A different hero: The new martial artist â€“ the new samurai.
Tall, tense and curly haired, Chris Schulz doesnâ€™t present as the embodiment of the warrier. His day job is in computers and his demeanor is mild. But underneath that he thinks and dreams martial arts.
As a boy, kept out of school with illness, he dreamed one day heâ€™d have his own martial arts studio. He would be strong, supple and teach others how to defend themselves so they would not suffer at the hands of the school bullies, as he himself did.
Now in his mid-fourties, heâ€™s been practicing martial arts for more than 25 years. He got started when he came to UCSC and took up Kung Fu through the university.
Martial arts should be useable, not merely flashy. Traditionally, much martial arts has been taught as â€œcommercialâ€ and â€œnon-commercialâ€ â€“ one being, what students would be taught, the other the secret, inner teaching reserved for the disciples, those who could be trusted. In his dojo, he would eliminate that division and rework forms to be â€œstreet-effectiveâ€ rather than merely demonstrative or less effective in order to ensure the teacherâ€™s supremacy.
So he created a â€œdemocraticâ€ dojo, a place where several people teach, where forms organically develop and students are encouraged to adapt moves to their individual bodies and abilities.
In 93 he received his first black belt in Limalama, a Polynesian martial art whose founder, Tino Tuolosega still lives in Southern California. Since then he has taught hundreds of students and he understands the difficulty of ongoing motivation.
â€œEspecially for young guys,â€ he says, â€œit can be very hard when they realize they wonâ€™t be the next Bruce Lee. When I started I was geeky and uncoordinated, so in one sense I did not have that problem. I had to work hard for all I have achieved.â€
It proves that persistence and training is the secret to excellence. Limalama was meant to be adaptive and Chris promised himself a modern school without a religious prespective, one open to dialogue.
His philosophy: treat people with respect, treat them how you wish to be treated and teach everyone to be the best they can â€“ itâ€™s not about teaching anyone to be better than the other guy, but be the best within him/herself. With this idea in mind he decided to include weapons defense.
â€œIn todayâ€™s world, itâ€™s quite possible to run into someone who threatens with either a gun or a knife, unfortunately.â€
One of the founding members of the dojo, was Robert Jones, a tactical firearms instructor for the police corps. He also taught stick and knife fighting, which is very important for the police. These drills and self defense moves have become integral parts of the curriculum for all students.
Chris himself keeps learning from a circle of teachers. His main teacher is Felix Valencia who teaches Si Lat, Escrima, Lameco and Philippine stick fighting and has given several workshops at the dojo. Chris goes to workshops and weekend seminars as well as whole-week trainings several times a year. He works firearms with the Progressive Force Concepts group (Las Vegas) and does full contact fighting with Marc Denny and at the Dog Brothersâ€™ fight club. He watches DVDs of fights and training courses, to learn about other systems and techniques, constantly searching for the most efficient self defense system to pass on to his students. Training in his dojo, a friendly and welcoming space, is a rare experience of unstinting devotion to every student â€“ regardless of age, gender, physical prowess or martial ability. It is not really surprising that of the dojoâ€™s serious and committed students, more than half are women! It IS surprising when one considers that the Wave Man Martial Arts system is very gruesome and un-p.c. â€“ after all, it includes gun practice, eye gouging and breaking any and all bones that can be reached. For all that, the overwhelming impression is of extraordinary dedication to every student and the constant striving for improvement of teaching methods and personal fitness.