Tribute to Grandmaster Tim Carron
On Thanksgiving morning, 2014, Tim Carron passed away near his studio in Cold Spring NY. He was 66 years old. The Guided Chaos family lost a superlative practitioner, teacher and friend. The world lost one of its greatest artists, martial and otherwise. Guided Chaos creator John Perkins lost a very close friend and student of nearly 35 years. I personally lost a unique role model, teacher and friend of 8 years, whose influence far exceeded the fairly limited frequency of our interactions.
Many of my early lessons from Tim are chronicled in the first few years' posts of the Attack Proof blog, http://attackproof.blogspot.com/. I had to stop writing about my lessons with Tim when they started to get too deep and amazing to do justice to in words. After I learned to relax, flow with and observe what was going on, without speeding up, judging or trying to accomplish anything in particular (especially trying to impress Tim), the learning floodgates opened up. I was more and more amazed in each session by the effortless precision, attention to detail and limitless lethal elegance of Tim's movement. As I improved in Guided Chaos (ever so slightly, by Tim's uncompromising standards), I was able to perceive more and more of what Tim was doing to render me helpless, right up until my last lesson with him in November of 2014. The tiniest details of his movement (placement of a finger, synchronization of his body with my hand, and much more), when broken down in explanation, were so simple and logical, yet so powerful and seamless in execution. In each and every lesson, Tim exposed me to a new level of effortless simplicity and sensitivity.
Uncompromising is an apt word to describe Tim. He was uncompromising in his learning, execution and teaching of Guided Chaos, as well as in his other major area of artistic expression, photography. His devotion to John and his teachings was absolute, and he pursued excellence in Guided Chaos with a single-minded passion that cost him dearly in other areas of his life but resulted in unmatched speed of progress and depth of knowledge, even though John was just starting to figure out how best to teach Guided Chaos when Tim first started working with him. Indeed, while training with John and practicing John's recommended exercises helped Tim learn Guided Chaos, working with Tim helped John learn how to teach it. Once John started to force Tim to teach as well (Tim was quite reluctant at first, being naturally shy of the limelight), the gifts spread even faster to the Guided Chaos family. Tim never strayed from unforgiving REALITY in his teaching, making sure to impart the importance of mastering the Guided Chaos principles in efficient movement, lest the student risk death in combat. I did not know Tim well enough to write with any authority about his combative experiences in Vietnam and elsewhere, but suffice to say that those experiences certainly informed the seriousness he brought to his learning, practice and teaching of Guided Chaos, and his lack of patience for anything that he felt moved the practice of the art away from combative reality.
Tim was uncompromising not only in his martial and photographic arts (as well as other arts such as gunsmithing, metalwork, Chinese medicine and calligraphy), but in his friendship as well. Forthright and honest in his thoughts, teachings and assessments, a friend could always count on Tim for REAL advice and help. Tim's extreme sensitivity extended far beyond his hands into his listening and all his interactions with people. Tim's advice could often be subtle, a product of its nuanced truth and Tim's efficiency with words as with physical effort. The long and short conversations on a variety of topics that usually accompanied his Guided Chaos lessons imparted at least as much wisdom as his hands physically did.
Tim's passing leaves a gaping hole in the hearts and training of many Guided Chaos practitioners. Those who never got to train with him will never understand the experience of those who did. They'll never feel the baffled, helpless, confused feeling in themselves that accompanied the sometimes amused, sometimes concerned, always caring, penetrating stare of Tim's pale blue eyes. It can be frustrating for his friends to realize that Tim's unique abilities, personality and generosity will never be widely known or appreciated, as Tim eschewed the spotlight (it took John's insistence to convince him to be filmed for the Guided Chaos Contact Flow Workshop DVD) and never sought fame or fortune from his art. Indeed, this was one aspect of his refusal to compromise its purity and reality. All we can do is simply our best to ensure that his and John's teachings get passed along. We may not be able to replicate what he could do physically and psychologically, but we can try to recall and transmit his lessons as precisely as possible. In the classes I teach, I don't believe a class goes by in which I don't mention at least one thing Tim said or did to me once upon a time. Though our sessions and conversations were far less frequent than I would have liked, the body of lessons and knowledge I amassed from Tim is vast and deep, as it is for all of Tim's students and friends.
We miss you terribly, our friend and teacher, and will do our inadequate best to pass along your wisdom. Your positive influence on countless lives will echo far into the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your lessons and friendship.
"It's not possible to truly appreciate how phenomenal Tim's skills were unless you experienced it firsthand. My few private lessons with him left me awestruck, having sensed the lethality that he could have unleashed at any moment had he chosen to. His passing is a great loss for the art."
"Working with Tim at "teaching speed" was like being moved around by butterflies; really powerful, scary, prehistoric butterflies. Any other speed (or if you stopped paying attention or started injecting your ego into the exchange) felt like being thrown into a cement mixer full of hammers and baseball bats. You rarely realized how much you were learning until you were back training with the rest of the group. Most folks who had trained for a while could tell when you had come back from a lesson with Tim."
"...John reminded me of the story of when I went to get a sonogram for my gallbladder the tech ask me if I was in a car accident due to her finding internal blunt trauma. Three days before I was in a class with Tim and happen to go a little too fast. Which you and many know is a big mistake when moving with GM Tim. The car accident I was in was Tim 's light tap to my side to slow down. The Tech didn't believe my story..I told her could you imagine if he didn't like me..lol..I will always miss him he introduced me to the art and I will always be grateful."
Tribute to Mary Ann Piscionere Carron
"Mary Ann was a 3rd degree black belt..She had a zest in life that always showed in her eyes...A great cook who shared many meals on many occasions with all of us...She cooked along with Tim and was the perfect hostess...She could flow effortlessly when training and was a patient teacher...Deep thinker who could talk about any subject...A true hearted and loyal friend...She is missed..."
Tribute to Greg Madison
Gregory Joseph Madison (1961 - 2013)
Gregory Joseph Madison, age 52, of Hastings-on-Hudson died Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Gregory was born February 14, 1961 in Yonkers, NY the son of Roger and Josephine (Otivich) Madison. He was employed as an Electrician for Local 3. He is survived by his beloved companion Sharon Wilson, his loving children Kevin Daniel Madison and Kristyn Madison. He was the brother of Christopher Madison and Stephen Madison.
Greg was a gifted and devoted student of John Perkins and Guided Chaos, attaining the rank of 3rd degree black belt on top of his already formidable training in Close Quarters Combat under the legendary Charles Nelson. Greg was also instrumental in helping find the old Hastings American Legion Hall Guided Chaos dojo location.
A relentlessly dedicated and happy warrior, Greg was always ready for an impromptu workout outside of regular class, either in his home-built gym in his basement or in the parks around Hastings. Many of us had some of our best workouts doing Contact Flow with Greg outside along the Saw Mill River just off the Parkway.
His training paid off. He once was attacked on the street by a gang of thugs and he wrecked them all like a human tornado.
Greg was taken from us way too soon and will be sorely missed.
Tribute to Stathis Kaperonis
"Stathis Kaperonis was one of our best. He was taken from us far too early in a tragic freak accident.
I remember the first day of training with him. He was a young man of 12 years. He had strong charisma and was a natural athlete. Stathis was big for his age and had shoulders that were nearly as wide as my own.
Stathis was large enough in fact that he trained with full grown men. He was so skilled that within a year of training he was able to work with many of our most advanced instructors. His appetite for KCD was voracious. At first when he would move with the adults I thought that he was being foolhardy and had a lack of understanding of the danger of training with the amount of speed and force he would use. Later I found that he actually was just plain brave. He fought like a young lion.
He was adept at all forms of training from Eleftheri Pali to advanced weapons training.
Whatever he was presented with he worked out to the maximum at all times.
There were a couple of years where as a teen he traveled in Greece and Europe and fought with quite a few high level martial artists. There was one particular man in Athens who was a top full contact karate champion who fought in Europe who fell to Stathis within a few seconds of their engagement. The only comment made by the champion was that Stathis had no recognizable style and tried again only to fall even faster.
Training with Mike Tyson's sparring partners at full contact for many months gave him a higher level of confidence. I remember him striking at breakneck speed with punches that would take down even the largest fighters. At that rate of speed it was only the fact that myself, Tim Carron and Thomas Barnett were able to absorb at a high level that kept us from serious injury."
Brian, Stathis' brother in law, wrote:
"…he was a wonderful, big hearted person who loved life and all people and always, always respected the art that John taught him…he surely is missed everyday."
Tribute to Ron Hoffman
Master Ronald Anton Hoffmann (1948 - 2014)
Founder: House of TaiJi
"Sifu Ron Hoffman was a true natural in martial arts...Recognized highly by Grand Master Yamashita and the renowned Wayson Liao...
Ron was a most formidable fighter and teacher of Tai Chi Chuan and was a true warrior in the best sense all of his life...
When I met him in 1971 I had a very small idea of how to do Tai Chi Chuan...Master Drew Miller introduced me to Ron at that time...
Ron bounced me with a true one hand push/punch from seemingly nowhere...I flew up and back about 12 feet into a closet door and my hand broke the wooden molding at the top...I felt nothing until I hit...
On another day I asked Ron how would it be possible for me to fight with my short reach...He said that I should just use my whole body as a weapon...A light went on in my head and with what Ron said along with what I learned from Master Miller and advice from Grand Master Liao some primary elements of KCD/GC were born....
Ron was generous and tireless in his teaching...
He will be sorely missed..."
Tribute to Carl Cestari
Carl P. Cestari (1958-2007)
World-renowned close combat scholar, master, and instructor Carl Cestari died at his home on July 23. Carl was undoubtedly the world’s foremost authority on the WWII-era close combat methods pioneered by Fairbairn, Sykes, O’Neill, Applegate and others.
I first met Carl long ago when we were both close combat students of WWII Marine Charlie Nelson in New York City. Carl would come to Charlie’s with his training partner (Bob Kasper, RIP), and when they weren’t picking Charlie’s brain they would practice combat judo throws, driving each other hard into the threadbare carpet, making the old brownstone tremble. Charlie would just shake his head and smile.
But I really met Carl a decade later when I and some close friends (several of whom are now respected instructors of Carl’s methods) were invited to join him in his basement (also known as “the dungeon”) for some intensive close combat training. We trained hard, once or twice a week, for years. The training was simple, direct, no-frills close combat—just what worked. (Don’t even think about not wearing a cup!) No self-defense or martial topic was out of bounds; Carl would dissect and analyze any technique, situation, or experience we’d bring up—stripping it down to its essentials, cutting out the BS, showing how to make it work under stress. Beyond mere technique, Carl opened my eyes to the attitude, intensity, and level of commitment required to defend oneself for real.
The dungeon itself was a sight to behold, containing all manner of unusual and specialized training devices: from unique spring-mounted targets for practicing tiger claws, chin jabs, axe hands, and foot stomps, to suspended dummies for recreating Fairbairn’s “mad minute,” to homemade “Simunitions” (non-lethal marking bullets) for close-range point shooting in strobe-lit darkness. If Carl thought it might possibly give him a training edge, he’d try it.
Carl believed that any part of the body could be a weapon, if you trained it—and he did. Once, when asked about the viability of a finger jab, he simply stepped out into the hall and drove his fingers through the wood paneling. That’s how he was. Though an irrepressible story teller and always quick with a joke, he had little patience for those who talked the talk but didn’t train. Getting hit by any part of Carl felt like getting slammed by a steel bar—yet he had the control and precision of a surgeon.
Carl was a world-class authority on all aspects of hand-to-hand combat and self-defense. His personal library was jammed with thousands of books, tapes, obscure military and civilian manuals and reports—many quite rare. An indefatigable researcher, he would spare no effort in tracking down an elusive book or seeking out anyone alive with old-school training or experience. In turn, he was sought out by people the world over for his expertise and willingness to share and teach what he had learned the hard way. (The late close combat scion Col. Rex Applegate himself was very impressed by Carl’s abilities and knowledge. One of the many “road trips” I took with Carl was to meet with Applegate.)
A gifted instructor, Carl knew how to reach and inspire. He knew just what to do to make sure every studentgot it. He came alive when he taught. Few realized the intense physical pain that he often battled. When he stepped onto the floor or the mat he would just shake it off and smile. He was one tough SOB. His blend of good humor, charisma, intelligence, and hard-core toughness bred a fierce loyalty among his students.
There’s no way to repay the debt one owes an instructor and friend such as Carl. For the hard training, the expert instruction, the stories, the road trips, the days spent searching for rare books, the seminars, the good times, all I can say is thanks. Rest in Peace, brother.
- Al Tino
Note: Clint Sporman, one of Carl’s most dedicated students and instructors, has put together a memorial site containing some of Carl’s web writings and a few video clips (you might even recognize a few faces): www.carlcestari.com.
I was introduced to Carl Cestari by my first close combat teacher, Al Tino. I have little to add to what Al has said, beyond pointing out that to have known and trained with Carl, even just intermittently for a few short years, was a unique, cherished, life-changing experience. What always struck me most about Carl (yes, even more than his iron hands) was the man’s warmth. In stark contrast to his reputation as a master of armed and unarmed mayhem, Carl was an extremely kind, open, passionate and compassionate human being. Despite the cold, efficient, merciless pragmatism of the combat methods he taught, he managed to get across extremely deep lessons about honesty, righteousness and simply being a good man. Anyone who would attempt to judge his total personality based on his aggressive, in-your-face written and video instructions of close combat would be WAY off the mark. He truly taught others both to kill and to love. Thanks for the lessons, Carl.
- Ari Kandel
Tribute to Bill Dempsey
We regret to inform you of the sudden passing of martial arts master Bill Dempsey who was a friend to many of us here in John Perkins' school. He was a humble and gentle man that always had a kind word of advice or inspiration the many times he came to one of our seminars. He will be greatly missed.
The following is courtesy of Steven Permuy:
9/27/1949 – 9/21/2005
"Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character."
There's always a story…and my introduction to Bill was by way of one. I was a lowly student at a North Jersey Jujitsu dojo (or school), and I was one evening practicing technique for an exam I was taking for my "green" belt. Then I heard someone, like an old uncle, comment on an aspect of what I was practicing. Rather than plainly tell me exactly what I was not doing optimally he went into a story where HE was the student practicing the same technique, but this time we hear the foreign sounding voice of his teacher's teacher (a diminutive Japanese man) who despite having his head turned away was able to hear what was not being done correctly.
You see, Bill was a great story teller. And telling a story was his device for including you in one of his many diverse and exotic life experiences-whether it was the martial arts, photography, the Air force, secret service, his two girls, counterintelligence equipment, his travels to far-away places, fast cars, computers, people he knew, and those he loved and called his friends and wife.
Talking about Bill [here today] reminds me of the movie "Big Fish" with Albert Finney. It's a story about a son who is trying to learn more about his father by piecing together the stories he has gathered over the years.
You asked Bill a simple question and rather than provide you with a pithy statement, he would take you on a journey through one of his many anecdotes and life lessons, replete with a prologue, dossier on the protagonists and antagonists, climax, outcome, but most of all, he would lead you into a world laden with conspiracy and intrigue that would somehow tie back to your initial question. By the time he was done, though, you may have forgotten the question you asked, but he left you with many mental snapshots, postcards, and restaurant match books for your collection.
Bill enjoyed sharing what he had, and apart from material things, he wanted you to experience the bliss and achievements he lived and sometimes, serving as a lesson, to be one step ahead of his regrets.
He always wanted to put you "there."
If it was about the Fire that occurred in the study of Nixon's San Clemente home in 1970 when he was on detail with the Secret Service, you were there;
If it was about the first Cuban MiG to defect to the United States and be clandestinely secured at Homestead Air Force Base, you were there;
If it was about how Bill saved Lloyd's of London millions of dollars in executive kidnapping claims in the 1980s through his technical security consulting services, you were there;
If it was about how in 1977 he founded a satellite Jujitsu club in Florida that became the largest membership base for the International Federation of Ju-Jitsuans; you were there;
When Bill brought one of his daughters to London and as a piece d' resistance had her taken by chauffeured-driven Rolls to a local fast food restaurant; you were there;
When Bill described how he serendipitously discovered, his dovetail and soul mate, his soon-to-be wife, Agnes, who was experiencing most of what he was going through in that moment of his life, he made sure you were there.
Bill was James Bond's doppelganger AND the shopper at Lowes Home Improvement that made the employees think twice about what they were recommending. (He was quite fastidious and usually right.)
He was an ebullience of generosity for those who were lucky enough to be called his friend (yep, he was generous to a fault); and he was a champion of people's talents and a gadfly to mediocrity.
In the martial arts Bill was a liaison and impresario of many fellow teachers and systems, respectively, along the east coast. And he didn't care what "style" you "played" so long as he felt you were good enough to back him up in a dark alley with two-by-four wielding maniacs.
He had about ten patented phrases that he would use as conjunctions or connectors to his story-telling. He would use them so colloquially and frequently in speech that I dubbed them "Bill-isms" and Agnes would help with their cataloguing. However, at this moment in time, and as much as I'm trying to think of all of them, I can only think of one: "Back at the barn."
So, "back at the barn" I got my green belt and Bill became my mentor and friend all the way through my black belt and beyond.
Bill's rank and designation in Jujutsu was Shihan, which to many martial artists is a revered title given for tenure and contribution to a particular martial art.
Now I'm going to give you a brief Japanese lesson, but there's a point to it, so please bear with me.
The "han" in Shihan means "an example, model or pattern." The "shi" in Shihan means teacher or master. So Shihan denotes a master teacher, a model for the art and student. Shihan Bill, as he was called by his fellow martial artists, was a master teacher, not because of his gift of technique or his famous stories that were used to quench a question but because he was selfless with what he gave. And to what end? Well, like the CEO of a company that proudly encourages his or her salespeople to earn more than him or her as a barometer of the company's success, Bill wanted those around him to be better than him, and that's the true distinguishing character of a Shihan.
Bill gave me my first hakama (a Japanese pleated skirt) and my first black belt. I will always think of him. And when I'm called to instruct that technique that served as Bill's introduction to me, I invariably find myself repeating his anecdote with the same verve and vibrancy about his teacher's teacher to a student rather than just plainly pointing out that the back foot should be nailed to the floor when you pivot.
I sent Bill an e-mail Thursday night as a final good-bye. I also thought that if there was chance of him replying, he'd have one heck of a story to share.
He was made Renshi Shihan (Shichidan-7th) by Mike DePasquale, Sr, in Yoshitsune Ju-Jitsu
(He started with Mike, Sr. in the late sixties when he was still in high school, and as far as I know, Mike, Sr. was his primary Jujutsu teacher, although he did interact with Saul Cohe-Mike Sr's, first black belt, and Soke Sensei of Tsugiashi Do Jujitsu-and Dennis Palumbo of Hakkoryu Jujutsu.).
Yudansha ranking in Kodokan Judo via the USJA
Yudansha ranking in Shorin-Ryu Karate
After Bill left high school he got a job as a photographer working for what is now the Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY. Unbeknownst to him at that time, he was given "government" clearance to photograph field projects that were funded by the federal government. As Vietnam reared its ugly head, he proactively enlisted in the Air Force, but rather than going on with his enlisted class he was sent to an Air Force base in Texas for two months where he waited for an assignment. During that time, he was teaching Jujitsu to security services, which was part of his dossier and a factor in his new assignment. Due to his prior clearance and martial arts background he was "loaned" to the Secret Service while being trained in various Air Force support roles. (As he explained to me, he worked for the Secret Service but was on the Air Force's payroll.) He was trained in Fire & Emergency services, electronics, as a support pilot-the guy behind the main pilot-on transcontinental flights (don't recall the jet type), and as a physician's assistant, to name a few.
If he was on detail in California, he would fly back via an Air Force jet to Florida where he was based (usually taking controls over the Midwest to give the primary pilot some rest time). After being discharged, around 1975, he was able to parlay the contacts he made in the military and in Federal government service into an enterprising business based in Miami that offered Surveillance Counter Measures, Technical Security Consulting, and Personal Protection. (He told me he did personal protection work for Hall & Oates.)
As a hobby, Bill liked to refurbish desktop and laptop computers, play with his home PBX system and the last thing he was toying with was voice recognition polygraphy equipment.
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