{October 4, 2005}  

So I went to California last weekend to compete in the Cold Steel Challenge. It is a knife and sword competition held in Ventura, California. I actually did pretty good. This year it was only Larry, Roberto and I that went. I was a little reluctant about leaving, seeing as there was the huge hurricane lined up towards the Texas coast, aimed right at where my entire family lives. But Rita took a turn north, so it all worked out fine.

So the first day was knife. We got there and they announced that it would be a single elimination tournament since there were so many competitors, about 52 in all. Of course, I was the only girl there. We knew that we had to take care of business so we wouldn’t have flown 1,000 miles for nothing. I won my first fight that day and lost my second. The first guy I fought felt pretty sheepish and said he hadn’t heard the end of it from his buddies that “the girl” beat him.

The second day was the sword competition and there is some controversy to go along with it. My first fight, #28 was my opponent. Well, they called for him and no one came. Apparently, #28 had celebrated a little too much the night before and was puking in the bathroom. So the match went to me. The second fight I had was with Carl Atienza. And I won that match. Well, what I found out much later was that Carl Atienza is one of the caretakers of Atienza Kali. The guy charges $300/hr for private lessons, just to give you an idea of how big the guy is in this system. Well, I also found out later that Carl was saying that he let me win, and that Lynn Thompson, the president of Cold Steel not only condoned it, but also commended him for it, saying “it was the gentlemanly thing to do.” Mind you, in my third match which was in the top 8, the big Filipino guy from Bahala Na did not let up at all, and I came home with several bruises. Now, I would have so much rather have been typing in this blog that the great Carl Atienza of Atienza kali “schooled” me at the Cold Steel Challenge, that I learned so much from this instructor and caretaker of a system. Is it being a gentleman by withholding your knowledge just because I’m a girl and have much less experience?? On top of that, by letting me win and letting me advance to the next round, wouldn’t there be a large possibility that I could have gotten seriously injured? That doesn’t seem so gentlemanly to me. But what would I know? I’m a girl and I have little experience. 2 strikes in the martial arts world, and I’m waiting for the third. But out of 52 guys, I did make it to the top 8. So there.

Nonetheless, I did have a really great time in California. Berto and Larry are always fun. I also enjoyed hanging out with Larry’s instructor, Ron Balicki and his wife Diana Lee Inosanto, and just the whole crew in general. They are such great people and have so many interesting stories to tell. Plus, the Cali weather was such a relief from the extreme Texas heat. I just wish I had more time to sight see. I’m just always fighting and don’t have time or the means to get away from the tournament.

It was a learning experience all around. I just hope I can go to California some day and not come back with so many bruises.


Arthur says:

Way to give those “boys” a good old Texas ass whoopin’. Hope you are doing well. Take care of yourself.

Anonymous says:


Sounds to me like you held your own against the “boys”. Also sounds to me like Atienza was perhaps “saving face” because he got schooled???

If in fact he did let you win, he isn’t doing anyone in the martial arts field any favors by segregating how he would spar a woman vs a man.

Anonymous says:


I think the best ‘schooling’ was given to you if you wish to see it. It is not difficult to see that a high level instructor did not wish to embarass you, his system, or himself by overwhelming you in front of a crowd. It was less about you being a female but due more to your lack of experience.

Why would anyone with a sense of dignity want to have the injury of a beginner on their hands for the sheer ego boost of winning a sporting match? To teach you a “lesson”. Well, there’s more to lessons than the physical.

If you sought further education in Atienza Kali, a competition is not the place to find it. Try a seminar and it will open your eyes about the realities of your match.

The lesson here is about showing sportsmanship, after all, Guro Carl did not taunt or make you look foolish in your match. He just allowed you to work your techniques and show the crowd that you are competitive. There’s no shame or dishonor in that. He travelled a great way to compete and it was unfortunate for all parties that there was no advanced division.

And ANONYMOUS is just stoking the fire, it is obvious he has no idea that the person who actually won the CSC was one of Guro Carl’s STUDENTS.

I think that fact tells us more about who you were paired up with, no?

Hope to see you next year.

Anonymous says:

I can see why you were disappointed, it is tough in the martial arts for females who have something to prove, almost no one gives them that chance.

But as an instructor for over 30 years with over half of that in FMA I can tell you, beating down a student who wants to learn is rarely the best method to teach them. If you where learning from Guro Carl as you say you wanted, the sparring that he did with you would most probably be the speed you need to learn.

Now maybe you are just saying you wanted to do this for “learning”, and in reality you have other motives conscious or unconscious.

But if it was learning, he went at the speed where you can learn the most. I am trying to be fair and unbais although I know Guro Carl, he is a good man and teacher, and feels badly that the exchange between the two of you, left you with this feeling.

He was more than capable to crush you in the tornament, and maybe he should have gone harder than he did, but he should not have given his all, it also would not have been good for either of you.

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