7th Degree Black Belt, Tanglang Quan (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 in all forms of media. 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 after watching TV or playing a video game). Media aside, martial arts has become a lifelong passion of mine (some might even say a bit of an obsession) and I have studied various martial arts (Karate, Jujitsu, Judo, Kajukenbo, and Kung Fu) since the age of 9, currently holding Black Belts in Jujitsu, Kajukenbo and Tanglang Quan (Mantis Boxing) Kung Fu.
My Jujitsu & Kajukenbo Story
I have been practicing Jujitsu (and eventually Kajukenbo) since 1994 under under Professor Vinson Holck (the son of Kajukenbo co-founder Dai Shihan Joseph Holck (the Judo/Jujitsu behind Kajukenbo)) up until his eventual retirement due to health reasons in the early 2010s. During that time I attended every class/open mat Holck offered, traveled the western US (including Hawaii) competing in competitions (consistently placing in the top 3) and even served as Holck's assistant instructor through the mid 2000s. As a retired member of the Tucson Police Department’s SWAT team and military hand to hand instructor, he placed strong emphasis on straight forward applications with a heavy emphasis on basic kickboxing, throwing and submission techniques. This in turn has planted the seed for my own focus.
My Kung Fu Story
I started training Chinese Kung Fu 1997, when a fellow student of Holcks encouraged me to try a local Kung Fu class that he was cross training in. Seeing the benefits of cross training, I was hooked after the first class. Since then, I have studied under two primary instructors, starting with Sifu Clem Daems (Northern Praying Mantis & Chen/Yang Tai Chi Chuan) in 1997 and later with Sifu Tony Puyot (7 Star & 8 Step Praying Mantis) in 2017. Daems emphasized the balance between the external and internal aspects of training and the application of this through Fa Jing or explosive energy. Puyot, a retired Vice Detective in Southern California, placed a strong emphasis on the combat effectiveness of Praying Mantis Boxing Kung Fu and has been instrumental in providing the insights that have influenced my entire outlook on martial arts, especially practicing Kung Fu as a fighting art. I like to think that Kung Fu made my Jujitsu better and that my Jujitsu has done the same for my Kung Fu.
When it comes to my outlook on training, I am an advocate of the fact that you never stop learning or evolving 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, Tanglang Quan (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
1st Degree Black Belt, Tanglang Quan (Mantis Boxing)
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 (A
Shukokai Karate Blackbelt and Kajukenbo Blackbelt under Vinson Holck) in July 2001. Michael currently holds the ranks of Matsuno Kajukenbo Kai 4th Degree Black Belt and Shukokai Karate 3rd Degree Black Belt under Haber.
Michael is currently expanding his training to include Kung Fu under Sifu Paul LaPointe.