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The Wandering Monk finds vintage jujitsu in Corpus Christi!
Wandering Monk Series Episode One:
And so it came to be that my travels took me to fabled Corpus Christi, TX. As a former KC resident, I have often heard of Corpus as a great Spring Break destination with it’s proximity to South Padre Island and cheap hotels and bars. Sadly, I was not there for spring break.
Bullshido Bully AMF extended me the invitation to check out his current training location, in a style called “Phan ku Ryu Jujitsu.” I came to find out that this is an offshoot of Kosen judo and traditional Japanese jujitsu founded by none other then Masato himself. It is currently being taught by 3rd-generation instructor, Michael Patterson.
About 40 minutes away from my hotel, Phan Ryu is located in what can only be described as four walls and a roof. The structure, wedged in back of a low-income residential area 2 streets off the main drag, was modest, but definitely clean and well maintained. After engaging in some seriously alive training with Texas’ legendary mosquitoes, the instructor arrived and we filed inside for class.
To say the instructor was unique is probably an understatement. The man used a fast-paced, rapid-fire instruction style, and seemed to be handicapped by his mouth’s insufficient speed in his attempts to say EVERYTHING he was thinking at once. The man had energy, folks. Lots of energy.
We started with a mild warm-up of ukemi, whereupon I was informed that in Phan Ryu, we do not use our hands to assist ourselves in standing up, lest someone use the opportunity to strike us. It made sense to me and the adjustment was simple enough. After that, we went to (wait for it) standing wristlocks.
Now I admit that I had the EXACT same reaction that you are having right now. It took a heculean effort to prevent my eyes from rolling, and I managed to conceal a scornful guffaw only barely. But the man prefaced his wristlock lesson with the admonition that truthfully, a wristlock is damn near impossible to pull off in a high-speed situation. I wondered (silently) why one would teach them all, but he did outline some scenarios where wristlock knowledge was very helpful: IE, security work, law enforcement and such. Obviously, this is a reflection of the classical jujitsu elements of Masato’s training, and while I may not love them, they were all simple and practical enough in their respective execution.
We spent some time of said wristlocks and yes, even gun disarms. I will almost certainly never attempt any of the gun disarms myself, but he was very knowledgeable, and his technical skill was quite impressive. I am reasonably certain Patterson could make them work, but I certainly won’t try them.
As class continued, we moved onto some takedown defenses, all of which were very solid judo fundamentals. We covered tani otoshi to counter hip throw, and roll-through to counter hip throw. Once again his technical proficiency was excellent; it was obvious to me that he had been doing this a VERY long time. The judo influence was marked here, and there was no mistaking the kodokan influence in his style.
We also covered headlock escapes, and some guard passing. At this point, he had really loosened up and techniques and ideas were flowing rapidly in an informal and friendly atmosphere. It turned very free-form and fun, with ideas and techniques shooting back and forth as quickly as the random synaptic firing that seemed to rule the man’s personality. This is where the Kosen really began to shine. Without ever being exposed to BJJ, this man had an insanely slick guard game and his mount was unbreakable. His submission knowledge was encyclopedic, and he could execute all of them with speed and authority.
Overall, the class was very fun and informative. The instructor knows simply an INSANE amount about grappling. He has memorized thousands of submissions, and is technically proficient with all of them. After about an hour I began to feel like an archaeologist who has stumbled onto an incredible find: a pre-Helio style of grappling that was effective and brutal. Obviously as soon as Rorion finds out about this he will claim that Helio invented it, but when you consider that the Phan-ku ryu progenitor was Masato, it is easy to believe. Patterson is definitely ruled by a 1970’s mindset, (Standing wristlocks, gun disarms, street v. sport, and ikken hisatsu silliness) but considering his technical proficiency, I can get over that.
This was not a competitive gym. AMF reports that there is plenty of live rolling that goes on there, but we did not get to any of that on my visit. I think that I made Patterson a little bit nervous, and he didn’t want to expose people to me until he had a feel for my skill level. I suspect that is why we spent so much time on wristlocks as well. He knew it was an area I was weak in, and thusly would not have to butt heads with me on technical minutiae if it turned out I was that kind of guy. I’m not, and so once he was comfortable we really got into some great technical sub-grappling.
If you want to fight in the cage or go to NAGA, this may not be the place for you, but if you are interested in solid grappling instruction, and a fun, informal class with effective techniques and a knowledgeable instructor, then I HIGHLY recommend this place.