7th Degree Black Belt, Mantis Boxing
5th Degree Black Belt, Matsuno Ryu Jujitsu & Kajukenbo
Martial Arts have always been a way of life for me. Growing up in the 80s/90s, it was represented everywhere I looked, from television & movies, to anime, comics and video games. This introduction to martial arts is where I credit my earliest training (I was totally that kid who ran around the house with a plastic ninja sword and rubber shuriken). As for “formal training”, that started at the age of nine in traditional Shitō-ryū Okinawan Karate, a style which I continued in for three years before relocating due to my father’s job.
After the move I took a few years off, before in 1994, at the age of 14, I started training Jujitsu and Kajukenbo under Dai Shihan Vinson Holck, the son of Kajukenbo co-founder Dai Shihan Joseph Holck (the Judo/Jujitsu behind Kajukenbo). Holck, a retired member of the Tucson Police Department’s SWAT entry team, focused on a no nonsense modern interpretation of martial arts training. Due to his background in both the military hand to hand instructor and as a police officer, Holck
placed strong emphasis on straight forward applications with a heavy emphasis on basic kickboxing, throwing and submission techniques. I trained with Holck, traveling the western US (including Hawaii) competing and even serving as his assistant instructor through the mid 2000s when Holck retired from martial arts due to health issues in 2013. During this time I received my first blackbelt from Holck in1999 and eventually the rank of 5th degree blackbelt before his death in 2017.
In addition to my training under Holck, I also trained Chinese Kung Fu under Sifu Clem Daems, starting in 1997 when a fellow student of Holcks by the name of Nate Blackwell encouraged me to try a local Kung Fu class that he was cross training in. Daems taught Northern Praying Mantis Boxing Kung Fu and Chen/Yang Tai Chi Chuan. While training under Daems was very different than that of Holck, it represented a different take on the martial arts and emphasized the balance between external and internal aspects of training, the impact of good / fluid movement and the application of explosive internal energy (Fa Jing) in application. I trained with Daems, until he retired from public teaching in the mid 2000s and received my instructor certificate under Daems in 2002.
Fast forward to 2017, with the retirement of both Holck and Daems, and forever seeking new challenges, I decided to delve deeper into Mantis Boxing, a style I felt had much more to teach me. While researching and training different branches of Kung Fu, I eventually became a student of Sifu Tony Puyot in 2017, focusing on advanced Mantis Boxing and Fight theory. Puyot, a retired Vice Detective in Southern California, had many parallels to Holck, and really offered me a chance to refine my skills in Mantis Boxing Kung Fu.
When it comes to training, I am an advocate of the fact that you never stop learning or evolving in the martial arts and of the real world effectiveness of traditional martial arts. I believe the best way to learn is hands-on with constant pressure testing (live, unfixed sparring) and a borderless mindset.
5th Degree Black Belt, Mantis Boxing
SCA Armored Combat Knight (Black Belt Level)
At the age of 28 and living in South Dakota, Mel was introduced to Mantis Kung Fu by two friends as a way to stay in shape during the long, cold winters. At the time, Mel was already conversant in a form of western armored combat and was looking to diversify his martial abilities as well as stay in shape. On moving to Tucson in 2002, he found himself unexpectedly fortunate enough to have Shifu LaPointe teaching a nearly identical style of Mantis Kung Fu. He has studied under Shifu LaPointe since that time as well as continued to study western armored combat under the auspices of the SCA.
Stylistically, Mel is more interested in the direct, practical application of techniques as they apply to a self-defense situation rather than flashier show aspects that apply best to performances. Mantis Boxing’s focus on the application behind the techniques taught in the forms feeds that interest in the practical and fosters a deeper understanding of application over the simple search for the next move. Mel began studying weapons combat in 1992 as a member of the SCA and continues to practice it today, training students and competing in tournaments on a regular basis
throughout the year. Given his prior and continuing background in western armored combat, Mel has an affinity for the weapons forms taught in Mantis Boxing. He places the same focus on the practical application behind the weapons forms as he does the empty hand forms. While people may not carry swords or spears anymore, in self-defense situations, those skills can be transferred to a wide range of everyday items, from a broken chair leg to a piece of pipe and in many ways, are as applicable today as they ever have been.
Mel currently holds the rank of 5th Degree Black Belt in Mantis Boxing Kung Fu and the rank of Knight in the SCA, the equivalent of black belt in the SCA. In addition to his ranks, Mel is a previous winner of the Crown armored combat tourney, one of the hardest fought tournaments in the SCA.
4th Degree Black Belt, Matsuno Kajukenbo Kai
3rd Degree Black Belt, Shukokai Karate,
Michael Reynolds began his martial arts career when he realized that the three hours of self defense instruction received from the Corrections Officer Training Academy was totally inadequate for the environment in which he worked.
After trying/studying several different styles, in which he attained the rank of Go Kyu (5th Kyu), Reynolds started his Matsuno Kajukenbo Kai training under Paul Haber (Shihan) in July 2001. Michael currently holds the ranks of Matsuno Kajukenbo Kai 4th Degree Black Belt and Shukokai Karate 3rd Degree Black Belt under Paul Haber.
Michael is currently expanding his training to include Kung Fu under Sifu Paul LaPointe.