Karate College 2002

Review by Sensei Neil Prime.

In June of 1992, 5 pioneers of local Wado Kai traveled to Radford Virginia to experience Karate College. And now, 10 years later we had the largest contingent of mixed martial artists from our area that we have ever had.

This year's rookies included Don Gemmell, Alex Fast, and Lauren Fast from the St. Catharines Wado Kai. Joining us also were Peter Avino, Paul Uebelhoer from the World Martial Arts (Buffalo Wado Kai). Toby Wolf and Bill Sorvelli checked in from the Pennsylvania Wado Kai and Sandy Duggan from the Mississauga Jiu Jitsu club.

Walt Fast, Neil Prime, Marcel Poirier, Dave Bockus, Sam Melisi and Eddie Raffel were the veterans.

After 10 years of trying, our trip still had a few glitches attached. Oh, it all worked out okay but the Fast family needs to buy an automatic alarm clock… one that sets itself. Good thing Senseis Neil and Don showed up early! Sensei Dave and Marcel would of shown up a few minutes earlier if they figured out that the sign that states "last exit before bridge to USA" really means it. But hey, it was just after 5:00am and they were a bit tired and there was lots of room to turn around on the Peace Bridge anyway.

From there we picked up our Buffalo companions and traveled south from there into Pennsylvania (also known as Pennsyltucky to some) where we met up with members of a road crew who turned out to be a couple of familiar faces… one whom resembled Pinocchio when we first arrived.

Further south we traveled… stopping about every hour or so for Sensei Lauren (aka Ralph Lauren) to take pictures of the scenic views for her scrap book while the rest of us took the opportunity to stretch and mingle. Since Sensei Peter's radio was broken, Sensei Marcel took over and told interesting stories of his life as a child and how he grew to become the person he is today. Other than the odd nap here and there he pretty well had a good 9 hours in each direction to chat it up with his new comrades.

Upon arrival however it was work, work, and work. We stopped in at the local grocery store and stocked up on a weekend supply of gator aid and toothbrushes and away we went. Starting immediately after registration we got a stretch and a kick out of Bill Wallace. From there we learned pressure point therapy for the "good of mankind" from one of the instructors that wasn't even on the agenda, but that's the beauty of Karate College… everyone is there to learn and share.

As in the past, I have offered my opinions on the classes that I attended. These are only my opinions and unfortunately it is almost physically impossible to attend all classes on the agenda although we did attend most. I find that if you seriously want to get the most out of a weekend like this you have to plan your breaks strategically as well or you will be too mentally and physically tired to get any worth out of the classes at the end of the day.

Joe Lewis & Bill Wallace

I travel to Karate College with the sole purpose of training as much as I can with Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace. Everything else is a bonus. Once again this year I was not let down. It seems every time I get the opportunity to work out with either of these gentlemen I learn from them. Although they are very, very different from each other, I find that I can implement both their styles into mine.

I love to kick and Bill Wallace teaches a dimension of setting up people like no other can. My lead in kicking and my control of distance has improved 10 fold since I have started to utilize the techniques of Mr. Wallace.

I also love to utilize power and use my size to my advantage. Joe Lewis exemplifies power in combination with strategy and explains his technique to the 'nth degree which is another point I like. To understand the mechanics of a technique helps me go back and work the physical aspect of his teachings even though I may not get it 100% at the time of the seminar.

Renzo Gracie

Being a stand-up fighter, groundwork is definitely my weak area but Renzo Gracie is the master of making it look easy. He doesn't try to baffle you and doesn't have to prove to anyone how good he is… it is obvious when you see him move. I got more out of this year with Mr. Gracie than I have with anyone before. Certainly I am becoming more comfortable with grappling, but I still need spoon-feeding. If someone like myself (a beginner grappler) and someone like Marcel Poirier (an accomplished grappler) can get as much out of this as one another, then you know the instruction must be top notch.

Ian Marshall

I would have liked to seen more out of Ian this year. His seminar was good, but it was pretty much a repeat of what he has done in the past. I like the fact that he gives you some ideas and some variations to the concepts he is teaching (he is teaching more concept that technique) but if we are going to do repeat seminars, then we need to be more specific. All in all, I had a good partner in the session (Bill Sorvelli) so we had fun and we expanded upon what was being demonstrated, which really was the idea of the seminar anyway.

Jerry Beasley

Once again I felt that Mr. Beasley could have changed up his seminars from the past. There is nothing wrong with what he taught, it was good stuff, I was just looking for more out of him… especially considering he is considered one of the top notch Jeet Kun Do authorities.

Rick Mc Coy / Gary Miles

I attended Rick Mc Coys' seminar this year but missed Gary Miles, although I think the 2 compliment each other well and they are both around to help each other out so… being of the grappling nature I had to really concentrate on what was going on. As I like to meet as many people as possible at Karate College I chose a partner who I didn't know. Unfortunately this made the seminar more difficult. He was a super nice guy, but knew less about what we were doing than I knew. I know the guys that are into this type of work would rather work with each other because they are going to benefit more from it, so I generally try not to ask them, I try to ask the instructor of the seminar. We got some excellent coaching from Mr. Mc Coy so not all was lost but I didn’t retain as much as I wanted to from this particular seminar.

Mike Allen

Mike Allen was tossed into the lions, so to speak, because Mark Miskelly for some reason did not show up. I must say that Mr. Allen did a great job and although a lot was thrown into a short class you would have never known that he was flying by the seat of his pants. Mike Allen is the Executive Administrator for Mr. Lewis and obviously very dedicated to Mr. Lewis. His techniques were very defined and his teaching was very clear. Mr. Allen gave credit to many, many people that he has worked out showing the depth of his training. I would highly recommend attending a class with Mike Allen… hopefully in the future he will have the opportunity to teach more of his advanced techniques and strategies to build upon his solid foundation.

Rob Buckner

I was hoping for more out of Rob Buckner. Rob is one of Joe Lewis's black belts and a long time student at the Karate College also but unfortunately doesn't relay well as an instructor. I think he could have something to offer but seems to have a hard time proving to me that his technique is as good as his talk.

Robert Cutrell

I was a bit late for this one… probably got lost or something, but where I picked up we had a great time. This seminar focused on some really neat interpretations of kata bunkai. Mr. Cutrell, like many of the other seminar instructors, has been attending Karate College for a number of years. I think he has a lot to offer and I hope to see him on the list of instructors again.

Arthur Cohen

This was a seminar promoting a seminar. His techniques were pressure points and although this is neat stuff to know, I wasn't overly impressed. I find that every instructor that I have come across that teaches pressure point tactics doesn’t teach the aspect of making it work. Not only that, pressure points don't work on everybody so I don’t want to have to try to figure out in combat which one does and which one doesn't. I know this seems a little closed-minded but I want some meat and potatoes when I go to a seminar. I can figure out that in general terms you have to aim at the area and so on, but I want you to show me some strategies as to how to be able to apply them, because for the most part, I know they are there.

Mark Hatmaker


I had previously mixed up the names Mr.Hatmaker with Mr.Cohen and unfortunately some people who were considering seminars with Mr.Hatmaker weren't impressed with the above criticism. I do sincerely apologize for the mix up. I also want you to know that, although I wasn't overly excited about Mr. Cohen's seminar, that this does not mean that he is truely credited to his art. I sincerely feel he is quite capable as a martial artist and has dedicated his life to what he is doing... but that doesn't mean his style is appealing to all (hence the write-up). I have been involved in martial arts myself for 25 years and teaching for over 15 years but that still doesn't change the fact that I have had people looking to join a club oversee the style I teach to learn from someone else who appeals to them more.

As for Mr. Hatmaker, I will be attending Karate College again in the future and I will make sure that I meet you and attend your seminar. I will even volunteer as your demonstration guinee pig... as long as you promise to take it easy on me :)

With sincere apologies,
In Harmony,
Neil Prime.

In Conclusion:

Would I go back?

I can't wait for the next opportunity to do so!!! This was probably one of the best overall years that I have had at Karate College and hope that the next time we go (probably 2004) that more people will take the opportunity to join us and experience it for themselves.

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