Thursday, March 26, 2009


I'll be listing various martial and L.A. related links that I find useful. The first I'll post for those looking for general martial arts information is Martial Arts Exchange. The site has quite a bit of information on a variety of martial arts. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three Elements of Self Defense

People interested in martial arts often focus on technique. "What would you do if...?" kinds of questions are very common. This is understandable, if missing the point. Before discussing technique (either a specific technique or technique in general, as in a particular approach to combative scenarios), we have to consider cognition, the ability to recognize in a timely fashion either the offensive opportunity or the defensive need. And before we talk about developing cognition, we have to acknowledge that cognition won't be functional if we don't have an appropriate state of mind, something other than deer-in-the-headlights-this-can't-be-happening. That does not mean having to have complete confidence, as some fear can be very inspirational, but an attitude that at least allows us to respond. To sum up, technique may matter, but fighting is first and foremost an emotional challenge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Welcome to my new site! I'll be posting regularly about issues relating to various points of view regarding self defense. These issues will include ideas on technique, strategic principles and, very importantly, the training process. I'll be back later today, but will just say for now that there's very good news and bad news relative to self defense. The good news is that with a few essential skills (physical and cognitive), you can make a very big difference in your odds for a positive outcome in a physical confrontation. It does not take years to achieve this, but weeks or months because the most essential tools are not exotic, but direct and efficient using a natural range of motion. The bad news is that you could study for many years and be very good, and still get sucker-punched or surprised somehow or just overwhelmed. There will never be a point at which someone is magically undefeatable, regardless of the comic book-worthy martial arts adds that claim otherwise. But we wear seatbelts to increase the odds of our safety, not for a guarantee of safety. Same thing with self defense training.


Sessions may be arranged Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m to early evening.

Phone: 213-625-0516

Now located in Lincoln Heights at The Brewery Arts Complex, 1984 N. Main St. 90031

Monday, March 23, 2009

Training Overview

I offer information and training on a range of Jeet Kune Do and Filipino martial arts related subjects. My training is based on a street-oriented perspective. That is, from a perspective based on the most direct defensive and offensive skills that are most likely to be effective in probable scenarios.

Training is based on response drilling, very physical but somewhat game-like, rather than memorization of patterns. Sessions at my studio are for individual and private groups only. Specialized programs available include: women's self-defense; improvised weapons training; Taoist Qi Gong (breathing exercises).

Sessions may be arranged Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m to early evening.
Located at The Brewery Arts Complex, 1984 N. Main St. 90031.


Steve's training is "non-sport" oriented, though what is taught would be relevant, even novel, in any combative context. Steve goes to lengths to consider self and situational awareness, as well as issues that ought to be "common sense" when looking at being prepared for most likely, to least likely combative eventualities.

The training is of equal utility for men, women, older and younger persons. The material is organized in a more clear-sighted and useable way than I've ever seen. Intensity of training is based solely on the abilities of the student. Training is always comfortable but challenging, and always fun.

A rarity in the millennium- I can wholly recommend Steve's instruction.
-Petar S.

Steve Grody is one of the best instructors I've ever trained with. His knowledge of JKD is both encyclopedic and functional! His eskrima/stick material is truly unique. No one is teaching material this pragmatic, this relevant and this useful.

The time I spent with Steve ranks as some of the best training I've ever done. Recommended without reservation at twice the price.
- Jay H.

Steve teaches practical, effective self defense. He discards complex, unrealistic dogma and replaces it with effective real world technique.

As a police officer, my training with Steve gives me confidence in my ability to protect myself in a real world encounter. Steve trains realistically and with one singular goal - win the fight."
- Matt K.

I wish I had studied with Steve 15 years ago. I am a very new student of his, but even after 15 years of martial arts training, I walk away from every class with a ton of new ideas and material. I consider his instruction to be truly top-shelf stuff. He's very down-to-earth, and really wants to make sure that you're learning the material.

Although LA is an incredible place to study a wide variety of arts, good martial arts teachers are very few and far-between. Steve's a great one. That's pretty rare."
- John S.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Here is a brief background of my involvement with the systems I am authorized to teach.

· My training began in 1973 with Dao Dan Pai, a traditional southern Chinese Daoist system which I learned under Share K. Lew from China. The training included not just the traditional Gung-Fu, but a very potent series of "internal exercises" for health, which also served as the basis for the healing system Master Lew taught.

· Jun Fan - Jeet Kune Do. I studied under Dan Inosanto for thirteen non-stop years (1979 to 1992) and became the primary substitute at his academy from '85 to '90 when he had to be away. To say it is fascinating to study Jeet Kune Do and other systems under Sifu Inosanto would be an understatement; he constantly experiments with various curriculums, bringing in new material, editing out material, showing constant curiosity and openness. He is truly inspirational in the way he always pushes his knowledge forward. During the time I was helping with the Academy teaching, he would train with as many as seven different teachers a week to expand his knowledge, but always with an eye towards "absorbing what is useful and rejecting what is useless".

· Inosanto Kali, a combination of twenty five Filipino systems including the highly effective LaCoste-Inosanto empty hand methods which was taught at Guro Inosanto's academies. I assisted and was substitute instructor for these classes as well.

· Lameco Eskrima. I was extremely fortunate to study privately with the founder of the system, Punong Guro Edgar Sulite from 1990 until his untimely death in 1997. Although I had enjoyed taking his seminars when at the Inosanto Academy, I didn't start training one-to-one until Guro Inosanto treated me to a private lesson from Punong Guro Sulite at Dan's house, and at that point realized what fine personal teaching technique he had. I was flattered that he felt I eventually understood his system well enough to have me direct a number of his videos. Master Sulite and I developed a friendship over those years and besides his extreme skills, his warm open-heartedness and humor are greatly missed.

In September 2000, I was honored to have been inducted as a Master Instructor of the Year for the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame, sponsored by the World Head of Family Sokeship Council.

Notes on Training

People are interested in the sequencing and relationship of the many areas of technique and training method in Jun Fan - Jeet Kune Do, FMA (Filipino martial arts) and various adjunct areas such as Muay Thai and Silat. In response to questions in this regard, I'm presenting a general progression overview.


There are various options for sequencing progressions of material. While an approach that integrates jeet kune do and kali curriculum is recommended because they complement each other so efficiently, skills may be separated according to needs and interests (studying straight jeet kune do trapping for example). The following is a general progression that is very beneficial for a development from foundation to more advanced skills.

Each body of material includes technical principles, training methods to functionalize the material, integration with the other skill areas, and working on gaining a sense of strategy and priority as to what's most effective at a given moment. That is, in addition to obvious physical work, we do progressive cognitive drills so that we can smoothly handle more and more choice reactions as we learn. This applies whether talking about Jeet Kune Do, or Filipino martial arts.

Each technical area should be sequenced so we're not putting the cart in front of the horse. For example, it would be a bad idea to teach jeet kune do trapping or kali joint locking before working with the kickboxing skills that allow us to set up trapping and joint locking

Here is a general curriculum progression.

1) Footwork drills to develop distance sensitivity and timing when to go in or not, when to angle or circle right or left. These skills are the first step to developing "generalship", or being the one that controls the nature of the confrontation. These drills are drawn from jeet kune do, and personal research.

The next three areas could be in any order;

2) Hand attack, with an emphasis on non-sportive tools and targeting, including finger jabs and elbowing, drawn primarily from jeet kune do.

3) Kick attack, with an emphasis on low-maintenance kicks from the groin down, but working some mid and high-line kicks for the sake of being well rounded and being able to help our training partners work on defenses for those kicks. This material is initially drawn primarily from jeet kune do.

4) Hand defense including parries, covers, gate blocks, bob and weave and drills for choice reaction. That is, against a left hook, for example, we might evade, cover, simultaneous block/hit, bob and weave or stop hit, and some choices are more efficient at a given moment than others; how do we learn to spontaneously choose? This material is primarily an integration of Jun Fan and jeet kune do western boxing and Wing Chun methods.

5) Kick defense, including footwork (of course), parries, shields and covers and the stop-kick. This material is drawn mostly from jeet kune do, with Kali as an adjunct.

6) Close quarter stop-gap tactics (AKA "foul tactics," AKA "my favorite things"). It's a given that any method can fail; all it takes is a fraction of a second of distraction or brain-freeze and whammo!, things get messy. But even though it would be relevant to talk about grappling at this point, there are things that are very effective and take less skill. Again, the less skill something takes, the less likely it is to screw up. Things like thumbing the eye, finger grabs, head-butting, shouldering, pinching, biting, and a few selective nerve tweaks. It always amuses me when an instructor says in response to this " well anybody could do that!…" as though it's lack of needed technical sophistication is a negative. When I grapple with my students (standing or on the ground), we always go for these targets first if available. Jeet kune do and kali share these methods.

7) Jeet Kune Do - Jun Fan trapping. When we get to the point where we function at least fairly well with the relationships of the above material, then we can take a step up in skill level either offensively or defensively. Jeet kune do trapping can be done defensively, but the progression makes the most sense starting in offensive mode. At every step of the way, it's important to relate back to the previous material so it's not an isolated skill. It is part of the base understanding that we don't trap because it's cool, but because the context presents itself.

7) Sectoring. Up to this point in the progression, we have done some simultaneous defense and counter-attack, primarily against hooking lines or as a stop-hit. But doing this against straight line strikes requires a better eye and timing, so we don't do it at an earlier stage. These variations and relationships (actually termed "time-hits" in jeet kune do via fencing terminology) can be efficient entries, or used as back-up counter-attack for other tactics like trapping or locking. This material also serves as a beginning to specific kali empty-hand skills. This is also numbered "7" because it would make just as much sense to work with sectoring at this point as it would to work with trapping.

8) At this stage, we have broader options. Going into grappling and groundfighting, joint locking, or sensitivity training would add important pieces to the puzzle.

9) Kali empty hand. The Inosanto-LaCoste system, emphasizing the limb counter-attacks and it's follow-ups with percussion, joint locks and take-downs. This material blends beautifully with jeet kune do, but can be learned as a separate area.

10) Anything that takes extreme precision, such as silat, or other specialized jeet kune do training.

As always, the challenge in jeet kune do is to integrate the skills so that at any appropriate point, we can flow to one efficient response or another, otherwise we might as well be learning card tricks to show at the family picnic.


As with the empty-hand training, there are many possible Kali/Eskrima progressions that would make sense. Here is one general progression that I use.

I think it's beneficial to be exposed to Dan Inosanto's system and Edgar Sulite's Lameco system at the same time, but it's certainly legitimate to focus on one or the other for the sake of interest even if both men's systems shared important material and both men were always changing their drills and training structures as a reflection of their continuing research and growth.

1) Single stick with emphasis on using the motions at long range and follow-ups at middle range as our "home" to use Edgar Sulite's term. Developing an eye for "before, during, and after" variations of timing is central.

2) Double stick with emphasis on developing the motions with offsetting combat syncopation and in relationship to other patterns. For example, once we've learned a "heaven 6" pattern (Inosanto system) in matched coordination, then we not only learn variations, but variations randomly fed and matched. Then syncopated applications, and then how six-count might interact with a four-count pattern. In other words, some of my friends think that the more counts there are (e.g. Villabrille 24 count), the more "advanced" the essence of the drill is. More complex is not the same as more advanced; advanced has to do with how something is used. As Dan Inosanto would tell you, the crudest pattern in the Inosanto system, "caveman" Kobb Kobb is more advanced, if used in syncopated form, than the so-and-so 84 count, and the simplest free-lance drill will generally be more beneficial than the most complicated set pattern.

3) Single stick at intermediate range. There are many interesting drills at this range, including the use of checking, counter-checking and the principles of disarms. Shortly after gaining some understanding of the checking hand with these drills, we would move in to close range, and then work on flow between the three primary ranges.

4) Available weapons. If someone wants to carry a knife, it would be a good idea to start the whole weapons progression with that. But for the majority of people that don't carry a knife, understanding available weapons is important. The reason that I'm mentioning this in relations to knives is because the most common available/improvised weapons are short; pens, forks, hairbrushes, car keys.

5) Knife, starting at long range and working timing, distance and rhythm in attack and counter-attack variations, and eventually working in closer. I recommend drills that work at real time with broken rhythm rather than traditional flow drills.

6) Staff. Staff-like implements are not unusual in our surroundings, so learning staff is not just an "art" part of the FMA, but very practical.

7) Stick and dagger. While it is true that it's unlikely that any of us carry a stick and dagger or sword and dagger around with us, and even more unlikely that someone carrying stick and dagger would have to spontaneously fight someone else carrying stick and dagger, it's a fascinating discipline because of all of the intricacies involved and attention that must be paid. It's like four people doing counter-for-counter drills all at the same time, two with daggers and two with sticks.

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