Practice jiu jitsu with a laughing heart.Junji Saito (1884 ? - 1988)

There's lots of reasons to avoid fighting, so in addition to combative skills, the program teaches confrontation management: avoid, deter, control, escape and minimize injury.

Aggressors are usually experienced fighters, but if a program makes a straw-man of them, students are set-up for failure. This program trains students to confront opponents by learning something about the fighting skills they're likely to face.

The program empasizes "why" techniques work in addition to "how". By focusing on principles-of-action, students will be better able to recover and adapt when their first defense fails. They'll also be better able to improvise when encountering an attack they haven't specifically trained to address.

Students will learn to handle situations specific to their age group including bullies and abduction avoidance. They'll develop physical skills useful not just in martial arts, but also in many athletic activities. They'll learn problem-solving and attention-to-detail by diagnosing what others are doing wrong, and develop a sense of responsibility and community by helping teach less experienced students.

Many in this age group are disrespectful to others while ironically accepting what they are told at face value. Since trust is a safety liability, one goal is to flip this perspective: Respect should be given, but trust must be earned.

Most of the time, aggressors will disengage once they realize they're facing an opponent rather than a victim, but the force needed to convince them will change with the threat level. Choking an attacker unconscious might be the right defense in a home invasion, but probably not against a wedding guest who's had too much to drink.

The military develops non-lethal crowd defenses for use by soft-targets like embassies. Their goal is to simultaneously deter and escalate. Thinning the crowd buys time to initiate an escape and prepare additional defensive strength. It reduces the enemy's size and gauges the severity of the threat: Those who stay behind probably require an escalation in force.

Here, the focus is on de-escalation techniques which don't inflict serious injury, but can cause a persuasive level of pain and/or cause temporary disorientation. There's also an introduction to escalation techniques which cause specific injuries that can end the fight instantly, but which also heal without leaving a disability.

After students demonstrate their ability to remain level-headed and control the force applied, more advanced techniques are introduced. Techniques are covered which can easily sprain or dislocate a joint, or remove an opponent's ability to continue by attacking the nervous and cardio-pulmonary systems.

To defend against a weapon, you must learn to use it, so weapons training is covered extensively. Emphasis is on stick, knife and improvised weapons, and on empty-hand equivalents of those same skills. Training rapidly switches among different weapons to learn the FMA concept of "one technique, any weapon".

Students will be asked to take on teaching roles. This is critical to developing the proficiency needed to use what they know in a real confrontation. Those interested in moving from practitioner to instructor will study academic topics like anatomy, physiology and physics.

Two of my instructors taught well into old age, adapting their skills to their diminishing physical abilities. I’ve had plenty of personal experience adapting to orthopedic injuries, and have come back from years effectively disabled by back pain.

I have extensive experience teaching students with arthritis, back issues and limitations from previous orthopedic surgeries. Everyone can learn, often to a degree that surprises both of us.

The goal is to develop confidence that they don't need to concede without a fight. The skills covered will be developed on a case-by-case basis as we learn where their limits are.

My name is John Festa. I hold teaching certificates in jiujitsu, escrima and kempo. All were earned from masters with international reputations. I've been training for over 40 years and teaching for more than 25:

I've cross-trained in judo, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, taekwondo and multiple systems of both jiujitsu & escrima. I've competed in full-contact Filipino stick fighting and in taekwondo in the black belt category.

I earned an engineering master's degree from Rutgers. Engineers are trained to apply science to solve problems. I used it dissect, improve, and re-engineer the techniques I was taught.

These are my current rank certificates

Some factoids about my teachers:

Newark - 1992: Professor Jay and Sensei DePasquale.
Italy - 2015: World Kyusho Summit
1992 - Newark, NJ
Prof. Jay & Sensei DePasquale
compare the techniques of
Small Circle and Yoshitsune.
( Using me as the crash test dummy )
2015 - Ronchi, Italy
Teaching a grip release
using the fingers as a wedge
to distend the wrist joint.

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