Good Sports: Elite black belt camp

May 31, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
In late May just north of Fresno, some of the best martial arts instructors in the world gathered to teach a modern martial art called Sei Ei Do to a lucky handful of students.

"I wanted to drift away from the traditional standard, rigid traditional training, and really develop skills that work, that really work, that we've proven and tested," said Soke and Grand Master Dave Johnson.

The 8th annual Elite Black Belt Camp featured five martial arts Hall of Famers, a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, a five-time Golden Gloves champion and martial arts Masters from four different countries.

"A lot of techniques, from kung fu, from rang do, from tae kwan doe, from karate, from judo, from chae ku do, said Elite Master Instructor Paul Vierheller. "Everything. We took the best and made it better."

"You're starting at an advanced level," said Johnson. "So you come straight in going 100 miles per hour. You've got to be ready, you've got to be in shape, and you've got to be mentally prepared."

Johnson comes from a law enforcement background and has choreographed fight scenes and acted in Hollywood movies. But believes his EBB Camp is tailor made for everyday life.

"We're training these people to be ready for the street," said Johnson. "That's what this is really about. I don't know of anyone else really doing this format."

"You have self-defense, yeah it's ok, you can do it on a mat, you can do it sparring in the hall," said Vierheller. "But on the street it does not work. And Sei Ei Do is self-defense that works in the street."

But it's not just three days of intense martial arts instruction, where students learn everything from throws to weapon disarming. Camp instructors say they get the most feedback from the friendships made.

"People are separating and it's like when am I ever going to see you again?," said Johnson. "Are you going to be at next year's camp? And so that's one of the most exciting things for me. I watch all these friendships bond and we have friends all over the world now."

And Johnson is calling on more Central Valley professionals to take part in years to come, right here in their own back yard.

"There's nothing like this type of training," said Johnson. "And that's nothing against martial arts studios or any kind of systems. Everything is great. But there's nothing like this kind of training."


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