Around 1997 or 1998, several of us were training yet another “traditional” body of material together at another school. We were all lifelong martial artists, and we had gotten an incomplete version of an esoteric Chinese system that we were looking to finish. This brought us to Steve Grody, who was the only person in California who had been given the ok to teach that material.
Approaching Steve, he said something like, “Well, I am happy to help you finish that material, if you are also willing to let me show you some other stuff that is more useful.” Very quickly, he showed us methods of Muay Thai, boxing, Kali (sometimes referred to as Arnis or Escrima) and more, all run through what we refer to as the filter of “JKD” (Jeet Kune Do), Bruce Lee’s methods of determining combative usefulness.
Our meetings with Steve were on a private/semi-private basis, no more than four of us. The material consisted largely of information he had studied at the Inosanto Academy under Dan Inosanto, and original “backyard” methods from Punong Guro Edgar Sulite. Steve’s style of teaching is not the traditional “here’s an idea, now do that 100 times while I watch”. It seems that he prefers to always give his students something “meaty”, and have some of the improvements come by repetition outside of class, cleaned up when we come back/have questions, a style we all really appreciated.
Having few people to work with outside of class, we began going to other schools around LA/Orange County and looking at their curricula/training methods. There were not a lot of people working this sort of material, or if they were, they were not doing so against resisting, non-cooperative opponents. We had already started a small group that met 3-4 times a week outside of class, at a park in Pasadena. At this point, it was mostly Will, Jay, Petar and Ken.
It is now 19ish years later, and we have 10-15 people show up weekly, sometimes more. The methods we have been working on for some time have extended beyond JKD, Kali, and the like, to include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Red Zone Threat Management, Shivworks, Sharp Defense, SBG methods and others. We have males and females, young as 18 and as old as 56. There’s people that do combative stuff professionally (security people, law enforcement and the like), as well as people that do not. We have people that have forgotten entire traditional systems, people that’ve done pro/amateur MMA, and people that’ve never thrown a punch, and we’re very lucky to have them all. A great little community has been built around and outside of the training, which we are all grateful for.