I originally wanted to just promote and encourage you to attend the upcoming Master Sauer training camp on Nov. 7, 8 and 9, but that would be doing a disservice to you. I would fall short if all I did was to say you'd be missing an incredible opportunity if you didn't attend at least one session.
I know we discuss this occasionally, but I wanted to talk about the early days of Jiu-Jitsu in Louisville and in Kentucky as a whole. The easiest place to begin is through my own direct experience in the martial arts, which began when I was nine years old, at what was then Shaolin Kempo Studios of Self-Defense in Jeffersontown.
Allan Manganello and Jean Arseaneau were my original instructors in the art, and, in many ways which would only be revealed as the years passed, they were pioneers who always had open minds and even more open hearts.
I grew up inside their academy and to say that both were mentors to me would be an understatement. My teaching pedagogy, commitment to solid technique, and the principles by which I try to live were all helped shape by their direct influence.
About four years into my training -- circa 1993 -- I'm taking a group Kempo class. Allan, whom many of you have met, was the instructor. After warm-ups, we did this new thing where a person lays on his back and the other gets on top. "Escape," he said, to the student on the bottom. After much struggle, the student replied, "I can't." Now, you have to remember that you didn't use four letter words in our Academy, and saying "can't" was definitely a no-no.
So, Allan jumps in and with what seemed like no effort whatsoever he was able to reverse the position by executing the "Upa". I remember being in awe, especially after I realized how easy it was to perform.
Even though he didn't say this at the time, we were learning Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
This was revealed to me one Saturday in a private class with Allan, only a few months after he taught our first technique. You have to also remember the timing of this experience. Royce Gracie, the guy who is now a legend in MMA and the art itself, had just won the second UFC.
I remember being so psyched when Allan revealed to me that he was learning directly from the Gracie Family, and was about to begin the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu program in Louisville, and in Kentucky, for that matter.
The first formal Gracie Jiu-Jitsu class Allan taught had what seemed to be 40 people in attendance. Allan had just received his blue belt from Rickson Gracie, and he did more than just teach a few techniques in that first class; he laid the foundation of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in our region and helped pave the way for our access to the Gracie Family.
When Allan first started, he would travel to Cincinnati regularly to train with a blue belt. Yes, that's correct: a blue belt. That's taking nothing away from the instructor he trained with in Ohio, for he was incredibly skilled. In addition, Allan would often fly to Los Angeles for training and seminars. I make those points because today it's so easy to take for granted how much information and technique we're exposed to...and it's in our own Academy and back yard on a daily basis!
Master Pedro Sauer has been to Louisville numerous times to conduct seminars. On Nov. 7, 8, and 9, Allan, and our friends at Louisville Martial Arts Academy, have given us all a gift in helping to arrange Master Sauer's Fall Training Camp.
The advertisement is below with all the details, but, as a gift to yourself and a thank you to Allan and those who have worked so hard over the years to promote the advancement of the art -- including Spencer County's very own Scott Smith -- please attend at least one session of the camp. If you'd like to learn more about the guest instructors helping Master Sauer that weekend, click on their website below:
As a Master Sauer affiliate, we'd like as many of you at Spencer County to attend if you can. You'll learn, grow, and form new friendships with practitioners from across the U.S. Please help us continue to advance this phenomenal art and support our family.
And, as you drive across town to train with Master Sauer, Master Relson Gracie, and Professor Heredia, think about those early days, and how far we've come.
See you on the mat!