Master Kirk McCune Bahala Na December 12, 2017 interviewed by Guro Frank Buechner - Part 3

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What were your next steps in Giron Arnis Escrima?

—That is an easy one. I will promote the legacy of GME and GM Tony. I am revamping the Affiliate Program to start a new group through the process. The affiliate program is a great way for a group that is not close to a certified Bahala Na Guro to gain skill in the art. The Bahala Na ® Systems International Affiliate Program. This program consists of instructional uploads, periodic private and group training and supervision under me. The goal is to develop strong fighters in bladed self-defense as well as to produce high-level instructors of the art.

It’s a high-level, fast-paced attribute development curriculum that has proven to result in mastery in long blade, double weapon, knife, stick and blunt weapons and also empty hand techniques. 

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Also, we are creating kids programs to allow access to the next generation students. 

We’ll continue to teach international and locally to aid our friends and students.

Now is the time to show the depth of our Art to the world. We fight in long blade, knife, stick and empty hand. It’s all based on combat proven technique that will save precious life. 

 

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Drink from the cup of knowledge; it’s Bahala Na time! 

How long did it take you to graduate?

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— It took me around three or four years to graduate. But I had it lucky because I had instructors, graduate students, and a dedicated training partner in Guro David Dizon and other OC Underground members, about 10 guys.  We trained every day or at least every other day. When we couldn’t train I even had my mom holding a stick ha ha. We tried to go to Stockton once a month at least to see GME and GMT. Also Master Joel Juanitas was always coming down with his son Leo, who was a baby then. MJ was a real inspiration and help to all of us from day one. 

You are the second successor of Grand Master Giron. Do you recall a situation with him that characterizes him very well?

— yes I remember one time sitting outside class with GME and he told me about the submarine landing on Luzon in WWII. The submarine was named the “Stingray”. He was laying on top of ammunition crates because there was no room in the sub to stand. At that time they were discovered by a Japanese ship who dropped depth charges on GME’s group. He said it was very violent and he was a little nervous but noticed the captain was smiling. GME’s eyes met the captain’s and the captain gave him a wink and a laugh and so GME went to sleep. He figured all was well since the captain wasn’t worried. They made their landing and the rest is history. Interesting. The next day the same thing happened to another group but their submarine was destroyed in the bombing.

Somewhere along the line of GME telling the story I realized I was suddenly telling GME my life story instead. He had changed the subject of the conversation back to me without my realizing. 

That’s what I want to say about GME Giron. GME was a true hero of World War II, and the Last of the Bladed Warriors! He was the coolest guy around and had accomplished truly great things in his life. Yet he was actually more interested in my life, my average life. 

The greatness of our GME Giron is that he made other people feel great about themselves and in that way he made other people truly great.

Even using our name “Bahala Na” is not for us to be cool and ride on GME’s coattails. He said Bahala Na is for us to remember the men he fought with who died in battle giving their all for each other and our country. We remember! 

What about Grand Master Tony?

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— Once GMT saved a guy by CPR, and didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want any praise for doing the right thing. However he made us all take CPR classes. It was years later when I found out from his coworkers what really happened. He was Humble. 

 

Went into his own seminar unannounced and started asking the students who had never met him why they want to train with a lame instructor like Tony Somera? The poor students were beside themselves trying to convince this crazy man that “GMT” was actually a great person and he should take the class for himself. Finally GMT pointed to his own picture on the flyer calling attention to his image. “Got cha!” he says and what a laugh from all! Always Joyful and Laughing. 

 

At a time when we were desperately in need of funding to pay for some of his expensive medical bills he did a seminar and gave the money back to the host because they had family obligations of a sick child. He said they needed the money much more than we did. He was Thoughtful and Generous. 

Organized countless civic projects to improve the Filipino commmuniy. Selfless. 

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Created the Daguhoy Museum through hundreds of hours of hard work sorting through what others consider trash but actually was a historical treasure of artifacts, letters, manuscripts and photographs. Determined. 

On the last weekend of his life he spent his time editing his speech for the Leo Giron Drive Dedication although deathly ill and in great pain. He said he didn’t want to let people down by not being ready.  Devoted. 

These deeds and a thousand more define Tony Somera. 

GM Tony Somera was a great man of Compassion, Passion, Vision and Life! He made everyone around him a better person and was our friend leader and inspiration. 

 

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You did a lot of travelling with Grand Master Tony. What can you tell us about that?

—it was a magical time where we all of us created the BahalaNation. Traveling with GMT was laughing through a 6 hour layover, rain heat pain and sickness.  Nothing stopped him from promoting the art of his friend and mentor GME Leo Giron. 

We traveled once or twice a month together for 10 years. 

It was an honor. 

Part 3

 

Mind-set. Skill-set. Applied Intent. 

Tempering the Body and Mind; Positioning the Spirit and Will; Adapt and Do.

Bahala Na! Come What May

Master Kirk McCune Bahala Na December 12, 2017 interviewed by Guro Frank Buechner - Part 2

Master Kirk McCune 

Bahala Na 

December 12, 2017 interviewed by Guro Frank Buechner 

Part 2

 

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In LA, there are a number of martial arts schools. Why did you decide for Giron Arnis Escrima?

 

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— I was not really a martial artist at that time. I was running a little bit wild in those days and I needed practical skills as far as fighting. So no regular schools really appealed to me. Once I saw the intensity, power and reality within the art I was hooked! The practicality of Bahala Na was exactly what I was looking for. The philosophy of Bahala Na was also exactly what I needed because it taught me much much more than any physical skill. Our motto from GME is “survive and don’t get hurt”. Or as GMT says, “We train escrima to preserve life”. 

 

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Bahala Na as revealed trough GME Giron and GM Tony Somera grew responsibility and leadership in me and allowed me to find real power within myself. Meeting these two was when I stopped acting tough and began to be tough. 

 

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Looking back at your beginnings in Giron Arnis Escrima, could you describe a typical training session back then for us?

 

—No because that would be evidence. Ha ha. 

We trained really hard and tried to hit each other with anything we could find; boards, baseball bats, crowbars, shovels and lead pipes! At that time we only understood the art as a stick art. We tried to test our speed and power constantly through stress testing each other. “What would you do if I did this?” Hit whack! Counter strike! Whack! Stitches. 

We were not what you call the most subtle guys at that time. We were consistent though. We tried to train every day. We were always in the park or the backyard. We even trained in the back of the Safeway by the dumpsters because there were lights back there. Another great place was the racquetball courts by my house in Huntington Beach California. Those were great days with a lot of laughing and bumps and bruises given in brotherhood. It was the “school of hard knocks” that every student should go through at some point in their development. 

Later came the refinement into bladed fighters but I still fondly remember those crazy days of blood sweat, and beers!

 

 

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Were there any social activities in the Giron Arnis Escrima community?

 

 

 

— yes I have great memories of barbecues after practice or weekends, anytime, and laughing and joking with my brothers and my Bahala Na family. Also we always made a habit of taking GME and GMT to lunch after our training in Stockton. I remember great fun hanging around with our brothers in Stockton and sharing a lot of laughs and family time. 

 

Other activities were demos and seminars to promote the art like at the Barrio Fiesta and Obon Festival events in Stockton. We worked with Little Manila and FANHS as we do now in many projects to paint and clean up old buildings in Little Manila like the Iloilo Circle Building and the Daguhoy Lodge. And we were always involved with helping the older residents of Stockton by bringing food, driving them to appointments and visiting often. 

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Part 2

Master Kirk McCune Bahala Na December 12, 2017 interviewed by Guro Frank Buechner

December 12, 2017 interviewed by Guro Frank Buechner 

Part 1

 

What were your first experiences in martial arts?

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— I didn’t find martial arts until later in my life. I’m thankful for finally finding the right match because martial arts has been great for me. It’s given me a physical outlet and something positive to do with my mind. I had one great class and instructor in general fighting before I came into the Filipino Martial Arts to stay. It was a street fighting class /self-defense class in Costa Mesa California. We did everything from wrestling to kick boxing to Silat to escrima. It was a very reality-based course. For instance we would do scenario training for muggings and the teacher would spray us with pepper spray. Ha ha. Or use a stun gun! There’s some great stories about attempting disarms against paintball guns. Every month we had one day called “application day” where you had to fight everyone in class for one minute with no tapping out. Man that got interesting to say the least. You had to watch out for the next class because they sometimes threw the application day one right after the other just so you would learn to fight hurt. Otherwise I had no formal training except roughhousing with my buddies growing up until I found Bahala Na.

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How did you first learn about Giron Arnis Escrima?

— The street fighting class ended and we started training in my yard. When we got sick of punching each other out we decided we wanted to become knife fighters because that seemed easier. We didn’t know what we were talking about to say the least! So we purchased a bunch of rubber knives and some goggles at the hardware store and started basically punching each other out but holding rubber knives like a bunch of idiots. Ha ha. To “win” you had to push your opponent through the hole in the fence and let the dog from next door bite his leg. Very sophisticated! 

Finally we were driving one day and saw a sign that said “Filipino Martial Arts”. True story my buddy says “hey a Filipino guy will stab you we should go there”. We were exposed to Mande Muda Silat, Inosanto Kali and Bahala Na Arnis Escrima. The owner was a recent graduate of Bahala Na as were many of the other students like Guro Mike Doctulero, Guro JJ Johnson and Tim Egberts. We went on to learn some basics and then soon left to play Bahala Na exclusively in Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley, CA.  This was around 1996. 

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How did you end up training with Grand Master Giron?

— as you know our art is a very family oriented art. So it was revealed to me as I grew in the methodology of our training that the fountain of knowledge flowed from GME Giron as our leader and founder. I drove the 6 hours to Stockton and had a funny experience with GME. I ended up waking him up and he slammed the door in my face! However he was only getting some keys and he asked me to open the basement to get everything ready to begin practice in the famous basement training area where the first graduate students of Bahala Na such as Guro Dan Inosanto, the late great Sifu Richard Bustillo and Guro Ted Lucaylay and many other illustrious escrimadors had played before. That’s where I happened to meet GM Tony, who thought I was robbing the basement! Haha. What a day for me! Actually GMT was very kind and welcoming. I soon saw that the knowledge was held between these two friends and lodge brothers. They were a strong team. 

 

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End of Part 1

On Blade Training

Blade training hones combative attributes including hand eye coordination, speed, distancing, agility, timing and intention within the practitioner. Consistent training grows fortitude and discipline. Bladed training is a legacy warrior pathway toward essential understanding. In this way bladed training is a force multiplier preparing the student to overcome violent attacks of all types; but specifically machete and knife attacks,up to multiple opponent attacks, which are rising in the world.

 

Blade training demands you accept that danger exists and that it can happen to you. Acceptance becomes the foundational core of spiritual fitness and allows the practitioner to take proactive steps towards self protection. To protect yourself and your family is the essence of the warrior legacy inherent in the bladed arts and is available to all of us. The sharp blade will cut out the modern fantasy that nothing bad can happen because nothing bad has happened in the past. 

The sharp blade well wield may kill the black swan.

 

Mind-set. Skill-set. Applied Intent. 

 

Tempering the Body and Mind; Positioning the Spirit and Will; Adapt and Do.

Bahala Na! Come What May. 

 

Proverb 27:17

As Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another.

 

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