"12 Basics..." Guro Steve Baker

sonder
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
— Dictonary of Obscure Sorrows

Who are you?

Steve Baker FQI – Tested under GM Bobby Taboada and by CMI Richard Cotterill, Instructed by CMI Richard Cotterill and FQI Bill Murray and FQI Neil Ross ( International Balintawak )
Founder and Chief Instructor of Satori-Ryu Martial Arts Association.

How do you define yourself?  

As a Man who has walked the Martial Arts path a little longer than some and less than others, who sees the strengths and weaknesses in students’ abilities and myself, helps them grow and understand themselves and develop themselves as a whole, not a system as such but as their own potential and they become the system, as the Original systems where first developed.  
“We stand on the shoulders of Giants, to see the master insights and further progress theirs and our own individual understanding “

What’s your story?

Very simply I started training Martial Arts at the age of 14yrs old with an Incredible Ju-Jitsu instructor Sensei Allan Clarkin, Who now has been awarded M.B.E for dedication and teaching of Martial Arts, with fighters in Sombo, Kick-boxing and M.M.A, his fighters competing at a world class level... a great great man….
I then trained with Soke Martin Rogers again an incredible Kenpo Ju-Jitsu Instructor, again he runs a well-established traditional ju–jitsu dojo, and a kick-boxing, BJJ and MMA Gym with national and international level competitors and Champions, a great friend and instructor. It was then I meet Richard and Bill and my Balintawak journey began and is still continuing to this present day.

How were you exposed to Balintawak?

I was with my lifelong friend (poor him) Sensei John Sharp on a Dragon Society weekend seminar in Bourn, where CMI Richard Cotterill and FQI Master Bill Murray had been invited to teach, 1998 I think it was, Richard and Bill where outstanding, they introduced not only me but everyone attending to a whole new meaning behind stick fighting.  Their dynamic power and ferocity coupled with their technical ability was amazing.  A real show case for Balintawak and GM Taboada.

How long have you studied?

I started training in 1984 so if I’m correct that will be 32 years ago (wow I feel old now…)
A combination of Kenpo Ju Jitsu, Karate–Jitsu, Boxing and Kick-Boxing for 32 Years.
Balintawak 16 Years.


Who was your primary instructor?

I have been very fortunate to have CMI Richard Cotterill as my Primary Instructor as well as FQI Bill Murry, FQI Neil Ross and C.O.A Steve Russell,  

What was the hardest part of learning Balintawak?

 Laugh out loud…. All of it…………… you should of seen me training Level 2 Block and Counter Funny as………

Favourite part of Balintawak?

Laugh out Loud…All of It……….
It’s like peeling back layers of an onion, the more you peel back the deeper your understanding, and the realization that learning is perpetual.

It’s like peeling back layers of an onion, the more you peel back the deeper your understanding, and the realization that learning is perpetual.

Have you/do you study other arts? Have they influenced Each other?

To start with, I’m exceedingly grateful, appreciative and blessed with the Instructors and friends I’ve trained with and the quality of Instruction given. I thank you one and all. At the age of 14yrs old I trained in traditional Ju-Jitsu under Sensei Allan Clarkin, With Sensei Clarkin I attained my 2nd Dan Black belt in Ju-Jitsu, And competing:  achieving British Kick-Jutsu champion 3 times, British Kick-boxing Champion over several years, Fighting in the WAKO European championships, representing GB, in kobudo, display team events, free sparring, randori. An overall blessed start to my martial arts journey. I then and still train with Shihan Martin Rogers and attained my 7th Dan Black Belt at Kenpo Ju Jutsu and traveled, teaching and training, throughout the UK and Europe. I then studied Wing-Chun for a year, at a club who’s nickname was the bloodbath club, that was interesting. During this period I trained and studied with Russell Stutley and the Dragon Society as well as with Hanshi Patrick McCarthy Uchinadi Karate-Jutsu.

A big thank you to Renshi John Sharp and Renshi Robert Thompson for sharing this crazy fun and painful at times journey with me.. Always smile.. Training with CMI Richard Cotterill at Balintawak and his B3 ( Blade Baton Boxing ) with his own unique approach has enhanced and give me a greater understanding of what I have already learned and how to unite the arts with the Balintawak system , reaffirming You Are The Weapon  

Whats your day job? Have there been any concepts from that profession that have informed your Balintawak or vice versa?

To be honest the best example of this: one of my students is a self-employed designer and landscape gardener. A really genuine lad, who said to me one day; thank you Steve the training the concepts and the pressure you put us under while we are training has helped me immensely, it has given me the confidence and drive to take on projects of a greater scale than I would of normally taken on. Nothing fazes me now.


What is the main lesson you want your students to take from your instruction in Balintawak?

The mind-set that * You are the Weapon * when you have been on the receiving end of GM Bobby Taboada and CMI Richard Cotterill;  their dynamic body mechanics, footwork and power generation, speed which then extends through which ever weapon you are using.  Then the Concepts that are underlined within the Balintawak system.  * you truly are the weapon *


What do you emphasizes with beginners and what do you emphasizes with the more advanced students?

No matter what level a student or instructor are at Foundation and Basic’s are repeatedly gone through and advanced, so your advanced becomes your basic, so progression is constantly moving forward instead of stagnating, one quote I love is “ my learning today is to defeat yesterday’s practice ”

My learning today is to defeat yesterday’s practice

At a semi advanced level the students then learn about integration, what are we training today?
Are you training the body ;to be more dynamic , to perpetuate speed, integrate boxing within all areas of the grouping, butting, disarming techniques, utilizing kicks, using the left hand to set the opponent up so you smash them, etc“what are we training today”.

What does a typical class look like when you teach?

Rock ‘n’ Roll “ Basics",  then turn into whatever level the students are training at. then “ What are we training today “  we break at particular part of a grouping, or butting etc, and develop it into what ever your particular gift is, stick-blade- boxing-grappling- just smash-em
Pressure test our learning. Always pressure test your learning and understanding, you will soon see where the boat leaks….

Always pressure test your learning and understanding, you will soon see where the boat leaks….

What kind of things were you thinking about when you were developing your 24 techniques?

The pure beauty of your level 7 is Where you are taking your Balintawak, GM Bobby Taboada said develop your own 24 techniques, which I thinks develops and constantly progresses the system and not stagnates it by giving the instructors no self-development.   Because I have done and still practice various other arts, I wanted to incorporate and show that CMI Richard Cotteril's quote “ you are the weapon “ is so so true.

Why did you want to become a fully qualified instructor?

To be honest I never set out to be or become a qualified instructor, I just enjoyed and got a real yearning for the training and had such a good connection with the people who are now friends within the group.     The driving force of Richard, Bill, Neil, and the lads who wants everyone to succeed and be the best and then some, as well as a great dose of worldwide Banta which is never ending and so bonds the group together. A weekend course away with us changes you .. …..

Editor's note: For anyone who wants to see Guro Baker in action here is a video with footage from his Level 7 test!

What am I Known for in the Balintawak Community?

I’ve never thought about it, I am just me

I’ve never thought about it, I am just me

I’d like to Thank:
CMI Richard Cotterill
GM Bobby Taboado
Bill Murray
Neil Ross
Flat cap Steve Russell
Everyone involved with Balintawak International,
Sensei Allan Clarkin
Soke Martin Rogers
John Sharp
Robert Thompson
Mark Norwood
Matt MaClean
Special Thanks to
All students and Instructors at Satori-Ryu Martial Arts