Oh wow!

Master of Tapi Chuck Gauss, GM Dusty Seale, Master of Tapi Tapi Ken Smith and Datu Kelly Worden.

“Oh wow!” was uttered by Professor Presas whenever he saw something that he liked. I am certain that he would have said this if he had been at the Michigan Modern Arnis camp at Master Chuck Gauss’ Martial Arts Center this past weekend.

Imagine the excitement in the Modern Arnis community when the camp lineup was announced back in January by Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss. The excitement was palpable in the days before the camp. All four instructors trained with the late Professor Remy A. Presas. Masters of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss and Ken Smith traveled and trained with Professor Presas for many years before their promotion to Master of Tapi Tapi in 2001. Datu Kelly Worden was the first American to be bestowed with the Datu title back in 1988 by Professor and is well known for his “Connecting the Systems” approach to martial arts and has been a mainstay in the Northwest Pacific area.  While GM Dusty Seale has focused on Kyusho Combatives under GM George Dillman, he also cross trained in Modern Arnis under Professor Presas as well as with Leo Fong and Professor Wally Jay. As one can see, this was a very dynamic instructor lineup assembled by Master Chuck Gauss.

To say that the instruction provided by these outstanding instructors was world class would be an understatement. The material that they taught was functional, dynamic, explosive, and relevant to today’s realities.

The focus of GM Dusty Seale’s sessions was on body mechanics and, of course, the combative applications of pressure points. I had a chance to talk with GM Dusty a few times during the camp weekend. He told me that one of the key lessons that he took from Professor Presas was not only the mechanics of the sinawali movement but also that Professor pointed out to him the connection between the sinawali movement and his karate background. His sessions at the camp touched upon this connection. The below video is representative of what he taught:

I had the pleasure of pairing up with him during the Modern Arnis portions of the camp. This gave me an opportunity to pick his brains about his Kyusho Combatives approach to self defense. Great to see someone like him pick up a stick and be a student. Not too many martial artists of this caliber do this often. Props to GM Dusty! DVDs by GM Dusty can be found here

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GM Dusty in action.

Master of Tapi Tapi Ken Smith brought his humor and his A game to the camp. His first session was on his challenging double stick combinations. He taught the cross hand and same side pass into various techniques. The camp attendees definitely enjoyed this session! IMG_2535

Demonstrating a double stick combination on Andy Tong.

Master Ken also taught the left vs. right 1, 2, 5, 12 drill. From there, he taught tapi tapi techniques that can be done at any point in that drill, focusing on techniques off angles 1 and 2. He also emphasized connecting some of those techniques together. The below video from Master Ken’s YouTube channel contains a fair number of techniques that he taught in his two left vs. right tapi tapi sessions. Master Ken was detailed in his explanations of the techniques and how to maximize the effectiveness of them. As always, Master Ken was very approachable and answered questions that were asked of him. On a personal note, I got some cool left vs. right tapi tapi pointers from Master Ken that I will be practicing.  🙂

Check out his online store here for his MATS (Modern Arnis Training Systems) videos. His videos are highly recommended!

Datu Kelly S. Worden came out from Seattle, Washington to share his knowledge with the camp attendees as well as stories about Professor and his martial philosophy. His sessions were packed with a lot of information ranging from interior rolling drills and applications, the Six Count drill, knife defense, applications of Anyo Isa Cane Form One (which included a superb performance of a long pole/sibat version of this form) and most importantly, his “Connecting the Systems” philosophy. He threw in elements of JKD, non-classical Wing Chun, and hubud lubud,  Personally, I really enjoyed his Anyo session as I had previously purchased his Anyo DVD set and reviewed it.  One of my favorite moments of the camp weekend was when he was inserting the bong sao technique from JKD/Wing Chun into a drill. I forget what my question was but we ended up doing sticky hand/chi sao for a few minutes (while the camp attendees were training) and showed me techniques that can be extracted out of it. A big guy like him is quite imposing, considering that he could just power through my defenses if he chose to do so. Instead, he used impressive sensitivity to find the path of least resistance. Good times! Check out his online store!

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Datu Kelly instructing during a knife session.

Here’s a clip of Datu Kelly demonstrating chi sao variations, some of which he showed me this past weekend in our brief chi sao interaction. Like I said, good times!

Lastly, what you can say about Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss? 

He’s got quite a load these days, working executive protection on top of running a dojo and teaching seminars on the weekends and recently becoming a Grandfather. Despite all of this, he managed to put together one of the best camps that I’ve ever attended and I’ve been to over 60 of them. He put together a phenomenal instructor lineup and created an unforgettable experience for many of us. He also provided firearms training at the Firing Line range.

On top of being the host of the camp, taking care of the guest instructors, and looking after the needs of the attendees, Master Chuck taught right vs. right tapi tapi, joint locking, palis palis, abanico corto, umbrella defenses against angle 1 and firearms training. His Modern Arnis instruction was quite dynamic and his tapi tapi demonstrations were a sight to behold. For me personally, his Friday night session on right vs. right tapi tapi (slap off, cross body pose and same side pose) was just phenomenal and showed Master Chuck at the top of his game. He displayed impressive speed, explosiveness, mobility, and superb timing. Watching him in action was something I’ll never forget.

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Master Chuck in instructor mode!

 

Master Chuck taught several elements of this video this past weekend.

One of the highlights of the camp was the round robin session on Saturday night, where all the instructors took turns playing off each other’s technique. Master Ken started things off with a sinawali boxing technique and the instructors taught variations off that, showing us the connections between different arts and techniques. This session was a load of fun! The biggest takeaway from this was the spirit of camaraderie, fun, sharing knowledge, and laughter. None of the false ego trips and shameless promotion that others have been known for. No put downs or disrespectful behavior toward others. Just great times and outstanding energy in the room. This bodes well for the future!

In closing, the camp attendees that I’ve talked to all told me that they had a phenomenal time and that they learned a lot from all the instructors and, as one said, “Lots of light bulbs went on in my head. Time to work on connecting the pieces.” During the weekend, I developed a mental checklist of martial material that I will be working on for the next year (provided that I get the all clear from the doctor at the end of July) and take my game to the next level. I came away from this camp quite fired up.

I had a great time hanging out with Terence, Dref, Joe, and Kevin over the weekend and seeing Mark and his son Terry in town from Ottawa. I made some new friends and renewed friendships. It was great to see folks from Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas over the weekend.  I have no doubt that next year’s camp will be better!

Thanks to Master of Tapi Tapi Chuck Gauss for doing a phenomenal job of hosting this camp as well as teaching and to Master of Tapi Tapi Ken Smith, GM Dusty Seale and Datu Kelly Worden for their amazing sessions. Salamat!

As many said at the end of the camp:

“Oh wow!!”

Over to you, what are your favorite memories of the camp? Please post your comments!

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