2010 AMA Hall of Honors: Oh, What A Night!
January 8-9, 2010, Atlantic City, NJ, Tropicana Resort & Casino, site of 2010 Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors (Hall of Fame) 10th Anniversary event. Hadn’t visited since 2001 when I was inducted in the magazine’s first ever Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contributions To The Martial Arts. This remains the best attended event of it kind in the U.S. with over 1200 attendees gathered to honor the martial art’s elite.
I arrived on Friday afternoon and as I made my way through the exhibits, took note of and greeted some of the martial arts elite including Joe Lewis, Christine Bannon, Don “The Dragon Wilson, “Superfoot” Bill Wallace, and Michael Depasquale Jr. whom I hadn’t seen in years. Michael who is now the head of the IFOJ (after the passing of his legendary father, Miachael Depasquale Sr.) was long time friends with my teacher Shihan Nelson Ricardo. Shihan Ricardo was a student of GrandMaster Jun Saito when Depasquale Sr. was his Sempai. I have always had utmost respect for the Depasquale family and was a big fan of Depasquale Sr. whom I had the pleasure of not only training with in seminar but also enjoyed the insightful conversations. I will always remember him as being the consummate gentleman. It’s great to see Depasquale Jr. carry on the legacy. Part of the value in attending this event is you get to participate in breakout sessions conducted by some of the world’s top martial artists. As soon as I entered the area where the workshops were taking place, a group was gathered around non other than my long time friend and the individual who nominated me for the magazine’s Diamond Lifetime Achievements award, Grand CaneMaster Mark Shuey Sr. As I watched the interaction, it amazes me how many martial artists are still unaware of the cane’s potential as a self defense tool. My thought was abruptly interrupted as Shuey came over to greet me with the usual “papa bear” hug. Shuey and I have been good friends and colleagues for about 15 years. I’ll point out here (as I did in our brief interview ), that thanks to his unrelenting efforts in promoting the cane, the door was opened for individuals like myself to step through and take the cane martial arts to the next level. For this I am infinitely grateful. Just as he did nine years ago, he announced to everyone who I was and had me share my craft on the spot. A lot has changed since 2001. Back then he caught me off guard, today I look forward to it and thank him for the opportunity. My presentations create “ah-ha” moments for those unfamiliar with my work. What many find most intriguing regarding the art I teach, is the way the cane self defense applications tie in to the empty hand translations. A group of American Kenpo practitioners in particular seemed to enjoy what I was sharing. I related to them by comparing our arts “checking principles” and even told the story of how the legendary GrandMaster Parker came about integrating checking principles into his art. Bet they had no idea this “Cane Cowboy” in black leather was so up on his martial studies. Had a great time as always and appreciate the interest everyone showed in what we do. Off to lunch with Shuey to discuss the direction of the Cane arts. [wp_cycle] GCM Shuey and the CMIA are focusing on the therapeutic aspects of the art, targeting VA hospitals and addressing the senior population. I agreed to contribute with our cane healing system. You can look forward to a collaborative effort from the CMIA and CDK USA in this arena. Saturday morning, 8:30am joined GCM Shuey for another workshop. I enjoy being first since it allows me to dedicate the rest of the day to members and interested attendees alike. I also get to observe what others are doing. I enjoy watching martial artists express their arts as much as ever. I am the eternal student. Number of attendees doubled Saturday including martial arts personalities such as Jeff Speakman, Cynthia Rothrock, James Lew, Dan Severn, GrandMaster Ji Han Jae, and Stephen K.Hayes among others. GM Jae in particular was carrying a rattan cane. I thanked him personally for introducing the cane to the martial art of Hapkido. He took a glance at the triple gripper I was carrying and asked if I trained with the cane. We have a long way to go. I was called from my booth to do a radio interview answering questions on the Cane-Do Kai and our teaching methodology. CDK USA is committed to offering the most complete and practical learning experience via hands on training and enhanced video technology. An AMA photo shoot followed along with a photo and signing session for supporters. The evening banquet put in perspective just how large this event truly is. There must have been at least 100 well attended tables. MC of the event was Michael Depasqule Jr. who is to be commended for a wonderful job. He must have mentioned his father nine times throughout the night. I admire him for that. Several of the GrandMasters gave speeches and GM John Pelegrini reminded us to support our troops as they defend our country. I’ve known John for almost 20 years and have always identified with his patriotism. I do have a caveat and if you’re an instructor, master, student, and especially head of an organization I’m talking to you. Make sure when you attend these events with your students, you educate them on who’s who and ensure they’re on their best behavior. It’s plain impolite to be running off at the mouth when anyone has the floor. I find it particularly disrespectful to the GrandMasters. I believe they’ve paid their dues and deserve our undivided attention. Nuff said. I was one of the first seven to be called up to receive my award handed to me by actor Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Dark Night etc.). I was one of only six recipients in this category (Diamond Lifetime Achievements) and only 8th, 9th and 10th Dans qualify for the award. This officially marks my GrandMastership in the martial arts as the founder of a legitimate organization and system, Cane-Do Kai U.S.A. This is as much an organization award as it is personal. For that I want to thank all of you for your support. Special thanks, to my personal students Bryan, Vanessa, Rene and the rest of the CDK Hdq. Clan, as well as to my “behind the scenes” guy Dan Latrimurti whose cyberspace expertise is allowing us to reach more people with our unique system than we ever thought possible. Lastly,a heartfelt thanks to my long time friend GCM Mark Shuey Sr. for everything he’s done for the art and providing a forum for me to share my craft. Stay tuned followers of the cane way. The BEST is yet to come!