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Saturday’s Armenian Genocide Remembrance Event

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On Saturday, April 19, from noon till well past 2 p.m., the Fight Shop on Miramar Road in San Diego hosted the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Event, a free, two hour plus, open mat self defense presentation.

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After a discussion of the ghastly Armenian Genocide, the event’s organizer, Hayk Bel Harutyunyan ended the presentation by stating, “We, as the descendants of the survivors of this genocide, owe it to those who perished, not just in the Armenian Genocide, but in all crimes against humanity, to keep speaking out against these atrocities and let all of humanity know, so it will never, ever happen again.”

On closing, the instructors went immediately into their insightful mixed martial arts instruction. How insightful? When you see an instructor with a Black Belt in one discipline being fascinated by another instructor’s hold in another discipline, you know they have everyone’s attention.

First instructor up was Jason Bukich from The Arena MMA in Point Loma who with his long hair and full beard bears a strong resemblance to the late actor Jeffrey Hunter who portrayed Jesus Christ in the 1961 movie classic King of Kings.

The reason for mentioning this similarity was the demeanor of Bukich who kept mentioning his concern for the people he's restrained in one of his choke holds rather than the normal braggadocios manner of “I put this goon’s lights out, then stomped on his face.” The mannerly Mr. Bukich went through several practical maneuvers you can use when being accosted by someone who has had a few too many drinks.

The most popular maneuvers involved how to defend yourself when your adversary is much taller and stronger and the ways to counteract that height and strength advantage.

Halfway through his demonstration came this unplanned tale about the time he had to put a large pit bull in a choke hold. This elderly woman was out walking her small dog when a pit bull attacked. With the small dog being thrashed about in the pit bull’s mouth, Jason grabbed it from behind and began choking it the same way he would a grown man. After the pit bull went limp, he was able to pry the puppy loose from the pit bull’s mouth. A short time later, after the puppy was safely back in the woman’s arms, the maniacal pit bull regained consciousness but was still a bit woozy.

Bukich has been passionate in his study of Martial Arts ever since he began at age four. He trained in the Striking Arts until he was 16, then transitioned to Jiu Jitsu, studying under the late Jeremy Williams. Since William’s passing, he has traveled the world, teaching and learning Jiu Jitsu wherever possible. He has trained with some incredible practitioners like Rani Yahya and Baret Yoshida who awarded Jason his Black Belt.

Jason has competed at the highest level against people like World BJJ Champ Saulo Ribeiro. He’s also a Pro MMA fighter with a current record of 4-0, all wins by Submission.

When Bukich finished, it was Hayk Bel Harutyunyan's turn and like with Bukich’s insightful holds and escapes, Harutyunyan amazed everyone, including Bukich, with his disarming tactics. With one quick motion he had people on their knees grimacing in pain.

At the close of the seminar, those present were given a free Armenian Genocide Remembrance Event shirt and advised there would be further self defense classes at the same gym, the Fight Shop on Miramar Road.

And you know they just couldn’t wait to try out some of those new tactics on some unsuspecting thug.

To reiterate the gravity of the Armenian Genocide:

Long before Rwanda, Bosnia and the Holocaust, the first genocide of the 20th century occurred in an area formerly known as Turkish Armenia and learning about it is important since we all have a responsibility to never allow such inhumane acts to occur or go unpunished, especially in the interdependent world in which we live.

The Armenian Genocide was a strategically planned eight year campaign by the Young Turk government to rob and kill the Christian Armenian population. It began in 1915 and continued for eight years. As a result it led to the destruction of the Armenian society across the region.

What’s so confounding is how a country like Turkey can continue to distort what happened in an effort to protect their reputation and those who prospered. During this period, the Turks slaughter approximately 1.5 million Armenians and some historians believe this grievous act attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler and thus was partly responsible for sowing the seeds of the Holocaust.

WWI increased people’s suspicions of all minority groups. At that time outsiders were considered a potential threat, especially the Jews, who were seen as sleek profiteers of the armaments industry.

Some countries are still in denial that the Holocaust occurred. Between 1933 and 1945, more than 11 million men, women, and children were murdered in the Holocaust, approximately six million Jews, 1.1 million children.

But who are we to point a finger? It took until just recently for the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pass a resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide, clearing the way for the resolution to be voted upon in the Senate. Why wasn’t it done years ago? Was it because of Turkey’s influential lobbyists in Washington D. C.?

Armenia, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, now has around three million people in the motherland and seven million world wide in 120 countries. Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which Noah’s Ark is said to have come to rest after the flood. (Bible, Gen. 8:4).

With the oldest cathedral in the world, Etchmiadzin Cathedral, it’s the first country to embrace Christianity as it’s official religion due to the hard work of apostles Saint Thaddeus and Saint Bartholomew. One of our favorite fruits, the apricot, grows in abundant numbers as an escaped naturalized plant along their roadsides.

Long live the Republic of Armenia!

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