The Hamburg Seminar, hosted by Master of Tapi Tapi Gaby Roloff, was a rousing success. Instructors included me, Master Gaby, Master of Tapi Tapi Ken Smith, Professor Leon Jay, and Shihan Borut Kincl.

Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss was not able to come to Hamburg due to circumstances beyond his control. Master Gaby asked Master Earl and me to teach one session each. Unfortunately, Master Earl was not able to attend as well. As a result, I taught two sessions during the weekend. The other instructors were assigned extra sessions.

The trip over to Hamburg was somewhat reminiscent of the classic movie “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” First, I took the 7:20 am Via Rail train from Toronto to Ottawa where I met Renshi Janet and Sensei Sally for the flight over the pond. We then took the 9:25 pm flight out of Ottawa to London Heathrow and then to Hamburg.

Approximately 30 hours after I left home, we arrived at the Airbnb in Hamburg. We were all relieved to have arrived at our destination. Little did I know what would transpire once I got my shoes and socks off. OMG! It was foul smelling. I immediately washed those socks thoroughly. This brought back memories of this classic scene from “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.”

For this seminar, Master Gaby opted for the parallel format. During the entire weekend, two sessions were running concurrently, one focusing on the stick and the other addressing empty hand material.

Between the parallel format, teaching two sessions, and assisting Master Ken Smith during his sessions, I was not able to watch other instructors teach, except for Master Gaby and Professor Leon Jay (one session each). Consequently, I am not able to give a complete picture of all that was shown during the weekend.  

Over a hundred attended the weekend event. Great numbers and unbelievable energy. Folks came from Canada, UK, Germany, Slovenia, and other EU countries. The ages of the participants ranged from kids to those in their 60s. Regarding experience, the participants ranged from novice level to the master level. The unmatched energy is a tribute to the hard work by Master Gaby and her students in organizing this event.

The first session that I taught focused on feeling your opponent’s energy and responding appropriately. I used the slap off drill as a template for this session.

Feeling your opponent’s energy is often more effective than going by sight. I further explained that it takes practice to develop this sensitivity.

This video captures most of what I taught in this session. There are a couple of techniques that I showed at the seminar that is not included in the below video.

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

I got positive feedback from the participants in this session. I hope that they apply the concept of sensitivity to their martial studies.

For the second session, I taught several counters to disarms 1 and 2. I emphasized to the participants that the theme was learning to “go with the flow” and what constitutes an effective counter. “If you have to muscle your way through a counter, something is not right.”

My intent was not to give the students a collection of counters but to learn the principles behind the counters to the disarms. The most important concept is letting your opponent’s energy guide you to the appropriate counter. “It’s easy to learn but difficult to master.” For example, if your opponent grabs one end of your cane, the other end usually has some freedom of movement that you can use to counter.

This video contains some of the counters to disarm #1 that I taught in Hamburg.

If you are not able to view the video, click here.

As mentioned above, I assisted Master of Tapi Tapi Ken Smith in his sessions.

He covered two sticks vs. one stick, single stick old style tapi tapi, and two of his sessions focused on trapping hands. I particularly liked his trapping hands sessions. He inserted concepts such as sinawali boxing, dirty boxing, joint locks, and counters to joint locks. The simplicity of what he taught is deceptive as this drill can become quite complicated.

As noted earlier, I was able to attend just two other sessions during the weekend. Master Gaby, assisted by Master Astrid, covered variations of the abanico strike in her session. She demonstrated terrific abanico combinations off angles 1 and 2. She gave me some material to chew over and experiment on for the next couple of months.

I was able to attend one of Professor Jay’s sessions. Having a Vee Jiu-Jitsu background, I looked forward to seeing him in action. I had a great time with this session. He covered some of the principles of Small Circle Jiu Jitsu. In Modern Arnis terms, he covered reverse sinawali/dirty boxing, the center lock, and his well-known finger locks. It was quite evident to me that he had many of his father’s attributes. I was quite impressed with his skill level. Don’t let Professor Jay get a hold of you or you’ll be sorry. 🙂

Unfortunately, I did not participate in any of Shihan Borut’s sessions. On the other hand, I did spend time with him. This big guy is amiable, gregarious, and funny. The man loves to talk about martial arts and I had a ball conversing with him over the weekend. He’s very passionate about his Kempo/Arnis program and is active in teaching seminars in Europe.

Stuck between two big guys! Photo courtesy of Renshi Janet.

Outside of the sessions, I had a great time with Renshi Janet and Sensei Sally.

Sensei Sally, me, and Renshi Janet. Photo courtesy of Renshi Janet.

Severe back spasms inhibited Renshi Janet during this weekend and this drastically reduced our private training. I did have a couple of sessions with Sensei Sally back in our Airbnb, going over the Modern Arnis anyos and Master Ken’s trapping hands material. Both Renshi Janet and Sensei Sally are amazing women and are fanatical about physical fitness and martial arts training. It’s quite inspiring to watch them in action! No wonder why their students in Ottawa feel so fortunate to train under them!

Sensei Sally and I reviewing Master Ken’s trapping hands material. Photo courtesy of Renshi Janet.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic job that the translators did at the seminar this weekend. Ulrike Gerstenberg, Collin Alpert, Colin’s mother, and a few others helped translate our instructions for the mostly German crowd. Without them, we would not have been able to share our respective arts. The material taught by the instructors was comprehensive, and the parallel format (stick or empty hand) gave the participants training options.

Kudos to Master Gaby and her students for putting together a fantastic event!

*The featured image/photograph courtesy of Mike Palmer.

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