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Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

I Can’t Drive Twenty-Five (or any other speed)

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2013 at 3:53 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

 

For twenty long years, I had a lonely secret: I could not drive.

 

I’m dyslexic and aside from obvious things like bad hand writing in Chinese and English and sometimes very creative English spelling, one of the weird quirky effects is that it is really difficult for me to do anything with hand-eye coordination, like catching and throwing a ball. I can’t understand mechanical systems or figure out which way belts and gears are turning. I generally can’t fix or repair anything. More than once, I was staring at two escalators in a department store and wasn’t sure which one was going up and which one down.

 

In school, I failed the spelling test every Friday. The first day of geometry class, the teacher said, “Picture a plane in space.” I couldn’t. So, for the entire semester I had no idea what was going on. And I failed. I consistently failed all math classes and most foreign languages classes. In high school, I almost failed gym.

 

I couldn’t ride a bike till I was 16, and didn’t get my driver’s license till a few weeks before my 20th birthday. And I NEVER liked driving.

 

Although I have not driven a car for twenty years, I did have a valid New York drivers license, till it expired while I was in Asia. New York won’t let you renew by mail. So, then, the only driver’s license I had was a Taiwanese motorcycle license. That expired, but it can be renewed any time, for the rest of my life, by simply walking into a Taiwanese police department and filling in a form.

 

This is a long story, but somehow Fred thought it was important and asked me about my drivers license as a way of proving he can beat me in a fight. So, in order to prove that I have nothing to hide, here it is. I can’t drive very well. So Fred, fight me next week.

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

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Traditional Chinese Wrestling (Shuai Jiao) Sparring, Beijing

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm

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It had long been a dream of Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo to study Shuai Jiao, traditional Chinese wrestling. In the summer of 2013, Antonio finally got his wish and began a three-year long study of Chinese traditional and ethnic grappling systems. This first video, shot in Beijing, comes at the end of his first month of Shuai Jiao training at the Wang Wen Yong wrestling school, under Meng Sifu,.

Prior to this month of training, Antonio only had experience with MMA grappling and had never officially studied western or freestyle wrestling.

Watch: Traditional Chinese Wrestling (Shuai Jiao) Sparring, Beijing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JKhNhvw7-U

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

Chinese Traditional Wrestling Week 4

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

This week in Beijing, I was able to train twice every day. Today was the best day of wrestling sparring I have had. I probably wrestled about 17 or 18 rounds (But the wrestling rounds are short. They end when someone gets thrown.) With the younger guys, I am winning most of the time now. Today, my training brother Lee Yuan, the biggest, strongest and best wrestler on the team was there to wrestle me. Not only have I never beaten him, but usually he wins the standard 5 quick rounds, with little resistance.

This time, I determined, to dig my heels in and not make it easy for him. I need to check the time code on my camera, but I believe it was the longest match I have ever had and that I have ever seen in this club. First of all, today was the first time I was ever able to grab his jacket. Not only did I manage to grab it, but in two places, with both hands. Next, I stuffed take down after take down, with him winning only two throws. Finally, the Sifus told us to stop because we were both exhausted. I really felt like it was a victory. Although I still hadn’t got him down, I held out against him and he couldn’t complete the customary five takedowns. It’s my 46th birthday tomorrow, and I really felt like this was my birthday present, to do so well against the best guy. After a rest, I wrestled one of the younger guys for a couple of rounds, then they threw Lee Yuan back in with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t film this second set of rounds, but I finally managed to drive in, through his defense, and grab a leg.

Lee Yuan is probably as heavy or heavier than me, but much taller. In freestyle wrestling or MMA, I would simply take his legs out from under him with my arms. Being that tall might even make it easier. The problem with doing this type of technique in the Chinese wrestling, however, is the jacket. As soon as the round starts, he grabs my jacket in two positions and can either use it to pull me or to push me off. The few times I have tried to go for a leg, he was able to push me so far away as to make it impossible. Today, when I was wrestling the younger guys, I realized that most of the time when I was able to take their leg it was because they pulled me in close for a hip through. Then, I didn’t have to fight through their grip. I was already close up on them. I could take their leg easily, and take them down.

When Lee Yuan went for a throw, I did the same technique, I dropped and grabbed his leg, solidly with my whole arm and lifted it off the ground. The problem was, however, that he was still holding my jacket in two good positions and was able to push me down, like he was going to just drive my face into the floor. In freestyle or MMA, I simply would have dropped on one knee and taken him down, but in Chinese wrestling, that would mean I lost. So, seeing no other option and with his whole body weight pushing down on my neck, I used a San Da throw which is similar to a judo hip throw, except that instead of throwing the opponent by his arm, you throw him by his leg.

I flung Lee Yuan with all my might, and I went with him. In all fairness, I probably hit the ground first, so he got the point, but it was the first time I had ever taken him down. He flew over my body and landed with a thud. Luckily, his leg was unhurt. He won the next round easily and that was the end of our bout.

It was a good way to end my fourth week of traditional Chinese wrestling training and a good prelude to my birthday.

Back to Shanghai tomorrow, where I will continue to practice the wrestling basic exercises and hopefully soon start learning modern freestyle wrestling at the university. Next month, I will come back to Beijing so the Sifu can monitor my progress.

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

My First Master (The American School of Empty hand Fighting)

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2013 at 5:35 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

My first martial arts instructor H. David Collins was seriously hardcore. He came home from the Vietnam War, hung up his green army duffle bag on a tree in front of his mother’s house, and used it for a kick bag. That was how The American School of Empty Hand Fighting started. By the time I joined, 1980, they were training in an old warehouse, where the floor was covered with discarded carpet remnants. For judo, we practiced our throws in a smelly pit full of old packaging foam and sofa stuffing. The heavy bag had been destroyed so many times that it looked like Frankenstein, all patched together with heavy-duty leather cord and fishing line. There was a wooden box with a ramshackle collection of soaking wet, horribly stinky, mismatched boxing gloves. Sometimes I’d have a red ten ounce glove on my left hand and a brown 16 ounce on the right. Your hands smelled like French vinegar and underwear after you boxed with them. Because the stuffing was coming out, your knuckles often went clean through them, cutting someone’s face or breaking your knuckle. Sometimes, on impact, you were suddenly blinded by a poof of stuffing like a movie effect. We couldn’t afford mouth guards, shin guards, hand wraps or headgear. I started there when I was about 12 and didn’t get my first mouth guard till I was 16. We often wore shoes during sparring because if there was no room inside, we sparred on the concrete in the parking lot. The tin roof had holes in it, so water came in when it rained. With no insulation and of course no air-con, it was boiling hot in summer and ice cold in winter. And I have NOTHING but good memories of that place.

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

 

 

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Chinese Traditional Wrestling (shuaijiao) Week 3

In Uncategorized on September 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

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By Antonio Graceffo

Wrestling became an integral part of my full time training regimen which began in June, at the Shaolin Temple. At Shaolin, I trained strength, conditioning and San Da (Chinese kick boxing which includes takedowns) for six weeks, training four times a day. After Shaolin, I trained two weeks of MMA in Shanghai then went to the wrestling school in Beijing.

After the first two weeks of training at the traditional wrestling school in Beijing I returned to Shanghai for a week, to complete my registration for Shanghai University of Sport, where I will be studying wrestling. The traditional wrestling I study in Beijing will be part of my dissertation research, writing about all forms of traditional and ethnic wrestling in China, a three year project.  During my week away from the wrestling school, the Sifu gave me a series of exercises to complete every day, a two hour workout, which would help me to improve my wrestling, by stretching and strengthening my muscles and tendons, while helping to make the wrestling techniques instinctive.

On my first morning back in the traditional wrestling school, morning training was the easiest I had had in months. Somehow we did everything I normally do, but finished a little faster and I was less tired afterwards. Then it hit me why. I had had the previous two days off. It was the first time since I started training again, back in June, that I had two consecutive days off. Wow! Talk about making a world of difference on my fatigue level. Afternoon training, we did sparring and Sifu was pleased with how well I was able to defend and get reversals. But when I threw my opponents, aggressively, I often reverted to western techniques or half and half. For example, I took a leg, Western, but then used an inside hook trip, Chinese. Once, I took his back and body slammed him. I think you could say that is 100% Southern, as in WWE.

What I decided, and maybe I am wrong, is that I will have to accept that the Chinese throwing techniques will come slowly. Maybe the first step is that I am figuring out how they attack me and how to stuff their throws and or get a reversal. In fact, most of my points today came from reversals. Then, maybe later, I will be able to attack and win, using Chinese techniques. I wrestled my largest training brother today, Lee Yuan, and he beat me every time. He is both the largest and the best in terms of technique. But I still think I held out slightly longer than I did in the first days of practice. Next time, or maybe next-next time, hopefully, I will do better against him.

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