Brothers in Arms

Apologies for the delay in writing this blog post. The last month has been quite hectic for me. Completing my Diploma in Management and Leadership has very taxing and I am so glad I no longer have to spend hours in front of the laptop doing assessments, when I could be writing my blog.

I have also been preparing to go away for a few weeks overseas for my cousin's wedding and in between training a small group of students, plus building the business has left me little time to write a blog let alone film a video. As you may have seen we have had some exciting news on our Facebook page, we have a new instructor working with us named Michelle. You can read more about her in her biography page on the menu above. Plus, we have formed some alliances with some interesting people who will contribute much to our business. We will interview them all over the coming weeks.

But, this post today is a spotlight on a special collaboration with a new instructor who has chosen to work alongside our business. I would like you to meet Noel from KOMBOKAN Street Defence. I actually met Noel, through an online public forum about Community Safety. We both have mutual friends in common, Phil and Jeremy who are long time friends who I trained with doing Close Quarters Combat together at ICS. We then became Facebook friends and spoke on the phone and found out we have shared values in regards to teaching and training, but in general we have much in common.

We connected in person at a luncheon held at a Chinese Yum Cha restaurant. It was held by Graham Slater an important person in the Martial Art scene. I felt privilged that Graham invited me to this luncheon as one of the special guests at this event was none other then Richard Norton.

I have trained with Richard personally a few times back in 2010 and was in awe of the man. He despite being in his 60's is very fit for his age and lightening quick in the ring. Richard and I had a chat and I told him about what we do and he seemed excited about the work that Personal Protection Training is doing in the community.

Noel and I took an opportunity to have our photo taken with Richard and I have since been in contact with Noel. Noel and I will be collaborating together at the end of the year and I wish to learn more about his training system. I asked Noel if he would like to be interviewed and he gladly accepted. Noel despite his achievements is a very humble man which is why I look forward to working with him.

What age did you start your martial art training?

I started training in traditional martial arts at the age of 7 years under the Davao Karate Club under GM Martin Cenojas. I pursued my discipline in General Santos City under GM Billy Quinones of the ABAMA Martial Arts Academy.

Where did you learn your craft and who taught you?

I have been taught by few local unknown instructors and "fighters" who worked as laborers. I could no longer remember them by their first names. My only surviving instructor is Mang Jun Ometer whom I fondly call. He was the founder of the COJUKA System which is the foundation of my pragmatic fighting skills. I was among his last few students

Why did you take up training?

I trained because of the need to defend myself. I grew up being physically bullied and my mother who is a well-known ballet teacher insisted that I get trained. She hired the best local instructors to have me taught privately. One of them was Mang Jun.

Who has influenced you in regards to martial art training and principles?

My mother influenced me to go into Martial Arts Training. She always was beaten up and having to fight all the time in and out of school. I also taught myself to fight dirty because of the need to defend myself which helped me build my self-confidence

Have you ever had to use your training to protect yourself?

Yes I had used my skills to protect myself and to keep myself safe all the time at work and personally. I will not consider the number of times I fought as a child as I find that irrelevant. However, I worked as a former banker handling credit and collection in various areas of Mindanao Philippines where I had to be alert in most times. I also worked in retail both the UK and Australia in rough environments. I was frequently called to help escort staff away from aggressive customers. A number of times, I defended myself against aggressive individuals on bus stops on my way home.

Tell us more about your teaching methods and how it differs from other styles out there.

My teaching methods are unique and practical. I do it the reverse way - teaching reflexes first then progressing into some forms of techniques. I always believe every individual is different, hence, I can't teach one the same technique. Studying the individual's ability to move is the key factor why students stay. I like it unstructured and pragmatic. First I give my students practical drills to begin with and I immediately go to sparring mode and then they later start discovering their abilities to fight.

What is the most rewarding thing about being an instructor?

Learning from others. Being an instructor is also being a coach, a mentor, a teacher and a friend - and ultimately a brother. We deal with people's lives. You become part of their lives

What are you thoughts on the current martial art landscape? For example, the decline in popularity of traditional arts compared to arts like MMA and BJJ?

There are 4 types of "Martial Arts" - Traditional, Competitive, Mixed Martial Arts, Combative and Urban Self-Defence (Realistic). I believe this is all about marketing. People don't want to spend more money and time to learn hence, they want to go whichever is popular. Martial Arts must be a personal choice and one must be good at it to be able to use it realistically.

What benefits can people receive from taking up training in your syle of Kombokan?

KOMBOKAN is a fight-philosophy. It is a countering-system. We teach people to defend and fight using the most practical ways and means. We have methods (not just techniques) called the Triangular Strike Flow and the Strategic Counter Positioning. These methods help students develop their own techniques and be able to flow from one to the next.

Any words of advice for up and coming instructors and practitioners of martial arts?

I would always borrow the words from Bruce Lee: "Always be yourself and express yourself." However, I always add, continue to discover and develop yourself. That is who we are as Martial Artists. I also have a motto which I swear by: "He who counters the fastest wins the fight"

Thanks for participating in this interview Noel. I look forward to working with you.I have really enjoyed this interview and your perspectives on training. Please watch this video to get a taste of it for yourself.

If you want to learn more about KOMBOKAN please click the keyword in this paragraph and it will take you the webpage. Alternatively, keep checking the Facebook page for more information about an upcoming workshop Noel and I will be hosting together. Details are to be announced.

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