Dr. Dom Lopez Dr. Dom Lopez started teaching Balintawak in Victoria in the early 1980s. He learned the art from Master (Attorney) Jose Villasin in Cebu in the early 1960s. Since that time he has instructed many students in Victoria, some of them having significant accomplishments in other martial arts. He now teaches a private class when not traveling. Senior students of Dr. Lopez (presented chronologically) include: Kerry Hillier Michael Zimmer Mike Puckett Richard Chan Greg Nardi Bob Holland Chris Cunningham Torrie Miller Steve Ratch
Michael Zimmer Michael Zimmer started training in Karate in the mid-1960s, and except for a hiatus of several years in the late 1970s, has been a martial artist since them. He started training with Dr. Lopez in 1984, and has been with him continuously since then. He has instructed in the club since for most of that time.
Steve Ratch “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” I first became interested in martial arts when, as a kid, I saw Jackie Chan in movies. I wanted to be able to move like that. So, when I was about thirteen, I started with Hungar Kung Fu. When the teacher closed his school, I started Jujitsu with my friends. Then I was off to college, where I trained in Shotokan Karate and White Crane Gung Fu on different nights of the week. Eventually I went to Japan as an English teacher, and studied Kendo while I was there. When I moved to Victoria, I decided that I had had enough of starting over in a new style every year or two, as a beginner. I wanted to pick one style, train hard, and finally ‘master’ something. Fortunately, my exposure to such a wide sampling of styles had left me convinced that kung fu was the style for me – balanced skills, a wide range of techniques, and moves that could be made to work for different body types. After calling or visiting four or five different schools, I had my first conversation with Chris Cunningham over the phone, and a private lesson with Bob Holland. My friend Melanie and I both decided that this was the school for us: not too big, not too formal. The school had a friendly atmosphere, and a beginner could already take 6 classes a week (and even up that number once he or she achieved higher belts, which we did). In those days, we signed in on paper, forming a line ranked by belt level, with me at the very end. Over four years, we trained four or five days a week, improving our fitness levels, our coordination and reflexes, learning to kick, to breakfall, to grapple. We learned how to let go of enough ego to ask for and accept constructive criticism, how to help others learn, and that everyone, from the veteran blackbelt to the raw beginner, could teach you something if you were willing to learn. Other students came and went, and we made many friends. Then, one day, as we were signing out, I found myself at the head of the line, as the highest ranking student present that night. It was a special moment for me, the first time I truly became aware of the progress I had been making. After dabbling in so many different styles, I was finally getting good at something. After training with Chris, Bob and Rodger (who was pretty much a blackbelt long before he was tested) for four years, I received my blackbelt. I was proud of myself and grateful to my teachers, but I didn’t feel like an expert martial artist. At that point I realized that the belt was just another milestone on my chosen path, and that I could spend a lifetime traveling down this road. Since then I have continued to train in kung fu, teaching classes Thursday nights, and training in Escrima with Dom and Mike, which is a style that I find dovetails nicely with my kung fu, helping me to close off weaknesses in my fighting style. If some of my fellow martial artists are any indication, I still have decades left with which to improve my skills, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.