Ian Beltran Bio

Ian-BeltranIan Beltran was born in Manila, Philippines and raised in Ewa Beach, Hawaii. Ian’s father was in the United States Navy and Ian lived a very sheltered life till after he graduated from high school. His father taught him tennis, which he excelled in and was ranked 5th in the state juniors circuit. His training in tennis greatly helped increase his hand and eye coordination, which unknowingly helped to prepare him for his martial arts training. Because of this, he did not formally start training in the martial arts till 1990. His first instructor was the late, great Maestro Snookie Sanchez, a Filipino martial arts instructor who trained in Waipahu and whose lineage leads back to the late Grand Master Floro Villabrille and the late Grand Master Ben Largusa, under the Villabrille System of Kali. Snookie was very influential in Ian’s martial arts career teaching him Filipino weaponry and techniques of Kali-Escrima or what Maestro Snookie called Kali-Intra (meaning to enter).

Ian’s journey into the martial arts started after he came back from Army basic training in 1990, at a graduation party he met one of Maestro Snookie’s former students, who happened to be the graduate’s brother. Ian already knew that he was studying Wing Chun and studied some Filipino martial arts, so he asked him if he could recommend a good Filipino martial arts instructor. His friend’s brother recommended Maestro Snookie Sanchez. At the time, Ian didn’t know what to expect or what type of path he was moving toward. Ian met Maestro Snookie at the Waipahu Pump Liquor store in June 1990. Ian’s first impression of Maestro Snookie was that he looked scary and very intimidating. He had long black hair and looked like he was straight out of one of those old Kung Fu movies that Ian used to watch on the Black Belt Theater television show. Maestro Snookie quickly accepted Ian as a student. Not knowing what to expect from Maestro Snookie, Ian was very excited to finally learn a martial art of his Filipino heritage.

Ian never questioned anything Maestro Snookie taught him. Call it naïve, but he was very impressionable and took all of his teachings to heart. Snookie was Ian’s first formal martial arts instructor, so he thought that every martial arts school taught in the same grueling methods. Getting hit by the rattan sticks was a norm in the class and there were times when he thought, “Why am I beating up my body like this?” Although reluctantly, something inside him told him to keep training.

Training was rough. Maestro Snookie’s assistant instructor, Eddie (Forgot his last name) worked with Ian. Eddie enjoyed intentionally hitting the hands of his training partners and Ian would always go home with bruised knuckles, fingers, legs, arms, etc. Although he was constantly getting punished, he never questioned Maestro’s training methods. After only a few week and Ian was told to start sparring. The fact that he was only training for a couple of weeks and already was sparring intrigued him and when it was over, he caught the Kali-Escrima bug. He would go home after each practice and repeat the night’s lessons and work on improving his skills. He loved learning a martial art of his Filipino heritage, but an even stronger motivating factor was to learn enough so he could get back at Eddie. He really thought he was doing well until Maestro’s son, Snookie-Boy, came to class one day. It was then when Ian saw real kali technique and application. Snookie Boy faced Eddie in a sparring match and it was the most fluent motion that he had ever saw. It was then that he realized that training meant more than just swinging a stick. There were intricate techniques and application involved, which intrigued Ian even more. Snookie Boy was a big influence in the way Ian trained and how he currently spars and teaches. It was Snookie Boy who taught him the aspects of economy of motion.

Snookie Boy ended up training regularly and taught Ian and another student, Rick Supnet, a lot in a brief time. Ian and Rick were partners training with Snookie and they would always try to better each other. The joke was that if one of them were to train extra, meet with Snookie or Snookie Boy to either talk or learn more, they would always tell each other, “Oh, you’re trying to learn more than me!” This would further motivate both of them. Eddie was still teaching them at the same time but eventually stopped training. Maybe not at the time, but looking back, those were enjoyable times for Ian.

Prior to Maestro Snookie’s passing in 1996, he verbally appointed Ian the title of Guro. Maestro Snookie wasn’t too formal with certificates or rankings. Maestro said that he was leaving the island to get healthier and for Ian to take care of the class while he was gone. Ian promised Maestro Snookie that he would take care of the class in his absence. Maestro Snookie died a few weeks later. Ian’s promise to Maestro Snookie kept him teaching until today with the assistance of his assistant instructor Erwin Legaspi.

While Snookie was still alive, Ian met Chris and Mike Onzuka, who introduced him to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, under Relson Gracie in 1995. Maestro Snookie was well aware of the Gracies and respected their art because it was much like his, very effective and practical. He also liked the fact that the Gracies, much like Snookie himself, believed enough in their art to take on all comers in order to prove its effectiveness. After rigorous training, Ian earned his blue belt directly from Relson Gracie and he is currently a 3 Stripe Blue Belt under Chris and Mike Onzuka. Ian also studied Ken Ka Bo under Chief Instructor Mark Kaanoi, an instructor under the late Professor Sid Asuncion, where he earned his black belt in 1999. Ian later trained with Professor Gordon Magallanes, another instructor of Professor Sid Asuncion, where he currently holds a 6th degree blackbelt.

Ian graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and received a Bachelors of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. In late 2006, Chris and Mike Onzuka approached Ian to teach Maestro Snookie’s art of Kali at the O2 Martial Arts Academy, where he currently teaches along with his assistant instructor, Erwin Legaspi. He currently works for Naval Facilities Pacific as an Engineer in the Asset Management-Planning Branch and is a member of the Air National Guard where he holds the rank of Major.

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