On Saturday, October 24, 2015, the American Martial Arts Institute held its annual Teenage 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 men and women 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. The are essential events for each student's training, especially at the brown and black belt levels.
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. For students between 13 and 17 years of age, one of these days is the “Teenage Seminar Day” and the other is our school's Extension Tool Competition. 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. This day covers topics, not ordinarily covered in class, which appear on black belt exams. 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 teenage 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 October 2016.
The day began with Grandmaster Crandall bowing the students in and going over the day’s agenda, followed by brief stretching. The students then had a class on three-point sparring, including its purpose in training, relationship to one-point sparring and continuous sparring, its concepts when applied to three postures of self-defense, and multiple attackers. Students rotated partners, drilling on the fundamentals of block and counter.
The next class was self-defense with a collapsible umbrella. This included a lesson on the purpose of training with extension tools and capitalizing on everyday items for self-defense. The collapsible umbrella was also shown to be similar to a rolled-up magazine, tennis racket, cane, golf club, lacrosse stick, field hockey stick, pencil, ruler, and other items. The students learned how to use the umbrella against grabs, punches, and other attack scenarios for both counters and control techniques.
Individuals who test for seventh degree black belt in American Eagle Style earn the status of Master Instructor, and part of their testing requirement was to design and document a traditional kata. This year, each Master performed the kata that they designed and explained some of the rationale behind it. The students were given a test about each kata later in the day. This was followed by a group picture and lunch at the school.
Brown belts and black belts must be accountable. As traditional martial artists, brown belts and black belts must possess quality physical skills, but they must also possess and demonstrate the proper etiquette, attitude, level of responsibility, involvement, and other related aspects. Grandmaster Crandall took the time to clarify the concept of accountability and how brown and black belts are expected to be accountable.
This was followed by a self-defense class on retraining and control techniques. This included standing and ground positions, and neck restraints from the front and behind. This topic is not covered in regular classes.
Master Freleigh presented a class on the extension tools taught in American Eagle Style, as a brief overview. These tools can be found in the third edition of the American Eagle Style Instructional Textbook.
The day concluded with a class on sparring with more than thirty minutes of continuous sparring with switching partners. The purpose of sparring as an instructional tool was covered, including its relationship to verbal conflicts and scenarios in everyday life. Many other concepts and topics were covered and interwoven throughout the day including conformity versus individuality, the Do or Way as a martial arts concept, fundamentals of leadership, and more. It was an exciting day of growth for the school and its students.