Trascription of Episode 3 - Interview with Weapons Master and Pankration Master Spencer Gee
Episode 3 – Interview with Weapons Master and Pankration Master Spencer Gee
Tim: Hello and welcome to the Martial Arts Lineage podcast. I’m your host, Tim Johnson. Join me as I interview instructors and martial arts masters from across the country and around the world. In an effort to learn and share knowledge of martial arts styles from the mainstream to the exotic, I’ll be speaking with a variety of people who have devoted their lives to these arts. Learn with me about the history of these styles and their evolution, as they have been passed down through the ages. Hear stories of their origins, and of the grand masters both ancient and modern, who have developed these arts as tools for a better human race. Understand the founding philosophies of these styles to truly realize the true meaning of martial arts.
Tim: Today I’m speaking with Master Guru Spencer Gee from Two Worlds Fitness Center in Greenville, New York. Master Gee represented the US in 1981 for their 1st Wushu Tour to the People’s Republic of China. He’s a personal trainer, an aerobics instructor and traditional Kung Fu instructor. He also teaches a style called Pankration, which is known as the “martial art of all powers” and dates back to Ancient Greece, 600 BC. He also teaches an art called Pananandata, which is the Filipino art of weapons. He’s a guest professor at Hofstra University for Tai Chi and teaches some of their self defense courses offered there. Master Gee has also trained in Praying Mantis, Gracie Jiu-jitsu and Brazilian Capoeira. Master Gee, thank you so much for speaking with me on the Martial Arts Lineage podcast.
Master Gee: It’s a pleasure Tim, glad to be here.
Tim: All right, well you certainly have an enormous variety of influences in the martial arts. But I’d like to start at the beginning and talk about some of your inspirations and where you started in the martial arts: when you started, how old you were, what styles you started with. Bring me back to the very beginning.
Master Gee: I was 12 years old, born in 1960, so that would be 1972. I started in Kenpo, Ed Parker System of martial arts. And most of the techniques were based on various self-defense responses against grabs, punches and kicks. So, I learned techniques according to groups of movements with labels, various names of techniques. There were imaginative names like Dance of Death, Five Swords, and things like that.
Tim: Was it by your own motivation that you got interested in the martial arts?
Gee: It was my own motivation; I was inspired when I saw Bruce Lee on the Green Hornet.
Tim: Ah, yeah. That will do it. Ok.
Tim: So you started out with Kenpo, Ed Parker System. How long did you do that?
Master Gee: I was exposed to Maltese Striking Patterns and Stand-up. I wasn’t exposed to any kind of submission, throws or grappling like Judo or Jiu-jitsu. So my first exposure was primarily multi-angular striking techniques.
Tim: Ok. And how long did you stick with the Kenpo and what did you move on to next?
Master Gee: I studied Kenpo for about, I’d say, 3 years. My parents took me out of it because they wanted me concentrating on other things besides martial arts. They didn’t like me studying martial arts.
Tim: Oh really, okay, that’s interesting.
Master Gee: Yeah, they thought it was aggressive and they thought my time was better spent preparing for college.
Tim: Sure, tennis and the piano, okay.
Master Gee: As soon as I got to college I jumped into a Kung Fu club. I always wanted to study Kung Fu. It wasn’t Karate I wanted. It was Chinese Martial arts; I wanted to study Kung Fu.
Tim: Was it the Praying Mantis that you go into, then?
Master Gee: That was the Mizong Long Horn style, the Lost Track system. And my teacher Sifu Raymond Wong he was a good friend with Kam Yuen. Kam Yuen is certified Praying Mantis Sifu. And so since they were friends, Sifu Raymond Wong learned some of the Praying Mantis forms from him to prepare his students for the agility needed in the Lost Track system. Cam Yuan was a fight choreographer for the Kung Fu TV show with David Carradine.
Tim: Oh, is that right?
Master Gee: That’s Right.
Tim: That’s cool. And that was in Northern California?
Master Gee: That was in Southern California, the University of Southern California, USC. My teacher, Sifu Raymond Wong, he also taught us a Southern form, a form from the Lao Ga system.
Master Gee: So that was a Southern system to get our foundation and stances down. And he taught us a number of Praying Mantis forms to get our agility down. And then with those forms down, he started us on the Lost Track system forms.
Master Gee: I was there long enough to learn one Lost Track form, two Praying Mantis forms and one Southern form. In the course of time I was there I was interested in Wushu so I applied for the team traveling to China. I made the auditions and I went out to China. That school was able to refund all my money from my courses and I was able to still stay in school while studying under directed research.
Tim: That’s great.
Master Gee: Yes, and I came back and wrote two articles for Inside Kung Fu magazine.
Tim: So you went over with the Wushu Team in 1981 right?
Master Gee: Right. Yes we were the first team out there. I was with Roger Tung.
Tim: Roger Tung, okay. What was that experience like, training martial arts or competing Wushu in China?
Master Gee: Ah, well we weren’t competing in China. We did do demonstrations for the first graduation there since the Cultural Revolution. The audience loved our enthusiasm. The training was very rigorous because we were working out 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. They built a compound for us that we stayed on. All the meals were served there. We had armed guards around the compound. All our moves were being watched by the government.
Tim: Hmm. Wow. So how long were you there for?
Master Gee: We were there for a bout three and a half months, a semester’s worth of school.
Tim: Great, great. And how big was that team?
Master Gee: We had about seven people on the team. Kenny Perez who is well known for his Rope Dart was on there. Kitaro Bayashi who is a very good fighter and forms performer was there. Uhh, Donnie Yen came out with us for part of the trip and left to go train in Beijing.
Tim: Okay, and for the listeners, Donnie Yen is a major figure in a lot of martial arts films and most recently he starred in the Ip Man films, right?
Master Gee: That’s correct. Yeah, he’s a very gifted martial artist.
Tim: Yeah, he’s fun to watch. Um, so did you specialize in a certain form?
Master Gee: While we were out there we just got our basics down. Because we were really tight and inflexible, slow and couldn’t jump too well. So the Chinese team just had to do what they could just to help us improve with what we could. And, they gave us enough basics with the long fists, the compulsory Long Fist form. We learned separate long fist routines, separate broadsword routines and staff routines. With that, we brought that back to the United States and we started competing and spreading the Wushu Art in the United States.
Tim: Okay, so you had a whole team of instructors there that taught you guys various things?
Master Gee: Yes, we trained with the Nanjing Wushu Team.
Tim: Then you moved on to some other arts, is that right?
Master Gee: Well after I graduated from college, uhm. During the time I was in college I met my best friend and martial arts training partner Eric Lee and he helped me with my gymnastics and worked with me on cross-training martial arts to understand better the importance of parrying, to understand the defensive side of empty hand technique training. He worked a lot on my kicks and power punting. So, he worked a lot on helping me understand a very firm foundation for my empty hand training. He calls his system Pankration because it involved being well rounded in both stand-ups, punching, kicking, trapping, parrying, kicking, and grappling, submission techniques, falling and self-defense techniques. So, the important part where he helped me understand application of techniques and teaching the techniques in a clear, understood manner so that people can apply the techniques right away by doing interactive drills.
Tim: Okay. Now let’s talk about Pankration a little bit. It’s an art form I hadn’t been familiar with until I started reading up on your history. Apparently it’s a style that comes from way back when in Greece, back in 600 BC.
Master Gee: 648 BC, at the 33rd Olympiad at the Ancient Greek Olympics.
Tim: Yeah, that’s pretty neat. That’s a lot further back than a lot of the other, even Chinese arts.
Master Gee: Well I have seen some records about some of the Asian systems saying that they had some fighting techniques going on at the time and I do believe that most civilizations did have some form of fighting going on at the time, but what I was impressed with Pankration was that it’s recorded by Plato. He gives it recognition and it’s recorded in the potteries, it was recorded in the art. And, you see very graphic scenes of people practicing Pankration. You don’t just hear legends and stories about it, but you hear accounts that are well grounded in history. That’s what I respected about it. It was very detailed in terms of the various strikes and the various submissions they had. Because, it combined boxing, which includes punching and kicking, elbows, and knees and head butts with submission grappling, including throws and joint locks and chokes and things of that sort. So, they were very detailed and they had a very full account of their techniques.
Tim: Yeah, the ancient Greeks are certainly, well their record keeping was very good but they were also a very scientific community.
Master Gee: Yeah, throws, grounding. Everything in terms of not just aesthetics, but in terms of practicality and in terms of symmetry, in terms of keeping things scientific and logic-based.
Tim: Right, right, and that’s to keep it as realistic as possible, right?
Master Gee: That’s correct.
Tim: Yeah, Hmh. So how does a Pankration training environment differ from, maybe some of the Wushu or other arts that you’ve trained?
Master Gee: The main thing, you see, is application oriented. You’re not learning forms for the sake of aesthetics or winning points, or getting an audience to clap for you. You’re more concerned with how and why you do things. Since my training partner and teacher in Pankration was a gymnastics coach, he took everything from the point of understanding transitions and progressions and leading you into spotting to understand how to do the techniques, and how to teach it to somebody. With a gymnastics background, teaching martial arts was easy in terms of understanding the transitions to help out students get the ideas clear.
Tim: Yeah, interesting.
Master Gee: So the main difference between Wushu and the Pankration is application. The Chinese government did not want the people practicing martial arts to understand application to empower themselves. They’d rather prefer to have them be concentrating on movements and kept them from understanding why, so that they’d be busy doing things just for the sake of steps, aesthetics. So if people are just concerned with things just looking good, never understanding why and how it works, then they’re kind of left in the dark.
Tim: Okay so is there a system to Pankration, like forms or something?
Master Gee: There are specific training techniques and training drills that allow a person to get to the point of being able to do techniques free style, as opposed to having to do set forms—there are specific foot work drills, there are specific parrying and trapping drills. They are done in short sequences, not a whole series of confusing movements that you oftentimes see in other systems. It’s done quick and to-the-point so that a person can understand the mechanics of how it works and get to the point of being able to do it in free-play.
Master Gee: Like in most sports, you’ll have drills to get you to understand how to practice like a jump shot or how to dribble. But then, it’s all leading you to the point so you can play basketball. People go to watch you play basketball. They don’t want to see you do drills, dribble the ball in and out of cones, or stand to the side and practice doing a jump shot. They want to see you play against another team.
Tim: Right, apply it.
Master Gee: Yeah, in martial arts they want to see how do [sic] you punch and kick. Put that all together with parrying and trapping and throws and takedown submission and not just show me a form of it by yourself, as if simulating how it looks if you were shadow boxing. Let me see what it looks like against another person who you’re sparring with. Let me see you play the art. So this system gets you to the point where you can do that.
Tim: I’ve heard some legends of Pankration where, Pankratiasts, I believe they’re called?
Master Gee: Pankratiasts, yeah.
Tim: Pankratiasts, okay, they trained with lions, other things like that, that you might associate with gladiators.
Master Gee: I think eventually the Romans took it and put it at that point where they had to fight against animals or warriors from other civilizations. But in the time when it was still in Greece it was still pretty pure before it came to the point where it was put to the point to being a gladiator contest. They were looking primarily for the pure essence of athleticism.
Master Gee: It’s separate from another art called Pammachon, which is more for combat for battlefields. This is more of a combat sport as opposed to training someone who’s training for combat on the battlefield.
Tim: Hmm. Okay, so that would be more of a stand-up art, maybe?
Master Gee: Uhhm, primarily stand-up art and also include weaponry.
Tim: Speaking of weaponry, after your Pankration, you moved on and started developing some of your skills in a style called Pananandata from the Philippines?
Master Gee: Well my training with Eric Lee has been continuous and still continues to this day in terms of understanding how to integrate the stand-up and the grappling work. But I was doing all these things concomitantly, all these things together at the same time.
Master Gee: This way I was able to integrate the usage of all the things I’ve learned and how to make it work.
Master Gee: And, in terms of the weaponry, it’s primarily weapons only oriented. With Grandmaster Amante Marinas in the system of Pananandata.
Tim: Okay. So how was training Pananandata different than training Pankration with Eric Lee.
Master Gee: Uhh, training with Grandmaster Marinas was different in the fact that we were using weapons. We were using all kinds of weapons, all kinds of lengths of weapons—sticks, knives, swords, spears, whips, and ropes. And we’re sparring with these, primarily single stick, double stick. And doing it in a way that we could go it freestyle without armor.
Tim: Hmm. Yeah, that sounds aggressive. These sticks, they must be a little bit lighter than your standard Escrima stick?
Master Gee: They are lighter to allow for contact, but I have seen situations where hands were broken.
Tim: Mmm, I would imagine.
Master Gee: Yeah, they were going at a high speed and primarily our control was developed through all our partner drill exercises to such an extent that we could control the impact very well unless somebody just happened to walk in on a flurry of attacks.
Tim: Yeah, it’s a pretty interesting style to watch and I was looking at a lot of your videos on your website. I would suggest to the listeners that if you want to check out Pananandata to go check out some of those videos on your website SpencerGee.com.
Master Gee: Oh right that’s an excellent source of videos where we have free fighting. The sticks are 31 inches long, so they’re not as short as some of the Arnis sticks, which are usually like 26, 28 inches.
Tim: And Pananandata comes from a Filipino word, I believe, that means “choice of weapons”, and you mentioned using lots of different weapons.
Master Gee: Paggamit ng Sandata, Paggamit ng Sandata. That’s a contraction of that word. Pananandata. It’s a Filipino word, which is what my teacher wanted—to keep using the Tagalog language. He didn’t want Spanish like the word Arnis. And he didn’t want to use anything with a Hindu influence like the word Kali. He wanted to stick to a Filipino word for a Filipino art.
Tim: Sure. Okay.
Master Gee: The region that he’s from is from Northern Philippines. And the word “Pananandata” is a very old word that most people have never even heard of unless, they’re like, grandparents, they’ve heard of that. It’s kind of like if I was to tell you, ‘I don’t do boxing, I do fisticuffs, or I do pugilism.’ It’s kind of a thing like that.
Tim: I believe I’ve seen some videos of Grandmaster Marinas teaching Pananandata and he was actually using weapons like a ring, and a cane, and lots of other various things.
Master Gee: Yes, a lot of the weapons do come from a farming background. The ring was used to keep the pots up when people were cooking food in them; otherwise the pot would spill all the food out. Hawakan or what would be known as tonfa was used as a grinder for grinding rice into flour.
Tim: Really, okay. Hmm.
Master Gee: So a lot of the tools that we used have like a domestic background that like farmers would use.
Tim: Hmm, which is actually similar to a lot of the Chinese arts and Chinese weapons.
Master Gee: That’s correct. And, the Sibat or the spear that we use comes from the pole that was used either to help grow beans in the garden with or to carry water buckets on your shoulders with.
Tim: Hmm. Hmm, interesting. And I’ve also heard about Pananandata that it’s an art that allows its practitioners to practice health and friendship?
Master Gee: That’s correct. When we’ve done seminars we like to share the techniques that we do to encourage other Filipino martial artists to take their training and vary it. Because one of the things that’s unique is that we train with asymmetric weapon pairs, like a balisong and a horsewhip, not just a stick and a knife, but a Filipino nunchaku, tabak-toyok, and a balisong or using the hawakan and the hawakan, which is like the tonfa and using that with the dikin which is the ring. They have different shapes and different sizes and different properties of weapons being used at the same time. So my piano training helped that with me a lot.
Tim: Mm… yeah. The piano training and tennis training we talked about when we spoke before. Those different disciplines have helped you out in your martial arts training in several different ways, I think?
Master Gee: Yes. All the strokes in tennis are just the same as all the stick attacks and sword attacks in Pananandata. And the dexterity I got from playing the piano helped me a lot in using the balisong. And having my hands doing two different in playing the treble and bass helped me to do asymmetric weaponry and the pedal in using the piano helped me with my footwork along with the footwork that was used in tennis.
Tim: Oh yeah, sure.
Master Gee: So all the different disciplines I studied with all helped to integrate themselves to help me in expressing myself to the martial arts I’ve been training in.
Tim: Hmm… And you spent, uhm… after you trained a lot of these arts and got a good foundation in the martial arts, you spent a little while and you basically took a break from training with an instructor and you did a lot of solo training.
Master Gee: Actually, it’s the fact that while I was training with all of my teachers they usually encourage me to spend a lot of time solo to do problem solving and to figure out my own, uhh, style or way of expressing myself in doing the techniques. That was with Wushu and it was with Pananandata.
Tim: Mm, okay. So that was in conjunction with your training?
Master Gee: Yes. The solo training and forms training or shadow boxing or shadow striking kind of training allowed me to get in touch with learning the weapon, learning how my body moves best through space, testing out ideas and techniques that I’d learned in doing partner drills so I could get to know myself better, get to know my own style, get to know how my body moves best with different techniques and different weaponry. That’s the value of doing the solo training, but still backed up by doing interactive drills with partners.
Tim: Uhuhm. Now I’m thinking back to the Shaolin temple and the years when a lot of these martial arts were being developed, at least the Chinese ones at the Shaolin temple, and obviously that was certainly a lot of solo training. These monks just, you know, like you said, got in tune with their body and how it moved and got accustomed to their own proprioception and discovered all these martial arts for themselves. So it seems like this solo training is critical to really understanding the martial arts. Is that something that, I don’t see personally see that encouraged overly nowadays, is that something you encourage in your students?
Master Gee: Uhm, it’s hard for people to do because you have to be really involved with your training to do something like that. You have to spend a lot of time doing partner drills in order to visualize somebody punching and kicking at you to be able to then, in turn, simulate or mimic your responses along those lines. It’s just like a boxer practicing shadow boxing, or like a tennis player practicing on the wall.
Tim: Uhuhm. Uhuhm.
Master Gee: But in spending that kind of solo time, like you mentioned, it gives you a sense of learning to know your own limits and get in touch with your body and its own rhythm. It helps you get to your zone, your own mental state so that everything can flow smoothly.
Tim: Hmm. I imagine that it also allows a practitioner to kind of develop the artistic side of the art, you know, art is such a personal thing.
Master Gee: That’s right, in bringing out the artistic side, the aesthetics, I still feel that’s all based on understanding applications first, it’s not doing it just because something looks cool or has a beauty about it, but the beauty is further embellished and enhanced when the person knows what they’re doing.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
Master Gee: So a person who has both forms training and fighting training, they can add more life to what they’re doing in forms training because of the interactive drills they’ve been doing. They can then reenact or simulate the feeling of what it’s like doing the fighting technique even if they’re doing it by themselves.
Master Gee: The person who only does forms technique can only make the techniques look as good as they can only from a movement perspective but without the understanding of the application.
Tim: Yeah. Hmm. So you mentioned that you’ve done piano lessons and played tennis. You also mentioned before that you are in ballroom dancing classes?
Master Gee: I take ballroom and Latin dancing for competition as well as social. And I’m also a practicing Formico dancer, as well.
Tim: Hmm, that’s fun. Uhm It sounded like you’ve drawn quite a few parallels between dancing and Tai Chi?
Master Gee: Uhm, yes. You need to have the sensitivity derived in dancing that you still apply in doing Tai Chi. You still have to learn how to move from center and minimize how much tension you have in your body. The applications that have made the Tai Chi techniques are done in close quarters. They’re not done far away so it’s being comfortable with one’s partner when doing ballroom and Latin dancing, one acquires a better understanding of how the Tai Chi techniques work by learning how to move from the center and not using the arms separate from the body, but to move from the center, to move from the waist.
Tim: Hmm, yeah. Hmm. And you actually incorporate some of those principles into your Tai Chi classes when you teach?
Master Gee: Absolutely, I use those principles in my Pankration, in my Pananandata and in my Tai Chi training as well.
Tim: Yeah it sounded like you incorporated a lot of the Pankration training structure in your classes, and that’s basically being able to express the martial art in scientific form in a real understandable way for your practitioners to get the point of what you’re trying to teach them, right?
Master Gee: That’s true. The best way is you got to do the drills, you got to do it with a live person and then you got to have some time to go a little bit freestyle. Otherwise a person is not going to be able to improvise and create, as an artist should be able to, which is repeating patterns in a mechanical way. The whole point is to be natural and to be free flowing again.
Tim: Yeah, that seems to be a theme of all the styles you study with the Capoeira, Pankration, Pananandata, certainly dancing. They’re all very creative and expressive arts.
Master Gee: Yeah, it’s all about being in touch with yourself, learning who you are by doing solo drills and being sensitive to your partner when you’re doing sparring drills.
Tim: Hmm, yup. All right. Uhm. So I have a question about the course that martial arts has taken over the course of your lifetime and your training period in the martial arts. Uhm, I think you’ve been in the California and New York regions most of your life. You started with California, moved to New York. How have you seen martial arts training principles in general, change over the course of the years? Are there improvements that have been made, or downfall that you see in certain styles, certain training methods in modern day martial arts?
Master Gee: Yeah they’ve made improvements in nutrition, they made improvements in conditioning in terms of training a martial artist more like an athlete, and gain their strength up to par, gain their conditioning and their flexibility up to par by training in different manners that one would train as if doing any other athletic endeavor. And one of the people who has really greatly influenced that was Bruce Lee. He was one of the first to introduce cardio training, weight training, nutritional concepts and he wrote everything down in a journal format. And these things you see people doing that in mixed martial arts. A lot of the mixed martial artists are going vegetarian now because they see that they’re bodies are able to restore and rejuvenate itself quicker than if they were eating as much meat.
Tim: Really? I wasn’t aware of that.
Master Gee: Yeah, I myself primarily promote a raw food vegan diet.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. Great. Mixed martial arts seems like such a masculine sport. You know, picture those people to be vegetarians necessarily; I guess it makes sense to do it?
Master Gee: Yeah, so they can recuperate and get back to their training quicker.
Tim: Hmm, great. Yeah, that’s certainly an art that’s becoming a lot more popular these days. It sounds like, you know, I’ve heard Pankration referred to as the original Mixed Martial Arts. Do you see Pankration kind of evolving into a Mixed Martial art fighting ring?
Master Gee: Pankration is a mixed martial art. Mixed martial art is Pankration.
Tim: All right.
Master Gee: When you saw Bruce Lee fighting in Enter the Dragon, he’s basically doing Pankration. He’s doing punching, he’s doing kicking, and he finishes a fight with a submission hold. He’s not wearing a Gi; he’s not wearing a traditional Chinese Kung Fu uniform with frog buttons on it. He’s wearing shorts and he’s wearing finger gloves. That’s what they do now. That was in the 70s!
Tim: Hmm, sure. Is there a certain direction you see that mixed martial arts evolving to in the future? It’s becoming popular; I assume it’s probably going to increase in popularity over time?
Master Gee: I think it’ll continue to increase in popularity in time. They’ll probably start adding, I’m not sure if they’ll start having more than one person at a time, although that’s something they might consider. They might consider different rules in terms of when to strike somebody when they’re down or adding different kinds of submission holds. Uhm, as the people become stronger in their basics they’ll get more and more dangerous because they can train somebody to hit harder, kick harder, but you can’t really train someone to get hit harder.
Master Gee: So you might have to watch out for more intense injuries.
Tim: Mmm... interesting.
Master Gee: As long as the referee can keep an eye on when to stop the fight, then you’ll have a longer livelihood with these athletes.
Tim: Mmm… so talking about Pananandata and the high-speed fights that take place in that sport, there must be some parallels you must have drawn to swing dancing, and ballroom dancing, and Pananandata even?
Master Gee: In terms of timing and rhythm?
Tim: Yeah, in terms of timing and rhythm, coordination between you and your partner. I mean you really have to be in communication, you’re swinging sticks back and forth at each other so fast.
Master Gee: Ah, yes you have to relax and you have to basically keep yourself emotionally uninvolved. My teacher would always say, when you look at the person across from you, you just see a body with the limbs but without the head. Meaning, you don’t get it personally whether you’re hitting or your getting it. It’s just a body you’re looking at that’s moving at you, swinging sticks at you. You don’t get emotionally involved with who it is that you’re sparring with.
Tim: Sure, that sounds like a principle that comes directly from Pankration being so scientific and calculated.
Master Gee: Yeah. You can’t, like, get personal about it. Usually the matches, the weapons, the sparring matches we kept it not too long otherwise people would build up like, uh, they want to get vindictive or something like that so we wanted to keep the tempers down by keeping the matches short.
Tim: Huh, that’s interesting. Hmm, cool.
Master Gee: In terms of the dancing, it’s a little bit different because the intensity is much different with somebody trying to hit you with a stick compared to dancing with somebody to keep to the rhythm for a song. With the music, you’re somewhat limited because you have to move within the rhythm of a song with the character of that dance. And, when you’re fighting with weaponry, there’s a similarity because you’re using the characteristics you’re fighting with. It changes a little bit depending on what weapons you’re using, if it’s different from what your opponent is using. So if you’re both using sticks, and you do is to stay in the character, so-to-speak, of what a stick does. But, if he’s got a long stick and you’ve got two short sticks, then you have to adapt with that differently because there’s things that you wouldn’t do against a person with a long stick that you would do if they had a single stick or two sticks.
Tim: Hmm, yeah.
Master Gee: That’s with bludgeon type weapons, hitting weapons; that all changes when you’re using blades.
Tim: Sure, do you actually spar with blades as well?
Master Gee: I took my sword mastery test with blades.
Tim: Sword mastery test?
Master Gee: Yeah, and I got my knuckle cut by one of my students. She cut my knuckle with the hilt of her sword. I managed to keep the knuckle from bleeding. So, I was forcing it that the knuckle, even if it was cut, that I didn’t get my tendon cut. I had a friend of mine who was an eye surgeon sew me up. But during the test itself I managed to keep my hand from bleeding. I just told myself, “Don’t bleed.” I was able to get a couple of butterflies on there and still finished my test even though I got my knuckle cut from the vanilla hilt of one of my student’s swords.
Tim: Wow. So what was that sword mastery test part of? Was that part of a Pananandata training?
Master Gee: It was, it was. And my teacher gave me my Sword Mastery certification from there. And I demonstrated fighting with all kinds of blades, and I sparred against not just one, but two and three people simultaneously. No script, it was totally freestyle.
Tim: [Laughs] That’s amazing.
Master Gee: Yeah, that was unique, because I formulated my own tests that way.
Tim: Yeah, well Spencer, thank you so much for being on the show today. Is there anything else you want to share with the listeners before we part?
Master Gee: No, I just want to say that it’s important to train in different systems, keep an open mind, and to treat their training in a holistic manner—mentally, physically and spiritually. With MMA these days, people just think about everything just from the physical aspect. They usually don’t take into consideration the mental or spiritual aspect. So I think they’re kind of lacking on that end. They just want to just get really strong and just muscle everything through. There’s a lot to be said about using finesse and using sensitivity training that they used to do some thirty years ago that they don’t concentrate on now when you watch some MMA. And that’s still sport when you’re combat and you’re doing eye gouges or biting and you’re striking to the windpipe or you’re kicking out the joints, that’s a totally different mindset when you’re fighting for your life for survival compared to sparring for a couple of points, or trying to win a trophy or some prize money.
Tim: Hmm, yup.
Master Gee: The intent and the techniques are much different when you’re doing sport combat compared to survival combat.
Tim: Yeah, hmm. Well, thanks again, Spencer. I really appreciate it!
Master Gee: Thank you for your time, Tim!