NAME: Ron Kosakowski ART: Kuntao, Pekiti Tirsia Kali, Inosanto Kali, Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, and Integrated Grappling Systems TITLE: Martial art instructor
How did you get involved in the combat arts?
Watching various black and white TV shows like Wild Wild West for those last few minutes of martial art moves that looked so cool. Of course, The Green Hornet was also a big influence. I could see something that would give me an edge in martial arts. What martial arts have you studied? And to what degree? Kuntao was my first major martial art after learning Tang Soo Do going back to the late 60’s. I spent 25 years with my teacher till he died back in 98. I went to the Philippines and risked my own life to find more Kuntao and learn more about it, with success there also. I am certified under Tuhon Guro Dan Inosanto in Jeet Kune Do and Kali having been with him since the late 80’s starting off with his seminars then going to his training camps and his school in CA. I also started with Larry Hartsell the same era of time going back to the 80’s. I am a Senior Full Instructor under his guidance. His certifications are where you have to be good with the weapons as well as the empty hand aspects of Kali. You have to be well educated in Jeet Kune Do and his integrated form of the various grappling style blends he teaches. I also trained with Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje in Pekiti Tirsia Kali for about 22 years so far. He seemed to have brought me to a whole new level of understanding in my Kali skill development. That man is a genius in his style. I achieved a rank with him – Manundlo Unang Hagden Back in the 80’s to the mid 90’s, I trained with Paul Vunak and got a Senior Full Instructorship with him. He has a good street fight oriented way of thinking which i thought worked well with his Jeet Kune Do blend with other styles. I have trained with about 30 different instructors over the years where I did not pursue an instructorship but it enhanced my knowledge on many levels. To this day, I still train with various instructors here in the US and in the Philippines when i get the chance to. The learning process never ends.
Which martial art is your primary discipline?
That’s a difficult one to answer. I do feel Kuntao, for self defense purposes will work for me very well as I get older though. Actually, each style I did over the years, in one way or another, influenced the way I perform them as the way I teach them today.
How do you view your art a self defense art? A sport? Or a method for promoting health and wellness?
The Filipino styles i teach are purely for self defense purposes. There is nothing sporting about killing and maiming, or having the potential to do so anyway. Though, I do teach both sides of the fence. I blend Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai and Integrated Grappling Systems for MMA fighters. My son, Jesse James Kosakowski is beating everyone in under one minute in the MMA games right now, He has about 50 or so grappling tournaments under him along with many boxing, Sanda and Muay Thai tournaments he has done. You can look up his name on Youtube to see his skills. They are amazing. I feel like i did a good job with him. Both sides are fun to teach. I have nothing against reality or sport. Sport fighting though does lack in worst case scenario situations that can occur.
What did you like most about that art? Why did you choose to focus on it?
I was a Karate guy when I went to visit Kuntao when i was 17 years old. I was a street fighter having grown up in a housing project, and we got ourselves in situations you would not believe. When watching a technique being taught by the Kuntao instructor, Joe Rossi, I thought that it was rather weak so i volunteered to put him in a hold, he maneuvered me like I was a toy, and did it twice due to my stubbornness the first time. I then joined up and stayed with him till he died. To me, Kuntao was something I never saw before and was the real deal.
What can you tell me about the history of your Kuntao Style?
Well, like I said, I do many styles so I will give a brief history of Kuntao. Kuntao, the word is just one of the many dialects found in China. You will see various spelling of it through out SE Asia as well as various different styles of it. See, Kuntao in China, in the Fukien Province area (also spelled Fujien), is a generic term for various styles much like Kung Fu is. When the breaking up of the Shaolin Temples were broken up, many of the monks and Kuntao practitioners of various styles had to spread out to look for an alternative way of making a living. One of the ways was through trade due to the colonization the Chinese were going through throughout SE Asia at the time. This was going back over 900 years ago. Kuntao was spread throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines through trade. Though it was taught in secrecy. Kuntao adapted to the environment, the existing weapons as well as the religions going on at the time and evolved from there. Joe Rossi, my teacher was taught by a Kuntao master hired by the US government to teach quick killing tactics and jungle survival. There was a unit of 200 soldiers who took on this task and only 6 came back. # of them, including Rossi had gone back to the Philippines to learn and stay with the guy that was hired by our government. Looks like something grabbed Mr. Rossi enough to do that while everyone else was celebrating the war. He stayed there for 10 years, then came back and eventually opened up a martial art school. I went there in the mid 70’s to learn from him and I was with him 5 to 7 days a week. I eventually became the highest rank at the time teaching the classes. Since then, I have learned some more about Kuntao in the Philippines and elsewhere to make sure I had the system down. To me, its one of the best and most dangerous martial art styles I have seen yet.
What do you see as the most unique or beneficial aspect of your art?
I will speak collectively on all the styles I do. Each one, as I said before, has influenced each other not in technique so much but the understanding of leverage, angulation, and the way I teach. I find they are very much the same but different. I call what I do, a geometric science overall, where the use of force, strength and youth is for the most part, not used as the main way to fight. Its has its place but more in technique development is where the strength is needed most. Who were your primary or most influential instructors in your art? That’s easy: Joe Rossi Larry Hartsell Dan Inosanto Master Chi Sarasute Leo Gaje Yuli Romo Edgar Sulite John Pereira Sid Kelly Francis Fong Various people in the Gracie and Machado family I have trained with over the years I can go on but they have quite the influence on the way i do things
Have you ever had to use your art for self defense? If so what lessons did you learn from the experience?
When i was younger, I got in a lot of situations that were quite successful. When I was a bouncer, I found controlling an individual was quite easy to do. What I saw was, if a person did not know martial arts they were far easier than even my own beginning students to handle. Its amazing how leverage and angulation really works so well.
Has the martial arts helped you in your life?
Yes of course. It helps the mind work quicker. It keeps my body strong. I have been in some major car accidents and I can still do a lot of thing within my martial arts. I look at many my age and they look and act old. I also eat correctly in a very clean way.
What do you see as your major accomplishments in the martial arts?
My biggest one is seeing my son get so far in the way he fights MMA today. Seeing other students gain confidence in life helps also. I have had many of them over the years. What do you see as your major contributions to the martial arts? I would think the obvious answer to that is seeing people, especially smaller men and women be able to handle themselves in my classes which I am confident they can in the streets. Police and military I have trained all say what I taught them helped them tremendously over the years on the job.
What is your proudest moment in your career in the arts?
I never thought of that before. I guess I have a lot of proud moments. Hearing success self defense stories over the years from Military, Police and from civilians; that makes me very happy. Having been training under the people I used to read about in magazines when i was younger made me proud.
What do you think of the current state of your art? (how its practiced, taught, etc?)
I can tell you I am old school in the way I teach. I do not give away rank. People have to deserve it and be able to pull off what they learned through their own reflexes. Not memorizing technique but reflex through reflex development fighting drills and actual live fighting. they have to look like the style. Even though realism is not pretty, they have to do the best they can. people have moved on to other schools from my school that give away rank easier because they show up once in a while. That’s ok, I only want people who are serious about what i have to offer in the martial art world. .
How do you envision the future of your art?
I want to see my martial arts hold on to its true historical essence without being watered down for future generations to come. As for it going through an evolution, that happens with every new master of a style that takes over but the historical essence has to be held onto.
What piece of advice could you share with new martial artists?
Look around before you join someone’s school because he has a good sales pitch. There is a lot of BS out there.
How do you view Warriorship? What does it mean to you?
Being well rounded in all areas of combat including weapons. And having experience in various areas of those combat areas in one way or another. What are the things that you are most excited about the current state of martial arts? It is becoming more mainstream. people are starting to see what i do more and more each year. That makes me happy of course.
What are the things that concern you most about the current state of martial arts today?
The fact that many stylists and styles are getting watered down more each year with people giving away rank. We have a spoiled country full of people who want a quick-fix without working for it.
Where can people find more information about you and your art?
My web site is being worked on into a more modern one that is phone friendly. The web site is www.PSDTC.cm My weapons web site is www.TraditionalFilipinoWeapons.com