~Stay Alert!~ Even in Training

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Moving forward now we release the story of an unfortunate training accident occurring at our school.  With ever increasing speculation and wonderment push us towards full transparency and being completely open taking nothing to the grave.  The Lesson to be learned is simple, train with awareness and always be protecting yourself.

Why Should You Avoid “Style Hopping”: by Calasanz

A prospective student came to the door, interested in martial arts training. When I asked him if he had any previous experience, he replied “yes, I’ve studied for about two years.” His training history consisted of 3 months in aikido, 2 months of karate, 4 months of kung-fu, 3 weeks of tai chi, etc., etc.. This is what we call “style hopping”…going from one style to another.

“What’s wrong with going from style to style?” some students say. Even Bruce Lee didn’t believe in styles. He believed that styles limited one’s true potential. As far as styles are concerned, Bruce Lee advised us to “absorb what is useful” and to discard the rest. Why can’t we be like Bruce Lee and just learn what we want and move on?

Bruce Lee’s advice is good for someone who already has a good foundation. Before experimenting with other styles, Bruce Lee studied the art of Wing Chun with Yip Man for approximately 5 years. He had an excellent foundation before he ventured into other areas.

All traditional martial arts were developed after many, many years of experimentation and dedicated study. Most traditional martial arts when studied with sincerity and regularity, will prepare you for expanding into other systems. Committing yourself to any one of these is the first step.

Focusing on one style at the beginning of your training will prevent confusion. At this level, you don’t have the sophistication to separate or integrate the different techniques and philosophies. But you start by developing strength, endurance and flexibility. You can learn how to stand, kick, punch and block. You can learn footwork and forms. You can learn how to react by sparring and working with a training partner. You can challenge your body and mind by progressing through your style’s curriculum. You can learn the principles of your art and the foundations of its origins.

 Let’s face it. If you commit yourself to one style and study it faithfully until you have at the very least achieved black belt or black sash level, you will have developed a good foundation. In reality, earning your black belt means that you mastered the basics of that system. It is the beginning of your martial arts journey. Once you’ve reached this level, then you can explore other styles.

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

1-203-847-6528

507 Westport Ave, Norwalk CT 06851

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

www.westportboxing.com

www.westportpersonaltrainers.com

The First System to Implement ‘Items’

For so many years I wanted to have a system that could be so simple that students would not have problems challenging themselves at anytime, especially if they did not maintain a previous active lifestyle. I maintained students for years and showed them different styles of martial arts on top of what they were here studying, this way, after they earned their black belt; they already had the knowledge to build on those skills. I was not interested in belt rank, and I wanted to keep students involved at all times, but when they took a break and got out of shape, they lost most of their technique. Instead of being able to pick up an additional certification on top of their black belt, it would take many lessons since they stopped training. Had they continued their regimen, it may have only taken two lessons.

For example, one student said, “Calasanz, I have not been there and I want to take two weeks to get back in shape.” Since this student already had a black belt, I wanted to get specific with his training and get him some certifications on top of his black belt, which we call “Items” under the Calasanz System. My suggestion for his training was two weeks of mixed martial arts, certification in either American or recreational boxing, and part one of a Kata, which is great for getting in shape. I would have loved for him  to take part one in Wing Chun but it is too slow and takes longer to get in shape unless you take part one of Chinese boxing.  I told him to let me know what he prefers since there are around 700 hundred basic items, with sub-items exceeding 4000.

Before I give you another example, I have to mention Kyle. He is eight years old and is very happy to be a black belt. Once in a while, Jeff or I will ask him, “What about the next certification?” He just says, “Of course, my parents and I are all for it.” Kyle has the legs chi sau certification, and he just got the first part of Wing Chun certification. Being so young, it is exciting for him, but also it is cute to see how happy he is and how effective this program is.

Another student is a U.S. Marine named Erik, who was the first student to get 17 certifications along with his black belt. During the course for over two years, he has become one of the best qualified instructors from my school and he is getting ready to open a school in Florida which will be based on private one-on-one personal training.  He is also qualified to speak and demonstrate in a martial arts seminar.

An important item we offer is boxing, both traditional American boxing and recreational boxing. Traditional American boxing is what you are accustomed to seeing on television but recreational boxing is something you would take up without having to become a competitor. Recreational boxing will make you faster, stronger, and more flexible, grounded, balanced, to get in better physical condition, and will give you the best self defense. It only takes Calasanz a half hour to give you enough self defense, to enable you in becoming capable of surviving on the street against any opponent. You could experience a thug throwing punches at you and by closing the gap, you will not get hit and you can counter at any time. The reason why is simple: the guy on the street is not a boxer and if he was a boxer, he may not have attacked you in the first place. Recreational boxing makes it easier for you to take care of yourself without getting hit and makes it easier to hurt the attacker.

Make sure you understand that if you take a half hour of boxing to learn how to defend yourself, if there is no power in your arsenal, you have not gotten the point of the exercises and that is why we also give  you the responsibility to learn these exercises so you can practice them at home. Real defense means you are empowered to take care of yourself, your grounding, and your balance. These are the main tools you need in order to be successful on the street.

In boxing, there are a few techniques but it can take you many years to master them. It is similar to Wing Chun, there are few blocks, a few kicks and punches, but it requires talent, intelligence and a lot of work in order to be able to master that art.

Since I went to my first karate school, I already understood this and I did not believe in rank. I remember seeing all these ranks on a black belt, but I also remember going to one class and not coming back for about three months, and being able to develop on my own during that time. Still, I was not completely sure where I was in the martial arts. All I knew was that I understood something that they did not. During that first class, all I witnessed and experienced was brutality and I knew “martial arts” was much more than that!

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave,NorwalkCT06851

1.800.414.9544

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

www.westportboxing.com

Commentary on a Compliment from Anish on FaceBook

Comment: u are a best martial arts trainer!! Anish J.

Response: Thank you for your compliment, Anish. What I originally wanted was a great scholastic career, and I earned over 25 certifications by learning languages like English, French, Italian, etc. Then I saw the movie “Enter the Dragon,” starring Bruce Lee and that was when I decided it was all I wanted to do. I came to this country with one dream, and that was to make a movie. I achieved that goal and that film is titled “Crossing the Line.”  I was born to teach, I am sure that you have seen some of my videos.  

Anish, one of my main goals is to help students of the martial arts, who are already martial artists or teachers. It is good to know that these skills allow me to help anyone, no matter how advanced they are. I can improve what talents they already possess. My philosophy is based on you keeping your cup full of the knowledge that you have already, together, we will fill it up with more knowledge.  -Calasanz

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave,NorwalkCT06851

1.800.414.9544

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

www.westportboxing.com

Calasanz and One-on-One Personal Training: by Calasanz

Over the last four years, I briefly departed from solely teaching on a one-on-one basis and ventured into small group classes. I began teaching martial arts in the early 80’s and built my reputation by training students one-on-one. I am pleased to say that I have decided to go back to my roots and concentrate on One-on-One Personal Training.

For 25 years, I’ve privately trained Wall Street executives, CEOs from major corporations, professional athletes like the Hartford Whalers ice hockey team, tennis star Ivan Lendl, best-selling authors Cathy Cash Spellman and Patty Davis Reagan, as well as Henry Kissinger’s personal bodyguard, and members of the military and law enforcement services.

I have decided to make this change because this is what I enjoy most and it is where I see the most progress with my students. Understanding that private martial arts training can be a costly, I have offered packages over the last 20 years packages for one, two, three, and even four years at a considerable savings for a long term commitment. A package avoids the high cost of private lessons, which can individually run from $95 to $380 per hour.

Many of you have been comfortable purchasing long term packages not only for the savings, but with the knowledge that I have been in business for over 30 years and am not some “fly by night” operation that is going to close its doors and leave you flat. 

I am currently offering long-term packages at great prices for those of you interested in embracing the martial arts as a hobby or as something special that you just do for yourself.

If you are interested in working toward the goal of earning your black belt for instance, you can commit to one year with a savings of more than half of what it would cost you in a month-to-month program. If you have already committed to a 3, 6, 9 month or one year program and would like to enroll long-term, you can still take advantage of the discounted program. Just see me and we can easily make an adjustment to your program.

For those of you who decide to take advantage of a package, I’d like to sit down with you and determine your ultimate goal. Would you like to:

Become proficient in Wing Chun?

Train like a fighter? 

Box? Spar? Point fight? Kickbox

Lose Weight? Get fit? Try our Physical Arts program?

Many of you want to learn self-defense and how to be more self-confident. This is and has been our specialty for over 30 years. I not only focus on the physical aspect of learning street defense, but also how not to “lose it” in a confrontation. Remember that Ted Bundy killed over 100 young women and was stopped by the one who fought back and got away! It was her description of this monster that finally put him behind bars. Bundy didn’t expect her to fight back…but she did and stunned him with the element of surprise.

My system is designed for the real world, for real people. It is practical enough to teach you the skills you need without brutal training regimes that serve you no purpose. For whatever your goals, I can work out a long-term package for you that will motivate you and save you money at the same time. Just make an appointment with me and we can work out the details. A good example to be aware of If you sign for a package to finish it on 6 months, if you decided to finish on 4 years still you don’t have to pay extra while you have lessons left, which is why a package is designed to be paid in advance, that is the purpose of the commitment and that is why you are saving more than half of the cost.

The Perfect Fit In Home Personal Training

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave.Norwalk,CT06851

1-800-414-9544

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

www.westportboxing.com

Are You Teaching Martial Arts or Self-Esteem? By Calasanz

In order to attract children, many martial art schools advertise that martial arts training helps develop self-esteem.  This promise is directed to parents in hopes of convincing them that there is more to martial arts than just learning how to fight.  While this is true, I believe that it has been taken to extremes.  I don’t intend to criticize my colleagues.  This is merely an observation that I have made after dealing with the countless students who have come from other schools.

An injustice is done to students when the instructor offers too much praise at the expense of critiquing technique and demanding higher standards.  Students, both adults and children, like hearing nice words.  From a business perspective, it’s all about making the customer happy.  When customers are happy, they keep coming back.  From a martial art perspective, however, it is deceiving.  This deception leads to the instructor avoiding corrections so that his student’s ego will not be bruised or offended.  For example, one student who had earned a black belt at another school told me that the instructor praised him even when he was hit or knocked down by a lower ranked student.  He would tell him that he “did great!”  Over time, the student believes what the teacher is telling him.

In reality, it is the instructor’s responsibility to admonish the black belt who should know better.  If he doesn’t, then he shouldn’t be wearing the belt.  It’s dishonest to promote a student just to boost his self-esteem.  This practice is widespread especially when it comes to training children.  Some teachers will tell parents that monthly testing is great for their kids’ self-esteem.  In all honesty, the only benefit is to the school’s cash register. 

Traditional martial arts instructors were hard on their students because they wanted them to learn.  In circles that still hold on to this tradition, the tougher the teacher is on you, the more he likes you and wants you to succeed.  They show their concern by demanding more from you. 

A realistic approach to teaching is particularly important when a student has made it known that he is enrolling because he wants to learn how to protect himself. For the student who wants to study martial arts as an alternative to other fitness programs, I say let them have fun.  There is room in martial arts for all types.  But if the student wants self-defense or a parent wants to help a child who is being bullied, this is a different story.  What good will kind words do them when their personal safety is in danger?

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave.Norwalk,CT06851

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

Training Street Fighters: By Calasanz

When I opened my first martial arts school, a lot of barroom brawlers and street fighters came through my door. Some grew up in environments where they had to fight to survive while others just liked looking for trouble.

I wasn’t necessarily targeting them in my “marketing” plan.  Most of them were there to challenge me or one of my students to a fight. I earned their respect with my martial art skill which was gained partly through traditional training and partly through my own experiences with street fighters in the Dominican Republic. 

Many of them stayed on as students. As an instructor, I had to integrate these natural fighters into a class with the average martial art student who just wanted to exercise and learn a little self-defense. 

I had a few challenges dealing with street fighters in the dojo.  Some are there to prove a point and you have to worry about them causing a lot of trouble, both physically and legally. So I recommend strict supervision on the part of the instructor.

In addition, fighting outside of the dojo or tournament setting lacks rules and regulations.  Basically, anything goes for these guys, so the first lesson for the martial arts instructor to convey is the ethics of training in the dojo.  Every martial art style has some form of ethical code and it’s the instructor’s job to make sure everyone in the dojo adheres to it or they’re out! 

There are a lot of positive aspects about training street fighters. They show up with something that you can’t teach…guts! Just because someone has a black belt doesn’t mean they could fight.  There are a lot of black belts out there who would be demolished in a street fight or a real self-defense situation.  They may have a lot of technical skill, but no toughness to carry it out. 

Street fighters have a fighting spirit and that enthusiasm can often encourage and inspire classmates who lack that quality.  I have seen many of them push their more timid classmates to come out of their “shells.” 

Street fighters make good full contact fighters because they have the raw talent needed to get into the ring. The instructor’s job is to polish the skills they had when they walked in the door, introduce them to new ones and channel that talent and raw aggression into the ring. 

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave.Norwalk,CT06851

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

Tournament Fighting or Training for the Streets? – Part Four: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography

Continued from: “Tournament Fighting or Training for the Streets? – Part Three: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”

I was often asked by some tournament promoters to come and help out with judging and giving my famous Super Break demonstrations during intermission.  When I helped with judging, I saw that a lot of cheating was going on.  Judges would show a lot of favoritism and ignore the scoring of points when it didn’t benefit their students.  I was very careful to capture every move and to score fairly.  I was also very fair when my own students fought and would award the points to the one who deserved it.  

At this one tournament where I was a regular, the promoter had tremendous respect for me, my system and my students.  I remember the first time they were introducing all of the masters and of course all of their ranks, some included 5th, 6th and 7th degree black belts.  Then they called me and I just had a black belt.  Everyone looked at me and expected that I would have some high rank.  I never pursued a higher rank because I wanted to be a well-rounded martial artist.  I didn’t want to get locked into one system for the rest of my life.  I wanted to see the whole logic behind the martial arts.  In addition, I am of the opinion that a lot of these ranks are artificial and self-created.  I remember one guy who claimed to be a Grandmaster of Wing Chun.  I found this hard to believe considering he was only 29 years old.  He took out an ad in a local newspaper where he applauded himself for being elected Grandmaster of Wing Chun by an association that he started himself!!! 

As an instructor, I am constantly asked about my school’s tournament participation and how many trophies I myself have won.  I’d like to start off by saying that I have great respect for martial artists who devote their time to training for kata and point fighting competition.  It takes a lot of discipline and hard work to pursue these goals.  What I object to is the public’s perception that the sign of a great fighter is winning lots of tournaments.  Unfortunately, today’s martial art tournaments look more like gymnastics and dance routines.  Some instructors who do well at tournaments, but have no street fighting experience try to convince their students that they can teach them how to protect themselves on the streets.  A person would have to train for many years in a traditional martial art before he would be able to use it on the streets.  Growing up in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic gave me a lot of street fighting experience when I wasn’t even looking.  Part of being a man were I come from meant that you didn’t back down from a challenge.  This went on even after I started taking martial arts.  Men would always challenge each other to knock down, drag down fights.  In 1975, one of my first instructors, a brown belt killer, who was twice my size, wanted to fight me despite the fact that I only had a few lessons in karate.  Finally, he convinced me to fight.  Because of my experience in street fighting, they had to stop the fight by pulling me off of him.  No matter how many belts, stripes, degrees or trophies you have, nothing beats the experience you get on the streets.

In 1995, I started making my movie, so we weren’t very focused on sending people to tournaments for about 4 years.  Several opportunities did present themselves and they were too good to pass up.  One of my students, Jim Calvi, had his own school called Force Three Tae Kwon Do.  I was interested in proving my skills as an instructor.  I trained a group of 12 students to participate in the 1996 Olympic trials in both kata and fighting.  Because we were not a tae kwon do school, we competed under the Force Three name because the competition was limited to practitioners of Tae Kwon Do.  Some of my students ended up having to fight each other for the gold medal.  I didn’t care that they weren’t fighting under my name.  All I cared about was to prove a point and that my skills as an instructor could be applied in a variety of areas. 

To be continued…

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT06851

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

Tournament Fighting or Training for the Streets? – Part Three: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography

 

Continued from: “Tournament Fighting or Training for the Streets? – Part Two: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”

I have prepared many students for competition, who could survive a real fight with a street fighter.  Not all students however, are able to do this.  This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t train in martial arts.  By training, they increase there chances for survival in a self-defense situation.  They can also enjoy the martial arts as physical fitness, mind development and as the study of an ancient art. When  I mentioned point fighters earlier in this piece, I indicated that real fighting and point fighting are really two separate issues and that successful point fighters shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that they are reality fighters.  This does not mean however that point fighters and other competitors are not true martial artists.  It takes a lot of discipline and self-denial to train for competition. Tournament training also takes facing your fears and becoming your own personal best.  These people have a place in the martial arts. 

I had a few students who came to me with the intention of becoming tournament point fighters.  Their names were Mark, Dave and Matt.  Because of the reputation I had built with my street fighter competitors, these guys were immediately matched up with opponents who were instructors!  I made a deal with one of their mothers and promised her that if she agreed to drive her son to the competitions, I would make him #1 in New England in his division within a year an a half.  It happened.  Within that period of time, he was #1 in New Englandand 4th in the nation in sparring and in kata.

As I mentioned earlier, I earned my reputation by training street fighters.  They fought not only in the streets, but I also sent them to tournaments so that I could prove myself in the martial arts community.  Many of them became popular competitors.  When they first started, they would get disqualified because they were accustomed to street fighting.  I decided that if we were going to continue going to tournaments, we would have to learn to play by the rules.  So I taught them how to play the game.  I trained them to score at least 12 points before their opponent scored 3.  Eventually, many of them started winning.  They did as best as they could, considering opponents went to tournaments every week and they were just competing on a part-time basis. 

It was a common practice to match my students with some of the toughest competitors.  Sometimes it was even hard for them to register in advance because they would purposely try to stack the deck against us.  I had tried point fighting myself and gave up on it because it was more of a game to me than a fighting art.  If you learned the little tricks of playing the game, you could win.  What I feared about engaging in point fighting, was that my fighting ability would suffer because I would develop bad habits.  Point fighting rules that require you to pull punches and make no contact with your opponent are directly opposed to the skills you need to learn to survive on the streets.  One guy who trained with me for point fighting tournaments earned the nickname “Flash” because his moves were so fast and fancy.  While he was one of the best point fighters, he had a problem when he tried to engage in hard fighting because of the habits he had developed.

To be continued…

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave.Norwalk,CT06851

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

Training Students from other Systems Part Two: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography

Continued from: “Training Students from other Systems Part One: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”

In another case, a guy who was a third degree black belt visited me and enrolled in one of our Street Survivor classes.  I paired him up with a 16 year old who had been training with us for only one month.  I had them do some practical drills and the 16 year old got the best of him.  He kicked him in the shin and dropped him to the ground.  He got up from the floor and started crying when I told him that the kid who just knocked him down had only been training for one month!

Another problem with training students from other systems is that some lack the basics.  There are many good martial art schools out there.  The way I can tell if someone has had a good teacher is to look at their basics.  Do they have a strong foundation?  Can they throw a punch?  Can they throw a kick without losing their balance?  Are their stances strong and grounded?  Some students from other systems know a lot of techniques, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know their basics.  It is just a house built on a very shaky foundation.  I had one woman come to my school who failed to mention that she had a black belt from another school.  She told another one of my students of her rank, who later told me.  I thought training her would be easy.  Wrong.  I gave her three techniques and asked her to put them into a sequence.  Start in a front stance, switch to a horse stance and then switch back into a front stance.  It took me 10 minutes to get her to do this right.  It should have taken a well-trained black belt 3 seconds to do this properly.

Some experienced students started training in a style that was not particularly suited for them.  For example, I have had some students over 40 who started training in a style that emphasized a lot of high kicking and jumping.  Other styles demand low stances or too much snapping when kicking.   It is no wonder that they come to me frustrated and feeling that maybe martial arts is not for them, even though they really enjoyed it.  Any style can be practiced by anyone.  It is up to the instructor to tailor the system to fit the student.  Unfortunately, many schools have a “one size fits all” approach.  This means that you have to keep up with the class with little or no special attention.  I like to tailor the techniques to the particular student.

One woman enrolled in my school after 10 years of training in another system.  She lacked confidence, could not fight and wasn’t very street smart.  I personally trained her for 3 months and saw her confidence and skills improve dramatically.  After the 3-month period, she decided to take the group class.  I paired her up with another woman who was fairly new and had not had any martial arts training.  This bothered her.  I was hoping that by putting her with someone new, it would remind her how far she had come in her training.  When she first started, she could not block a shin kick without experiencing pain in her leg.  I told her that this would soon change and it did.  Experienced martial artists who come to train with me are very often asked to assist with lower ranked students once we have taught them the basics of the system.  Because there are students with different ranks, everyone learns from someone else.  I also expected someone who had trained in martial arts for over 10 years to understand the importance of learning how to teach and assisting lower ranks.  She could not see this.  All she saw was that we put her to train with someone who was not as good as she was and this upset her.  She had a lot to offer and the higher ranks had much to offer her.  This is one of the ways we help students improve their skills.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t understand it not matter how much we explained it.

This brings me to the case of a student who came to me after he had been hired by the sheriff’s department.  He was having a problem dealing at job in controlling the people he was either arresting or transporting.  He had taken martial arts classes for a long time and even though he was a good kicker, he had no concept of the streets.  He asked his instructor for help and his response was “you’re smart enough to put it together.”  So he came to me.  I worked with him for 2 weeks.  He had a lot to offer, he just needed someone to help him translate it into something practical.  His teacher was not willing, but I was.  After the 2 weeks, he never had a problem again.  This man went on to become a police officer and trains with us to this day and has referred countless numbers of law enforcement officers to this school.

To be continued…

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com