On The Edge

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Yearly, every Labor Day Weekend, I open the Natural Spirit Int’l doors of camaraderie for 4 days of extensive training, style alliance, gourmet food, and personal interaction at Raft Island Washington. This year is different in only one way,,, we got five days to join together, work out, train hard, rock, roll, and party on Garth!

Literally the Water and Steel experience is now in it’s twenty-sixth year! It is a martial art cross training dream where arts such as Modern Arnis, American Sombo, Non Classical Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Lucay lucay JKD/Kali, Kajukenbo, Shotokan, Isshinryu, Goju Ryu, Renegade JKD, Tae Kwon Do, Kempo, and other arts all co-exist seeking the path to Connect The Systems.
I established the cohesive methodology of “Connecting the Systems” with a vision of bringing some of the best instructors in the industry first to the Mountains of Wenatchee Washington and now to the beautiful waterfront retreat of Raft Island For 26 years the “Warrior Retreat” and now “Water and Steel” has remained a martial art treasure with attendees from all corners of the World! . The following is a personal reflection of my efforts and experiences organizing the legendary training camp “WATER AND STEEL!”

Stepping Up, To Rock Down!

Looking back on the first camps I organized starting in 1980 I have to chuckle just a little, the logic of hitting the mountains just to kick ass seemed strange to most everyone. I was lucky to have access to an old Boy Scout Camp at Mission Ridge Washington. At least the vision of an actual facility for camping tempered the initial impact felt by those willing to attend. Honestly the camp was barely that, the only shower was an open broken-down lean-to shack with a water hose coming from a Mountain Well. Talk about cold showers! Tents, out-house toilets, and personal cooking on Hibachi grills was the extent of modern accommodations. There was a main lodge but it was almost as rustic as the shower shack which consisted of a old garden hose hanging over a broken wooden door on a concrete slab. I guess that could be the beauty of youth; we were just excited to be doing something different and most importantly training in martial arts!

Gone but never forgotten, “miss ‘ya ‘bro !

The late Earl Squalls a top regional karate point fighter and forms competitor and myself were the featured instructors at the very first camp. Earl Squalls was a dreamer and a highly skilled practitioner. In point karate competition during the 1980’s few were more deceptive or faster off the line, Earl could kick you three times grab your groin while sliding between your legs and stealth away smiling. As an entertainer on the floor many considered him the top showman of the NW Karate Open Circuit, he could make everyone gasp at his phenomenal hand speed or kicking combinations executed with movie star charisma and poise. In all actuality I don’t think Earl Squalls ever wanted to step off the floor of competition, he walked, talked, and breathed martial arts. In forms competition Earl was the consummate blender of styles. Earl wasn’t my teacher, he was my training partner but few teachers brought me to the level of physical control while executing techniques that Earl did. Earl did not like to get hit, his highly refined evasive skills and physical control of movement was pretty much unsurpassed in the Northwest area. He could kick and strike so fast you could not see it coming until it touched you like a summer breeze, lightning fast with impeccable control. Looking back, Earl was such a gentle caring person. He loved fighting but never wanted to hurt anyone. His path in life was not an easy one, from his inner-city Chicago street life he knew what pain was and did not want to experience it physically, emotionally, or spiritually, if he caused pain to others it truly effected his conscious being and he probably took it harder than the person he hit. Growing up as a youth in Chicago he was exposed to a large group of instructors who taught neighborhood kids and learned the fundamentals of Shori-Goju while personally developing his own unique kicking methodology and the style he eventually called “Inner-Core martial arts.” It’s funny how we actually complimented each others skills and styles, I was a rough and tumble, just want to get my hands on ya kind of practitioner and Earl was the magician of movement! Earl did his best to draw those attributes out in me, and truly guided me along the path to free style development. Briefly, Earl would step into the forms competition and literally free flow with such focus, power, poise, and dynamic form few could even guess what style he was. He was all styles and no styles at the same time, I guess if I had to put a finger on specifically what Earl presented I would call it “stylized Improvised Form.” In that regard he was every bit as dynamic as Bruce Lee and really just barely missed his calling. He had a goal, skills, and a dream, sadly and in all honesty Earl’s vision and faith could not pull him from the tangled web of a miscalculated lifestyle. Earl Squalls died fighting during a National AAA Karate Tournament in 1987of a brain-seizure due to physical complications that possibly included mal-nutrition and drug use. Whatever the reason, it was a great loss to his family, friends, and the martial arts community, in my eyes he died a legend and I still speak of his skills with awe!

Keeping the game alive!

As time progressed the Boy Scouts Association actually invested money in the facility and year after year we experienced improvements when we returned for our annual event. The training camp was called the “Warrior Retreat” and established a strong following of practitioners willing to make the trek into the Mountains of Wenatchee Washington. A couple years in a row I loaded up a “cargo truck” and brought my professional 20-foot boxing ring to the mountain retreat for competition matches. I can only imagine the inquisitive thoughts of other road travelers staring at the gypsy band wagon caravan as we hauled evident fighting equipment stacked high and wide on multiple trucks and trailers through the mountain passes. The year was 1983 and the competition was a round-robin event consisting of “one round of continuous Arnis live stick fighting, one round of full contact PKA style karate, and one round of karate point fighting. The person who won the greatest number of matches was the overall winner. The stick matches experienced the most injuries, broken hands, fingers, and facial cuts. Low budget boxing headgear with eye goggles and one hand pad was all the protective gear worn, the full contact karate and point fighting was a breeze once a person got past the stick fighting. The event winner that year was Bill Armfield who drove all the way to Wenatchee, Washington from Chino, California. The following year Bill was injured in a trampoline accident and was confined to a wheelchair for close to 10 years. Bill returned to the Water and Steel camp in 1993 training on crutches, Bill Armfield is truly a dedicated and disciplined martial artists and is respected by all who have had the privilege to train with him.

Serious diversity and brotherhood !

Over the years, Worden’s Warrior Retreat and later The Water and Steel Training Camps have been filled with brotherhood and a diversity of Instructional staff and curricula rarely offered to the martial arts public.
Those who have shared their arts with the camp participants over the years include, Jesse Glover, Jim Keating, Bob Anderson, Dr, Brett Jacques, Ted Lucaylucay, Leonard Trigg, Maurice Smith, Burton Richardson, Mike Janich, Richard Ryan, David Harris, Bong Sun Jornales, Vic Harris, Dr. W.P. Yip, Joe Simonet, and an array of other dynamic teachers of the art.

Let’s see if I can touch on some of the dynamic instructors who have shared their art at the Natural Spirit training camps. The first camps featured primarily instruction in progressive fighting, forms, and Arnis. For the most part, Combat Arnis became the vehicle that made the camps distinct, in the early 80’s there was not much Arnis available in Washington State. I was teaching Combat Arnis and learned the art from J. Cui Brocka who was a student of Ernesto Presas. Creating a diverse atmosphere in unique practical tactics was a real challenge, especially breaking the style barriers set in stone within the traditional martial art community.

Baad ass professional willing to share !

Bob Anderson a revered Kajukenbo heavy hitter from Bellingham Washington was the first instructor I invited to share his art. Drawing from his multi-dimensional skills we really complimented each other’s teaching styles. As a former Outlaw Motorcycle club member, Bob Anderson brought reality to the training floor. Furthermore another element of martial prowess came forth as we trained, the new cultivation and amalgamation of our two arts. We were unifying without thought and those who trained with us also radically evolved. In prospective just as Kajukenbo was originally established as a cross training system so was our systems evolving, solely based on developing functional fighting skills. As the first Americanized Hawaiian fighting art Kajukenbo established a structured foundation through traditional balance of multi-disciplined concepts intended to adapt to the individuals tactical needs and attributes. In this regard Bob Anderson’s infusion with Natural Spirit brought a great diversity to the training arena and the Natural Spirit camps. Today as a leading authority on Executive Protection, Bob Anderson instructs Firearms, Logistics of protective details, Electronic Security, Electronic Countermeasures (bugging/counter bugging), Bomb Search and Identification, and many other interesting aspects of the job. Much of this information is also shared during instructional sessions as well as relaxation lectures during the Water and Steel training camp!

Few better ‘witt a blade, get the edge !

As time progressed others became interested in my method of integrating and blending the arts. In 1983 Jim Keating had contacted me for a seminar at his school in Walla Walla Washington and we hit it off extremely well. Jim was insightful and creative in his own right teaching a combination system of Kenpo, Goju Ryu, Ernesto Presas Arnis, Kali from the Inosanto lineage and other arts as well. I invited Jim to become a featured instructor at the next upcoming Warrior Retreat in Wenatchee Washington. Without question Jim had a dynamic presentation and the combination of Bob Anderson, Jim Keating and myself created a unified training regime rarely experienced and honestly way ahead of it’s time for Washington State and evidently worldwide. Here it is, 20 plus years later and we are back together again, ready to “Shake the Pillars of Hell”at Raft Island and the Water and Steel Training Camp!

International exposure for ‘da local boyz !
Don’t call me sir, just Jesse !

The year was 1993; Greg Walker and Full Contact Magazine entered the scene at the Wenatchee training center, the beautiful mountainous region was in full summer bloom and the camp rocked for 3 solid days of hard training.
Jesse Glover joined the instructional staff for the first time. Greg Walker was so impressed with the camp and the presentation of the instructional programs he wrote two extremely positive articles for the First Edition of Full Contact magazine. One specifically on the NSI Warrior Retreat (forerunner to Water and Steel) and another featuring Jesse Glover, his relationship with Bruce Lee, and the evolution of Jesse’s teaching methodology. Another very positive factor came about from the interaction with Greg Walker at the training camp, he asked Jim Keating and myself to become assistant editors and staff writers for the new Full Contact magazine. Since that time, Jesse has instructed at numerous Water and Steel camps and seminars. Without hesitating I would say the Non Classical method of Jesse Glover has provided a dynamic bridge to connect the systems within Natural Spirit. Integrated directly into the Western Boxing, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Modern Arnis, NSI Kuntao, Small Circle Jujitsu, JKD Jun Fan, American Sambo, and other elements of the fighting arts. Non Classical Gung Fu offers an in-depth prospective of sensitivity development, striking speed, power development and a great deal more, it is the basis of NSI centerline close quarter attachment and striking concepts! The late night standing grappling sessions bring the real truth to light, functional aggression! THANK YOU JESSE GLOVER!

Politics or candy ass jealousy ?

Hey, What the fuck is new? As politics goes, back then behind the scenes Jim and I were being verbally attacked and discredited directly by a young JKD loud mouth. His beef was as shallow as his skill coupled with no hair on his ass or balls to back his play. Looking back now he was almost crying seeking to our ruthless street like reputations and the negative impact such reputations would have on the new Full Contact magazine. Funny, it ain’t like Jim and I have ever professed to being part of the Church Choir, have we now? It just so happened that his candy ass words actually worked against him and benefited us, we were propelled into the editorial positions of the magazine and the piss-ant received no ink after that. As they say, success is the best revenge, for the most part we both enjoyed some great International magazine exposure via Full Contact and Fighting Knives magazines, and ‘da rest is history!

So many great camps have materialized over the years; one year just to shake things up in the JKD community I invited Maurice Smith, Burton Richardson, Bob Anderson, and Jim Keating to all join me in the mountains for a slam and jam camp. It was a great success and truly demonstrated the positive impact training camps have in creating an atmosphere for networking and interaction between different styles. Seeking to bring NSI Renegade JKD into the public eye my focus was to demonstrate why Natural Spirit was as diverse as JKD, and the results were evident.

Brotherhood is one of the main reasons the Natural Spirit Int’l camps are so well received. This statement is the very premise as to why I continue to organize the camps year after year. It is not just the relationships of the participants but also the instructors. Strong bonds and lifelong friendships have truly blossomed over the years. The context of this article is rather limiting to touch on all the great teachers who have shared their arts, but honestly I need to briefly address Ted Lucay Lucay and his valuable input into the training camps.

Bridging Original JKD with Renegade JKD !

First off, it was Professor Leonard Trigg whom introduced Guru Ted and I many years ago. We immediately hit it off and enjoyed many long hours of training, reflections of the art, and most of all humorous conversations involving the politics of JKD. Often Guru Ted and Leonard Trigg while staying at my home would laugh so hard they would chase me out of the room just so they could catch their breath. Guru Ted liked to quote my statements and was shocked at my ability to put politics into honest and humorous prospective. A distinct quote from Guru Ted I remember was “ Datu Kelly says things that others only think about saying!” and then of course he would start laughing until his stomach or jaw hurt. Guru Ted was a riot, and was quite honest in his beliefs as well. In many ways Guru Ted had become reclusive due to the JKD politics, his connection with Professor Trigg, myself, and the training camps brought him back into a motivational phase of progression in his own art. His knowledge base was really immeasurable, this of course was due to the depth of his classical training and his ability to extract concepts and cross reference systems into a systemized improvisational presentation that flowed like white water rapids. Guru Ted’s blade to boxing theory as well as his stick-boxing curriculum embraced the simplicity of what JKD originally professed. This approach opened the practitioner’s eyes to refine attributes and seek personal progressions allowing the individual to comprehend the parallels in all movement not the dissimilarities.

Guru Ted found truth in Renegade JKD; he both supported and applauded my rebellious protest to voice the over-commercialization of JKD, or what has become a misguided path to “seeking freedom of expression in the arts!”

Integrity, Time, and Trust !

Professor Leonard Trigg was a confidant of Guru Ted Lucaylucay, today he is the heir of the Lucaylucay JKD/Kali system. It is with great pride Professor Trigg methodically moves forward to document the teachings of Maestro Ted as Trigg refers to him and his memory. It is a blessing to my education and development of my art to have known Professor Trigg for over 26 years as an advisor, friend, teacher, and colleague. As a featured instructor at the Water and Steel camp for over 8 years he has offered an encyclopedia of martial knowledge to all who have emptied their cup to absorb what is useful in his teachings. A classical old school boxer, Professor Trigg is a modern Icon of technical and tactical proficiency. The arts he has mastered are to numerous to mention but cover the spectrum of Thai Boxing, Silat, Arnis, Wing Chun, JKD, Tai Chi, and countless others, few I have ever met are as educated within the arts as Professor Leonard Trigg!

Can’t Get Enough Of That Funky Stuff !

It would seem almost to good to be true, but all those within the brotherhood of Natural Spirit Int’l have experienced years of incalculable education. The associations with great teachers are continually expanding year after year. “Connecting the Systems” is a worldwide acknowledged path of development. Over the past 15 years another individual has been instrumental in adding depth to the NSI system. Dr. Brett Jacques of the American Sombo System is the technical director of grappling and counter ground fighting. Additionally Dr. Jacques insight into improvised weapons and multiple attackers is almost unsurpassed in the martial arts industry. By instructing concepts and training methodology from the Sombo Wheel, Dr. Jacques process of enhancing a practitioners personal skills is more JKD than most approaches to “the absorb what is useful” theories being presented by progressive teachers of JKD today. Unique, dynamic, and tough as nails, Dr. Brett Jacques American Sambo system is integrated deeply into the NSI instructional curricula. Look to pickup a solid connection into the functional elements of American Sambo at this year’s Water and Steel Camp. Nothing could be more true, from Jesse Glover’s Non Classical Gung Fu, Ted Lucay Lucay’s Kali JKD, Umpad’s Corto Cadena Eskrima, Presas Modern Arnis, Old School Kajukenbo, Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Goju Ryu, Renegade JKD, WKA Int’l style Kickboxing, Standing Grappling to Ground and Pound, Stick Fighting, Knife Fighting, Silent Fighter Dummy Training, and everything in between, N.S.I. Water and Steel always delivers,,,, Take the Challenge….

Escape, Train, and Rock Steady….
Eat, Drink, and be Weary…

That’s the Natural Spirit Way !

The “26th. Annual 2006 Water and Steel” Raft Island training retreat is nestled in a large meadow surrounded by forest on the waterfront shores of Puget Sound. As you drive over the bridge you realize it is an Island Sanctuary, far away from the hustle and bustle of city traffic and noise pollution. The tranquility of a salt water breeze sweeps through the trees as birds sing in harmony along wilderness trails leading to the beach and private dock facilities that stretch deep beyond the waters edge.. Sea otters, raccoons, and a small herd of deer forage the fields and shoreline for food as Bald Eagle’s majestically soar the sky or perch within the towering trees. During the glimmer of a moon lit evening the woods come alive with the untamed sounds of nature as it echo’s within the natural habitat embracing the Raft Island training retreat. Truly the ambiance, brotherhood, and martial arts experience at Raft Island is not an atmosphere easily forgotten or dismissed as practitioners return seeking to revive heart felt memories and capture new ones year after year!

Hop, skip, and jump, or we could take this boat !

Although Raft Island is a short distance away from the historic and rustic waterfront town of Gig Harbor where tourists seek to discover or purchase antiques and gifts from the past, few wish to leave the Raft Island tranquility. The Raft Island facility is totally self-efficient with modern cabins, an on site professional cooking staff, group meeting lodge, and waterfront access to swim, canoe, fish, or relax. Honestly, just about everyone trains extensively for 10 hours a day and then seeks the nightlife of professional massage treatments, waterfront discussions, or moon light howls over a cold beer! The real truth is “it is always your choice to workout or relax” simple as that….

What you waiting for, a personal invitation ???
This is it !
Reserve Your Spot Today !

To seek the path of truth and experience Datu Kelly S. Worden’s 26th. Annual “ 2006 Water and Steel Training Camp,” August 31st., September 1st., 2nd., 3rd., & 4th., 2006 at Raft Island Washington*
* Five days of training, food, and cabins for $650.00 * Reserve your spot now!
* Contact Natural Spirit Int’l
@ 253-202-7418 http://www.kellyworden.com/ or e-mail kellysworden@comcast.net


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