotokan kata and correct our errors. There are some things that I know Jacob and I didn’t learn correctly and Allen learned mostly from us and from videos. Since we are teaching these kata with our Dragon Kenpo I don’t want our broken forms to reflect poorly on what we are doing.
Sensei Offutt frequently trains with his friend Sensei Scott Mertz who has spent a lot of time in Okinawa tracking down some of the family systems. Sensei Mertz has black belts in Judo, Shotokan, Goju Ryu, Shorin Ryu, and Ryuei Ryu as well as holding some very rare teaching credentials in Okinawan family styles. He taught us a very unusual version of Chinte, as well as an oar kata (Irei no Eku) and a sai kata (Arigaki no Sai). We all worked Chinte. Allen and Jacob learned the oar kata (we only had two oars, neither in the water), and since we only had one pair of sai we nominated Allen to learn the sai kata. Allen was one of Sensei Mertz’s favorite uke in our parking lot training sessions. I think he is rather proud of his collection of bruises. Sensei Mertz is a young man who is still in the Navy. He works as a military employee of NCIS in computer forensics. He also mentioned training seals in Pensacola but I didn’t see any beach balls or other things in his kit that you would associate with trained seals. ;)
Shihan Frank Williams the head of the UMAA taught the Shorin Ryu version of Jion and Fusei Kise’s nunchaku kata. Jacob and I had done the Shotokan version of Jion many years ago ant there were enough similarities that we did pretty well with the Shorin Ryu version. Having worked the your WDK nunchaku tapes I think our group came across pretty well and we picked up Kise no Nunchaku pretty fast. (Thank you.) Pretty much everything in the form is something you teach in your video presentation.
Sensei Tim Spiess was not a formal presenter at the seminar; he was a participant like us. Like Senseis Williams, Mertz, and Sandoval, he had studied Shorin Ryu under Fusei Kise in Okinawa but he also got involved with some Chinese styles and his instructor is teaching something that he bills as kung fu. The kanji on his gi says something about Shaolin but I couldn’t get it all. It looks pretty much like an external style of wushu with a strong Okinawan back influence. He showed me what he said was Yang Tai Chi that was self defense applications. In his day job, Sensei Spiess is a secret services agent. Together with Senseis Offutt and Mertz he taught us a lot in the hotel parking lot. I sent a brief email to all the presenters and Sensei Spiess thanking them for all of their training. Sensei Spiess was the first to acknowledge it, offering to conduct a seminar for us covering his unusual style and “some defensive tactics that I have learned from the job”. I haven’t responded yet but I did mention the idea at work to some of the administrators. It was well received. I want to put out feelers to see if there would be a market for a two day seminar targeting black belts and brown belts that could pay an honorarium and expenses for you and Sensei Spiess, and perhaps another presenter, that the college could make use of for marketing and we could use to promote WDK and Tai Chi.
The real highlight of the trip was taking Allen to the beach. When we were driving through Virginia he mentioned that it was the farthest that he had ever been from home. So I made up my mind that we had to get him to the ocean. That was cool.
It was also a lot of fun watching the interaction between Jacob and Allen over the five days. Despite their age difference they showed each other a lot of respect and despite their difference in physique the worked well together reinforcing each other’s learning. I got a good feel for this sitting on the sidelines watching them working the oar kata. When we were all watching Allen learning the sai kata the glance to the sidelines for reinforcement and the big grin said it all. Allen is a pleasure to have in the group. He enjoys martial arts and works very hard at it.
I’m not sure how many we will have for the Tai Chi Labor Day weekend. Allen and I are pretty certain, as is Mike and his wife, Roberta. Mikes daughter Sara may or may not go depending on her plans with her boyfriend. The boyfriend, Dustin, is a soldier at Fort Knox and is on the US Army MMA team. Maybe we can get him hooked. Ed Brown and his wife would also like to attend. Jacob probably will not be able to go because it is the first week of school and his mom doesn’t want him to miss anything that early in the year; I’m not pushing it.
A student that I had an academic advising appointment with yesterday does some kickboxing and expressed an interest in learning more about both DK and Tai Chi; I hope she follows through and comes to try us out this Saturday. One thing that Jigoro Kano (Judo), Morihei Uyeshiba (Aikido), and Bruce Lee (Jeet Kune Do) all had in common is that they showcased their styles by using students who had come to them already very proficient in other styles.
Ivy Tech is on break this week so I was supposed to be off but I have already put in over 20 hours. Monday I’m starting a 5 week crash biology course that I was dumb enough to choose a new textbook for and the lab manual is a new edition. I haven’t had a chance to take a good look at how I’m going to put it together in five weeks. Oh well, I have until Monday to figure it out.
I’m moving this weekend but I’ll try to make the meeting if I can get my computer hooked up in time.
It’s been a hectic couple months and July doesn’t hold promise of any respite. But life is good.
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Ed Dellacroce, began his martial art journey in 1979 with Shaolin Kempo. Currently, he holds a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Dragon Kenpo and North Carolina State Director. Ed teaches a self defense street version at ABI's Mixed Martial Arts Studio in Goldsboro, NC. Currently working as a Police officer for the State of NC, and working police and protection for the NC General Assembly. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Randall Hall grew up in and around San Antonio, Texas. Randall is Second Degree Black Belt in Dragon Kenpo and Texas State Director for World Dragon Kenpo. He has trained in many martial arts but settled on Dragon Kenpo after in injury prevented him from continuing his training in his current school. First training under Joe Whittington at Combat Kenpo Academy, Randy moved to World Dragon Kenpo to train under Coach Ron. "Dragon Kenpo lets me progress at my own pace and applies a Keep It Simple approach to martial arts that I really enjoy." Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Patus, the Indiana State Director of WDK, began studying Kodokan Judo over 40 years ago. He is a first degree black belt in World Dragon Kenpo. He has studied Shotokan karate and has fenced competitively in both foil and epee. He began Dragon Kenpo under Ed Hutchison and has completed the Combat Kenpo Fighting Academy curriculum; he now trains under Coach Pfeiffer through WDK. Jim is a member of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society and the Universal Martial Arts Association. As professor of Biology at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Sellersburg his teaching specialty is environmental science with research interests in human population dynamics and fish ecology. Jim may be reached at email@example.com.