December 12, 2017 interviewed by Guro Frank Buechner
What were your first experiences in martial arts?
— 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.
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.
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.
End of Part 1