By Antonio Graceffo
I arrived at the wrestling hall, expecting a horribly intensive training session, preparing for the national championships. But, today, the team had easy training because we had received a visit from the fencing team. During the course of the semester, various teams go and train with other teams, so the kids can get exposure to different kinds of sports. I remember when our san da class was visited by the tai chi team, for example. Wrestling against fencing, good thing the fencers didn’t bring their swords or my teammates would have lost. Well, not Zheng Tong. It would take more than a few sword stabs to kill him. I picture his severed hand crawling across the floor and continuing the fight.
So, the team played a lot of games and practiced basic break falls with the fencers, while I did ji ben gong. Afterwards, the coach assigned two guys to wrestle with me, and I got about 45 minutes of sparring and private lessons. I managed to pull off my Casey Barnet, single-underhook-fall-on-your-side, throw a couple of times. So, it is becoming a regular part of my arsenal. Also, for the first time in the history of me (a long and storied history) I managed the (God forgive me for this racist name) I pulled of a Jap-drop. This is a classic judo throw, where you grab your opponent’s arm, duck underneath, drop to your knees, and take him over your head. It was really perfect and surprised my sparring partner, but I honestly don’t know if I could do it twice.
One of my sparring partners caught me with a side, hip-throw, which was perfect. I mean, textbook perfect. While I was up in the air, I was thinking, “I really hope he pulls my arm and completes the spin, or I will land right on my head and probably be paralyzed for the rest of my life. I tucked my chin, and at the last second, my partner pulled the arm, and I crashed down, harmlessly, on my shoulder blades. But it did scare me. The kid that did that to me only weighs 72 Kgs. Amazing! After wrestling, I went straight to the weight room, downstairs from the wrestling hall, did my strength training, and then did my cardio. I came home, ate, showered, slept, ate again, and started working on finishing my paper that will hopefully be published soon. It has been a good day so far.
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, 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 athttp://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Brooklyn Monk fan page
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Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)