History of Vadha

Vadha's history 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, was Dhrama.

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.

These monasteries 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.

Taoist Buddhism 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 surrounding him. 

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.

Very 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 States.

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.

Master Salvaggio 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 [1993], 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 [1993], 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.

2/1/00 -- 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:  

[Author's Note:  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.]