Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maha Guro Brian "Buzz" Smith - Arnis Escrima Eskrima Kali

Coming up this week we are excited to have Maha Guro Brian "Buzz" Smith - founder of American Maharlika Kuntaw Association one of the first organized Filipino Martial Arts associations in the US.  Buzz began his Martial Arts training in 1968 when he stumbled onto a Green Beret, home on leave from the Viet Nam conflict, training on a beach near his home. Buzz became an active training partner, playing the aggressor and learning defensive tactics while being thrown to the sandy beach.  In 1969 Buzz enlisted in the Navy and was stationed at the Great Lakes naval Training Center near Chicago.  On base, he discovered, was a Tae Kwon Do class.  All of his free time was spent there learning TKD.  By the time he finished his Naval Training School, Buzz had attained the rank of Green Belt.  His next duty station was a ship bound for the South China Sea (Viet Nam).  His overseas homeport was Subic Bay, Philippines, where he continued his studies by joining the base Kyokushin Kai Karate Club and the Combat Judo Club.  Within a year he had attained the rank of Green Belt in Karate and a Brown Belt in Judo.

During one of his liberty jaunts to the city of Olongapo, visiting one of the many dives that attract sailors,
Buzz was exposed to one of the Filipino Martial Arts in action.  A waiter was being threatened by a large sailor for stealing money from a table.  Buzz heard the sailor's friend tell the waiter to take the money as payment for their order of beer.  But before Buzz could come to the waiter's aid the small Filipino boy had the sailor on the floor with very little effort.  Without a fight the sailor had been beaten.  When quizzed on what style of Art had been used, the waiter said it was "Filipino", and that he was just a beginning student in the Art.  Buzz asked where to find the school and was told that it was for Filipino's only.  Intrigued, and not to lose this chance, Buzz continued to pester the Filipino to teach him or to take him to the school.  Realizing that Buzz was not the typical arrogant American and was truly interested, the Filipino agreed.  Buzz was taken to the Kuntaw Gym and introduced to the instructor, Carlito A. Lanada.  After many questions, Buzz was allowed to train at this school, the training hall or Bothoan at 109 Fendler Street in Olongapo.

For the next three years Mr. Smith would make this his home whenever he was not out on the line replenishing US ships in his capacity as a Navy sailor.  He was one of three Non-Filipino's allowed to do so.  Within three years Buzz had earned the rank of Black Belt, one of the first non-Muslim, non-Filipinos to be awarded a Black Belt in the Art.

Buzz left the Philippines with a charge from his Guro (Instructor) to propagate the Art and further his studies of the Filipino culture and systems.  In 1974 Mr. Smith returned home and determined not to lose what he had gained in the Philippines, began to train in his own back yard. Neighborhood kids would come and watch these workouts; soon he was teaching the art to several teens from his block. He expanded his teaching to the community center to allow for training during foul weather and to reach more youths. Soon the art was being offered as a community service class at the local high school. In 1974 Mr. Smith united his growing student following under the American Maharlika Kuntaw Association.

In 1979 Buzz was appointed the U.S. Director of the International Kuntaw Federation by Master Lanada, a position he held for three years.  In 1982 he established the first Filipino Martial Arts course ever offered for college credit in the U.S.A., at Northwestern Michigan College, in Traverse City.  He currently holds the rank of 7th Degree Black Belt in Kuntaw NG Filipinas,  he has been recognized as one of the top 10 competitors in the MICHIGAN KARATE CIRCUIT and the CAN-AM KARATE CIRCUIT since he started competing in 1975. An all-round competitor, Buzz competed in every division available; weapons, self-defense, board breaking, team demo, forms, and fighting and has proven his abilities. Buzz has been called the "Most prolific winner on the Can-Am Circuit" by its Director Rudy Timmerman.

Mr. Smith has been the most competitive representative of Kuntaw in the United States. He has, in the past, trained in Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. He has trained with Dan Inosanto the late Bruce Lee's top student and head of The Jeet Kune Do organization. He has held seminars in the Filipino arts in Florida, West Virginia, Ohio, and Canada.  He was one of four Americans to be invited to the 25th. anniversary of the Seibukan Dojo (Japan's largest Goju Ryu school) in Nobeoka, Japan. He went to participate in several televised demonstrations of martial arts skills from all over the world, and to teach his art.  Only a small number of representatives from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, England, and the United States were invited. He has been an active competitor in the Michigan and Can-Am Karate Circuits since 1976. With over 1000 trophies and awards to attest to his ability. He also submitted a training program to the Council Lodge Institute for law enforcement and security officers of the Indian Nation. This program was accepted but was not implemented do to insurance problems. Training seminars were to be held in Las Vegas, Reno, New Mexico and Florida.  

Buzz also has been a stunt man and fight scene choreographer for several stage presentations and three motion pictures.  “Lost Treasure of  Sawtooth Island” with Ernest Borghnine, also in “Folklore”, a dark movie about powers from the earth and from nature., as well as Scourge a movie set in a post apocalyptic world where Buzz was one of the lead characters.                  

His list of Instructors is a veritable "Who’s Who".

Carlito Lanada - Co-founder Philippine Karate Association, Great Grand Master and Head Instructor of Kuntaw NG Pilipinas.

Remy Presas - Grand Master- Modern Arnis, Founder of Modern Arnis U.S.A.

Rene Latosa - Founder of Philippine Martial Arts Society.

Leo Gaje - U.S. Representative of NARAPHIL/NARUSA Pekiti Tirsia Kali/ Silat. Grand Master PTK

Dan Inosanto - Bruce Lee's protégé and current Head of the Jeet Kune Do System, world-renowned Filipino Martial Arts Expert.

Tim Tacket - JKD Vanguard Instructor.

Tom Bisio - World Champion full contact stick fighter.

Eric Lee - Once called "The Little King of Kata" Won Hop Kuen Do.

Pendekar  Paul De Thouars - Grand Maser of Serak System of Pentjak Silat.
Bobby Tabouda- Grand Master Balintawak

Buzz recently closed his school, the Northern Martial Arts Academy- a 4500 sq ft building , the largest martial arts school in northern Michigan, due to health issues.

“I am a warrior in the Filipino arts- not a master, just a foot soldier doing my best to understand, propagate, and promote that which stole my heart in 1970 and holds it still today.”

Visit his website for more information:

Our hosts will be Guro Federico Malibago, Guro John Bednarski, Guro Mark Basel and anyone else we can convince to join in on the madness.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

GM Rene Tongson and GM Rodel Dagooc - Arnis - Kali - Eskrima

Live (on tape) from the Philippines.  We have the privilege to spend the afternoon with Grandmaster Rene Tongson of ABANIKO TRES PUNTAS and Modern Arnis.   Also GM Tongson takes us over to GM Rodel Dagooc's o(Modern Arnis) home and factory where we get an impromptu tour.

GM Rene Tongson:

GM Rodel's Website: