Ross Martial Arts hosts three-day seminar

Published 10:49 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

Several local martial arts enthusiasts joined this past weekend with instructors and students of Ross Martial Arts and Fitness Academy as well as visitors from out-of-state for three days of training at the Demopolis facility.

The 2010 Complete Martial Arts Seminar kicked off Friday evening, Jan. 15 with a four-hour no-gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu session featuring instruction from Joe Cunningham, head instructor of the Yamasaki Academy in Woodbridge, Va.

“No-gi, or submission grappling, is simply BJJ techniques that are applicable without a uniform on,” said Cunningham, who is a student of UFC referee Mario Yamasaki.

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Cunningham drilled the grapplers on various techniques used for both self defense as well as submission grappling competition. Friday’s session ended with free sparring matches among the attendees.

On Saturday, Jan. 16, the seminar began at 8 a.m. with more BJJ from Cunningham. This time the emphasis was on gi grappling, techniques used with a uniform on, and attendees were instructed on various collar chokes and submissions.

After a brief lunch break, the seminar resumed with a session on Wing Chun concepts taught by Kung Fu instructor Vance Heun, of Kansas City, Mo.

Heun, a Chinese martial arts teacher with more than 20 years in his art, went through various blocking and trapping drills and instructed attendees on upsetting an opponent’s centerline.

“Mr. Heun is an excellent instructor,” said Ronda Russell, Ross Martial Arts instructor. “This was my first experience with Kung Fu even though I have more than 20 years of martial arts experience, and it was interesting to see how many of the techniques are similar to what we do in Taekwondo.”

The Saturday seminar culminated in several challenge matches with Cunningham serving as referee.

The first fight, a three-round mixed martial arts match, pitted Soca Brazilian Jiu Jitsu student Michael Georgievski, of New York, against Taekwondo black belt and amateur modified Muay Thai fighter Greg Bamburg, of Florida.

The bout was a classic example of a stand-up striker against a skilled ground fighter, and, after nine minutes of action, was ruled a draw.

The second fight of the night saw Virginia Kung Fu instructor Damen Knight square off against Ross Martial Arts instructor Jay Russell in a three-round kickboxing match.

The contest was intense and both competitors landed solid strikes, but, just before the bell rang to end the first round, Russell landed a kick that ended the match as a TKO.

“Damen took a shot at one point that put a cut near his eye that I felt was a little close to the eye to let it continue,” said Cunningham. “But it was another great display of technical abilities and heart.”

On Sunday, Jan. 17, the seminar was scheduled to include a four-hour Muay Thai class.

However, due to an unforeseen flight cancellation, MMA coach and Muay Thai instructor Andreas Liaskos, of Cleveland, was unable to attend. Cunningham stepped up to fill the time slot, and the attendees were treated to an extended judo class that included off-balancing drills and practice on sweeps and throws.

“I’m glad we had this opportunity to get together with other martial artists from all over the country,” said Jay Russell.

“It was great to be able to share experience and train together, but it was also a treat to introduce many of them to the Southern hospitality we have here in Demopolis.”

Cunningham shared Russell’s view of the experience and said he certainly hoped to return to Ross Martial Arts in the future for more training and fellowship with kindred martial artists.