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From the Philippines to Flatbush

The story of the Kuntaw Martial Arts school at 753 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY follows an interesting set of events. The schoolʼs founder Kyud Leon Simmons has been practicing martial arts since he was 10 years old. As a teenager, he became involved in the art of Kung Fu, studying styles such as Hung Gar and Northern Praying Mantis.

As a member of the United States Air Force, while stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, he became initiated into Kuntaw. This ancient art of native Filipino hand and foot fighting using both hard and soft techniques was a perfect match for his previous training. It is one of the oldest self-defense art systems of unarmed (kuntawan) and armed (kali) fighting devised by Filipino Muslim royalty prior to the Spanish regime.

The Reconnection

Upon returning home to the United States in the early 90s, Kyud Leon had long dreamt of opening the first school teaching Kuntaw in New York. His dream became reality after meeting the Great Grand Master, Carlito Lanada, and his daughter (and current Grand Master of Kuntaw Legacy) Alicia Kossman at the 45th Anniversary. Inspired by this meeting and requests from previous students Kyud Leon finally opened Kuntaw Martial Arts in Brooklyn, NY. Since this opening several black belts have been produced who now support Kyud Leon in instructing new generations of students in this ancient art of Filipino hand and foot fighting.

The future looks very bright for Kuntaw Martial Arts. This fascinating piece of Filipino culture—an art yet to reach itʼs zenith in America— is now available in New York City.