here - FMA Informative



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Informative Issue No. 163
“Your path is one that others will walk with you for a time but ultimately they all will find their own road
to continue their journey. Along the way you will both find others who will walk your path for a time
and the cycle will continue.”
Alessandro Ashanti Bovoso
Founder of Full Circle Martial Arts and Full Circle Jujitsu
Explaining Full Circle Banner
Concept of Professor Vee
Warrior Art Banner
Martial Arts - As In Life
Finding a Real Teacher
Putting Training on the Line
Full Circle Principles
Basic Tactics of Full Circle
Two Person Rowing Exercise
Ki and Centering
Full Circle Website
Instagram arts
Google Plus Page
Twitter Page
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of the FMA Informative.
The FMA Informative met Alessandro Ashanti who uses the term “Founder” very loosely as he only thinks of
himself as someone who is carrying on the work of several of his teachers. Alessandro’s Full Circle was born in
the aftermath of politics and has served as a safe haven for himself and his students.
In this issue you will read the meaning per Alessandro term of Full Circle Martial Arts. IT is a continnuous journey of knowledge and skills that eventually will bring a practitioner back to the beginning and thus
make the full cirle which will commence once again in knolwledge and skill.
From Alessandro Ashanti Founder of Full Circle Martial Arts and Full Circle Jujitsu
Thank you for reading my ramblings and wanderings. It’s been an honor to share a little part of my path with
you. All of what I’ve written will be part of my upcoming book: Full Circle, Lessons from the Way of the Warrior.
Alessandro Ashanti Founder of Full Circle Martial Arts and Full Circle Jujitsu
is consistent to the core concepts
of Full Circle.During his entire
career Alessandro has always
remained a student as well as a
teacher. Alessandro developed an
improbably compatible resume
of styles through serious study
with some incredible teachers.
While learning from his teachers he has attempted to be a
“blank slate” for imprinting new
knowledge. He always strived to
learn what his teacher is trying
to teach and to limit to the best
of his ability what his natural inclination would be while
practicing. For the last 12 years
Alessandro has been pursuing
the mastery of the Filipino mar-
Alessandro Ashanti uses
the term “Founder” very loosely as
he only thinks of himself as someone who is carrying on the work
of several of his teachers. Full
Circle was born in the after- math
of politics and has served as a safe
haven for himself and his students.
Alessandro and Guro Michael Butz
While some would call Full Circle
an eclectic approach, Alessandro
tial arts. Alessandro currently
never set out to borrow techniques
holds the rank of Pangalawang
from various styles and slap them
Guro Serrada Eskrima under
Master Khalid Khan. After
He calls this the Dim Sum
moving to Phoenix, AZ Alesapproach to martial arts, which
sandro was fortunate enough to
would be like ordering one from
meet Guro Michael J. Butz and
column A and two from column
began studying Kada Anan EsB at a Chinese buffet. Instead the
krima under him. From Guro
core ideology is to find where is to
Khan to Guro Butz, Alessandro
find where technique and approach transitioned from stick theory
Alessandro has also studied
various other styles of martial arts,
most notably Capoeria Angola with
Mestre Terry Baruti and Sanuces-Ryu Jujutsu with Hanshi Anton
Master Terry Baruti and Alessandro - 2000
Soke Chaka Zulu and Alessandro
New York City - 1991
Alessandro Ashanti Explains Full Circle Banner
Master Khalid Khan and Alessandro
to blade theory.
Over the last 35 years
in the martial arts Alessandro
also earned a 3rd Dan in Zujitsu
under its Founder Soke Chaka
Zulu. An 8th Dan with the World
Sansei Goju Organization under
Hanshi Manny Saavedra, his
philsophical mentor for the last
25 years. A 5th dan in Jujutsu
with the American Jujitsu Asso-
Hanshi Manny Saavedra
and Alessandro - 1994
While I currently train
under the banner of Full Circle,
Full Circle was actually the name
of my first dojo. It was a term
coined by my teaching partner and
senior Valerie West. For me, it has
become somewhat of an octuple-entendre. It holds many meanings and true to its name has been
a recurring theme in my training.
In the practical martial arts sense,
Full Circle refers to maintaining
360-degree awareness around you
at all times. In the philosophical
Dr. Florendo “Vee” Visitacion
sense, Full Circle means
always returning to our
beginnings with new
knowledge learned on
the circular path of life.
Full Circle isn’t a style
that pursues the truth
of fighting. Rather it
pursues the study if
bringing conflict back
to balance through the
martial arts. However
within the concept of
balance restoration there
are many methods for
Dr. Moses Powell and Hanshi Anton Muhammad
In a very “Full
Circle” sense my study
of the Filipino martial
arts eventually founding Vee-Ararts has led to greater understandnis-Jitsu. His earliest student was
ing of my roots in the martial arts.
the legendary Dr. Moses Powell
You can trace my jujutsu lineage
who taught my first sensei Soke
through Soke Zulu and Hanshi
Chaka Zulu as well as Hanshi AnMuhammad directly to Dr. Floren- ton Muhammad. The jujutsu that
do “Vee” Visitacion, the Founder
Dr. Vee taught was laced with his
of Vee-Jitsu, his Jujutsu system.
early martial art experiences and
Dr. Vee was grew up in the Philipwas there waiting to be unlocked,
inines and learned Arnis as a child. as I found out. At first glance or
In his later years he would return
study of “pure” Filipino martial
to his cultural roots and pursue
arts one might not see the connecfurther study of Filipino martial
The further you delve in
the theory the more you start to
see the correlation. Jujutsu and the
Filipino martial arts also both stem
from the understanding of blade
Jujutsu has never been simply a grappling method, although
that aspect is wildly popular these
days as it was in the 20th century
in the form of its off-shoot, Judo.
Rather it is designed as a last line
of defense against an opponent
armed with a katana, shoto (short
sword), or tanto (knife). The traditional motions take blade awareness into account.
However in the modern
training this is still evident and
found if one knows where to look.
Modern Filipino martial arts styles
tend to be “stick” oriented, preferring the cylindrical theory of rattan
over the original blade theory of
old. As Master Butz always says,
stick comes from blade, blade
doesn’t come from stick. Filipino
martial arts, all being bladed arts in
origin, the blade is there waiting to
be unlocked by the right instructor.
Two disparate blade oriented cultures, in my experience,
came to many of the same conclusions. The differences in methods
tend to be cultural and practical
(e.g. armor vs no armor, katana
vs bolo). There is a gap there that
is easily bridged should you have
serious study of both methods.
Concept of Professor Vee
I was speaking to Professor Hassan (Dr. Moses Powell’s
3rd black belt) one night after his
class here in Phoenix AZ. He was
talking about Dr. Moses Powell’s
ability to derive technique from
observing and participating in
other classes. This was a concept
that Dr. Powell’s teacher, Professor Vee, held to. It was something
I had heard Master Zulu say to
me when I first made black belt.
“Don’t limit your training to just
me. Study other systems. Get the
“key” to what makes the system
work. Then you can bring it into
your study and make it yours.” I’m
paraphrasing but this was more or
less accurate. Dr. Powell was one
of Master Zulu’s teachers, so I can
see where this idea was planted.
I read an article on Professor Vee once where he said that it
wasn’t vital to study a system for
a long duration but rather to study
it until you find out how it works.
It echoes the above paragraph. My
personal approach has been, that
while I can derive technique and
understandings from any source,
I prefer a deep engrained understanding. If I actually set out to
learn an approach, I give it roughly
ten years of attention. I can extrapolate much from several months
in any particular class but it will
always be interpreted through my
core set of ideals and values. For
full integration, and to experience
personal change, the ten year method works best for me. Of course it
can’t just be any system or teacher.
I have to believe in and enjoy both
to have longevity.
were to consider ourselves contemporary warriors, we do not
wage warfare with self defense.
Those tools have moved on from
our practices. Our tactics are outdated on a military level, yet even
the word “martial” is defined as
“warlike, pertaining to war.”
This is not to say that our
practice has no merit, but perhaps
“civilian arts” would be a more
appropriate title for what we do.
We use our arts for expression,
physique, sport, and self defense.
As civilians, we don’t use our arts
on any battlefield. This does not
mean I’m dropping the term Martial Arts anytime soon. Rather it’s
conceptual ideology.
Despite dropping the name
“Warrior Arts,” I still continue to
use the term “warrior” occasionally. “We are not warriors, although
we train in their ways.” I’m fond
of saying. In doing so we take on
many of their attributes and must
so in order to be successful. When
I train, I am fully ready to die on
the training floor. This is not abandonment of safety; rather it’s commitment to the process that was
laid down for us by the warriors of
Warrior Art Banner
In the nineties I taught
under the banner of Warrior Arts.
It was a great name that wasn’t
in use at the time, at least not to
my knowledge. I dropped the
name after a conversation with
my aikido teacher, who told me:
We are not warriors. A warrior is a
military person. Someone specially
trained in warfare. These days the
only ones that qualify for this bill
are military personnel with actual
battlefield experience, the elite of
these being Special Forces.
We train in the warrior
ways of times past. Even if we
old. In fact, not being a battlefield
warrior, the perfect death for me
would be taking the best fall I’ve
ever taken while on the training
Warrior focus is a quality
that can be learned through studying the warrior ways. It is not
necessarily inherent to all students
who train. Maintaining a warrior’s
mindset throughout your learning
develops warrior focus. Focus
and stay in the moment. Don’t let
your outside life defeat you with
your current class goals and more
specifically the exercise at hand.
Whether you are giving or receiving technique, your level of presence and intensity needs to remain
consistent. They are two parts of
the same whole. This is the beginning of how to find and practice
warrior focus. Any beaten army
or warrior in history has obsessed
over their defeats and attempted to
incorporate the tactics and/or techniques of the victors. Even a victorious army after an extended battle
will look at why the beaten army
was able to hold them off for so
long. They will incorporate these
tactics as well to further strengthen
how long you train. To reach the
stars, you have to get past the
moon. Make your goals grand, but
don’t be afraid to pause and appreciate an amazing stop along the
way. Dreams are the ether of your
existence. They are the creativity;
the place where ideas and concepts
are born.
Goals are steps along
the way we take to manifest the
dreams. The master plan is where
all comes together and the dreams
are the goals are simultaneously
one in perpetuity. The master plan,
once obtained, is self-sustained
by your continued diligence. The
only way to understand the arts
is through training and deep contemplation. Anything else is just
repeating grade school over and
over again. Train easy, life’s hard.
Train hard, life’s easy.
opposed to traditional Karate and
Judo gi, while training over the
last 10 years. This experience is
one of many that brings home the
manifestation of the name Full
Circle. From there the seed of
fascination was planted. I would
pick up techniques over the next
few years from friends I would
meet along the way. I now call this
“pick up martial arts.” Sometimes
I would even find a class or two to
My further desire to train
was fueled by the Shaw Brother’s
Kung Fu films. The Five Deadly
Venoms being the first and most
influential of the films I ever saw.
Interesting to that part of my story,
it turns out that one of Master
Zulu’s senior students (Now Soke
Bob Martin) was working at the
local station that played the Kung
Fu films. He was instrumental in
their being aired. From the start my
full circle experience shows itself
in my training.
By the time I was in high
school I was very hungry. This
was long before having the internet in your home. Back then all
you could do was look through
the Yellow Pages - younger folks
can Google that term - and browse
the ads. Schools that could afford
to advertise were very expensive
when you had zero income to
spend, as I did. I would ask friends
who trained about the schools
they went to, but sure enough, it
was always one of the over priced
schools I found in the yellow pag-
Martial Arts - As In Life
In the martial arts, as in life,
our goal should be self-perfection.
But here’s the thing: self-perfection
is an impossible task. This being
an unattainable goal, why reach
for it? The real reward to striving
for perfection is the lesson learned,
beginning with your first footstep
on this path. The journey is the
There is always room for
growth in everything, no matter
Finding a Real Teacher
Growing up in New York
City it took me several years to
find a real teacher. I first learned
here and there from anyone who
was willing to show me something.
My very first lesson came in the
form of summer camp at age 10.
The camp offered electives everyone could take.
There was a Karate elective
that I signed up for which lasted 3
weeks. I have little recollection of
how many days a week we met but
I do remember being in the main
large open field. The counselor was
a Tae Kwon Do practitioner and
purple belt (intermediate level).
We had no uniforms and showed
up in our regular clothes. Little did
I know my regular clothing would
turn out to my primary dress, as
One instructor in particular
managed to teach half the martial
artists in my high school. I lucked
upon a junior high school friend
named Jamal, who had an instructor that taught at a boys club just
off of Chinatown.
My brother and I walked
down there one night to watch the
class. The instructor was an imposing and impressive figure. He was
a muscle-bound dark complexioned man in a tight fitting t-shirt
who had the cadence and timber of
a Marine sergeant. We sat down to
watch class only to be told by the
instructor that he wasn’t allowing
spectators that night.
We had no idea why but
we were disillusioned. We never went back. In my first year of
high school, there was a kid in the
school who was obsessed with
anything ninja. He would even
come to school dressed in ninja
tabi shoes. Luck would have it
that we would be put in a science
class together. I asked him about
his teacher and he invited me to a
class in the park later that week.
Thinking I was going to
meet a ninja Master, I was surprised to meet a man named Chaka Zulu.
He was a man who I
thought to be at least 6 feet tall by
his presence, he later turned out to
be 5’6”. He was coffee complexioned like my mother and I later
found out was just a year older
than her. He introduced himself,
“Hello, I’m Zulu.” My only word
in response was, “Wow.” He invited me to train with them as they
were having an informal workout.
I was a bit intimidated
but I eventually got up and began
practicing some roundhouse kicks.
Zulu was sparring one of the students and I was transfixed by his
motion. He was a Master of what I
later learned was flow. I have seen
many people speak of the concept
but he is one of the few who truly
embodied it; to this day none more
so than him. I trained with Zulu
and his system of Zujitsu for the
next fifteen years of my life after
which we parted ways. Sensei
taught me a conceptual framework
that I use to this day to absorb
information a plug it into my personal matrix. Without him opening
know as much as I thought I did.
In class when we did this particular technique I found out that our
partner was always being overly
The man I was attempting
to lock resisted all my efforts. I
was just glad that I wasn’t alone.
The next I asked Master Zulu about
what happened. He gave me an answer about needing to actually put
ing them. It was actually kind of
thrilling. At the time the Guardian
Angels were local heroes and were
in the midst of their best reputation to date.
In fact one of the early
founders, Lisa (Sliwa) Evers was
one of Master Zulu’s students. In
meeting her, there was an instant
bond. She was full of stories
from the dojo long before I ever
arrived. Our headquarters were
in Greenwich Village NYC, right
in the heart of the neighborhood,
which was still charged with the
raw New York energy that the 80s
of my development.
I had much further experiences refining my application while
working as a bouncer for five years
in New York City and San Francisco, CA. Those stories could fill a
book themselves with some being
wild and improbable. My time with
the Angels and working in clubs
were invaluable to my understandings.
Full Circle Principles
So what is our approach in Full Circle?
While not a complete list, the following are some our concepts and principles.
Master Chaka Zulu and Alessandro
my mind to limitless possibilities
of development at such a young
age, I never would have been able
to be the martial artist I am today.
I would simply have scattered
knowledge of several systems that
never found a place to integrate.
He is no longer my Master, but he
will always be Sensei.
Full Circle 360 awareness mulitple opponents
Putting My Training on the Line
I always wanted to put
my training on the line when I
was younger. Young male martial
artist testosterone is particular in
this way. I would be hard to meet
a young male martial artist who
didn’t have these thoughts but you
might not meet many who actually
acted on it responsibly.
I joined the Guardian Angels in New York City at the age
of 17 or 18. I was all of a green
belt with Master Zulu. I think I
also had some superhero fantasies
in my head and this was about as
close as I would come to fulfill-
something behind such techniques
but our practice never reflected it.
This changed my approach
and research from that moment
forward. My sensei was right
about the technique, but I had to
find out for myself through other
training and experience just how
the mechanics should be performed. To this day joint locking
has been one of the cornerstones
contained. My first experiences
actually applying technique were
gained here.
The first time I ever had
to restrain someone who was on
the ground, I was shocked. I was
attempting to bring the person onto
their stomach with a wristlock
while controlling their arm. A man
had just snatched a purse and we
had chased him down.
Another member wrestled
him to the ground and I attempted
to grab his arm. This was the pivotal point in my short training career
when I realized that I might not
Maintaining 360 Awareness: This principle is stressed in
Full Circle above all others. Maintaining a 360-degree awareness
goes beyond simply “watching
your back.” Students are taught to
be aware of their surroundings at
all times, especially while applying
technique. A lapse in awareness
can cause students to be unnecessarily preyed upon. It can also lead
to giving a second opponent an
opening to attack. Are you aware
of your surroundings and most
importantly your partner? Many
students grab a hand for a basic
wrist lock, for instance, and their
mind immediately
becomes completely focused on that
hand. They lose
sight that there is a
whole independent
body connected to
the hand! In the
dojo this can lead
to accidents, in
actual defense it
can lead to disaster. Maintain a 360
awareness at all
Centering: Without maintaining
your center technique is nowhere
near as effective. With centering
you are able to apply technique
with your whole body and not
just the strength from your arms
or hands. Initiating all movement
from your hara (which lies two
inches below your navel) can help
when practicing centering. See
the section on Ki development for
further information.
Flow: Flow is the ability to blend
attacks into techniques with one
smooth motion. It allows for the
facilitation of multiple techniques
to keep an attacker(s) off balance.
Can you transition without stutter?
Do your mechanics allow for alternate or additional martial expression when needed? The study of
flow is vital but it must be backed
up with solid technique. What if
the technique doesn’t “work”? My
first sensei, Master Zulu always
said, “Nothing is guaranteed.” All
technique and training has a point
at which it can fail. However! Just
Full Circle flow and centering
because one technique has failed, it
shouldn’t mean your whole arsenal
should fall by the wayside. Utilize
the practice of flow and move on.
A failed exchange opens up opportunities for new ones.
Basic Tactics of Full Circle
Taking Up Slack: Before applying any lock, the slack from the
joint must first be taken up. The
most common mistake made when
applying locks is initiating a throw
half-way through the extension.
Cross Block with Check and Lockup
The slack must be taken up before
the lock is in motion; otherwise,
the practitioner will have to play
catch-up at the end of the technique to try to make it work. Have
you eliminated joint slack? Many
beginners go through the entire
motions of a lock only to find
their partner staring at them at
the end.
This is usually caused by
a failure to take up the appropriate slack before entering the
throwing phase. The amount of
slack you then want to take up
is determined by the amount of
damage you wish to cause your
opponent. Obviously we only
take this so far when training
in class.
Remain Relaxed: The idea
that successful technique
grows out of balance, timing,
and awareness, which grows
out of relaxation. If one lives
in a tense state, one’s ener-
gy will constantly be tied up in
that tension. Balance, timing, and
awareness are vastly improved
when one can interact fluidly with
one’s environment, unencumbered
by tension. Are you relaxed? When
a beginner applies a joint lock they
tend to hunch their shoulders or
put so much tension in their hands
that they are effectively working
against themselves throughout the
technique. Relax completely (this
doesn’t mean go floppy, think of
the relaxed motion of a horse in
full gallop) and move your body as
Let your opponent think
their mistake is their advantage.
Let them also think their advantage
is a mistake. In addition displacing
your opponent is just as vital a skill
to have as knowing how to get out
of the way. Control the rhythm
and space and defeat them on your
1. Off a straigh punch, angle to the outside and crossblock
2. Cover and check with opposite arm
3. Cross check and hit ribs with lead arm
4 Swing arm thorugh and up to opposite side of the head.
5. Quarter turn to the inside and trap arm, hitting to the neck
6. maintian traip and nevrve hit to the thigh using knee.
7 Replace foot behing leg and facilitate throw
Outside Knife Pass
Gauging oppent’s range
Eskrima blade theory is Full Circle’s primary weapons sub-art. In particular the workings of the SLD
(Serrada-Largo Mano, and Decuerdas) blend taught in Kada Anan Eskrima, taught to me by Guru Micheal J.
Butz. In addition the drills of Eskrima Serrada taught to me by Guro Khalid Khan are used as base practice.
Any in-depth discussion of these forms of Eskrima would take up several issues of their own and are better left
articulated by my teachers.
Meet the angle of attack for outside pass
Inside to Outside Knife Pass
Meeting overhead strike to the inside
Angling and transitioning or passing the arm
Bicep cut to the passed arm
Empty Hand vs Knife Disarm and Lockup
1. Empty hand knife pass from thrust
2. Turn into wrist grab preparing for disarm
3.Slight pull up on wrist with thrust down on knife disarming
4. Lock wrist and cross behing
5. Twist from your core and finsish throwin by turning the oppenent’s wrist
6. Step around clockwise for armbar
7. slight turn coutner clockwise pinning arm between knees
Angle and pass the knife cutting upward to brachial
Finish with cut to carotid
Empty Hand vs Knife Pass and Lockup
We use one Soke Chaka Zulu’s staff methods of “roll off and counter”. I’ve also added an aikido jo staff
exercise as well as furthering the Roll Off and Counter into two additional exercises. We utilize the Jo Staff (50
inch wood) for training.
Staff training is aimed to release the student from confined form while first instilling proper mechanics.
There are the main 5 parts of Full Circle staff.
Largo Staff Inside
Meet overhead attack to the inside
Angle off and pass with opposite arm
Quarter turn and with arm
and you pass through
Gauging the angle of attack
Stepping and angling to the inside
Return strike to the back of the neck
Counter strike to mid section
Hand transition
Largo Staff Outside
Grab wrist and prepare strike
to base of the hand
Hit hand causing disarm
6. Turn to face and transition
to sankyu lock
Angling to the outside in largo range
Maitain torque and step
Turn an face opposite direction and apply armbar down
Second strike to base of neck
Two Person Rowing Exercise
Roll off and Counter
Parry and Counter
Free-flow Staff Sparring
Striking and Blocking
Staff Rowing
Parry and Counter - Block and Counter
Roll off and Counter
Ki and Centering
Although Full Circle is not a Ki-based art in the same way Aikido is, the Japanese concept of Ki and its
practical application does figure prominently in some exercises, and it informs the art’s ideal of a flowing giveand-take between partners. The concept and practice of Ki is of vital importance in Full Circle for the development of awareness and self-defense skills.
Ki (Ch’i in Chinese) is most commonly conceptualized as a metaphysical, natural, life-giving force or
energy that flows through and makes up the universe, and is especially associated with living beings. In Ki in
Daily Life (Japan Publications Trading Company, 2001), Koichi Tohei Sensei, the founder of Shin Shin Toitsu
Aikido (Aikido with Mind and Body Unification), explained his understanding of Ki:
“From Ki, the real substance of the Universe, came movement and calm, joining and breaking apart, tensing
and slackening, and many mutual actions which gave the present universal its form. Ki has no beginning and no
end, its absolute value neither increases nor decreases. We are one with the universal, and our lives are part of
the universal. Since before the beginning of the universal, and even now, its absolute value exists as a solid fact
within which birth and death and dissolution continue to take place.”
The Tao Te Ching contains some strikingly similar ideas, though more simply posed.
“Tao becomes one, one becomes two, two becomes three and three becomes ten thousand. Behind the existence
of every item is its shadow, in front of it is light, and as stabilizer is immaterial breathing.”
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