Friday, October 26, 2007

Steve Lavallee - Kyoshi

My school is run by Master KC Lavallee. She is a 5th Degree Black Belt. Update note, she is, as of 11/2012, Shihan KC Lavallee.

The school is part of a group run by Steve Lavallee - Kyoshi. Two notes: One, Master KC is married to Kyoshi Steve Lavallee. Second, Kyoshi's nephew (his brother's son) is named Joe Lavallee.  He also trains in our system and is reaching a high level (4th or 5th degree black belt), I've seen web posts where the two were confused. I have an updated post about Steve Lavallee.

Kyoshi is one of the more interesting and charismatic guys around. He's a 7th degree black belt, a successful business owner, has thousands of students through his system, and works with hundreds of industry leaders thru MAUI. I train in the Lavallee National Training Center (HQ - NTSC) so Kyoshi is frequently on the floor or teaching class. He runs many of our BB candidate classes himself. Which is great.

Here's some background:
An early article on him

I intend to get the whole story on Kyoshi's professional resume from him one of these days (degrees, ring record, training) but as best I can tell:

Kyoshi is interested in developing the blend of martial arts. While his base training is kenpo, he seems to have studied and blended a range of martial arts. On the wall in our dojo, there is a certificate awarding him a 7th degree in Blended Martial Arts from Degerberg Internationa. This certificate on the wall is signed byRobert Beal, Greg Tearney (10th Dan), John McSweeney, and Fred Degerberg.

John McSweeney was a student of Ed Parker, the father of American Kenpo.

There is another certificate signed only by Greg Tearney awarding Steve Lavallee a 7th degree in Karate-Do.

There is alot of Muy Thai in our system plus XMA . He trains sometimes with his friend Shihan Moti, a champion in five martial arts with base training in Israeli Krav Maga. In the last few years, Steve Lavallee has been training in BJJ at Gracie Academy. Kyoshi's base training is Kenpo. Our curriculum evolves with periodic additions and changes in the kata and defense techniques. For instance, when I was a white belt, we learned mostly kenpo self defense. Recently, we've learned new jitsu-type self-defense.

Another of Kyoshi's interests is the Maui Program and working with other sensei to improve the overall management of martial skills and foster exchange among different martial arts.

On October 19th, 2007, Kyoshi Steve LaVallee was the Keynote Speaker at the EFC Summit Keynote in Miami.

This post about Steve Lavallee was updated.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Short Three

Short Three is Back!

Here is the updated version of Short Three Kata, Elite Force Style. The change from the Lavallees one as performed by us 2004-12 is the added part at the end.

Kempo Kata - Show right fist in front of your chest
Short Three - Cover right fist with left hand in sign of "chambered weapon" (peace)
Aieesa - step out to the right into horse stance, hands in chamber

Staying in horse stance.....

Right punch forward, left punchforward, right punch forward - tu, tu, aieeesa
Left punch to the right into a hardbow - tu
Right hand punch to the left into a hardbow - tu

Cat stance on the left foot looking to the Right
Chinese elbow block with the right, punch with the left - aieeeesa

Cat stance on the left foot looking to the back (from where we started)

Right backfist high. Tia
Left hand fingers stab high into the eyes (pulling the right hand back into chamber) followed rapidly with Right elbow (slapping it with the left) Tu, Tia
Right backfist high again followed rapidly with Hammer fist low (groin)
(left hand has been in chamber since the elbow)

Turn to the right (this part is like the release from a cross-over wrist grab)Right hand re-grab and lift up slowly while you push down with the left
Left elbow to the left (temple) sideways, then elbow onto the back downwards, double punch down - Tia

Step back with the right leg so the legs are together and the hands held as if in cat stance and we're facing to the left of where we started.

Look to the right and right chop forward, sidekick with the right leg finishing in a horsestance and pulling hands back into chamber - keiaa
Step forward with the right foot with the hands close together as if pushing at the waist with a little exhale.
Pull your weight back for a half-beat and then dramatically step into a full hard bow (right foot forward) with a double punch. Aieeeesaaaa

Step forward with the left so that you are facing forward and up into an X block up with fists (legs are shoulder-width). Double kidney punch (fisted hands quickly pulling out of X block into inward hammerfists just above the waist). (is this a horsestance or legs at shoulder width?)
Reach up with the right hand to grab (pulling left hand into chamber) , open hand punch upwith the left hand.

Step back with the right into a horsestance doing a left downward block.
Jump front kick forward first throwing the right foot up then kicking with the left following it with a knee drop punch - Right hand is out, right knee is down, left hand is in chamber, left knee is up.

Circle set, fist/hand, bow, right - all going to the right!

Details to Remember - Important

Stances - When you turn to face the back of the room, you are in a cat stance.
At right backfist high, you go into a horsestance.
You go to a hardbow with the left hand fingers stab high into the eyes (pulling the right hand back into chamber).
Then return to horstance for right elbow, right backfist high, Hammer fist low (groin).
When you turn to your right for regrab, push, elbow, elbow, you are still in a horsetance.

Breathing - There is a a keia on the third punch in the beginning (apparently, this is a change from an earlier version of short three). There is no keia again until the left punch chinese elbow.

The jump kick and knee drop punch at the end - Remember to finish the jump front kick before starting the knee drop punch. And don't travel. If you can do the jump and kick without moving forward, it's better.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

BBat50 - About me

John Edelson
Becoming a Second Degree
John Edelson
Carmen and me when I earned my
second degree black belt.
A number of years ago (summer 2003), I (John Edelson) got divorced and was trying to sign my son up for soccer (I played competitively until my mid 40s).  Instead, my xwife put him in a dojo. So I was watching my son in his karate class and my reaction was that while I liked the dojo, I didn't much like being a spectator. Four years later, I had earned a black belt. Two and a half years after that, I earned a second stripe.

This blog chronicles my trip into the martial arts world and how the martial arts affects (and is affected) by the other parts of my life. For instance sometimes in my office, I find myself sounding like a karate instructor. I heard myself in a meeting last week talking in rhymes and expecting my colleagues to answer on cue: "Habbits we train are habbits we....".(Gain is the answer that I somehow expected them to respond with).
John and Carmen Edelson
My story includes what you would expect from a 50 year old active in karate (I have recommendations on ice packs). And some of those unexpected adventures that appear in my life. Since my kids read this, I'll be careful to watch my punctuation and grammar and to keep any innuendo buried in the boring parts. And my sweet wife sometimes has trouble appreciating how much time I spend in the dojo. And she certainly has trouble understanding why I would arrive home and then start blogging about the dojo.  So understand that I post time permitting.

Backyard Bugo
Sparring Practice at Home
(July 2014 update) In 2013, after several years of recurring back spasms, I sadly retired from the dojo and kickboxing.  The doctors told me that my right hip was the source of the problem. Since it has limited movement (no cartillage, an oval shape, and bone spurs), my side and round house kicks were contorting my back in ways that were creating both short-term and long-term problems.  So after 2-3 years of a repeating cycle of back spams, time off, and then restarts, I've put my gi away and have had a void in my life ever since.  I'm looking to find a sports outlet that includes all the sense of community and the social life that the dojo provided me for almost a decade. I've tried running tris, joining gyms, and I'm now getting interested in boxing for which I have high hopes.

My dojo (Lavallee's National Training Center) changed dramatically in 2012 which I touch on here.

What else should I tell you? I've lived for over  nearly a decade in South Florida (since 1998). Before here, I've lived on three continents and four countries (7 years in the UK, 2 years in France, 2 years in Cameroon, and the rest Stateside) and I recently got engaged (Thanksgiving 2007) got married in the end of 2008.  I feel that I'm very lucky.VERY lucky.

John Edelson aka a Black Belt at 50, getting ready for class
The Blog's Background: I started this blog initially to help me remember my katas. In the months before getting my black belt, the training got more intense and the blog became part of that effort: I wrote about each step in the process and posted a lot of pictures, a sort of yearbook for my black belt class.  This was back in the days when having a picture on the world wide web was pretty cool. It was before Facebook.

After I got my black belt, the intensity dissipated. I thought about phasing out karate (I'd like to play some tennis) and mothballing the blog. Instead, I decided that this would be a new beginning for both. The black belt was the beginning of my new phase in the martial arts. And my blogging also went into into a new gear.
My First Black Belt Cycle Team
Jennifer Melrose (2nd), Cathy, Agnes Gallo,
Pat Livnat, Coach Boland,
Scott, Jay, and Me

The Art of Blogging
I also read other people's blogs and have become interested in the "art of blogging". In fact, I've taken a course  on How to Write a Blog that other People will Want to Read - Earn a Black Belt in Blogging (disclosure. I am run the company that offers it.) If you want to learn to blog, it's a great course, sign up NOW . A few years ago, we renamed the course to Blog Writing Course. It turns out the martial arts language, which Black Belt Mama and I liked so much, was a little baffling to the public).  The course is still up but hasn't been updated really since 2010 so its free now.

Some Facts and Small Print. My name is John Edelson. You can contact me by commenting on the blog or emailing: BBat50 (at ) If you have something of interest to say, I accept guest-posts particularly about Lavallees, the martial arts, or being elderly and in the martial arts  I routinely ignore/reject all product or service promotions or other efforts to bring commerce into it.  I have accepted posts to help local friends, nutritionist, and such when I thought they might be of interest to my readers. So far, I've never accepted any money or in-kind to promote anything  (ie a free ringside seat at a UFC match would be nice).  But if I do accept any stuff, I'll disclose it. Hell, I'll brag about it!    Astute observers will note a little promotion of some of my websites on the sidebar of my blog. My day job is running,,, and (and some others).

And if anyone feels that I have misused any pictures or other IP or maligned anyone or thing or if they just don't like the picture of themself, please contact me and I'll try to resolve it.  At least one sensei has contacted me to take down a photo that they thought was less flattering than they would have liked.


Postscript - This blog started a community site helping us learn our kata and documenting our journey towards black belt.  I trained for a decade but around age 55, my hip movement and back deteriorated so much that I sadly retired from the martial arts.  Since then, I've blogged here infrequently but, hopefully my upcoming hip replacement, will have back in the dojo....

In my declining years, I still managed to spar with my "little boy". Check out the difference between the backyard bugo of above and this post from about a decade later: Father Son Sparring.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Candidate Class & Run

It's a crisp Friday night: it must be time for a candidate class and run.Ready to Run
Candidate Group Picture: Mr L, Jay, Agnes, Scott, Kathy, me (John), & Tammy (it's not all the candidates. I know. Thanks for pointing it out).

Time to Start: Master KC Lavallee giving us some motivation.


All Smiles: Agnes & Jennifer(who is leading the class as she earns her third degree) have alot to smile about. Morgan seems to have even more to smile about.

And they're off: At the head of the pack: Lorenzo, Kathy, and Agnes. Followed by Jennifer & me. This is at the start of the run before Kathy disappears way ahead.

Trucking along: Jennifer & John hanging in there.

Younger Talents: Candidate Le & Robbie, her 2nd degree black belt brother

Next Friday: Big black belt check on our bugo kumite! Bugo kum Ite!

And yes, I know that these pictures and captions aren't lining up. But I don't have time to fiddle, I need to go stretch......

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Red BeltWhen you take your first class at the dojo, you are dressed in a clean white gui. If you have learned your creed by heart, you are wearing your white belt.

Once a month, if you attend regularly and progress, you get a new stripe on your belt. In the third month, you will "spotlight" (ie perform) during the regular class. This means performing your kata in front of the class. For the white belts, this is the white belt appreciation form and the Kempo Kata Short One. Actually, the performance will also includes some partner drills, kicking and punching, some holds and grabs, and just for giggles, a surprising amount of pushups!

The next week on Wednesday night, there is Testing. This is a bit of a misnomer since it's really a demo night of your new skills and a test of whether you can perform well in front of your family and friends. It's not a test in the sense Testing Teamthat everybody who has been invited to the testing will get passed up to the next belt level.

The big jumps in class are from orange to purple. And then from green to brown. In both cases, this means a change in class. Once your are green or brown, it's time to start doing some distance running outside of class. One to two miles is the general target.

It takes about three months a belt until you get to green and red. Then it often takes four months since you have to spotlight twice. Of course, there are no rules and it's all subject to the sensei trying to do the best thing for everybody.

Going from high red to black is another kettle of fish.
Once you are high red and show some interest and commitment in becoming a black belt, you become a Candidate and are considered in cycle. As best I can tell, you need to be in two cycles to make it to black belt.

As I write this, I am late in my second cycle. Since nobody has sworn me to secrecy, I will reveal the highlights of being in cycle. I do so with with some fear of a faux pas and of course, the school constantly evolves so it's possible that what I'm going thru is different than what the others go thru.

1.Running four times a week with times required to be under 16 minutes for two miles.
2. Pushups, situps, kicks, squats four times a week
3. Three SWATs (assisting with classes) per week.
4. An indeterminate amount of demo team.
5. Lots of fun intensity in the regular class.
6. Especially vigorous Candidate classes, often with Keoshi leading them on Saturday morning or Friday night.
7. Kiss your personal/professional life goodbye for awhile. Just give up on balance, this is about intensity.

All in all, the trip of a lifetime. Come and join us. Part of the fun is that you are part of a team going thru it. And while I often have trouble seeing my own progress, I am awed by the visible progress of some of the others in my promotion. And presumably, I must be making similar strides although I am extremely aware of my challenges....

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thanks Coach - Special Core Training

coach, jay, scott This weekend, while the Sensei were at their convention, Coach provided us with a special training session. I had planned to be away for the weekend and delayed my departure to attend.
It was basic core training to develop explosive power and explosive speed. It was fun and interesting to get broader exposure to training methods. The basic point is that the cutting edge agnes, eli
of performance is explosive speed and power which comes from core strength, training for quick reactions, and using the hips/body properly. And that core strength is easily increased.

Lots of medicine ball work and such. Definitely worthwhile. Thanks Coach Boland for organizing and leading it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Karate Videos Online

First, a YouTube playlist of Lavallee students & sensei performing. Edward Mercer performs in a number of them. My favorite part is the second half of the Mercer 3rd degree black belt YouTube video which is the sparring.

The YouTube playlist has on it:
3rd Degree Black Belt Test -10 minutes
Kids and Karate - Clay dojo - 4 minutes. At 1:20 (time code), there's the white belt appreciation form. At 1:38, six count kicking. At 1:45, long one. At 2:40, three count kicking. At 3:25, there's short two (with one additional flip at the end.)
FORM: DS 1 FORM DS 1 (created by Daniel Sterling), performed by Master Ron Sell. 2 minutes
Arby's Karate Demo
plus more.
A video of my sparing for my black belt test is on the bottom of that article.
Videos by kata

Virtually all the kata now have descriptions and videos!!! Enjoy.
Wow your friends in class...

White belt appreciation form
Short one - coming soon
Long One - Kids and Karate Timecode 1:45
Short Two - Kids and Karate Timecode 3:25 (admire but don't attempt the flip at the end)
Bookset - coming soon
Chuck form one has embedded video of Melissa. (thanks Agnes)
Kama set has embedded video of Melissa. (thanks Agnes)
Six count kicking - Kids and Karate Timecode 1:38
Eight Count Kicking - coming soon
Ten Count Kicking - The kicks are not so pretty but he does seem be enjoying himself. And he has gotten better since this was filmed (I hope).
Three Count Kicking - Kids and Karate Timecode 2:40
Two Count Basics

Other plans are to add some stills that illustrate some of the basics such as:
cat stance
knee drop punch
- anybody have good photos to contribute? Videos?
Here is a how to on chuck form one by miss stefanie...