AN INTERVIEW WITH
MASTER PETER FLORES JR
JAN / 2012
My name is Franklin Puello, and welcome to Martialforce.com Online Martial Arts Magazine. I have trained in the Marital Arts for 37 years, and have been associated and trained with many Masters of the Martial Arts who became well respected and established in the Training Halls to continue the Martial Arts legacy. With this said, many of them were already fathers, or became fathers and those children trained at the Dojo and learned the Martial Arts from their fathers, and at times from other Martial Arts Teachers. Searching to explore the Children of Martial Arts Mastersí views and valued opinions of Martial Arts Training, I have embarked in the search of young Martial Arts Teachers who continue their fathersí Legacy. For this end and because I have had the great fortune to share Budo- The Martial Way with Soulki- Peter Flores Sr., of the ďDURO Y SUAVE- MANOS VACIASĒ White Flower Hombu Dojo (New York, New York) I started with the man I am about to introduce.
Interview by Franklin Puello
Martialforce.com: What is your Full Name?
PETER FLORES JR: My name is Peter Flores, I added the Jr when I was younger to avoid confusion, but technically my Father and I were born with the same exact name
Martialforce.com: Where were you Born?
PETER FLORES JR: I was born at Mount Sinai Hospital in Spanish Harlem on June 7th, 1984
Martialforce.com: Where did you grow up?
PETER FLORES JR: I initially grew up in Spanish Harlem, which I still consider my stomping grounds. When I was about 10 years old my Mother, Brother, Step Father and I relocated to the Bronx
Martialforce.com: What is your current occupation?
PETER FLORES JR: I mainly do security work, which includes bouncing gigs when the money is right.
Martialforce.com: When was your first introduction to the martial arts?
PETER FLORES JR: I believe that was included in my DNA when I was conceived. Otherwise I was taught a little by Apache Cruz and the late George Vascones before my Father accepted me as a formal student.
Martialforce.com: What Style of Karate?
PETER FLORES JR: Apache Cruz taught Isshinryu, although all we did in his classes was basics and sparring. With George Vascones he developed his own system named Gin Jan Do.
Martialforce.com: Who was/ were your instructor/s?
PETER FLORES JR: As I mentioned Apache Cruz worked with me on my sparring and George Vascones passed away when I was very young. My father accepted me as a student when I hit the age of 14, teaching me Duro Y Suave, Manos Vacias, which is his take on Goju-Ryu. I also studied Rullan Goju-Ryu and Jiujitsu under Rachel "Rocky" Rivera whom I credit with teaching me how to properly roll and fall. Her student the late Alejandro Torres redefined my ideas on expressing myself in the Martial Arts. Later on I studied Japanese Goju-Ryu and Mokobu-Shi under Ernest Hyman. He taught me the sweeps that I'm known for now. His 3 sons always tested me and help me grow, especially Ernest Hyman III. William "Wildcat" Molina is also one of my teachers when it comes to the fight game and Goju-Ryu.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers what a typical day of training was like back when you were Training towards your Black Belt?
PETER FLORES JR: That's the funny thing as there was no typical day of training. I was what some would call "Karate Crazy" and always found a way to train. My mother was very upset to see dents in her walls, lol. I liked to stand in the middle of subway cars (not in between) and test my stances. I'd ask friends to hit me in the stomach as hard as they could to test myself. I'd also chase pigeons until one day I ran too fast and accidentally kicked one when I was little. I don't like hurting animals.
Martialforce.com: Did you ever enter Competition?
PETER FLORES JR: Yes, I still do when work does not get in the way. To be honest I was never a great tournament fighter, but I love doing Kata. Once in a while I'll fight if I'm allowed to do so without gear, which is rare.
Martialforce.com: What was the Attraction?
PETER FLORES JR: The attraction is that I could hit people and make friends at the same time, lol. What kept me away from competition was the idea of point fighting. I was never as fast as everyone else. I let my high school friend Miguel "Thunderkick" Lopez, Jr handle that division.
Martialforce.com: Describe your preparation to enter the Martial Arts and/ or competition Arena?
PETER FLORES JR: Honestly the way I was raised is that you train everyday because you might randomly compete, even when visiting another Dojo. I just treat it as another test on another day.
Martialforce.com: Please describe Training, when you were competing in Karate Shiai and or Tournaments?
PETER FLORES JR: When I was little the focus was on style and points. Now the way I train is to fight monsters, seeing as I'm only 5'4". My favorite training method is to practice Kata.
Martialforce.com: When and who did you fight?
PETER FLORES JR: I fought Miguel Lopez, Jr one time in competition and he was insanely fast and I almost kept up with him, lol. Joshua Wilson, a student under Dave Thomas is whom I consider a good friend and a rival. He dumped me on my head at a tournament a couple of years ago and I'm always trying to settle the score, lol.
Martialforce.com: What was tournament competition like when you were first introduced?
PETER FLORES JR: Scary, lol. I was always the smallest and had to reach up to hit people. It felt good to be in the ring and just let loose.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers who were some of the Noted Martial Artists you had to Trained with/ Compete against?
PETER FLORES JR: As I said Wildcat Molina and Ernest Hyman taught me what it was to really get hit. My father made me appreciate Kata first. My Dojo Brothers and Sisters always made sure to knock me down to make sure I could get back up.
Martialforce.com: Would you describe specifically how you developed your teaching techniques?
PETER FLORES JR: As a White Belt my Father made me teach any little thing I knew to the class. My problem was that I had it in my mind that everyone had to do it exactly like me or it was no good. As I matured I realized that each person is different. Now my goal is to bring out whatever someone already has built in so they can see that they have the capacity to do anything.
Martialforce.com: Do you believe the practice of Kata and is it useful or important?
PETER FLORES JR: Kata is freedom of expression when developed fully.
PETER FLORES JR: I'll put it to you this way. There is no greater joy then when I catch someone mid-fight with a Kata technique. That's how I know I understand an aspect of the Style that I am learning and teaching.
Martialforce.com: What is your Most Favorite Kata?
PETER FLORES JR: My two favorite are Shisoshin because I like open hand techniques and Seisan because it is very aggressive and explosive, but beautiful at the same time.
Martialforce.com: Have you learned Kata from other Systems of Karate?
PETER FLORES JR: I have and I still try to and as far as Karate goes I like Shotokan Katas a lot.
Martialforce.com: What makes it/ them so Special?
PETER FLORES JR: Kata is the one thing I can do all the time. Sparring is nice, but Kata is learning how to live and grow.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell us about your relationship with some of the Master of the White Flower Hombu Dojo?
PETER FLORES JR: Peter Flores, Sr is my Father. He allows me to be myself and do what I feel is right.
Martialforce.com: How was training with him?
PETER FLORES JR: It was a lot of trial and error on my part. He allowed me to fix my own mistakes and learn from them. There was also a lot of yelling, lol.
Martialforce.com: How would you describe his Method of Teaching?
PETER FLORES JR: His method with me was "you think you know it, prove it. Not in here, out there". His focus is get the technique so down pact that you can teach it to a blind man using only your words.
Martialforce.com: Do you still learn from him directly?
PETER FLORES JR: Physically he feels that I'm at the point where if I can't get it on my own then I have learned nothing. The mental and spiritual training has yet to end, thankfully.
Martialforce.com: Are you presently training others in the Art Karate?
PETER FLORES JR: I am a pinball, training in whatever area I hit.
Martialforce.com: When did you start developing a teaching style?
PETER FLORES JR: As a White Belt
Martialforce.com: What is your teaching style or methodology?
PETER FLORES JR: I cater to the spirit of whoever decides to walk that path. I flow according to the nature of the spirits around me.
Martialforce.com: Did your father, Soul-Ki, guide you into a teaching style?
PETER FLORES JR: Yes. His idea is if you know it just enough you should teach it to see your own mistakes in others. Basics are everything. All must learn to stand before they can move.
Martialforce.com: How and how much were you influenced by Soul-Ki, your Fatherís teaching?
PETER FLORES JR: A whole lot. He makes teachers out of everyone, so anyone could run the class if need be.
Martialforce.com: Would you explain this influence, guiding force?
PETER FLORES JR: Of course. He was always very hands on with teaching. If he saw you doing cartwheels before class he would tell you how to kick someone while doing it. he brought things out of people, even if it's not something he would normally do. I see people as individuals with different talents because of this.
Martialforce.com: What are the Pros and Cons of having the same or similar philosophies?
PETER FLORES JR: The only "con" that we have in common is that we teach without out asking for money. We don't teach for "free" because we do ask for 3 things: blood, sweat and tears.
Martialforce.com: How would you compare your Philosophy of teaching to your Fatherís philosophy?
PETER FLORES JR: Our philosophy is very similar, but different just enough to still learn from each other. I am not my father, but I am my father's son. There's no escaping that.
Martialforce.com: How would you instruct Kata Training to a Martial Artist of the present generation, who may not believe in Kata?
PETER FLORES JR: I would spar with them and use Kata moves. Then I would show them the move to get them hungry and have them start from the beginning.
Martialforce.com: Do you feel that Martial Arts and teachings learned from your father played an important role with who you are today?
PETER FLORES JR: Very much so. I've learned to accept the nature of people because of this because no one is the same. If I do not feel it to be a good association, I perform the best self-defense technique he ever taught me: walk or run away.
Martialforce.com: Can you identify aspects of your life or accomplishments that you directly attribute your success in, to the Training received in the Martial Arts?
PETER FLORES JR: I have a strong belief that in Honor and Loyalty to oneself must be achieved before it can be given or received from others.
Martialforce.com: What would you say is your greatest achievement in life and The Martial Arts?
PETER FLORES JR: My students. Thank you coming from a student is greater than the praise of 100 masters.
Martialforce.com: What have you personally gained from your practice of Martial Arts with Soul-Ki, your father?
PETER FLORES JR: I'm very good at taking a hit, lol.
Martialforce.com: How have the Martial Arts training help you achieve Goals?
PETER FLORES JR: Focus and determination comes with the lifestyle of a Martial Artist. Since it is a lifestyle to me I always carry it with me in every aspect of my life. Martial Arts and my life do not go hand in hand with me, they are my hands.
Martialforce.com: Do you believe The Martial Arts training would be beneficial for any youngster or adult?
PETER FLORES JR: The great thing about the Martial Arts is that it can be done at any age by anyone.
Martialforce.com: How would Martial Arts training benefit them?
PETER FLORES JR: Martial Artists live longer because a body in motion stays in motion. Death is the end of physical movement. Do you not agree that there is a connection here?
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts on cross training in regards to other styles of Martial Arts?
PETER FLORES JR: One should have a strong foundation in one style before taking from others. With that in mind I strongly encourage it. It is up to the individual what training is good for them.
Martialforce.com: What other Martial Arts Styles, if any, have you trained in?
PETER FLORES JR: As far as staying under other teachers in other styles I have yet to commit to that. I have learned things here and there from teachers. That's how we grow as a community. Would I learn from another teacher in another style? Of course.
Martialforce.com: Have you trained with Family members, and/ or taught any family members?
PETER FLORES JR: My younger brother learns things from me on and off, as does my little sister.
Martialforce.com: How different is it to Teach Family, or strangers?
PETER FLORES JR: I tend to be harder on family, so I don't have any family members as students, lol.
Martialforce.com: What modifications have to be made, if any, in teaching family?
PETER FLORES JR: It must be understood that nothing is personal, even in personal training. The work goes in before the belt goes on.
Martialforce.com: Who do you feel was your biggest influence in Karate or life in general and why?
PETER FLORES JR: I would have to say Ernest Hyman III. He did something that surprised me when we started working out together. He allowed me to teach him a Kata or two, worked on it and brought it back to me so I would understand it better. Keep in mind he's just a little bit older than me. He taught me the definition of being humble and he is my brother, inside and outside the Dojo.
Martialforce.com: Do you think Tradition is important? Having a Martial Arts Legacy?
PETER FLORES JR: Tradition is important as long as it is not followed by sheep.
PETER FLORES JR: If you do not know where things come from then you cannot understand where they are supposed to lead you.
Martialforce.com: What are your Views of Evolution in Karate?
PETER FLORES JR: Tradition had to start somewhere, so new traditions within reason must be created.
Martialforce.com: What do you think about Rank in Martial Arts, and the present practice of fast and advanced promotions?
PETER FLORES JR: The work must go in before the belt goes on. If someone gets skipped a rank it better be because someone is worthy of it.
Martialforce.com: Do you believe youngsters (12-20 Yrs.) could/ should be holders of Rank above Sandan?
PETER FLORES JR: I believe the ideas of rank have been blown out of proportion over time. No child should carry a black belt. If a young adult can carry themselves properly, master his or her basics and knockout a grown man then I'll consider it. As far as a child holding a rank above 3rd Dan goes it looks bad upon the teacher. If you died today would your child 4th Dan be able to carry your school? Not likely.
Martialforce.com: What are your Long or Short-term Goals in Martial Arts?
PETER FLORES JR: Keep living as an eternal student and be a good teacher in the process.
Martialforce.com: Are you involved with any Martial Arts Association? Can you give us some details?
PETER FLORES JR: I associate myself with people and schools. I see Duro Y Suave as a System and Organization with Goju-Ryu being our base Style.
Martialforce.com: Would you or Do you advocate for Martial Arts students to participate/ support Open Tournaments/ Competitions?
PETER FLORES JR: Of course, Itís nice to be a big fish in a little pond, but it's nicer to be able to survive sharks and whales in the seas and oceans.
Martialforce.com: Do you continue to train and teach? Where is/ are your Dojo?
PETER FLORES JR: I teach everyday, even if I'm just teaching myself. My Dojo is the White Flower Honbu Dojo located at Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center in Spanish Harlem, NYC.
Martialforce.com: What would you share with Parents or Kids who want to be involved with the Martial Arts?
PETER FLORES JR: Everyone can do it, so why not give it a shot?
Martialforce.com: Would you advocate young children to attend classes in Martial Arts?
PETER FLORES JR: Yes, as soon as a child can understand how to listen to instructions then training should begin.
Martialforce.com: Thank you for accepting this interview and we here at Martialforce.com wish you continued success.