What is Rossi Kuntao
By Ron Kosakowski
There has been a lot of politics over Rossi Kuntao on who is the now “leader of the pack” since Grand Master Joe Rossi’s death back in 1998. This happens with a lot of systems once the Master of a certain system passes away and leaves a bunch of students with no where to go. No where to go but toward power! Many of us have seen this before in other styles. There are a few out there that are claiming to be the “inheritors” or “Grand Masters” of the Rossi Kun Tao System. Some of which do not know anything but a few techniques in Kuntao or even in Rossi Kun Tao. They tend to blend it in with their existing martial art that was going no where, or a style that was not giving them the fame they were seeking. Kuntao, due to the content of the style, can easily make any system a little better by having something within it that makes practical sense. But on the other hand, that does not make it a Kuntao system, especially a Rossi Kun Tao system.
The late Joe Rossi has taught many people over the years. He taught them what he felt would fit them personally. Toward the early to late 90’s his health was failing badly. His knees were going, he was getting a bad case of arthritis, he had a hard time driving so people had to get things for him and drive him where he wanted to go. I know this because I was driving him around a lot of the time. On top of all that, he was slowly loosing his mind. He was getting a little forgetful among a few other problems and he started handing out some ranks to people who hardly trained in the system fully if at all. Which leaves us with this…how could ANYONE who started training with him, especially in the 90’s, be an inheritor of the Rossi Kuntao System when he was to the point of teaching nothing more than a few joint manipulation movements? Believe it or not, there are people out there making that claim, so you really have to do your research if you want the real Kuntao style. Or feel free to message me personally (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will tell you nothing but the truth since I was there with him since the 70’s.
Now, back to the question…what is the Rossi Kun Tao System? And here is the honest answer – Back around 1994 and onward, I had been working hard to put together a good structured system of Mr. Rossi’s Kuntao that I had been learning from him since the mid 70’s. The reason being, as I said above, there are many people out there that had learned only bits and pieces of Kuntao, not the whole system. I saw this when there were gatherings of some of the students showing some of the stuff they knew. I did not like what I saw because they were saying this that and the other thing was a Kuntao technique they learned from Joe Rossi. I talked to Mr. Rossi about that, so I had to put a halt of this problem. And he agreed with me at the time, so, I structured Kuntao with a good step by step progression. With the structure I came up with, I also came up with a name for the system. I called it simply “The Rossi Kuntao System” going back to 1995. This was to name it after the man who brought it here to the US. I worked with a student and a now friend by the name of Paul Ledney who is also now a Pekiti Tirsia player. He was well versed in computer graphics even back then. I drew out a design for a logo and he took the name of Rossi Kuntao and he put together a logo for me. I showed all this to Joe Rossi and he loved it. Of course he would! It was just a start in a way I planned on carrying on his legacy.
Around 1996, I told Mr. Rossi that I wanted to get everyone on the same page in his Kuntao because many were claiming they are Kuntaoists. Due to the fact it was obvious to him everyone is doing something different, he simply agreed! The original idea was for everyone to get together and start learning a structure so it does not look like a disorganized system with a blend of who knows what added to it. Unfortunately just before all this could take place, Joe Rossi got very sick. He started with getting around with just a walker, then not to long after that, I got a phone call that he was not doing well. And I ended up watching him die when I went to see what was wrong.
Of course right after that, I could see power plans already being made. Claims to having Rossi Kuntao “trademarked” and every other BS thing you can think of including being told that they are the inheritors of the system. Imagine being an inheritor without being told you are the inheritor? There were people opening up schools all over the place utilizing the Rossi Kuntao name. I see their videos and some of the stuff they do and all the intricate movements and footwork is not even part of what they teach. How could these people sleep at night? Not even going through what we had to go through in the old days of constant training and drilling. Hours of technique, training methodologies and footwork going back and forth at the Rossi Academy of Martial Arts. Not to mention getting an actual White, Purple, Brown, then if it was earned, people got their Black Belts…not jumping into some high level of Black belt as I see is happening today.
So, the conclusion of what Rossi Kuntao is…it is Grand Master Joe Rossi’s personal system. Bottom line! Again, I will say that he taught many people and many have some legitimate technique and others do not. Some are missing pieces of their technique not to mention the style itself. Either way, they got pieces of Rossi Kuntao. ONLY Joe Rossi himself had what is called,”Rossi Kuntao.” Having spent much more time than anyone out there under Joe Rossi’s teaching, I am the only one with the credentials enough to have personally given the name Rossi Kuntao to him and I did it for a very good reason.
Now the question can be, how can you tell the difference if it is real or not? A non-martial artist can go into any school and be told that theirs is the best. I say know and understand the differences by comparing. Check mine out and then check theirs out and make a comparison. If you are not in our local area, look at these videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltxzNkYJ47U&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcwKu_UzwQk&NR=1. And if it does not resemble what you see in those videos then it is not Rossi Kuntao nor is it Kuntao the way it is taught at the PSDTC!
The style taught at the PSDTC is the only system of Filipino Kuntao recognized by the head of the Kuntao elders, Ali Sharief of the Maranao tribes in Mindanao Philippines. That speaks loud for my personal style of Kuntao.
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom – Thomas Jefferson