The E.U.S.A.I.M.A.A. International Black Belt Hall of Fame event is a large gathering of martial artists from a wide variety of styles that has gone on since 1987. The weekend features nearly constant seminars, including Western martial arts in the last few years. Last year, noted Irish bata instructor Ken Pfrenger was on hand and introduced the crowd to the Celtic stick. This year, they invited me to teach a class on the Bowie knife.
Additionally, the E.U.S.A.I.M.A.A. inducted me into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame, presenting me with their Pioneer Award for the work I have done through Alliance and the American Heritage Fighting Arts Association in promoting the Western martial arts. I was both surprised and pleased that such a large and well respected organization would take an interest in what I do. That they would chose to recognize my work means a lot after so many years in the martial arts, and hopefully this will help open the doors for other Western martial arts practitioners towards greater acceptance by their peers in the Eastern arts.
Though the workshops were only an hour each, this
was a great way to get a taste of many styles. Sort of a martial arts
"Buffet of Death", with classes in Kendo, Tai Chi, Karate, Ju-Jitsu,
the Bowie knife, and many more. The people were eager to try out each
art, and classes of 40 or more were common with just as many more
there as spectators. There was a great sense of camaraderie, and
people were quick to try out new styles and techniques, without the
stylistic prejudice that often can poison the martial arts world.
These people were both genuinely skilled and good to train with (true
Lily Gold of Alliance helped me to demonstrate some of the basics of both the Bowie knife and the ways it differs from a small knife. We started by quickly showing some of the close range FMA trapping drills, such as Palasut, and then contrasting them to the long range Bowie knife techniques. We covered aspects of grip, stance, use of the guard, non-telegraphic delivery, the True and False timings, evasion, deception, stop hits, and the In Quartada evasion. Lily was fast and hung tough throughout the class, even when we were playing full speed hand-sniping games with the metal Bowie knife trainers; without the benefit of any safety gear on.
There were many masters in attendance with 40 to 50 years experience in the arts. Many had served in the military or police and had wide ranging experience with other arts in their careers. This was truly a highly skilled and high-class organization of martial arts professionals. It was not uncommon to see masters there with several generations of their students, and men who held multiple Dan (black belt) ranks or legitimate Soke (head of family) ranking from a lifetime involvement in their art.