The maturity level is quite contagious, but still the childish in us remains the same as always and forever. We never outgrow our wishful lists or bucket lists and many times we forget who we are when we are in our “own” space. Being one of many in the “Golden years” is just another day in the park and to some with blessings. With Doug Vaughan and Cheryl Basil, both are accomplished black belts already. And to my amazement, both of them wish to gain more knowledge and earn another certificate of proficiency in another martial arts –comes Filipino Kali. The challenge is always there, never ending and never ceasing and always moving. They are preparing for their black belt in TAMA Filipino Kali System. Honorable students they are. Not many people are honorable these days. I am honored to be part of their lives.
When I first moved to Dayton, in 1976, little did my students know that I have been practicing the arts of Filipino Kali from my family art that stems from generation past. I have always been taught NOT to say anything to anyone about how much you know about certain things, if not, say nothing at all. This was the case when Grandmaster Gasper tested me for my 6th Degree (Dan) Black Belt in Shaolin Kempo. I had to fly out to Independence, Missouri for my test. He picked me up at the airport and proceeded straight to the gym and not to the hotel but the gym for my test. He couldn’t wait to test me since I had lived in Ohio and he moved back to Missouri. We both were in Alamogordo, New Mexico and that is how I came to meet him.
How I came to meet Grandmaster Gasper….I was taking this Tang Soo Doo class from master Daryl King who is a friend of my brother Alex. My brother Alex who taught me and still was teaching me privately took me to his friend’s martial arts club at the base at Holloman Air Force Base and signed me up for master King’s class. After about close to a year or so, I heard a thump, thump and heavy thump next door. I was sitting next to the door that happens to lead to another huge room. For my curiosity, I opened the door slightly and saw Grandmaster Gasper throwing students on the floor making that heavy thump sound that students are making and taking the fall on the mat. I said to myself, “that is where I needed to go and needed to be.” Without hesitation, I discussed things with my brother about what I had in mind. Since he is my first family martial arts instructor, I wanted to join Grandmaster Gasper’s martial arts class. I went to Master Daryl King personally with respect and respectfully bowed out of his class. I immediately join Grandmaster Gasper’s class in Shaolin Kempo. It is a hybrid of traditional Chinese martial arts (Five animal systems, Chin Na, meditation, and healing), judo, and jiujitsu that GM Gasper’s was teaching.
So after all these years on the day of my 6th Dan Black Belt test, he asked me, “Why did you not tell me that you knew Filipino martial arts?” I replied, “Sifu, you have never asked me until now.” I was always quiet and very reserved in the class. I went into the class and went out. I did not socialize. I did my thing, and I was too introvert at that time. You could never tell that I was. And no one knew that I also studied another martial art called Shotokan karate from my brother Alex, who was a champion in Kumite (fighting division) in 1964 in Manila.
Seeing these two students here at TAMA both Cheryl Basil and Doug Vaughan is quite invigorating since they are in the golden years like myself. Doug is like a busy bee and Cheryl is more analytical. They inspire me. They are not the only ones that are in the “Golden Years..” Dr. Michael Timpone is with us for many years and have achieved his Black Sash many years ago and still going strong. And there is Larry Curk who is 79 still comes to work out with me privately. Many students are over 55 and over 60 who is still training at TAMA in the group class and very active to this day. This is their Golden Years. I must not forget it is still my golden years in martial arts too.