Stick Fighting Seminar

I just returned to the U.S. after a two week visit to my homeland, Australia.

It’s been 6 and half years since my wife and I decided to move from Melbourne to the southern California and while we’ve been back several times since, it had been 2 years since we were last there, so we were eager to see family and friends.

I often get asked in the US, “Wow, Australia. How long does it take to get there? I’d love to go there one day…”

The flight from LAX to Melbourne is around 15 hours or so, but this time we had a couple of hours in Sydney before heading to Melbourne, so the entire trip door to door was actually about 25 hours. We left Friday night and arrived Sunday lunchtime, with Saturday vanishing into thin air as we crossed the International Date Line.

The flight itself was fine and the vibration of the engines lulled our 7 month old daughter to sleep. She barely made a sound for the entire journey, so I guess we’re lucky, as friends tell me horror stories of their travels with their little ones.

Anyhow Melbourne greeted us with a sunny spring day, and our challenge for the next couple of days was to adjust to the new time zone. At the moment the difference is 19 hours between Pacific Standard Time and Australian Eastern Standard Time, so arriving lunchtime Sunday was really about 5pm Saturday night PST.
Hello jetlag.
This time the reason for the visit was very different to the last time, in which I visited twice within a 6 week period to say my goodbyes to my father as he went through his final battle with cancer. This time my visit was much more fun despite getting the flu 4 days into the trip. This time I came to teach some stick fighting seminars.

In addition to teaching karate I’m also an instructor for the Pakamut system. It’s the original fighting art of the Philippines. You may have heard of it referred to as Arnis, Kali and Eskrima, which are the Spanish names for the Filipino system. You can read more about the Pakamut system here (

In short, the Pakamut system is a complete system most often with stick or knife in hand involving short, middle and long range techniques.
In many way it’s similar to karate with strikes, blocks, throws, locks and holds, and yet in other ways it’s very different… mostly with it’s circular movements versus the linear movements so often taught in karate.
While I’ve been practicing stick fighting for nearly as long as karate, a couple of years ago I had the good fortune of meeting Master Felix Roiles, head of Pakamut International.
Master Felix filled in the blanks, gave me the rest of the pieces to the puzzle, and now I’m happy to teach the system to anyone who likes to learn and further their knowledge – just like my friend Tim (above) who insisted that I choke him out.
Of course I was pleased to oblige. =)

This is just one simple choke in the system in which the stick braces the back of the neck while the forearms form the triangle choke. Very painful and very effective when done correctly.

Part of the course I taught involved some full contact sparring, which everyone seemed to love. There’s something about putting on the armor that brings out the warrior within.

Unlike karate tournament fighting, targets include the hands, arms, body and head. Basically anything that is covered by armor is allowed to be struck with full force.

Think the armor absorbs all the pain? Think again. But for those who think armor is for the weak, sometimes we just spar with head and hand protection – no body armor at all. If you watched shows like “The Human Weapon” or “Fight Quest”, and caught the stick fighting episodes let me tell you those bruises are real. And they hurt like hell.

All in all the course was well received with over 60 people attending the two seminars. And I’ve got to say I had as much fun teaching as the students did learning.
A special thanks to everyone who attended and those who made it possible. Keep practicing what you learned and I’ll see you next year for more!

– Jason

Assistant Karate Instructors

Many karate instructors are of the belief that they are the *only* instructor who can teach at their school. They believe that nobody can do as good a job as them, therefore they are very reluctant to let anyone else teach.

This is the classic “technician” mindset that Michael Gerber, author of The E-myth, describes.

I know I used to suffer from this belief, and for years I wouldn’t let anyone else teach either. That was until I started teaching 25 classes per week. After a while I became so physically, emotionally and mentally drained as my own teaching standard declined. Teaching 5 hours per day, one class after the other, I soon realized that I had to take a seat as the passenger and let others take the wheel every now and again.

When I first let go of the reigns, I was very critical of the way my students were teaching my classes. After all they’d never really learned to teach, they’d just modelled the way I taught as best they could. And without the thousands of hours of “flight time”, how could I possibly expect them to teach to the same standard right away?

It’s a catch 22.

Just about all of us want our students to be great instructors one day, but if we don’t let them try and fail like we did, how can they ever become better?

Take a step to the side and let some of your students impart with the knowledge that they’ve gained. You’ll appreciate the time off and feel more energized when you do teach. Your new instructors will be delighted with the opportunity, and your students will enjoy a different spin on class.

As I write this blog from the other side of the world, I have every faith in my assistants running my school while I’m away. That’s because a few years ago I started helping them develop their teaching skills, and now they relish the opportunity and I know they’re more than competent.

Where will you be in a couple of years? Will you be the only instructor clutching to your power? Or will you support and nurture your students’ growth?

Karate Games – The Listening Game

A great way to warm up your karate student’s minds and bodies is of course to issue challenges and use games, particularly with younger students.

This is one of my favorite karate games that’ll challenge both your kids and adult classes.

It’s called “The Listening Game”.

I’m not sure where it came from originally, but it’s one that I did years ago with my instructor and still use today with my classes.

Here’s how it works.

Students face a partner so that they make 2 lines across the center of the room.

There are 5 commands…

“Ichi” = students must squat down

“Ni” = students must stand up

“San” = students must turn around 360 degrees once

“Change” = students must change position with their partner

“Run” = students must either run to the side of the room behind them, or back to the middle depending on their position

You call the commands and your students must perform the corresponding action as quickly as they can. The game begins when you say, “The game has begun”. And tell them it finishes when you say “The game has ended.”

Call the commands with plenty of time between each, to give your students a chance. As soon as somebody makes a mistake, they are eliminated from the game and take a seat to the side. The last person remaining is declared the winner.

When the game begins make it easy so students can get used to the commands and actions.

Then after 30 seconds or so, increase the difficultly with the following ideas.

– call the commands with less time between each so the game becomes faster

– call multiple commands in one hit – eg. Ichi, Ni, Run

– when your students are in the squat position, call “Ichi” (the squat position command), and you’ll almost always get someone to stand up. Try the same from the stand position, by calling “Ni” and you’ll get someone to squat.

– ask your students to relax and sit down

– throw in regular commands and karate terminology to add confusion with the following examples:

“Down” instead of “ichi”

“Up” instead of “ni”

“Switch” instead of “change”

“Spin” instead of “san”


– what else can you think of?

Points to note…

1) Make the game fun. Laugh and enjoy it.

2) When someone makes a mistake, reinforce the commands so they learn by saying, “There’s no down there is only what?” and your class should answer “Ichi”.

3) When students mess up and perform a command that’s not one of the 5 commands, you can then ask them, “What’s the game called???” and “How many commands!??”

The Listening Game is supposed to be an enjoyable warm-up game for all ages, so teach it that way.

Of course if you want a bunch of more ideas for class check out my 125 Dynamite Drills which has a ton of karate drills and exercises for keeping your classes fresh and students motivated.

Until next time…

What’s the game called?