Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Finding the Master’s House

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2013 at 10:15 am


Lost in Taiwanisation

By Antonio Graceffo

When I first got to Taiwan, the school I was teaching at arranged for me to study kung fu with a teacher in another village. They told me that for the first week, the school janitor would drive me there, then, after that, I would have to drive myself, on my motorcycle. The town where we lived was very small, and we had to drive through even more remote little Taiwanese villages, to get to the teacher’s house. Every night, on the way to training and back, I sat in the front seat, next to the driver, meticulously making notes, even drawing pictures, of how to go there. The whole way, I asked questions, what is this road called, what is that building…just so I could have points of reference. Unfortunately, almost nothing had  name. I remember asking, “What is this road called?” And he answered, “Yes, you can call it a road or a street.” Very helpful. I was sweating bullets about the day I would have to drive myself. This was 12 years ago, and I couldn’t speak any Chinese. There weren’t that many street signs out in the country side. And the ones that did exist were all in Chinese. From experience, I knew that if I got lost, I couldn’t ask or understand directions. Even if I found someone who spoke English, what would I tell them? Can you tell me how to get to Master Chiu’s house?

By the fifth night, I was pretty certain I had a good idea how to get there and back. I condensed my pages and pages of notes and drew out a map with pictures and landmarks. But on that night, we came back a different way. About halfway back, the janitor turned to me and said, “Remember this road. This is how you will have to drive yourself on your motorcycle tomorrow.”

I bloody flipped out. What a stupid plan! He had five nights to teach me the rout but he only took me on the rout I needed, once, and only on the way back and only told me after it was too late for me to write anything down.

I never saw that master again.


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 The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on




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