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 Two: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography

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

Another way I proved my skill was to train police officers.  I took my first police officer student and taught him how to move like a black belt within one month.  He spread the word as well as encouraged me to put an ad in the phone book advertising a Street Survivor course for law enforcement officers. The program was very successful and to this day, we continue to draw police officers, body guards, and security professionals to this school.  These are people who put their lives on the line everyday.  The fact that they trust us to train them and that we get repeat business from them is the best recommendation we can get for the Calasanz System.

Anyone who runs a martial arts school for any considerable length of time has had to prove himself just because of the nature of the business.  People very often come to the school with the desire to fight you because they have to prove something.  One day, a crazy Thai Boxer came through the door.  He was about 22 years old and told me that he had many fights.  While he had great technique, he lacked shin conditioning.  He had a trial lesson and he threw a kick to kill me.  Luckily, I always trained to protect my head, so his kick didn’t connect.  I then took a deep breath and we touched gloves.  I took a Chinese boxing stance and he came to hit me even harder.  I closed the gap and threw a punch to his head that could have broken his neck, but I let the strike pass through so it wouldn’t connect.  He was as pale as a ghost.  That was the end of his trial lesson.  He came to the office and signed up for a month of private lessons.

Another group of visiting kickboxers came through the doors in 1990.  They were a couple of big guys who wanted to throw their weight around.  The bigger of the two wanted to fight one of my students.  I watched him fight for a while and he was the type that didn’t like to block.  He just would take blows because he thought he was tough guy.  I put him to spar with my student Tony, who I had been training for three months.  Tony delivered a heel kick to his stomach that almost made this guy throw up.  He walked around, got back his wind and then came at Tony like he was going to kill him.  I jumped in the ring and told him that he needed to use defensive techniques; that offense without defense did not work in this system.

Some of my students enjoyed competing in tournaments and I have supported their desire to compete over the years. My school participated in competitions and demonstrations for about 15 years.  We’ve taken a break for the last 4 years, but from time to time, we send groups to compete in fighting or kata.  It really isn’t a concentrated effort on our part.  We just send them without any special preparation, just the regular training that they get here.  Even in this relaxed atmosphere, our students placed 1st and 2nd in a variety of categories against one of the best schools in the world.  The katas we teach here are some of the best for competition, even though our system is not dependent on kata.

To be continued…

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave.Norwalk,CT06851

www.calasanz.com

www.interdojo.com

www.the-perfectfit.com

 

Kata under the Calasanz System of training.

Under the Calasanz Karate, Kung Fu, Kickboxing, Boxing & Physical Arts system, this Kata that is being performed in the video above by Renee Fortin is called Ginsei San, or is also called coordination #3.

We are just performing pieces of it. For a long time all the Calasanz students have won many Kata competitions with this form. It was a great feeling the first time Calasanz sent Becka Slade a dancer to compete with this Kata in one of the toughest competitions in the world…the Kyokushin Kai tournament. Many martial artists around the world are well aware of this tournament. Any person even remotely involved in the martial arts can associate with the late Masutatsu Oyama, who accomplished what not too many Karate instructors around the world have done currently or in the past.

As a result, Becka Slade won first place! Our Kata is unique, strong. Its stances are well defined, balanced and grounded which can be seen and noticed at all times. This is one of several reasons why Calasanz is considered one of the best, well rounded, and recognized instructors in the world. 

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave. Norwalk CT / 1.800.414.9544 / www.calasanz.com

Check out this Calasanz article and training video!

The Calasanz System’s approach is designed for everyone.

The Calasanz martial arts and physical arts system are old traditional techniques with a modern Calasanz System approach that are designed for everyone. During the late 80s the Calasanz workout was insane and intense, but also some of the smartest and incredible training ever seen. It would behoove anyone to at least take a look what Calasanz was doing back then which still up to today he continues to evolve. This clip pictures Calasanz archive workouts…check it out.

Joel S. is a 56 year old student performing the Kata Jujitsu with Calasanz. It is very easy to identify the Calasanz System’s interpretation in this Kata – all movements and techniques are performed beautifully, with great strength, rhythm, balance, power.

Calasanz makes students re-think about their lives. Training with Calasanz helps change peoples’ realization of life. As Calasanz likes to say: “I teach people to appreciate themselves again.” Sometimes he will come across a woman, who looks older than her age and or has a problem with weight, and just is unhappy with herself. Calasanz believes with his system he can add at least 10 years to her life, he believes this because he has already done it with so many people. Everyone who has trained with Calasanz gains power, elegance, and grace whether you are a man, women, or child. Come experience it for yourself. The Calasanz system is well balanced system for all, which offers a diversity of exercises so it always maintains your interest. 

Calasanz Martial Arts Personal Training

What is KATA?

Question 1: Calasanz…what is kata?

Calasanz: Kata is an imaginary fight with two, three or even a group of opponents. It is where you demonstrate the effectiveness of an attack followed by a defensive technique and a block followed by an offensive move, but also a kata can be done the other way around, an attack countered by your opponents defense and a block countered by your opponents attack. You usually end a kata with a powerful strike where a loud KIAI is heard  You must remember the old saying of the ancient masters of karate “ without kata there is not Karate

Question 2: Calasanz…do you believe on kata?

Calasanz: Yes. Kata develops concentration of the mind, spirit and physical body and puts them all in harmony with each other. Kata gives the essence of the martial arts, sometimes you go to the Dojo and you can not concentrate, the minute that you start doing kata, you will find peace in yourself, so this is why I find kata very interesting and excellent for anyone to practice . Kata makes you strong, grounded and well balanced.

Calasanz Physical Arts and Fitness

Martial Arts and Self-Expression: Revitalizing with Chang Chuan – by Calasanz

Expression is an essential component to getting your martial arts practice to “come to life.” I recognized this early on in my training and chose to study dance and gymnastics so that my martial arts would have an “expressive” and “energetic” quality.  I wanted this to come across, not only to those watching my performances, but more importantly, to myself. I knew these forms of self-expression would take my forms to a whole new level.  I also ventured into other martial art styles in search of this “energy” and was fortunate to have found it in Chang Chuan.

Chang Chuan is a style of kung fu that is characterized by smooth, extended and fluid movements.  It is called a long range fighting system as opposed to styles like Wing Chun for example, that focus on close quarter or short range fighting. The system is rich in forms, weapons, and self-defense, as well as throwing and locking techniques known as Chin Na. Chang Chuan includes acrobatic, spinning, jumping kicks as well as fluid, circular arm movements. It is the expressive nature of Chang Chuan that drew me to this style.  I devoted many hours to studying Chang Chuan and it eventually became a great influence on my own martial arts style known as The Calasanz System™.

Chang chuan was a perfect supplemental art to my traditional karate training.  I liked its extension and its fluidity.  This is the exact quality I wanted to bring to my kata practice.  Martial arts students that have had no dance or performance experience tend to be stiff and dull in their kata practice until they learn how to make their katas come to “life.” So I encouraged my students to also adopt the essence of Chang Chuan in their forms.  I’ve trained many dancers and they knew exactly what I was talking about. 

I also found Chang Chuan to be a great form of physical exercise.  Its forms practice improves coordination and cardiovascular health.  When done under the watchful eye of a competent instructor, Chang Chaun also helps strengthen the joints and tendons.  This type of training develops flexibility and overall support around the bones and muscles, which is especially important in avoiding injuries.

Traditionalists once frowned upon exploring and experimenting with the essence of other styles or forms of physical expression.  This is now the exception and not the rule as more martial artists seek to expand their skills.   Incorporating something new into your martial arts routine can transform a routine kata into an inspirational, uplifting form of movement.