My RMA Year

My Renaissance Martial Arts Year

My DCUMAC years and My Seito years started with a chance encounters.  As luck would have it, I had similar good fortune again.  Shortly after moving to Rochester, New York, I knew I had to find a club to train.  As I had recently earned my Nidan (second-degree black belt) in Seito, I had no idea what path I would need to take to eventually become a Sandan (third degree).  I decided I was going to attempt to start a college club (like that in My DCUMAC years) and refine my skills through teaching them to other students.

Not being an alumnus, my attempts were fruitless except for the recommendation to try out a club called Renaissance Martial Arts.  I made an appointment to talk to Sifu Mark Cardona and view his Wan Yi Chaun class.  Five minutes into our conversation I knew I had found something very significant as Sifu Cardona echoed that of my Seito and DCU|MAC philosophy.  Watching his class train I knew that Sifu Cardona's had a depth of understanding that I had not seen before.  I decided that this depth is what I would need if I was ever to consider myself a Sandan.

While my time there was brief and would be unfair to even remotely consider myself a Wan Yi Chuan Kung Fu artist, I did not leave empty handed.  That single year at RMA caused me to challenge my understanding of all the techniques I had previously considered basic.  Sifu Cardona's skill as an instructor is that not only does he deeply understand his art; he is able to cement his principles in the minds of his students.  Beforehand, I understood that a classic karate low-block was four basic motions rather then one.  Through studying under Sifu Mark I began to understand the structure and methods of power generation needed to make these motions into highly effective techniques.

I describe my time there as "learning better karate through kung-fu", but that over simplifies what happened.  I learned principles that transcend any one art and appear in all.  What I thought were the atoms of martial arts before turned out to be molecules.  Sifu Cardona taught the atoms that existed in these molecules.  He simplified everything I had previously learned and in doing so allowed more focused training on the ideas that makes martial skills effective.  To this day I am still working to express what I learned.

But Sifu Cardona taught me something else that is even more important - it is possible it to be part of a martial family without politics.  Sifu Cardona runs the Renaissance Martial Arts Festival each year which brings together Masters of different arts to teach seminars.  Most unusual is that these Masters are of different organisations yet all are friends happy to share and learn from each other.

When I moved on from Rochester, NY, I was upset that I had to leave behind such a great school.  However, Sifu reminded me that I am part of their martial family.  I consider Sifu Cardona to by my Sifu, and a patron to what has become LMA.  Each year I endeavour to return for the Renaissance Martial Arts Festival, to reunite with this martial family and to continue to inspire new ambitions.

Year of Enlightenment