March 26th through the 29th, Master Zach Whitson held a seminar at the Ryer Martial Arts Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. Jessica Levine, who is part of the 2014 class of Counterpoint Tactical System 1st degree black belts, attended. She wrote up some thoughts and is allowing me to share them with you. Thanks!
Master Z came to Pittsburgh, PA this weekend to teach Josh Ryer’s students. We gathered to celebrate 40 years of his training, studying, mastery and the founding of Counterpoint Tactical System. Throughout the training students walked on the edge of self-discovery and retrospection. Friday night he took advanced level students through a Panatukan lesson that combined their knowledge of early teachings and their skills. He then catapulted us all into a drill that challenged our ability to blend and set rhythms and timing while recognizing grappling entries.
At the end of Saturday’s seminar – after covering introductory material and building blocks, Josh gave Master Z a gift of the highest standards. A pendant, encased with black diamond dust, of the CTS emblem.
Most of us remember as trainees under Josh Ryer and Grandmaster Zach Whitson, the laughter of Supreme Grandmaster Cacoy Canete. Cacoy’s impact on all of our lives cannot be measured with words. The Doce Pares system and the training I have personally experienced across the country with fellow CTI members is a part of the fabric of my life. Play all is a huge part of our training and development- as we come together to spar and practice the concepts to make them our own.
On Sunday an introduction to the history and methods necessary to handle a ground fight were introduced, put into the aspect of practical application, and ended with a juegos todos or play all. During the Sunday seminar, Master Z taught us a series of exercises to stay off our backs and find escapes. Maneuvers and finishers were laced together that allowed us to see, no matter the size of the opponent, that we were in control. This may sound like an average Jiu Jitsu class or wrestling class- but nothing in CTS operates within a set of rules.
He also gifted us with a mostly untold story – of American martial arts and their roots in Western civilization. His telling of The Catch-as-catch-can Style of wrestling and the 200 year history of its development in America held us in rapt attention. The story was originally told by Master Z at the closing of the camp- to the best of my recollection, and not nearly as good as his telling….I share with you this long history along with my own. Before wrestling became a spectacle and sport, dating back to Roman times and centered in Europe, there was wrestling. The first recorded Olympic wrestling match occurred in the Olympics in 708 BC. I remember as a child in the 1980s being taught to wrestle by my grandfather, not knowing the origins, I relied on my instincts – to survive by any measure…wiggle, laugh and roll.
To be continued….