BC Peace Officer Manny Del Villar is a 8th Degree black belt (kyoshi) in the martial arts of Go Ju. He is a master instructor of over 45 years. He has been an instructor at York College training for new peace officers general officer skills. Outside the job he trained me and I became a black belt level 1, and he has taught other black belts. He is multilingual, speaking English, Spanish, French, Italian and German fluently as well as serviceably speaking several others. Sensei Del Villar is also an Ayurvedic Medicine master, serving in this capacity as a classic example of the historic tradition of the long, deep-seeded tradition of martial artists becoming traditional healers, which dates back to Bodhidarma and the original Shaolin Temple (‘http://ymaa.com/articles/the-original-shaolin-monk’), where the great master created a health regimen for the monks to practice, which included yoga-like drills now known commonly as ‘Qi Gong’, as well as dietary initiatives and medicinal herbs. In that sense Sensei Del Villar is a throwback to the great masters of yore.
Generally introductory classes focus on martial arts skills only. Class date, time, and formats vary week to week depending on the particular objective. This is possible because generally Sensei Del Villar only teaches students who are already advanced. This type of format would not be optimal for a white belt/novice as at that point in training repetition and routine are crucial to bringing the style into one’s personal belief system. With more advanced students he can break routine without confusing the practitioner. Thus one week we may use a space with mats for grappling, another a more traditional goju-style space with makiwara and heavy bags, etc. Still another week an official fight ring might be needed for sparring. The objective of the lesson dictates the kind of space the students will train at on a given week.
The classes are open to all students who have met the requirements of membership; Sensei does occasionally take on novice students, but that instruction is generally one-on-one for the first period, till they achieve at least a green belt ranking, at which point they can join the group. Many students come on a catch-as-catch-can basis, i.e. when they are able so attendance changes both in number and persons on a week-to-week basis. Any ongoing member may show up at any given time; amongst that population there are a number of women, I would estimate about 15-20% overall. Once a student is known to sensei they can show up (or not show up) on any given week. This format is highly unusual and gives the practitioner a unique and enjoyable training experience. Sensei would say that the training is in keeping with “the Dojo of Life”, i.e. all things are constantly in flux.
There are several components to achieving a black belt. The most important factors are: accumulated knowledge of the system and it’s forms, the ability to execute those forms, on demand, at any time, and training for a certain amount of time under a known sensei of the Goju system (Usually a minimum 5-6 years is standard), as well as a book-knowledge sense of the outline of the system, and it’s history. Promotion initiation is normally done within a dojo with several kyoshi-level black belts in attendance.
It is important to note that the benefits of training are myriad and ongoing; there is no end or completion of the benefit of training in this field. One may receive a black belt, which is a recognition of diligent study, and achievement of a level of skill, yet the process of extending one’s potential growth in Martial Arts must continue if one’s skill is to grow. Indeed, it appears that black belt rankings were designed to raise ones status to level of ‘adept beginner’ not supreme master, and in fact it was upon this accomplishment that the real training of karate/kung fu would only just begin. Wikipedia states, in an article on shodokan, “In contrast to the “black belt as master” stereotype, a black belt commonly indicates the wearer is competent in a style’s basic technique and principles. …In Japanese arts shodan (for a first degree black belt), means literally the first/beginning step…(thus) the shodan black belt is not the end of training but rather as a beginning to advanced learning: the individual now “knows how to walk” and may thus begin the “journey”. Sensei Manny has won many international tournaments and awards, far too many to list, both during his time here in the states, and abroad, in both forms practice (‘kata’) and fighting (‘kumite’). During the mid-late 1970’s he was a top competitor in local and national competitions, consistently placing within the top 3 in kumite and kata, but over time he ran out of space for the actual trophies and thus lost track of just how many events he has been the acknowledged 1st place winner of, over his whole career.
Sensei has been part of the Military Advanced Education program, where he started working on his Masters in Education. He is a disciple of Shihan Gerald Orange here in the states, and in Italy he was a disciple of Gianfranco Giacometti, head of Urban Goju Italy, both of whom were top students of the venerated Grandmaster Peter Urban, founder of American Goju.
Goju is a system of karate designed to cultivate the relative exchange of hard and soft energies (Yang & Yin) both externally and internally. Its roots, like all the Okinawan-based karate systems, encompass broad origins but most prominently featured are its influences from Chinese Fukien White-Crane kung fu, which feature a short stance and low center of gravity. In this system one approaches an opponent from short range and lulls them into a false sense of comfort by using Yin or ‘Go’— i.e., soft, non-threatening physical language to reel their opponent in, then finish them off with a powerful hard yang ‘Ju’ burst. This system was devised for the purpose of defeating an opponent but many of these drills were modified by Japanese Shinto Buddhist practice and thus also exemplify a core principle of qi gong health benefit; namely, teaching the practitioner how to use the subtle energies of the body and, indeed, life itself, to accomplish vital goals. Sensei Del Villar is available for seminar workshops for student clubs on weekends.
If you wish to contact sensei you may do so through me, at: email@example.com
Left to right: Director Donahue of the Peace Officer Academy, Peace Officer Manny Del-Villar, Head of Public Safety Bill Barry and Academy Instructor Reuben Lopez.
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