When he was 18, James Algea was stabbed eight times.
A year later, he walked into the Banning Community Center and delved into the martial arts program.
He wanted to “turn the bad energy to good.”
Ten years later at 28, Algea has been inducted in the Philippines Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and was presented with an Outstanding Student of the Year honor on July 9 during a ceremony El Paso, Texas.
He recently opened his own defensive arts studio in Beaumont: Filipino Martial Arts Academy.
Algea said he loves to help people and wants other children to survive and have an opportunity for a better life.
“I want to teach kids to never give up. Everyone involved wants to offer a sport that teaches good healthy competition,” said Algea. “Ninety-nine percent of martial arts experts work together as a family.”
Not only does he work at building a community around the sport, he strives to make his studio welcoming to all ages and creeds.
“The academy welcomes one and all — just walk in the door, and start the journey,” Algae said.
The academy’s Pangalo warrior (Filippino for master instructor) since 1997, Jessie P. Dancel, started training at age 7.
His father Sergio trained him daily.
Dancel identifies himself as ‘a little person,’ “a factor that resulted in his being bullied a lot as a kid,” he said.
He was determined to become stronger, but became humbled by this special art.
His passion for Filipino martial arts grew, realizing it could help others who are targeted by bullies.
Dancel said, “I don’t believe in hatred, violence nor racism. I am a human that wants a peaceful world to live in,” he said. “Martial arts is about respect and discipline. The sport services one to become a better person and to do the right thing. If you have to use self-defense, learn the art 100 percent so you know what you’re doing, and you can service others.”
“Master Jessie” is a certified member of the International Classic Martial Arts Federation and serves as one of the masters at the academy, and claimed, “When, I say, I am master, there is only one master, God. I am just a human being.”
The studio teaches the Dalan Ti llokano style, which represents “the way of the North of the Philippines.”
Only a couple of studios are known to teach this style in the United States.
Skill styles include Path of the Panther, Wisdom of the Dragon and Eye of the Eagle.
“Panther” symbolizes elusiveness, of working efficiently in the shadows.
“Wisdom of the Dragon” teaches power, strength, and luck for people who are worthy of it, while “Eye of the Eagle” represents freedom, timing, strength, power, victory, and a personnel spiritual journey thus enabling one’s inner power and reach their chosen goal.
The studio’s grand master Steve Salaizsalaiz started training in martial arts during junior high school.
He was bullied as well. The incident took place in the gym: two students took wet towels and whipped him severely.
Salaizsalaiz took action, and enrolled in martial arts lessons this very day Salaizsalaiz exceled in the sport.
He has 42 years’ experience in martial arts, and he was a law enforcement weapons instructor.
He is a retired officer with 30 years San Bernardino Police Department and California Department of Corrections.
Martial arts taught Salaizsalaiz to be alert, assertive and focused in order to keep the peace.
On July 13 the academy opened their doors to the public to showcase their teachings. The grand opening affair launched the showcase with a calisthenics program, taught by James Algea, demonstrated by the youth involved with the studio, and followed by a ceremonial blessing.
Grand Master Steve Salaizsalaiz presented the International Classic Martial Arts Federation certificate membership to Master Jessie P. Dancel.
In turn, Master Jessie P. Dancel presented the Philippines Martial Arts Hall of Fame award to Teacher James A. Algea.
There was also an exhibition of three weapons, including a sword from the Philippines developed in the 1600s, sticks that can shatter, and a machete.
Parents are welcomed to be involved with the studio.
Angela Cardona mother of students Isaac and Adriana Hammock have been involved with the martial arts program for five years.
Cardona said, “the program has kept her children away from video games,” Angela said that her daughter is involved in cheer and soccer, and her son is involved in football, but those activities are seasonal.
The martial arts program is all year round.
She appreciates the discipline it teaches, and her children get a good workout.
Family members Briana Cardona, fiance of James Algea, says, “We are excited for the community to have this opportunity, she loves to motivate James. He loves to teach kids respect — the highest honor one can teach. James had a goal to teach, and he did it.”
Tammy Cardona, Brianna’s mother, says, “Drive, dedication, and determination is what made this place, and this is what you will get out of it. Everyone worked hard for it.”