Monday, November 16, 2009

Raab Rashi, master teacher of the sword

Back at the beginning of my own martial arts study, I read every damn martial arts book I could find. Many of them liked to list martial arts as esoterically as possible. There's at least one martial art whose initial descriptions were so fascinating, mystical, and confusing that, though I've since met many practitioners, I still can't figure out what the hell they do. (That would be Pa Kua Chuan.)

I found "Iado" in a big, coffee-table book in the library, a book which gave one-page descriptions of about a hundred different arts, with cool pictures. Iado had one of the best descriptions ever - it said, pretty much, "Iado is the art of having presence of mind and masterful body such that you draw your sword faster than your opponent, and thus slay him instantly."

I hear you ask me, "Jeff, what is a modern-day samurai doing performing at Wicked Faire?" And having seen Raab in action, I can state, from the heart, "Any damn thing he wants to, man. I ain't gonna say no to him."

...okay, that's an old and a cheap joke, I admit. And the only person who's going to laugh at it is me. Forgive me my moment of weakness. Let's move on to the heart of the matter. As it were.

Iado is part of the set of martial arts Raab teaches. I've seen him teach - not just martial artists, but people who've never held swords before. I've seen people pick up sticks as if they were sticks, and half an hour later, put them down as both deadly weapons, and very serious tools. Raab is a truly excellent martial artist; if you're experienced yourself, you will be able to see it clearly in his movements, his balance, his carriage, and his concentration. If you are not a martial artist, you will still sense it in his classroom - you'll still be able to tell that this is a man who has devoted much of his life to a warrior art.

But much more than that, he's a wonderful instructor, and inordinately fun. He's someone you'd want to raise wooden swords with, in class--and then raise some pints with, afterwards. Not everyone at Wicked would think of attending a sword class. That would be their loss.

Raab's class has been featured in "Time Out New York", and "The New York Post's Best Of New York" - to name a few. His older brother, "The Old Man Of The Mountain", will also be at Wicked this year.


  1. Thank for the write-up, Jeff! Let's grab a pint! ... AFTER we grab a sword... The order is important here.

  2. Sorry to disappoint (if that's the word), but as old as that joke it, you aren't the only one laughing at it.

    I don't know if I'll be able to make it to Wicked Faire yet, but if I do, I will definitely be looking up Raab's class. I'm afraid I have to pass on the pint - maybe he'd care for some tea afterwards instead?