On Saturday, January 17th, 2015, the American Martial Arts Institute held its annual Adult Seminar Day at the main location in New Hartford, New York. The American Martial Arts Institute strives to offer the martial arts in a variety of programs for people of all ages that will arm their minds with knowledge, their bodies with skills and excite their emotions. One way the school implements this philosophy is by holding three annual seminar events, based on age, to meet the understanding of the students in those age groups. The "Funshop" (or Midwinter Indoor Martial Arts Program) is held every February for students ages 6-12. The Teenage Seminar Day is held every October for students ages 13-17. And the Adult Seminar Day is held every January for students ages 18 and older. These seminars provide a tremendous opportunity for growth within the style, and many areas that are not ordinarily taught in classes are covered.
Out of 365 days in a year there are only two days that give all of the Master Instructors the opportunity to see all teenage students over an extended period of time, interacting with fellow students and the instructors. One for teenagers is the Teenage Seminar Day and the other is our school's Extension Tool Competition Day. We realize that the communities, schools, and employers have put many demands on these individuals but these are the only two days out of the year we have to evaluate who has the qualities to be a brown belt or black belt aside from the basic physical skills. With the Master Instructors carrying a greater role in the strength and direction of the school and its future, it has become imperative that they know the brown belts and how they came to be brown belts. Our school will be teaching for many, many years to come and many of today's brown belts will be tomorrow's black belts and future instructors, committed by their own path to uphold these standards of tradition and quality.
Therefore, for students who are blue belt or higher, the annual adult seminar has become an essential part of their training. Below are some pictures and details about this year's seminar. Next year's seminar will be held in January 2016.
The day began with a written exam called "Do You Know?" This exam was written by Grandmaster Crandall and designed to evaluate the student's knowledge and position of thinking on traditional martial arts concepts, history, and school-related information. The exam was not graded, and the results for the exams were not linked to eligibility for testings and were not publicly released. The students kept their answers, and were able to ask questions later in the seminar. All students were given the 30-minutes to answer the essay-based questions.
The "Do You Know?" exam was followed by an hour class on gun and knife self-defense techniques and concepts, led by Master Stalloch. This was followed by a 30-minute introduction to the extension tools of the American Eagle Style, led by Master Freleigh. These extension tools are listed in the 3rd edition of the American Eagle Style textbook. Students who are ages 13 and older may train in extension tools such as the kama, sai, bo, sword, eku, cane, naginata, half-moon staff, and escrima. Student who are under 13 may begin training in these tools once they have earned the rank of yellow belt (7th gyup). The extension tools and their katas are tested on the written examinations for brown and black ranks, and all students who wish to test for blue belt or higher should plan on participating in the school's annual weapons competition. The demonstration of a weapon's kata is not required until testing for 1st Degree Black Belt, adult status.
During this year's adult seminar, Grandmaster Crandall, now 67-years old demonstrated two meditation techniques for the participants. Afterwards, he explained the concepts behind these demonstrations; the unity of the conscious mind and subconscious mind to have control of the physical body.
The following video is one of those demonstrations. Laying bare back on a bed of nails and having two patio blocks broken on his solar plexus with a sledge hammer.
The following is one of those demonstrations. Walking barefoot through a tray of broken glass. Additional bottles were broken for the viewers and added to the tray just before the walk.
Master Chuff led a class for the adults on the school's "Roots", also known as Grandmaster Crandall's lineage. Credibility for a traditional martial artist comes first from their instructor's credibility, "who are they?" and "who did they learn from?" There are many other aspects that are important to credibility, but this class focused on Grandmaster Crandall's history, "who were his instructors, and what did they teach him?" This introductory class focused on Grandmaster Crandall's training in styles from American, Japan, Korea, and China. This topic is tested on first degree black belt exams. Grandmaster Crandall's certificates of rank and titles can be found hanging on the walls of the main location.
Throughout the day, Grandmaster Crandall gave each of the seminar's participants a "puzzle piece" and then discussed some of the philosophical concepts of traditional martial arts, sometimes referred to as the "old ways," or tradition. By the end of the day, the students were able to put together their puzzle which spelled out a sentence linking together the different concepts that had been covered. In the American Martial Arts Institutes, only black belts who are over the age of 18 (adults) can request to enter the instructor's program and become certified to teach. As possible future instructors, Grandmaster Crandall covered mental and emotional aspects of the style that would lay a foundation for the future.
Grandmaster Crandall also took time during the day to discuss the conscious and subconscious mind, active meditation, and learning how to gain better control of the mind and body. He them demonstrated laying on a tray of nails and having Master Stalloch break concrete blocks on his solar plexus, and walking bear foot through a tray of broken glass
Grandmaster Crandall and Master Stalloch then talked about the school's next international training trip, which will be a cruise through seven countries in Europe in the summer of 2016. Students ate lunch together at the training hall.
The day ended with a class on checks and counters, including a drill that practices checking with counters in flow.
It was a day filled with fun and learning. Next year's seminar will be held in January 2016.