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Company: Bayani Warrior Group LLC
Owner: Guro Mike Pana
Web Site: http://www.bayaniwarrior.com/
Contact: bayaniwarrior [at] gmail [dot] com
“I knew that various cultures had martial arts associated with them, but I knew of nothing associated with my native culture, so I asked my father about it. He recommended Arnis (which is another name for Kali). I was instantly intrigued, and began to learn everything I could about it.”
– Mike Pana, Bayani Warrior Group LLC
My martial arts journey began as a child. I was picked on quite often by bullies and there were not many athletic venues I was drawn to. At the time, my younger cousin had a heart condition and she died at a very young age. Since we grew up very close to each other, this left a void in my life – I wasn’t sure what to do or how to make myself more productive and valuable. To build self-confidence and help with the bullying problem, my parents suggested martial arts training. Of course, everyone at my age watched and was influenced by the TV program, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, so I was immediately interested.
I began my martial arts journey in a hard-style of Japanese Karate known as “Shukokai”. Upon receiving my yellow belt, I fell in love with martial arts. After my Karate phase, I became interested in Bruce Lee’s art of Jeet Kune Do. I had read a lot about Bruce Lee and his style and since I felt karate was too rigid, I wanted to explore JKD further. I really liked the fluidity of the style and its dynamic nature.
I knew that various cultures had martial arts associated with them, but I knew of nothing associated with my native culture, so I asked my father about it. He recommended Arnis (which is another name for Kali). I was instantly intrigued, and began to learn everything I could about it. I sought out books and videos on the subject, and happened upon a coupon for a local Jeet Kune Do and Kali school that opened near my home. My mom signed me up and since there was no kid’s class, I had to train with adults. I was 12 years old at the time.
This training continued until my freshman year in high school. Due to my mother’s job promotion, my family and I moved to Thailand. It was there where I began to study Muay Thai there under at different camps. During holiday breaks, my parents would fly me out to visit the Philippines, where I continued my studies in the Filipino martial arts.
When I was about 16 year old, I moved back to my hometown in New Jersey and returned to my Jeet Kune Do and Kali training. Then, 9/11 happened. As a New Jersey native, it hit close to home for me, in more ways than one. I saw the smoke from the towers in the horizon from my neighborhood. Many of the kids in my area had relatives who were directly affected in the attacks. I started thinking about what I would do if I were on one of those planes. So, I wanted to train in something designed to be more effective against real attacks with and without weapons. This led me back into the sphere of Filipino martial arts. I began to focus 100 percent of my efforts on learning as much as I could about the Filipino martial arts.
Upon entering college, I became acquainted with the an executive board member of the university’s Filipino cultural organization. He asked me to share my knowledge of the Filipino fighting arts with the organization as a cultural art form and resource. I began to teach Kali at the college recreation center. At this time, my college friends and I were training and we did not have a formal class system or name – we were just a collection of friends training in martial arts. During the Winter Break of my sophomore year, I went back to the Philippines to participate in a volunteer effort building homes in the mountains for poverty-stricken families. The local kids for whom we were building homes for called us ‘Bayani.’ I began to learn that the word Bayani means ‘hero.’ The name reflected what I wanted our training group to become: training people to become better at defending themselves and protecting our community.
It was around this time that I learned about a Kali system known as Atienza Kali. Atienza Kali is a very realistic FMA system which started in New York City. It had a more contemporary, modern, and tactical feel. At this time I began studying under Daryl Atienza.
My current instructor is Tuhon Carl Atienza, the current head of the Atienza Kali system. Along with his brothers Tuhon Allain Atienza and Tuhon Darryl Atienza, the Atienza’s have used the art in real combat situations. I am now an associate instructor in the Atienza system.
In Summer 2011 I was fortunate to became ambassador for Sayoc Kali, a system that has had the biggest impact and influence on the Atienza Kali system. It is also the strongest and best-organized FMA system on earth. Pamana Tuhon Christopher Sayoc is the head of the system.
As far as my firearms background is concerned, I am learning as much as I can about firearms and their combative use. I’m from New Jersey (not the best state for 2nd Amendment rights), so I began my study of firearms during my trips to Texas. I believe my skills are not complete unless I could handle firearms. A good friend who is a detective and street cop offered me private lessons on conceal carry techniques. In terms of personal training, I think the next level is mastering the complete circle of force from empty hand to firearms.
I offer an edged weapons course through Bayani Warrior – it’s called the Edged Weapons Survival Education course. It is designed to educate those involved in security, law enforcement, or concealed carry the reality of edged weapons attacks. Individuals benefit from the course since it teaches the reality of edged weapons on the street. We teach it from the perspective of the attacker, and demonstrate basics as to how to defeat an edged-weapons attack in a variety of means from open-hand to transition to a firearm.