Friday, June 22, 2007


On Monday I was working at a nursing home changing fire dampers above the ceilings. I had my sheet metal laid out on the grass. The wind picked up a piece of sheet metal and it stuck in my right hand , just like a shuriken. Took 6 stitches to stop the bleeding. I sat in the emergency room waiting room at Munson Medical center for 2 hours . I was told it would be another one and a half to two hours more before they would see me. So , I left and went to a walk in clinic. 45 minutes later , no bleeding and a nice set of stitches on my upper middle finger and I was back in business. Lucky it didn't sever any tendons. Now I have matching scars on both hands- He he

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Black Belt Essay- the seed

Every once in a while, one of my students makes a comment, makes an observation, or just does something so nice it makes me cry. Being an instructor carries with it ,great responsibilities to give out information and to challenge minds to learn. Sometimes the challenge goes un fullfilled. Sometimes the challenge is reached. Whatever the case, our responsibility is to pass on what we know. We hope that our students excell and surpass our attainments and set new goals for their students.

I would like to share with you one of these moments- this is from one of my new Black Belts:

Through the course of the following essay I will relate Kuntaw to a tree in many ways and from many different perspectives. The rationales backing the declarations, resemblance, and relationships are my own and have been formulated only from my own experiences, practice, training, research, and insights.

Let us begin with the seed. The seed in this example shall be pure thus far so as not to complicate the issues being brought to light. Pure as it has had no influence, as the new Kuntawista has had no real influence outside of his family. Entering the Bothoan, the Kuntawista feels helpless, but eager. Here is where the foundation for a lifetime of training and growth should be established. The Kuntawista learns to set goals for himself, learns the processes for learning physical techniques (form, focus, speed, power, remove, control, counter, reset), discipline, respect, and honor. He also learns to trust his instructor. These qualities will follow the Kuntawista throughout his life in his martial arts training, and in all facets of his life. If this foundation has not been laid, has been missed, set aside, or dismissed, the seed will not grow properly. The seedling may even grown crooked. Regardless of the flaws that may have taken shape and built upon, until the Kuntawista learns and incorporates these qualities, he can never be truly healthy. Frustration, aggravation, misguidance, and trouble may find this seed and prevent it from ever developing at all.

The seed that adhered to proper instruction and received guidance cracks and sprouts it’s first seedling. The Kuntawista has begun to experience growth not only in his martial arts abilities, but as a healthy well rounded person. The seedling’s first direction is toward the ground. The beginnings of roots. Like the seedling, the Kuntawista also is not capable of supporting branches, leaves, seedlings let alone himself in his new journey. But the roots have begun to set in. The philosophies, core values of the art, and the basic movements are becoming part of the Kuntawista. Soon he will be ready to stand and weather the adversity that is destined to come.

The seed has developed into a branchling. It no longer sits helplessly, barely rooted in the ground. I begins to stand tall. It stands 10 feet from the ground and it‘s roots have dug in deep enough for it to withstand almost any storm that blows past. The Kuntawista has reached the yellow/green belt level. He clearly bears a resemblance to the black belts. A stranger can see the style and the techniques that differentiate the Kuntawista from the more traditional martial artists. The basics are now ingrained in the Kuntawista. His skills are elevating but his interest in balance, energy, theory, and technicalities are surpassing his physical ability! With the fundamental values and systems in place, the Kuntawista can now focus on studying more advanced skills.

The branchling has grown sturdy and thick. It is 50 feet tall. It’s roots are so strong, deep, and complex, that there’s nothing natural that can cause it to waiver. It’s branches have grown long and have sprouted leaves. The mature trees look to the young tree and are pleased. The tree has found it’s place in the forest and is contributing to the system by providing shelter for the animals, producing oxygen in it’s leaves for all living things. It’s strong roots hold the earth together beneath it. The Kuntawista is a brown belt, ready for his black belt test. The roots of the system are so deeply embedded that it has become a permanent part of him. Even if the training stops at this point, the Kuntawista is forever changed. Like the young tree, the Kuntawista has found his place in the club, and is so much closer to finding his place in this world, and balance within himself! His acquired skills allow him to provide protection for himself and his loved ones from adversaries both physical and mental. He is a role model for the lower ranks in the club. He is able to help hold them together and help guide them on their own personal journeys.

The tree has reached maturity. It is 150 feet tall. It’s roots and branches will continue to grow for the rest of it’s life. There is now something different about the tree. Seeds have formed on its branches and are falling to the ground. They fall close to the tree, and it’s the tree’s purpose to protect the seeds, and provide the model for the seedlings to follow. No matter what the circumstances, the seeds can never BECOME the tree. They will always have the tree to look to, even after it has fallen, but they stand where THEY stand and must grow and develop into themselves. They will all clearly resemble the tree, and they will all have parts of the tree’s traits, but none will ever grow to be the tree that protects them now. Some will grow taller, some shorter, some thicker, some thinner, and every combination that can naturally follow.
The Kuntawista is at least a black belt now. Like the tree, his seeds are his new students. It is his RESPONSIBILITY, not his job, to pass along ALL aspects of the art both physical and mental to his students. To leave out any part of the formula will lead to incomplete students and a watering down of the system that has been passed on to him. The lineage that follows him will not only be weak, but a disappointment to his instructor and to the system itself. Like the tree, the Kuntawista will continue to grow for his entire life. Physically and spiritually. Notice we’ve replaced mental with a deeper term. Spiritually. The art is a part of your soul now, it is unshakable and compliments every aspect of your life. It has become a part of you.

Buzz, you’ve changed my life forever. You and Kuntaw were exactly what I was seeking. Being a part of Kuntaw has been the best single thing I’ve done for my life every step of the way. I will pass on the art as it was passed on to me. All of it. I will produce students that are better than me, and I will continue to grow as a martial artist and as a person for the rest of my life. Thanks to you and your leadership both in the art and as a friend, I am a balanced, happy person inside. I will always be indebted to you and I hope that if you ever need anything that I can help you with, you will let me know.

Brian Soloman, Black Belt essay


As with many martial artists I have a multitude of interests. I am a musician I used to play professionally. I am a woodworker, I have built my own home, most of the furniture within it,guitars, and even a hydroplane. I am a car nut, I have built many customs over the years. Sitting in my side lot are several cars that need my attention after I get done with the one in my garage.
  • north view living room

  • south view living room

  • My overfull dining room

  • My coffee table made from scrap pieces

  • My garage west view

  • My garage east view

  • My baby- 1976 Sterling

  • My baby- 1976 Sterling

  • My first GT 40

  • a car i made from the ground up out of foam and fiberglass

  • To make a long story short, I have a lot of things going on and it seems that when I have money- I have no time. When I have time- I have no money. I just wish that at least sometime a balance will enter my life and rid me of this black cloud that has been following me for the last couple of years

    Saturday, June 16, 2007

    Gathering of The Tribes - Spring Edition

    An event that I look forward to at least twice a year is the Gathering of The Tribes at the Innovative Martial Arts Studio in Grand Rapids Michigan. I first heard of it from one of my students. He happened upon these rag tag weird Silat stylists somehow in his travels and somehow twisted my arm to go down and meet these outcasts. Well, let me say- I was glad i did. This 2-4 day camp has been quite informative as well as entertaining. the odd bunch of Silat, IMA< FMA< CMA practitioners have a great way of sharing their knowledge while leaving the ego baggage at the door.

    I have attended 4 of these events so far and each one gets better than the previous one. This last Gathering comes at a time when I am at my lowest. I have been diagnosed with Polymyalia and have been suffering sore muscles and swelling of my hands now for almost a year. My ego, or should i say self esteem, has been in the basement.

    What Is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

    Polymyalgia rheumatica is a rheumatic disorder associated with moderate-to-severe musculoskeletal pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, and hip area. Stiffness is most noticeable in the morning or after a period of inactivity, and typically lasts longer than 30 minutes. This disorder may develop rapidly; in some people it comes on literally overnight. But for most people, polymyalgia rheumatica develops more gradually.

    The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is not known. But it is associated with immune system problems, genetic factors, and an event, such as an infection, that triggers symptoms. The fact that polymyalgia rheumatica is rare in people under the age of 50 and becomes more common as age increases suggests that it may be linked to the aging process.

    Polymyalgia rheumatica usually resolves within 1 to 2 years. The symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica are quickly controlled by treatment with corticosteroids, but symptoms return if treatment is stopped too early. Corticosteroid treatment does not appear to influence the length of the disease.

    Whether taken on a long-term basis for polymyalgia rheumatica or for a shorter period for giant cell arteritis, prednisone carries a risk of side effects. While long-term use and/or higher doses carry the greatest risk, people taking the drug at any dose or for any length of time should be aware of the potential side effects, which include:

    fluid retention and weight gain
    rounding of the face
    delayed wound healing
    bruising easily
    myopathy (muscle wasting)
    increased blood pressure
    decreased calcium absorption in the bones, which can lead to osteoporosis
    irritation of the stomach
    increase in infections
    ( sheesh- the side effects are almost worse than the disease!!!!)

    What Is the Outlook?

    Most people with polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis lead productive, active lives. The duration of drug treatment differs by patient. Once treatment is discontinued, polymyalgia may recur; but once again, symptoms respond rapidly to prednisone.

    What I was told- "There is no known cause, there is no known cure- live with it"

    Now, for a guy who has been very active over most of his adult life, this comes as a kick in the crotch.

    So, on with the tirade. Normally we bring 6-12 students down for these gatherings- but, because i have not been active, my club has fallen to zero. The 4500 sq ft facility closed July 7th of last year. I had a hard time finding anyone to run the classes and cover for me while they were trying to find out what hit me. So, blow #2 to my ego.

    I loaded up my van with sleeping bags, tents and stuff to allow the students that were coming a place to crash if they wanted to. As it were, only 2 came. Blow #3. Upon our arrival at 9 pm , there were a number of people milling about and swapping lies and stories and generally having a good time. As we unloaded we were met by Chuck and Mushtaq and we set up some folding chairs and jumped in to the fray. As if we were lot neighbors and were just coming over to share a six pack. The night was spent just talking and getting aquainted with some new faces and some old ones.

    Carl was nowhere to be found (could it be that I scared him off with all the tricks and displays at the last gathering? NAW he didn't believe any of it anyway) which is unusual as he has been to the last couple of Gatherings with a gusto for info.

    I was informed by Guru Mushtaq that Chuck AND Don were being secretly tested for rank in San Yun Do. So my eyes were open to look for the signs of quality that I look for in a senior Black Belt. Sharing, explaining, being approachable, leading by example, patience, and the ability to dissect and reassemble a new technique or concept to fit their own mindset. Hell, what did i have to watch for? These guys have shown that the past 2 years i have been coming. They take what is given and immediately go about helping their students to grasp what is being shown if the instructor is busy, and mind you , not missing a beat, a movement, or a key ingredient. This is easy

    The night went well, the mosquitoes weren't too hungry and there wasn't a lot of wild goings on , so it was an early night.

    The next morning we woke to a home cooked breakfast by Jeannie Chucks wife and camp cookie. People started to stir and more and more cars pulled up. The seminar started with a nice explanation of how things work body wise and how to prepare your body to do what you want it to do. This section was led by Cody Fielding who came all the way from San Francisco. Needless to say , I was hurting a bit before this was over but I did give it a go. A lot of what Cody was saying underscored what I have been teaching since day one.

    Guru Mushtaq took the next session and had everybody moving and grooving to Silat and the "bring a friend along" idea. Mushtaq has a casual but poignant way of passing info along making it look like ballroom dancing til wham! you hit the floor. During his session , he hit on a common note that is in Kuntaw as well, so I stole one of his flows and added the treachery aspect , this made my session easy to run as he opened the door. It seemed to be well recieved.

    Now, there have been some unique personalities that have attended these gatherings, but one now stands out to be matched. Guru Bobbe Edmonds ( who I had not met before) was setting the stage for sideline innuendos and comical hecklings that put an end to any possible edge that may have been suspected and toally disolved the event into a free for all. We laughed learned and had an enjoyable training session even tho all authority was out the window. Everyone was fair game.

    It was a blast.

    Grand Master Bobby Toboada arrived and we shared some oxygen, some stories of Tagalog differences, and i was surprised to find a very humble but dynamic man. He spoke softly but delivered a nasty blow, he showed us the dynamics of Balintawak and I stayed with the class as long as i could, but my hands swoll up to the point I couldn't hold on to a stick. In fact I almost let one fly during our striking drills. So, I bowed out and watched from the sidelines.

    On Sunday we had to leave early due to a family matter- memorial day weekend and family matters. We folded up the chairs and the tent , put away the sleeping bags and loaded up the van. I had an interview to do with Dan Williams and Sterling Hiebeck--- I had to miss Guro Bobbes session, but I am sure that my students will fill me in next class. But before we left, I spent some time with Guru Bobbe showing him some of the basic sibat/toya concepts from Kuntaw and he picked up on it very quickly. Parking lot seminars arealmost as good as in house seminars. One thing stuck out in my mind- I asked him if he wanted to learn some "hollywood techniques" he respectfully said no- he wanted the good stuff ( I like this guy). So we went back over it and I think he has it pretty good.

    We said good bye to all and hit the road knowing - "We would be back"

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