MMA Training Camp CSW Style

(At about 5:19 in the video above you can see the fundamentals of the movement that we use to accomplish the Leg Lock Counter to the Arm Bar Flower Sweep Technique)

After the Paypal debacle (suckers screwed me over, refused to allow me to close my accounts and then had the nerve to send me a “customer service survey”), it was a welcomed and refreshing change of pace to head out to sunny California for my annual pilgrimage to Erik Paulson’s Fighter/Instructor CSW Camp.

As can be expected, the learning was non-stop. Everywhere you turned there was an opportunity for growth and the soaking up of Martial wisdom.

One of the aspects of camp I enjoy is being surrounded by people who are just about as crazy and fanatical about the Martial Arts as I am.

Sensei Paulson and Ajarn Greg Nelson converse with Khuen Khru Vic Spatola the guy responsible for testing me for my Thai Boxing Instructorship under Ajarn Chai.

When your life and mind are occupied by Martial Arts the same way that Rainman thinks about Kmart tighty whitites and Judge Wapner, you start to wonder about your own sanity. But having an opportunity to be in the environment that Sensei Paulson provides, gives lunatics like me a chance to kick back and simply feel like part of the gang.

For me there are really 3 seminars taking place simultaneously at a camp like this.

First is the main seminar. You learn from the likes of Erik Paulson, Greg Nelson, Rigan Machado, Marvin Cook, and Nick Saignac, and you drill the many techniques that they share during their segments. Second is what you pick up from the other high level instructors and fighters that you drill with, spar with, and interact with. You get to see how they’ve tweaked the material you both learned the year before, you get to see tricks that get developed in their relatively isolated neck of the woods and you get to see how the system you’ve developed in your locale fares versus those from around the world.

Lastly, there are the life lessons shared and discussed off camera, during a lunch break, in the hotel lobby. You realize that you’re not alone in your pursuit of Martial excellence, in your attempts to build up a school, and in the stresses and occasional heart breaks that accompany such a journey. You learn tactics for survival, and gain strength from the fact that others have endured and overcome. You see who your instructors look up to and who they glean wisdom from.

As Khuen Khru Nino Pilla said to me this year “It’s so tempting to be seduced into fixing your attentions to the young fighters, winning belts and making the highlight reel, but really your attention should be focused on the old masters (like Billy Robinson, Cacoy Cañete, Dan Inosanto, Buddy Tompson). They have had so much more time to perfect and understand the craft. And more importantly, they hold the wisdom for what is to come for all of us, as we will all get older (if we are lucky), but none of us will ever get younger like those fighters that everyone sees and idolizes on T.V.”

Now that right there was worth the price of admission for me.

But there’s much more that I take away from the CSW Camp experience. It’s a chance for me to see old friends.

The true measure of a great instructor is his students. Eddie Abney, really pushed me and made me think during our sparring rounds. I would expect no less from a student of Khuen Khru Alvin Chan.

Seniors and mentors like Khuen Khru Alvin Chan, who never ceases to amaze me with his kindness and increasing enthusiasm for our chosen profession.

Or Khuen Khru Joe Cargado, who puts up with my joking around and humors my strange quirks.

As I was lining up my sparring partners (to ensure that I wasn’t going to get maimed or destroyed by the likes of the Ben Jones that were amongst the ranks), I was hollering out to my friends “James, you’re 1, Joe, you’re 2, Brandon, you’re 3,” etc. etc. Joe hollers out to each of them, “Yeah, take a number!”

It’s a wonderful place to be, and a real privilege to be able to go, and to be a young kid again, if only for a few days. I returned home, tired, sore, and bursting at the seams with new moves, new ideas and a deeper understanding of the Martial Life Style. And for those of you loyal followers who are wondering, I tapped out that evil wolf this time around. I hope I can do it again the next time I’m on the mats at the World CSW Headquarters, living my life to the fullest.