Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Living and Dying the Dream

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

By Antonio Graceffo

Live life to the fullest. Cut the chains that bind you. Let go of material things and follow your dreams. BUT! know that there is a huge price. You won’t have a family, a home, or money. And you may die young. Antonio Graceffo

Safari as a way of life.

Dan Eldon

Hitch my heart to a wing and never land.

Sam Stavros, from his song “For Dan, Neverland”

My friend, Italian wanderer and journalist Marco Ferarrese is doing a story on My Global tribe video project, which features the Sam Stavros song, Dan Eldon Neverland. Dan Eldon was the young Reuters photographer, who lead a number of humanitarian aid missions in Africa and was stoned to death in Mogadishu at age 22. Sam Stavros, my collaborator on the project, is Dan’s cousin, and a great musician who wrote the song, “For Dan, Neverland”.

Marco conducted an interview with Sam and I about the song, the project, and how Dan Eldon inspired us. He published it in three parts on his website, Monkey Rock World.

An excerpt from the interview.

M- Dan’s life was indeed incredible. How do you relate your life experiences to Dan’s? As an adventure writer and martial artists, and as a musician, which is the meaning of your particular stance to life, if you have any?

ANTONIO-Sadly, I am not a musician.  I think Dan’s story touched me so much because I could draw some parallels. I have been in Asia nearly ten years adventuring. Dan spent nearly his entire life outside the US and most of it in Africa. I guess I am tied to Asia now. Dan was a writer, I am a writer. Dan did photography, I take pictures, dan made videos, I make videos, dan worked as a journalist, but he took an active role in helping people when he saw the need. And I have done the same.  We are similar in many ways, but he was greater, because his reach was greater. What is important is the number of people who you can reach. The greater your reach, the greater your capacity to help. Dan’s reach, after the end of his life is much greater than mine, and I am alive. Perhaps that is why he died so young. He had already fulfilled his mission, risen to the heights he needed to, and the rest of us are still struggling to get there.

SAM-Dan’s life was much more imaginative and enduring than my own.  Dan and I both attended the same College in Pasadena and we both traveled – but the difference was that Dan was immersed in a troubled continent and tried to do something about it.

To read the whole interview, click on the link below.

See the Global Tribe Video on youtube

Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “The Monk from Brooklyn” and Warrior Odyssey.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

See all of Antonio’s videos on his youtube channel, brooklynmonk1, send him a friend request or subscribe.

Antonio is also on twitter, with the name, Brooklyn Monk. Follow his adventures and tweets.

His books are available on

Contact him:

His website is sign up for his mailing list on the site.

Global Tribe: Video for Shan State and Burma (Re-Edit)

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

In Memory of Dan Eldon

See the Video on youtube

Dan Eldon lived his very short life helping the people of Africa. He was stoned to death at age 22, but he left behind a powerful legacy of inspiration. Seeing Dan’s mother, Kathy and sister, Amy on TV in Taiwan inspired Antonio Graceffo to reach deeper into his adventures, and try and help people along the way.

It was the story of Dan Eldon that inspired Antonio to get involved with the Shan people and other ethnic minorities, fleeing the war in Burma.

From north America, to Africa, to Burma, this video is the result of an unusual collaboration.

Sam Stavros, Dan’s cousin, is a musician who wrote and performed an incredibly inspirational song; For Dan: Neverland. The Neverland was impetus for this Global Tribe Video. According to Sam, the genocide in Burma is exactly the sort of thing Dan would have been concerned about.

See the Video on youtube

Twenty-two year-old Reuters photographer, Dan Eldon and was stoned to death in Mogadishu, Somalia. In addition to covering conflicts in Africa, he personally organized aid and relief missions to help the starving people. Dan’s mother. Kahy and sister, Amy published his diaries and art work in a book, “The Journey is the Destination.”

Dan believed in the concept of The Global Tribe. Antonio Graceffo was so moved by the life of Dan Eldon and by the music of Sam Stavros that he took Dan’s work from Africa to Asia. Together, Sam and Antonio created this video, using footage of Shan and other ethnicities of Burma.

“The purpose of the video is many fold.” Says Antonio, “I wanted to tell people about Dan and to remind them to lead a powerful life. I also wanted to promote Dan’s concept of the global tribe. Finally, I saw the suffering of the Burmese people, especially the Shan, as being a global, human tragedy which needed to be told.

When Antonio told Sam Stavros about the situation in Burma, Sam said, “This is exactly a situation Dan would have been concerned about.”

Both the book and story of Dan’s life inspired Antonio Graceffo and countless people around the globe. “Dan made more difference in his short life than many do in a long lifetime.” BBC

Sam Stavros, Dan’s cousin, wrote a moving song dedicated to Dan’s life, entitled, “Neverland.” The song is both powerful and moving and encourages people to follow their dreams, to fly, and never land.

Kathy and Amy formed a foundation called Creative Visions dedicated to the memory of Dan Eldon. “Creative Visions Foundation supports “Creative Activists”, individuals who use the power of media and the arts to create positive change in the world” from

This video is dedicated to the Shan and all of the people suffering at the hands of the Burmese junta.


Martial Arts Odyssey Volume One DVD Available now on Lulu

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 3:33 am

“Martial Arts Odyssey: Volume One”

Featuring the martial arts, Kuntaw and Bokator

Available at

After nearly a decade of traveling through Asia and studying martial arts, Antonio Graceffo releases the first “Martial Arts Odyssey” DVD

“Martial Arts Odyssey” has been a web TV show for nearly three years, and 160 webisodes, spanning nine countries and countless martial arts. Now the web TV show is has become an artfully edited DVD series edited by filmmaker, Charlie Armour and of course, starring Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo.

“Martial Arts Odyssey: Volume One” features never before seen footage, interviews, and photos all shot on location, in the exotic world of Asian martial arts.

Directed by Charlie Armour
Hosted by Antonio Graceffo
Music composed by Charlie Armour
See the final trailer on youtube
Get the DVD at

Antonio Graceffo is the author of the books, “The Monk from Brooklyn,” and “Warrior Odyssey.” H is the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts odyssey.”

Contact Antonio Graceffo:

Follow Antonio Graceffo on


Chin refugees in Malaysia (Part 1)

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Out of the Frying Pan, But Still Next to the Fire

By Antonio Graceffo

The dead corpses of two mangled Chin babies represent the hopeless desperation of people fleeing Burma.

Burma’s citizens stow away in the trunks of cars or hide their children on overloaded fishing boats, giving all of their worldly possessions to pirates and human traffickers in the often vane hope of reaching a foreign country, that would give them refuge until they could be permanently resettled in a land of safety, the US, Canada, Australia, or western Europe.

For many, the desperate flight ends in death. For others, their brief moment of hope and first act of self-determination ends in forced slavery, prostitution, or detention.

For nearly all of them, it is a one way trip. They will never see their homes or their loved ones again.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 Chin refugees are currently taking refuge in Malaysia. The hardworking volunteers of the Chin Refugee Center, Malaysia (CRC) operating out of a small office with almost no funding does what they can help them.

The Chin people are one of the larger ethnic minorities in Burma. They come from Chin State, one of seven ethnic states. Chin State borders on India and Bangladesh. The population of Chin State is estimated at less than half a million. 80-90% of the Chin are Christian.

The Burmese junta subjected the Chin people to the same type of torture and abuse that they perpetrated against the Shan, Karen, Arakan, and other minority peoples. Refugees fleeing Burma tell of forced labor, rape, mutilation, execution and arbitrary detainment at the hands of the Burmese Army.

While many Chin chose to flee their home, others formed the Chin National Army to fight back, against the Burmese government troops. The CNA based themselves out of Nagaland, in neighboring India, as a way of avoiding the Burmese army.

According to a Chin representative, “The Nagaland army of India is fighting for independence from India so they were hiding in Burma. The Indian government asked Burma to chase the Nagaland army out of Burma. The Burmese government asked the Indians to chase the Chin National Army out of India.’

This bilateral agreement, between the governments of Burma and India was essentially the nail in the coffin of the Chin National Army.

The Chin representative went on to explain that the fight was hopeless anyway. “They cannot fight Myanmar army because it is one of the largest armies in the world.’

Including the Shan, Karen, Wa, and remnants of the Karenni and Chin and other ethnic armies combined, the total number of insurgents fighting against the Burmese junta would come to less than 100,000. The Burmese army, the tatmadaw, has nearly half a million troops.

“The Chin National Army is almost finished now. They also have their own families and had to go home to take care of their farms.” Explained the Chin representative.

In Malaysia, the UNHCR is often the only hope that refugees have. If they can get official recognition as refugees, signified by the issuance of a UNHCR card, there is a chance that they can be resettled in a third country.

On a recent visit to the office, Victor Sang, the coordinator of the Chin Refugee Center, Malaysia told me that about 20% of the Chin refugees had been issued UNHCR cards. But, recent attempts to get cards for their families had failed.

“Now the problem on the refuge side is once they get recognized as refugees they bring their family here. We cannot blame them.” Says Victor. “If they have been recognized as refugees and if there is any hope, then they want to bring their family here.”

Victor showed me a photo of women and children horribly mangled in an auto accident.

“These are the families of refugees.” He said. “They were coming here to join their father. They were chased by Thai police who shot out the tires, and 29 people were injured, 13 of them killed.”

Among the images of twisted metal and shattered lives, the one that stood out the most was that of two babies, Chin infants who never had a chance at life. Their tiny lives were ripped apart before they had even begun.

Cultures and languages differ from place to place, but a mother’s instincts are the same everywhere. No mother would ever risk the lives of her fragile children by taking such a dangerous flight unless the alternative was unspeakable horror.

These two bloody babies encapsulated in a single image the reality of life in Burma under the junta. Things in Burma are so bad that you would risk your children’s lives to keep them out of the hands of the generals.

Apparently the father was a Chin refugee in Malaysia who, seeing a mere glimmer of hope, had summoned his wife and children to join him. He had already lost everything when he left Burma, and now the junta had robbed him of his last happiness, his family.

“The father had to identify the babies.” Said Victor solemnly. He was quiet for a moment, then the grieving was shatter by the reality of the tens of thousands of people he was responsible for. “The survivors are all in detention in Thailand ….”

As desperate as life is for refugees in Malaysia, a large percentage of them never even get that far.

Chin State borders on India. So, to get to Malaysia, they must first cross Burma, then cross Thailand and walk all the way to Malaysia.

Some Chin flee to neighboring India. The first stop for Chin in India is Miseram, where Victor estimates there are 70,000 refugees.

“In India they have to go all of the way to Deli for their UNHCR card. It is very far and the process is very slow.”

The number of refugees is shocking. In India alone, Victor said, “There are 90,000 refugees waiting to get to Malaysia.”

Getting to Malaysia is a death defying feat.

“In December 45 Chin died on the sea. The boat was struck by a fishing boat possibly there was a dispute between smugglers so they rammed the boatload of refugees.”

For those lucky enough to make it to Malaysia, more woes await them.

“Life is very difficult for us here.” Explained Victor Sang “Although we are recognized

by UNHCR, we are not recognized by the Malaysian government.”

Another CRC administrator told me. “The Malaysian government doesn’t recognize the refugees as refugees. They recognize them as economic migrants.”

Victor said, “We live in fear of arrest. Almost continuously there are raids. The last three weeks on Sundays, especially in the area around the office there have been raids.”

Immigration enforcement raids in Malaysia are often carried out by RELA a sort of volunteer police force which acts, more or less with impunity. There have been wide spread reports of abuses by RELA, resulting in a wide range of organizations, from the UN down to the Malaysian Bar Association, who have asked the Malaysian government to disband what many see as a deputized band of thugs. Rather than disbanding, the group has now grown to a size rivaling that of the standing Malaysian military.

“We can get raided by RELA or stopped by police, and get arrested or asked for a bribe.” Said Victor.

For refugees without a UNCHR card, which is the overwhelming majority, there is the threat of immigration enforcement. For all refugees, even those with the cards, danger comes from illegal employment.

“The UN doesn’t give any money for refugees, only if they are sick in hospital, and the assistant is 300 -500 Ringits per month.”

So, the refugees are forced to work, illegally in order to eat and pay rent.

“In terms of job, it is difficult, because the government doesn’t allow us to work even if we have the UNHCR card.”

Any refugee who is working is, by definition breaking the law. But, with no support from other sources, work is the only means refugees have of feeding themselves and their families.

Apparently, there are some employers who accept refugees to work if they have a UNHCR card. But the salary is low and sometimes they get cheated.

“Most are working in construction sites or restaurants. Some refugees have been here 5 years and speak Bahasa. They can earn up to 70 or 80 (Around $21 to $24 USD) per day. But for others, they can only get 30 Ringits ($9.33 USD) per day.

The CRC doesn’t have a dormitory for the refugees, so most are living communally, renting a flat.

“We pay 1,580Ringits per month for a flat and have 40 people living in there. They live according to the village they came from in Burma or according to the dialect they speak. They share food. The one with no job have to eat too, so they share.”

Under current law in Malaysia, refugee children are not allowed to attend public school. So the refugees have organized their own schools. “We have around 40 community run schools for Chin children.”

The picture becomes bleaker and bleaker. There are between 40,000 and 50,000 Chin in Malaysia, who are not permitted to work, neither are their children permitted to go to school. About 8,000 to 10,000 of them have UNHCR cards, which, theoretically means that they were awaiting resettlement in a third country.

“The resettlement process depends on the resettlement countries. If they agree to accept more refugees, UNHCR sends more. But now, most host countries have decreased the number they accept. The total resettled is about 8,000 per year.”

“The US accepts the most, 7,000. Australia 500, Norway and New Zealand will take about 100. So, the resettlement rate is very low. The office is controlled by headquarters in Bangkok. Australia also has an office for refugees in their embassy.”

The rest of the Chin wait, and wait. How long have they been waiting? I asked.

“CRC was founded in 2001, but even before that there were refugees.”

“As far as we know no refugee has been given Malay citizenship or residency card.”

So, resettlement is their only option.

(Coming Soon, Chin Refugees in Malaysia, Part 2)

Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the book, “The Monk from Brooklyn” and the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

See all of Antonio’s videos on his youtube channel, brooklynmonk1, send him a friend request or subscribe.

Antonio is also on twitter, with the name, Brooklyn Monk. Follow his adventures and tweets.

His books are available on

Contact him:

His website is sign up for his mailing list on the site.


Warrior Odyssey Book Release

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 10:20 am


Read the Greatest Martial Arts Adventure Ever

Black Belt’s newest book illustrates how culture, communication and martial arts meet through author Antonio Graceffo’s decade-long adventures in Asia.

Valencia, Calif. (BLACK BELT) July 24, 2010—Warrior Odyssey: The Travels of a Martial Artist Through Asia captures one man’s ongoing and decade-long adventure across the Far East.  After 9/11, Antonio Graceffo quits his financial job in New York to pursue his dream: to study kung fu at the legendary Shaolin Temple in China. The autobiography then traces his expedition through nine countries, which include Hong Kong, Cambodia, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Burma.

Beginning in Taiwan, Warrior Odyssey chronicles how the protagonist learns the Chinese language, kung fu and twe so, then journeys on to the Shaolin Temple in mainland China. From there, Graceffo embraces an even greater adventure, which is to study the martial arts and learn from the martial arts masters that represent the 10 locations he visits all over Asia.

During his time in Asia, Graceffo studies the following martial arts: kung fu, Western boxing, tai chi, modern arnis, kuk sool, escrima, muay Thai and military combatives, as well as rarer martial arts like muay Thai boran, krabi krabong, muay Thai Sangha, twe so, Khmer kickboxing, Khmer wrestling, bokator, taekkyon, ssireum wrestling, vovinam, muay Lao, kuntaw, thieu lam and lai tai. He also learns from well-known instructors like bokator grandmaster San Kim Sean, muay Thai Sangha master Pedro Villalobos and kuntaw master Frank Ayococho.

No matter whether Graceffo is learning the almost extinct art of bokator in Cambodia, crossing into rebel camps in Burma or absorbing the knowledge of disciples of ancient wisdom in Taiwan, Warrior Odyssey is like no other quest written about before or since.

Warrior Odyssey: The Travels of a Martial Artist Through Asia

by Antonio Graceffo

$16.95 | Code 514

296 pgs. | B/W pictures

ISBN: 978-0-89750-190-3

About the Author

Antonio Graceffo has been traveling, living and studying martial arts in Asia for the last decade. He is a monthly travel columnist for Black Belt and is a frequent call-in guest on regional radio talk shows in the United States. He has worked as a martial arts consultant for The History Channel and the Discovery Channel. He has studied martial arts for more than 20 years.

About Black Belt

Black Belt is the world’s leading martial arts magazine and is dedicated to the classical and the eclectic martial arts. First published in 1961, Black Belt features interviews with the world’s most prestigious martial artists and historical pieces on the philosophies of various combat styles, as well as in-depth coverage of the latest techniques, weapons, self-defense systems, training regimens and industry trends. It also continues to publish instructional books and DVDs from a variety of disciplines, including jujutsu, mixed martial arts, reality-based self-defense, grappling, jeet kune do and more. For more on Black Belt and its line of books and DVDs, visit


Sarah Dzida

Book Editor

(661) 257-4066 ext. 1635

Martial Arts Filming Goes 3D

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm

(Press release)

See the clip for free online

The punches came right off the screen and someone all the way back in the cheap seats got a nose bleed from a kick in the face.

The only thing more exciting than a martial arts fight is a martial arts fight in 3D.

Al Caudullo, of and Exploreworldtv, and Ric Lawes, of Location Thailand, teamed up with Black Belt columnist and Martial Arts Odyssey host, Antonio Graceffo, to produce one of the first ever 3D martial arts shorts. It was shot in a playground in Bangkok, where Antonio gets pounded by Taiwanese Muay Thai fighter, Ulysses Chang. The two ran past the see-saws and duked it out on the slide. Perhaps Antonio was trying to steal the kid’s lunch money.

The one-minute clip is meant to be a pilot for an upcoming series of 3D martial arts videos shot across Asia. It was also part of a two-shoot screen-test for Antonio on Wealth TV, one of the first American networks to broadcast 3D content. Al Caudullo is in the development stage of a 3D adventure travel TV show, for Wealth TV, featuring Antonio Graceffo.

“Following my life in Asia is weird enough.” Claims Antonio. “Doing it in 3D puts a tiny holographic image of myself right in your living room.” The would-be TV host went on to say, “And if you fall asleep with the TV on, I might go in your kitchen and eat all your pasta and gapagul.”

With movies such as Avitar and Toy Story coming out in 3D, it is obvious that the technology has come of age and that it is here to stay. Nearly every television manufacturer in USA is producing a 3D model this year. But there is still a shortage of content.

It was Al Caudullo (3DGuy himself), one of the world’s leading experts in 3D filming, who came up with the idea of shooting martial arts in 3D. When you see the end product, it just makes sense. 3D takes something exciting and makes it even better. Al also had the genius stroke of calling fellow Brooklynite (and fellow Italian-American) Antonio Graceffo to appear in the clip.

“Al knows a lot about 3D.” Says Antonio. “He also made the right choice by calling me for the shoot. If more people did that, I’d be rich.”

Spoken like a man dedicated to his art.

“Seriously, it is amazing how much more a producer or director has to know to shoot in 3D. For example, Al carries some kind of a laser calculator in his pocket, so he can measure the distances between objects and fighters in a scene. If you measure wrong or get the lighting wrong, the image goes flat.” Explained Antonio. “If we take this modern 3D like Al uses, or like Toy Story, and compare it to the old 1950s Creature of the Black Lagoon in 3D, the big difference is that the modern movies are written, scripted, choreographed and planned in 3D before they even start shooting.”

Since shooting the first 3D short with Al Caudullo, Antonio has appeared in an another Al Caudullo production, an episode of Wow Bangkok, a 3D travel show, starring host, Kelly B. Jones, which appears on Wealth TV in America.

Doing a full-length TV show, rather than a short, required a lot more brain work. The shots had to first be planned on a digital 3D mockup of the sets and locations they were planning to use.

“With reality TV shows, which are the only kinds of shows I have worked on, it is really hard to plan every shot in advance, and get the distance and lighting and all right.” Said Antonio, “But this is one of the challenges you have to overcome when shooting in 3D.

In the Wow Bangkok segment, for example, Al wanted to shoot footage of Antonio sparring, but it wasn’t possible to put the massive 3D camera in the boxing ring. The rig was too big and the canvas flooring would not have been stable enough.

“Shooting 3D creates a whole new set of problems, but the end results are so spectacular that it is worth it.” Said Antonio.

Since the 3D martial arts clip was posted on youtube, Al and Antonio have been receiving all sorts of offers to do 3D film and TV projects.

“It’s nice to be the first person, or almost the first, to do something.” Smiles Antonio.

Watch the 3D martial arts fight for free on Exploreworldtv on youtube. You need glasses to see the 3D effect.


Brooklyn Monk in Asia: Exploring Religion (Parts 1 and 2)

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2010 at 2:49 am

Brooklyn Monk in Asia: Exploring Religion (Part 1)

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo has been in Asia studying martial arts, languages and religion for nearly nine years. This video was made in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Antonio was attending classes about Islam. He grabbed two Chinese cameramen, one protestant and one Buddhist, and headed out to explore many of the religions of Southeast Asia, focusing on Thai Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Bahai, Islam, and Cao Dai. Parts of this video were shot in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Lao and Taiwan.

Watch it fee on youtube

Brooklyn Monk in Asia: Exploring Religion (Part 1)

Watch it fee on youtube

Brooklyn Monk in Asia: Exploring Religion (Part 2)

Brooklyn Monk in Asia: Exploring Religion (Part 2)

Antonio Graceffo travels to a Buddhist temple in Tainan, Taiwan, which recognizes many of the major profits of the world’s religions. Antonio explores the concept of the universality of God across religions.

Antonio Graceffo is the author of the book, “The Monk from Brooklyn,” and is he host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts odyssey.”

Contact Antonio Graceffo on

Send him email


Martial Arts Odyssey: Filming 3D Parts 1 and 2

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 2:03 am

This episode of Martial Arts Odyssey follows Antonio Graceffo and Ulysses Chang, as they film a pilot for new martial arts 3D TV show. The 3D film is a combined production, created by Al Caudullo, of, and Ric Lawes, of

Location Thailand. The actual 3D clip can be seen on 3DGuy.TV as well as on youtube at explorerworldtv.

Watch it free on youtube.

Martial Arts Odyssey: Filming 3D Part 1

Watch it free on youtube

Martial Arts Odyssey: Filming 3D Part 2

Martial Arts Odyssey: Filming 3D Part 2

Filming in 3D presents a whole new set of problems. Watch as producers and directors Al Caudullo, of, and Ric Lawes, of Location Thailand talk Antonio Graceffo and Ulysses Chang through the production of he pilot for a new 3D martial arts TV show. The actual 3D clip can be seen on 3DGuy.TV as well as on youtube at explorerworldtv.

Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “The Monk from Brooklyn” and “Warrior Odyssey.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

See all of Antonio’s videos on his youtube channel, brooklynmonk1, send him a friend request or subscribe.

His books are available on

Contact him:

His website is

This episode was edited by Antonio Graceffo and features the official Martial Arts Odyssey intro and outro by Andy To.