Below: Honouring the icons of the KMAB.
Some seventeen years ago, at the World Head Of Family Sokeship Hall Of Fame event in Orlando, Florida, Grandmasters Ian Cyrus, Michael DeAlba, and myself spoke of creating a martial arts brotherhood. Unfortunately, and even though it was his idea, Grandmaster Cyrus was unable to follow through on the idea, and it sat idle for about twelve years. When it became obvious that no one was going to do anything with it, I decided to see if I could revive this great idea, and we (GMs DeAlba, Baubil, and myself) discussed the revival at the WKF Summit in Los Angeles, Ca. Following up on that conversation, we successfully again discussed it at my 60th anniversary celebration in 2010 held in Canada, and the KMAB was launched.
The Founding Fathers were GM DeAlba and myself, and we were happy that the following icons of KMA agreed to become Co-Founders. GMs Serge Baubil, James McMurray, Ken MacKenzie, and Geoff Booth. Pictured at my 2010 anniversary event are most of us, including GoldSeal members GMs John Godwin, and Kevin Janisse, as well as CMs Thomas Gordon and Robert Ott. There are several other Gold Seal members, and I’ll list them later.
Suffice it to say that that the KMA Brotherhood is up and running, and it has worked well.
The Brotherhood has since been very active in supporting each other’s events, and as a result some of these events have gained International recognition because of the high profile support the KMAB lent to them. Naturally, this statement is not to diminish the great efforts of the organizers, but it WAS a coordinated effort that helped propel these events. I can’t even imagine the KMAF, the ITS, the KMAMHOF, my 60th anniversary, and CM Ott’s Super Seminars without these icons of KMA. A true Brotherhood without politics is what made this all possible, AND we are not done yet. The KMAF continues its success next April, the 2015 KMAMHOF will be hosted by GM Ken MacKenzie, and GM Booth’s ITS will see its largest event ever in Guadalajara, Mexico this year (see the KMACollege events calendar for details).
This IS an incredible achievement… to get high profile Grandmasters working together without politics is simply unheard of. Yet, the KMAB has been doing it since 2010, and we have done it around the Globe. If nothing else, it speaks volumes about the caliber of people in the brotherhood, and we are looking for more likeminded people to join us. To be sure, we ARE very picky about who we accept, and interested Masters who qualify must first serve as a Gold Seal member. This is simply to assure that we have only the best of the best. Like anything else, LOTS of people want to join our ranks; however, MOST of them will join only to serve themselves. This is NOT what we are all about… in fact, we serve OTHERS first, and we reap only benefits by having been on THEIR mats. As Gold Seal members, you have the opportunity to PROVE you will serve the KMA community. Nothing else is guaranteed.
One might think this is a strange way to recruit members, but frankly we don’t NEED more members. We are doing just fine all by ourselves; however, because our mandate IS to serve the KMA community, we MUST give others the opportunity to do the same. So… if you are all about serving the KMA community, and if your personal gains are not all you think about, we WILL make room for you. Once you are accepted as a Gold Seal member, you will get the chance to share the mats with us. Once you have done so for a number of years, and you have proven yourself to be a competent KMA practitioner with integrity and a desire to share your passion for KMA, you most assuredly CAN become a full fledged KMAB Brother. You are most welcome to check us out at our various events, as we share the mats with all who love Korean Martial Arts.
Introducing the KMAB Grandmasters.
Grandmaster Michael DeAlba
Grandmaster Michael DeAlba is one of the two Original KMAM Fathers (the other being myself), and he was actually part of GM Ian Cyrus’s first efforts to create such a group. As mentioned above, that fell apart before it ever got off the ground, so while the original idea was not ours… the KMAB came about through OUR efforts. The logo we use was designed by none other than GM DeAlba, and we are very proud of it.
GM DeAlba and I experienced a similar situation with our early years in KMA, and it kind of created a very strong bond between us. Like they say, the strongest of brothers are often created though sharing adversities, and we HAVE had our share of that. I will not go into details of those experiences, as both of us now strongly believe that positive thoughts are far more suitable to us than dwelling on past problems. In fact, it is our POSITIVE thoughts that helped us create the KMAB… we BELIEVED there were good men and women out there who wanted to share their passion for KMA without the politics we both were subjected to; hence, it is no wonder that shunning politics are the FIRST considerations we wanted to implement in our group. We will NEVER stand for having politics sneak its way into our group, as both of us would rather terminate the KMAB all together. In fact, GM DeAlba and I insist on that very principle in our own organizations (Modern Farang Mu Sool and NKMAA).
This blog is not about the bios of our Grandmasters, rather it is a supplement to the bios that can easily be found on their own websites. It is my PERSONAL experience with these men, experiences I gathered over MANY years for working closely with them. For example… I learned that GM DeAlba is a true family man who has VERY strong ties not only to his immediate family, but also to his martial arts family. Yet, this strong bond with his family does not necessarily supersede his integrity and level of commitment. At the risk of being TOO personal, I share with you an example of GM DeAlba’s integrity. At one of the events (CM Ott’s Super Seminar in WA) he and I planned to attend, tragedy struck as one of his close family members passed away. While NONE of those attending the event would have blamed him for excusing himself, he bravely boarded his flight to BE THERE. In fact, only the most sensitive among the participants knew anything was wrong, as GM DeAlba put his heart and soul into his presentation. THAT, my friends, is what martial arts is all about… the integrity to KEEP your word without making excuses.
Later that evening, as we sat outside CM Robert Ott’s beautiful lakefront Summer home, we enjoyed a drink of wine he had brought for me, and a fine Cuban cigar I had brought for him. As we sat there quietly enjoying nature’s beauty, he shared with me some of the wonderful stories about his family. It was there I learned a LOT about the man behind the martial artist. It reminded me about the story of the Beauty and the Beast… a beautiful man, who can in an instant become a total beast on the mats. MY kind of man.
Below: The Brotherhood at the Super Seminar in Washington.
The story of sharing a Cuban dates back to another event we both attended… the Gathering. This one was held in Chicago, and it was there we began a tradition of sharing a good Cuban. In Canada, Cuban cigars are not banned, so it was my pleasure to bring some for him. While I don’t smoke myself, I DO enjoy the smell of a good cigar or Sail tobacco. I also enjoy good company while sipping some Canadian Club… what better way to finish a good day of mat time 🙂 The tradition continued, and I found that several other members also enjoy a good cigar. So, we have enjoyed such great times in Illinois, Washington, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and Fort Hood. Not always was everyone present, but there were always enough of our brotherhood members on hand to keep the tradition going. Sometimes non members joined in, and I can’t think of a greater way to keep our friendships strong. We don’t see each other as much as we would like to, as distance and costs prevent that; however, I look forward to sharing many more Mats, Cubans, and Canadian Clubs with my good friend, GM Michael DeAlba.
Grandmaster Serge Baubil
In this month’s blog, I also wish to honour Grandmaster Serge Baubil, a long time friend and an icon of Korean martial arts. Last year, GM Baubil was inducted into the Pioneers category of the Korean Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame, and next May he will be inducted into the Canadian Black Belt Hall Of Fame, hosted by another great friend, Hanshi John Therien. Both are Halls Of Fame where induction can’t be bought nor paid for, and the ONLY way to be inducted into them is by having a lengthy track record of hard work and dedication to martial arts. Inductees must stand head and shoulders above the average practitioner, and GM Baubil has done that and more for more than fifty years. Moreover, he has been on the mats to share his passion for martial arts around the Globe.
More than once, I have had the pleasure of being on the mats with him in places like Los Angeles, CA, and as far away as Korea… the birth land of Korean martial arts. Wherever he is on the mats, students of all ranks thoroughly enjoy his exuberant method of sharing his vast knowledge. I plan to travel to Montreal to celebrate Grandmaster Baubil’s induction into the CBBHOF, and I truly hope some of you will join me there. It is not everyday that we get a chance to celebrate such a wonderful event, and it would be awesome to have a few tables of supporters for our dear friend. There is nothing like the cheering of supporters to make this wonderful occasion truly magnificent.
Below. GM Baubil and I at the World Hap Ki Do Championships in Seoul
About to get on the mats to do a demo in Korea.
GM Baubil congratulates me on my 60th year of training at the 2010 Gathering of GMs
Sometimes, Grandmaster Baubil worries that his English stands in the way of good communication, but I find that not to be a problem at all. He most certainly speaks much better English than I speak French, but it is the language of martial arts that speaks to me, and there GM Baubil speaks volumes. When he is on the mats, GM Baubil’s fluid moves are like poetry in motion, and whoever is his partner instantly knows he is working with a man who understands how to manipulate joints to create maximum pain with minimum effort. Knowing students instantly recognize that, and they flock to his mat by droves to learn all they can. My Canadian students LOVE it when they hear GM Baubil is coming, because they were raised on the idea that pain is the best lesson to learn KMA.
Below: GM Baubil dishing out Pain at the 2014 KMAM hall of fame in Canada
Grandmaster Baubil is the founder of Hoshinkido, and he travels the world extensively to teach those who are part of his organization. He is also a member of the Korean Martial Arts Brotherhood, and he was one of the first to join Grandmaster DeAlba and myself when we revived the KMAB. Some of the photos I include in this blog were taken during the formative stages of the KMAB in Los Angeles, and again in Canada during the 2010 celebration of my 60 years of training. It was there, a number of other well known Grandmasters join the KMAB. For a complete bio, please check out his website or visit the Korean Martial Arts Masters Hall Of Fame website.
This blog will be expanded upon, and I hope to be able to film some interviews with several of the Grandmasters over the next few months. I guess that will make this blog a VLOG, but I am sure you can live with that 😉
Rudy W. Timmerman