Martial Arts Inspiring Story - Michael Rodriguez- Pukulan Pencak Silat

Bus beating awakens former Karate student, begins YouTube training

My name is Michael I am from Huntington Park, California, and . I grew up on Bruce Lee, Van Damme, Cynthia Rothrock and Jeff Speakman. In 1988, around the time the Ninja Turtles cartoon came out, I got into Karate and when I was old enough, in 1989. Our landlord was teaching Karate for a years, but I wasn't old enough yet, so when I turned 7 in 1989 I was old enough to finally learn the basics of Karate. My instructor was training his grandkids too, so I got to learn and have fun while training.

I still remember how to do what I have learned and shared with others some of what I have been taught. Martial Arts helped me in school because I was being picked on for being different. My instructor made sure I understood respect for others and not abuse what I have learned or I would no longer be able to train. I never used what I learned although there were a few occasions where I could have used what I was taught. I chose not to.

In 1990 or 1991 my instructor had gotten diabetes real bad, and they had amputed one of his legs. So that stopped my Karate. It didn't help that the other schools in my area were expensive, and the YMCA where we lived didn't have martial arts. I always wanted to get a white belt and progress into yellow and eventually get my black belt. As I got older, I got discouraged and eventually gave up my dream of ever becoming a black belt in any system.

In 2004, while reading a book at a bus stop in the City of Watts (I'll back up a bit here to explain)... I moved to Compton in 1995, when my parents got divorced, and used to take the bus a lot to school or whenever I needed to go somewhere. I never had any problems with anyone hitting me up or asked me where I am from.

While waiting at the bus stop, some older man came up to me and asked me where I was from. I was dumbfounded that anyone would mistake me for a gang member. I look more like a metal head than anything else. After I told them I wasn't from anywhere, I kept reading my book, and it looked like this older man was going away, but he didn't. He came back, and I was unaware of my surroundings. He had hit me in the mouth. I was dazed. My lip was hanging down and there was 3 guys laughing at me whom I suspect was putting that older man up to what he did.

The police came because the sherrif station was across from where I was at the bus stop. Long story short, the sheriffs came out and were about to leave. Thank God they came out when they did. I told them what had happened. I took them to the older man that had hit me for no reason and had him placed under citizens arrest.

When that incident occurred, it changed me. I realized what I had learned when I was younger was nothing, it could not help me with what
just happened. I could not defend myself. I hated myself for the longest time for not being man enough to defend myself.

In 2007, with the help of YouTube, I started getting an interest in martial arts again. I started looking up anything I can find and clicking on different styles from Taekwondo, Kempo and Bruce Lee clips. I then discovered Jeet Kune Do. That was the style that Bruce was teaching, so I started looking up that along with Wing Chun and Brazilian Jiujitsu. But it wasn't until I discovered Kali and Pencak Silat that I had found what I have been looking for - a functional martial art that was deadly, effective, street combat and different from everything else I had ever seen or known.

My grandfather was a WWII hero and boxing coach. I never had an interest in boxing and never had the opportunity to learn because my dad hated boxing. My grandpa used to teach my dad and some of my aunts and uncles boxing, but my dad hated it so I never got to learn.

When I seen Frank Ropers from France in a demo video, I was hooked. I knew Pencak Silat was the style for me. I just kept looking up clips and soon discovered Maul Mornie from Malaysia with his style of Silat and Erik Kruk. That's when I discovered Harimau Silat, which is basically the the tiger style of Silat like Kung Fu's Tiger style, except it had ground fighting. When I discovered GM De-Bordes Harimau style, I was even more excited, and I knew this was the martial art for me.

I have found a lot of my favorite instructors on Facebook whom I subscribed to in YouTube. In 2010, I started practicing what I had seen and used what I had learned from YouTube with a good friend of mine who also had a Karate background. This was the only way I was going to learn, since I couldn't afford any Silat classes and started conditioning my elbows, I progressed pretty quick. Even my friend was impressed by the way I could move and do the techniques.

I've always been careful when trying out different moves, and me and my friend had a lot of fun practicing. We would do the moves on each other to see the reaction was from the techniques and modify the moves when we needed to.

In 2011, I was invited to attend an Escrima seminar by my good friend Master Virgil Cavada, of Applied Escrima, which is his style of Escrima or Kali. It was so much fun. I never been to a seminar before, and it was amazing. I felt like I belonged.

Master Virgil is a very good man and has a good heart. He understood my situation. I haven't had the chance to train with him yet, but he told me I was part of his Applied Escrima family, which is a huge honor in my opinion. Last year, on October 1, I fell opening a window and my leg went one way and my body went another. I fell and I was by myself. I was house sitting for my grandparents. My grandfather whom I mentioned earlier had passed away on July 1st and my eldest uncle passed away on July 2nd. My grandmother passed away in March.

I was put in charge to protect their house, along with one of my cousins, but they had went out of town when I fell. Even though I fell, I can still move and do stuff, but it's harder for me. But I still want to learn Silat. I met a Silat instructor who is located in another city not too far from where I live. I told him what had happened to my leg and a bit about myself. His school is called Pukulan Pentjak Silat Serak. His name is Horacio, and he's under the lineage of Maha Guru Pak Victor De Thouars.

I have had a lot of setbacks in my life, and I'm currently working on getting my drivers license so I can go and learn Serak Silat.

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Michael Rodriguez
Pukulan Pencak Silat Serak
Compton CA 90229
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Michael Rodrigues at the Escrima Seminar
Michael Rodriguez