My martial arts journey!

Brian Schaffer


The martial arts have always fascinated me from growing up watching action movies from Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Steven Seagal and Bruce Lee. Watching them I had a desire to do what they did in being able to defend themselves, their loved ones and obtain justice.

Fast-forward many, many years my wife and I had a conversation on what things we have always wanted to do, martial arts was one thing that I had along with getting physically in better shape. This started my searching for a place to train. I was looking for three main things in martial arts.

The first was I wanted the style to be practical.  I didn’t want to just learn a set of forms with funny animal names that when confronted in a self-defense situation were not applicable. The second was a comfortable environment to train.  I did not have prior experience in martial arts; I wanted a place that was not a swirling mass of testosterone with people looking to smash someone to show their superiority. The third was the location not far off my commute route.

After training in San Jieh Dao for around two years I have the following impressions of the art in how it has met or exceeded what I was looking for in martial arts.

Firstly, San Jieh Dao is a practical style being fully combative martial arts that aim to be flexible and adaptable in any situation. The term Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is currently a trendy term that I find the “mixing” is done in the individual by learning different styles and picking and choosing what works.  San Jieh Dao is more than a mixed martial art, it is a fused martial arts.  This gets accomplished by training in all the different combat ranges (long, medium, close and ground) and using different skills (sticks, poles, kicking, boxing, trapping and grappling).  A typical hour of training will touch on different range combinations using different skills. The pace is fast in the amount of material and concepts that is covered, but Sifu will take the time to explain either using diagrams or demonstrating to assist the learning process.  At first I found this pace a bit overwhelming both physically and mentally, but looking back it is part of the conditioning.

San Jieh Dao being based on Christian theology is a humble art.  San Jieh Dao acknowledges each person is uniquely created having different physical and mental strengths and limitations. While there are truths in the concepts there is flexibility in how each individual is able to apply them.  I appreciate that the skills are not just statically drilled, but time is giving for self-discovery to be able to work on how the concepts work with each person's attributes. Safety is also stressed as some of the concepts and skills can be destructive, so certain things are not practiced at full speed or force. I have found genuine love and care from Sifu, Simu and the senior students in that they make an effort to know who you are and not just train and leave. All of this makes the environment a comfortable place to train.

Lastly the location is very convenient for me in being located close to 2 major freeways. The facilities has a wide array of equipment for training such as focus gloves, kicking shields, air shields, different weighted heavy bags and Thai pads. Different weapons are also available for training from different length sticks and poles.

In addition to the above thoughts on the art I have become significantly more physically fit from the training. The combination of cardio and resistance training performed in intervals led to a loss of 20 pounds, 2-pant sizes, and increase in agility, flexibility and stamina.  Other benefits that might be more subjective are, that I am able to focus for longer periods of time at work and be able to process and assess information faster and make better decisions.