A Voice in the NELA Wilderness
by Christopher Nyerges
It’s a Wednesday night in Eagle Rock, and while many businesses are closing for the day, things are just getting started at the Arnott Kenpo dojo on Colorado Boulevard. Mark Arnott, a 5th degree black belt, directs the dojo with the help of another black belt instructor, Angelo Cervera.
I watch as Cervera shows a student how to move forward and backward, how to strike and block, and how to move with balance. Cervera is a bear of a man, but he moves with grace and speed.
“You don’t need to know hundreds of moves,” Cervera tells the student, demonstrating four basic blocks: to his right, up and down, and to his left, up and down.
Cervera practices the Shoto-Kai style of martial arts and has been training with his teacher, Steve Beal, for 15 years. He believes it is far better to train the body with simple moves and to practice them than to learn dozens of complicated moves that are better suited to martial arts displays on television.
“You’re not going to remember all that stuff,” he tells his student. “So, keep it simple. If you need to defend yourself, you’re going to act very responsively, so you want to train your body to respond automatically – and that comes with focused practice.”
Cervera’s disciplined approach is rooted in his diverse background. Born in Pasadena, his parents are American Indian and East Indian; he served 16 years in the United States Navy as a combat engineer (12 of those years in the reserve). He served in the Gulf War, followed by four years in the U.S. Forest Service. Then he served again in the Navy in Iraq.
“The physical standards for the Forest Service were much higher than in the military,” he says, since fire-fighters often go into rough and unchartered territory. “I learned the qualities of hard work and leadership in the Forest Service,” he says, “and the great value of camaraderie.”
These days, Cervera’s many interests and talents include survival skills and motorcycling. His day job is as an inspector of building projects for the County of Los Angeles. But his love is martial arts and teaching the fine art to others every Wednesday night in Eagle Rock.
For more information, you can contact Cervera at email@example.com.
Nyerges is the author of “Foraging California,” “Extreme Simplicity,” “The Self-Reliant Home,” and other books.
For information on his books and classes, go to www.SchoolofSelf-reliance.com...