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

Teaching the Calasanz System – Part One: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography

Continued from “: Martial Arts American Style – Part Four: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”

I earned my reputation as an instructor by training about 25 street fighters.  I was new to this country and interested in creating a name. I chose street brawlers because they had the confidence and endurance to fight.  It was my job to teach them martial arts techniques and self-control necessary for tournaments.  It took me about 3 months to get them ready to fight under my school’s name.  They impressed everyone who saw them fight or perform.  People wanted to know who there instructor was.  This was the first step I took in creating a reputation.  It was the beginning and helped draw more students to my school and win me respect in the community.

In 1986 I rented space out of a hardcore bodybuilding gym called George’s Gym.  It wasn’t the easiest environment to be in.  Some of the bodybuilders were obnoxious and believed that a body built by steroids was all they needed to be good fighters.  I had no doubt however that it would not take long before everyone respected anyone wearing the Calasanz logo.  I told my students that within a few weeks, we would attract a lot of business from the gym.  One of the bodybuilders who came through my door was a 6’4” bully who invited everyone in the gym to come to my school and watch him beat me up.  I aimed a kick to his hipbone and disabled him in 15 seconds.   After this incident, our school was constantly training bodybuilders.  The people who witnessed the fight that day and the bully himself sent us business!  He even went so far as referring his victims to us.  He would tell them “go train with Calasanz so he can teach you how to fight!”  By the way, we sold a lot of clothing bearing the Calasanz logo because my school had earned such a good reputation that people wanted to wear our logo.  The purpose for wearing our clothes was that no one would mess with you if they thought you trained at Calasanz.  This was the name I created.

While I enjoyed training street fighters, it was now time to expand my system to society-at-large.  My new philosophy is to meet the student where he or she is and find out what it is that they want to get out of the martial arts.  I always ask a new student, “do you want to learn how to fight, are you interested in fitness, self-defense or competition?”  Whatever the answer, I tailor a program that will suit a student’s needs.  Regardless of the program they choose, I balance their curriculum so they get a complete taste of the system, while focusing on their particular goal.  We always work with a goal in mind.  I have found that students who train for hours with no particular goal end up getting bored or frustrated.  Every time you walk on the floor to train, you must think about what you want to get out of it.  Training goals should also be adjusted from time to time to reflect a student’s new interests, lifestyle and abilities.  This way, training always has a purpose.

To be continued…

Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness

507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851

Shin Conditioning with Logic and Common Sense

Comment:  looks like mr miyagi teaching muay thai. ive done muay thai for a while now and neva kicked a bag with pads on lol, and if my shins were to bruised up i just would kick the bag full stop!

Response:  Thank you for your comment however misguided.  Calasanz has been teaching martial arts longer than you’ve been on this earth, so he knows a thing or two about conditioning. Our shin conditioning goes beyond the usual slamming of the shin against a heavy bag. It is a multi-exercise approach that will gradually build up the shin so our students avoid serious injuries and blood clots.  The taped bag that is being kicked in this video is very hard. If you can sustain a kick on this bag even with a shin pad, you’re okay. We prefer to train intelligently. If you want to cripple yourself, then go ahead. If you don’t train wisely in your 20’s, you will pay for it in your 50’s.

Why Are These Guys Wearing Shoes???

You Tuber:

Why are they wearing shoes, you can’t condition your feet if you have sneakers on!!!!
Explain why he would let his students wear sneakers


Thank you for your inquiry. The question we would like to ask you is “when was the last time you were barefoot on the streets?” There is a huge difference between kicking with a bare foot and kicking with a constrictive shoe that does not allow you the freedom to position your foot. Many reality based martial arts classes actually wear some type of shoe. Haven’t you noticed the huge market in martial art shoes? This is far more realistic than barefoot fighting which probably made a lot of sense when shoes were in short supply. A competent martial arts instructor can teach a student to adapt to training with shoes. Calasanz has specific “pounding” exercises that involve foot and leg conditioning that is perfectly suited to achieve kicking power.

Squatting Kicks & Back Fists

Calasanz likes to use squats and ankle weights to train his legs. He’s found over the years that the combination makes for strong kicks. The video ends with a short spinning backfist routine in front of a mirror.

Ankle Weights Make Heavier Legs for More Powerful Kicks

In this episode learn 2 variations of an exercise that builds bone and muscle tissue using ankle weights to make the legs heavier for harder kicks.

The Power of a Woman

Women naturally hold their power in the pelvic, hip and torso area. This is the root of their reproductive system and the root of women’s power source. Also, properly trained, women can generate powerful kicks by either thrusting or rotating their hips. Calasanz has also found over his 30 plus years of teaching that women can take more punishment than men. They have a much greater tolerance for pain. When you put all these assets together, it makes sense that women had a lot to do with the creation of Wing Chun kung fu.

Wing Chun for Women