(and no, its not that Ronda Rousey lost her fight) . . . Ben Winn is the newest Fully Qualified Instructor in the Taboada Balintawak system! Following his performance at this year's World Camp, Ben has joined an elite fraternity of esteemed Balintawak practitioners and has become a direct link in the chain that started with Anciong Bacon and flows from him to GM Taboada, Guru Jemar and now Guru Ben (that's going to take me awhile to get used to saying!) 

From the outset, it was clear that the hours of physical training, combined with the deep thought that Ben put into his 24 techniques, impressed GM Taboada and the other Gurus in attendance. During Ben's demonstration, he elicited many oohs and ahhs from the crowd, as well as the frequent "nasty", "man that's going to hurt", or similar comment. 

For those of you who have seen past FQI tests, you know that following the technique demonstrations is the Balintawak version of the "Gauntlet", where every guru in attendance is given the opportunity to challenge the mettle of the candidate. With little rest time in between, Ben was confronted by a stream of gurus who wanted to test his speed, reflexes and defensive capabilities. In addition, 3 gurus also tested Ben's BJJ skills (for those of you who weren't aware, Ben currently holds a brown belt in BJJ) by taking him to the ground during stick play. In each instance, Ben quickly and efficiently escaped, then seamlessly proceeded into submission mode. It was a truly impressive display.

 For those of us who have had the privilege of training with Ben all of these years, we had no doubt that he would be successful in his quest. We have all improved our own abilities as a result of Ben's thoughtfulness, skill and patience. On a historic note, Ben is the first Richmond Balintawak student to attain Fully Qualified Instructor status. All members of Richmond Balintawak will continue to benefit from Ben's achievement in the future. 

Please join me in congratulating Ben on his tremendous accomplishment!