A month ago, I had the pleasure of being part of Kung Fu Martial Arts Expo 9. I met a lot of talented people, but one person in particular caught my attention because he wasn’t only doing martial arts, he was also an author. Snake Blocker is from the Apache Nation and the book he wrote is about the history of his people.
Granny: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Snake Blocker: I was born in California. My tribe is the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas that is considered as one of the four regional tribes in the Apache Nation. The Apache Nation is a very large and vast community that stretches from Texas, Old Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico to Nevada, to tips of California and Colorado. Some tribes have been known to travel as far north as Canada.
The other closest regional tribes are the Jicarilla Apache and the Mescalero Apache which are our closest cousins on the Apache side and the Navaho Apache is also our bloodline cousins. The majority of my mother’s relatives come from Corpus Christi, Texas. My mother and father got married in Corpus Christi and my father was in the Marines for a short time and ended up being in Camp Pendleton in the San Diego California area, so I was born in Los Angeles, California and lived there for thirty years.
I was an active child, very competitive and stayed away from drugs, never smoke or drink. I had a very strict upbringing as well with my dad being in the Marines. I grew up very conservative and very involved with our church group. The Apaches generally have a nice family base just like many other cultures. We had constant mentorship from our parents, grandparents and cousins.
I was a scrawny child and one of the smallest in my class until high school when I finally ‘shot up.’ To combat the bullying, I worked out to get stronger and studied to be smarter. It was my motivation. I always wanted to do better and got me involved with martial arts; I loved watching Kung Fu theatre on television.
Granny: Do you teach classes?
Snake Blocker: I do. I worked as a certified personal trainer and opened my own studio in California in 1993 (Executive World Fitness), then started a martial arts program in 1995 called Blocker Academy of Martial Arts. In June of 2001, I joined Navy Reserve. A lot of my relatives serve in the military. Then September 11th happened and before you knew it I was in Kuwait. I lived there for nine months and then came back, then went to Iraq for eleven months. When I came back, I moved to Colorado and then in 2009, I was sent to Afghanistan for a couple of tours. As of this June, I will be fourteen years in the Navy Reserves. I’m a Petty Officer First Class E6. It’s my way of giving back to the country.
Snake Blocker with baby Sierra Ravin Blocker
Snake Blocker with baby Sierra Ravin Blocker
Granny: Thank you for serving and for protecting us.
Snake Blocker: You’re welcome. It’s an honor serving. I have my passion with the martial arts, with serving in the navy and, with my family life. The biggest thing that I’ve learned over time is don’t try to change people. Offer them opportunity and they’ll make the decision to change, if they wish.
Granny: Did the military ever ask you to teach martial arts to the people in the reserves?
Snake Blocker: I have. In the four different units that I have been in, at various times, I had been designated as the Command Fitness Coordinator which is the person who is going to be doing your PT and, within the physical training we’ve added the combative aspects to it, particularly the Military Close Quarters Combat (MCQC) program in which you’re fighting multiple attackers and taught in the way of using knives and other like weapons. I was designated to teach MCQC in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan and was recognized for my instruction.
Granny: Did you use the Apache knife fighting and battle tactics like you demonstrated at the Kung Fu Convention?
Snake Blocker: I do, so when you’re talking about close quarters combat, you try to get the soldier, sailor, airmen or Marines to learn to use other means to protect themselves if they run out of ammunition. I incorporate the battle tactics of my culture that I’ve learned about through oral tradition. I always include the Apache knife fighting and battle tactics into the military close quarter combat program.
What’s interesting is that even in the Naval War College they still study a Native Americans to learn lessons from them and, Geronimo (Goyathlay) is often brought up because of the guerilla warfare battle tactics of the Apaches.
When people watched cowboy and Indian movies they’d visualize twelve Apaches surrounding a wagon, but if you study history, before the Spaniards, Columbus, Germans, French and English came over, there were at the least ten million to two hundred million natives that were in the area we call the United States today. There were massive amounts of people who lived all over the area and as people came over, they began pushing them into smaller areas and, there was mass genocide going on. I’ve never seen an accurate depiction of the genocide of early America. Millions and millions died over a hundred year period, but it’s the victor who writes the history.
If the native people had joined forces there wouldn’t have been enough people to resist us, but there was segregation between the tribes and nations. I bring this history into my training and explain that nobody is safe forever; genocide is not a thing of the past and, just because we have superior fire power, you might not always have access to it. You have to learn to fight with as many resources as you can. What was considered savagery by the invaders was considered regular day to day battle tactics for the Apache. Up until the 1940’s the U. S. Government was still chasing down renegade Apaches.
Granny: You were speaking about your people’s history and that brings us to your book, Apache Warrior Journey 1. I wish I had more time to go through your book at the convention. The stories and the photos were absolutely breathtaking. What prompted you to write this book?
Snake Blocker: I learned a long time ago that unless something is written down, it will be forgotten. If you can preserve a language like Latin and Greek in a cultural sense then it will live forever. Then you have these other people who only had an oral tradition and when they were wiped out, their history was lost. There thousands of native cultures that we’ve lost their history completely. When I looked at the books that were out there on Apaches, the majority were written by Non-Apaches. The ones that were written by Apaches spoke specifically of only one tribe of Apache.
Over twenty years when I traveled, if I found someone who was Apache, I’d sit down to talk to them or got their e-mail and learned their stories. Some only had a few stories or had a picture of their grandfather and they would say, “I remember that my grandfather told me how to make a bow or he told me how to cook and here is the recipe.”
You pick out bits and pieces from different Apaches. It was good stuff and, I was in Afghanistan getting the finishing touches on the book; twenty years of me collecting notes. Half the book is about oral history from modern Apaches that had never been in print before and it tied in with some of the stuff from the history books. The book is a more complete picture of the Apache Nation as a whole.
Granny: I thought so as I scanned through the book. There was so much in there about the land, the people and especially the women. You could tell that it took you a long time to pull this together.
Snake Blocker: I put some footnotes in there about the military tactics but I realized it was a bigger picture than that. We needed to understand who my people were and are today; who we are as a nation; what is the diversity of our culture. For example, the Jicarilla Apaches see the snake as a bad omen where the Lipan Apache see the snake as a symbol of strength. Even with my name comes from the fact that a snake sheds its skin and, it never looks back.
That is how we should be in life. This is the realization of the stories that we do. The most important and favorite part of the book is the stories, myths and legends. There is some truth, there is a moral to the story and, always a lesson learned from the different tribes.
Granny: This book is so amazing, and you also write poetry. How many poetry books have you published?
Snake Blocker: Four, which are titled: The Art of Boundaries, The Art of Expression, The Art of Emotion and The Art of Compromise.
Granny: You also have a Muay Thai Manuel. Are your books self-published or traditional?
Snake Blocker: I went traditional with the first one, The Art of Emotion with a small run publication under Hidden Thoughts Publication in 1997. The reprints and newer books are done under Blurb.com
Granny: Are you working on any new books?
Snake Blocker: I have enough notes to finish the next Apache book. They can buy my poetry current books as PDF download, table top hard cover limited book or in eBook form.
Granny: I saw that Apache Warrior Journey 1 can also be purchased as an Ebook or PDF download.
Snake Blocker: The books can be purchased on Blurb and I donate portion of the funds to the Apache Bison program in Texas. We started with two bison and the Lipan tribe gets no funding but we have a community tribal museum that is opened to the general public and we have a small lot of land, which is privately owned by tribal members. Our goal is to produce more and more bison, but everything relies on donations. Fifteen dollars buys some food for those bison, which will lead to more bison and, that’s how we’ll build the program. You can find more about my tribes programs at www.lipanapache.org
Granny: Thank you so much Snake Blocker for taking the time to do this interview and I will be promoting your books on my blog and, I would like to touch base with you later on to learn more about the second Apache Warrior book and the bison program.
For my readers, you can learn more about Snake Blocker on the sites below.
Snake Blocker Websites: http://www.blockeracademy.com/ http://www.snakeblocker.com/ http://www.globalknifefighting.com/ http://www.executiveworldfitness.com
Folow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SnakeBlocker
Snake Blocker’s books can be purchased here: http://www.blurb.com/b/988166-the-art-of-compromise Apache Warrior Journey 1 EBook http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3396783/
Snake Blocker’s next seminar event will be with W. Hock Hochheim in Oberlin, Kansas: