Q Paul please give us an introduction to your martial arts training and qualification – Ok well it seems as though I have been on this journey for a long time but I will try my best to highlight some of the most notable landmarks along the route.
I began studied Martial Arts over 30 years ago. I started at the age of 12 under the tutelage of Sensei Seiji Morioka (Musokai Association of original Japanese martial arts), studying Bujutsu (original Japanese battle arts).
In my late teens I trained for a time with Sensei Ray Fuller of Thames Shotokan and this was a good experience for me and helped me during a difficult time.
Later I studied under various Wing Chun instructors most notably Sifu Steve Maire and culminating my studies with a trip to Hong Kong to train with Sifu Yip Chun.
Sifu Steve Mair introduced me to Guro Rick Faye (Founder and head of the Minnesota Kali Group) & after this my training took a new turn.
l joined Guro Ralph Jones Zanshin Fighting Arts – a system based around core arts including Kali, Jeet Kune Do and Jun Fan Gung Fu. Ralph is one of only 5 full instructors in the UK who are certified to teach these arts under Guro Dan Inosanto.
During summer 2002 I was promoted by Ralph Jones to instructor in Kali, Jeet Kune Do and Jun Fan Gung Fu. Shortly thereafter I was accepted to Guro Dan Inosanto’s instructor program as an apprentice instructor and I continue to cherish the challenges and responsibilities that this unique opportunity represents.
In my pursuit of all things JKD I have attended numerous JKD seminars at home and abroad over the last 12 years including the summer camps hosted at Bob Breen’s academy & Guru Inosanto’s seminars in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bournemouth & Spain , Germany and the USA. I have visited Guro Rick Faye’s Minnesota Kali Group, Rick Tucci’s Princeton Academy and also The Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts in Los Angeles California & where I have attended Guru Inosanto’s classes & IAMA Instructors Camp.
These have been fantastic opportunities to learn especially at the legendary Inosanto Academy under the direct tutilage of Guru Inosanto. For all those who have been and trained there know that this is the pinnacle in martial arts tuition.
I have remained a group & private student of Guru Jones & regard him as both a mentor and close personal friend. He has assisted me greatly in my JKD journey and without him I would not have enjoyed a myriad of opportunities, most importantly being introduced and approved by Guru Inosanto to join his Instructors programme.
Having previously qualified as an instructor in JKD & Kali with Guru Jones this was without a doubt my proudest Martial achievement to date.
Subsequently I have continued to attend Guru Inosanto’s seminars at home and abroad. I was also extremely proud to be awarded instructorships by Sifu Rick Faye of The Minnesota Kali Group. Rick has been a major influence and supportive element in my martial arts development & I thank him for his continued patience and encouragement. Rick remains a constant source of inspiration.
I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study as a private student (alongside Guru Jones) with Grand Master Danny Guba of the Doce Pares system of Eskrima.Kali.Arnis. I am proud to have been certified by GM Guba to 3rd Dan in his multi-system style. Danny is a phenomenal talent & was until recent years certainly a hidden gem.
I have had the privilege to train with Sifu Joseph Lee of the Lee Shing Wing Chun lineage as a closed door student. Sifu Lee is a phenomenal talent & incredibly knowledgeable Wing Chun Instructor and I am fortunate to train with.
I have also been incredibly lucky to train with Ibu Rita Suwanda the head of the Mande Muda Pencak Silat Association. This is the first time that Ibu Rita Suwanda has taughtin in the UK & I am now her UK Representative for the Mande Muda Penjak Silat International programme and I aim to promote the growth of this great Art throughout the UK.
More recently I have trained with Professor Pedro Sauer (Gracie Jiu Jitsu) and we are looking to affiliate with his International Group. My Wing Chun training has continued and over the last year i have had the priviledge of training with Sifu Steve Mair, Sifu Sam Kwok, Sifu Nino Bernardo & Sifu Francis Fong.
I feel as though I am the eternal student and will always strive to continue to learn more and to broaden my understanding of the Myriad Arts.
I have been teaching part-time and have built up a small yet keen group of students who I am pleased have shown great commitment to the Arts and especially Guru Inosanto & Rick Faye, joining me on their seminars both at home and also abroad. I hope to develop my teaching and increase my student base over the coming years.
Q: Paul, you have told us about your involvement with the Japanese Martial Arts. What drew you from a style like Shotokan which is generally recognised as a Hard / External Style with its deep stances to Wing Chun?
A: I did originally start my martial arts as most of us of a certain age did in traditional Japanese Arts. There was nothing else available at the time & at the tender age of 12 it all seemed the same to me. I trained in judo under Professor Seiji Morioka and that was an awesome experience and one I don’t think I truly appreciated until an older age. Indeed I trained with him for more than ten years and studied judo, kendo, kenjutsu and iaido as well as self-defence & Bo Jutsu. The training was very traditional and extremely physical. During this period I joined Thames Karate and studied Shotokan under Sensei Ray Fuller. The training was hard and physical and it was something I needed at that time in my life. It helped toughen me up and I always had a great admiration for Sensei Fullers practical experience and expertise.
Around this time I like many others of my generation watched the BBC2 Documentary “The way of The Warrior”. It was during this series that I saw the episode on Chinese kung fu and specifically the southern Chinese art of Wing Chun as presented by Master Simon Lau. I was immediately impressed with what I saw and the direct approach adopted including the basic principles that were explained such as simultaneous attack and defence, centre line theory and the rest. Following this I began to research Wing Chun and one of my good friends started studying directly with master Lau. We have remained good friends and he continues to enthuse me as to this incredible close range fighting system.
Subsequently I began Wing Chun with Steve Mair who was an awesome Wing Chun talent and highly regarded by those in the know, after Steve returned to Denmark with his family where he now lives I then trained with Kevin Chan. I studied with Kevin and Kamon Wing Chun for several years and thank Shuan Bardoe (now residing in HK to my knowledge) for helping me in this period.
Thereafter when Steve Mair returned to these shores I began training with him again in earnest. It was at this point that he had been dabbling in JKD & in turn introduced me to Rick Faye the head instructor and founder of the Minnesota kali Group. When Steve eventually returned to settle in Denmark I then sought out my JKD Instructor Guro Ralph Jones who has been my mentor, trainer, friend and guide in the pursuit of all things JKD.
More recently I have had the good fortune to be reintroduced to Wing Chun through my oldest friend Glenn Spiegel who was kind enough to introduce me to Sifu Joseph Lee. I have trained as a closed door student of Sifu Lee for over 3 years. Sifu Lee has totally changed my thinking and concepts of Wing Chun. His interpretation and knowledge is unsurpassed and I thank him for his patience and guidance.
In many ways you can say that I have therefore come full circle in my pursuit and interest of the arts and have certainly rekindled my love affair with Wing Chun. It amazes me how differently Sifu Lee approaches the art through his knowledge and the teachings of Lee Shing Wing Chun.
Q: You have mentioned training with Sifu Joseph Lee, What makes his Wing Chun so different to the other Wing Chun training you have received?
A: Stuart as I have mentioned above, Sifu Joseph Lee was a senior student of Sifu Lee Shing and as you know he introduced Wing Chun kung fu to UK and Europe.
The type of Wing Chun practiced by lee Shing is different as it incorporates side body Wing Chun and Gouloau Wing Chun from Fatshan in China.
On a more personal level I find that Joseph’s technical knowledge is incredible, he is encyclopaedic in his information and interpretation of the forms and their application to real fighting.
For those in the know it is accepted that Sifu Joseph is quite simply one of the best. Furthermore he is a great teacher and an incredibly humble master whose knowledge is second to none. For anyone interested in his teachings I do know that there is a DVD available through Amazon and which is worth every penny.
Q: Have you ever been tempted to compete? Maybe not in MMA / Cage fights but perhaps stick fighting competitions?
A: The short answer is No. I have never been interested in competition or what I personally perceive as sport martial art, it’s just not for me but I can appreciate how many people enjoy this aspect and that competition is a good thing. I have always been more traditional in my approach and interests and I guess this is reflected in the arts that I choose to pursue, namely Silat, Kali & Wing Chun/JKD. Also I am now in my forties and therefore even if I were to consider this I think that my age is against me (that’s my excuse and I am sticking with it).
Q: If you could only choose one art to study which would it be, Wing Chun, Jun Fan, Kali or Silat, and why?
A: oh now that’s just such a difficult and potentially loaded question. I am happy to say that following the guide and teachings of Guro Dan Inosanto means that in the true meaning of JKD Concepts I am free to study those arts that I enjoy and those which fundamentally complement one another.
I see a great synergy between Silat Kali & Wing Chun. The concepts employed are often very similar but perhaps the nuance or intention slightly different. For example in Wing Chun there’s a preference for close range striking whereas in Silat breaks, wrenches and take downs are paramount, nevertheless silat employs entry techniques that involve striking that is almost identical to wing chun. If we take Chimande (one of the component arts from Mande Muda) then the first 15 or so Djurus (open hand forms) represent various bridging and entry techniques that resemble hand configurations commonly found and employed in wing chun. Such as Pok Sau and lop Sau and huen sau and Jau sau, pulling/pushing and circling motions. These are intrinsic in both arts but the flavour or as I said intention is slightly different. Studying with my silat teacher Ibu Rita Suwanda who is the head of Mande Muda Penjak Silat has been an amazing opportunity to learn from the source and gain valuable insights into what is an incredibly eclectic art.
Certainly over the last 5 years I have probably devoted more time, training and resources to my pursuit of Penjak Silat and would thank Ibu Suwanda and also Marc Mcfann for their teachings and guidance in Mande Muda. Additionally, I have trained extensively with Guro Dan Inosanto in his system of Silat (Maphalindo). Guro Inosanto remains in my humble opinion the best of the best in terms of knowledge and ability to cross train in a myriad of complimentary Martial Arts. At 73 he remains an inspiration to us all.
I guess the answer to your question is that I like and love all of it, historically I threw myself into the Kali & JKD but more recently have definitely been exploring the silat as much as possible. I think the cultural heritage, the history, customs and the motion as well as the fighting strategy and techniques appeals in a big way. Also it is such a diverse Art encompassing many areas, styles and systems. It is great for weaponry especially bladed and self-defence. Also I have been very privileged to train with two of the world’s leading exponents namely Guro Inosanto and Rita Suwanda.
I am proud to be Rita Suwanda Representative for the Mande Muda system in the UK. I have been training with Ibu privately and on seminars internationally for 10 years and it’s been fantastic. I know that with such privilege comes a high degree of responsibility and I am determined to promote and disseminate Mande Muda within the UK as it is truly a great Art and effective system. We hope to be able to host Ibu Suwanda again next year and look forward to this very much.
So I guess that my answer is that I love all of it and wouldn’t’t give up a single thing but for now my responsibilities to Silat and Mande Muda in particular prove motivating.
Q: What’s next for you Paul? What are your goals or aims for the next 2-3 years?
A: Well following on from the last question I really want to promote Mande Muda and to build up a group or series of groups of enthusiasts in order that we can spread the word and the Art of Mande Muda far and wide. We have a commitment to Ibu Suwanda and her Art and hope to generate interest throughout the UK and with the long term aim of expanding her teaching when she visits the UK annually.
On top of this to continue to train and teach kali and JKD and watch my students grow and develop.
Q: You have already trained with a host of highly skilled instructors, is there anybody that you still want to train with?
A: wow that’s a toughie, there are so many talented martial artists out there. I have trained with so many top Instructors worldwide and am proud to be certified by Guro Dan Inosanto, Guro rick Faye, Sifu Ralph Jones amongst others. I would like an opportunity to train with Rickson Gracie at some point as I have heard such great things about him and his talents as a grappler and abilities as a teacher.
Q: Paul, Thanks for giving us such an interesting and insightful interview. If anybody is interested in training with you, how can you be contacted?
A: No thank you Stuart the pleasure has been all mine and it’s been a great opportunity to talk about subjects dear to my heart.
I would like to thank all my students and instructors for their kind help and guidance throughout the years and look forward to the future that remains as challenging as ever.
If anyone wants to contact me then please e.mail through my website www.karasackali.co.uk