Marlon Patawaran's Kicks N' Sticks Dojo –
More than Just Breaking Boards
Debby Tewes
(Clockwise from top right) Eric Haberman and
Anthony Loyola; Marlon Patawaran and Angelica
Varona-Camara; sometimes students just have fun
competition and earned medals and applause from parents and fellow competitors. Another program benefiting from
Marlon’s passion to “give back” is St. Aemilians Residential Home for young men with behavioral problems. St. Aemilian’s
is an interventional facility that works to redirect behaviors before the participants find themselves in situations with law
enforcement. Kicks N’ Sticks provides a healthy outlet for some extreme physical activity and a positive channel for a “bit of
kicking and yelling” that is encouraged by the St. Aemilian’s staff with Marlon leading the pack.

According to St. Aemilian’s website, Mike O’Leary, Division Director, was looking for a program that gives the young men an
outlet for their energy as well as teaches them to respect themselves and others, reinforcing positive behaviors. The
repetition and intense physicality of martial arts was the perfect match. The young men can earn the distinctive black
uniforms worn by martial artists if they exhibit having learned the lessons it teaches. In addition to the physical side, they
also learn quiet meditation and to think about how they react to negative actions by others. The program has proven
popular with the staff and the participants. Research has shown that repetitive physical activity can mitigate childhood
trauma by rerouting neural pathways. Yoga, dance and percussion are also incorporated into St. Aemilian’s programs.
Marlon returns as often as he can to his native Philippines where he sees young people, particularly young women
participating in dangerous activities that he would like to help change. The Philippines is a society in flux and change can
Angelica Varona-Camara who now serves as past President
and the indefatigable  P. Emraida Kiram serving as Treasurer.
Emraida is also the founder of the local group. So in addition to
running his martial arts dojo, Marlon has a lot of plans for the
upcoming year with FANHS. But first, his primary passion:
Martial Arts.

At his invitation I stopped by on a Friday evening to watch a
couple of his adult and young students run through some of
their training exercises. Marlon has created a unique form of
Filipino Martial arts that he calls “Kapampangan” that
incorporates various styles from his native Philippines,
Panuntukan (Filipino boxing), Sikaran (shifting kicks),
Bolo (Filipino farmer’s sword), Balisong (butterfly knife) and
Arnis (stick fighting). All of the students are encouraged to learn
the Tagalog language terms for the forms they learn as well as
the cultural meanings and history of the land in which
Kapampangan developed.

Marlon’s earliest exposure to martial arts was literally in the
sugar cane fields where he worked as a young man in
Pampanga. Marlon grew up in a barrio called Barangay Saguin,
By Debby Tewes

The first thing you notice when you
walk into the room that Marlon
occupies is his intensity. He has a
knack for getting things done. Not
only is this his manner but it spills
over into his passions as well.
Marlon recently was appointed
President of FANHS (Filipino
American National Historical Society)
Milwaukee chapter, succeeding
San Fernando. Pampanga and admits that a bit of his youth was rough and tumble which gives him a good insight to the
issues facing many of today’s young city kids. He sees many who have behavioral or cognitive issues that make
integration into their peer groups even tougher. The discipline of martial arts gives them focus and a sense of
accomplishment as well as close friendships with fellow students. The training in martial arts gives them confidence,
strength and integrity. Another skill that is taught is respect for their teachers, themselves and the people they come in
contact with daily. The mix of Filipino martial arts and traditional Tae Kwon Do also gives the participants a good physical
workout, something most people realize our society is
not providing enough chances for kids to exercise. As
schools struggle to provide the core curriculums in
public education, the enrichment classes such as
physical education  along with music and cultural
courses are being cut. So along with physical strength
Marlon ensures they also learn moral strength.

Marlon works with several school based programs
with kids for whom this special curriculum is paying off
in big ways. One is Wings Academy, an MPS Charter
School for children with special needs, cognitive and
learning disabilities. He worked as a martial arts
consultant to their physical education classes. The
kids worked hard to compete in a Tae Kwon Do
be difficult especially if one lives in poverty and lacks access to a good
education. He hopes to find ways to provide more educational
opportunities and safer environments for young people to explore their
options in life.

Since he came to the U.S. in 1993 with his mother at the age of 18, he
has been grateful for opportunities presented to him by living here and it
is important for him to give back. Marlon’s wife Shawna, is a teacher of
special needs children and encourages him in his work. Marlon is proud
to be the first full blooded Filipino Martial Arts instructor in Wisconsin and
the chance it gives him to share the rich culture of his homeland. He
hopes to continue raise the profile of the Filipino community in
Milwaukee and its contributions to the city in which he happily resides
with his family. FANHS is planning a number of events to showcase
Philippine culture in 2012.

You can reach Marlon or check into classes at his dojo
Kicks N’ Sticks
10045 West Lisbon, Suite 108
Milwaukee, WI 53222 To read the full article from St. Aemilian’s
Newsletter click
Performing at the Asian Moon Festival