Rented coke bottles
Bodies and red trikes and sand
Clear blues, foul waters
Rented coke bottles
Bodies and red trikes and sand
Clear blues, foul waters
Article by Christophe Verdot
Well respected in the martial arts community, our brother, Christophe, has chosen to speak about his personal journey with healing and veganism. These opinions are particularly his own and based on his path and experiences. Hopefully it gives us all some inspiration to ask questions, do research and work toward a practice of self-care. Thanks for letting us host you here on OnBlast!
Martial artist and vegan still sounds counter-intuitive for many people in 2016, seeing martial artists as strong men who practice violent fighting arts and vegans as weak, skinny, long hairs who worship flowers and birds. But this is far from a full reality. My reality is quite the opposite. I’m just a simple person like anyone else but I make sure to understand what I do and why.
I started martial arts around 8 years ago, as I arrived in the Philippines where I still live today, at that time I wasn’t vegan, in fact, I was a junk food lover and a meal without meat wasn’t a meal to me. Like many, I was like that because society formatted me that way.
After several years my body started to fall apart… I was focusing on working out and martial art training (on Pekiti-Tirsia only at that time) but wasn’t giving any particular attention to my body and how I was fueling hit. I ended up with 4 bulging disks, a misaligned cervical column, narrow vertebra disk space etc. At that point I started to think differently. After seeing many different specialist (Osteopath, Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Surgeon etc.), after countless cracked bones and PT sessions with no, or only short terms results, I decided to take a different path. If no one was really going to be able to help me and most of them giving me the same advice (from “do more work out” to “stop everything”, “put ice!”, “no! ice is for the dead, put warm!” etc.) then I would study my case myself!
I started with lot of books and research on anatomy and back problems. This lead me to see the body as a whole and treat it as an entire chain as opposed to what most were doing, trying to simply remove the pain on the specific tender area. I understood that flexibility, mobility and motor skills were the key point and all work together!
After meeting my friend Nico, a strength and conditioning coach in Philippines, I started to follow the work of Tim Anderson called “Original Strength.” It was very interesting in that it focused on basic motor skills. As he explains, babies start crawling then move to quadrupedal to end up standing. All of these steps are very important as they build the necessary strength from one to another! Going back to these kind of exercises was definitely helping me along with following Pete Egoscue’s work “Pain Free Living.”
I worked for almost a year on motor skills with my friend, Yut, who was an Olympic athlete in Japan. II started from zero, relearning the proper mechanics of walking, skipping, running etc. It wasn’t easy at first and I felt really stupid not even walking correctly! But finally I found what was, for me, the perfect way to combine all that in a very fun way, Animal Flow. It mixes mobility, motor skills, flexibility with quadrupedal exercises as a main base! I went deep into it, traveling to Switzerland to practice and learn it. Recently I became the first Animal Flow instructor in Philippines. Animal Flow is also perfect to develop strong stabilizer and postural muscle; a must do in your weekly routine.
All this is to say that learning to understand, why and how, is the best way to progress, either in martial arts or other parts of our lives. Some doctor had gotten to the point of saying I should stop everything, never carry more than 10% of my body weight, no more contact sports, etc. I’m glad I listened to myself and did my own research. This all, additionally, improved my martial arts practice like nothing else had. Good body mechanics are always the best whether you swing a stick or throw a punch / kick. It all depends on good mechanics.
What about veganism? Well… that was part of my healing and progression… I’ve now been vegan for 2 years. After my dad passed away from heart attack at age of 65, knowing that his dad also passed away from heart attack at age 55, and that this can be hereditary, I naturally started research how to lower the risk and I was very surprised to find that meat consumption was one of the main causes, especially red or process meats! I realized how other associated products were bad for human too, such as milk, which is definitely not suitable for human consumption… and from all the research I came across (ie animal cruelty, meat industry conditions and exploitation) I didn’t want be part of all that anymore. We now know and have scientific proof, along with tons of examples (athletes etc.) that we don’t needs meat to live and perform at the highest level, so why should we continue?
When you you first become a vegan, you might be extremely affected by your new awareness of the violence and suffering caused by animal exploitation. You tend to think the entire world should be vegan tomorrow. I’ve been there too, then, with some distancing my mind changed a bit. I still believe the world, one day, will be mostly vegan as it is the only way to preserve our planet and unsustainable to feed everyone on meat. But now I fight a different fight to stop the stop spread of false information. No, we don’t need meat to live well. No, vegans don’t lack vital nutrients and aren’t weak, etc. because of this nutritional choice. I also advocate for the availability of more vegan options in restaurants, groceries and so on. We should at least have the possibility to choose! When you truly go vegan and start reading the ingredients of everything you buy you realize that many industries are putting animal products everywhere, from bread to the french fries in MacDo for example. This is absolutely unnecessary.
The vegan diet made me feel a lot better inside, mentally and physically. I eat mostly raw and it is incredible the amount of energy I get from it and how my performance has increased. I’m now 37 years old and have never been this physically active and this fit in my entire life. I now teach Pekiti Tirsia Kali 3 to 4 times a week but also go to boxing and BJJ classes along with learning Filipino Silat and even beginning to work on Zhan Zhuang postures. Not a single day without practicing and all this is powered only by plants ! It has now been almost a year since my back was last messed up. Previously it was a regular occurrence about every 2 months.
My take away advice is to research and try to understand if you want really move forward or fix a problem, applying martial arts philosophy to diet (protect the weak, don’t harm or kill if not necessary) and to my health (do your own research, study and take care of yourself at all time) . With all this, a martial artist’s journey is very personal and each one should do what is right for her or himself.
Guro Christophe Verdot is originally from Bordeaux, France and has made a home in the Philippines since 2009 to train in and teach the Filipino Martial Art of Pekiti Tirsia Kali. He established Pekiti Tirsia Kali Global City after receiving his Guro rank from Tuhon Rommel Tortal on May 06 2012. He is now Guro Dalawa under Tuhon Bill McGrath and Pekiti-Tirsia Global City is an official Pekiti-Tirsia International School.
Contact and infos : http://pekiti-global-city.com/
So I just returned from another trip out to the Philippines. This trip was, for the most part, a training endeavor for my practice in the Filipino martial arts but on every count it was spectacular. Not only did I feel my learning expand day by day but, as well, in the company of some pretty fantastic people, I had the opportunity to explore the region in a way that was completely new to me.
So much knowledge was being shared student to student, teacher to teacher and teacher to student. I felt I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge an aspect of teaching that can sometimes be overlooked.
Common knowledge, teaching can be extremely difficult. Not only that, it is often one of the most culturally, and definitely financially, undervalued professions in our society at large. But I wanted to speak not only to the amount of respect and gratitude that our educators deserve, but also of the special role that gratitude plays in effective teaching.
Although the training was often hard driven under intense heat and uncertain sand, the words I consistently heard from instructors were “thank you.” Seems like such a small thing. But being acknowledged for our presence, our time, our acceptance of our faults and shortcomings, created a recognition that the teacher acknowledged as well their own humanity and reliance on us, as participants in their process.
Over the past year or so, in every class I do, no matter how difficult, I’ve been trying to be more and more diligent about beginning with thanks and ending with the same amount of gratitude. Teaching is only itself with the presence and attendance of students. Optimal learning happens when teachers allow themselves to learn and to access their own human connectivity and when students find themselves connected to the process.
Additionally, not only can we create available spaces in which students can learn, but educators must also, provide tools so that learning peers and community members can demonstrate gratitude by supporting a matter of growth which will ripple effect throughout the environment.
One evening we went to a local restaurant to commune and to bond. As we entered I noticed that on almost every wall there were posters of American Sign Language. It was curious but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why this was relevant in the context of all the random kitsch wall adornments. When we sat and I found another copy of the sign alphabet inserted in the menu I was so impressed, in reading closer, to find that it was meant as a tool for clients to use in support of the staff members who were deaf and hard of hearing. Such a profound demonstration of gratitude! We do not just hire deaf staff members, we don’t just hold the expectation that they will completely accommodate a hearing culture, but we also give our community tools and insight into the importance of broadening our vision of who makes up our society .
All of this said, it can be an important thing when we recognize that positive actions can influence and inspire in ways that read as actual visible productivity.
Article by JL Umipig
Another wonderful opportunity has come our way. Sister JL Umipig has decided to contribute some of her reflections on her lifelong journey into a study of culture, heritage and self. Hopefully this won’t be the last time we are able to feature her voice. Thanks for letting us host you here on OnBlast!
When I first learned about the Babaylan, a figure that connects to the matriarchal heritage of my Filipino identity, I opened my spirit to the understanding of a power within myself from a very young age that I saw in all the wom*n in my family and those I exchanged with in my communities of Pinays. I grew as a youth activist in the Filipino community in Southern California, connected to my people’s histories of struggles in relation to the United States and other conquering countries. And I was taught to be angry and to fight the system that oppressed my people by being organized, by being aware of policy and by being ready to rise up and speak up with urgency. There is so much to be angry about in this world, so much to weep for, so much that can hold us in places of discomfort and I wanted to fight to change that.
I often drew away from the “militancy” of organizing and really focused on on the cultural aspects, the artistry, the expressions. I knew that I could be, but I was and would always be an artist. I was searching for a different means of organization, something that would feed my artistic soul, and ease the activist in me from burn out and resentment for problems that just would not change. It wasn’t until I found the Center of Babaylan Studies that I realized the power within me was missing something very important, a connection to spirituality. In time I have learned to connect my artistry and activism with my spiritual learnings.
I found the Center for Babaylan Studies, when I was doing my Graduate School studies at New York University. My initial feelings in my program was a want to use my work to root in my identity as a Pinay and I began to delve and explore this through the lens of other Pinay who were raising other young Filipinas to feel empowered and proud of their identity. I began with my network of organizers, radical educators and artists who were working mainly on the presence of Pinay in relation to systematic oppressions and transnational feminist struggles. These were women who raised me to see the fierceness of Pinay, the way we are essential to every movement and how powerful we are in presence. In this process I was reintroduced to the concept of the Babaylan, I had heard it once in poetry as a youth organizer, but didn’t delve until I was in this process of excavating Pinay roots. This is when I found the Center for Babaylan Studies, and my life shifted with great clarity. I was being fed and nourished with this unfolding of my heritage connected to spiritual power and practice.
Elders from the Center for Babaylan Studies gave to ab abundance of spirit knowledge, in writings, conversation exchanges and through many gifts of reminder written, spoken and energetically and spiritually given. This uncovered in me my roots as a Pinay, that moved beyond the herstory in America and before Spain, the herstory that was not on paper, but that lived in the presence of living ancestors that reflected my self and pushed me to go deeper and deeper to know how my roots lived in me though so much has tried to abolish them. They grew in me the most miraculous recognition of our interconnectivity to one another as living beings and have helped create me to break through the constructed divisions and fear that have stopped me for seeing others whole, from seeing my self whole. They helped me to find language that I never had to describe the way I feel and relate it in my every day,the two I hold as my greatest values are: kapwa (the shared self), how we see ourselves in others and we see value in the other as we see value in our own being, loob (the inner self), who we are at our core that makes us interconnected to everything.
Recently I was given the opportunity to share in holistic presence with a gathered group from the network of the Center for Babaylan Studies including two of the elders who had guided me on my journey of creation in self and artistry the past 5 years- Leny Strobel and Grace Nono. We ventured to the heartlands of Ohi-yo surrounded by sky, mountains, trees and clear waters embracing us. The conference was centered in reconciling our learned beliefs and those that we have forgotten- strengthening our spiritual connection to all people and all living things, the earth, our ancestors and the Great Creator. I left feeling so reawaken and rejuvenated, feeling more deeply than ever the power of this journey I have chosen to walk again and again- the journey of knowing and loving myself whole so I can love all else more wholly. In seeking to learn of my Filipina Roots I entered a portal into knowing myself as human, as spirit. Kapwa, loob – we are together, we are of one another, we are are other, we are one.
Jana Lynne (JL) Umipig is the creator of “The Journey of a Brown Girl” www.thejourneyofabrowngirl.com Director, Producer, Actress, Educator and Organizer she currently resides in NYC. JL has worked with different community organizations developing curriculum and programs that integrate theatre and visual arts with activism and leadership development, working with schools, community organizations, detention facilities, and rehabilitation and support group centers. She believes in the power of the arts to activate and move the human spirit for individual toward community empowerment and transformation. She creates with the intention to connect human experience and spirit between all communities.
A more extended account of the trip can be found in her blog “Pa ng Biag iti Kayumanggi nga Pilipina” (http://kayumanggingapilipina.com/ ).
I just recently spent another couple of weeks in the Philippines and was re-inspired. I’m sure that most of my friends and family had their excitement for me based on some imaginings of days in the sun while the rest of the east coast remained buried in springtime snow. Truth be told, there was a minimal amount of beach lounging and, instead, it was a brain-sizzling crash course on structure and repetition and diligence. It was my PTK language lab. I wanted to use this post as an opportunity to reflect on the virtues of exploring structure and examination in the context of creative arts.
“Arts.” The fact is, there must be something scientific in the application of any martial art. It requires a distinctive understanding of body mechanics, anatomy, psychology and simultaneously there is the creative ingenuity to realize all of these concepts in a 3 dimensional and changing laboratory. The ground is uneven, stamina is wavering, it is early in the morning or late in the evening, there is an opponent which is exploring a completely different array of questions, etc. etc. It’s been of interest to me to look at some of the foundational elements of the styles I’ve been practicing and to examine them using a more scientific methodology.
Particularly in the context of kali, which is predominately weapons based, there is not a lot of space for a reliance on techniques that have only been through the anecdotal fire. Sure, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel but we’d better make sure the wheel is well suited to the terrain we’re driving on. So we need to “road test.” That means taking each technique into a sparring scenario and hashing through its application. It also means developing the vocabulary and grammar to see the opportunity for the technique’s execution by developing, through practice, the capacity to discharge the element with proper form, angle, energy and intent.
Anyway, I’ll be following up on this as the weeks and months go by and hopefully I’ll be able to provide some worthwhile questions to add into the pool.
It is truly a pleasure to be able to include Damon in this edition of NoPaper. He has a been a mentor to me in many ways without even realizing it and has wonderful insights to share which can be applied to all of our artistic and cultural practices.
Damon Abraham of Kapatiran Mandirigma talks back to 5 Questions from Njoli Brown at NoPaper
I first encountered the Southeast Asian martial arts between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college. I was home for the summer when a friend of mine was telling me all about this “Kali” art that he was studying. At the time, I had never even heard the term Kali or Arnis / Escrima for that matter. In any case, I had been interested in martial arts for as long as I could remember and had practiced a couple of different arts by this time. Like most American kids in my generation, inspired by Ralph Macchio I studied at a “Karate” school which was really Tae Kwon Do. Later I ended up taking some Hapkido. But I was certainly interested in something more. Anyway, through this friend I was introduced to an Indonesian martial artist named Paul Prijatna. His primary art was Kali, but growing up he had learned Pencak Silat from his uncle. I was impressed by Paul. He was very unlike the Westernized artists I had met so far and he embodied more of the internal and spiritual aspects of the art that I was looking for. We had many conversations about energy (i.e. chi), meditation, and the proper conduct for a martial artist. There was no ego or machismo that I’ve later come to associate with sport fighting etc. Paul only charged me $50 for several weeks of training and at our last meeting before I returned to school he pulled out my check and ripped it up. “I just wanted to make sure you were serious”, he said as he handed me the pieces of ripped paper. While my training with Paul was very short, he put me on the path towards FMA and Silat that I still follow today.
One thing that I believe to be a personal weakness is not knowing enough about the customs and cultural heritage of the styles that I study. I am not particularly well-versed in the language and histories of the Philippines and Indonesia, for example. However, I have visited both countries to study and learn. And although I have perhaps fallen short in some areas, I have tried to make a sincere effort to know about my teachers, their philosophies, why they move the way that they move, and especially their perspectives on the spiritual aspects of the arts.
For me personally, I feel the best way that I can reflect the art is through embodying it as a personal expression. Many people try to preserve an art by memorizing techniques and drills and chiseling them into stone, so to speak, as if they were some sort of dogma to follow. To me this makes the art seem dead. Kind of like Latin, an arguably complete language and yet it is immutable. It does not live because it is not spoken. The living art is in constant flux and each practitioner contributes their unique perspective and individualized expression. Hence, it is through the internalization
of the art that it really remains alive. And of course, the manner in which the art is transmitted is crucial here as well. It is my ambition, therefore, to be both a reflection of my teachers and an individualized expression. At the end of the day, none of us are a source of anything… we are merely channels of that thing. Training builds that channel within the student, and each student is different.
Lately, with respect to Pencak Silat and FMA, I’ve been contemplating a metaphor of a squirrel trying to climb two trees. It is, of course, impossible to climb both at the same time. In the beginning of our practice we tend to see each trunk independently as well as its differences from the other. And yet at the level of the branches, the trees come together and the practitioner can seamlessly traverse between them. So it becomes a question of how far apart are the trees and how great is their breadth in the understanding of the practitioner. My personal experience in the way that I’ve learned them, Pencak Silat and Arnis/Kali/Escrima are kind of like complimentary opposites. The movements and the core physical training, to me, do not seem to conflict. Likewise, many of the principles are common between them. Hence, I would say that these two trees are close together. However, there can be considerable variation in how the information is conceptualized by the teacher and imparted to the student. This can be true even amongst teachers within a single system. And I have found that when observing the gross movements between different styles, for example, while they may appear to be very similar, when actualizing the movement with the intent and mindset of the respective style they are very different. Hence, for me it has become less of a matter of “how does art A perform movement XYZ?” and more about “how do I move with this art?” I will say that each art has given me an augmented view of the other as I can take a somewhat out-of-the-box perspective by analyzing a technique etc from the vantage point of another style. I am sure this must be true of anyone who has learned more than one art. However, we must be cautious. It is one thing to be able to shift perspectives and it is another to try and interpret one art through the lens of another. I’ve seen many students who have slowed their progress through this fallacy. You’ll often hear people say things like “Oh yes, we have that in JKD too.” or “In my art we would do it like this.” As an example, 4 years ago I began learning Kalis Ilustrisimo under Kuya Raul Marquez. At that time, I was already a Lakan and senior student in two other styles of FMA (Kombatan Arnis and Kuntaw Kali Kruzada). And yet, in my first lesson I had to come to terms with the fact that I really didn’t know anything. Raul’s teaching method was completely unlike anything I had experienced.
Nothing was broken down into simple steps. There was no rote memorization but rather it was fistfuls of information that I had no hope to process… I just had to swallow as much as I could and try to keep up. The movements appeared familiar, and yet I couldn’t apply them in context. My timing was off, my footwork was backwards, and all of my instincts seemed wrong. After each lesson, I’d ride the subway for an hour from Queens back to Brooklyn and my head would literally ache. If you were to ask me, “what did you learn today?” I wouldn’t even be able to tell you and yet I could see myself improving. Hence, I was faced with a choice… I could accept returning to the status of a “beginner” or I could let my ego get the better of me. Fortunately I chose the former. By putting aside my pride and approaching the lessons with the beginner’s mentality, I feel I was not only able to learn the movements much faster, but to understand the underlying principles and philosophy at a deeper level. Ultimately, this experience proved beneficial to my progress in every style that I practice. I think that most arts run much deeper than we tend to recognize. Although it is not always overtly expressed, my teachers all seem to embody this appreciation. Despite their accomplishments and recognition, they are still students of their art. To me, that is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from them. If we view ourselves as a rank (black belt, lakan etc), we find ourselves repeatedly disappointed. We can never really live up to our own expectations of what that rank entails. However, when we recognize ourselves as beginners, we can only improve. This disposition has not only helped me progress as an artist, but ultimately has allowed me to reap more enjoyment from the arts.
Regarding their differences, perhaps the greatest contrast that I’ve noticed between the style of Silat that I study (Inti Ombak Pencak Silat – IOPS) and the styles of FMA that I practice (Kombatan, Kuntaw Kali Kruzada, and Kalis Ilustrisimo) is that the FMA is very martial focused whereas I would say that IOPS is more holistic. I mean this in the sense that IOPS is not only external (i.e. martial) but also emphasizes internal aspects (breathing / meditation) as well as spiritual. Case in point, the Lakutama organization, of which IOPS is a part, has branches dedicated entirely to spiritual and healing practices. I believe that these aspects are still embedded within the FMA, but perhaps due to colonialism are more buried under the surface. You don’t regularly come across FMA practitioners with a heavy emphasis on internal training, for example, unless they have learned other arts. Of course, that is a generalization. For instance, I know practitioners from Mindanao who are very spiritual and have a very holistic approach to their art. But generally speaking, as it is practiced I feel that IOPS has a more overt emphasis on the entirety of the person going beyond physical and martial applications. I’ve seen IOPS have a profound and lasting positive impact on more people (not only students) than any other art that I’ve encountered. Ironically, while I regret to have had less opportunity to study directly under Guru Daniel Prasetya as I have with my other teachers, I would say that he has had a greater influence over me at a personal level (beyond martial) than almost anyone I’ve ever known. I think that it is unfortunate that more arts don’t incorporate these aspects.
A personal challenge for me has been in the realization that life’s time constraints do not allow me to practice nearly as much as I feel like I should. This is exasperated when learning more than one style. And the ego can become particularly threatened when seeing oneself surpassed by your peers. Time spent “advancing” in one art is time sacrificed in another. But as I’ve matured as an artist, I’ve come to worry less and less about the recognition of certificates, rank, title, or the successes of my peers. I only strive to be a better artist today than I was yesterday. And when we are at the level of the tree’s branches, it is not about how many drills we know etc… simply, how well can we connect to the roots of the tree? Is the root of the style inside of you?
In the years that I’ve been studying Arnis, there has definitely been an upsurge in the popularity of the Filipino Arts. Several action movies have begun using FMA inspired choreography, new schools and styles are popping up everywhere, and there is a ton of videos, Facebook groups, websites, and equipment suppliers that have popped up. In general, I see this as a positive change but it certainly has its drawbacks as well. For instance, I’m happy to see people from all over the world making pilgrimages to the Philippines to pay homage and learn from the originators of the arts. Likewise, with how much Western culture tends to be idolized and idealized in parts of Asia, I think that for Filipinos to see Westerners visiting their homeland to learn their native arts hopefully gives a sense of cultural pride. It is a shame to think about how many Filipinos (and Indonesians) forego their native arts to pursue TKD or Karate etc due to either a lack of awareness or lack of respect for their indigenous art. On the other hand, the manner in which FMA tends to be embodied in the US is often less than optimal. There is a lot of ego and insecurity wrapped up in the arts and veiled behind catch phrases like “combat effective” or “battle tested”. Not to say that the arts are not incredibly effective, because they are. However, many practitioners seem to study the arts more for the protection of the ego than protection of the person. As to the competition between groups and styles, in terms of self-defense, our mindset should not be how does one style defeat another. I’m not training to fight another style. I’m training to defend my person and to defend others. Therefore, to me all of the saber rattling that goes with “style-pride” is wasted breath. It is also easy for us to get caught up in pitfalls involving recognition. This comes in the form of belts, certificates, logos on T-shirts, and even our posed pictures with the masters. The only proof of your practice comes in the expression of your art. Is it part of you? Any other artifice that represents that, to me, is BS. And it upsets me when I see people visit the masters, paying them a trifle then demanding a lesson and a photo opportunity. How many masters die poor while the styles of their own creation thrive abroad? Essentially, the real art is an intangible thing. It lives in us and is ever changing. But that is hard for us to accept and we cling to the token instead. That is also why we are more concerned with the number of techniques we carry in our suitcases rather than how well we understand the principles. I count myself extremely fortunate for the teachers I have had who have instilled this sense into me.
I think that the most exciting project for me has been my ongoing involvement with the Kapatiran Mandirigma organization which was set up to be a celebration of Indonesian and Filipino martial arts. We’ve sought to foster a community of sharing amongst styles and artists and have done our best to put a sense of family over politics. This group was created by my teacher, Grandmaster Shelley Millspaugh (Kombatan Arnis), who most certainly has been one of my greatest martial influences. Shelley believes that as artists we have so much to share and learn from one another, and so this organization serves as a vehicle for us to meet other groups, cross-train between styles, and congregate as a family at our annual camp in Estes Park. I have been extremely fortunate to have fallen under so many teachers with this mentality. Prior to the formation of Kapatiran Mandirigma, I moved to NYC and began learning from Datu Richie Acosta (Kuntaw Kali Kruzada). To this day I have yet to meet a practitioner with as much uncanny speed, power, and precision as him. But more importantly, I have yet to meet a more humble person. Soon after beginning my study of Kuntaw Kali, Shelley to visit NYC and teach a seminar. Datu also assisted me in hosting Guru Daniel on more than one occasion. Consequently, Datu became one of the first members we invited to the Kapatiran Mandirigma organization. I mention this merely because it gives me both a sense of pride about FMA and Silat in the US as well as hope for the future when I see so many artists with various backgrounds come together to foster an environment of mutual respect. This posture of openness not only serves to minimize conflict, but gives the students an invaluable opportunity to see their own art from many perspectives and to broaden their horizons. The best teachers are the ones who are forever students. They are the ones who do not view themselves as “the source” of the teaching, but merely a guidepost for the student. And since the inception of Kapatiran Mandirigma, I’ve seen my teachers grow as much as we have as students. And now the responsibility for hosting the 2015 Kapatiran Mandirigma camp has fallen to me and the other senior members of our organization. For me, this is an exciting opportunity to bring all of my teachers together in one place. We hold our camp annually in Estes Park around late June. The camp is essentially open to anyone, provided they have the right disposition and a willingness to learn.
Damon has studied martial arts since childhood but has been learning various styles of Silat and Arnis since 2000. His formal study began in 2002 when he met Grandmaster Shelley Millspaugh in Kansas City, MO. GM Shelley is a direct student of Great Grandmaster Ernesto Presas, the founder of Kombatan Arnis, as well as a student of Kuntaw Silat under Bapak Willem deThouars. Through GM Shelley’s encouragement, Damon has branched out and learned from several other instructors. In 2004 at a seminar in Arkansas, Damon met Guru Daniel Prasetya and shortly after began his study of Inti Ombak Pencak Silat. While he had some previous experience with Kuntaw Silat through GM Shelley, this was his first introduction into a formalized internal practice inclusive of breathing and meditation disciplines. In late 2005, Damon and his family moved to New York City where they lived for 8 years. Soon after he began learning Kuntaw Kali Kruzada from Datu Richie Acosta. At GM Shelley’s request, Damon also sought out Kuya Raul Marquez of Kalis Ilustrisimo and has been a student of KI since 2010. Other notable teachers and influences include Paul Prijatna who first introduced him to Southeast Asian martial arts, Guru Michael Leininger (Init Ombak Pencak Silat) who first introduced him to the internal side of the arts, Mas Sigit (Inti Ombak Pencak Silat) the spiritual leader of IOPS, Master Kurt Graham (Kombatan Arnis), Grandmaster Steve Todd (founder of 5 Way Method), Grandmaster Jeff Sprawls (founder of Maju Bela Diri Pentjak Silat), and Master Style Allah (Combate Eskrima Orehenal) who first introduced Damon to the art of the blade. In 2009, Damon joined the Kapatiran Mandirigma (KM) organization and is currently a senior member & master instructor of KM. He is proud to represent the KM organization which serves to support many artists and teachers from various backgrounds and styles. Damon currently resides in Denver, Colorado.
Titles and Ranks:
Kapatiran Mandirigma – Master Instructor
Kombatan Arnis – Lakan Tatlo (3rd Degree)
Modern Arnis / Kombat-an (MAK) – Full Instructor
Kadena Kruzada Eskrima – Instructor
Kuntaw Kali Kruzada – Associate Instructor
5 Way Method – (1st Degree)
Inti Ombak Pencak Silat – Guru Muda (4th Degree)
This video is such a joy to watch. Yes, of course, the eskrima is at such a level that it couldn’t be anything but beautiful. Just as much, I was taken in by this interaction between teacher and student. There is palpable connectedness, love and respect. From both, the side of the teacher and that of the student, one of the lessons that takes longest to learn is the ability to truly “see” the other, but developing that capacity seems like one of the most worthwhile things we can gain out of our martial practice.
By Njoli Brown
An interview with Guro Wilton Valerio of Kuntaw Kali Kruzada
Njoli: Yeah man, I just wanted to check in. See what’s going on at the getdown, going on at the Kuntaw.
Guro Wilton: Yeah, it’s been good. You know, we’ve got some new black belts in there.
Nj: So they’re going to start rotating in teaching and that kind of thing?
GW: Yeah, they’re almost there. Still in that process of doing that teacher level certification.
Nj: Oh, okay. So they’re not really attached to each other?
GW: No, not really. I mean, you can get your black belt and not necessarily have worked as much on your teaching tools. There are different certifications for a variety of things. I think the one who’s making his way through it all is Hubert (Saladino).
It’s one thing to make your way through the the learning process but then going through it all again, thinking about teaching it…
Nj: So, maybe it recognizes that other feature beyond application that’s more intensely developing your analytical mind.
GW: Yeah, that’s pretty much what it is in many ways.
Nj: Yes, I can definitely see that Hubert has an enthusiasm for teaching and that is very apparent in his way.
What about you though? How long have you been in this?
GW: 15… 14 years? Yeah, I think 14.
Nj: Wow, so 14 years with Kuntaw… and were you doing something else before that?
GW: I mean, I did some Tae Kwon Do before, you know, like most New Yorkers did in the 80s and 90s, hahaha.
Nj: Bro, I’m tellin’ you. They got it locked down. Locked down tight.
GW: Yeah, 80s, 90s, 70s too.
Nj: So was your first coming into kali with Kuntaw or with some other group?
GW: No, it was with Datu Rich.
Nj: So how did you first get in touch with him?
GW: He used to teach at Fight House. I don’t know if you know that place. It used to be called something else. It used to be called Chow’s back then. Named after Peggy Chow who ran the school.
They had it sectioned off and so you know it provided a lot of individual training spaces, and everybody was there. I mean, Renzo Gracie was there before he was a huge name. Man, and you know, we were right after him, right after all those smelly-ass gis and everything, hahaha.
But you know, there was also a Thai Boxing class there as well. So, I had gone there to check that out but the teacher, he just showed no interest at all. Kinda blew me off, like “oh, what you see is what you get. Look around and whatever, whatever, whatever…” Meanwhile Datu Rich was teaching at the same time and I was like “that looks amazing!”
Right from there I started talking to him. “Hey, is this JKD? Is this this? Is this that?” When he told me it was kali, I mean, I had never really heard of any Filipino martial arts. I mean, some of my best friends were Filipino. You might have met Guro Alex.
At first I would just come by every week or so and just watch class. They probably thought I was some kind of spy or something, hahaha, trying to steal some secret moves.
Nj: Were there a lot of other groups operating during that time?
GW: No, not really. As far as large organizations, you always had Doce Pares, maybe Doug Pierre. But I hadn’t really heard of them until later.
Nj: Crazy thing, on the side a bit, but recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading and researching and realizing there were a lot of old school kats out there in Philadelphia. I’ve been reading a lot about some huge contingents of classical and modern kali/arnis/escrima practitioners who immigrated and, not only moved out to California but, also took up residence in Philly.
GW: Hmmm, that’s interesting. I didn’t really know about that but I do think that you find a lot more long time committed students outside of New York City. Maybe just because New Yorkers just don’t have a lot of time. Ya know and because of this along with the high rent, it’s a hard thing to run a school here in New York without selling yourself out. It’s a balance thing. Either people go that TS (franchise) route or a much more low key thing. It’s difficult…
At my old Tae Kwon Do school the teacher did a few stick things and that sparked my interest. He would do some stick drills and what not and if we ever asked him he would be like “Oh, this is Filipino martial arts.” That really sparked it for me. I think he had trained some with Remy Presas. Just seminars and things like that.
Remy was really big with doing seminars, especially in the 70s. So my teacher Spider, you might know Spider Rodriguez, you’re from New York, anyway, he’d go to these workshops and then come back and teach us some stick stuff. When I finally ended up find a stick fighting school, I don’t know, I was just like “this is it.” At that point I kind of segued away from Tae Kwon Do into kali.
Nj: All of this stands out to me also because of the really interesting role that blacks and Latinos have played in the development of martial arts in New York. There’s been a really big presence for decades now.
GW: Yes, really big. We kind of needed it, on many levels… and the truth is, they were taking it very seriously. The 70s and 80s were kind of a “golden era” for a generation of martial artists.
Nj: So what about you and opportunities to head over to the Philippines?
GW: I’ve been there twice so far, in 2006 for about 2 weeks and again in 2010, and it was really great and I loved it. The training there was just, just different. I mean, you’ve trained with us so you know that we’re pretty serious about training the self-defense aspects of the art and I felt like that just wasn’t the focus out there. They’re more about learning the drills and learning the art and there wasn’t any… paranoia about the way they were training. They’re also very into tournaments and demos. I went out to one with GM (Vic) Sanchez. Then there’s that really deep level of dedication, like a whole other level.
I mean, you know, at Kuntaw we get maybe 3 hours a week here. That’s what you’re warming up on out there and that’s almost every day. That felt like one of the biggest jumps. I felt like my skill level really rocketed, being able to spend up to 30 hours in a week training.
NJ: So, I’m curious do you see similarities ad contrasts? One thing that stands out to me is the fact that the knife is by no means an abstract thing to Filipino practitioners and so it’s practiced in that way. Do you find that cultural perspective plays a role in practice both here and there?
GW: I don’t know, but it was a big change and definitely an eye opener.
Nj: Interestingly though, you train with Datu Rich Acosta and he seems to be tremendously open minded stylistically speaking. He’ll pull things from Aikido, Wing Chun and Jiu Jitsu if he feels like they’re relevant. Even the style uses this cross of Cinco Tieros, Lightening Scientific, Modern Arnis, etc.
So what’s been your experience in terms of diversifying your practice?
GW: Well, I know that we really like the way the Wing Chun fits in with what we’re doing, especially thinking in terms of the hand trapping. Practicing that element of Wing Chun really helps out a lot. It enhances the knife fighting and the close in stick fighting stuff.
So, yeah, I think I’m definitely interested in using what works, not getting so wrapped in metaphysical restrictions but focusing on what’s practical. A lot of that also comes from Datu’s brother, Maestro Rico, because he trained at a lot of different schools, the ones you mentioned and so many others. That’s where the idea of kruzada comes from in the name.
And you start to realize that the body only moves in certain ways and you start seeing the in-common techniques. You’re cross-referencing between a variety of answers and creating one big hybrid. We may not like to call to a hybrid art but that’s essentially what it is.
It was a process of getting rid of the the useless drills and coming at it from a more simplified directions. It’s not like aikido or karate or some other art where there are thousands of techniques. We have a few angles and a few techniques and we have to work hard to master them. A lot of arts have a lot of fluff, a lot of drills that don’t really lead anywhere and maybe they see that as a way to train beginners.
Nj: It could be. I mean, a lot of the people might say that the purpose behind certain drills is to teach body mechanics and movement theory so that it can ingrained into the student before they start to move on to more advanced applications.
GW: It’s harder to teach some aspects of kali to someone who doesn’t have any martial arts experience, especially when you’re talking about things like Lightning or Cinco Tieros.
Nj: Maybe that’s why you see a lot of the people who take kali have tried or trained something else before and have at least a general sense of their body.
GW: Sure, I’d say that’s true, particularly if I’m thinking of the ones who really stick with it. ‘Cause it can take a lot of time to learn those body mechanics, the timing, to train the basics, and you have to come in with the patience to do that kind of work.
I mean, it took me forever just to get my head wrapped around the idea of blocking & checking or sinawali. All of it was good, but it was a lot of work, learning to use my left hand as well as my right.
I found a lot of the good fighters that I met in the Philippines were left handed and maybe that gave them a leg up because so many of us are used to fighting another right hander.
Nj: Since you started training kali have you taken any other martial arts and how was that experience?
GW: Yeah, yeah. I’ve done a lot of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Nj: Was there something specific you were looking for in that practice?
GW: Yeah, definitely. Although I might not think it’s the most practical of martial arts, it does teach you a lot about body mechanics. It gets you away from trying to muscle through things. BJJ is all about leverage and that was a real eye opener. Similar to Wing Chun, there’s this element of energy flow. You don’t have to be big and strong to take someone twice your weight down to the floor. And then there’s the conditioning aspect. We don’t get too much conditioning in the Filipino martial arts. If anything, it’s very specific to the arms and shoulders and areas needed for manipulating the sticks and knives but in terms of the lower body… I felt like that was something I really got out of doing the BJJ.
Nj: I wonder if this plays into this aspect that I noticed from your classes. I’ve seen that it’s not common for every FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) school to spend as much time as you all do with dumog or ground fighting. I always thought it was a very intelligent thing, you guys recognizing not just these 3 ranges, but this additional fourth that is on the ground.
GW: Sure, sure and the truth is, when you see it many of these places… how good is it? If you were to take what you’d learned and throw it into a real BJJ school, would it hold up? That’s a big test.
Going up a really good purple belt or whatever in BJJ, I mean, they’re really good, really fast and it’s hard to lock ’em in or submit them. So I felt like that was a good reason for me to train with them and to learn their techniques. I wanted to understand how they move and why they move in the ways they do.
And then we incorporate some of that stuff back into our teaching. I mean, we’re not big into doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ’cause it’s not the most practical thing but there are some aspects that are really fundamental like: how to move your hips, how to relax, that kind of thing.
Nj: Yeah, proximity is such a psychological thing and people can really freak out once someone moves into their space or is in contact with them for too long.
GW: That’s a big problem for a lot of students. We do chi sao, for example, and you’re supposed to be totally relaxed, it’s energy flow, but people freak out. That same thing comes up when we get into all the hand-to-hand stuff, where you have to grab someone or grab their stick or whatever.
So stuff like Jiu Jitsu and dumog help with stuff like that, especially when you get into a grappling situation. Knowing if you should be grappling, particularly when someone’s holding a knife or some other weapon. Jiu Jitsu spends a lot of time getting its students really comfortable with a variety of different guard positions.
These things can be really good for FMA but, of course, we remember that we’re so practicality minded and know that we don’t want to wrestle on the floor for too long. But you never know. I mean, most people in this country have done some kind of wrestling, done some kind of mixed martial arts, it’s gotten so big. So you never know if you’re going to get taken down by surprise and if that happens you don’t want to freak out, you want to be ready to react accordingly.
The truth in all of this though, is that we have to practice to also learn other people’s weaknesses. We also have to train to be strong enough and have enough stamina for all kinds of situations.
That’s something I think students need to learn more of,how to train themselves. It’s like a weight lifter who wants to build a certain muscle. He has to work it every day. We do some angle 1s and 2s in class, you have to work them and perfect them.
When I first started I was really into exercise science and wanted to be a personal trainer. So I looked at martial arts as another type of body development. When I set up class I think about how many angle 1s are we gonna do, how many redondas, can we put in a high intensity sparring session? All of this is so people can build a strong core, foundation.
Nj: Since you’re bringing up teaching I’d love to ask you a bit more about that. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts about managing a space, dealing with the in and outflow of students, keeping up your enthusiasm when you find yourself constantly returning to the fundamentals, the excitement or feelings you have for the students who’ve been with you for a longer time. Take it where you will…
GW: Yeah, it’s been six, seven, maybe even 8 years I’ve been teaching now. The last four or so have been at Shin Budo Kai. Just before that though, we were almost closed. Maestro couldn’t teach anymore and Datu Rich was out in Jersey with family, kids. So basically I was the only one. I was either, close the school down or I keep teaching. At that point I really put it on myself to keep the school open. I didn’t want to see us lose everything we’d worked for over the years prior to that.
But, yeah, now six or seven years later, I’ve seen a lot of beginners come and go. You start to feel like you can tell who’s going to stay, who’s not going to stay. And, yes, it’s great seeing people progress, especially when you see them pass that two year mark. The time flies but you can really see the difference. That’s really exciting.
For me, a lot of this has been about learning from my own mistakes. At first I would teach too advanced. You know Maestro and Datu, they will throw technique after technique at you. So I decided when I was teaching I really wanted to reinforce the basics so that everyone could keep up with it. You can tell when certain students just aren’t really grasping something or they’re kind of shaky on this thing or that so… You just have to focus on the basics.
I mean, a good “1,” I think it’s the best angle ever and if you train it hardcore for a year, it’s the only angle you’ll ever need. If you have the timing and the strength behind it and the endurance to hold onto the stick, all you need is angle 1. Angle 1 and angle 2, you could keep it to that. So, there’s a lot to basics that could seem kind of boring but is so important.
One thing I learned from GM Sanchez was that there should be at least one thing in your class that you do every time. You’ve been to my class and have seen that I have some pretty standard warm-ups that I do all the time. Because all of those body mechanic warm-ups translate into sinawali, into stick and dagger movements, and so on. We’re trying to develop muscle memory not just work on the moves that make us look cool (’cause there are definitely students who are into that, hahaha).
Nj: True, true. Speaking truthfully, I always think of it in terms of a hope that my students will have the opportunity to train with someone far better than me. I figure, I’m trying to help put together tools so they can reap the most benefit from the chances they encounter.
GW: Sure, and this is exactly what I meant by saying when they train with Datu and Maestro the pace is fast and I want them to pick up as much as possible. Because they will be throwing them technique after technique and sometimes it’s just a matter of you learn it or you don’t and we’re moving on. Besides, there’s always something to improve on in the basics. Change up your training. Use a tire, get a partner, but stick to working on those basics.
Nj: Damon (Abraham of Kapatiran Madirigma NYC) is from the same era as you right? Are there other guys who started out with you who are still in the game?
GW: From my generation there are not many of them left. Guro Joe, Alex… Damon came around a little later. He had been training with Kombatan which comes from Ernesto Presas. It’s basically almost the same thing that we do. I mean it’s their own thing and they developed it and I like Komabatan a lot. But, yeah, Damon was already a black belt by the time he came to us so we were already on the same level, but he stuck around. He wanted to learn Lightning.
So, he’s definitely from another generation at Kuntaw, him, (Lakan) Jay (Shin) and then right after Jay, (Guro Lakan) Hubert (Saladino) came.
Nj: So what about your opportunities to train? Who did you come up with and how do you get your training in now?
GW: Well, back then it was pretty decent size, maybe as many as 15 people. Kind of like when class fills up nowadays. I’d know Guro Alex since I was a kid. We grew up together. Me, him and Randy, we came from the same Tae Kwon Do school. I went to that school because they went there. Those guys were friends of my brother and I was always the younger one tagging along with them.
But when they stopped doing TKD I was still wanting to do something. Finaly , when I found Datu Rich I got Randy and Alex to come train with us. So we all went over to kali together. Alex and his brother Randy, me and my brother, Marcus.
That really helped to keep me training ’cause we would finish up with class and then we’d hang around in the gym and practice, or we would meet up in the park to work on things. That kind of thing helped so much, even though we didn’t know what we were doing, we still got together and played with the angles, worked on bigay tama, free flow, disarms and that kind of thing.
At the time class was only 3 times a week, about an hour and a half per so, what’s that, around 4 hours a week. That goes by so quick and you could really use an hour each session just for warming up. If there ended up being a lot of explanation or stuff to talk about you could end up with lke 15 minutes of class.
Me? I don’t like to talk much during class. I’m like “let’s get to work! We’ve got an hour,” hahaha. After we left Fight House we cut it down to that hour. I guess it was easier to schedule and to manage. You can definitely get stuff done in that time, you just really have to be on track.
Nj: What that’s really saying is that people have to b motivated to train outside of class.
GW: We tell ’em that. They can also take privates or semi-privates. That’s pretty much how my generation of students did it. We’d go out to Long Island where Maestro was and we’d do black belt class, sometimes we’d call it Fight Camp, hahaha. We’d go over the stuff but in different ways. It felt like he was really grooming us for teaching.
Nj: And what about now? Who do you get to train with now?
GW: My shadow, haha. I do a lot of conditioning on my own and sometimes I get together with Guro Alex and we’l go over bigay tama. We’ll do a lot of grapling because he’s a really good grappler. But teaching is what’s really helped me clean everything up.
Through the years I’ve taught so many beginners and having to teach things all those times has really given me the opportunity to work out the details. You’re able to see your own errors and tweak the formula. You see the mistakes you make in the students that you teach and then you ask them “Who taught you that? Oh, I taught you that? Hahaha.” That’s part of why I think teaching is so much a part of your development. It’s so hard to really look at your own technique otherwise.
Nj: On a separate but related note, I wanted to talk about something that I’ve noticed from your classes that stands out as a thing that many groups struggle with.
You guys seem to have a good number of women in your group. Not only that but,some of them are really solid students who’ve stuck around for quite a while.
GW: This is actually the most women we’ve had in a long time. It’s always been at least one but usually they don’t go longer then one year or so. Some stay as long as two years which is a fairly typical.
It helps having one or two committed women in the group ’cause I think it shows something to others when they come to check us out or to try out class. You also have to understand how to teach some things differently for them. With some of the guys you can use a more aggressive approach. In fact, some of them prefer that. With women, their strengths are different so you have to teach things in…
GW: Yeah, variations. Lots of that. You also have to teach that mentality, a mindset that’s focused on self defense. We usually teach them a lot of knife ’cause it’s most useful for them, that and thinking about applying improvised weapons. Besides, in kali, knife translates to stick, translates to open hand and on like that. If you learn the right mechanics, that #1 strike, that hammer fist, that chop, they all come from the same basic idea.
Nj: I also wanted to ask about your work as an acupuncturist and how that supports or influences your martial practice.
GW: Well, I was always really interested in healing but I was pretty disillusioned with the conventional medical practice, the doctors would just hand you an antibiotic for anything, like they didn’t really care about you. So while I was doing Tae Kwon Do I started getting exposed to the idea of oriental medicine and that kind of thing. The more I kept training martial arts, the more I realized how important it was to learn how to heal myself, especially if I wanted to keep training until I got old. If my body’s already racked by arthritis when I’m 70 then where do I go from there?
Along with that it’s important to learn the balance between over training and keeping yourself healthy. I’ve also got to know about how to take care of my students if they get hurt. So, I feel like these two practices work hand in hand. So much of both of them is about moving energy, understanding how it flows.
Nj: Where did you study acupuncture?
GW: Pacific College f Oriental Medicine, which is here in New York. There are three branches, here, in Chicago and San Diego.
Nj: Do you every find opportunities in your kali classes to talk about some of your healing work? I know, in my capoeira group we have an acupuncturist who has come in a couple of times to hold discussions about general wellness, healing and eating well for active and athletic living, things like that. It gives people the chance to ask those questions. How do I take care of my joints? How do I strengthen my bones? How do I keep my energy up after long work days? How does diet affect my moods and my ability to focus? People have always been super receptive.
GW: I try to talk to some of them about that. Some of them even stop by my office for treatment, but I don’t really get into that stuff so much in class. I talk to them on more of an individual basis. I’ll hear “oh, I’ve got this and that problem.” A lot of times it’s diet related or how people are treating their bodies. On the most base level, keeping chi flowing in the most healthy way possible.
All the same, I don’t want to lecture anybody. You know, everybody thinks that they’re doing it right and it’s not my place to intervene. I figure people will come to me if they need help. Sometimes it can be as simple as modifications to their workout routine. You see a lot of people who want to hit the weights but they’re not necessarily doing the most functional exercises for the martial art that they’re training. You don’t need bodybuilding per se for what we do. It’s okay to be big but, done in the wrong way, it can slow you down or decrease your range of motion. Truth is, swinging the sticks is the most functional thing.
One day… the dream is to make a way to incorporate everything. Me and Guro Alex want to open up something in the future where we can have a martial arts, health and acupuncture center, all of it under one roof. We both know a lot of teachers. We have doctors in the family, psychiatrists and lots of other talented people, even just within the Kuntaw family. If we all just team up together we could do something really good.
Nj: Do you feel wed to New York? ‘Cause, man, you’re talkin’ about some square footage.
GW: I know. That gets us thinking about all kinds of things. I’m like “I don’t know if we can do that here. Maybe we have to move up to Connecticut or something.” Hahaha. It’s probably going to come down to something like that. But anything is possible. Look at gyms like Five Points. They’ve got it all pulled together in one place.
Nowadays, no one owns their own spot and if they do, they’ve probably been in there since like the 70s. Maybe that’s part of why I like doing stuff in all the outer boroughs, Brooklyn, Queens.
Nj: Sounds like a lot of stuff is happening
GW: For sure.
Nj: Thanks for letting me get at you. It’s good to get you sitting down for a minute, hahaha.
Wilton Valerio’s Bio
As a kali practitioner:
Wilton Valerio is a 3rd degree black belt and full instructor under Kuntaw Kali kruzada. For the past 15 years Wilton has trained under Maestro Rico Acosta (Kuntaw Kali Kruzada, Acosta Fighting system) and Datu Richie Acosta (Kuntaw Kali Kruzada). Wilton has also trained in the Philippines with Senior Master Samuel Dulay (Modern Arnis International) and Grandmaster Vicente Sanchez. (Kali Arnis international)
Wilton has over 6 years experience teaching group classes and private lesson in Manhattan and Brooklyn and specializes in coordination drills, timing, reflex, physical fitness and self defense utilizing empty hands or weapons such as single or double stick, knife and improvised weapons.
As an acupuncturist:
Wilton Valerio is a licensed acupuncturist in New York State
and graduated from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine with a
Master of Science Degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine in 2008 and has completed over 500 hours of clinical internship at the Pacific College Acupuncture Clinic and Grand Meridian Clinic in New York City.
Trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), he specializes in sports recovery, pain management, digestive support, weight loss, physical fitness/personal training and stress management using acupuncture, tui na (massage), herbal medicine and nutritional counseling. Wilton has been in practice for six years and has helped many patients recover from motor-vehicle accidents, sports related injuries, seasonal allergies/immune support and support clients suffering from anxiety and depression.
Wilton’s practice is located inside the Rutherford Medical Complex on 2nd avenue and 17th street near Gramercy park, Union Square and Peter Cooper Village. Wilton is incredibly friendly, experienced, flexible with appointment scheduling and takes his time with all patents. His rates are very reasonable and believes that healthcare should be safe, affordable and accessible to everyone regardless of their financial situation.
Located in the Marikina Athletic Facility