Founder Joe Robaina has dedicated his life to the pursuit of physical, mental, and spiritual refinement via the martial arts. His formal martial arts training began in the 70s and continues to this day.
1970s – At an early age begins his martial arts training in western boxing and Judo where he does well enough to be invited to junior Olympics. Eventually earns black belt in Judo.
1980s -Looks to diversify martial arts skills and takes up Taekwondo. Earns black belt.
Blood, sweat,forget the tears in the early days.
1990s – Discovers Isshinryu Karate and eventually earns black belt. Searches for refinement of street self defense skills. Meets two individuals that would influenece the course of his martial arts training forever and gains an appreciation for realistic street self defense. The two men are Sifu Tony Deleon, founder of Tada Ken and Shihan Nelson Ricardo, founder of Kumite Ryu Aikijujutsu. Both had first hand experience with street survival skills. Tony Deleon was a essentially a street fighter from Chicago who trained in kickboxing and the chinese martial arts. In his youth was involved in gang activity and soon realized he wanted out. Disgruntled gang members took it up with him personally and Tony barely escaped with his life suffering numerous injuries. This experience led to his development of the brutal street survival martial art, Tada Ken, “the free fist”. Robaina became Deleon’s personal student after a quick hands-on demo of Deleon’s street fighting ability. Robaina describes Deleon as “a 5’11, 195lb version of Bruce Lee”. Deleon only accepted private students and was extremely picky about whom he chose to teach. In Miami, Robaina was one of only two of his personal students. Much of Robaina’s training came in the way of challenges from other martial artists. Deleon had a reputation for overwhelming all challengers and expected his students to do likewise.
Robaina as Brown Belt in private training with TDK Founder Deleon.
The other half of his training focused on street survival self defense. In Robaina’s words “Sifu Deleon engrained a reflex response in my nerve system that was essential for street survival. A form of refined, explosive violence”.
Deleon focused more on his acting and has worked with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenagger, Jaimee Lee Curtis, John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone, and Bolo Yeung among others.
Tony Deleon, Founder of Tada-Ken
Shihan Nelson Ricardo was a student of the legendary Japanese GrandMaster Junji Saito of Hakko-Ryu Jujutsu and Yoshitsune Waza. He served in the military as a Green Beret. Robaina met Ricardo via Frank Hernandez a Ninjutsu stylist who was bouncing at a bar and witnessed Ricardo’s street fighting prowess as he incapacitated a larger, agressive, adversary within three seconds of the confrontation. As Hernandez escorted Ricardo out of the bar, he inquired where he had picked up those skills. Ricardo invited him to his Vanderbuilt Dojo. Hernandez introduced Robaina who soon became a private student of Ricardo. The training was 100% street self defense. Hardcore fighting every week and knife defenses were carried out with a live blade. Robaina says “Every week was a no holds barred UFC at the Vanderbuilt Dojo. The training was carried out military style and if you survived in that dojo you were prepared for anything.” Robaina eventually became Ricardo’s highest rank and the first ever Godan, Fifth Degree, Shihan (Master Instructor) rank ever awarded by Ricardo.
"Lights out" followed by resuscitation was common while training with Shihan Ricardo.
After Hurricane Andrew demolished the Vanderbuilt Dojo, Robaina found a dojo that immediately embraced his style of training and he began teaching there. He eventually taught for the Miami Dade Public School system where he was forced to “tone down” the intensity of the training.
Robaina would open a small facility where he taught only private students, the way he was taught for most of his training.
Teaching Aikijujutsu/Aikido in the 90's.
With both of his instructors retired from teaching, Robaina began researching the art of Hapkido since it seemed to be the most congruent with the practical street defense training he had been exposed to. His research led him to John Pellgrini Founder of Combat Hapkido and Black Belt Hall of Famer. Robaina eventually became a Master Instructor for Pellegrini’s ICHF and at the time, one of only two seminar instructors.
With Hapkido GrandMasters Pellegrini and In Su Seo of Korea.
The art of Hapkido incorporated the use of the walking cane as a legal self defense tool. This immediately made sense to Robaina who had trained in traditional weapons such as bokken, jo, bo, sai, nunchaku, knife, and stick. In retrospect Robaina asks ” What sense was there in alloting so much time training with a weapon you wouldn’t be able to have with you when you needed it?” The cane was a tool that was innocuos looking and was legal to carry everywhere. Robaina takes to serious cane training and comes to the following realization: “Most street attacks these days involve the use of weapons. Attackers know many people today are trained in self defense so they all carry a weapon. Whether it be a knife, gun, shank, baseball bat, lead pipe…it gives the assailant a significant advantage even if you’re trained in empty hand combat. We teach empty hand defenses against weapons as a last resort. You’re really better off running away. The reality is, in today’s world, if you’re not carrying a self defense tool, you’re not serious about self defense.”
In 1997 Robaina meets an individual who not only came to his same conclusions, he was already promoting the cane as a self defense tool and competing with it in kata tournaments. This was Mark Shuey Sr. of Reno Nevada and his Cane Masters company. “We met at a workshop in Florida and we hit it off from the onset. He immediately realized that unlike most of the martial artists he was coming across, I understood the power of the cane. My enthusiasm for the cane was way above average. ” Shuey was also the maker of the hardwood canes that influenced Robaina’s cane self defense strategy. “Back then there was no regard for the actual canes themselves. Everyone was training with medical canes that would not hold up to a lead pipe. Mark Shuey changed that forever.”
Robaina and Shuey have been “Raising Cane” for over a decade. They still collaborate on projects to promote the art
The cane became a focus of every class Robaina taught. From the onset however, he taught the cane differently. From day one, he understood the relationship between the cane and the empty hand. This made perfect sense to him as most of the Japanese style applications he was taught came from the sword. He uses the term “translations” to describe the empty hand interpretations of the cane techniques. Not all his students are instant fans of the cane and his new approach. Many begin to look elsewhere and are swept up by the mixed martial arts craze going as far as competing in organized competition using the empty hand skills they learned from him. Robaina reminds everyone, that he never taught the arts for competition or sport and his methods are strictly for self defense.
From the onset, a distinctive way of presenting the cane.
2000s – Becomes only the 10th CaneMaster awarded by Mark Shuey Sr. By now it’s evident Robania has taken the sum of his martial arts education which is constantly expanding and is expressing it through the cane. He not only teaches self defense with the cane but drawing from from his professional background as a health and fitness professional adds components of conditioning, healing and recuperation. It’s obvious his methods are unique and he opens up a headquarters to pass on his methods to a select few. Robaina has gone beyond presenting the cane as an adjunct to a martial art or a self defense tool. He has developed a martial art he calls “Cane-Do” or “the way of the cane”. He calls his method Cane-Do Kai U.S.A. introducing it as an American martial art.
Cane-Do Kai U.S.A.: "Never Walk In Fear Again!"
He develops an introductory six DVD series to give martial artists and the interested public a taste of his methods. The series demonstrates many firsts including empty hand translations, cane grappling, cane throwing, defenses against weapons and cane sparring. It is well recieved by the cane community and Mark Shuey’s Cane Masters becomes a distributor. Thanks to Mark Shuey’s exposure of “Cane-Fu” (cane self defense for the elderly), the media’s research leads to Robaina. For the first time, Robaina presents his method as an American Martial Art to the public. He develops an abbreviated curriculum for civilians he calls American Cane Self Defense (ACSD) and in June of 2009 begins teaching the first ever ACSD/Cane-Fu certification workshops for instructors. He has been interviwed by the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and made T.V appearances on the South Florida Today Show, Telemundo, and CBS 4 .
Robaina becomes the first to introduce the Cane as a complete martial art (Cane-Do Kai U.S.A.) consisting of “50% cane, 50% empty hand” to the media and general public.
He teaches handful of students from the Cane-Do Kai U.S.A. headquarters in Miami, Florida and develops a cane self defense home study course for those who don’t have access to the art and wish to learn directly from him. Cane Self Defense Home Study Course! He offers online training via live broadcast for members all over the world. Recently, Mark Shuey recognized Robaina as the first ever Senior Cane Master and in June of 2008, Tony Deleon appointed Robaina as the Head Master of Tada Ken.
Joe Robaina is dedicated to promoting the benefits of martial arts training for self development. As a Doctor of Naturopathy, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Fitness Professional, writer, seminar leader, and speaker, he provides practical means for people to recover their health, get in shape, improve their fitness, and handle the stressors and uncertainties of daily living. He offers his services out of the Cane-Do Kai U.S.A. headquaters in Miami, Florida.
January 9, 2010 Atlantic City, NJ – Action Marital Arts Magazine Hall of Honors 10th Anniversary.
In the largest martial arts event of its’ kind, over 1200 gathered including martial arts celebrities and Hollywood action stars to honor the martial arts elite. Robaina is awarded the Diamond Lifetime Achievements award. Only 8th, 9th, and 10th Dans are eligible, officially marking Joe Robaina’s Grand Mastership in the martial arts. Throughout the event Robaina was asked to conduct workshops on cane self defense, radio interviews, and magazine photo shoots. He took time to meet/greet CDK USA members, answer questions, educate on Cane-Do and made himself available for signings and photos. Overall, a great opportunity to share the art on an international platform with official recognition of Cane-Do Kai U.S.A. as a legitimate martial art /self defense system and Robaina its’ Founder/GrandMaster.
June 1-2 2012 – WHFSC 20th Anniversary, American Cane Self Defense (ACSD) is recognized as a Tactical Self Defense system and Joe Robaina its’ Grandmaster/Director by the Grandmaster’s testing Committee .
June-1-2 2012, Orlando, Florida – GM Robaina presents American Cane Self Defense as a tactical self defense system to the World Head of Family Sokeship Council’s testing committee during its’ 20th anniversary event. The WHFSC is the most elite Grandmaster’s Council in the world. In order to become a member of this prestigoius organization, one needs a nomination from a board member and then pass both an oral and physical examination under severe scrutiny from the board. This is done to ensure only legitimate Grandmasters and Founders are accepted. At the end of the day, GM Robaina and ACSD became the first Cane Self Defense system to be accepted under the tactical division. GM Robaina and ACSD support the WHFSC’s annual event. For more information, please visit: www.whfsc.com
“America’s premiere choice for practical self defense…” Skip Wayland, Info 4 All
“Master Instructor of the Year -1998” – International Martial Arts Hall of Fame
“Outstanding Contributions in the Martial Arts – 2000” -Action Martial Arts Magazine
“Cane Martial Arts Pioneer-2007 ” – Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame
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