Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

2009 Gathering of the Tribes

Consistency. If there is one word that can describe the annual Gathering of the Tribes in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is consistency. For a few years now, the coming together of old friends and new has consistently buoyed spirits, expanded and created new friendships, and broadened the base of knowledge of all the participants.
Throughout the weekend, everyone I talked with consistently stated their awe at the caliber of people that come to the 10-acre mosquito farm every year. It’s a bumper crop this year.

The anticipation was very high this year and started months prior to any one showing. It was a great mix of new and old.

Friday was the meet and greet and a terrific meal at Roisin Dubh. It is always a good time hanging with friends, eating and drinking and sharing stories from the last time we saw each other. This is truly a community.

Noobs Table

The Main Event

Part of any recurring event is an of expectation of regularity. One aspect of the Gathering is Jeanne’s pancakes on Saturday mornings. It is a good energy boost as well as another opportunity to share food with friends. Deb helped with the eggs and I hear they were tasty! Then we try and make breakfast retrace its route.

Our hosts Chuck and Don started things rolling with some San Yun Do tactics. First we were instructed to get our junk out of the way of an incoming attack. This progressed to evading and then entering to a takedown. It was a good warm up for the weekend's activities and there was plenty of sweat with a good amount of pushing and shoving.

I showed a drill and application I had been working on which is a modified sumbrada drill from kali which led into empty hand application.

Brian 'Buzz' Smith went over Bugtongan of Maharlika Kuntaw and applied that with a little treachery with empty hand application. Good fun! Buzz has such a great teaching style - it is always a pleasure.

As with many of the Gatherings past, there was some extracurricular activity happening.

After lunch, Terry Trahan showed us how to remove a contact lens from the opponent with a wallet. By bulldogging the opponent, one helps to prevent further strikes through overwhelming them. This is an essential aspect to Weasel Craft which Terry has honed over the years.

Sterling Heibeck went over the Ales of PSP with a various masukan beginning with power ales. These are yoga-esque and focus on the stretch while still maintaining the basics of the evasion. He was assisted by Dan Williams to go over the application of the movements. For a beginner to the movements, it can be a little odd but with practice, they do become more fluid.

Precious Declarations

Before we called it a day, we had some orders of business to take care of. The brotherhood expanded by three this year with the inclusion of Don Young, Carl Ross and Terry Trahan. All three represent the group's ideals in their unique ways. We decided to bring them up a little. Congratulations fellers!

The 2009 Crew

Those participating in the knife making were doing their thing on and off throughout the day. I really recommend that experience. Chuck and Ian enjoy sharing it and you walk away with a top-notch blade. Sign up now for a slot for next year.

Saturday Potluck

Hanging out is one of the things we really look forward to. This event is so similar to a family reunion without all the strife associated with relatives! We had a lot of good laughs and discussions. Many of us saw the wee hours. The traditional Chicken Satay with peanut sauce was whipped up (props to Steve Tobias for manning the grill and Jeanne for the sauce!) Other fare included beans, fruit salad and brownies that I recall. It was a long night of floating in and out of conversations around the house.

Chez Screened Porch

This is one shot, right?

Chatting with Bobbe

The Day After the Night Before

Sunday was dedicated to new instructors and started off with Craig Gray from Ronin Martial Arts going over some Krav Maga emphasizing Clear, Control and Conquer which was received very well because of the simple effective movements. I enjoyed this a lot.

The Canadian Prime Minister stops by

Nick Gutschow shared some of the silat formally known as Mubai and now as Pencak Silat Sharaf. This was a good harimau exercise for those whose knees could take it. Nick emphasized the ability to get up with out using one's hands and I have to concur that is a good thing to practice.

And all the way from the Golden State, Mel Hebert showed us some of his stuff. There was some cool blocks and takedowns and it was a good way to wrap up a full weekend. Mel's enthusiasm was great for going last on Sunday and I think we all picked up a little of that and took it home with us.

Ian takes the motto seriously

Carl reacts to Ian

Sunday evening was a supplemental feast of Ribs and burgers. It was another night filled with laughter and great company.

Grillmaster Tina

Standard Shenanigans

For those who stuck around on Monday we laid very low with the occasional burst of energy. It was great to just hang out with the stragglers and laze the day away. I was talked into making a few pizzas however and treated everyone to my style of pizza as well as a Turkish recipe I am working on. It's getting there. The old fashion pepperoni was tasty too. We also ate the sack yogurt on some sourdough and that is so darn good!

I had missed out in the past...


  1. Awesome Post Jay! Puts a smile on my face just thinking about the weekend. :)


  2. Clearly, I can't leave you apes alone for one damn seminar...WHAT THE HELL IS THAT POSTER?!?!?!?!

  3. excellent post man, makes me miss all of you guys even more!

  4. Mushtaq was such a big part of the gathering in the past 3 years, where was he?
    There is one big pair of shoes to fill if he is no longer around!

  5. People move on with their lives...he's moved on with his. If this past Gathering was any indication, then I have no worries about filling any shoes. That's not the point of the Gathering anyway.

  6. I have always seen the Gathering as having a revolving door free to come and go as desired. I have missed a couple in my days for various reasons.
    We wish Mushtaq well.

  7. Mushtaq was definitely missed, but he has chosen another path and we all wish him well. As both Chuck and Jay have stated, the Gathering is a place that is found by those who need it and departed by those who do not.

    Personally, I have always found Mushtaq to be a man who does what he wants in life, and keeps his own council about it. If he was absent at the gathering, then I can only assume it was his CHOICE.

    But as to the Gathering itself, I have discovered that it attracts those who are looking for a platform to share their skill and camaraderie, it's kind of a haven for those who are sick to death of martial arts politics, infighting and petty petulance. With the arrival of Mel Hebert, another Filipino Kuntao practitioner, alongside Gathering Alumnus Maha Guro Buzz Smith, martial arts seniority and wisdom was in abundance. Terry Trahan and Jay Carstensen are more than competent enough to draw a crowd, Chuck Pippin and Don Young are superb instructors and Nick Gutschow rounded out the group with skill and precision that was worth the price of admission ALONE.

    And the price of admission is very low indeed.

    Mr. Anonymous, (That's weird...Is that your real name?) Mushtaq did indeed leave some very big shoes to fill. But the attendees were too busy training to notice his absence.

  8. Big shoes to fill? No, we just have to make room for more shoes. Seems the gathering has grown and the sources of info are getting more diverse. Whatever path Mushtaq wants to take I wish him well. Many- MANY, of the people at the gathering have shared the knowledge that he had to give and many donated to his repairs. Choosing not to be there was his choice.

    Petty differences have no place at the gathering or within the brotherhood of martial arts. If I can get along with Bobbe...... there's hope for anyone...

  9. If you can get along with...?

    Oh, HELLS no...It's on now, Old Man...!

  10. to quote the Midget Chick, " don't be thinkin 'bout messing with the Midget Chick's man or I'll honk kong fooey you!"


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