The Original Martial Art
Taekwondo, Hapki-Do, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Kali, Muay Thai, all different styles of Martial Arts. However, if you speak to Norm Moreland from Tiger Studios Mixed Martial Arts in Leduc, he believes that all these divergent styles originally came from one cohesive martial arts system called Pankration.
After studying and training in various martial arts styles for the last 48 years and becoming a Senior Instructor in two styles of Kali, earning a 2nd Degree in Hapki-Do, a 1st Degree in Karate, and becoming a Master in two styles of Tai Kwon Do, Norm has now become Canada's first and only Grand Master of Pankration.
What exactly is Pankration you may well ask? According to Norm it is the original and complete martial arts system incorporating elements of discipline, integrity, courage, kickboxing, wrestling, specialized kicking, takedowns, ground fighting, joint manipulation, and submission techniques as well as blunt and edged weapons and battlefield strategy and tactics.
"Unfortunately there is no way of proving Pankration's origins but there are references to it in ancient writings, pottery, and murals from all over Greece, Macedonia, and at the temples at Bene Hassan, Egypt that dates back to 4000 BC." stated Norm. "Once this wholistic system was fractured into specialized styles it has taken almost 5000 years to put it all back together again!"
Norm teaches Pankration as a three year program. "Originally there were no belts in Pankration." said Norm. "It was a military art that soldiers used. They didn't need belts to tell them how good they were. If you were no good at it you died!"
However, when he was putting the curriculum together for Pankration, as none had previously existed, he did institute a coloured belt system so students could gauge their progress.
One major difference between Pankration and the other styles of martial arts that Norm likes to note, is that in other styles it can literally take years before a student can learn basic defensive moves to protect him or herself in real life situations because they are not geared toward self defence. In Pankration even small children can learn rudimentary defence skills in 2-4 months.
This is the area that Norm has really chosen to focus on with Pankration. Despite the fact that there is a large shelf full of shiny, impressive trophies beside the reception desk, Tiger Studios stopped competing about 5 years ago. "We don't teach a 'sport' oriented art," explained Norm, "but rather a fighting art. It typically takes a person 40 months to get through the program. The black belt test alone takes two months to complete and there is no guarantee that people will pass at their first attempt."
During the first year of the training people are taught core work along with short and long range unarmed techniques. The second year they are taught grappling, submissions and takedowns. The third year focuses on the integration of what was taught during the first two years as well as advanced submissions, or as Norm likes to say with a smile, "finishing what you started."
In spite of Pankration sounding very combative, Norm stresses that an aggressive attitude is discouraged at Tiger Studios. "I make a very clear distinction between aggressive and assertive." states Norm. "We focus on respect, integrity, and courtesy in a fun and more relaxed atmosphere. After all, this is not an army camp!" he laughs.
Obviously a winning combination has been found since Norm took over Tiger Studios in 1989 which had exactly 7 students and was located in a very tiny spot. Now in 2013 Tiger Studios has expanded to over 5000 ft of mostly practice space and almost 200 students ranging in age from 3 years old to 73 years old!
"We have an excellent preschool program for kids from 3-7 years old that focuses on teaching them social and character development as well as anti-bullying skills, and how to stay safe if you are home alone or encounter stranger danger." said Norm.
"For the last 30 years people have asked me what it is that I teach," said Norm, "And after all this time I think I have come up with an answer that stays it perfectly; I teach personal development. Becoming a Grand Master was vindication for all I believe in and have worked for. You don't have to be a super athlete to do martial arts the way we teach it."
This credo permeates every aspect of teaching at Tiger Studios right down to the student oath which is recited by all the students at the beginning of every class. It reads; "I shall be polite, honest, try my best, have self control, and do what is right every day."
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