John Geyston Online Interview

1. Mr. Geyston, your videos are very unique, can you give us some background information about yourself? Such as when you started training, what styles, with whom, and for how long?

Answer: I started my first karate class (Goju Ryu) when I was about 10 years old. My mother enrolled me mainly for a summer self defense course. I was the new kid in school so I was subjected to some bully tactics. I was a really small, 55 lbs when I was 10 yrs old. Then when I was about 15 years (1976-77) I wanted to try Karate again. This time I enrolled in Shorin Ryu. I studied there only about a year. Then for the next 4 years I played around with other friends that either boxed, wrestled or did karate. But the Big change came about 1981 when I enrolled in Shudo Kan karate. This time I was mature, ready for training and appreciated the arts more.

From there on out I was hooked. There was a club at the community college, with the main dojo in town. I studied almost every day of the week at the college and night at the main dojo. I was so hooked I even started cutting my college classes just to train and spar. The next semester (1982) my primary karate instructor at the college had to leave to take a job out of state. So the Master instructor at the main dojo asked me to team teach with another instructor and operate the college club. I loved teaching and now getting to train more. Wow, was I one happy guy. I then open my own dojo in 1984. Everything was great. In 1987-89 I strated attending more seminars I exploring other arts. In 1989 I started exploring Goju Shorei, at the same time I crossed trained Kenpo and also a hybrid system of Ju-Jitsu.

2. Can you please tell us a little about your style, Progressive Kenpo Jitsu. How did it come about and what’s it comprised of?

Answer: Originally I wrote the curriculum for me. I admit it was purely selfish reasons. When I created the style it was more for me and my current students. I really did not intend to create a system because I felt that my way was better or another style was needed. I was simply trying to record all the great techniques, theories and concepts that I had the opportunity to be exposed to in my training. Then naturally I started to analyze and dissect that information and make it work for me physically and psychologically. Then in order to teach that method I needed to design a curriculum and set of requirements that were written in a systematic, logical and cohesive method to communicate and grade the students.

Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu is based on the premises of the ranges and zones of fighting. Primarily the ranges and zones of kicking, hand strikes, elbow & knees, joint locks & controls, throws & takedowns and ground submission. The arts of Kenpo and Ju Jitsu are naturally the main influences and the core styles of the system. However there is also some influences from the other styles that I has studied over the years. I consider myself a martial artist and a product of my environment, my individual style and the Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu is naturally influenced by numerous arts that I have had the opportunity to train in over the years.

3. What is different about your martial arts curriculum as opposed to what is currently taught by more traditional martial arts instructors today ?

Answer: I love all martial arts and I think all arts, styles, and systems are great. But I also firmly believe that no one art has the answer to every possible situation. So my system and teaching theory is based on the principle of Integration. I take theories and concepts that compliment our base system. Whereas a majority of traditional styles stay within the realm of their system and preserve their founders art. So I think there are just different approaches to styles and teaching methods. Regardless I do not in any way feel one is better than another. There is no right or wrong just martial arts. Just what works for the student and helps them grow and meet their goals.

4. In many of the techniques on your video you would often serve up an “appetizer” for your opponent, then “the main course”, and afterwards “a little dessert”. You used quite a few techniques on your opponent. Some styles out there feel if you have enough power, you should be able to finish off your opponent with just one or two blows. Can you explain your thoughts about those two opposing points of view? For example, some Kenpoists will go in and use 20 techniques on a guy, while many TKD enthusiasts are taught that 1-3 techniques should be enough.

Answer: I like your terms and metaphors. I promote the use of multiple strike as other Kenpoists . However, I do not feel that is necessarily “reality”. I teach multiple strike theory for several reasons. The main reason is the ability to work through the ranges and zones.

Secondly, multiple strikes enhance the students skills to go with the flow. For example, I teach what I call “monitoring”. This is where you monitor the basic quads, both shoulders and both hips when working inside on your opponent. If the opponent reacts you must be flexible in your motion and technique to reposition or react. No one person has identical emotional and physical makeup, therefore all attacker may respond different. So needless to say monitoring makes your preset waza, a skill enhancing drill rather than a false since of security.

My third reason is fairly the same as the second. We have to give our attackers credit they may not surrender or quit only after 1, 2 or 3 strikes, that would be great if they did and hopefully you can achieve that, but it is not 100% for sure. Think of professional fighters, fighters that train everyday and are paid to knock people out. If a 1, 2 or 3 strike theory were absolute and reality, we would not have 15 round championships. Multiple strike theory allows us to be in position to continue to strike in such case rather than think “Help me Sensei”. I agree in theory that a proficient martial artist should be able to take out an opponent in 1,2 or 3 strikes,. But I have not seen that as an absolute. So training in multiple strike combinations I feel better equip us to respond and react in such cases.

5. What do you see are the advantages of combining a lightning quick, fast striking, hands oriented art like Kenpo, with Jujitsu? The reason I ask is primarily for the benefit of our readers. Many probably haven’t been exposed too this lethal combination of hitting a guy at blinding speeds, using that to soften him up, and then following up with wraps, locks, come-alongs, and submissions.

Answer, Most of your competent attackers or opponents are going to have to be loosen up or put in to position through strikes prior to applying submission type tactics. Kenpo striking theory from feet, hands, elbow and knees are great tools to enhance ju-jitsu control tactics and vice versa.

My theory here is that it is very difficult to walk up to a trained and competent opponent and simply grab them for a lock and submission. There is usually some form of interaction, most likely resistance and this is were Kenpo or other striking arts can enhance ju-jitsu and convince the opponent to loosen up and comply.

6. As fast as you are with your hands in your videos, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of VERY FAST and VERY POWERFUL kicks you used too. These weren’t “garden variety” kicks either, they were pretty awesome. Do you use kicking much, and can you discuss your thoughts about kicking and it’s effectiveness in the street? Also, what if a person isn’t a good kicker, can they still be effective in a style such as yours?

Answer: Will thank you for that compliment, that is very nice of you. I feel kicks are an underrated and an overlooked technique by the martial art community. Most martial artist and fighters have a misconception that kicks are not reality type techniques, where as I find them to be highly effective. I would probably agree that most people do not have the kicking ability to throw multiple head high kicks in a real life situation. But to say that they can not work for anyone is not real either. For example, Bill Wallace can use head high kicks for real, would he in a street situation is probably another question.

Personally I use multiple kicks on a middle and low line level, I can kick higher but am not a Superfoot. I try to use my kicks the same as I would use my hand strikes in Kenpo. In succession with each other, multiple combinations, contouring and tracking. Anything you do with your hand you should try to work in with your feet.

Yes, I think anyone can implement kicking as well as the other ranges into their fighting arsenal. My teaching theory with Progressive Kenpo Jitsu and The Complete Fighter Series is to make my style fit the individual. So I think anyone can find an effective fighting method in Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu.

7. What kind of training drills would you recommend to someone that wanted to develop the kind of hand speed you have?

Answer: Again thank you for the compliment, I do work drills, but not really for speed. I use the actual wazas through high repetition to gain speed. The main factor I tell students to increase their speed is to utilize their blocks and checks to feed the speed and momentum of their strikes when possible. I think speed development through actual fighting techniques is better. Muscle has memory and the nervous system learns through repetition.

8. What do you feel are the most effective techniques to use in the street? What are your favorites, and what do you teach?

I think all techniques can be effective on the street if properly used and developed. Personally, I like to fight more on the inside range, I like to use the low line kicks combined with rapid fire hand strikes to get in close for elbows and knees. That works for me. I think if students are taught the ranges and how to flow through those ranges they will then find what zone comfortably fits their personal fighting skills.

9. Can you briefly discuss the concept of “contouring”, and why you feel it’s so unique and effective?

Answer: Yes, contouring is a concept using the outline or silhouette of your opponents body as a guide to track to primary striking targets. I personally utilize contouring concept off of deflection blocks, or checks to ricochet my techniques to the designated targets. This is particularly important when engaged in the exchange of techniques. Specific strikes at certain targets usually make your opponent react in a desired or specific manner. For example, a common Kenpo combination is a hammer fist to groin, this 9 out of 10 times causes the opponent to lean forward setting them up for a rising elbow to face. That example demonstrates how “contouring” helps set up the continued flowing motion for your next strike.

The concept of contouring is also applied for leveraging, and tracking. Personally I favor contouring for 2 reasons. First, it provides me the multiple strike rhythm, the double beat. The ricochet effect of contouring feeds the flow of combination striking.

Secondly, whenever a limb is extended in an effort to strike, be it the leg or the arm. It leaves its natural environment unprotected. Wherever, the arms or legs rest you find a ample supply of very highly vulnerable target and pain points. Contouring allows you to track the silhouette of the striking limb to invade and attack that target area.

10. Unlike some other self defense styles that are very defensive in nature, your style appeared to be very offensive. Can you explain why and what the advantage is?

Answer: I have heard others make that same comment. I do not believe Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu is any more offensive than defensive in nature. It is defensive first, but my theory is once you sense, feel or know the attack is unavoidable. You engage. The techniques in the system and on the video series take on an offensive nature due to the theory that wazas and techniques basically attack their attack. We very seldom step back when countering or reacting to an attack, wazas always move forward or at angles and attack the attack.

11. Something that really amazed me about watching your tapes was the fact that while watching them, I started thinking of tons of other things to combine your stuff with. The possibilities were HUGE. It made me see how watching your tapes could really open ones mind, and increase their capabilities. Very few tapes, out of the hundreds I’ve watched, have done that. Why is that? Is it you, the way you teach, the style? How do you think you’re able to do that when tons of other instructors can’t?

Answer: Well I am very glad you felt that way. That was one of primary goals with ‘The Complete Fighter Series” , my seminars and at my studio. I use the wazas and requirements of the Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu system as a base and a foundation. But I want to promote individual thought and creativity.

Martial arts is an art form. Art is the self expression of the artist. The artist needs a base regardless if it they are a painter, a musician or a martial artist in this case. But after they have acquired the fundamentals and comprehension of their skills, it is their direction and self expression that makes them grow, their art grow and the growth of others that have the opportunity to be influenced by their art.

I think too often that it is lost in the vision of martial arts, the fact that it is an art form and means of self expression. It is my personal opinion that we can all learn and grow if we would just share . Rather than expect or demand that one art or one person is the single answer or better. I learn from everyone I come into contact with, somewhere with in a workout or discussion I try to walk a away with something that will make me grow as a person and martial artist.

That is what I want to accomplish with my tapes, my seminars and my studio.

12. Your style of fighting is very unique. Other than actual instructors from your past, who influenced you, are there any other video authors who you feel have the same kind of philosophy about fighting that you do? If so, could you name a few?

Answer: Well, I honestly believe everyone has something to offer and I can learn from everyone. But There are some individuals that have provided me so much insight, support and encouragement. Great martial artist like, Bill “Superfoot’ Wallace, who was the first person to open my eyes up beyond my first system. Michael DePasquale, Jr., who professionally believed in me way before anyone else did and encouraged and supported my work. His father Michael DePasquale, Sr., who is an incredible martial artist and Ju-Jitsu pioneer, and Danny Lane who is one of the most diverse and multi talented Masters I have had the opportunity to work with and share arts.

Other martial artist that definitely have had an influenced on my techniques and I think are fantastic and just love to watch work are; Professor Wally Jay, Joe Lewis, Keith Vitali, Joe Hess, Joe Bonacci, Silverio Guerra, Jerry Beasly, Jeff DeVore, Mike Albenze, Allie Albergio, Dan Severns, Phil Little, Joe Wilson, Terry Gay, Gary Williams, Jr. Mickey Wittikiend and Dave Fasig.

Sorry, (smiling) that sounds probably like a thank you list, but really I respect all of them and all the those martial artist have had the most impact and influence on my art and teaching.

13. The Complete Fighter Series was incredible, but now I want more. What’s next?

Answer: I have just completed the first 4 tapes of about 12 more that will cover the self defense requirements of “ The Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu International”.

My goal though is to make it much more than just another requirement system. I want to get more into detail about many of the theories I covered in the “ Complete Fighter Series” but also more on how to flow in and out of the zones and ranges of fighting. The area I want to really focus on is grafting. Grafting is the concept of combining and adding techniques to each other without interruption of flow and continuity. Those are the primary areas that I want to direct my focus. I want the tapes to be useful to everyone, there are martial artist that may not want to pursue requirements of the system for promotion. That is why I almost hate to refer to the new series as a requirement series, but the” Complete Fighter Series” was a blessing come true, it brought so much attention to the Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu, and now we have wonderful martial artist from all around the nation joining the system and increasing the systems popularity by advancing the theory of “Integration and Sharing”. So the tapes are an attempt to meet the request of those martial artists but still provide something back to the martial art community as a whole that has given me so much.

I still love traveling and conducting seminars. I get to meet so many great martial artist and share. That is the biggest advantage of the series. I plan to definitely continue the seminars. I love teaching at Karate Camps, because then I get to work in with other great instructors and learn more.

That is what my present martial goals are. I have a book that I eventually would like to finish and publish.

14. Anything else you would like to add before we wrap?

Answer: I just wanted to say thanks to United Fighting Systems and their video review committee for their support and the opportunity to talk today. I am very complimented and appreciative of the kind words and compliments so graciously offered throughout the interview.

I want to wish everyone peace in the arts and God’s Blessings. Hope we can all share and grow together!

John Geyston
Progressive Kenpo-Jitsu International

© 1997-2016 Martial Arts Video Reviews. All Rights Reserved.