is as shrouded in mystery and legend as the cloud covered mountains
it sprang from. But, as with nearly all legends, truth abides
within, The tricky part is separating the mythical aspects of
the legend from the historical. I will leave that up to you.
I can do no more
than pass the legends on. as they've been entrusted to me, from my
instructor, the Mayha Master Jack McCrave, as they were entrusted to
him by the Mayha Master, Omah Kellie. Through the ages, from Master
to Novice, these tales have been passed down. And it is in that
spirit, that I pass them on to you.
In ages past, a
simple monk, a member of a Tibetan religious order, left the seclusion
and safety of his monastery to share his order's knowledge with the
outside world. His name, as it comes down to us through the ages,
Dhrama taught twelve
disciples all that he knew and set off with these men on a monumental
journey across Asia. At various points along their journey, Dhrama
would leave one of his disciples. Those men built great monastic schools
in which promising individuals were instructed. Dhrama himself,
returned to his homeland of Tibet. Whether he returned to his
former monastery, or built another is unclear. In any event though,
this monastery became the greatest of them all.
were extremely selective in accepting novices. Normally, only
relatives were chosen and those of the highest social castes, with few
exceptions. But even so, Dhrama's philosophy, and the internal
martial art the monks practiced, found it's way beyond monastic walls.
Great feats were performed by those few individuals who left the schools.
Even failed novices of the order attracted students of their own, eager
to know what few secrets these individuals possessed. In time,
bastardized versions of the order's martial discipline appeared in the
countryside, with each failed student of Dhrama holding himself up as
a Master. In fact, these "Masters"' knowledge barely
touched the surface of that taught behind the monasteries' walls, but
men and women, eager to learn, embraced them nonetheless.
As the centuries
passed, the flow of knowledge began to reverse itself. The monks
themselves became bastardized by the culture, religious and otherwise,
outside their walls. Only in Tibet, in the schools most apart
from the popular culture did Dhrama's philosophy survive intact.
Elsewhere, throughout the great Asian continent, the monasteries remained,
but that which was taught changed.
became the predominant religious philosophy taught. While deep
in the Himalayas, isolated even from the Tibetan Buddhist culture, the
Mayha Masters still held on to a monotheistic theology of a transcendent
Creator, and passed this on to their novices. Omah Kellie himself,
raised as a babe in one such Himalayan monastery, was taught this monotheistic
theology, in sharp contrast to the virtually all pervading Hindu culture
The martial art
originally taught by Dhrama and his twelve disciples, became separated
from it's inherent mental discipline, Punap, as it spread beyond the
monasteries. Not understanding the vast energies used by the monks,
yet seeing the feats performed by them, men attempted to make up the
difference by intensifying their physical training. The Iron Hand
martial arts were born. Yet, the original art remained in
Tibet, taught to fewer and fewer individuals.
Not long ago, perhaps
only a century or so, the martial art split into two sister styles,
Vadha and Zit Wah. Both held on to the original mental discipline,
but emphasized different aspects.
In the late '60's,
Mayha Master Jack McCrave graded five Chinese Zit Wah novices, referred
to him by an internal Tai Chi Chuan Master in New York's China Town.
Our styles, Master McCrave found out, are very similar. He promoted
one Zit Wah practitioner to Second Rank Master. The others received
First Rank. Whether these individuals returned to Hong Kong of
faded into the China Town landscape is unknown. Their has been
no further contact between Zit Wah and Vadha in North America since.
Punap, the mental
discipline taught within those original monastic walls became bastardized
as well. In some schools, virtually all of it was lost, till only
a foggy notion of some mysterious internal energy remained. In
others, only a measure of knowledge was salvaged. The monasteries
known as Shaolin Temples still taught a practical mental discipline.
But more often than not, the emphasis became more on increasing one's
internal energy through physical exercises, such as breathing, rather
than the other way around, increasing one's internal energy through
internal means, the mind.
Still, in some places,
such as the Shaolin Temple, a person could learn to enter into the first
of Punap's five levels. If naturally gifted, he or she might even have
been able to enter into the second or even the third of the levels.
But much of the practical usage of the resulting increase in internal
energy was lost, as was attainment of the higher levels. Deep
in Tibet though, Punap was taught as it had been for untold ages, passed
on from Master to Novice. In 1957, the secrets of the Mayha Masters
came to America with Omah Kellie.
soon after that, a young bricklayer from Staten Island decided to vacation
in Palm Beach, Florida. It was during that vacation that the young
bricklayer, Jack McCrave, met Omah Kellie for the first time.
He was walking beside a fence when a loud "Crack" caught his
attention. Looking over the fence he saw a thin, dark skinned
man in baggy shorts leaning over a broken 4x4 piece of lumber.
As he watched, Omah Kellie tossed the broken square post aside and grabbed
another from a pile. He set the new, unbroken 4x4 into homemade
brackets which slanted it slightly. As the young McCrave realized
what the man was about to attempt, he almost called out, but kept still
at the last moment. The wiry little man, standing back a few paces
from the post, launched himself toward it, his foot snapping out to
strike at the wood. With an almost deafening "Crack",
the 4x4 split in half, the two halves falling to the ground even as
the man straightened himself up.
Kellie taught a
small group of students in the backyard of his Palm Beach home.
Jack McCrave quickly attached himself to this group and soon became
Kellie's star student. He spent six months out of every
year in intensive training with Kellie, and the remaining six months
applying the principles he had learned. Before Omah Kellie emigrated
to England, Jack McCrave had attained the highest combat ranking possible
in Vadha - that of the Mayha Master.
When Omah Kellie
left the United States, Jack McCrave became the sole Mayha Master of
the art in the Western Hemisphere. The two eventually lost contact,
and because of the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, it is no longer
known if any other Mayha Master exist.
Omah Kellie represented
the last known link with the Himalayan Mayha Masters. But the
American link of the chain is strong still. In the early 1960's,
Jack McCrave brought Vadha to Staten Island with him. He established
a school, calling it the Zen Combat Institute. Zen is a Japanese
philosophy of meditation in order to realize self actualization.
And self actualization is just what Punap aims towards; Sumadhi - the
unity of the body, the soul, and the mind. So Jack took the name
for his school.
Many fine martial
artist were groomed in the Mayha Master's first school, and have gone
on to open schools of their own. That early group gave numerous
demonstrations in Madison Square Garden and other arenas during what
many still refer to as the martial arts' Golden Years in the United
After some time,
the Mayha Master closed The Zen Combat Institute. Always a devoted
father and husband, Master McCrave's familial responsibilities took
precedence. It was shortly after this closure that John Salvaggio,
a Black Belt from Master McCrave's school, began the formation of a
new martial art - Vadha Kenpo. This style is not Vadha, although
it utilizes some physical Vadha techniques. Master Salvaggio was
not impeded by the Mayha Master in this undertaking for numerous reasons,
but it has been made clear that such allowance is, was, and always will
be unique to John Salvaggio's Vadha Kenpo.
has trained many fine physical martial artist. A few individuals
have begun their training with Master Salvaggio, and eventually found
their way into Vadha schools. One such Vadha Master is Chris Fedele.
By the promulgation
of the Vadha Code, and the authorization of VADHA: The Martial Art
of the Himalayas, the Mayha Master has taken steps to make clear
the differences between the two arts, and at the same time, opened a
door to all Vadha Kenpo practitioners to learn about the art from which
Vadha Kenpo sprang.
In 1978, Jack McCrave
moved his family to Inverness, Florida, and begun a small, private school,
similar to the one he himself had first learned in under Omah Kellie.
His five children; Jack, Theresa, Sharon, Rory, and Vincent, have been
trained in this school, as well as several other individuals.
Whereas in the Staten
Island school, Punap was reserved for the higher belts, the students
of the Inverness school were taught Punap from the very first day.
As such, two methods of teaching have arisen, one emphasizing the physical
aspect until a student has proven himself or herself, and the other
emphasizing the mental aspect from the beginning but being extremely
selective in accepting novices.
The future of Vadha
is bright. Certain steps were begun in the autumn of 1993 to ensure
the unification and future integrity of this internal art.
In November ,
Vadha Master John J. McCrave (Jack) was graded by the Mayha Master.
Several privileged individuals took part; Vadha Masters Michael H. Wyka,
and Vincent McCrave, and (then) Assistant Instructor Brian M. Wyka.
Jack received the highest rank possible from the Mayha Master, that
of sixth degree Master (a full third rank). This elevation assures
a succession of authority for future Vadha practitioners.
VADHA: The Martial
Art of the Himalayas went to press in December. This book
by Master Michael H. Wyka was written to preserve the integrity of Vadha
and to foster unity among all Vadha practitioners.
In October ,
work began on The Constitution of the Vadha Federation and the VADHA
CODE. The purpose of The Vadha Federation is "to promote
and safeguard the integrity of this most rare and splendid art for ourselves
and our posterity."
And yet, the future
remains unsure: Because the future, as always, is in the hands
of individuals. Yet if we remain true to the principles outlined
in the Vadha code, if we remain true to ourselves and our Creator, if
we continually seek after JOY and not jealousy and pride, then we can
take hold of the future, as individuals, and make it our own, keeping
Vadha in it's true form and preserving it for another age.
-- As taken from the Vadha Code as well as "VADHA: The Martial
Art Of The Himalayas An Introduction", written by Vadha Red
Sash Michael H. Wyka:
Please keep in mind that many of the words used in Vadha are transliterations
of the original Sanskrit words. Sanskrit is not written in English
characters. As such, translations from Sanskrit to English are
actually transliterations involving "best guess" phonetic
spelling. This is why, depending on the translator, you will sometimes
see Mayha spelled as Maha.]