Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Three Cups of Language

In Linguistics and Language Learning on September 28, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Learning Your Third Foreign Language

By Antonio Graceffo


At a popular bar in Tainan, Taiwan, a Polish-Canadian girl was celebrating her graduation from the International MBA program. She spoke English at near-native-speaker level, with only the occasional hint of her Polish origin. Two new IMBA students were invited to the party. They just arrived from Poland and were happy to have found one of the few people on the island, who spoke their language. The Polish-Canadian girl switched easily from Polish to English, speaking to her various friends and well-wishers. At one point, she turned to say something to a Chinese colleague, and I was shocked at how unbelievably bad her Chinese was, after two years of living and studying in Taiwan.


The syntax was wrong. The Grammar was wrong. The pronunciation was so flawed, I barely understood her. The Chinese native speaker didn’t even realize she was speaking Chinese.


How could this be? This girl was obviously multi-lingual. She had just completed two years of studies in Taiwan. Why was her Chinese so bad?


To understand the dynamics at work here, we need to first dispel a commonly believed myth. Many people think that Bilingual people are exceptional language learners. But this is not the case, more on this in just a moment.


A Canadian friend who was also at the party, asked, “But isn’t it true that your first language is hard. Then the second one is easier. And that the more languages you know, the easier they are to learn?”


My friend’s question was a good one. Is learning a third language easier than learning a second? And would that mean that learning a fourth language is easier still?


The short answer is, yes, but this only applies to LEARNED languages. Your native tongue, no matter how many native tongues you have, does not count as a learned language. Every person, in every culture, everywhere in the world acquires his native tongue. And if he lives in a culture with two or three official languages, he simply acquires two or three languages, regardless of intelligence or language learning ability.


In China, even small children can speak Chinese. Does this mean that they are more intelligent than you because you cannot?


Nearly 70% of Taiwanese people grow up speaking both Mandarin and Taiwanese. Many also speak Haka or some tribal language. Since they are growing up with two or three languages, one would assume that they were good language learners. But after years and years, and countless hours of English classes, they generally score on lowest levels of English fluency on competitive exams, against other non-English speaking countries.


I had a Chinese-Canadian girl studying with me in Costa Rica, she was absolutely incapable of stringing a decent Spanish sentence together, after a year of studying in the country. Before arriving in Costa Rica, she completed two years of Spanish studies at university and achieved perfect marks.


One night, in San Jose, we were in a Chinese restaurant. The Chinese-Canadian girl found that the waiter couldn’t understand her English. She asked me to translate into Spanish, when we discovered that the waiter’s Spanish was less than basic. This was long before I spoke Chinese.


“Couldn’t you just talk to him in Chinese?” I asked.

“Oh, no, I could never do that.” She told me. “Chinese is a home language. I can only speak it with my family.”


Your native tongue, or tongues, doesn’t count as a learned language, because you neither studied it, nor, learned it, in an academic sense. Your mother didn’t force you to memorize list of irregular verbs and tenses. She never had you diagram sentences, or do dictionary exercises. But, when you study a language, in a traditional program, you will be asked to do all of this and more.


When I studied Applied Linguistics, at the University of Main, in Germany, we had any number of bilingual, trilingual, multilingual people among the classes of entering freshmen. At the beginning of the studies, the other students envied these “linguistic geniuses.” We marveled at the ease with which they switched from French to German or Russian to German.


When exam time came, however, we discovered that bilingual students were no better at doing homework, completing assignments or memorizing grammar and vocabulary. In fact, in many instances, they were worse off. They had spoken the language for so long, incorrectly, with their family, that their mistakes and shortcomings were cemented, made permanent through wrong practice.


I remember a Mexican-American student telling our Spanish teacher a story about what happened to him while walking along the train tracks. But when he told the story, he referred to the train tracks as, “las cosas para el tren,” the things for the train. The word had actually been on our recent exam, but he continued to talk the way he had when he was five years old and didn’t necessarily possess the correct vocabulary to fully express himself.


This brings up another point about bilingual people. Although many claim to be bilingual, it doesn’t mean that they are 100% fluent or equally fluent in both of their languages. We acquire our mother tongue from our mother, hence the name. Most of this acquisition occurs before we attend school. For monolingual children, attending school reinforces what they have already begun to acquire at home with their mother. But for bilingual children, going off to school may signal the end of the development of their “home language.” The vocabulary and usage may become frozen at the state of development of a five or six year old. The Mexican-American kid will go on to take course in biology, chemistry, history, and literature, all taught in English. If he is clever, he will eventually go on to university. Maybe he will become a lawyer or an engineer. Will he know all of this specialized vocabulary in Spanish? Monolingual kids acquire this specialized vocabulary in school. Bilingual children usually don’t acquire it at all.


Before I’m accused of being antibilingual, let me say that I have also known brilliant linguists and translators who were raised bilingually. But, they became brilliant by attending school. The only advantage they had over a non-native speaker, or their monolingual classmates, was that their pronunciation and accent were usually better, than an acquired accent or pronunciation.


In my case, I grew up constantly exposed to Spanish and Italian. But I didn’t actually learn the languages till I went off to college and studied. When I worked in the financial industry in New York, I knew Spanish vocabulary for accounting and finance only because I had attended business school in Costa Rica.


Said another way, when I was five, my grandmother never taught me the words for exotic options, hedge strategies, or tax avoidance. Grandma and I never discussed the merits of covering a stock position with puts and calls.


So, whether you agree or not, it is clear at this point where I stand on the subject of bilingual people acquiring a third language. Now, let’s deal with the other part of the theory. If you learned two languages, through study, is the third language easier? I say yes, but….We need to understand how language is acquired, and even experts are torn on this subject.


David Long, head of the Thai language program where I studied in Bangkok, explained how he viewed the way we learn languages. He said to picture an empty cup in your brain. You fill the cup by listing to language. When you have listened to enough language, the cup will run over. The overflow is speech. In other words, first you listen, then you speak. But, correct speech cannot come until you have had sufficient listening.


David’s cup illustration was drawn from a language acquisition theory called ALG (Automatic Language Growth). The theory requires students to listen for an incredibly long time before allowing them to speak. Other theories, such as The Silent Way, also require months of listening before speaking, but ALG is one of the only theories which quantifies how much listening it takes to fill the cup. The number of hours varies depending on the language you want to learn and what your native tongue is, but for most people, we need to listen for 1,000 – 2,000 hours, before we start speaking.


ALG, and many other theories, look at the way a native tongue is acquired. We have already established that the native tongue is acquired by first listening, mostly to your mother. How long do babies listen before they speak? Most children don’t start speaking till somewhere between two and three years old. Some children may possess a vocabulary of between five and twenty words by age two. Babies listen for a long, long time before they start speaking.


The reason why most people find learning a language difficult is because they don’t get enough input before they try to produce output. While listening is the best way to acquire language, the second best way is reading and studying. Whatever the means of input, you need to hit your thousand hours mark if you hope to speak.


An American friend of mine, also in the IMBA program in Taiwan, told me recently. “After nearly four years in Taiwan I am finally ready to admit that I am not going to learn the language by osmosis. I just went down and signed up for classes yesterday.”


The IMBA program, like most IMBA programs, is taught in English. So, foreign students are not exposed to Chinese in the classroom. They are also not exposed to Chinese while they are studying or doing homework, which is all obviously in English. Most students support their studies by working as English teachers, where they are also not exposed to Chinese language.


David Long is really big on writing out time charts of daily routines to demonstrate just how little foreign language exposure the average expat receives.


7:00 – 8:00 Wake up, shower, eat breakfast in the room, while watching CNN

9:00 – 12:00 IMBA classes, in English

12:00 – 3:00 lunch, nap, homework, studying, meet with English-speaking friends to complain about Taiwan

3:00 – 7:30 Teach English

7:30 Eat dinner in the room, watching illegally-downloaded episodes of American TV shows

8:30 – 12:00 Studying, homework, gym, drinking beer, complaining about living in Taiwan

12:00 sleep


It is possible for the average foreigner to get through a whole day without uttering a single word in Chinese, with the exception of ordering food. We could be generous and say that people with similar schedules are exposed to 20 minutes of language per day. But honestly, it’s not new language. It’s the same 20 minutes of language as yesterday: “What would you like to eat? Is that for here or to go? Would you like to take advantage of our new buy-five, get-three-free promotion?”


That twenty-minutes of language is probably worth about five minutes in terms of learning. At five minutes per day, how many days do we need to reach the necessary 1,000 hours?


In actuality, at this rate you could never learn a language. At five minutes per day, the rate at which we loose language would exceed the rate you would learn it. In fact, if your exposure is less than a solid hour per day, you will probably never learn it.


If you think about a language lesson you attended, you learned a number of words and phrases. Maybe you even completed the exercises in class. Ten minutes after class let out, you forgot fifty percent of the new vocabulary. By the time you sat down to do your homework, it was almost like seeing a brand new list of words, you had never heard before. That’s why exposure, significant exposure, repeated exposure, and review is necessary. If you didn’t sit down and do homework at the end of each day, that day’s lesson would be completely lost.


A good example of language loss would be all of the Americans who suffered through four years of high school Spanish, but when they went on holiday in Puerto Vallarta, they discovered they couldn’t speak beyond, “Donde esta la biblioteca?” With their Spanish being so bad, finding the library wouldn’t do them a lot of good anyway?


Let’s say that you have successfully acquired a foreign language, after two thousand hours of exposure. Could you acquire the next language in less time?


ALG says that when you start to acquire a second language you simply establish a second cup in your brain. The portion of your first cup was simple language mechanics, that babies are unaware of. Those mechanics have to be mastered first, before any language can be learned. But, if you have already learned them once, you don’t need to learn them again. In simple terms, your second cup would be about 15% smaller than the first one. So, you would need 15% less exposure to learn the second language. The third language might be marginally easier, but for the most part the third, fourth and 87th languages would all be equally as difficult to learn.


Keep in mind, we are talking language acquisition, in general, not about the difficulties in learning specific language combinations. Related languages, of course, would be easier to learn. For example, if your second language is Khmer, you will acquire Thai faster than someone whose second language is German. Learning Spanish is easier of you already speak Italian.


Although David Long and I would both agree that this is true, we vary slightly in why we believe the second, related language is easier to learn. We both agree that there are such concepts as linguistic triggers. In other words, the smell of Thai food triggers Thai language in my brain. David says that the reason why a Khmer speaker learns Thai faster is because cultural understanding is one of the most important aspects in language learning. I agree with him that the cultural understanding is important. But I still can’t get away from the nuts and bolts. I am, on some level, a language mechanic. I say the second and third languages may be easier, also, because of similarities in grammar and vocabulary. ALG, on the other hand, says don’t get hung up on words. Language is about communication. I agree, but I still like to see my students copying vocabulary lists.


It’s a minute point, which language geeks, like myself, enjoy debating. But, the practical point we both agree on is, the second or third related language is slightly easier to learn.


In my personal language ethos, I picture boxes in my head, labeled with the names of languages I speak. There are boxes for English, Chinese, Thai, Khmer….I studied some Filipino and learned a bit of the language when I was at school there, but not enough that Filipino has its own separate box in my brain.


So, what happened to the Polish girl?


Here is my theory, and it goes along with my boxes in your brain theory.


The Antonio Theory of Language Acquisition:


We all have a box in our brain, marked for our native tongue, for example, “English.” Nearly everyone has had at least some foreign language classes in their life. But, most people don’t learn their studied languages to any level of fluency. So, a box marked “French” never gets built in your brain. Instead, you have a box marked “Foreign language.” And in that box are the remnants of your high school French and college Spanish and that six week Berliz course you did in Japanese.


The languages won’t break out and form their own boxes till you study them more deeply.


At school in Thailand, I often had people tell me, “Every time I try to speak Thai, my high school Spanish comes out of my mouth. And I don’t even speak Spanish.”


My theory is that the new Thai words these students are learning simply get piled into the box marked “Foreign Language.” When someone approaches them and asks a question in Thai, like “what’s your name?” The student reaches into the box marked “Foreign Language,” and grabs the answer closest to the top, the one that he practiced the most, the one that has been in there the longest. He responds, “Me llamo Pablo.”


After 500 hours of study, Thai will have its own box, and this type of interference won’t occur anymore.


In the case of the Polish girl, I believe that she was born with the native tongue of Polish. She moved to Canada before she finished elementary school. At first, English went into a box, marked “Foreign Language.” And, she probably sometimes responded in Russian or German, when someone asked her, “what’s your name?” Eventually, because she was attending school every day, English got its own box. Once that happened, the only interference came from Polish, her mother tongue.


After a number of years of school in Canada, the young lady reached a point where her total exposure to English exceeded her hours of exposure to Polish. In fact, she didn’t even possess Polish vocabulary for half of what she was learning in school. At that point, English jumped up a notch, and became the defacto mother tongue. Polish became a second, extremely fluid, foreign language. Along the way, her high school French lessons were shoved into a box with the German and Russian she had learned in school in Poland.


She was probably no better, and possibly worse at learning French than were her mono or bilingual Canadian classmates.


When she came to Taiwan to take her IMBA, she also took Chinese classes, because she had an interest in learning languages. The Chinese lessons went, not into her English language box, but into the highest priority foreign language box in her brain, namely, Polish.


I noted that when she spoke Chinese, her accent was 100% Polish and not English. If she spoke at length, and if we had a Polish native speaker helping us to analyze her syntax and grammar, I bet we would find that most of her mistakes were mistakes made by a Polish native speaker and not a native speaker of English.


Amazingly, she no longer makes mistakes in English. This would support my thesis that English has become her native tongue. But, it is her original native tongue, now her strongest foreign language which interferes with her acquisition of Chinese.


In theory, no matter what your native tongue is or what language is giving you interference, you should be able to learn Chinese after 2,000 hours of listening. But, being in the IMBA program, and not a Chinese language program, she had probably had less than a few hundred hours of Chinese input. Most of the IMBA students who take Chinese classes on the side, don’t concentrate too much on them because they are not part of the degree program. And they often drop out of their Chinese lessons, in order to devote more time to their IMBA studies. At that point, their level of exposure to Chinese is the same as any other foreigner in Taiwan, nearly zero.


On a psycholinguistic level, I wondered if she may even have an emotional attachment to the language she spoke as a young girl and on some, subconscious level didn’t not want to let go of it. Could she be so emotionally attached to Polish that she will never learn Chinese?


I don’t know. I write, and throw my ideas out there in the hopes that readers will write back and give me some in put.


Antonio Garceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. His book, The Monk from Brooklyn, is available at See his vieos on youtub.


His website is

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Book Release: “Rediscovering the Khmers”

In Book release on September 28, 2008 at 5:56 am

By Antonio Graceffo


Get the book at


Antonio Graceffo’s long awaited book about the Kingdom of Cambodia.


“Shortly after the turn of the century, some French guy crawled out of the jungle and announced, ‘I have discovered Angkor Wat.’ The Khmers looked at each other and said, ‘We didn’t know it was missing.’ Just like the famous temple, no outsider can truly discover the Khmers. But if we spend enough time in the country, learn the language, the religion, the martial art, and the culture, maybe we can re-discover them.”


Antonio Graceffo



Mention Cambodia and most people think of either Angkor Wat or the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. But there is so much more! To help “get the word out,” Antonio was hired to show Cambodia‘s possibilities, helping increase its tourism industry. To accomplish this daunting task, he traveled the country and played tourist. It turned out to be an interesting experience, full of an extreme variety of encounters. As you follow his adventures, it is difficult not to agree with his conclusions. Cambodia‘s infrastructure makes developing a proper tourism industry extremely problematic. However, the Cambodian people make some of the finest friends to be found anywhere. Enjoy traveling through Cambodia as only Antonio can describe, rediscovering who the Khmers really are!


“Rediscovering the Khmers” is Antonio’s fifth book. See all of his books on


Join him on email him at

See his website

See his videos on youtube



Doing Something is Better than Doing Nothing

In Motivational on September 14, 2008 at 1:36 pm


By Antonio Graceffo


Since earliest childhood I had the dream of being a movie star. I wanted to be rich and famous. When I read that Elvis had to rent out an amusement park, just so he wouldn’t get mobbed by his fans, I said, “that is exactly how famous I want to be.”


I am still not there. Occasionally my family recognizes me, and I do get fan mail from people I owe money to, but I am more famous this year than last year. Since leaving the world of finance behind me in New York, I have published five books. I do get fan mail every single day, but usually only one or two pieces. I earn book royalties and magazine story fees, but not even enough to afford the concrete bunker I was living in the Philippines.


I got a few spots on TV shows on the History Channel and wrote a show for Discovery.


I didn’t get my own TV show, but I did manage to get my own web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey.” I also starred in a series of videos shot inside the war zone in Burma. Even with spelling errors and doing a low budget production, we were able to bring a lot of attention, and help to the people of Shanland Burma, while raising awareness of their plight. It also gave me one more credit as a journalist and film guy.  Would it have been better to do a big production for television? Yes. But if I had waited for that to happen, it might never have got done. Also, now, I can show my flawed videos to production companies and say, “If you back my financially I can do a better version of this.” They can see the concept, and make a more informed decision.


It’s not Hollywood. After seven years of traveling and writing, I am not rich or famous yet. But this year was better than last year. And hopefully next year will be better again.


The point is, if you have a dream, follow it. You may not get the exact success that you want, or it may take a long time to get there, but you will Never reach your goal if you don’t try.


Because of my decision to leave the normal career path, I have had the opportunity to do and see things that most people can’t even dream of. Sometimes I don’t have food or a place to sleep. And of course, a lot of people tell me I would be better off quitting. It gets tough sometimes to stick to my dreams, but I have learned to live by two very important axioms:


Incremental success is better than no success at all.


Doing something is better than doing nothing.  



My friend Shlomo is a would-be film maker, who helped me with a lot of my youtube videos, which related to Burma and my work with the Shan refugees and rebels. He wrote me, while I was at school in the Philippines and said that, although he had spent almost as many years in Asia as me, and although he had shot hundreds of hours of raw footage, the only videos he ever managed to finish and publish were mine. And, he didn’t know why.


I told him that when I worked on Wall Street we learned that there are a lot of people who never even begin working on their dreams. In fact, probably 80% of businesses dissolve before they sell their first widget. The person, or people, who conceived a particular business plan made it seem like it was their life’s dream, an all consuming desire. Then it evaporated for one reason or another.


Back in the States, a friend of mine wanted to start a wine importing business on the internet. He talked about it non-stop for weeks, drawing up plans, designing logos. He saw the wine business as a ticket out of restaurants where he worked as a waiter. And best of all, he could work on his business at night, when he got off work, so he wouldn’t need to quit his day job. He didn’t even have to buy the wines. He would just find them, take orders, then purchase them. The plan sounded good. In my opinion, even if he didn’t make millions, he would earn something, more than what he had now. And once you get started in business other opportunities and problems arise that you never planned on. But you can’t know until you get there.


The guy who started Wrigleys gum, gave the gum away as a premium for people who bought his soap powder. After several months, he realized the gum was more popular, so he did it the other way around, selling the gum and giving away the soap. He made millions. In fact, most people don’t know this, but Wrigleys gum is the only American product which is sold in every single country in the world. Even Coke doesn’t have the penetration of Wrigleys. Nearly every stick of gum, made by every company, is owned, in some way, by Wrigleys.


But Wrigley couldn’t have anticipated that. He couldn’t have known it until he got out there and gave it a try. I think you are always better off doing something than doing nothing.


My friend with the wine business applied for a small business loan to buy a computer. The bank turned him down and he went into a violent deep depression. “Now, I will never be a business owner. I will be stuck as a waiter forever.”


“Why don’t you just work from an internet café until you earn enough to buy a computer?” I asked.


I don’t remember his exact objection, but my friend gave up on his dream. He liked to believe he was a victim of fate and this experience confirmed his belief. People like to be right, not successful.


Reasons are always given when people give up their dreams, but the fact is, people sabotage themselves. And I don’t know why they do it. And I have done it to myself. Just be aware of it and ask yourself why you didn’t do this or that, which you have always wanted to do.


On my last visit to Cambodia, my master needed my help with several things. We had been working together, over a period of years, to preserve the Cambodian martial art of Bokator, which had nearly died out.


1. He needed a free basic website

2. He needed me to write the English text for his book.

3. He needed us to do some youtube movies together.

4. He wanted to build a massive Bokator temple, and he needed $30,000,000 to build it.


I looked at his list and I told him, “I will interview you every day over the next few days, and then transcribe the interviews. We can use that text for your book, and your website. I can set up a basic, free, website for you, but someone with more skill will need to refine it afterwards. I can write the Bokator videos and arrange for my friend Alfred to film them for us.


We made an appointment for me to come and start the interview process. When I showed up, he told me, “I am sorry. I am too busy designing the temple. And I just can’t get any of these other projects done till I know the temple is complete.”


Obviously he didn’t have thirty million dollars. He would never have thirty million dollars, which meant the temple would never be done. Which meant, he would never do the other things on the list.


This is how 99% of people live. They are incapable of completing anything.


Another master I train with told me, “I received phone calls and email from around the world because of the youtube videos you did of me. And many journalists found me and did stories on me. And the association gave me an award for helping to promote the art.”


I thought this all sounded positive. Then he said to me. “But I looked at the video, and I wished we hadn’t made it because it is not perfect. I wish we could take it down till I make a perfect one.”


Once again, he had no capacity to make a better video. He reaped so many positive benefits from our faulty one, and yet he wanted to go back to when he had nothing.


Go figure.


People who read “Monk from Brooklyn,” and my first several books complained that there were a lot of misspelled words and typos. And I agree. They also say that there was no marketing and sales were low. Also true. But, because of those early books, I am a published author, which now is opening other doors for me. I am infinitely better off for having published faulty books than I would have been had I waited to publish perfect ones.  I don’t care about the problems with my books. The rights to Monk revert back to me in 2008. I can rewrite it and released it with better editing. The same is true of the other books.


So many people send me email to tell me that my website, is far from perfect. I always say, “ok can you fix it for me?” The answer of course is always “no” and that I should take it down till I can afford to do a good website. Screw them! I have no money for a better website and don’t anticipate having money for a better website. Right now, at least I have a website. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get any work at all. Later, hopefully I can hire someone to build a better one. But take away my books and take away my website, and I am not a working author, I am back at square one. And no one gives you anything when you are at square one.


People are hung up on stupid details that prevent them from moving forward. I don’t know why, but seems to be the natural way of man.


The first step to achieving your goals is to start. The second step is failure. You will fail along the way. You will meet problems, and successes, that you never could have imagined till you started on the path. Most people don’t fail to achieve their dreams, they QUIT. So, the obvious two rules are, “Start working on your dream.” and “Don’t quit.”


And one more rule, tell everyone about your dreams and ask for help.


So, taking my own advice: My dream is still to get my own TV show and be wildly successful, rich, and famous. So, if you liked this article, and you can help me with that dream, please contact me.



Antonio Graceffo is a former investment banker. He left the world of finance to pursue his dream of being an adventure and martial arts author in Asia. For seven years he has traveled around Asia, living and studying in temples, learning languages and martial arts. He has published five books, available on and several hundred magazine articles. He is the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey.”

See his website: Join him on

Write him:


Antonio is a professional, motivational speaker, available to tell his inspirational story of rags-to-riches-and back to rags.

Where I am now and what I am doing

In Motivational on September 14, 2008 at 1:35 pm

By Antonio Graceffo


Just wanted to touch base and let you know where I am and what i am doing.
I was in and out of
with the Shane State Army rebels for about five
months, doing a serties of short films and articles.

here is a link to my youtube films.

I left Thailand and headed to Philippines, where I completed a course for
EMT emergency medical technician. I also complete swim rescue training and
another black belt in traditional martial arts. I stayed in
volunteering on an ambulance crew in a pretty rough neighborhood, till my
money ran out. I had been living in a ten by ten, concrete room with no
windows, no air conditioning and only a wooden bed, with no mattress. It
was brutaly hot and terribly uncomfortable. Eventually, I couldnt even
afford this luxurious accomodation.

My plan was to return to Burma as a medic or medic trainer, but I ran out
of money completely. So, I went to
, my current location, where i am
teaching school. I taught English, wrestling, and Tae Kwan Do for the
summer and will be teaching English, writing, and public speaking for the

I have spoken to a couple of NGOs about going back to Burma, and maybe
cambodia, as a medic trainer and have talked to some film crews about
going back into Burma to do a higher quality documentary. It seems that I
will most likely be going back to Burma in December.

We are looking for markets for the film. I am looking for markets for the
stories. I am still looking to get my own TV series, and I am looking for
a publicher for the book about Burma.

If you have any connections or anyone who could help me out with any of
this, that would be huge.



Antonio Graceffo is a former investment banker. He left the world of finance to pursue his dream of being an adventure and martial arts author in Asia. For seven years he has traveled around Asia, living and studying in temples, learning languages and martial arts. He has published five books, available on and several hundred magazine articles. He is the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey.”

See his website: Join him on

Write him:


Antonio is a professional, motivational speaker, available to tell his inspirational story of rags-to-riches-and back to rags.