I first learned to tie on a white belt in 1972 as a TaeKwon-Do student under Trân Triêu Quân, of Quebec City (Canada). I got as far as my yellow, but then stopped till the late 70’s, when I returned to Tae Kwon-Do and eventually made it to 1st dan in 1983.
It was when I was still a red belt, that I decided to get into weapons training. I was fortunate enough to come across Guro Ray Zwicker of Ottawa, who along with Phil “Sled Dog” Gelinas, were the first Canadians to be graded to Lakan Guro in Pekiti-Tirsia under Tuhon Leo Gaje. Ray was also a 4th dan in Canadian Jiu-Jitsu, and had been a student and sparring partner for the legendary Tom Bisio.
In June 1984, I took part in a week-long Kali and Silat seminar with Leo Gaje and Dan Inosanto, in western Pennsylvania. It was the first time I fought full-contact stick, outside of Ray’s class. At the end, I got a certificate which not only said I completed the seminar, but which gave me permission to teach Pekiti Tirsia basics. Not everybody who attended got this, and I felt grateful to Ray, for having prepared me so well.
For the remainder of the 80’s I was exposed to a variety of arts, at times training in three or four different schools simultaneously. After passing my Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu (not BJJ) I moved to London England, then to Amsterdam, Holland. By the time I settled in Greece in 1993, I had also trained in JKD, Muay Thai, Judo, Wado Ryu, Pentjak Silat, and western boxing.
Since then, I had done some Judo and some FCS Kali instruction, but generally prefer to stick to informal “backyard groups”. A pivotal point was in 2009 when I fought in my first Dog Brothers Gathering. I am grateful to Guro Lonely for the warm welcome he gave me right from the start – agreeing to let me fight at the tribal, though I was not yet a member of the tribe (I had been a DBMA member for several months though).
In 2013, after fighting at five Gatherings, and having done eight “Gathering Days”, I was welcomed as “Spartan Dog”. Though I am in my fifties, I look forward to many more years of good fights with my tribal brothers. I will be at the Euro Gathering again, this summer!
May the force be with you all!