Kali, JKD, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
At age 7 I took my first Karate class. I wanted to take Karate because I watched my best friend Roy practice Karate in a dusty, hot tepee on an Indian reservation in Roosevelt, Utah. Training in a tepee appealed to me. I took one class and quit.
Seven years later, I took another Karate class in Logan, Utah. This time the karate instructor was a Kyokushinkai black belt named Del Griffith. Sensei Griffith learned karate in Hawaii and was one of Hawaii's top Kyokushinkai's black belts. And yet, I still didn't have the temperament or patience to train consistently. I took one class and quit.
But in 1985 I had matured and now truly desired to learn martial arts and I knew I still wanted to learn Karate. This time I contacted Del personally (Dad signed me up before) and he admitted me to study with him again. Learning from Del Griffith was like having a personal coach and mentor in addition to a martial arts instructor. Del was encouraging, patient and a wonderful teacher. Much of my teaching style has stemmed from Sensei Griffith's example to me.
I also trained during this time in two other arts: Chung Shing Kung Fu and Yang Tai Chi. I learned Kung Fu from Sifu David Jones and Tai Chi from Tiger. I don't remember Tiger's full name. He was a Ph.D student at Utah State University in physics and when he completed his doctorate he moved back to Taiwan. I haven't been able to find Tiger or David Jones for many years. Perhaps the future holds a serendipitous meeting.
I moved to Salt Lake City in 1990 and studied under a martial arts master named Dan Berry and subsequently received my black belt from him. Dan Berry taught a martial art called Bihonte. Bihonte was a fusion of five different arts. The arts that I focused on were Kali, JKD and Mokuraiken Kenpo. Dan received his JKD training under Michael Moore and Michael Moore received his certification directly under Dan Inosanto. Dan Berry in my opinion was not only a gifted martial artist but a great teacher. I would include Dan in that rare class of martial artist's whose contribution to the martial arts and the evolution of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do is without peer.
In that same category I would also include a noted Jiu Jitsu master named Pedro Sauer. Pedro moved to Utah in 1992 and began teaching in Provo and Salt Lake City. Dan Berry was the person who introduced us to Professor Sauer. Pedro moved here just when the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Royce Gracie rocked the martial arts world with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and "submission" techniques. Professor Sauer has left and indelible imprint within out community and throughout the world. Pedro is also a fantastic teacher and has the unique status of receiving a black belt under Rickson Gracie and the father of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Professor Helio Gracie. I am currently a brown belt under Pedro Sauer and I love Jiu Jitsu. And ironically, Jiu Jitsu has ushered in the new phase of martial arts called, No Hold Barred fighting (NHB.)
I still study under Dan Berry and Pedro Sauer and believe I receive some of the best instruction in the world. However, that doesn't preclude me from still wanting to learn other arts and my focus is still to integrate techniques and approaches to my present knowledge to become a better martial artist and instructor.
Ultimately, the martial arts should help us to be better people. I am not personally studying in preparation for fighting but continue to practice to better myself and others through my learning. Hence, this brief biograhy is a dedication to all my instructors. I pay my sincerest respect and honor to Del Griffith, David Jones, Tiger, Dan Berry and Pedro Sauer. Thank you for sharing with me.