“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

What’s In Your Dojo?

Okey, smarty pants, I know it’s technically NOT a Dojo. But I am using the word generically.

So, what’s in your Dojo?

I have training equipment, and our set up is a little different than most martial arts schools. First of all, we’re located in “the hood”.  My schools in DC weren’t… they were in nice neighborhoods, but I grew up in low income areas, and I feel at home here. So even though we’re doing better, I’m not going anywhere. The rent is cheap, and folks who really want good training won’t mind it at all.

Here is the outside of my school: 

Front of the School

4120 Franklin Blvd

You may notice that the front glass is blocked. That’s because I believe that good martial arts is not a spectator sport. There is a bus stop out front, and we’ve had drug sold out front, prostitutes, gang members smoking weed (I just had to get rid of two today who hung around while my girls’ class was being conducted), fights, and some folks were just bored so they would stand and watch as if they were watching TV. Plus, the neighbors used to sell drugs, and my school had gotten shot up a few times (still have the bulletholes to prove it). We need complete concentration, so our school is private, we do not take walk-ins or visitors during class hours, and we have an “appointment only” policy. It’s written on the door.

We recently got a new building owner, who will reface the front of the strip, and she has already (yuck) laid asphalt in the back. Before paving, this is what our backyard (now a parking lot) used to look like:

Striking Post III

Ignore the appliances next door, that guy got deported and the business closed...

We had a dirt lot, and two neighbors paved small plots behind their stores. At night (when they were closed) we used to send some students out back to train when we needed space. By the way, let me explain this:

Striking_Post_II

I had a telephone post cut into smaller sections that we used for striking posts. We had 6 total.

Every school should have stuff to hit. My guys “grew up” on these telephone poles. When we needed to go hard, we threw tires over them, and practiced our stick technique, kicking, and knife techniques. I ruined several of my razors-sharp blades on these tires by allowing students to use them. I didn’t realize that car tires have wires in the rubber, which will destroy a razor-sharp blade.

Our new landlord had them pulled up (I did not help them. Hmmph!) and so now I have to build striking posts for the guys to train on.

Inside, we have red-painted concrete floors (it was supposed to be temporary, but I like them), two pull-up bars, two punching bag stands, four “WaveMasters”….

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We've got a few guys who weigh over 250 lbs, so we needed a heavy duty pull up station

Btw, some of these pics were taken from a cell phone, so I apologize for the poor quality…

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One of two punching bag stands. We go through bags like water around here!

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This tire is used to train our leg attacks. Behind it is the other bag stand, with a 100 lb bag

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The other pull-up bar (got it at a yard sale). Behind it is my long weapons rack. We use staff, spears, and clubs for Tapado practice.

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The flag on the right is... oh, you should already know. On the left is the Katipunan flag.

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Pads, small sticks, and sparring gear. We are always prepared!

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Nice complements to any martial arts training program!

To your left are three important items for any martial arts program. Far left is the Brass Ring. If you do forms practice, these rings will do wonders for your strength and speed.

Next to that is a bottle of Dit Da Jow, and ointment to treat battered hands and arms. If your training program is serious, your students will be busting up their hands and arms. Keep them going with this stuff!

Finally, my fav, the ab wheel. Don’t waste money on the machines. This will kill your midsection!

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And what school isn't complete without trophies and medals? My guys are only asked to leave them with me for a week, but some have too many to take home!

 I took pictures of some of our other equipment, but for some reason, they didn’t make it to my email account from my phone, so I’ll just describe them:

  • dumbells. we’ve got a few, some adjustable, some are just the single weight ones (35, 45, 55, etc.)
  • sand bags, we use them for grip training
  • a bucket of sand (for striking practice)
  • a wrist curl bar (the kind with the rope that you attach to plates)
  • bricks (for various purposes, mostly to add weight to hand technique practice)
  • an old punching bag with two ratchet straps. we use this for throwing practice and for lifting dead weights. i used this this morning, and my upper back is still feeling it!
  • weapons, weapons and weapons!

I want my students to have access to everything they need for success. They shouldn’t need to join a gym or buy equipment to work out at home, unless they just want to (we are open 7 days a week)–whether their thing is body building or just training for skill and strength–a good school should be self-contained.

Collectively, my school over the years have lost over a ton–literally. We have had several students lose over 100 pounds, and I have had students gain 50 pounds of muscle. We have seen guys come in our school with no strength at all, no confidence, no muscular build, and leave as very strong men and women. I had a young boy, who joined extremely overweight, who is now in his first year of college on a football scholarship. We have a few students now fighting MMA and full contact kickboxing. I have had students join the military, become police officers and correction officers, become martial art teachers and fighters. I have students all over the world that came out of my tiny little school:  in Thailand, in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada… and they are excellent fighters. Not bad, for a kid who went from third world country to the hood without an education!

I know this is different from my usual posts, but I thought I’d give you the grand tour.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please visit again!

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3 Responses to “What’s In Your Dojo?”

  1. cool! thanks for sharing this.

  2. Yo! You got the RIGHT STUFF, thats why we love you!

    Keep up the good work, and lets keep doing it the old fashion way… With the Heart.

  3. I am curious, how did you secure the tire to the post? I could not tell from the photo, though I do admit I have poor eyesight.


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