Did you miss what happened Sunday?

Some of what we worked on this past Sunday, March 18th.

Rick Vargas Kali Silat and Self Defense, at Black Lightning Martial Arts.

We watched some clips of various types of Kali fighting.  Thanks to Youtube for being a vast archive of material.  We will do similar show and tells regularly, as I’d like you to have to have the fullest picture of this martial arts practice possible, I encourage you to research for yourselves as well.

  • Footwork!  Going to be lots of that, with and without weapons, and on levels 2-3-4.
  • 5 ct Sumbrada.
  • Level 1 smakstick sparring.
  • Rolling.  Or was that last week 🙂
  • Heaven six and variations.
  • Street fighting self defense skills.
  • The Russian Martial Art SYSTEMA was introduced.  I introduced movement drills and “zombie walk” which used to be a favorite of my younger students in Virginia.  We will be adding to that as we go on this journey.
  • Oh, we also began projectiles.

My guys and Black Lightning students, you are on a fixed drop in fee, that wont change for any of you.  New rates or structures may be applicable to new students in the near future. It will still be an incredible value.

Encourage  friends and family you like and trust to try our training group out, consider that its at a convenient time, small drop in fee ($10.00, cash, visa, mastercard accepted, no checks), no uniforms, and we work within your physical capabilities and limitations, plus it’s kinda fun! Adults preferred, exceptional children and under 18 only as recommended by Chris or Joe from Black Lightning.


Black Lightning Martial Arts
961 Diplomat Dr. Ste. 103
Debary, Fl 32713
(386) 337-5056

We are located in the Live Oak Center off of Enterprise Rd. in
Debary/Orange City.
Serving Debary, Orange City, Deltona, Sanford, Deland, Lake Helen, and Osteen.
Offering Karate, Taekwondo, Jujitsu, Kickboxing and several other martial arts to Children and Adults

KALI SILAT INSTRUCTOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DECLINE AN INDIVIDUALS PARTICIPATION AT ANY TIME. The training is intended for law abiding, well mannered individuals of good character and sound mind, as determined by the instructor.

Disappointed at the state of martial arts in my area.

I’m disappointed at the state of martial arts in my area.

But that’s no excuse for the lack of common courtesy displayed by most instructors to a visitor walking in the door.  Of several schools I have visited, the most common reception is…nothing, they may glance your way, then ignore you, presumably because they have a class going on.  Not acceptable.  Courtesy is one of the values they supposedly teach, yet given the opportunity with a visitor and potential customer, the teachers neglect it.  At this point the visitor should be passing negative judgment,  I do, just as unapologetically as their pretension of importance.  I have sat through an entire class without anyone greeting me.  It takes a split second to graciously call out. “Hello, welcome, If you can wait I’ll be with you shortly,” and in a gap, and there are gaps, approach the visitor and offer information, or ask them to stay a little longer so you can speak with them.

Which brings me to my next point; the brusque “Can I help you?”  “Yes, I want three pepperoni pizzas and a bottle of coke.”  It’s a martial arts school, what can they possibly be there for, hmmm?  Usually it comes off as “Whaddaya want?” and sort of standoffish.

How about “Hello, Please come in.  I’m Mr./Mrs. Soandso, the instructor,  your name?  Are you interested in martial arts/do you have any martial arts experience?”  In a courteous and pleasant manner.  Respect and engage the visitor, don’t treat them like they are disturbing you, how dare they, you have a black belt…

I’ve had one guy talk to me for twenty minutes, without knowing a thing about me, or asking me anything other than “you lookin to train, you wanna join our school,” telling me all the martial arts he knows, everything they teach, even telling me “I can teach you how to fight…”  I barely got a word in edgewise that I was just visiting schools to get to know instructors, and thanks, I gotta (want to!) go now.

The teaching and training. It is boxed in with kid stuff, public performance, athletics, and tough guy posturing and focus.  What’s missing?  The part of martial arts that is martial, effective, and for everybody including women, and post 40 year olds.  Back to this later.

Some of these instructors can’t do their own class, they are out of shape and look like they don’t really train much for themselves, they just “teach.”  I think you, as an instructor should maintain a degree a training for yourself.  There is a conundrum though.  It”s tricky, because in boxing for example, the world’s best trainers are older, heavier, and some even have severe medical issues.  What’s the difference?  The boxing trainers don’t have the image presumption that they are qualified because they themselves are great fighters.  They are great “coaches.”

Walk into a common martial arts place and they guy will puff his chest, center his belt, and point to a picture of him in a fighting pose “that’s me!  I can make you like that!”  Most great boxing coaches don’t have that air, or anything like that to prove.  They’re valuable because of the quality of knowledge and skills they impart to their “students.”

Rigidity.  I have been fortunate to have instructors who encouraged you to learn from other instructors and systems, and who themselves drew from other sources and even adapted or innovated.

However, most taekwondo instructors and schools “belong” to one organization or another, and stick to the book of that group, nothing outside the tradition permitted, only one variation of round kick allowed.  Most MMA schools springing up all over the place do not train weapons.  Krav Maga is popular, but would never incorporate Systema or JKD training in their space.

Rigidity also presents itself in how they can train students.

Apart from the “kid stuff” and athletic stuff, most are hard pressed to train the more mature individual.  Someone in their 40’s & 50’s who is more stable and can now do things they’ve wanted to but couldn’t in earlier years.  Those individuals will be out of place physically and psychologically in the atmosphere of the Spartan “fighter” and lots of other “conditioning” training which is set to the standard of someone half their age.  With that individual I would go straight to the art and skills training in the available training time, after all that’s what sets martial arts apart from zumba…

So,  I’m doing my own thing.

I train a small group in the outdoors and privately cause schools won’t make a time slot for what I do.   It’s diverse training, based in Kali Silat, and drawing from JKD, Kickboxing, Systema, and my own experience and innovation.

I try to make sure that the average, mature, non martial arts, non athletic, man or woman can learn what I teach, a little self defense, and feel comfortable while at it.  I train for myself pretty consistently.  I continue to expand my knowledge and develop my skills appropriately.  Most of all, I endeavor to live out the values that I learned from the martial arts, including courtesy, respect, sensitivity, and generosity.  🙂

English: Pictogram of Mixed martial arts

Citizen Martial Artist


Systema (Photo credit: vissago)

There are some mistaken ideas out there about martial arts practitioners, like the one that to be interested in the martial arts you must have been bullied as a child, or had to  be an underachiever who needed focus, or you are uber aggressive and need discipline.  The worst one, I think, is that you have to be, or want to be, this Super Soldier, a tall, lean mean, tough, super strong and fast as lightning man, for whom nothing is impossible and everything he does is right and perfect, and is out to get the bad guys.

Mere mortals need not apply, unless you are a wimp who needs this guy’s rigorous guidance to try to be like him.

I’ll tell you something I heard from Vladimir Vasiliev, the head of Systema, the Russian Martial Art, a practice that has influenced me a bunch.  He explained that in ancient Russia, being a very large country, there wasn’t a standing army available to protect every village, especially in remote areas.  There were however, bands of outlaws, looters, citizens of other villages who might attack your community for its resources or any number of causes.  With no military garrison stationed in a fort, who could come to their aid?

Well, the villagers had to be ready to defend themselves; the herdsman with his whip, the farmer with his rake, the hunter with his arrow, the butcher, the baker, the women who spun cloth, the brewer! people who already had full-time, demanding jobs. These were people who were not, and could not be full-time martial arts professionals. Yet, each knew enough to defend themselves, they had training modules that fit their time and lifestyles, and when banded together, they were able be their own spontaneous, military force.  When the threat was over, they returned to day-to-day life without missing a beat.  What an amazing concept, ordinary, everyday, working people, capable of defending themselves.

That was then, this is now.  Marc Denny, the current head of a martial arts group called the Dog Brothers, has said he believes (and I agree!) that individuals should have enough training to be able to form “a spontaneous militia” to combat terrorism if it presents itself in our midst.  Consider this; there were four or five terrorists with box cutters on a plane on 9-11, and how many passengers? Can say 15 men take on 4?  Fear is a powerful thing, but it goes both ways, you can be frozen by fear, or launched by it.

Someone else has already used the line “passengers of flight 93, you are my heroes.”  They acted martially, and saved lives, though they lost their own.  At that moment they were more martial artist than the guy with the cool uniform and thick belt with tons of stripes.