Sifu Joseph Simonet
My training in martial arts reflects the degree to which I embrace the spirit of the white belt. I was a student until I was 46 years old, continuously striving to resist the comfortable accolades of the "expert role".
My martial arts journey starts in 1972 when I was a Senior in high school. Compelled to seek a new frontier in the development of my physicality, I began in the traditional Japanese Butokukan system of Karate. Although I remained with that discipline for only a year, it laid a foundation of fundamental understanding within me.
In 1973, I transitioned to Tracy's Kenpo Karate. Shortly thereafter, the grandmaster himself, Al Tracy, started training me and this dialectic lasted until 1989. I studied several other martial arts systems simultaneously during the 1970's. Some of those schools include Goju-Kai Karate Do, headed by Sensei Gogan “The Cat” Yamaguchi, whose early training occurred in Kyoto, Japan. Hung Gar Kung Fu (a southern Chinese gung fu system) at the Seattle Kung Fu Club under Sifu John SS Leong. In 1977, I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and trained Tae Kwon Do under Master John Worley, John Longstreet and PKA World Champion Gordon Franks. I started studying Non-Classical Wing Chun in 1982, a school heavily influenced by Bruce Lee who was a resident of Seattle at the time. (Bruce Lee later would star in several Hong Kong based films such as Enter the Dragon, Fists of Fury and authored several books most notably The Tao of Jeet Kune Do). I trained with several of Jesse Glover's students (who was trained by Bruce Lee) and I trained with a student of James Demille's named Sifu John Beall. He was owner of Greenlake Wing Chun. Other people who trained with Bruce Lee were Taky Kimura who owned grocery stores in the Capitol Hill area and Ed Hart, who had a foundation in boxing and street fighting. That year, I made my first mook jong (wooden dummy) after witnessing a demonstration from the Wing Chung Do perspective. In '83 I began my study of FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) which involved use of rattan sticks, joint locking, and an exercise called hubud lubud.
The 80's for me brought several opportunities for seminar training with some of the world's great masters, because Seattle, Washington was a melting pot of numerous martial arts systems. I participated in dozens of seminars in the 80's and 90's taught by such notables as Guro Danny Inosanto, Salem Assli in the art of French Savate, Professor Remy Presas (The Father of Modern Arnis), Grand Master Ed Parker in American Kenpo Karate and Master Wang Kiu from Classical Wing Chun. Master Wang Kiu was an Original student of Grand Master Ip Man from 1948. GM Ip Man left Hong Kong to escape communist rule of Mao Zedong who was the Chairman of the Communist Party. I also attended a grappling seminar with Larry Hartsell who was a notable Boxer, Kenpoist and longtime friend of Danny Inosanto. I partook in a Wing-Chun seminar in upstate New York with Frances Fong from Atlanta, Georgia. He was from a Wing Chun /JKD/ Jun Fan perspective. I participated in a Master Chai Sirisute seminar in Muay Thai, which is an indigenous Martial Art from Thailand. I also trained in three seminars from Pendekar Paul DeThouars in Denver Colorado, and trained with Uncle Bill DeThouars and Victor DeThouars as well. In 1974, I attended a seminar with PKA undefeated heavyweight champion Joe Lewis, and that year I was given the unique chance to spar with him in Kirkland, WA. He was an untouchable kickboxer who was clearly toying with me, but I will always cherish the experience. I was afforded the opportunity to once again train with the PKA Heavyweight Champion in Bellevue, Washington ten years later.
In 1986, I attended a weeklong seminar learning the 108 Classical Mook Jong sets taught by Master Wang Kiu. Following this, I was invited to learn Classical Wing Chun from Dr. Khoe at the University of British Columbia, Canada. There, I continued training the 108 Mook Jong sets as well as footwork, Chi Sao and Sil lum Tao. This education became the platform upon which I built the "Slam Set". I later learned the second empty hand form of Wing Chun, called Chum Kiu from Herb Maier. In 1986, I started training in Tai Chi Che from Lillian Susumi. Then, in 1992, I moved to Manitou Springs Colorado to train Pentjak Silat Tongkat Serak with Guru Bob Vanatta and Maha Guru Victor DeThouars. I became Guru Bob Vanatta's first ever Guru in that system. I continued my study of Pentjak Silat from 1992 to 2000. In 1993, at McNichol’s Arena (home of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets), I was seated ringside at UFC 1. At this event, I was privileged enough to meet Paul Vunak from Progressive Fighting Systems (PFS). While in Colorado, I studied and became certified in Yang Style Long Form by Dr. John Candea, who was an Herbalist and Doctor of Acupuncture. I practiced wrestling with the Manitou high school wrestling team for a season and learned amateur boxing from coach Ed Weichers from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While in Colorado, I taught hand-to-hand combat as part of the criminal justice program at Denver Business college located near Boulder, Colorado, home of the University of Colorado Buffalos. I created the program and syllabus for this course, which is currently used by the State of Colorado.
In 1994, I moved back to Washington State and started training in Doce Pares under the tutelage of Chris Petrilli, whose instructor was Cacoy Canete from Cebu City, Philippines. I trained with grand master Chris Petrilli for 10 years at his Filipino Martial Arts Academy-- my black belt certificate number was 001. My wife and business partner, Addy Hernandez traveled with me on numerous trips to Sedona, Arizona, where Master Petrilli lived. I was invited to become a personal private student of Yang Style Long Form Tai Chi with Master Gao Fu from Mainland China. I studied under her for approximately a year. Master Gao Fu’s Internal Arts Mastery was completely mind-blowing. As I recall, Master Gao Fu was also an expert in Chen Style Tai-Chi. After that, I gave up the role of student so I could fully embrace the role of teacher, and this station has continued to lead in some compelling and unforeseen directions.
Rank acquired by Sifu Joseph Simonet to date:
- Kenpo Karate 9th Degree Black Belt (45 years)
- Non-Classical Wing-Chun/Classical Equivalent to Black Sash (34 years)
- Phillipino Martial Arts 4th Degree Black Belt Doce Pares
- 2nd Degree Black Belt Canete’s Escrido (33 Years)
- Tai-Chi Yang Style Long Form Certified Instructor since 1993 (30 years)
- Pentjak Silat Tongkat Serak 2nd Degree Black Belt (24 years)
- Combined Total Years of Training (167 Years)
After 27 years of martial arts training, I finally recalibrated from the role of student to the role of teacher. In 1997, I opened a multidisciplinary school in Wenatchee, Washington, and during the 17 years my wife Addy and I have operated it, we have taught students ages 3 to 75. Even though '97 was the opening of my school, the opening of my teaching career really came in 1999, for several reasons. First and foremost, this was the year I built my first VHS tape with Paladin Press (www.paladinpress.com). Fittingly enough, the subject matter of this video was the Slam Set. It was my own training system for a modified Wing Chun Mook Jong (wooden dummy). The Slam Set incorporates several essential elements of pre-eminent martial arts methodologies, such as Wing Chun Kung Fu, concepts of Kenpo Karate, Pentjak Silat, Filipino Martial Arts, Muay Thai, Joint Locking, Grappling and Tai Chi. Addy and I enjoyed a 15 year run with Paladin Press, making over 20 productions with them. Their catalog featured us on the cover 5 times and they allowed me to capture some of my greatest work of that point in my timeline.
The second pivotal event that happened in '99 was the GOE or Gathering of Eagles in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the brainchild of Grandmaster Al Tracy himself. A combination and culmination of several martial arts systems related to the lineage of Kenpo Karate, over 2,000 Black belt-level students attended this event. The GOE was held at the historic Tropicana Casino on the Vegas strip. My partner, Miss Addy Hernandez and I were also invited to guest instruct at the annual Water and Steel training camp held on Labor Day weekend. The camp is located one Raft Island near Tacoma, Washington, surrounded by the vast Puget Sound. This is the event founded and run by Datu Kelly Worden from NSI (Natural Spirit International). The fourth career-changing event that year was when Addy and I were invited to Denver, Colorado for the Silat Family Gathering hosted by "Uncle" Bill DeThouars.
In 2000, I founded the Wind and Rock training Camp in Chelan, WA. My vision was to create an excellent annual martial arts training camp that would bring together some of the very best martial arts instructors from around the world. Notable guest instructors included
- Burton Richardson (JKD unlimited), from Honolulu Hawaii
- Matt Hume (AMC kickboxing) from Kirkland, Washington
- Guru Bob Vanatta from Colorado Springs, (home of the United States Olympic training center)
- GM Chris Petrilli (featuring FMA) from Sedona, Arizona
- Datu Kelly Worden, from the Modern Arnis System based on professor Remy Presas,
- Lamar Davis (Hard-Core Jeet Kune Do) from Oneota, Alabama
- "Uncle" Bill DeThouars from Denver, Colorado.
- Ivan Salaverry, (UFC middleweight champion) from Ontario, Canada
2015 will mark the 16th year Addy and I have hosted Wind and Rock.
In 2002 I started working with Velvet Revolver, an All Star Super Group of Slash, Duff McKagan, and other members of Guns N’ Roses (GNR) along with Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots (STP). Velvet Revolver and I were featured on VH1 "Inside Out" where the story of forming the Band was told. I later went on tour with Scott Weiland and STP. In 2006, I was featured on Inside the NFL on HBO during Super Bowl Sunday, along with Bryant Gumble and Mike Utley. Our show was repeated all week long prior to the big game and again on Super Bowl Sunday, and was later thought to have been seen by 50 million viewers. The focus of this program was the training, life coaching and rehabilitation I had been doing with Mike Utley, who had suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury. Other T.V. appearances of which I was involved were ESPN 2, OLN’s (Outdoor Living Channel) FEARLESS and a regional production from the Pacific Northwest called “Evening Magazine”.
The year of 2006 was also a very eventful and surprising year for me. During this time, Addy and I were invited to fly to Shanghai, China, after I had been collaborating with Scott Heimberger. We had a 2-week long stay as we performed several workshops and training seminars with such varied groups as The Wu Shu Academy of Shang Hai and the Anti-Terrorist Police task force. While there, we also presented at the Alvin Guo School, who was the two-time national Wu Shu champion of China. One of the hotels we stayed in was on the Bund, at the very famous and Historic Peace Hotel.
Also during 2006, I took a divergence from martial arts and started applying my teaching and movement work to the corporate consulting world. I co-wrote the Core Values in Action Program with Rick Lash from the Hay Group, located in Montreal Quebec, Canada. We used this program with Actelion Pharmaceuticals out of South San Francisco, California, as part of their team-building protocol. Shortly thereafter, I also took on the responsibility of life coaching and personal training to the upper management team of the company. This adventure took Addy and I to some lovely and exotic locales, such as Dana Point in Orange County, California, San Francisco at Cavallo Point, The Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Cliff House in San Francisco, Sedona, Arizona, Austin, Texas, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Amelia Island off the coast of Florida. We also worked in Central Park, New York, where the three rivers meet in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. We took the Core Values in Action program to Valley Forge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and did a program in the suburb of Phoenix, Arizona called Scottsdale. We also worked at the Fairmont hotel in Toronto, Canada and at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California. Addy and I continue to be involved with Actelion today.
Along the corporate consulting vein, I have had the privilege of being vetted as a presenter and speaker for a company called Vistage International. They present exclusively for CEOs, Presidents and owners of companies that have at least 5 employees and a net worth of at least $1 million. We hosted several Vistage International events at the Wind and Rock training facility in Chelan, WA, at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, WA, and several events in Leavenworth, WA.
In 2012, taking another surprising detour off my beaten path, I began a business partnership with Brett McDonald, a mental health therapist specializing in eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Together, we developed a program that utilizes martial arts movement therapy, life coaching, somatic-experiential therapy and a new psychological paradigm called Relational Exchange Therapy. We now hold 8-day inpatient recovery experiences at Wind and Rock, and we call this program The Dragonfly Retreat (www.thedragonflyretreat.com).
Addy and I began writing a monthly column for Inside Kung Fu Magazine appropriately called “Ki Fighting Concepts”. We started our monthly column in 2006 of which lasted for over five years. They featured me as the Hall of Fame "Man of the Year" in 2011, after Addy was featured as "Woman of the Year" in 2008. The only other married couple to have that distinction was Bruce Lee and his wife Linda Lee-Caldwell. IKF also named me their Hall of Fame Instructor of the Year in 2009
I have published two books, "The Slam Set" by Unique Publications. Copyright 2007, and "Silat Concepts: Form and Function" from Paladin Press, Copyright 2004. Interestingly, on Amazon.com our book Silat Concepts has sold for up to $800.00 used and $2000.00 new.
Some may dismiss Addy Hernandez as just another pretty face; buff and bodacious, she sports the hard-earned physique of a woman who takes her training regimen seriously. But make no mistake: the hours she has racked up at the gym are not just for show.
Hernandez is all about fitness with function, power with a purpose. A seasoned martial artist, Hernandez has trained under the direct tutelage of Joseph Simonet, founder of Wenatchee, Washington-based KI Fighting Concepts, since 1994. From the beginning, Simonet saw a special spark in his new student and encouraged her to enhance her training by making weekly visits to a Filipino stick-training gym in the Seattle area. At the same time, she was training in Kenpo Karate and following the KI Fighting Concepts curriculum, which included studying Yang-style T'ai Chi and meditation in Simonet's mountain dojo.
It was a grueling schedule, but the hard work would result in multiple black belts. Today Hernandez is a 5th-degree black belt in KI Fighting Concepts, a 4th-degree black belt in Doce Pares under Master Chris Petrilli (being the second person ever to receive a black belt from him), a 4th-degree in Tracy's Kenpo karate, a 2nd-degree black belt in Escrido under Grand Master Cacoy Canete, a certified instructor in Yang-style T'ai Chi, and a full-time martial arts instructor and part owner at the KI Fighting Concepts headquarters.
Following Simonet's lead as a world-renowned innovator and teacher and aspiring to follow in his footsteps, Hernandez continues to expand her knowledge and abilities by stretching her mental, physical, and philosophical boundaries. She promotes, organizes, and teaches at Wind and Rock, one of the fastest growing, most highly acclaimed martial arts training camps in the country. She has also been an active participant in Simonet's many public appearances and seminars coast to coast. In June 2005, Hernandez was honored to appear on the cover of Inside Kung-Fu magazine.
A highly accomplished martial artist in her own right, Hernandez has made frequent appearances in national martial arts magazines and television shows, including Inside Kung-Fu, Black Belt, Women's Self-Defense, Masters of the Filipino Arts, and VH1. In 2008, Hernandez was voted "Woman of the Year" by Inside Kung-Fu Magazine. In addition, she has collaborated with Simonet in producing, promoting, and starring in numerous martial arts training videos. The success of these videos encouraged Hernandez to branch out as a voice in the martial arts.
Fight Like a Girl is Hernandez's first public attack on the commercialism of "personal security". Most recently Hernandez has completed a video on Filipino Weaponry. She plans to follow these projects with several more self-defense videos. Widely viewed as a complete and successful martial arts practitioner, Hernandez has embraced the spirit of the white belt: forever the student. She understands that for both men and women, the road to personal security is lined with hard work, dedication, a continual desire and willingness to grow, and she utilizes the foundational platform of realistic martial arts training as a template for advancing this concept.