Saimaa Camp 2023

This last weekend, Art Zenter Academy and Kali Majapahit Finland were invited to participate in the Saimaa Camp 2023. The outstanding location at Holiday Club Saimaa, Lappeenranta, and the fantastic weather made this camp a very unforgettable experience.

Katulong Guro David Muñoz González, as founder & director of Art Zenter Academy and head instructor of Kali Majapahit Finland, was honored to be in this Camp for the second year consecutive as a guest instructor. Check in the Youtube link below a short video of Guro David sharing empty hands flow in the Saima Camp 2023:

Big thanks to the organizers of the Camp, Jarkko and Heikki from Kombatan Lappeenranta, and big thanks to the Instructors and participants who did this possible, investing their time, passion, experience, energy, wisdom, and knowledge to preserve and continue transmitting the Martial Arts spirit from generation to generation.

Great and high-level instructors at the Camp:

Tomi Harell – Kombatan & Mano Mano Finland
Joel Pentikäinen – Kombatan & Mano Mano Finland
Kaj Tepponen – Jeet Kune Do Finland (Wing Chun & Kali)

Brief resume, reflections, and conclusions from David Muñoz González:

A Camp is always a camp…so explaining deeper this sentence more, a Camp always means stepping out of our comfort zone and exposing ourselves to the uncertainty of new people, styles, energies, cultures, places, training dojos or tatamis, weather conditions, etc. This can be analyzed from the fear side as too many new things upcoming so, it will be a big threat creating in us stress about a future that did not happen yet, OR!…we can see like an opportunity to grow up as martial artist but especially, and luckily nowadays, as human being interacting and socializing with other human beings with same interests. It is your choice which side to be on…I am happy since I feel I have grown so much with this Camp, so you can guess which side I am on 🙂

In the Camp, there were many people with different backgrounds in martial arts, movement, and combat sports, different skills, ages, strengths, mobilities, and style understanding levels but this did not reduce the profound respect, friendly attitude, and enjoyment during the whole weekend practice between all the participants and instructors.

Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) with Kombatan, Mano Mano, Kali Majapahit, Kali Inosanto, then Jeet Kune Do (JKD), and Wing Chun were the main disciplines or styles shown and shared during the weekend. It is easy from the short understanding of all of them that they are too different and far away from each other, but we all discovered a bit more, during the 11 hours of the Camp, how close and complementary can be all of them.

After almost 30 years in the martial arts world in an active way learning always from different teachers, pupils, and styles, in different countries and contexts (Dojos, Tamamis, Sports centers, streets, etc), I started to understand years ago that repetition is an important part of the learning process but we can not forget to step back for a while from the repetition to observe with more clarity which is the principle that applies in the technique which makes it works. So capturing the principles, the basics, the roots, and the why of every technique and movement should be sooner than later the priority of every martial artist and mover in general. Without these principles, everything gets the individual dimensions, isolated and with no connection with other movements and techniques which is not true. Discovering these principles makes easier the art of learning and the digestion process, it moves the practitioner level to new dimensions, awaking curiosity, creativity, observation, and general awareness.

So, the principles we saw in this camp does probably not differ from the principles shown in other martial arts camps since they are universals like gravity.

Joel Pentikäinen, from Kombatan & Mano Mano Finland, was showing a very practical and minimalist defense and counter knife vs. Knife, in the same way, single stick vs. Stick, which perfectly could be applied to the medium blade or machete vs. Machete, with 3 or 5 counts sumbrada introducing following ups in the countering with the upper body (freehand) or lower body with front kicks.

On the other hand, Tomi Harrell from Kombatan & Mano Mano Finland was showing us different ways of trapping hands and defending ourselves in the “corto mano” (short distance) and how to operate with the body in a very stressful and risky situation against a knife attack even from the floor with multiple attackers.

Kaj Tepponen from Jeet Kune Do Finland, Wing Chun & Kali Inosanto was doing great work flowing in 3 counts sumbrada and punio (fist) sumbrada variations with a single stick vs. Stick in 3 distances: “largo, medio, corto mano” (long, medium, short distance), and getting us really engaged, and confused about whose hand is whose, in a short distance with a very lineal chaining empty hands work, occupying the center line and always pushing forward.

Finally, I was presenting a very basic work of “cabca 2” with empty hands, consisting in defending with the same hand the high line of the attack and redirecting to the low line to open new possibilities or what we call “windows” to continue the follow up of the technique or Tuloy Tuloy (free flow), how it is called in our Kali Majapahit system. This empty-hand work follow-up was escalating and evolving toward different subsystems like Panuntukan (Filipino dirty boxing), Sikaran (Filipino kickboxing), Trankada (Filipino dynamic locks), or Dumog (Filipino wrestling/grappling). We also saw how to equalize a knife attack by defending with a karambit (curved knife with a ring) and applying the “cabca 2” as we learned with empty hands.

Congratulations if you are not a martial artist or you just started martial arts, and you get reading until here because all these weird texts are resumed by the main principles that all the teachers were applying in a natural way like the important:

* Footwork: in every movement and technique with no exception, no matter the style, the key is the footwork.

* Adaptation, and maneuvering the right distance always depend on the attack, attacker, context, etc. Mastering the right distance is crucial in martial arts.

* The right timing to apply a defense, counter, evade, block…, so no matter how much you know if your timing is not precise the rest is invalid.

* The 3F´s: Freeze, Fight, or Flight, so every response or reaction against an attack or critical situation is trying, with previous training or experiences, to reduce the freezing moment to just fight back as soon as possible or flight running in the opposite direction. The less freezing gap is what will determine the result of the situation.

* The right speed, since it is great to have a great sense of timing against an attack but without the right speed again everything is invalid. All martial arts need speed in the execution of their techniques, but in Filipino Martial Arts is absolutely mandatory.

* The right power, so we do not want to do friendly sparring with our attacker, we want to solve the critical situation as soon/fast as possible. In this way, if you decided to fight back the attack, whatever the reason is for it, you need to end soon and fast with the minimum movements possible, and this requires the right power in the right spots/targets. This is only achieved by “luck” or hard/long training experience in martial arts, combat/military/police systems, or a lot of previous street fight experience.

* The need to unbalance your attacker finding the weak angles, winning the center line in the execution of the technique.

* Mastering the understanding of the action/reaction and push/pull involved in each movement and technique.

* Finally, and probably the most important one is the right mindset if you decided to fight back an attack. It is what we call in our training…” the eyes of the tiger”. Without the right mindset, it is very difficult to fight back a real attack since you only have in the best scenario the right principles we were talking about before but not the spirit involved in the defense, not the belief in you, not the warrior mode activated to really be able to succeed and survive any kind of physical attack, especially if weapons are involved. This right mindset in a real attack needs to be activated almost instantly when the attack is received or even before the attack is on you since it can be too late if we did not see the attack coming previously. For this, it is needed to develop and trust in our personal intuition that provides us clues to prevent the fight or attack, but this topic is too wide to talk now about it and it needs conscious and continuous training in the long term to develop it.

So, from this blog, I encourage you to keep going on your daily training, whatever your style is, and for those who did not start martial arts training yet, this is a formal invitation to do it, you will never regret the decision because sooner or later you will discover that the only fight we will always need to face and win that is the one within us. Once we face it and win ourselves from the understanding, processing, understanding, and accepting of ourselves, then we can walk in this world with a better inner balance, with better body mechanics awareness, and the best is that we can walk this world confident enough as peaceful warriors.

Thanks and see you in the Dojo…