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Friends seek to spread Seminole warrior spirit

FORT LAUDERDALE — Tucomah Robbins and Jason Melton have been friends for many years, and also have a shared interest in and respect for Seminole culture – particularly through war reenactments and weapons techniques.

Their talents have coalesced through their work with the Tribe’s Osceola Warrior Legacy and at ISR Matrix International in Fort Lauderdale.

The Osceola Warrior Legacy – created by Charlie Osceola – does demonstrations of traditional Seminole weaponry in the hopes of educating and sharing historical knowledge.

The original members of the group are Robbins, Travis Billie and Quenton Cypress. Melton joined about six months after the group started.

Robbins and Melton have excelled at their crafts, including a steady rise in skill levels and certifications at ISR – which stands for Intercept, Stabilize and Resolve.

ISR specializes in tactical training and consulting for state and federal law enforcement and military special teams. It also offers self-defense and personal protection programs to civilians.

South Florida’s Luis Gutierrez is the founder and CEO who launched the company in 1999. He’s known Robbins, 25, and Melton, 26 since they were youngsters.

Jason Melton, left, and Tucomah Robbins practice with other members of ISR Matrix at a facility in Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 8. (Photo Damon Scott)

Robbins’ specialties include the Spanish rifle and Muay Thai (Thai boxing), while Melton’s consist of the knife, tomahawk and Jiu-jitsu martial art. They know many other skills as well.

The three met at Big Cypress Martial Arts, both a training spot for Osceola Warrior Legacy and a place that offered martial arts, sports and fitness programs for Tribal members ages five and up.

BCMA operated for 10 years before closing its doors in 2018.

Gutierrez was often at BCMA helping with choreography that would improve the group’s demonstrations.

“In that time, we developed our traditional Osceola Warrior Legacy reenactment and stunt team under Charlie Osceola’s vision,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said he also immediately saw the potential in Robbins and Melton. He began to teach them the core concepts and techniques of ISR.

“He gave us bits and pieces and when he saw we could handle it, he started showing us more,” Robbins said.

Eventually Gutierrez invited the two to an ISR training.

Robbins and Melton have since joined Gutierrez on trainings in Iceland – ISR’s flagship location – and also in Reno, Nevada.

They are going back to Iceland in February as instructors – the first as ISR civilian leaders (other than Gutierrez) who are not law enforcement or military.

There’s a future trip planned for Japan as well.

‘Warrior mentality’

Robbins and Melton, both from Big Cypress, have a goal to combine what they have learned from their time at BCMA, in the Osceola Warrior Legacy and at ISR, and offer it to Tribal members.

Part of the goal includes reopening BCMA.

“We’re trying to bring it back. We had a petition at [the American Indian Arts Celebration]. We’re going to try and go to [Council] meetings and bring it up,” Melton said. “We want to step in as instructors over there. We want to keep it within the Tribe. We have community support.”

The pair also have plans for what classes they’d offer: Jiu-jitsu for younger kids; ISR courses for adults; and stunts for a Native American team to perform at Osceola Warrior Legacy events.

Luis Gutierrez, founder and CEO of ISR Matrix International, presents Jason Melton, left, and Tucomah Robbins with their “Subject Control Instructor” certificates on Nov. 8 in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo Damon Scott)

“There’s no other Tribe that we know of doing what we do,” Melton said. “There’s no young group of men showcasing how to be a warrior, or to show that they can fight.”

They’d also like to take the Osceola Warrior Legacy on the road throughout Florida and outside of the state to other Indian Country locations.

The group currently showcases the weapons tactics used in the Seminole Wars at Tribal events, the Fort King reenactment in Ocala and at other Florida locations.

“One of our goals is to bring back a warrior society and bring back that warrior spirit,” Robbins said. “There are different kinds of warriors, too. There’s not just a warrior that’s physical. You can be a warrior of the mind. But the warrior mentality is what we’re trying to bring back.”

Added Melton: “We’re trying to cultivate that with the youth.”

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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