Sandor Urban [sandorurban]
What is your sport, and what level of commitment do you have to it?
I practice and teach martial arts and self-defense full time. Since 1991 I have dedicated the vast majority of my time to the martial arts of Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate and for the past 5 years been studying, training and teaching the Filipino martial art known as Cacoy Doce Pares. In both systems, I hold the rank of Black Belt and am continuously traveling to study the arts.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can get to know more about you or your sports activity?
The main website for the school is www.uskenpokai.com
How did you get started? Who introduced you to the sport?
My mother enrolled me in a class that was offered on Saturday mornings at a local elementary school with a friend who was in my CCD classes. That was a short program that lasted 3-4 months and then the instructor disappeared on us. We didn't have a lot of money, so, when we tried to enroll at the local Karate school for lessons it was much more than we could afford at the time. Growing up, I maintained an interest in the martial arts and was fortunate to have an uncle, Dennis Szeszler, who always kept me interested. He would give me books and engage in the occasional philosophical discussion with me. The asian fighting systems always had a certain appeal.
When I moved to Florida, I made friends with Nelson Fernandez and he had just started training in Kenpo Karate at one of Sifu Bart Vale's Tiger and Dragon Kenpo Karate studios. I went with him one Saturday afternoon to watch a seminar on Shootfighting and I was instantly hooked. The school I trained at eventually broke off from the organization and Nelson and I opened a school together in 1992. He moved to Virginia not long after Hurricane Andrew and I was on my own.
Who was the sports idol that impressed you the most as a child? And who impresses you now?
When I was a kid, I vividly remember watching a few kick boxing matches on Showtime at a neighbors house. Kick boxing was a new sport and there were some great personalities involved. I remember watching Dennis Alexio fight and being impressed with the power he generated in his punches and kicks. The martial artist that impressed me the most from that era was Bill 'Superfoot' Wallace (PKC World Heavy Weight Champion 1973-1978). He mastered kicking with one leg to the point where he was just unstoppable. Superfoot would only use 3 kicks, everyone knew it, but nobody could beat him at his game. In 1989 I met Superfoot for the first time and have had the great pleasure of hosting his seminars at my school on many occasions.
Today, the man that most impresses me is Ciriaco 'Cacoy' Canete, the Grandmaster of the Cacoy Doce Pares system. He is almost 90 years of age as I write this and is truly an impressive martial artist. It would be an understatement to say that he's a dangerous old man with a stick in his hand. He is also the best example of a gentlemen and scholar that I have met up to this point in my life.
Do you have a coach/trainer who guides and helps you? What is your relationship with that person like?
My coaches (instructors) are Zach Whitson and Richard Planas. Master Whitson is a great friend who has afforded me tremendous guidance in the time I have known and trained under him. He opened my eyes to several new and innovative training methods that he has devised that eventually developed into the Counterpoint Tactical System. Master Planas is Ed Parker's American Kenpo all knowing, walking talking encyclopedia of the art. He is the most consistent instructor I've known. He's also a heck of a guitar player, so, we both get along very well when it comes to getting together.
How do you control negative thoughts after a mistake, such as hitting a ball into your own team's goal or getting off to a bad start?
Martial arts teaches the practitioner to utilize very advanced visualization concepts. We go beyond the 'paint a picture in your mind' approach by pre-playing, replaying and anchoring in the desired outcome of a given performance. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is fantasy and we learn to take advantage of that to program ourselves. We make our own luck. If you focus on your failures then that is what you will have 100% of the time. If you focus on your victories, you may not get them 100% of the time but you will certainly achieve more than the other options. Essentially, we are all walking, talking, breathing, living our own self-fulfilling prophecies.
What advice do you have for those just starting out?
The first thing that is important to consider when starting on the path of martial arts training comes from an ancient Chinese proverb. "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today." You are never too young or too old to start. Find a teacher and school who's philosophy is congruent with yours and then get started.
It is not a matter of one style being better than another or what type of style you choose. In fact, when you first start, style may actually be one of the least important components of your martial arts experience. I say that because it is too easy to get trapped in a state of 'analysis paralysis' when researching the type of art to study. Much more important is that you actually begin to study. From there, the study becomes a lifetime pursuit and you may find that, like a ship on the ocean, you will change course from time to time in order to reach your destination. In the martial arts, the actual destination is irrelevant, the journey is what is important. The ship is made to sail the seas, not stay in port.
If you are a parent looking to enroll your child in the martial arts, there are many important considerations. First, that you find an established, reputable school with a consistent history of excellence in martial arts education. The programs should be focused on the many life skills that the martial arts teaches children. Leadership, honesty, integrity, compassion, conflict resolution are among the many things your child should be learning from martial arts, far and above the skill of punching and kicking.
Second, don't let price be your main consideration. Training in a well developed martial arts program has certain costs associated with it and you will inherently get what you pay for. Some places charge little to nothing, others may charge quite a bit. This will be an investment that will pay for itself many times over during your child's life. A top notch martial arts school will educate you and your child as to what to expect from the training experience and how to maximize those benefits.