White Tiger Martial Arts is the only Idaho martial arts school teaching Doce Pares, a Filipino martial art that emphasizes stick and sword fighting. Brian Jensen established White Tiger in Rupert in 2003.
Jensen has been a martial arts enthusiast since he took his first class at age 18. He has filled the past 15 years with mastering and teaching every form of hand-to-hand combat and stick fighting. He teaches recruits search and control techniques in the National Guard, where he holds the rank of Sergeant First Class. Three of his young sons, aged 9 to 13, study and teach with him.
This year Jensen was joined by Ron Helling, a grandmaster who moved to Idaho from California two years ago. Between the two of them, they have 62 years of experience and their school is accredited by the Okinawan Martial Arts Federation, of which Helling is chairman. White Tiger is the official International Kickboxing Federation school for eastern Idaho. The school also trains in mixed martial arts, ultimate fighting and point fighting.
Another form they teach is Sanchin, an exercise developed by Buddhist Monks 1500 years ago to keep physically and mentally fit and, as it evolved, to keep them safe. The name means “Three Battles.” Grandmaster Gogen Yamaguchi called it “beautiful and terrifying.”
Why Martial Arts?
“As a kid, I needed to defend myself,” Jensen says. “There was always squabbling and I needed some self-discipline and confidence. I can focus better, and I control my temper now. One of the things we teach is ways to avoid getting in a fight. The idea is to avoid violence.”
Jensen holds a 1st degree black belt in Okinawan karate, a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwando, a 1st degree black belt in Doce Pares, and several other honors in the field. His focus becomes a repetition of tension, strike and relax. Each tension is a preparation; each strike is fully focused.
Helling has a resume that fills two pages, single spaced. The 65-year-old grandmaster holds a Ph.D. in psychotherapy and has trained in the purest forms of Oriental martial arts since 1956 in Japan – and never had an English-speaking instructor. He does not lean toward the Americanization of self defense; he considers it a weakening or dilution of the dynamic principles.
“We don’t want to see these ancient forms watered down,” Helling says.
“It’s more effective in its purest form. It began as a way of self-protection, but it evolved into an art form. It became art.”
Helling has written six books and produced 32 training videos on various martial arts. More than 800 of his students are national and world traditional champions.
Helling and Jensen agree that the skills they pass on to their students have multiple values. They have seen students’ school grades climb from barely passing to excellent. Confrontations with the law drop off. Students gain more confidence and conduct themselves with more respect. White Tiger has students as young as 5 and older than 40.
“We teach them how to get their body in shape and give them the basic moves,” Helling says. “It doesn’t matter what age you are. I even attribute most of my good health, at 65, to martial arts.”
One thing that Jensen and Helling don’t do is promote people before they have earned it. Helling says the different colors of belt came about because the warrior always wore the same one, and as his experience climbed, his belt got dirtier. Black belts were earned.
White Tiger Martial Arts also offers courses in self defense for women.
In October, White Tiger will hold its annual Kickathon. All the proceeds go to scholarships for students who can’t afford training. For more information, contact Brian Jensen, 208-921-6321 or 208-431-0163
By Coreen Hart
Photos by Jason Lugo