As the American Martial Arts Institute prepares to celebrate the American Eagle Style textbook’s 20th anniversary, it opened its doors to the community, family, and friends for a celebration of the main location’s recent expansion into a 6,400 square-foot training facility. For more than 50 years, Grandmaster Crandall traveled across New York State from Catskill to Rochester, teaching classes and passing on traditional martial arts before opening full-time, professional training halls. On Saturday, September 12, Grandmaster Crandall welcomed instructors and students of the American Martial Arts Institute for an exciting day of camaraderie in sharing knowledge and skills. The expanded training hall includes three large, separate training floors with viewing areas, seven bathrooms, a conference room, an office, a school library, changing rooms for men, women, instructors, and master instructors, and areas for quality training equipment including mats, bags, shields, and more.
After Grandmaster Crandall welcomed the large crowd, he introduced his designated successor and the proprietor of the main location, Master Eric Stalloch. He also introduced the other four Master Instructors, Master Freleigh, Master Chuff, Master Morris, and Master Moller, who assist Grandmaster Crandall and each whom led a demonstration during the day. Grandmaster Crandall also presented Matthew Strachen with a Red Top, accepting him into the American Martial Arts Institute's junior rank black belt class assistant leadership program. He also presented one student with a purple belt who had recently tested.
Master Freleigh led the first demonstration, with five students from the Superkick program completing an obstacle course. The superkick program is for 3, 4, and 5 year old students and is documented in a 122 page workbook written by Master Freleigh with Grandmaster Crandall. This was followed by demonstrations by some of the instructors including kata, weapon kata, breaking, and meditation demonstrations (walking barefoot through a tray of broken class). In training room three, Master Chuff and Master Freleigh demonstrated self-defense.
These performances were followed by a demonstration of students ages 6 to 12 led by Master Morris. The demo included a mock class, punches, kicks, basic forms, kata, weapon kata, and board breaking. For many this was the first time that they were demonstrating to the public and family.
Throughout the day food was available for purchase. Local Boy Scout Troop 4, under Scout Master Paul Obernesser and parent volunteer Peter Mozloom, cooked hot dogs and hamburgers with all proceeds going to the troop. Tables and benches were set up on tarps indoors for those who wanted to eat.
Following the children’s demonstration, Grandmaster Crandall and Master Stalloch performed for the crowd. Grandmaster Crandall demonstrated self-defense including advanced throws and takedowns, free-flow self-defense, and joint locks. It was an exciting demonstration and everyone enjoyed seeing the variety of techniques. Master Stalloch lay bareback on a tray of nails and Grandmaster Crandall broke two patio blocks on his solar plexus with a sledgehammer as part of a meditation demonstration.
At 1 pm Grandmaster Crandall cut the cake which was baked and decorated by Wendy Chukwuonye. Everyone was able to have a piece and eat together while door prizes were drawn and given away including unopened copies of the 1st edition textbook, 1st edition Moving Beyond Disabilities book, and the Tonfa: An Extension of the Mind and Body book. Students who participated in each demo were also given a copy of the Action Martial Arts Magazine trading card featuring Grandmaster Crandall and Master Stalloch together.
After the cake cutting and prizes, some of the students in the American Cane System demonstrated this style for the crowd. It included blocks, strikes, kata, and self-defense. Master Stalloch demonstrated self-defense and takedowns with Mr. Sanson as a partner. In training hall three, students demonstrated iaido and batto do from the Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall school of iaido. The batto cuts included multiple reeds and do dan cutting by Headmaster Crandall and Renshi Morris.
The excitement continued with more performances by instructors including walking thorough glass with a power break included and Mr. Lilley demonstrating a combination break of an elbow through two boards, a punch through three boards, and a shuto through four boards. Master Morris and Master Moller demonstrated self-defense.
The day ended with the final performance by students ages 13 and older. The adult class demonstration was led by Master Chuff and included punches, kicks, basic forms, kata, weapons kata, and numerous board breaks. Breaking boards is not done in regular classes. Instead, students who are interested must volunteer at a public demonstration and learn how to do it at that moment, and for most their first board break takes place in front of a public audience.
It was an exciting moment of growth for the students and the school. Pausing to celebrate the shared love of the American Eagle Style and the sharing of knowledge with friends and family was a real pleasure, and we look forward to 2016 as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the documentation of the style.