traditional arts

The Beginning of a Journey

In 1966, New York City was in the midst of a subway strike that nearly shutdown down the entire city. The US was experiencing division and unrest with opposing views on the Vietnam war. Culturally, there was an awakening, a period of growth that touched all artists and art forms. It was at this point, within this harsh and unforgiving backdrop, that a young 16 year old from Harlem, NY named Ralph Mitchell, would begin a lifelong journey into the world of Martial Arts.

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Hey, I really need to warn you before you read this article.

If you are seriously stubborn or believe yourself to always be right (despite how much money you've lost betting on your favorite football team), you should stop reading.

Trust me, you don't want to keep reading to find out what qi really means.

You definitely don't want to scroll down and find out what Tik-Tok proves to us about ancient Chinese practices and medicine.

Oh, and you certainly don't want to find out how a basketball team once used their minds to upgrade their abilities!

If you believe yourself to know everything already, don't worry. You likely do know all you ever will. Meditate on that for a bit.

But...that's not you, is it? Let's look at some important ideas, you open-minded and wonderfully curious person!

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Ah, close your eyes. Visualize a world where you are fully immersed in the culture of your chosen martial art.

Imagine you were born and raised in the motherland of your martial art and have had the opportunity to train with some of the most preeminent teachers in the system from an early age.

For many of us, this sounds like an idyllic dream. For martial artist Jemar Carcellar, this is more than a distant dream, this was his life growing up in Cebu City, Philippines, the birthplace of Balintawak.

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Whether you call them kata, taolu, or hyeong, forms are an interesting source of debate.

Watch a martial artist train and you may believe forms are only rehearsed tactics for self-defense.

Watch another martial artist and you may believe forms to just be an unusual dance, one that teaches coordination and the harmonies of the body.

Watch yet another martial artist and you may believe it is simply an exaggerated performance meant for the eyes (and ears) of tournament judges.

Spoiler alert: none of these are fully correct nor are they fully inaccurate.

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