Independent Martial Arts Blog
John Noonan is certified by Paul Vunak to teach Jeet Kune Do, the Filipino Martial Arts and the Rapid Assault Tactics.



            To whom it may concern, my name is John Noonan.  I am owner and head instructor of Independent Martial Arts authorized to teach Bruce Lee’s Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, the Filipino Martial Arts, and the Rapid Assault Tactics.  I have spent the last 30 years studying, training, and practicing under and with some of the best street combat martial artists in the world.  I have taken this knowledge and spent the last 10 years developing a system for the average person to become skilled enough to defend themselves or their families  with the minimum of time invested in case a critical situation arises.

            With that said, I would like to point out a growing trend in the field of self defense.  It seems that many instructors are studying a few different arts then taking their best moves from them and calling this a highly effective and easy-to-learn street defense even though they spent years perfecting these moves themselves.  Even worse are those who watch No Holds Barred combat and think it is the best way to fight.  Let me say if you put in the time, the hard training, sparring, and conditioning for at least a few years, you will become skilled at some of these systems, however, in real life threatening situations, there are no referees to stop the fight, the floor is not padded, and 85% of situations weapons are involved and/or there is more than one assailant!  The problem I found when training these students is that they think they will be defending themselves against someone who will be fighting in or close to the same manner as themselves.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  In a real life situation you can be sucker punch attacked by more than one person at the same time or hit with a blunt or edged weapon and most likely a firearm. 

            This is why everyone should have at least a few easy-to-learn moves that can take someone out of commission so that they and whoever they are with can escape easily.  I have spent the last 30 years researching the most effective and easy-to-learn and easy to maintain skills in street combat so a normal person with a busy schedule with little time to train can still pick up some moves that can help them.  They will also discover that training can be a lot of fun.  Also they are learning to move their bodies better which helps out with their health and fitness levels. 

            I propose to company and business owners that this system I now call Critical Defense Tactics (C.D.T.) could mean the difference between life and death in real self defense encounters.  Also, this is a great way to introduce the benefits of increased mental discipline, better body coordination, and higher fitness levels.  With that, I hope your company will take the time to have me come out for C.D.T. workshop.  I have found that most people not only find that learning C.D.T. is very cool, it could also save someone’s life!

For contact: (517) 861-7648


            John Noonan



I would like to say that I received some really great feed back from people on my first Law Enforcement article. And from new students after reading it they wanted to see just how to stop someone from taking a gun from them at close range, after they have grabbed it with both hands.

My regular students really enjoy seeing me demonstrate my close quarter street combat skills. It is this combat ability that people I teach and have taught most desire to have. Okay, back to what you should do if a bigger and stronger person suddenly grabs your gun with both hands and tries to pull it away from you.

First, I would like to point out that I have a CCW and carry a side arm 98% of the time. It was my gun instructor that drilled into me that all good people who can carry a gun, should, because if someone ever polls one out in a public place. Having your gun on you could be the difference between life or death for you and anyone else in the area.

Now that I’ve covered that, let’s get back to the last time I freely gave one of my best students a chance to take a weapon away from me. Let me point out that I’m 5’8 and 46 years old and he is 6’5 and half my age.

So in front of a small group class I told him to really try to grab the weapon. When he grabbed it and tried to pull it away the first thing I did is grabbed the top of both of his hands. Most people will do this instinctively. Second, with my killer instinct turned on full speed, I attacked his face with controlled head butts and in between them a verity of knees to the groin mixed with elbow and shoulder shots to the chest and arms, again mixed with shin and foot stomps! Even with his superior size and strength he and the others were shocked at how relentless and merciless my application of tactics was. Even with light contact to the body, arms, and legs I left no question to anyone present that had I used realistic contact, he would have been taken out very quickly. Ending his attempt to take my weapon away!

If a person is able to get your weapon he would have the ability to use it against you or anyone else around. That makes it a life and death situation that an officer must quickly end at all costs.

After that I find the most common question I’m asked is the same one asked by every law enforcement officer I’ve ever worked with: Why isn’t this taught to all officers? You see, 95% of every gun defense I and everyone I know has seen is two people trying to, under controlled training, to twist the gun from the other persons hands with fancy disarms and very little else besides some controlling maneuvers!

What I tell people is what they have seen is what we refer to as a naked drill. When you first learn something you isolate it and practice it until you can do it in a controlled environment. Most systems get people good at this and they call it a day. In the R.A.T. system it’s only the beginning stage. You train until you have the ability to attack simultaneously with any tool you have at any range, weather at high, medium, or low.

Once you learn the proper way to attack with all of your tools, all out you will be shocked at just how natural you become at it. This is what all Law Enforcement Officers should stride for, the ability to use their whole body as a lethal weapon only if need be.

In conclusion, I will say again that I could write a whole book on this subject and on the R.A.T. system. The main thing I wanted to point out is that if you at least train once a week you will begin to develop skills that could save your life and the lives of others around you in case something bad happened. So, try it and I think you’ll be shocked at how good you will become.


Law Enforcement and the Reasons Why They Need Quality Martial Arts Training!

Let me first say that I have the highest respect for law enforcement officers and the job that they are asked to do every day. However, recently, a law enforcement officer from a nearby city was shot and killed after a suspect wrestled his gun from him.

This reminded me of all the television shows I have watched like “COPS” and “Most Shocking Police Videos”. Many times you see one, two, three and sometimes more officers trying to take down one suspect sometimes a female suspect. It is shows like this that has caused people in my family, my friends, and students to ask why after seeing me training and demonstrating how to control and take down much bigger and stronger men than myself why police seem to have such trouble at times.

First, I would like to point out that officers have to worry about disciplinary action and civil liability. I have researched material that Paul Vunak has on the subject which he has been training the U.S. Military and law enforcement for over 30 years. Let me say first that I could write a whole book on this subject but I will just touch on the most important parts of it now.

Rapid Assault Tactics (R.A.T.) is what Paul Vunak developed for our East Coast Navy Seals. Because there is so much contained within Jeet Kune Do (J.K.D.) and Filipino Martial Arts (F.M.A.) you could spend an entire lifetime trying to experience it all. Because there is so little time to allocate to martial arts, Paul Vunak streamlined the most important elements into a program that could be learned very quickly. He also discovered that many other government agencies have enjoyed this program as well.

I was so impressed by this program that we call self preservation that for the last 10 years I have made this the core of my fighting system and the first thing that I teach students when they start training. After students start to get good at this, I start to teach the other basics like blunt and edged weapons and street kickboxing and trapping which we call self perfection drills.

With that said let me get back to the subject at hand. Most officers I have known and talked to on this matter have said they have very little training in the martial arts. I have trained a few officers right after police academy and found that they had little to no realistic defensive skills. They informed me that after the self defense course they are required to take, they are not required to train on a regular basis.

This self defense course is intense and comprehensive but is only about a week long. Most departments may offer a periodic refresher course but this is usually only once a year. I have met and trained with officers that have trained for years and some who have black belts but these are few and far between. Though they can fight well they do not have the controlling skills or if need be the termination ability for quickly ending an altercation. These things could very well save their lives and the lives of others around them and keep them from losing their gun.

I will say again that a whole book could be written on the R.A.T. and on why officers need to train on a regular basis. I will just say that normal people I have trained over the years feel that they have become so good at this system mixed with street trapping, kickboxing, and basic weapons that they stop training. When asked why the average response is they feel that their skills are better than they ever thought and all their friends and family agree with them that they do not need to be any better. I wish them well and caution them that training with me and demonstrating in front of friends and family does not mean they come out on top in an altercation but I feel that at least have a chance.

In conclusion, I think that anyone can benefit from training the R.A.T. system but I urge all law enforcement officers to check it out because even one day per week training will eventually give them the skills that could prevent injury or death during a violent altercation.


The Three Most Common Reasons

People Say They Can’t Train

In The Martial Arts



1.                  I don’t have the time.

2.                  I’m too old.

3.                  I can’t due to my bad back, shoulder, knee, foot, hand or etc.


Before we look at those subjects let’s talk about what would happen if you are ever  forced to defend yourself or a loved one.  Worse what if it’s a serious assault?  Unless you are big, strong and fast you could find yourself in grave danger!  Also you should know that even with that there is no guarantee.  At least with some good street combat training like the Rapid Assault Tactics (R.A.T.) which is the core of my Jeet Kune Do (J.K.D.) and the Filipino Martial Arts (F.M.A.) instruction, you might have a chance of saving yourself or someone else!


Let’s start with the first reason: the lack of time to train.  There are seven days a week, 24 hours a day you come up with 168 in one week. Takeing out 8 hours a day for sleep and 10 hours for work and drive time. There are 62 hours left for the week. I know what you are thinking.  I have a lot more than sleep and work to deal with! 


 I have found that even if you only train one day per week for only 2 hours, you can still learn and gain skill at a steady progression.  Most of the students I teach only train with me one day per week.


Some also really don’t get a chance to train at all on their own because of their busy lives, but they look forward to training because it is not only challenging, it is also a lot of fun.  As Bruce Lee used to say, “Play, but play seriously.”


  Second reason: “I’m too old to train.”  Strange thing to say because I’m in my late 40’s, two of my instructors are in their mid 50’s and 60’s, and Dan Inosanto is in his early 70’s.  I realize we have been training most of our lives but I’ll tell you that the older I get, the more I see the need for training.  First, health wise, everyone needs to exercise.  If you want exercise that will keep you moving and help your timing and reflexes as you age, J.K.D. and F.M.A. are great for that!  Also the drills are fun.  No matter how late in life you start, everyone can still learn.  It is not how much you know but how well you can do the basics, have some flow and mainly have a lot of fun.  The training is not only stress relieving but also fun.


Third  we look at having an injured body part and why people think they can’t train because of it.  This is a subject very close to me.  Let me explain, at 48 years old and over 25 years of heavy construction work behind me, I know all about injured body parts and also how to continually train around them.  I know this because I have had reconstructive shoulder surgery, three foot surgeries, degenerative disc disease,  arthritis of the spine, and carpal tunnel in my right wrist.  I also found out and my doctors and physical therapists agree, if I stop exercising and stretching, within a few years I’ll be lucky to be able to move or even walk normally.


Both of my parents did not exercise and after seeing them die far too young, I watch what I eat, I exercise, and I will keep training to the day I die.


In conclusion, you can always come up with reasons to not train but in the long run, it is just a matter of how much control you want over your own body, the way it moves, and how young you want to feel.  Oh and by the way, I sometimes move like or better than I did in my 20’s and at times feel even younger.  With that said, I say to you all, why not try it before you knock it.








The Lead (Straight) Punch  or The Straight Blast

Who is the true core of J.K.D.?

I would say both!



            Once again I find myself walking a fine line between the original and concepts political mess!  Okay, now see I’ve been studying and training in the combative arts since the mid 70’s, training under certified instructors since the mid 80’s, teaching with an apprenticeship in the mid 90’s, and in May of 2002, I was certified to teach Jeet Kune Do (J.K.D.) and the Filipino Martial Arts (F.M.A.)


            So when I read that an instructor certified under one of the original Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (J.F.J.K.D.) instructors had written an entire book on the lead Jab and also they justified a whole book because Bruce said the lead jab was the core of J.F.J.K.D. I took a look at it. 


            Now I understand this and if you look at Bruce’s own writing, he wrote that “The straight punch is the core of jeet kune do, but should be reinforced and supported by other angle punches and kicks of like precision”.  So I do agree but it should be pointed out that what I think he was saying is that it’s the core tool in his art not the core of his fighting method.  The Jab is a great tool to attack, defend, intercept or set up other tools.  But for martial artists like me who are looking for the reality of the true street combat, I would have to say the straight blast is and will always be the true core of J.K.D.


            After almost 30 years of reading, researching, studying, training, anything and everything on Bruce Lee, his art, his training, and his life and also over 20 years of conversations with instructors under  martial artists that knew him and are certified by him, I would have to say that I agree with them on the fact of the straight blast is the true core of his fighting system.


            Let us look at this from the stories of people that saw him really fight.  I have many magazines articles from other martial artists saying that Bruce Lee during the fight would run at a person with straight punches.  Paul Vunak has stated many times that Dan Inosanto said that 99% of the time whenever Bruce Lee was serious about a fight, he would always revert back to the straight blast.


            Looking at this with an open mind, let’s see why.  First the straight blast done at the right time will cause the opponent to be forced backwards off balance, while being repeatedly straight punched in the face.  If done correctly at the perfect moment, it is almost impossible to counter or recover from.  Now I could not imagine anyone relying on the lead punch to win a real fight.


            After 15 years of training the blast every way possible, I will say that the lead straight punch is by far the best setup tool there is.  But do remember that the jab is just an entry, the blast is the best follow up, but you better have some great finishing skills because in a real fight, no one is going to care how perfect you throw the lead jab.


            In conclusion, I’ll ask all of you again, how good do you want to be at real martial arts, and as a street combat fighter, or just being good at one person’s martial art?  You better train to have the skills in both.


                                                         John Noonan

                                                         Independent Martial Arts



Original or Concepts? How about both!


It seems like in some ways I’ve been in the Martial Arts for most of my life. Boxing began around 13, Wrestling at 15, Kickboxing at 17. At 18, I knew two black belt Martial Artists who were studying and training Bruce Lee’s Art through seminars, books, and instructional tapes; so I began training with them. By 1985, I was at my first Inosanto / Hartsell Seminar and began training with one of his Certified Instructors. And to make a long story short I continued training, studying, and researching under some great Instructors and attending Inosanto seminars whenever I could.


In May of 2002, I was certified by Paul Vunak and started Independent Martial Arts (I.M.A.). But there was always something that bothered me about the Original and Concepts political mess. I always tried to walk a fine line between both teaching and practicing Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (J.F.J.K.D.) and the Filipino Martial Arts (F.M.A.). When doing J.F.J.K.D. I maintained strong side forward and always pointed out what was J.F.J.K.D. and what was F.M.A. By 2007, I had reached a level that was above almost anyone I came in contact with. But I was still amazed when I would get together with some of Dan’s Instructors and his Instructors students that were continually getting better and better year after year.


Okay, now see the original guys say if you always add to your art you will never master the original system. But these Instructors just kept getting better. This caused me to ponder the subject quite often. I knew that weapons training increased attributes like speed, timing, coordination, and body machines. But like with exercise and fitness, I seemed to plateau. In the beginning of 2007, I was having a regular discussion with friend and fellow Instructor Shawn Kitzman. He suggested learning single stick and knife drills left handed and an equal blend of right and left J.F.J.K.D. So I took a leap of faith and I also started to research new methods of training for higher skill with both leads. I even started doing single stick drills with double stick and stick and knife. I was able to find from other J.F.J.K.D.F.M.A. Instructors under Dan some drills that were flow drills that went back and forth side to side that allowed me to be able to feel instantly my weakness in my skills.


Like most of my life my best students and I were the guinea pigs of this experiment, I discovered right off the bat why the original guys want to stay with the Jun Fan strong side forward. All of the drills left handed and with left lead felt horrible and mentally and emotionally painful to say the least. Because of the lack of extra time, because like most J.K.D. and F.M.A. Instructors I know, I have a full time job, a wife, kids, and a house that keeps me busy! Not to mention a workout routine.


Also in 2007, I decided to go to the May 18th, 19th Inosanto Seminar because it had been around for 10 years since I had attended one. Also, I could gauge myself by how well I could handle the advanced material. I have only seen top ranking J.K.D.F.M.A. instructors being able to handle the material presented. Once again I was amazed by Dan and his instructor’s ability and it was my best performance ever! I was able to do about 80-85% of the material which I was never able to handle that much before. Anyone who has attended one of the seminars knows it doesn’t matter how many black belts you have. You are either good or you are not. Out of about 40 people there I observed only about half of a dozen people could do it all or almost all of the material. That was Dan Inosanto’s Instructors and Shawn, but mostly I saw that when it came to J.F.J.K.D. all those people were nothing short of amazing. I went back with the best student, who attended the event with me, and continued my training. Within a few months my student and I started to notice that not only that my ability with weapons and flow was better then ever before, my overall ability at performing and applying the J.F.J.K.D. and the F.M.A. material had moved to a much higher level. I found that as I got better at left lead, that when I would go back to right lead all the drills were easy to perform and demonstrate with little to no effort at all.


Well now it’s 2009, and with everything that has happened to me in my life. I would say that my students and I love to train all aspects of J.F.J.K.D. and F.M.A.and whatever we want to. After all, Bruce Lee did say, “Absorb what is useful and reject what is useless,). I’m looking forward to seeing Dan and all of the other great Instructors at the May Seminar and maybe with the continued hard work someday I will be able to do all of the material at the level of those very gifted Instructors.


In conclusion, I ask all of you: Is it a matter of how good you really want to be in Martial Arts, or in just one of the arts! Bruce wanted the overall ability that is obvious. So I say to all original instructors who would like to be good at all of it, why not try both!


John Noonan , Independent Martial Arts , Jeet Kune Do / Filipino Martial Arts


I am a certified Instructor under Paul Vunak to teach the science and concepts of JEET KUNE DO and the FILIPINO MARTIAL ARTS. Under all standards and guidelines set by Progressive Fighting Systems, Inc.