written by Guro Steve Lefebvre
The road entering the training area way out in the distance!
After a 7 hour drive to West Hazelton Pa., and a short off road drive behind a golf course (Don’t ask!), we finally arrived at the entrance to 15,000 acres of open land! The land is actually a part of an off road driving course, and it was about 2,000 yards in, so you did need a high clearance vehicle to get on site for training. A large 40 ft tent and a portable bathroom were set up to help with the amenities. Tuhon Sayoc and his family welcomed us in , and we started right in on whip work with Battang Tuhon Jimmie (Tuhon’s son). We first worked on #3 of 9 template as it corresponded to the whip and then added #10, #11, and #12 strikes to that. Next came the “Star Pattern”, this invol ved cracking the whip at each point of the 5 pointed star. Sounded easy, but after my right forearm looked like Popeye’s, I realized I needed a little bit more practice. Which, of course, we had time to do. Later that afternoon and into early (o.k. late) evening, Tuhon had the instructors, all working on transition drill #7, then for those of us who didn’t know transition drills #1 –5, we paired off with other instructors who brought us up to speed. My brain was seriously overwhelmed by all the information. We finished off with a barbecue dinner, and getting to know all the different instructors. Oh, did I feel to mention that the firearms range was in full bore during most of this event? Well, loud noises don’t make me jump anymore. Back to the Hotel, and eventually sleep around 12:00 am.
Group of attendees working the whip.
Tuhon Sayoc, and a good size group of us met at Perkins restaurant for a great breakfast, and some interesting talk. Most of us were still just getting going when we were back on site at 8:00 am. Back to the whip again, to get in extra practice before we were testing later that day. More people were still filing in and the Tactical Firearms course was in its second session. Of course, there was plenty of opportunity to continue work on transition drills 1-5 as well as #7 and 8. Later in the day and into the night, we continued to train and eat (barbecue) and not to forget the fireworks display both from the town and on our site. Late that night Guro Ray Dionaldo did an awesome nunchaku demonstration. This was a great night to swap war stories and learn about each other’s training methods and each other in general.
July 7th Team NewEngland (Steve Chrusciel, and myself) continued to get up at 6:00am to have breakfast with Tuhon and a shrinking group of attendees. This was a great opportunity to learn a lot about strategy and tactics, from the Tuhon, especially after the “chopstick wars”. We all grouped up, and headed back to the training site. This day there was a concentrated effort on picking up transition drills #7,8,9, and 10. As well as testing for the Sayoc Whip certificate. Of course another chopstick war, barbecue, Tuhon also demonstrated the basics of Sayoc Bakal utilizing the chopstick.
July 8th Last day of the seminar, and it was very difficult for us to get up and drag our butts over to breakfast with Tuhon. Steve Chrusciel and I made it (coffee lots of coffee!). But, this was our last day and being the only two over there with Tuhon, we were privileged to get a lot of information on strategy and tactics, especially in light of the results from our chopstick wars. We were back on site and training by 9:00 am, drilling the transition drills and working on disarming tactics, guard positions, back cutting, more shooting as well as testing for rank. It was another day packed with information! We were nearing the end though and a lot of photo’s were being shot, hugs, handshakes and promises to keep in touch with each other were happening. Guro Dionaldo and Rico Cortes, also threw together an improvised Kali demonstration, which was just awesome! Back at the hotel, as a group of us were eating dinner, swapping our new war stories, and happy that we all passed during various testings, when Tuhon and family showed up. After awhile we all gathered together, Guro Dianaldo and Rico, showed up and we all chatted until after 10:00pm that night.
I’ll only speak for myself here but, during Sama-Sama I truly felt something that Tuhon always says, “Sayoc Kali is a family art”. During the time we were there Tuhon was just like a “father” to his children (all of us), joking around, making sure we all had plenty of water, and food, and just generally enjoying ourselves. If you have the opportunity to attend the next Sama-Sama, absolutely attend, you will not be disappointed!