Shaolin-Do: An Honest Review and Case Study in law

Martial arts is one of the best ways to learn about different cultures, meet new people. gain physical and mental fitness, and build overall confidence.

From the years of 2001-2005, I was a very dedicated student to the system of “Shaolin-Do”, lead by the alleged Grandmaster Sin Kwang aka Sin The’.  I achieved a brown sash in the system, although, my specific teacher had deviated from the system quite a bit early on in my teachings, bringing in instructors from Boxing, Muay Thai, Praying Mantis Wushu and other systems to spar and do seminars with us. My teacher was very open minded, practical and young, thus we sparred full-contact and frequently cross-trained with other martial artists. Our school was frequently scolded by the Shaolin-Do headquarters in Kentucky for not wearing Japanese gis whereas we would wear traditional Chinese outfits. We felt that we were practicing Kung Fu (wushu) not Karate.

Eventually, I had enough of Shaolin-Do and began learning Xing Yi Quan under disciples who followed Sifu Shou-yu Liang who had immigrated to the west from China.  Later, I went on to cross train in many styles including Boxing, Muay Thai, Jujitsu, Wing Chun, Krav Maga and others. In 2010, I won 2nd place in a NAGA Jujitsu grappling tournament in Hillsboro, Tennessee. Looking back, if not for my open-minded Shaolin-Do instructor, I might still be trapped in the Shaolin-Do system, as I too believed that he had began to have doubts about whether or not he was practicing authentic Wushu. My instructor was a very formidable fighter, but did plenty of cross-training in other traditional and modern martial arts, however, he had been involved with Shaolin-Do since his youth, so perhaps he felt compelled to continue teaching and practicing it? I am not too sure. He did go on to later become a Muay Thai competitor.

My impression of Shaolin-Do is mixed. While the system itself does have some useful techniques, and some of the instructors are legitimately strong and somewhat capable at fighting, most of the schools I visited did very little full-contact sparring, performed their forms (Taolu) awkwardly, and participated in “closed” point-fighting tournaments. That’s right! Shaolin-Do students were encouraged to NOT compete in tournaments against non-Shaolin-Do students. Hmmm, why not? If it is the best system in the world, surely it could hold it’s own against a Kyokushin Karateka or  a Taekwondo fighter.

The atmosphere within the organization was very cult-like in most of the schools I saw, which isn’t uncommon for a traditional martial arts school.  As I got older, I began to visit other Wushu schools and perform in open-tournaments across the country, and the other Wushu players had never heard or seen of the “Taolu” (Kata in Japanese) that I was performing. Even the Xing-Yi-Quan (Hsing I) forms I was taught wasn’t the same or remotely close to the techniques other Wushu schools were teaching.  It all appeared to be made up or atleast altered. Which is fine, however, the Shaolin-Do system presented itself as authentic Shaolin-Kung Fu, not an altered version of it.

Depositions from a lawsuit involving Shaolin-Do confirm these doubts.  The lawsuit, Sin Kwang The’ vs. Jacob Rydbergshows evidence that “Grandmaster” Sin, did in fact fabricate atleast part of Shaolin-Do’s legitimacy. (The case study can be found- HERE) Everything from the forms to the history of his own training, Grandmaster Sin’ recants many of his advertised claims and even admits to making up his own forms. Again, these revelations aren’t to say that the Shaolin-Do system doesn’t have some usefulness, because all systems of martial arts were at one point, “Just made-up”, someone had to create it! But, this isn’t my problem with the system. My problem is that it markets itself as authentic Shaolin Martial Arts when it doesn’t quite appear to be. Then again, finding authentic Wushu in the USA is difficult enough as it is. If you walk into a Kung Fu school and they aren’t familiar with terms like, “Wushu”, “Taolu”, “Sanda”, “Dan-Tien” or the school does not openly compete in Wushu tournaments not sponsored by their own system, and they are wearing Japanese uniforms, It could be a cause for concern and reason to question.

Also, there is a question of “lineage”. Grandmaster Sin’ claims that he was taught martial arts by Grandmaster Ie Chang Ming who was taught by Su Kong Tai Djin.  Names that have almost no historical weight in the Martial Arts community outside of Shaolin-Do. If you mention Ip-Man or Yue-Fei, the Wushu community will instantly recognize such names. But, Su Kong Tai Djin? Who is that?

With the rise of MMA and combat practicality, people are more critical of martial arts lineages and effectiveness than ever before.  Because of the rise of MMA, schools and systems like Shaolin-Do have less impact on the martial arts world today, however, in smaller rural communities, Shaolin-Do is just as rampant as it ever was.  Alas, in this information age, I don’t blame the business marketing strategies of Shaolin-Do or Sin Kwang. It is up to the consumer to research the product he/she is willing to support. I did my research and wasn’t convinced, thus I left the system. Perhaps you will find a different answer.

If you are a teenager in a small town, and have no access to any other martial art or boxing gym, and Shaolin-Do is your only option, if the teacher is open-minded, it could be a decent introduction into martial arts and you may fall in love with the system. However, you owe it to yourself to explore others systems and styles before dedicating your life to something that you later find out wasn’t what you thought it was. This rings true for any style or system. But, if you are happy with your training, feel free to stick to “Shaolin-Do”, but just know that this system does come with some “fine print” and disclaimers to consider.

Martial Arts and Boxing are very important aspects to my life and personal history. In my high school years, I went to a tough school, and Shaolin-Do was an escape-outlet for me. I owe it a lot, and thankfully my teacher was a young-strong guy who encouraged me to cross-train in other styles and had me spar full-contact often. However, if I had to go back and do  those years over again, I would have trained elsewhere. I would have sought out a legit boxing gym, Wing Chun school, Krav Maga, or dedicated more time towards traditional Xing Yi Quan. Eventually, I began to focus most of my efforts on Boxing, Wing Chun, and Xing Yi Quan, but I wish I had done so much earlier.

 

It’s time we stop bullying our Veterans and LEOs

 

When it comes to veterans in our nation, there appears to be one of two attitudes held towards their presence.

  1. “We love our Veterans! We support them no matter what! “
  2. “Veterans are just tools of a war machine who deserve what they get!”

While many conservatives will never criticize the military or police no matter what, other political ideologies such as liberals, libertarians, or anarchists, will sometimes spit on the service of veterans by calling them, “tools of the government”, and other derogatory terms, — The truth is somewhere in the middle, as is in most cases of “This Vs That” issues.

Yes, there have been servicemen  and police who have acted inappropriately in their service.  The Mahmudiyah rape and killings involved the gang-rape and killing of 14-year-old Iraqi girl Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the murder of her family by United States Army soldiers on March 12, 2006.  In other cases, many Vietnam veterans have admitted that they killed Vietcong soldiers and wore pieces of their body parts as trophies.  And yes, it is true that many military conflicts are fought on bad intelligence or for malicious profit or gain.

However, there are also many accounts of soldiers who disobeyed orders that went against their conscious and/or later spoke out against things in their service they disagreed with. Soldiers are not mindless drones! They are usually very intelligent people.

A good example is Major General Smedley Butler, America’s most decorated marine in modern military history, who wrote the book, “War is A Racket”, which exposed the corrupt money-making schemes involved in overseas wars. Smedley, emphasized that soldiers should only be made to protect their country, not to police the world or fight on behalf of money hungry politicians.  Very brave and intellectual statements indeed!

Many liberal leaning people, often criticize our servicemen as being mindless robots for the US military, but this couldn’t be farthest from the truth. Every person who wants to serve our country is required to take an oath to the US constitution, a legal instruments that formed the foundation of our modern legal system to which the average American cannot even recite.  When our nation is threatened with an outside attack or an internal attack of gigantic proportions, the military is deployed to handle the crisis. These men and women spend their careers honing their combat, administrative, legal, and survival skills in order to protect those in their community.

While I agree that it is the duty of Americans to arm themselves and take part in the protection of their communities, our servicemen devote 100% of their time towards this effort, thus, they are experts in this field. Because we have a military, we can walk through the streets, fly through the air on our airplanes, and travel the world, knowing that there is a military force that is trained and ready to protect us from invaders.

People join the military for all kinds of reason. Sometimes those reasons are selfish other times they are purely out of duty and love for one’s country. Regardless of the reason, the soldier enlisted is employed to serve a primary duty of protecting his/her people. This rings true in all armies around the world. Without a military, in the event of an invasion, poorly trained citizens would have to band together with limited supplies to combat such a threat. While not totally impossible, the consequences would be disastrous, most likely leading towards the breakdown of their society.

When soldiers are sent off to fight and die in conflicts that appear to have little to do with our national security, please do not criticize the soldier. Criticize the policy maker who ordered their deployment! Criticize the commander in chief if you wish, criticize your state’s governor if you wish, criticize our lack of spirituality if you wish, but do not criticize the soldier.  Most soldiers that I know who are stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan want to come home, many agree that the wars have gone on far enough, they don’t want to participate in such actions.  Yet, when they are deployed and the bullets firing towards them from insurgents begin, they have no choice but to fight back, all because of a policy maker who decided that military action was necessary.

Servicemen can be seen as “tools of the government”, but only when “we the people” do not support them and speak out for them. In the 1960’s, many Americans were forced to deploy to Vietnam under Draft provisions. Anyone who refused to enter into the military under a draft order was sentenced to prison. These young men who were forced to kill, fight, and see their friends die, were spat on and ridiculed by the anti-war movement and were often called, “Baby killers”.  These men were forced to fight in an unpopular war under threat of law, yet were ridiculed for attempting to survive such a desperate situation.  These events were totally unfair towards our veterans.  This is why Vietnam Veteran Era soldiers have some of the highest incidents of PTSD.

Contrarily, because of strong opposition from the American public with displays of nearly constant protests regarding the Vietnam war, politicians felt the pressure and eventually brought home our troops after being in the area for 20 years.  Our troops now face a similar situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our troops have been there for 17 years . Despite early protests from the modern anti-war movement, in recent years, these wars have been mostly forgotten about by the public.

President Obama announced a supposed end to the Iraq war in 2011, yet to this date, there remains over 30,000 troops permanently stationed in the country whereas Afghanistan remains as active as ever in terms of conflict. These wars appear to have no end in sight.  But who is at fault? Our servicemen or our law makers?

Our servicemen have only a few things in mind when it comes to their service.

  1. I must protect my nation
  2. Protect my family
  3. survive

Politics are of little concern to soldiers. In fact, the “Uniform code of military justice”, a codified legal system governing enlisted soldier behavior, bars public criticism of the President and missions in order to protect moral during combat.  Perhaps every year, congress should take a vote from our soldiers who have boots on the ground, or make true congressional declarations of war; such reforms would be highly beneficial in my opinion. Regardless, there is still no merit in criticizing individual soldiers or police to the degree we have been.

Let’s say you work for Nike, Reebok, Toyota, Burger King, HCA, or any major corporation.  It is pretty safe to say that all of these corporations have probably committed some atrocious act at some point; Harming the environment, treating employees badly, using forced child labor, ect.  Because you work for a corporation that sells products using unethical means, does that mean that you yourself are evil? Probably not. You are probably just happy to have a job in order to feed your family or perhaps you really love the product but secretly wish that the company operated more fairly.

I think our soldiers and our law enforcement officers feel the same way. They are doing a JOB! A job that often includes things that they disagree with but must carry it out anyways. Occasionally, an employee may speak out or rebel, but he/she does so at risk of losing their job or even their life in some cases.  If we as a society want to reform a corporation, reform a military, or reform a government, being angry with the actions of the leaders of such an organization is a normal response. But to criticize those who carry out the functions of that organization are not always warranted and are often gray, murky, and situational.

If you truly support our Veterans or if you truly disapprove of the missions they are involved in, be a part of the solution instead of simply espousing hatred towards such an entity. Bring together your community, show solidarity, make it clearly known to policy makers how the public is feeling, boycott, get new laws passed or repealed and use diplomatic methods to reshape these institutions.

The best way to support our veterans, those who stand between us sleeping safely at night or being invaded by those who wish to do us harm, is to get involved in politics in order to prevent needless wars and to support those injured soldiers who return home from these wars.  Our servicemen and law enforcers, while not always behaving perfectly, are essential to preserving a free society. When these men and women who are trusted with keeping our lands relatively safe act out under bad leadership, we should seek to reform the system, hold individuals accountable, work aggressively towards preventative measures of a repeat incident.

While I agree that it is not healthy to worship servicemen and policemen as flawless gods, it is also not healthy to put all servicemen and policemen into the category of “corrupt”. Our servicemen and policemen are also individuals with their own opinions regarding war, politics, and society. They are serving as a collective yet still deserve to be treated as individuals. Just as it is not fair to stereotype a race or religion, it is also not fair to stereotype those who are employed in a certain profession, whether it be the lowly cashier or the badge wielding police officer.

Honor and dishonor exists in all areas of employment. Some employees will take pride in their jobs, seeking to obtain a leadership position in order to improve conditions for everyone, whereas others will do just the bare minimum because they just want survive and get by.  Unless you are living off the land living like the amish and making your own clothes by scratch, odds are, we are all somewhat guilty by association in terms of the things we buy, the places we work at, and/or the things we say to each-other.

No one is innocent. 

However, when it comes to the military, less than 1% of Americans serve.  It’s a job that is totally necessary yet less than 1% of our population is willing to do it. Some say our veterans do not deserve the benefits they get, while others say they deserve more.  I say, if its a necessary job that less than 1% of our population is willing to do, then I’d vote that they get MORE benefits.

If you hate the wars, if you hate the policies, if you hate the way things are run, start your own or seek to reform them. It is that simple! Criticism is necessary for a dialogue to occur, yet, eventually some action has to come next to create a solution. Some problems are never completely cured as problems often evolve or devolve. Regardless, someone has to care enough to do something about it and i’d bet every last cent I have that most soldiers have no desire to unnecessarily harm others, and most police officers don’t want to unnecessarily ruin people’s lives.   We must stop picking on the “foot soldies” and criticize those who are calling the shots, the law makers and the CEOs who make the final stamp on an order.

Just like in all systems or ideologies, it is the “bad apples” who give the harvest a bad name.  As a person who is interested in running for office someday as a congressman or senator, instead of bashing the actions of policemen and servicemen, I am more interested in talking to them on ways we as lawmakers can improve our system, make it more fair, make their jobs easier, and less stressful.

If we as a society are comfortable with criticizing policemen and our soldiers because of bad leadership, we should be consistent and also protest the lowly cashier who works at a fast-food restaurant which serves unhealthy food to our public.  As Jesus Christ once said,

“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

or as a great rapper once said,

“Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

 

  • Randell Stroud
  • 2018
  • Nalini-Global

Going to Child Support court? Read this

 

In the eyes of God, before anyone enters into a court-room, both father and mother are the full fledged guardians of a child. Before a couple enters into the family law system, there is no one regulating the terms and conditions of parenthood, household income, time spent with each parent, ect. However, as soon as you add a judge into the mix, lives can be forever altered by an ordinary human construct. The Family Law Courts!

Custody spats, Child support, alimony, these are all terms that send shivers down the spines of many. If you are a non-custodial parent or custodial parent, entering into the family law system, please consider these tips moving forward to ease the struggle of your unique family structure.

Non-Custodial Parent:

  1.  Get a DNA Test! : This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many men are paying child support for a kid that is not biologically their own.  Unless there is a prior adoption agreement, no one is legally obligated to pay for someone else’s child.
  2. Consider communication:  If the child is yours, make one last effort to communicate with the mother. What are your goals with the child? What are her goals? Does she want to keep the child? Do you want to be a part of the child’s life? Are you both financially sound? If you two can both find an agreement without involving the government, this will be your best bet. However, if any financial support is given to either party, keep receipts of everything. The custodial parent, (who is typically always going to be the mother in the eye’s of the family law system), can bring the case before a judge at any time and thus sue you for retroactive support. Without any evidence of prior support, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars.
  3.  Consider your income:  When a child support case is brought to court for the first time, the court will ask for your previous year’s tax return and proof of income from the last two months.  If you know that you have a case coming up, it may be in your financial interest to research how your income levels will be considered. If you have been working three jobs for the last two months before your court date, the courts will consider that income for setting guidelines on how much you are to pay each month. While I do no advise anyone to do anything illegal, maneuvering within the rules (while still adhering to them), in order to survive the eventual 50% garnishment of your income that is soon to take place, is a worthy survival tactic.
  4.  Never let an administrator set the guidelines for support! The child support enforcement agency will often  sell the idea to you that a judge is not needed. They will first appoint an administrator to have a meeting with you and the “custodial” parent. During this meeting, they will calculate income and expenses and then come up with an arbitrary number. That number will always favor the custodial parent.  Never agree to their offers! Always demand that a judge make a ruling on the numbers. Remember, only the judge can make deviations from the  state guidelines. The Child support enforcement administrators cannot make deviations, in fact, they are encouraged to calculate high numbers so that they can collect bonuses from the Title IV section D grant money that is linked with child support collections. However, if you demand to speak with a Judge, he/she may or may not, consider the fact if you have medical expenses, outrageous rent, or other factors that impact your ability to earn income. If the judge is compassionate, you may get lucky with a ruling that is slightly lower than the recommended guidelines issued from the Child Support Enforcement Agency. However, the administrators will never tell you this because they know you are intimidated and do not wish to sit in a court room all day. While the administrators can quickly draw up an order and get you out of their offices, in the long-run, it may not benefit you.
  5. Be Careful with Modifications:  Just because you think your child support is too high doesn’t mean a judge will agree. If you seek to modify your child support order, you may end up paying more! Especially if you have earn more income than you did previously. In some states, CSE (child support enforcement) will automatically raise support amounts if the NCP (Non custodial parent) gets a higher paying job. It is a deadly cycle. Get a higher paying job to afford a child support order, only to have it raised again! Only seek modification if you experience a sharp decrease in earnings and/or you lose your job.  Major medical expenses coming from a surgery or foreclosure may warrant a temporary reduction but can be risky. Consult an attorney!
  6. Challenge Expenses: In child support cases, you will be made to pay for half of any day-care or medical costs. Be sure to challenge any receipts that appear home-made.  These extra expenses can inflate child support payments very quickly, especially if the other parent is embellishing the amount they are paying for child-care costs.
  7. Ask for mediation:  Many courts will offer a no-cost, one-time, mediation session between you and the mother. This is your last ditch effort to sit privately in a room with you and the other parent to negotiate a parenting plan and/or to make voluntary reductions in support. While mediation can be extremely helpful if both parties are logical, it is still up to the judge to agree with the terms.
  8. Consider settlements or Forgiveness:   If you get behind in child support, you may be able to offer settlements to avoid jail time. If you owe $10,000 for instance, you may be able to offer the judge a $6,000 settlement to avoid jail-time without having to pay the remaining three.  Some states even allow for forgiveness of child support debt if you have a good excuse such as medical problems and you are showing good faith to look for employment.
  9. Study Turner V Rogers-  This supreme court case outlined that non-custodial parents should only be jailed if they are willfully refusing to pay child-support payments. Being unable to pay does not warrant one’s life or liberties to be suspended. It must be proven before such aggressive tactics can be implemented against the non-custodial parent.
  10.  Study State of Minnesota V Nelson-  In this case, Mr. Nelson was behind over $80,000, on child support, however, he was still caring for and nurturing his children, i.e.- “Supporting”, therefore the supreme court reversed his felony conviction of failure to pay child support.
  11. Study  Coull vs. Rottman –  In this case, Mr.Coull was absolved of paying any child support due to Ms.Rottman alienating the child from Mr.Coull. The courts found that Ms.Rottman had no bases to ask to support if she was adamant on not allowing the father to partake in the child’s life despite him being fit to do so. This is a rare case decision, but very thought provoking.
  12. Consider International Law: 1976 Article 11 of the ICCPR – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – came into effect stating, “No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfill a contractual obligation.”  This international obligation contradict many countries’ domestic laws that allow for civil jailings. The United States being one of the chief offenders in not adhering to the provisions in this international agreement. Nevertheless, it is still noteworthy.

Custodial Parents:

  1. Communicate:  Do you want this child? Does he?  Is abortion or adoption being considered? Can you sit down with him/her and have an open-dialogue about both of your futures?  If the child has already been born, still communicate! Do everything you can to handle the situation without court involvement.
  2. Welfare-  Many states will not issue welfare to struggling parents unless they name both parents and/or agree to put one of the parents on child support. A good remedy is to have the entire family apply together, however, this often times makes one ineligible because your income bracket may be too high.
  3. Do not alienate your children:  If you are receiving child support, you are NOT a single parent doing it alone, you are getting help.  Even if the other parent is not able to financially provide, if they are showing love to the child, you should not get in-between that bonding process, to do so can cause severe mental and emotional scars to the child that can make them more susceptible to  deviant behavior as an adult not to mention the emotional damage done to the parent who is being prevented from seeing the child. No body wins in alienation.  Children are not bargaining pieces..
  4.  Spend wisely:  If you receive a good amount of child support every month, use what money is left over and put it in a trust fund for the child’s future education. Many custodial parents like to use child support funds to spoil their children with toys or even themselves. In the long run, it does nothing for your children. It is called “child support”, not an entertainment fund.
  5. Reconsider enforcing penalties:  Asking a judge to suspend the other parent’s drivers license or to have him/her incarcerated only hurts you and the child.  Such penalties will make it harder for him to find and keep employment, thus reducing the chances that you will ever see a dime in child support.
  6. Rethink “Support”-  Many custodial parents are extremely protective of their children, since they usually spend the most time with the child while the other parent is usually busy trying to keep up with child support or alimony payments. If you truly need “support”, do not fight “joint custody”. This way you have one parent taking responsibility half the time, and the other parent doing half the work. In many cases, child support may not even be warranted, in this case, everyone can win. If it isn’t about the money, and you can check your emotions at the door, then joint custody shouldn’t be an issue.
  7.  Become an advocate- About 92% of the time, women end up becoming the custodial parent. As a custodial parent, you have a lot of power. Don’t abuse this power! Use it to advocate for equal parenting rights.  I am reminded of an old saying, “Those who desire to give away their power are the most powerful indeed.”  or as Confucius would say,  “Those who wish to secure others, has already secured himself.”

Both parties

Be mindful of eachother! Neither parent is in a particularly “easy” situation. While the non-custodial parent will become stressed out about meeting child-support criteria, the custodial parent will become stressed out with the rearing of the child, transporting the child ,ect. Try to put yourself in the other parent’s shoes and practice empathy. If both parents can do this, it will make it easier for each of them to work together for the sake of the child and potentially remove the disagreements that lead to one of the parents allowing the government to regulate their family affairs.

While the media has given much coverage to the narrative of the “struggling single mom”, whereas “Men need to step up for face the consequences”, I believe that a new narrative needs to be introduced to the general public. One that considers the history of gender relations and how modern developments require us to look at the situation of family disputes through a modernized “looking glass”.

This publication includes the un-redacted portions from a report that was submitted the Human Rights Council in Geneva and to several other human rights organizations and/or governing bodies such as the United States Department of Justice. The original report was over 50 pages long, however, the sections shown in this publication exclude personal documents that are privileged to confidentiality. I pray that those who take the time to read this report will walk away with a better sense of how the modern family law system operates, who is being marginalized and what we can do to reduce its over-reach into our personal decisions. After all, true “freedom”, isn’t the just the ability to make a choice, but to also suffer the consequences of a choice.

“Freedom”, teaches us that consequences rarely need to be administered by government, but rather by the laws of nature of karmic retributions, principles that no man-made legislation can create a loop-hole for.

God-speed.

-Randell D. Stroud

 

Stuart Gordon: “MMA fighter turned innovator”

Recently, we here at “Nalini”, a non-profit geared towards children, community projects, and the reconstruction of southeast Asia, had the opportunity to interview an MMA fighter who goes by the name, Stuart “Flash” Gordon. Like the comic book character, “Flash Gordon”, this Gordon is just as intelligent and athletic as his superhero counterpart.  He is 36 years old, grew up near Queens, New York, and has had quite a journey thus far which has now landed him in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he fights out of “Fight Science” gym.

Here at Nalini, we seek to cover unique individuals who will serve as inspirational figures for the communities in which we serve. One of our founding members has a martial arts background, thus it seemed like a perfect opportunity to interview a fellow martial artist in order to showcase the character building qualities that the arts give its practitioners.

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(MMA fighter and innovator, Stuart Gordon, 36, 5-1 in MMA competition)

Here is a summarized paraphrased transcript of our interview:

Nalini: How did you get started in martial arts and what was your motivation for getting involved?

Gordon: I was the type of kid who was on the skinny-side and found myself getting into a few fights because of it. You know, people sometimes judge you based on your appearance and think it is ok to treat you a certain way because of it. My mom took notice of these occurrences and encouraged me to seek out martial arts training.

Nalini:  What was your early training experiences like?

Gordon:  I started off training in Wing Chun Kung Fu near Queens. I would rush home everyday after school to meet up with my Sifu (chinese martial art term for “coach”). He only took on a few private students in a converted garage-styled gym. Even though it was a traditional martial art that he was teaching, he allowed us to practice it in a very free-form way. We didn’t rely solely on pre-arranged forms like other styles, he allowed us to freestyle on heavybags and spar with minimal restriction.

Nalini: How long did you train in this style and when did you start to notice that martial arts was changing you for the better?

Gordon:  I trained in Kung Fu for a few years, and during that time I did notice changes within myself. People always got onto me about being skinny and appearing weak, so I began to really indulge in strength training and old-school conditioning methods like banging my forearms and shins against hard objects to harden my bones. I figured I would turn the thing that people made fun of into a weapon, my bones. When my partners would do blocking drills with me they would make comments as to how solid my structure was and how hard my body was even though I wasn’t a large person. These type of comments made me realize that my dedication was beginning to mean something.

Nalini: Where did the transition to MMA competition start to happen?

Gordon: After graduating high school, naturally, your life starts to change. You begin to experiment with romance, working, and generally just experiencing adult life. I never had the luxury of training consistently in one gym early on because martial arts classes can be quite expensive. I gym hopped for quite a while because of it. When I started to attend Purdue University, I found myself being exposed to different types of people and clubs. There I got to cross-train in Judo, Catch-wrestling, and even Kendo which really helped with my range and timing.

Nalini:  What do you think allowed you to be so open to different styles of martial arts? Prior to MMA going mainstream , I remember it being frowned upon to cross-train in different styles, unless it was a JKD affiliated gym. Some viewed it as being disloyal to their teachers or admitting that their singular style wasn’t perfect.

Gordon: Very true! I think it was a combination of things. My first martial arts teacher from my Wing Chun days was traditional yet pragmatic. Like I said earlier, he was traditional and made us do structured drills,learning forms, but allowed us to freestyle as well. Also, growing up where money was sometimes tight, I was always looking to get training wherever I could get it, so it didn’t matter who was teaching or what style it was as long as I got to participate.

Nalini: Obviously you eventually got stable training partners, who were some of your early and current MMA coaches.

Gordon:  I briefly moved back to New York after college, and then I began to seriously consider MMA. It was in the early 2000’s and MMA was slowly starting to become mainstream. I started to train with “Team Mad Dog TKD and D’arce BJJ.” The D’arce family is credited with creating the famous “DARCE” choke, which is actually a mispronunciation of “D’arce”.  (Dee-Are-Say)

Nalini: What was it like training with such a well known family in the Martial arts community?

Gordon: It was great! The family originally had a Taekwondo pedigree before they became famous for their BJJ skills, so I also got to experience different types of kicking techniques and how to deal with them. Most MMA gyms only offer training in striking arts like Boxing and Muay Thai. The kicks in TKD are usually a little weaker but much faster and come from awkward angles. I enjoy learning and retaining little tricks from traditional martial arts to mix up my MMA game so that I do not become a predictable MMA fighter that just relies on the standard jab,cross, roundhouse combination.

Nalini: So how did your first MMA fight come to be?

Gordon: I ended up going back to Indiana and it is there that I met ,Tom Norris, who was training MMA fighters. I began training with him consistently and shortly thereafter had the opportunity to fight presented to me. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be, I was actually quite excited to see the collected years of my training put to the test to see where I measured up.

Nalini: How did it go?

Gordon: I won in the first round via triangle. The triangle choke became my bread and butter for a while and I become known for it in our gym. Just as in life, being able to fight off your back is an important skill. Anybody can be the aggressor, but to be able to secure a victory from a seemingly disadvantageous position is even more impressive in my eyes.

Nalini: What did you feel after your first victory in MMA?

Gordon: I have (5)wins and (1) loss  in MMA right now, but I have to say that my first fight was a positive reinforcement for me. After winning, I looked at Tom, my coach, and I thought to myself, “This is what I’ve been training to do my whole life. My training wasn’t for nothing, it now means something.I can now effectively measure myself.”

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Nalini: Do you have any competition experience prior to MMA?

Gordon: I did a “Leitei” tournament in 1996 and some BJJ tournaments, but the feeling couldn’t compare to winning in the cage.

Nalini: “Leitei”? I used to compete in those myself! Tell me about you experience with that! That was back in the day when “Cung Le” was putting Sanshou on the map.

Gordon: Well, as you know, Leitei competitions are fought under Sanshou rules. Punches, kicks, and throws are allowed but no groundfighting. I truly believe that Sanshou is one of the best ways to transition into MMA. It really gets you used to striking while remaining conscious of takedowns without having to worry about the submission elements.

Nalini: So have you ever had to use your martial art skills in real life scenarios?

Gordon: Yes. I did work security detail in a few bars and nightclubs. I used both the physical and mental benefits of martial arts there. Physically, I mainly relied on Jujitsu and restraining techniques. You always had to be on the lookout for weapons and being able to spot them and restrain the person before they got the chance to use them. Secondly, I used mental or verbal judo to de-escalate situations. After being punched and choked out in practice so many times, being intimidated or trying to act tough wasn’t an issue for me. I stayed calm and confidently showed that I wouldn’t be bullied, and most people would just walk away after venting for whatever reason.

Nalini:  Why did you quit that type of work?

Gordon:The opportunity for people to sue you and other potential liabilities swayed me away from it. I learned alot about myself and people during that time, but it got old.

Nalini: What is one of your weakest traits that martial arts has strengthened?

Gordon: I am naturally a very impatient person. But, martial arts taught me to breakdown my work efforts and gave me a comparative study. In martial arts, we start with basic stances and stretches, and over time we learn individual techniques and slowly learn to string them together. After some time, we look back and say, “Wow, when did I get so good at this?” Life is the same way. It’s like when I studied Calculus in college, at first it was really intimidating but after I realized that it was just a step-by-step process combined with theories and concepts, I realized that it was an identical process to martial arts training.

Nalini: That is very profound! I came to the same conclusions myself. Martial arts truly can be a metaphor for all of life’s challenges! So, where has this new found level of patience brought you now?

Gordon: It has brought me to Texas. I came out here recently for a job installing Solar panels, and discovered that my coach Tom Norris was also moving to the same area. Now I’ve partnered up with “Fight Science” gym here in Wichita Falls and that is where I will be training and representing. Tom is like family to me, great guy, and the Fight Science gym is attracting a lot of local talent.

Nalini: That’s really cool! Sounds like your always on the cutting edge and aren’t afraid to develop yourself. But, let me ask you, you are 36, what happens after martial arts? We all succumb to age, disease, injury, or other issues that eventually force us out of the fight game.

Gordon: I could see myself fighting for an organization like “OneFC” , but this is a topic I have thought about. I enjoy coaching a few of my friends here and there, but I couldn’t see myself coaching on a large-scale, there are already enough talented coaches out here. I want to be an innovator. Just as I am passionate about solar-energy and alternative forms of energy, I also want to change the way we train in the martial arts community.

Nalini: Creating new training tools?

Gordon: Exactly! Martial arts training has had the same motivational rationale for centuries. Competition, health, coaching, or self-defense. I want to create ways that people can enhance their training beyond their mental motivations. Technology is all about individual empowerment. I am interested in robotics, product engineering, and similar avenues that can give practitioners more autonomy in their training so that they can maximize their efforts in solo-practice. Who knows, we could even be training with cyborgs in the future, and I am ok with that!

Nalini: You sound alot like Bruce Lee. Little do people know that he designed training tools in his spare time and was in the process of designing a heavy-bag that could hit back. Sadly, he passed away, but I like your mindset. Think of a trainer like “Freddy Roach”, if someone never invented focus mitts, he could be out of a job today! If not for the product designer, the famed users of said product could have never existed! I’m stretching a bit far of course, but you get the idea!

Gordon: You hit the nail on the head! I would love to be the guy that changes the way people train and coach.

Nalini: I am really excited to see where your journey takes you next. You seem to be a very positive thinker and inspiring person. That is precisely why I wanted to interview you. Who knows, one of our supporters may be reading your story and is becoming inspired to take charge of their life as a result. I hope that you and your associates will continue a relationship with our organization. We plan to hold martial art seminars to inspire locals and raise funds for crumbling schools in southeast Asia.

Gordon: I’m all about building relationships with like minded people. Maybe in the future we can train together and trade knowledge. I think what you guys are doing is great and will definitely get the word out about Nalini.

Nalini: Alright! Sounds like a plan! I’ll be sure to share links for you team and current projects. Any final thoughts for our readers?

Gordon: Whatever you’re doing in life, after you have done it enough times, the skill itself won’t be as important as the effort it took to get there. I’m proud of myself for coming this far, but nobody does it alone. My mother passed away three years ago, and that moment changed my outlook and and made me question what I really wanted in life. Don’t be afraid of those crossroads.  Stay open to experiences. I am an open-book and am always available so long as the experience is emitting positivity.

Nalini: My condolences for your mother, I’m sure she is watching over you with pride and joy. Thank you once again for being so open with us and sharing your story. You have left us with some powerful words to meditate upon. I look forward to seeing what comes next for you in your evolution as a man, a martial artist, and human being.

Gordon: Thank you for reaching out! I look forward to future partnerships with you and your organization, and love what you guys are doing! I’m here anytime you want to collaborate.  I want to say thanks to my team and all of those who have supported me over the years, it’s been great and there is still more to come.

-Team Nalini

#naliniglobal

2016

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Non-profit Calls out to Martial Artists & Boxers

“Nalini” aka “Nalini Global”, is a non-profit organization based out of Nashville,Tn. Its core goals are to improve the lives of children domestically and abroad with a concentration on southeast Asian countries like Cambodia,Laos, and Thailand, through a variety of methods including donating money to crumbling school districts, hungry families, and taking part in local community works projects like teaching boxing classes, giving seminars on Asian/Buddhist cultures, clean-up projects, and more. In this article, we will focus on how the martial arts and spirituality can give a struggling soul the chance to thrive.  Anyone who has knowledge of Asian culture knows the correlations between martial arts, spirituality, and their focus on self-improvement.

One of Nalini’s founding members has a background in martial arts and decided to pay homage to this revelation by seeking out professional fighters and prominent martial artists to represent “Nalini”, by sporting their apparel during fights or promotional outings.   If one were to travel to Thailand or China, this marriage of spirituality and martial arts are not uncommon. In fact, many Muay Thai kickboxers allow Buddhist monks to tattoo their backs with protection mantras/spells written in Sanskrit alongside other symbolic symbols or famous deities like the powerful “Hanuman”.  In Cambodia, they have a similar tradition through their form of kickboxing known as “Pradal Serey.”

Before Muay Thai or Pradal Serey bouts, fighters often perform a dance like warm-up called the “Wai Kru” in Thailand. It serves as a way to loosen up, pay respect to teachers, and to gain favor from karma. The fighters also wear special arm bands and headbands during their Wai Kru dance that are often soaked in holy water and blessed by Buddhist monks in order to offer the fighter protection from physical harm.

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(Children performing the Wai Kru ritual to pay respects to their teachers and to the ways of Karma.) 

In China, many of their martial art systems also incorporate Buddhist and Taoist forms of meditation and philosophy ingrained into their training routines.  Western martial arts like Boxing and Wrestling also have correlations with adhering to honor codes and creeds as well. While these arts are not as esoteric and mystical as Muay Thai or Kung Fu, the same process of self-realization, discipline, respect, and self-awareness are still quite profound. In fact, a part of what we do here at Nalini incorporates the teaching of martial arts to local children free of charge as a way to give back to the community.

The word “Nalini” literally translates as “Lotus”. In  Buddhist lore, the lotus represents the struggle to become enlightened, as a lotus sprout must rise through muddy waters in order to reach full bloom. Just as a fighter must start out as a weakling before conditioning his/her body to become strong and mind focused.

Considering these things, it makes perfect sense to reach out to fighters and martial artists to represent Nalini. We are looking to sit down with active fighters and coaches, interview them on how martial arts has helped them grow spiritually, and have them wear our apparel during one of their promotions, fights, or media outings. It is a win-win-win situation. Everyone benefits!  One local Cambodian-American fighter by the name of “Kosal Bun”, who has a Muay Thai fight coming up in June, has agreed to be our first spotlighted fighter who we will soon write an article on.

So, if you are a fighter, coach, or well known martial artist and want to support a great cause, please contact us @ NaliniGlobal@yahoo.com  or for a faster response, message us on our facebookpage @ www.facebook.com/Naliniglobal

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(Pick up a Nalini Boxing shirt from our store page! Complete with a Sanskrit protection spell written on the back!) click here  (proceeds from any shirt sales will go towards volunteer efforts)

TEAM NALINI- 2016