Thursday, September 13, 2007
The scene is reminiscent of a Shaolin martial arts film, the atmosphere thick with the intensity that comes with intense, extended, systematic training.
The large room is dressed in minimalist Asian décor; its vaulted ceilings run high above the lime green matted floor, humbling everyone present. Its walls are lined with samurai warrior swords.
This summer night offers a special moment at Monterey Budokan, the Seibukan Jujutsu Headquarters located at 636 Lighthouse Ave. in Monterey: 15-year-old Adam Ortega has become the youngest student in the world to receive his third-degree black belt in Seibukan jujutsu.
His instructor, Seibukan Jujutsu founder Kancho Julio Toribio, is soft-spoken, about 5 feet 5 inches, with a shaven head as smooth as fiberglass. His presence is slight but his aura is larger than a grizzly bear’s.
“This kid is amazing; he’s going to be famous,” says Toribio. “I’ve had 38 years of training and as a teacher, [and] he takes me to a new level.”
Ortega’s journey into the world of martial arts began at 5 years old, and his love for Seibukan began at 8, when he was first introduced to the discipline.
A crowd of about 40, made up of friends, family and fellow martial artists, watch in silence as Ortega demonstrates for an hour that he is worthy of the third degree black belt. He defends himself against mock gun, knife, sword and stick attacks coming from martial artists larger and stronger than him. His technique resonates with the respected elements of the third degree black belt: inner strength, commitment and patience. As his peers remain in knelt positions with faces locked into serious observance, he endures with the omnipotence of Bruce Lee taking on a 100-man militia.
One of those faces carved with the rigidity of a stone gargoyle belongs to Jason Ortega, Adam’s 20-year-old brother, also a Seibukan third degree black belt. Through his disciplined countenace, a smile slightly cracks the left corner of his mouth.
“It was a wonderful experience to see someone so young performing with the maturity in which he performed,” Jason would say later. “He did it with grace and it was beautiful.”
At 15, Jason’s brother is wise beyond his age. “Seibukan jujutsu has given me a more mature attitude towards life,” he says. “It has enhanced my ability to notice the little things and always take the most appropriate action.”
Amongst his school friends and in his everyday life, Ortega can even fill a guru-like role. He recalls helping a friend deal with coming out of a difficult
“When she and her boyfriend broke up she kept asking, ‘What did I do wrong?’ I helped her realize that she didn’t do anything wrong and that she is only 16. I told her to do positive things in her life,” Ortega says.
His friend took his advice and got involved in school sports and community service. “She is happier, more upbeat and able to recognize and deal with her emotions.”
Ortega also uses the integration of mental and physical aspects of Seibukan jujutsu as a base for his spiritual development, just as it states in the Seibukan philosophy.
He will soon share his knowledge of the martial arts as the youngest instructor of Seibukan jujutsu, another privilege of receiving his third degree black belt.
“He doesn’t say much,” Jason adds, “but when he says something, people listen.”