Arcenio J. Advincula
I asked, "What is the most important thing you ever learned
from your sensei. Each of my teachers taught me many things
but as soon as you ask what was the most important, most have
to think about it. Since most may have studied with several
different sensei, what do you think was the most important thing
and how did it change your life or skills?"
When I asked the above question I first thought only about my
martial arts teachers but then I thought about those that made
a strong influence on my life and thought about all my teachers
and instructors. Raised in Alaska in a home without indoor pluming
until I was a teenager along with twenty-four years in the Marines
learning skills for war have honed me for a Spartan life.
>From my Father, Gaspar Advincula, one of Alaska’s best photographers,
taught me to believe in what you do and be the best of what
you do. He said what ever you do, try to be the best at something.
At age eight, he had two of his Filipino friends teach me martial
arts. My father started me on the right tract and to this day
I try to be the best in what ever I do.
“Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it.
Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe
nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing
just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing
just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you
yourself test and judge to be true.” [paraphrased] ~Buddha
Pete Rado my first Escrima and Combat Judo instructor, taught
me how to fight at a very young age. He gave me confidence.
On one occasion I tried to throw him and he went over.
At the time I thought I did it myself but now believe he let
me do it. The next day at school, several bullies tried to bully
me and I chased them all away. It was Pete Rado who taught
me confidence which I still have today.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience
in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must
do the thing which you think you cannot do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Tony Navaro K-bar knife, taught me how to use my imagination
in fighting. He taught me how to use a K-bar (Fighting Utility
knife) which he called the alphabet system. He used letters
of the alphabet and told me to combined them in any sequence.
Letters could be large or short caps, upside down, sideways
or diagonal. Use your imagination he said, make any combination
of the letters your imagination tells you. It was Tony Navaro
who taught me how to combine letters (anything associated) by
using my imagination. Just like of kihon, kotekitai, ki, kiai,
kata, and kumite. So Navaro taught me to use my imagination.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge
is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination
embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know
and understand." ~ Albert Einstein
>From my USMC Boot Camp Drill instructors at San Diego, CA (1957):
I learned If you say you can’t you are right. If you say
you can, you are probably right. When I first came into Marine
Corps Boot Camp, I thought I could not do a lot of things but
with loving tender care, my Drill Instructors soon changed the
way I thought. I was once given a toothbrush and told to clean
the “Head” (Navy term for Latrine) and I looked at the tiny
toothbrush and said I can’t, because the toothbrush was too
small. My three Friendly Drill Instructors instantly and without
the slightest hesitation motivated me with kind words and I
was quickly convinced that with a lot of effort on my part I
could. I now understand why they call it BOOT Camp. When I graduated
from Boot Camp, I was convinced into believing I was the best
fighting machine in the world and knew without a doubt, you
make it work no matter what you are doing, and with what ever
tools you had on hand! Kind of like make it work.
“Whether you think you can or think you can't - you are right.”
Arcenio J. Advincula
From my Marine Corps Primary Marksmanship
Instructors (PMI): I learned to shoot for center of mass. If
the target moves up, down, left or right, you have a better
chance of hitting part of the target. So they taught me better
to hit then miss. In other words go for the center of the
target and forget about trying to shoot like the Lone Ranger
(forget all the little targets or vital points) shooting the
gun out of the hand.
“Example is the language all men understand” ~ Marine Corps
>From my Infantry Training Regiment Instructors (ITR). While
in formation being inspected, by the NCO Instructors, the Senior
NCO Instructor yelled, “Who wants a weekend pass?” Many of us
were stunned and looked at each other trying to figure if the
Drill Instructor said what he said. I was about to answer when
the Marine next to me yelled, “Sir. I do!” The Senior Drill
Instructor yelled back, “Then take off. You get the pass.” What
I learned was, he who hesitates loses the weekend pass. In other
words be aggressive. Even today I still try to be aggressive
by acting like I know what I am doing.
>From a old Swedish carpenter who was teaching me, when I was
a carpenter apprentice, after I was discharged from the Marines
on my first tour of duty. He had made a error and had to correct
it. He said, “It is not a good carpenter who does not make mistakes,
it is a good carpenter that corrects his mistakes. I learned
from him that making mistakes is not a sin, not correcting
>From Loi Miranda, Largo Mano Escrima. I had already studied
escrima from Pete Rado and Tony Navaro when I started to learn
from Miranda. He would ask what would you do if I attacked this
way and I always had an answer and would demonstrate what I
learned from my prior escrima instructors. Miranda stopped teaching
and my father admonished me saying I knew too much. My father
told me if I knew how to handle Miranda’s attacks, why was I
studying from him. My father said just listen, don’t show what
you know just play dumb and he will teach you. Now while this
was a lesson from my father, Loi Miranda taught that there is
more then one style of escrima. We have a blind loyalty for
our first instructors thinking they could not be wrong and no
one can replace them. I’m not saying my first escrima instructors
were wrong, it is just that later, I thought Mirandas was superior.
My first escrima instructors taught multiple hits or cuts while
Loi Miranda believed in one power stroke or cut to end a fight.
I learned from Miranda Largo mano where one strike one kill,
and it reinforced my belief in karate’s one strike certain kill.
It was here that the light bulb turned on the power of simplicity
for Loi Miranda taught five cardinal blows with four strikes
and one thrust, with emphasis on the thrust. Today I prefer
largo mano techniques when doing escrima. So he taught me to
keep it simple.
>From my Marine Corps NCO instructors (Cpl-Sgt): I learned
to lead by example by setting the example.
From my Marine Corps SNCO instructors (SSgt & GySgt) SNCO School:
I learned leadership to never ask the troops to do what would
not do yourself.
What I learned from my TMI (Technique of Military Instruction)
instructors. Throughout my 24 Marine Corps career, at many of
the military schools I attended, they teach TMI. While they
break it down, it all came down to be prepared. The more you
knew your subject, the better your presentation because you
have confidence in your subject. It is well known that the most
feared thing to do is stand before your peers and give a speech
or teach a subject. In everyone of my TMI classes I always beat
the rest within the class. I have been to a school where both
SNCO’s and Officers attended and had no problems. So what I
learned from my TMI instructors is be prepared. And that
is for anything you do.
>From my Drill instructors at Drill Instructor school, Parris
Island SC. We had to go through boot camp again and I learned
everything over except now they emphasized even more teamwork.
They said a Drill instructor must teach his recruits how to
be a team and work as a team. We were set up in 14 man squads
just like the recruits we we going to have to train if we graduated
from Drill Instructors School. The senior GySgt in our squad
could not handle the squad, so I was second in command had to
take his place and took over as the squad leader. Our squad
graduated all 14 of our Marines in the squad while some squads
only graduated 3 because of the demanding physical training.
It was the first time according to the Drill Instructor school,
where all 14 Marines in a squad ever graduated. I learned more
heads working as one is better then one head trying to do the
work of several. I learned to work as a team.
“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never
say "I." And that's not because they have trained themselves
not to say "I." They don't think "I." They think "we"; they
think "team." They understand their job to be to make the team
function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it,
but "we" gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what
enables you to get the task done.” ~Peter Drucker
Capt. Dahlberg was my CO while I worked for Marine Corps Safety
Office in Parris Island SC. During a Commanding General Inspection,
a General came to me and said he did not like the way I wrote
up an Safety Report. After the General left, I protested to
Capt. Dahlberg that I was doing my job. He asked me who do I
work for and I replied, “You Sir.” Capt. Dahlberg asked how
were my fitness reports (He makes out a fitness report on me
grading my proficiency) and I said outstanding sir, “You always
give me outstanding grades). Capt. Dahlberg replied, “Then what's
the problem, the General does not grade you). Lesson learned,
find out who you work for and do the best job you can for
Capt. Hardacker was my CO on Okinawa, Camp Pendleton, and RVN.
He was the best officer I ever had the privilege to work for.
He set the example to follow. He had one lung yet out walked
us on long hikes. On one occasion on Okinawa he called me and
two others into his office. We asked each other what do you
think he called us in for together think we did something wrong.
Capt. Hardacker said it was Okinawan New Years and told us all
to take the day off and celebrate the Okinawan New Years. The
three of us were married to Okinawan women. In 1964 I retuned
to the states from Okinawa. Capt. Hardacker was CO at my new
unit. He had personally asked for me to come to his unit. In
late 1964, Capt. Hardacker called all the all the married personnel
in our unit to his office. He said there was a problem going
on in Vietnam and that Marines were going to be shipped over
there and so he was looking for volunteers. He stated most might
still have to go, but since we were married rather have volunteers
go first. I was the only one who stepped forward. In RVN, Capt.
Hardacker asked me to take his R&R and go to Okinawa stating
he was thankful for volunteering to go to RVN and knew I had
a wife on Okinawa. I used his R&R. Two weeks after I returned
from Okinawa, from R&R, Capt. Hardacker again called me into
his office and told me to take a Marine prisoner to Okinawa.
Again I got to go back and yes got more time on Okinawa. A few
years ago I learned that Capt. Hardacker was lost at sea off
the coast of Oceanside, California and presumed dead. Michie
knew of him and was just as heartbroken as I was. What I learned
from Capt. Hardacker was you reward those who stand above
Arcenio J. Advincula
Shimabuku Tatsuo Isshin-ryu taught me that
karate was not only for self defense, but also for health and
fitness. In late 1963 he explained the Kenpo Gokui. He explained
“The blood circulating is similar to the moon and sun” as performing
sanchin kata, the blood circulating was through the body was
like the cycle of the moon and sun and when either ceased to
exist and work in harmony, the body dies. Tatsuo stated Sanchin
kata was also for health and fitness. It was important to be
in the best physical condition not only for fighting, but to
help in living a fit and healthy life. A person that was healthy
could take care of loved ones. Tatsuo also explained that in
Sanchin kata in a fighting situation you always keep a reserve
of air and never commit all your air out. He explained that
in WW ll, he had horse and cart he used in business and loss
them in an attack. He said he put all his money into his
horse and cart business and after losing it had nothing to fall
back on. He had no money reserve to take care of his family.
In 1964 I quit smoking adding a longer and healthier life span
. I also started having the Marine Corps paymaster take out
part of my pay and put them into US Savings Bonds. In the late
1960’s until I retired from the Marines in 1981, I was in the
top 5 percent in physical fitness in all my Marine Corps units
I served in. What I learned from Tatsuo is to always keep
a reserve and be in the best physical condition you can. A healthy
person can work and take care of his family, where someone sick
has to be taken care of by his family. The reserve was saving
and keeping funds for a rainy day helps in emergencies and retirement.
Explaining the Kenpo Gokui and for sure the second code
of karate taught me to be responsible for my health and financial
Uechi-ryu was outstanding in physical conditioning. I learned
Uechi-ryu Sanchin from him and still occasionally practice it.
I saw demos where he would stand and hold out his foot with
his toes pointing up allowing someone to hit his big toe with
a 2X2 breaking it over his toes. I learned Uechi-ryu stylist
as a whole are the Okinawans best martial arts fanatics. Of
all the karate styles, Uechi-ryu stylist as a rule have the
leanest wirily body types. I learned to be a karate fanatic
Kaneshiro Kang taught me Hindiandi. He showed me a lot of little
things, and a lot of little things make big things. Punch, kick
or strike from wherever your fist or foot is. All techniques
must work no matter what, and to attack with enthusiasm. So
I was taught a lot of little things together make a big thing.
Kind of like a chain of events in chinkuchi.
Nakasone Kinei Goju-ryu was my primary Goju-ryu Sensei. From
him I learned that all Okinawan sensei do not know or understand
bunkai. I would ask what is the bunkai to a certain move in
a kata and he didn’t know saying he would find out from Masanobu
Shinjo. He always came back with a answer and on a few occasions
would take me to Masanobu’s dojo located in New Koza (Okinawa
City) to train or ask quests from Masanobu. Nakasone told me
he learned more from me then he taught because I asked the bunkai
and he had to learn them from Masanobu. From Nakasone I learned
sometimes the teacher does not know, and sometimes the student
knows more and if this is so, take advantage and learn. Everyone
is better in some things then you, so if you can, take advantage
and learn from them.
Masanobu Shinjo Goju-ryu would come to Nakasone’s dojo in Kin
Village to teach once in a while. He was heavily built was the
strongest person I ever trained with in kakie muchimi
drills. Often during the drill he would use chinkuchi
and stop me dead and I couldn’t move him. He asked me test him
by grabbing his testicles but he withdrew them into his body.
His sanchin was awesome. What I learned from Masanobu was
Sanchin was the way to go if you wanted power (Chinkuchi).
Inamine Seijen Ryukyu Shorin-ryu was a student of several Shorin-ryu
teachers. One of them was Shimabukuro Eiko the younger brother
of Tatsuo. I quit studying from him when he started mixing Aikido
into karate kata. I asked him if a certain technique he was
teaching was from Aikido and he said yes, but don’t tell the
other students. He often came to my home to visit in Kin Village
and after seeing all my karate books told Michie, he now understands
why I asked a lot of questions. What I learned from Inamine
was that some Sensei will pass off Akido, tuite, techniques
as traditional karate. If I wanted to learn Aikido I would
have gone to a Aikido dojo.
Iha Kotaro of Ryukyu Kobudo. What I learned was a good tall
person can sure look good doing the bo. His son is over six
feet tall and is outstanding. Iha looks good but he is small
but most of Iha’s students are good and that is the results
of a good Sensei. Iha is one of those Sensei who teach with
sarcasm. Not everyone can teach that way so I don’t follow that
lead. I learned from Iha that high standards make great students.
Something like Marines.
>From my students who I often learn from by their actions there
is good and bad. There will always be those you are proud of
and those that you are not proud of. There will be grateful
and ungrateful students. Something like the yin and
yang. So what I learn from kohai is the good,
the bad, the ugly.
Life experiences is how we learn, but experience is not the
best teacher. The best teacher is learning from someone who
teaches things you will use for the rest of your life. As a
boy I heard my fathers friends talk about the actions of soldiers
and warriors. At age eight I learned how to fight having to
defend myself from bullies. My first two instructors were Close
Combat Instructors who taught me Combat Judo and Escrima . I
also learned the rifle and bayonet and this would be a goal
later in life to teach Close Combat to real fighting men. These
stories dictated my life and I joined the Marines., went overseas
and studied several martial arts styles. Retired from the Marines
and opened a dojo and later again taught Marine Hand to hand
Combat. Taught a NFL Football team that helped them go to the
Super bowl. Helped establish a Marine Corps martial Arts Program.
Continue to teach martial arts from my home and teach the teaching
of my teachers.
While all my lessons were important and guided and directed
my life, one of the most important was the lesson from Shimabuku
Tatsuo Sensei on teaching karate for health and fitness and
always keeping a reserve.
As I get older and see friends pass away who are younger then
me through preventable illness and disease, then I know that
quitting smoking, watching my diet, and training for fitness
has paid off possibly adding a few years to my life. It is bad
enough that we will without help contract illness so why commit
slow suicide smoking or eating junk food (moderation OK).
Will we learn by example and reason, and since most that take
martial arts as a rule want to learn how to fight, Okinawan
martial arts have always emphasized not fighting but correct
living. The Kenpo Gokui first and second starts “A person
heart (mind) must be in harmony with Heaven and Earth, and the
blood pulse is similar to the changing cycle of the sun and
The working together of the intangible mind and tangible body.
To be in harmony with your fellow human beings and to take care
of ones own body through the practice of Okinawan Martial Arts.
The importance to those practicing karate who are young and
feel invincible and not saving for a rainy day or keeping a
fit and healthy body. All I can say, karatedo is not just punching,
striking and kicking used for self-defense, it is a way of life.
You may have to defend yourself and you may not, but for sure
you will have to live and a fitter, healthier life style is
better. When the Grim reaper comes, will you have a reserve
to take care of your family when you are no longer around.
So most important I give credit to all those who came before
and who taught me. Even learning what not to do from poor examples
is a lesson.
Everything I wrote about was important to me. Most important
is understanding who is at fault in domestic fights. In 45 years,
in all our fights, Michie explained I was at fault in all of
them. So the most important thing I have ever learned, and
I learned it from Michie, is I am married to the perfect