Sunday, December 14, 2008
Ok Ah, what the heck?! Here we are somewhere in the 10th official year for Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts. Over time and with occasional stumbles with the foreign tongue, most of us just say KSMA. Kapatiran is Tagalog for solidarity or brotherhood. Suntukan means fistfight or boxing, and thus together we called it the Boxing Brotherhood. The group is dedicated to the study of Physical and Spiritual Culture.
When we began KSMA, our focus included styles such as gung fu, jujutsu, kickboxing, western fencing and an amalgam of Filipino and Indonesian styles that we were calling Kapatiran Suntukan Kali-Eskrima-Silat (that eventually became Aneh Palu Kali). Kapatiran Suntukan broadened to become the name for the overall group.
The impetus was to provide a research and development tool to those interested in sharing and exploring their chosen system. In a sense, it kept people honest about what they were training by running it through a filter. The filter would be outside one's system to expose them to other approaches and applications. Another reason the group was formed was to provide administrative and mental support to those who wanted it. The support group went well beyond the martial aspects. It drew near to the true sense of brotherhood implied in the name of the group. To this day, I know if I call upon a KSMA member for something, I will get it.
KSMA started hosting seminars and brought in some very cool people to share their knowledge. These were great opportunities to explore and develop our craft. As each of us has our own points-of-view, it is good to cross hands with those outside of our local circle.
Looking through the Wayback Machine to 1999 in a small Oklahoma community called Lawton, we see the first get-together of note that we dubbed The Gathering of the Sacred and Profane. This seminar was a great time. The main players were Marc "Animal" MacYoung, who loves field stripping arts (in a good way that makes one think), and Mushtaq Ali Shah, who taught the basics of Gerakan Suci (which evolved into Silat Zulfikari). It was also a first chance for many early KSMA members to feel each other out.
There were a few notable gatherings in Oklahoma City with Darrell Sarjeant and the Kamau Ryu folks as well as instructors of various styles invited to those events. At one such event, yours truly was playing around and popped his ACL. To say the least, that sucked.
The good thing that happened at this event was that Chuck Pippin joined KSMA.
The idea of the Gathering true to the heart and soul of KSMA really took hold in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Charles Pippin's place. Chuck and his lovely bride, Jeanne, have been hosting a biannual shindig since 2001. The feeling of family and community is very strong there, and I feel a sense of returning home on each visit. The caliber of martial artists at this event is unprecedented and the ability for everyone to openly share and learn is remarkable. Consider this list of instructors that participated and shared at previous gatherings:
Chuck Pippin, San Yun Do
Bobbe Edmonds, that thing he does
Bobby Taboada, Balintawak Escrima
Brian 'Buzz' Smith, Maharlika Kuntaw
Cody Fielding, RMAX coach
Sean Stark, Pencak Silat Pertempuran
Terry Trahan, Weaselcraft
Brandt Smith, Aneh Palu Kali
Jerry Jacobs, Pukulan Cimande Pusaka
Like any good gig (a'la -A-palooza), there are side stages where you can catch some stuff away from the main attraction. We have covered various things from archery to philosophy as well as an odd combination with the question, "If I run up and stab the guy with an arrow, is that still archery?" Ultimately, what these gatherings have become is a family reunion. If you are new to the group, you are welcomed as a long lost relative coming home after journeys abroad.
I have long held the idea that this is a group for martial artists and not any particular art. That being said, for some reason the majority of the members, and the people they train with, are a proponent of either Filipino or Indonesian arts. However, there are some other styles represented, and we have dabbled in a good variety to stay fresh and open to change.
Aside from the physical aspect of KSMA, there is that “essence” that we all tap into in times of need or thanks. Any stroll through the racks of books about martial arts or discussion with someone who has been practicing a while, may lead to some sort of spiritual study.
This spiritual aspect of the group is as open as our willingness to share what we know about the martial arts. There is no competition about this but more of a cohesion. Heated debate is not unheard of but it does not degenerate into petty bickering. Every conversation I have been a part of or overheard was light hearted, understanding and productive. I have had some pretty cool experiences with this group.
One may have a hard time with the physical if still coming to grasp with the spiritual. Whatever one may call it, one does call on it from time to time. The variety of personalities in KSMA lends itself to have someone to talk to if needed. If that person is unavailable, they usually can suggest someone else. None of this is compulsory, if one chooses not to discuss this aspect, that's cool by us.
This is also an area of self-exploration and discovery – looking inside and out can reveal great insights. Personally, I have had some vivid experiences behind a stick or kick ranging from moments of clarity to delving into that mystery to find the strength to keep going. When I am working out, I sense a quality of being completely in the moment that I do not get anywhere else. It energizes who I am and galvanizes my spirit.
This segues into an aspect of the group that I find most important: The line of communication of the members. In times of need we can call upon each other for guidance and support regardless of the subject matter. It can be anything from an idea about the arts to deeply personal dealings. I believe this is one way to keep us honest as well and I believe the majority of us have a pretty good filter for detecting BS. I am always available to discuss ideas and ask questions when needed and I enjoy it.
The rules for inclusion have stayed the same since inception:
1) Drop the ego at the door
2) Share what you understand
3) Learn when you should
4) Train – "You don't have to train what I train, but you must train."
5) Have face-to-face contact with a member who will be your sponsor and vouch for you.
It's that easy. I value that KSMA members recognize the benefits of being open to the possibilities in other's arts. I recall a great quote told to me by John Wells. When he was asked what we train in, his reply was, "Whatcha got?" I think that sums up what KSMA is so very well with the various interpretations in tone of that question.
I was handed the KSMA reins in 2005 and gave a lot of thought about the future of the group. In the end, I decided that it is a good thing and that I would keep it going. I am glad I did as I have met a lot more interesting and cool people in the last couple of years. I feel that the core of the group has grown not only in number, but also in strength.
Members in Good Standing*
Jay M. Carstensen, Director
Chris Redmond, Nebraska Representative
Carl Ross, Brotherhood
Chuck Pippin, Brotherhood
Sean Stark, Brotherhood
Will "Buddha" Weatherby
Brian "Buzz" Smith
*If your name is not on this list, please send me a copy or a scan of your unexpired certificate of membership and let me know where you have been hiding. Advisors and those with Declarations of Brotherhood are permanent members. I have included this list to put it out for public record.
Okay, so it has been 10 years, where can we go from here? That is up to the members as I am merely a guide. I can be a sounding board for some or a teacher to others. I personally find gratification in the accomplishments of the friends I train with. I hope to keep this role for a while and do see KSMA growing. However, it will not be for growing's sake. All living things breathe in some way, and we are no different. That is the way it is.
The group will continue to seek out those who want to share and are available to those who wish to learn from us as well as encourage growth within ourselves.
It is more than just me out here:
I would just like to say that my tenure with KSMA has been one with no regrets…and I say this after much thought, reflection, and no reservation. Every organization is going to have its ups and downs…and KSMA has faced some challenges…but I believe the KSMA of today is much stronger than the KSMA of yesterday. Jay, I am very proud and honored to be a member of it. I’m very excited to see where this goes…and happy to be on this Journey with you.
What does KSMA mean to me...
Family, exploration, a sense of community, sharing, and belonging.
It also is a piece of living history to me.
It leads me to grow, mature, and always reminds me that there is more to know.
In the end, it also is an entity that crosses the boundaries of political intrigue, and brings back the joy of training, developing, and the goodness of having fellowship.
I would say that KSMA means a brotherhood that allows members to study at their own pace and at their own interest but yet not at a level that is unexpecting. We expect people to put in their best effort and ideas without hesitation along with respecting other’s ideas and effort.
KSMA exposed me to an approach to the martial arts that is creative and noncommercial.
I feel like the KSMA keeps me in touch with a more diverse group of Martial Artists then I usually have contact with. It helps me maintain perspective on my style/training/school. It's also nice to be able to get advice from peers that are not from your school.
KSMA is an organization that seeks to cut through the garbage that is found in the martial arts and to help those wanting to just advance in their skills and to pursue excellence. It’s a refreshing thing in the martial arts.
KSMA: Source of the finest Drunken Boxing system in the world :-)
I have received a few distinct impressions of KSMA practitioners in the years I have known them. They:
1. Have solid martial arts skills.
2. Have wide range of knowledge and experience in martial arts.
3. Have open minds to experiencing new techniques and martial principles.
4. Have a desire to build community.
5. Are friendly, concerned people who don't let their egos lead the way.
I'm happy to have met them and to have been associated with KSMA for years.
Will Buddha Weatherby
So.... As I sit at my laptop at the dining room table of Michigan's
Martial Madhouse I am contemplating both my navel and KSMA. What does
it mean to me? Well, I see it as a vehicle for self-improvement within
community. My interactions with everyone associated with KSMA have
been very positive and typically a lot of fun (Q. Who ya gonna call?
A. See attached photo.). It is a group of what I like to think of as
'loving thugs'. I am comfortable having my kids around the training
and even most of the after hours events, and that is quite a
The actual ability of the folks who make up what I know of the
association (are there secret members I don't know about?) is solid,
these are actually capable fighters. This is something missing in many
"martial arts clubs" that I have had contact with. I know from
real-world use that the majority of what is being taught is sound and
will be useful during interesting "conversations".
One of my favorite aspects of the associated groups that make up the
core of Gathering of the Tribes crowd is the humility of some very
skilled people coupled with a genuine interest in graciously and
openly sharing what they have to offer. I was quite impressed with the
open-armed (and thankfully empty-handed) hospitality I was greeted
with on my visit to Des Moines.
KSMA is a place to hang your hat. It's full of incredible people who love to share and learn.