Students from numerous local karate academies had the opportunity to learn self-defense techniques from a well-accomplished martial artist last Tuesday night.
Tuhon Gaudiosa Ruby, who is the founder of COMUKUJA-Kali systems and the Filipino Martial Arts Hall of Fame, came to the Foothills Kung-Fu Arnis Academy with the objective of passing down the knowledge she has learned from nearly 50 years of experience.
Ruby taught two classes on Tuesday at the studio on West Main Street — one for kids and one for adults.
“I hope to give them my legacy. Everything that I have, I can’t take it with me, so I leave it to them — kind of my way of passing my knowledge to them,” said Ruby. “Self-defense is so big and you’ve seen what I teach.”
Currently residing in El Paso, Tex., Ruby was born in the Philippines and began to study martial arts in her teens.
Ruby has training in both martial arts and law enforcement self-defense and has a long list of accolades, which started when she earned her first black belt back in 1970 and became a grandmaster in 1989.
While this was Ruby’s first visit to Wilkesboro, she’s been teaching seminars up in Boone for the last 25 years under Tuhon Rick Ward.
Ward also happens to be the teacher of Master Jason McGuire, who is owner and master instructor of the Foothills Kung-Fu Arnis Academy.
According to McGuire the two met at a hall of fame ceremony but he could not remember which one.
“I met Tuhon Rick Ward in Ohio and asked him to spar with me. I knew that he wanted to be a master, so I told him to sponsor me and then I’d go ahead and test him and I’ve been going there ever since,” said Ruby.
On Tuesday, not just McGuire’s students from Foothills were in attendance but several other Kung-Fu Arnis Academies joined McGuire’s students. Some of them included Winston-Salem’s Blue Ridge Kung-Fu Arnis Academy — Foothills’ sister school — and also schools in Statesville, Morganton and Mountain City, Tenn.
And McGuire felt having someone of Ruby’s caliber come to teach the students was something special.
“It’s a great honor for them and I was really happy to have her here, especially since she was driving through with her teacher and student Guru Brian (Gillis), who has family in Chapel Hill,” said McGuire.
McGuire and other Foothills instructors teach their students a style of Kung-Fu known as Sil-Lum.
According to the academy’s website, Sil-Lum (or Shaolin) means “hard work done over a period of time.” Sil Lum Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art that originated in Shaolin temples hundreds of years ago.
Although the exact origins are difficult to trace, the birth of Sil-Lum Kung Fu is usually accredited to the Buddhist monk Boddhidharma, who introduced the 18 Lohan movements to Shaolin monks as a form of exercise.
These movements eventually gave rise to the five animal styles hat Kung Fu is famous for — Crane, Leopard, Tiger, Snake and Dragon. Practitioners of any of these styles mimic the movements and assume the fighting spirit of the animal.
But above all, McGuire wanted his students to take away one thing from Ruby’s teachings.
“I want them to see that martial arts doesn’t have an age limit, doesn’t have boundaries. I mean, she’s 75 and she’s been doing it all her life,” said McGuire. “She first started training several other styles and she’s stuck to Kali, which is more Filipino-based martial arts system. She’s a very knowledgeable martial artist, very knowledgeable teacher. I can’t say enough about her — she’s one of a kind.”