WTW, 12/1/2009

The source of my power

During difficulties and hard times in life I needed self-confidence and power. I was facing big challenges and made decisions that changed my life. Escrima was and still is the most loyal companion.

Moral courage was the trigger for me to start Escrima. When I was 15, a friend of mine was regularly beaten up by a notorious bully. I pressed charges against that thug and he was sentenced into juvenile detention. Of course, I had to be prepared for his family's wrath, I had to be sure to be on the safe side for the things that might come. I knew there was a martial arts school in my neighbourhood. I wanted to learn Escrima, desperately, and I was strongly attracted by the machetes hanging there up the wall. However, you had to be at least 16 years old to learn Escrima at the school in Wesel, so I started WingTsun first. The day I turned 16 I started with Escrima as well. I was proud being the youngest and, admittedly, the lankliest, training with big and strong partners. 1996 was the year of smashed rattan sticks, sweat, blisters on my hands, cuts on my fingers, one or the other bloody lip, and so on... Strangely, we young Escrimadores were proud of our little injuries.

Role models
I loved the atmosphere at our school. An atmosphere of hard and honest labour. My teacher Stefan Tebbe was my big role model back then. He inspired me with his enthusiasm and the stories about Master Bill. It was him, who introduced me to Escrima, which became my companion for life. Without his enthusiasm, encouragement, and motivation I wouldn't be sitting here, typing these lines.

I completed the first four student grades at Master Bill's seminars which lasted six hours and meant a lot to me. Grandmaster Bill Newman set a high value on the precision of movements and the right attitude. Highly motivated by his seminars, which took place at Mühlheim an der Ruhr, I trained every day at my room, read all articles in the WingTsun-Welt and met with my sparring partners. It was all about being the best fighter back then. Basically our traning was stick fighting with the corresponding results, like black and blue marks, bruises, and tons of lumps. I also did a lot of demonstrations with my teacher an was a very happy fellow. Ultimately Stefan decided to put all his emphasis and energy into WingTsun and delegated the responsibility to his highest Escrima students. It wasn't the training I knew any more. Without Stefan something was missing. Things began to change. In the end, those guys in charge had to give up the Escrima training, due to personal issues. So I kicked in. I felt deeply honoured and took this duty seriously. After all, I was representing Escrima in Wesel.

We were a small group, which didn't bother me. We were some kind of exotic creatures at the Wesel school. Very often we trained only with two or three people, but my fervour for Escrima could not be extinguished by that fact. By and by I lost all possibilities to receive lessons and then I noticed that René Latosa wasn't with the EWTO any longer. I've tried my best but after a long no-class period I was on the verge of giving up Escrima. Just at that time of my life, I met Thomas Theren. Right at my first training lesson I realised that the very Escrima, as represented by Grandmaster Bill Newman, was exactly what I was looking for. Much like my first teacher, Thomas was able to motivate me. I was riding trains in the evening to his lessons and came back early in the morning. Because my trains were late pretty often, I've spent hours and hours on the platforms of Cologne main station.

My coffee, the experiences from class and my scripts which documented all those new things, were all I needed. Thomas related from seminars with Grandmaster Bill and Bernd Hoyer. For him functionality comes first and his authenticity impressed me to this day. He didn't only manage to re-spark my fervor for Escrima but also managed to motivate me in ways I didn't knew before. Escrima was all that I needed. Which showed in other aspects of life as well. I placed all my money in sticks, machetes, lessons, seminars, and the very Escrima book. In hindsight I can say that I got payed back in spades.

Sources of power
Because of Newman-Escrima and my current teacher, Thomas Theren, I have found a tool and a way to realise my weaknesses, to verify the functionality of my actions and to work hard on myself. The many setbacks I've encountered back then in many areas of my life, like relationships, jobwise, money matters, I've managed all successfully because of my training. Of course, the companionship with sparring partners and friends also helped. I crossed borders and extended limits and learnt to confront myself with things when neccessary. After classes with Thomas or seminars with Master Bill I had both self-confidence and motivation in abundance.

I devoured anything that was available about Newman-Escrima. After all, new role models and "heroes" came up, like Sascha Böhringer, Falk Welker, Michael Welge, the two masters of Escrima Bernd Hoyer and Thomas Dietrich, my teacher Thomas Theren and, as the leading one, Grandmaster Bill Newman. I wanted to become as good as them, following them. I did demonstrations with a good friend of mine and most advanced student, Markus Christiansen on tournament events of different martial arts styles. I decided to write articles for the WingTsun-Welt when that opportunity was provided to me. The interview and, in general, the opportunities to write about Newman-Escrima, changed my life. I'm focussing on concrete targets which I pursuit diligently. I found what I was looking for. The source of my power turned out to be the self-confidence that I developed with Newman-Escrima. I can hardly phrase my words of gratitude!

Every single day I'm thinking about how to apply the principles in every day life, how to train better, how to hit harder on more on target and how to work on my weak spots. And while doing so, I'm experiencing fascination every single day!

Impressive experience
Last year in Neuss, during a seminar with Master Bill, I experienced something impressive. He explained that there are two ways of living. The first one is from the outside to the inside. Master Bill: "When you're living from the outside to the inside, everything is coming your direction. Everyone wants something from you, you have to do something constantly. Problems cummulate and your living space becomes smaller and smaller. Like a wave everything breaks down on you. Until you have no more room for progress." He walked up next to me, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said: "Or you live from the inside to the outside. You make up a plan, you set yourself goals. Everything you do from there on, comes from the inside and appears merley on the outside."

I will never ever forget this moment in all of my life. Master Bernd also impressed me alot. He didn't try to convert me but by his nature he showed me aspects of Newman-Escrima that were unrivalled in my marital arts experiences hitherto. My sincere thanks for that! All those experiences, the knowlege, the verve and honest work I try to pass on to my students and sparring partners. In critical moments and at crucial questions Escrima was my back-up, my sword and my shield.

Text: Jens Nördershäuser
Source translated by: The Navigator