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Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

San Da Sparring Shaolin Temple

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm

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After six weeks of learning San Da at Shaolin Temple, forty-six year-old Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo, invites his friend twenty-six year-old AJ Richardi to come to the temple for Antonio’s first sparring session. AJ is a San Da fighter from Shanghai Sport University and a former Muay Thai fighter in Thailand. For Antonio, this was his first ever experience with amateur San Da.

Watch: San Da Sparring Shaolin Temple

http://youtu.be/CXzHPaoiObI

San Da sparring allowed kicks, punches, knees, and throws. If you throw the opponent, and remain standing, you get two points. If you throw the opponent, and go down with him, you get one point. If you throw the opponent out of the fighting area, you get four points. And if this happens twice in one round, you win.

Because AJ was fitter, younger, stronger, and more experienced in San Da fighting, Antonio decided the best strategy was to cover his head, drive in with punches and push AJ out of the fighting area, racking up points.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” 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.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

Email Antonio

Antonio@speakingadventure.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

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The Infamous Boat: A happy memory of my Pop

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2013 at 4:22 am

Scott_-_Christmas_1984

By Antonio Graceffo

It was the summer of 1982 when the first guys in my crowd began getting their driver’s licenses. Alan had a Camaro. Red had a Trans Am. And Spanky had a fully restored 1940’s coup. It was the first summer of independence and mobility. In the mornings, we trained on swim team, evenings were spent at the martial arts academy. In between, we would spend our days hanging out on the docks at the lake with the stereo blasting: Olivia Newton john “Physical”, Survivor “Eye Of The Tiger”, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts “I Love Rock N’ Roll”, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder          “Ebony And Ivory”, and J. Geils Band “Centerfold.” It was the best summer for music. My friends and I would clown around and we never had any trouble attracting a crowd of girls.

Almost every day, however, our dating bliss would be ended when some rich guy’s son would cruise by the dock on a party boat, all tricked out with a bar, a killer stereo system, and a barbecue grill, and steal our girls away.  That summer, my friends and I decided the key to “love” was boat ownership.

Driving back from the lake, empty handed again, we heard an advert on the radio that said if you came in to hear a timeshare seminar, you could get a free boat. The catch, however, was that you had to be over 21 and have a credit card to attend. Not knowing anyone else who fit that description, I asked my Pop to take me.

“It’s a trick.” Pop told me, instantly. Pop thought everything was a trick. He wouldn’t even use coupons because he believed the store was somehow exploiting him. “If they really want to give me a discount, they should do it without me cutting up a newspaper. They work for me. I don’t work for them.”

More than once, I had seen him in McDonalds demanding the special that was advertised on TV without the coupon. Other times, if there was an offer like buy two, get one free, he would buy one and demand a 33% discount. “It’s the same math.” He’d be telling the manager.

At that time, my family was living in a small town in Tennessee, where everyone knew each other. Kids at school would tell me, “I saw your dad makin’ trouble over to the Walmart last night.” Pop was there, trying to return a product that was six months past the warranty on the grounds that during the 18 months since he’d bought it, he hadn’t used it one-year’s worth.

In Pop’s defense, he usually got what he wanted. That in itself was a lesson. But I wouldn’t understand that till I was much older.

Interestingly, though, for a guy who always got away with ballsy murder, he still remained convinced that any free product was a trap. Sometimes, he wouldn’t even let me accept a free collector’s glass or movie toy with my kid’s meal, because “That’s how it starts. Then they own you for life.” But this boat thing was different. I insisted. The advert was clear, you get a free boat, no strings attached. So, to teach me a lesson, my dad took me to the timeshare place.

The time share seminar was held in a double-wide house trailer, on a gravel lot, just outside the city limits. We walked in and the receptionist, said. “My name’s Tiffany. How can I help y’all today?”

“You could give us a free boat.” Pop answered. “Oh, and could have the guy hook it up to my car? It’s parked right in front of the door.”

Before she could control herself, a slight wave of annoyance swept over Tiffany’s face. When she regained composure, she said, “The terms of the free boat offer are that you have to hear about our great timeshare opportunities.” She began pushing buttons on her phone. “Let me see if I can get one of our vacation consultants in here to help you begin enjoying your new timeshare.”

My Pop glanced at his watch and said, “How long is this going to take?”

“The presentation lasts twenty minutes. But you can stay and ask questions as long as you want.” Answered Tiffany.

“I better go shut off the car.” Said Pop. He went outside and moved the car to a legal parking spot and returned.

A huge, good looking guy, who seemed like a preppy jock, wearing a Duke University ring from the class of 1980 came out, smiling a huge, toothy smile. “There they are!”  He shouted, enthusiastically, sticking out his hand to shake. When I took his hand, he grimaced. “Wow, that’s some grip you got there.”

My Pop looked behind him. “There who are?” He asked.

“That’s the spirit.” The salesman replied. He pointed at his name tag, which said Chad. And to build even greater familiarity, he told us we could call him Chad.

I was so afraid my Pop was about to ask, “What the hell else would I call you with that name tag?” But instead, he took Chad’s hand, casually and asked, “You got my boat?”

“I like that.” Said Chad, with an even bigger smile. “Right to the point.” Then he switched back to the script, “Y’all er gonna forget all about that boat, once you see your time share at Myrtle Beach.”

“Yeah, I know.” Said Pop. “That’s what you’re counting on.” Then he turned directly to me, so I wouldn’t miss the lesson. “You hear that? He’s going to take us in there, show us pictures of a nice condo on the beach that we get to use one weekend a year, and he hopes we’ll forget about the free boat.”

Chad tried to laugh, but it seemed a bit forced. “Let’s head on back to my office.” He said, cheerily.

“Is that where you keep the boats?” Asked Pop.

Once in the office, Chad had us watch a short video on the benefits of timeshare ownership. He also had a flip book of these beautiful chunks of temporary happiness, that could be ours for a mere $20,000. For me, at least, Chad’s presentation was very convincing. The condos were incredible, with hot tubs and Jacuzzis. The complexes had swimming pools, and the locations were the best the south had to offer, ski resorts in Pigeon Forge, with easy access to Dollywood, Gatlinburg, and other theme parks, and of course, the biggie, Myrtle Beach. If my friends and I could each get one girl with a boat, we were sure to get a whole bevy of them with a condo on the beach. Through the whole presentation process, Pop, however, seemed unmoved.

When he saw that his words had no effect on my Pop, Cad began focusing on me. “Well, Sir, you may not enjoy going to Myrtle Beach for a long party weekend with all your friends, but I bet this young man, right here does.”

I sure did! It was like Chad had read my mind. What boat?

Chad had the contract all filled out and laying on his desk. He was holding a pen out to my dad, as he went for the close. But I think he said something he had never said before. “I don’t guess you’re going to buy….”

“No.” Said Pop, flatly.

“And you want your boat.” Chad said, dejectedly.

Pop’s answer surprised both Cad and me. “I know the boat’s a scam, but it was a Saturday, and I didn’t have any work to do, so I decided to teach my son a lesson. So, show him the great boat he gets.”

Chad pressed a button on his desk and Tiffany entered, holding a box, about one meter high and half a meter wide. “Here you go, one inflatable boat.”

When I saw that the inflatable boat wasn’t big enough for me, my friends and the bikini girls we dreamed of, my ego deflated.

Normally, my Pop was an I-told-you-so kind of guy. But this time, he said nothing. We drove home in relative silence, with me seeing my only chance of love slipping away and my Pop chuckling quietly to himself.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” 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.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

 

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

 

Shaolin Classroom

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2013 at 3:19 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

At the Shaolin Temple, the foreign students have all been asking me to translate sort of intellectual and culture type kung fu questions for Sifu. Finally, I suggested to Sifu, that we should have one class in the classroom, and everyone bring their notebooks and they could ask whatever they wanted to know. Today we spent two hours in the classroom, with me translating the questions and answers. Occasionally, it was difficult because I don’t really do kung fu. I do san da, so I didn’t always know the forms and things they were talking about. But that was a small problem. The big problem was that the foreign students kept asking things that no Asian person would ever ask. Sometimes I think I don’t blend so well in Asia. But at times like this, I realize just how ingrained the Asian culture is in me. I would sometimes shutter at the questions they wanted me to translate, thinking, Wow! That’s a huge insult.

One example was that sifu was writing on the board in the sort of lazy script which people use in their daily lives in China. One student kept asking me to ask sifu to write in school script, so they could copy the Chinese words more easily. I simply refused. Asking him that might insult him, as if you were saying he doesn’t write well. Also, face is huge for Chinese people. It is possible that he doesn’t know how to write school script, because he lived in Shaolin Temple from age 11.

Another student asked how many forms the Sifu knew, which is a silly question. Sifu is constantly saying it is better to practice the basics for years before even learning one form. He told us many times of a foreign sifu who came here, who claimed to know 80 forms, and they were all terrible.

Other questions were reasonable, from a Western perspective, but strange from an Asian one. One guy said that he loved kung fu so much that he quit his well-paying job to come study at Shaolin. He explained that Shaolin had brought so many good things to his life. He asked me to ask Sifu, “Sifu, what has kung fu brought to your life?” I totally understand why he wanted to ask this. But from an Asian perspective, things often are as they are, and simply that. In other words, sifu has lived in the temple for 20 years. And that is a fact. This is his reality. I don’t think he wonders or thinks about other realities, just this one.

Other students asked the names and meanings of various forms and movements…Often the explanations were incredibly long and touched on elements of ancient Chinese culture, religion, or history. Many of the names were plays on words in Chinese, where the same name could be interpreted two ways, which from a Western perspective were a million years apart, but from Chinese perspective were next-door neighbors. In the end, I think it made very little sense to someone with limited exposure to China, or who did not speak Chinese.

As the class went on, I realized why there are no classes like this in the Shaolin curriculum. All of these facts would have or should be learned naturally, over a period of years and years of practicing with the sifu. The first key is being able to speak the language. Next, is listening and training every day. This is knowledge that is acquired over a lifetime and the velocity cannot be increased. There are no shortcuts. Most of the explanations, I fear, were simply lost on the students.

The very meaning of gong fu (kung fu), the most basic term, which defines everything we are learning, is one of these multi-layered, dual-meaning, culturally-tied words. The gong can mean work. But it can also mean a kind of skill or a kind of endurance, developed over time. Sifu said, for example, when the kids fight san da on Tuesdays, sometimes they cry or they quit when they get punched. But seasoned fighters get hit ten times as hard, but don’t quit. They have developed a resistance to the pain over a period of years. In Sifu’s words, “There is kung fu in everything. The way you teach at the university is kung fu. The way you translate is also kung fu. The way you carry buckets of water or stones up and down the hill each day. It is all kung fu.”

Looked at from that perspective, I guess I do kung fu. My fighting and my studying is kung fu. And interestingly, I never took notes. I never really asked anything. I just listened, for years. You can’t shortcut it. It can’t be learned or taught more efficiently. It is kung fu.

It is this reality. Not another one. And it is what it is.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” 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.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

 

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com