10 Questions with Jamen Zacharias
The Combative Corner is proud to introduce to you, a wonderful martial artist, teacher and man, Jamen Zacharias. Jamen is the founder of the All Things Institute (ATI) in British Columbia, Canada. He has a diverse background with expertise in Jeet Kune Do, edged weapons and swordsmanship. For more information on Mr. Zacharias, please visit his homepage at PathOfRest.Com (you may also click on his image above) or you may click the following link to visit his YouTube Channel.
- Was Jamen always interested in the martial arts and when did the passion begin? There have been basically 3 distinct phases of my interest and passion for the martial arts thus far. The 1st was my introduction, which began very young. I watched a double feature at a Drive-In with my parents. I was, maybe in grade 2. Chuck Norris was in the first flick and Bruce Lee the 2nd. The potency of Bruce was very obvious to me, even as a very young boy. We lived in a small town up north, so beginning formal study would not occur until I was in grade 6, after moving to another town. I started 1st in Karate. I did not choose a life long pursuit towards relative mastery or to teach until I was around 19 years of age. This ushers in the 2nd phase which began during a period I was very ill. I have suffered with severe Crohns disease. I eventually required a long string of life saving surgeries. It was during some of these difficult periods that I decided I would strive to walk a path of martial arts development, as fully and completely as I understood. I was largely physically unable, yet I had made up my mind. During this phase I began my most influential art of study, Jeet Kune Do and the sophisticated weapons training of Kali. I began training in these arts around 1992/93. During the first 6 to 7 years, I was basically honing my mentality and skills around the ideal of a proficient street fighter. A basis of raw functionality was being heavily ingrained in me during that time period. I worked in the security field for many years, as an officer and senior doormen, experiencing weekly mild-to-severe altercations with violence, sometimes involving edged and impact weapons and multiple attackers. In 1995, I was certified to teach and granted Full Instructorship in 1999 from my Jeet Kune Do teacher, Thomas Cruse. Thomas is a highly regarded teacher and exponent of the arts, also a close partner to renowned JKD/Navy Seal instructor, Paul Vunak. After an additional 10 years of training and teaching as a Full Instructor, Thomas certified me as a Senior Full Instructor in Jeet Kune Do and Kali. This was a great honor for me to receive from him. It was during these initial years that I began to pursue a hunger for spirituality and purpose. This culminated in me investigating the essential reality of all the major world religions and my becoming a follower of the Baha I Faith. Becoming a Bahai, inspired me to re-examine my understanding, expression and purpose for training the martial sciences. My practice at the time was becoming somewhat at odds with the direction I was striving to take in my life. From then, began another decade into the present, of on-going study and research, striving to understand essentially, how force becomes the servant of justice, and not a mere destructive tool of the ego. This is what has led into what was later called Path of Rest.
- What martial artists, athletes, styles have had the most influence on you? All of my martial arts teachers have had important influence on me, after that, of course Bruce Lee, James Lee, Dan Inosanto, Morihei Ueshiba and other greats were very impactful. Much inspiration and direction comes from the essential figures of the BahaI Faith, Baha u llah, Abdul Baha, Shoghi Effendi and the written guidance of the Universal House of Justice. I also gain a lot from consultations with my friends, students and training partners.
- How does someone develop the body and movement sensitivity that you have? I call this, learning to Read, Feed, Utilize and Dissolve, Energy, Pressure and Intention. It was not until I tried to develop according to a set of key precepts or principles that my abilities in these areas were more noticeably enhanced. I wished to be able to control a person in close quarters effortlessly and ethically, without triggering them or myself, into impulsive resistance, reaction or escalation. I strove to moderate and appropriate my uses of energy and manipulation of force. Doing this involves consideration of not only physical practice, but a striving to enhance the influence and awareness of ones inner dimension upon your skills. Your inner condition should be calm and composed, not allowing lower impulses to steel the helm of your actions, such as fear, desire to display or competiveness. In addition, impulses of retaliation, dueling or temper loss are striven to be avoided. Moderation of ones use of force is an important principle that guides against excess, which is a cause of escalation or resistance. Moderation in ones manipulation of force is more conducive to expressing the virtue of justice. Justice or the progressive expression of ones inherent potential nobility should never be sacrificed for a mere expression of an art or a style. This is a problem nowadays, as the art has often become more important then the being that expresses it, however, in reality, the art is to serve the being and all of humanity. Sorry for getting side tracked…To control and occupy a person’s centre, as in centre mass or centre of gravity is vital. There are several ways that this can be done. One may do it with a continued forward pressure, causing the recipient to back peddle. This is exampled in the Jet Chun Choi or straight blast, which consists of a minimum of 2-3 straight punches down a person centre line. The other way, which is the way I have focused on for some time now, is too basically ‘offset or bump and tip’ the persons centre. This is a subtle way, that causes the recipient to constantly have to adjust there posture to find balance, yet it is less abrasive and very subtle. It is done in such a way that causes what I call the ‘State of Bewilderment’. This means instead of them being triggered into a bodily reaction, they are in a way bumped into confusion. Confusion, by its nature, exists in the realm of thought, which is above the realm of bodily impulses, and therefore is more conducive to greater influence and lesser bodily triggers of escalation. To utilize pressure and energy while in cohesion with another’s body and limbs (and there energy) is a key to being able to offset and control there centre of gravity. Often when people practice flow hands, they only get to a certain level that is basically to act out the particular motions of the drill that they are using to practice. They are going through the motions, yet are not really progressing. The practice of the motions of a drill becomes confused for being the purpose. (When I say drills, I am referring to energy training like; chi sao, lop sao, harmonious spring, sumbrada, hubud or push hands). The drills movements are only a small percentage of its purpose and inherent benefits. The drill acts as a means to suspend a continuum of pressure, energy and lines. Many do not contemplate what they are striving to achieve with that pressure and energy, therefore never become aware of the secrets that can be discovered within there practice. An important hint is this: Cohesion (between two bodies, limbs or both) creates pressure and energy, or at least the means to read or be sensitive to pressure and energy. From this energy and pressure, the means is provided to control the recipient’s centre, preferably through bumping and tipping it in a subtle manner. If you moderate your use of force and become content with the use of little over excess, you will be on to something… another hint, is to avoid grip… I call this ‘no grip shifting’. You will rely 100% on the cohesion caused by pressure and energy, and 0% on gripping and grabbing. This will also cause you to moderate your use of force, and distribute it more carefully. Not sure whether any of what I saying will make sense, but it may for some? Also, our training drills should make one familiar with the various lines that are possible in close quarters, such as forward, back hand, straight hand, high, mid and low, eliminating the need for any visual cues, but pure adaptation based in feel and unobstructed flow of skill.
- Does Path of Rest have its own form or kata? There are currently no forms or kata in Path of Rest. I would not haphazardly add or create a form. If so however, it would likely be adapted for reasons to aid control of breath to initiate inner calm, which is conducive to better communication and emotional control, as well as the longevity aspects of practice, like unto Yoga. However, I am not qualified in this area at all, maybe one day. My wife is a diligent teacher and student of Yoga, and I enjoy evaluating her insights as she learns.
- Where does a beginner start in your system? I usually teach Flow Hands first, to get the ball rolling and key elements of the art identified. This is however, only if they are committed to the process. If I am teaching course modules however, for short term clients, such as for Personal Protection, Body Control Tactics or Protective Service Professionals, then I do not approach them as martial artists. I try to teach key elements that are transferrable and absorbed quickly for there needs. I truly feel though, that professions such as Law Enforcement should be practicing and learning these arts on an on-going basis, whether they are interested or not, as part of professional mastery. I feel this should include further considerations such as prayer, reflection, meditation, consultation and constant perfection of peaceful communication and conflict resolution skills that should be taught regardless of interest. For the everyday individual, male and female, young and old, I feel learning to defend ones self and to move a persons body weight is a skill just as important as your basic drivers license, Level 1 swimming, basic first aid and food safety. These courses however, must be carefully developed, avoiding the need for memory recall under stress and must be adaptable to a variety of situations, concerns and professions not just life preservation.
- Being on You Tube, you probably deal with your fair share of criticism? What effect does this have on you and how do you deal with it? My experience with YouTube has, thus far, been good, as it has opened me up to meeting many new friends, such as yourself (Michael Joyce). I also appreciate the creative outlet. I have experienced my share of criticism. In the beginning, it was an adjustment dealing personally and professionally with those that feel inclined to put down others and their work. Hiding behind the keyboard is easy. I respect those that are able to voice their thoughts in a considerate manner. It is saddening to see how cruel people can become when behind their keyboard. I try not to be hurt by negative remarks. I am also trying nowadays to not get blown up by the good remarks either, just try to keep it all in check. There is so much skill, talent and great people all over the world, willing to share and connect can be a great thing. It assists in demonstrating that we are one human family, learning and benefitting from each other’s strengths and contributions, worldwide. On a personal level, my phone number and location is now all over the internet, if a person wants a genuine conversation with me, the medium is available to do so, just call me… I am open to that!
- How did the Path of Rest come about? Path of Rest came about through several factors and influences, some of which have already been mentioned. The name Path of Rest however came about by accident. I was writing an article I called the ‘Path of Counter Locking Qualities’. It started by listing 4 qualities that represented a step along the path of counter locking skill as I saw it. The first was resistance, which represents the natural instincts and impulses that are engaged when someone has force applied to their limbs. The natural thing to do is resist. This reaction, at this point, though effective to a certain extent, is not based in intelligence, learning, or skill, but pure instinct and brute force. The second quality, I termed explosiveness. This represented the beginning of learning, and applying technique, like unto the 2nd stage of the 3 stages of cultivation mentioned often by Bruce Lee or in D.T. Suzuki’s commentaries on Zen in the art of swordsmanship. This realm or level has some natural flaws, due to the tug-of-war occurring between the lower realm of instinct, and bodily impulse, and the higher realm, which is based in the faculty of thought and the exercise of learning. The 3rd level on the path was subtlety. This level was in away equal to the 3rd stage in the 3 stages of cultivation, which is like unto attaining ‘no mind’ fluidity or emptiness in the art. This is when your mind and body is now functioning at a high level of skill without the obstructions of thought or bodily impulse. Technique at this level is therefore very effortless and potentially very subtle. Transcendence is the 4th level. It is in a way, what I called the ‘3 Stages of Cultivation, Plus 1’. The reason is, one can be in every way an expert, having no obstruction of mind and body and be in complete command of their craft, yet still be carried away by the insistent self or ego, and therefore, be unjust, cruel and in every way selfish. Transcendence therefore represents the striving of the individual to bring the command of their craft away from lower aims and tendencies to dwell in the divine attributes of spirit, nobility, virtue and holiness. When these divine realities are at the helm of our actions, they are subject to new rules and realities that are not trapped in the realms below. It is a marriage within our actions of sciences and crafts with the will of our Creator. Each paragraph of that article had those qualities listed at the heading. When I was finished writing, I looked at the heading of the article, which said the “Path of Counter Locking Qualities” and the Headings going down the page of the article reading, Resistance, Explosiveness, Subtlety and Transcendence and it was then that I saw it! The “Path of R.E.S.T.” Of course the article is addressing much more then counter locking, but universal principles. I fell in love with the name Path of Rest and it’s progressive meaning. The one major flaw with the name however, is that it is not self explaining.. I wish it was at times, but trying to explain it is part of the learning for me, so it’s all good.
- What are your favorite books on the martial arts and why are they your favorite? I am blessed with a fairly large, growing library of books. I love to read and study. As I have mentioned, I glean the most from scriptures and sacred writings. I read the Gospels, Torah, Quran, Gitas, Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching, First Nations Wisdom and of course the many volumes of BahaI Writings. I enjoy works written in regards to Bahai principles, precepts and themes, such as the oneness of religion, progressive revelation, the essential oneness of humanity, the harmony of science and religion and many others. I do love good martial arts books, and I have over a hundred of them, however the good ones can be few and far in between I feel now days. I have enjoyed reading or rather studying, “Zen and Japanese Culture” by DT Suzuki, “Tao of Gung Fu” an unfinished work of Bruce Lee, or works by D.F. Draeger. I have enjoyed reading about Aikido and its founder, as I feel it is a remarkable process that was involved in realizing its philosophy. Though no, I do not and have not practiced Aikido, as many have speculated, but I love its philosophy no less. I love good books on Tai Chi Chuan or Swordsmanship. I am not really interested in current books on MMA or there respective fighters. I have studied many books on Jeet Kune Do and I have many books on Jeet Kune Do. I truly feel Jeet Kune Do philosophy is a beautiful and potent contribution to the martial arts. I also feel there is yet much more to be potentially gleaned from it then has thus far been generally realized, especially when applied alongside of clear, ethical purpose and guidance.
- [removed] will relist later.
- Outside of martial arts, what does Jamen like to do? What is Jamen passionate about? I enjoy hiking, learning barefoot jogging with my dog, driving in the wilderness with my 4×4 Jeep, spending time with my beloved wife and friends, reading, discussing the wonder and mysteries of life and the universe, riding my bike, listening to music, prayer, reflection, meditation, writing and working with people, watching a good movie with popcorn.
- If Jamen Zacharias was an existing video game character, who would he be and why?I have never played a video game yet, or not since Pac Man and Space Invaders came out ha ha. I love the Hulk as a character though…. If you look for it, it showcases the universal battle with ones lower impulses, our degraded behaviors, our loss of temper, our destructive impulses and fears… I think I can identify with that?
I would truly like to express my sincere thanks for the opportunity to express myself in Chen Center’s, Combative Corner. I feel the questions were thoughtful and compelling. I enjoyed answering them very much and hope the readers are not too bored or impatient with my long windedness. In Peace and Gratitude, Jamen Zacharias
You are very welcome Jamen. It was a pleasure!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE !!!!