I cannot begin to total the number of martial arts seminars I have attended over the past 2 plus decades. Some were exceptional — Vladimir’s “Breath Seminar” in Toronto, Hiroshi Ikeda’s Aikido seminar in Colorado, Billy Blanks’ Kempo seminar in Virginia are 3 that come to mind. On the other side, there were some that. . . . well. . . . you can imagine.
This past Saturday, I went to an Okinawan Stick Fighting seminar here in town and I have to place this in the top-10-of-all-time seminars. It covered some of Arnis-style fighting such as the 12 strike zones and basic disarms but expanded upon hand movement and stick striking in a unique fashion. This was the first time I became aware of Okinawan stick fighting. Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and some of the other islands of the Pacific Rim are world renowned for stick fighting. Okinawa is not a region that comes to mind initially. That certainly changed!
The instructor was Peter Carbone, a 9th dan from Michigan. Carbone Sensei, now 64 years old, has been involved in martial arts for over 40 years and has traveled to Okinawa 26 times. It went without saying that those numbers were quite evident by his movement, precision and depth of knowledge that he consistently and expertly demonstrated. He was also a perfect fit to my learning style — deep, entertaining, a bit quirky and extremely active. This was a 1% talk, 99% doing seminar.
I also saw many facets of Okinawan stick fighting which overlapped with Systema. The big 4 — movement, relaxation, structure and balance were highly emphasized, along with flowing of Ki, continual movement and creative striking were all taught with much energy placed on the learning of these. The stick was an extension of the body, much the same way that a knife (via Systema) is an extension of the body as well.
Overall, it was spectacular. I considered it a gift to have this training and look forward to Carbone Sensei’s return.