Posts Tagged ‘kru’

Martial Arts Odyssey: Muay Boran 1

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2015 at 7:46 am

Before there was sport Muay Thai there was ancient Muay Thai, Muay Boran. Modern sport Muay Thai contains about 20 movements. Muay Boran contains hundreds. In the 1920’s when Muay Thai was codified as a modern sport His Majesty the King called the great masters together to write a book of modern Muay Thai. All of the techniques in that book have been recorded for history. All of the techniques excluded from the book are considered Muay Boran. Unfortunately, Muay Boran has never been codified. So, different masters know different techniques. Fighting Muay Thai is a way of earning a living in Thailand, but there are no Muay Boran fights. Consequently, young people abandoned the study of the art. Most masters haven’t passed on their skills to a younger generation. And now, most of the masters are old, dead, or dying. As a result, Muay boran is an endangered art. The master featured in this video is Adjan Sok Chai from Surin, Thailand, the first teacher of film star Tony Jaa. He can be seen in many of Tony Jaa’s movies, wearing almost the same clothes he wears in the video, the clothes he wears every day.
Martial Arts Odyssey: Muay Boran 1

Martial Arts Odyssey Re-Release (Part 1)

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Back to the beginning, rereleasing all of the videos
By Antonio Graceffo

Martial Arts Odyssey, the video series which follows the Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo on his journey through martial arts across Asia has been running since 2007. The video series grew out of a series of magazine articles and books which began in 2001, when Antonio left New York to go to Taiwan, learn Kung Fu and Mandarin and then train at the Shaolin Temple in Mainland China.

Since the beginning there have been about 400 martial arts videos, featuring the Monk studying diverse martial arts, such as Kuntaw in the Philippines, Muay Chaiya in Thailand, Selambam in Penang, Vo Co Truen in Vietnam, Bokator in Cambodia, shuai jiao in China and many, many more.

In order to share all of these wonderful martial arts with a new generation of fans, Antonio is rereleasing the episodes, in the order in which they were originally released, at a rate of one per day.

MAO: Kuntaw in the Philippines was the first episode shot and the first episode released, in 2007. At that time, Antonio didn’t even own a video camera, so the video was shot and edited by a TV crew in the Philippines. This video features Grand Master Frank Aycocho.

Digging for the Truth: Angkor Wat, from the Philippines, Antonio flew to Siem Reap Cambodia, where he and his Bokator instructor Grand Master San Kim Saen collaborated with a New York based film crew to shoot this documentary about the traditional Cambodian martial art, Bokator.

Between 2007 and 2008 numerous episodes were shot with borrowed equipment, but Antonio lacked expertise and money for editing, so the tapes collected in a backpack until late 2008 when they were finally edited and released, but not in the order in which they were shot. The third episode to air was MAO: Training with the Shan State Army 1, which was shot in 2007.

This video was shot in Burma during the saffron revolution when foreigners were banned from entering Burma. It is thought to be the first video ever to feature the kung fu of the Shan ethnic group, called Lai Tai. MAO Laitai 1

Pra Kru Bah, the muay Thai monk is the abbot of the Golden Horse Monastary, Wat Achatong on the Thai Burma border. In 2003 he took Antonio in and became Antonio’s first Muay Thai teacher. He taught Antonio Muay Thai, Thai language, and Thai culture. It was in this monastery that Antonio first heard about the war in Burma and vowed to someday help the Shan people. Prah Kru Bah Story Part 1

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a lecturer at Shanghai University. He is also a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling, in Chinese, with expected graduation in June of 2016. He is expected to graduate his China MBA, from Shanghai Jiaotong University, in January, 2016. Antonio is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey”, “The Monk from Brooklyn,” and several others. He has published hundreds of articles in the fields of linguistics: second language acquisition, as well as martial arts. Antonio is the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
The Monk from Brooklyn, the book which gave Antonio his name, and all of his other books, the book available at His book, Warrior Odyssey, chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia, including stories about Khmer and Vietnamese martial arts as well as the war in Burma and the Shan State Army, is available at
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

Brooklyn Monk: Cambodia National Judo Team (Parts 1-3 )

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Kru Lach Vuthy, head coach of the Cambodia National Judo Team grappling coach of the Cambodian Ultimate Fighter like TV show, Khmer Warrior Champion (KWC) teaches Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo, some judo techniques. Antonio is a PhD candidate writing his dissertation on Chinese wrestling. But his research has recently lead him to judo, as a related grappling art.
Watch Cambodia National Judo Team (Part 1) on youtube:

Watch Cambodia National Judo Team (Part 2) on youtube:

Watch Cambodia National Judo Team (Part 3) on youtube:

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
Email Antonio
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

The Last Thai Sword Master

In Martial Arts on November 5, 2007 at 6:11 am

By Antonio Graceffo Flashes of steel the clank of metal, blades blazing like fire: This is a practice session for Kru Pedro Villalobos and his trainer, Adjarn, one of the last living masters of Krabi Krabong, the Thai art of stick and sword fighting.  “If I do not block, he will definitely hit me.” Says Kru Pedro Villaobos, the founder of the school of Muay Thai Sangha, a religious form of Muay Thai Boran, in Chiang Mai. For years, Kru Pedro traveled around Thailand, finding and training with the best masters for the various forms of Muay Thai, Muay Thai Boran, and Krabi Krabong.  While professional, sport Muay Thai slowly drives all other historical and artistic forms of Muay Thai into extinction, Krabi Krabong is quickly disappearing. Many of the teachers dont take new students. Some dont take any at all. The Adjarn is considered to be one of the last great masters. He hadnt accepted any students in years, but after seeing Pedros diligence and extreme desire to learn, he agreed to take him on, as his last student.  For myself, I was grateful for this rare opportunity to watch the practice. Before Pedro could even pick up his swords, in the presence of outsiders, he had to ask permission from his teacher. “If I demonstrate to anyone, without his permission, he said he would never teach me again.” The two men fought, with one, real, heavy metal sword in each hand, swinging, blocking, advancing and retreating for a half hour. By the end of the session, Pedro, who is in world-class physical condition, was dripping sweat. The Adjarn looked barely winded, which is amazing, considering his age of around sixty.  In a rare interview, the Adjarn imparted the wisdom gained from a lifetime of studying the sword.  

“Real fighters have to use their intellect.  They approach each other not just for show. You have to practice your sword techniques on your partner.  Know when he advances and know when to parry.  He goes for your head, you go for his leg. Each person has their own gracefulness.” Here, the Adjarn was talking about how we all have our own style and ability.    “If you’re talking about the ancient sword fighting, that’s not how we practice today. For them, sword fighting was life and death. They practice throughout their entire life as well. Every facet of their life revolved around the sword technique. The ancients engaged in massive sword battles, consisting of hundreds of fighters. Today, we practice two forms (katas), and the fighters are already tired.  If they tire so easily, they don’t know the real way.  In the old days, fighters knew they would be cut, or die. So, they made their skin thick, and the swords slipped off on contact.  Then they could do real battle quickly.  Here we practice for art. But, in earlier times the practice had a purpose, war.”   “The same is true of Muay Thai. It used to be for real fighting, not only just for gambling and money. They knew how to defend in all situations. They knew how to avoid the unnecessary battles as well, and only engaged the enemy when needed.”   “If you engaged in too many sword fights, the blades would chip and split. The swords had to be of high quality. And they infused them with blessings and other ancient magic. The written histories are full of sword fighting and splitting swords.”   I didn’t even begin to believe I was worthy of studying with Pedro’s Adjarn. But I wanted to get a  taste of Krabi Krabong, so I traveled to Surin province, where I took some lessons with Adjarn Sak Chai, a trainer of Khmer movie fighters. He is an expert of Muay Thai Boran, Krabi Krabong, and gymnastics, all aimed at performing in Thai action cinema.   

The Adjan taught me some techniques fromKrabi Krabong, the Thai art of double sword and stick fighting. He practices by attacking a tire, mounted on a wooden pole, which serves as a wooden man. The long stick is similar to bo the staff used in other martial arts, but it is very heavy, not flexible like the ones at Shaolin Temple. Often, the Adjan took the long staff by the end and swung it like a baseball bat.   The short sticks were heavier and longer than Arnis sticks. The important thing to remember here, is that they aren’t sticks at all. They are swords. If you were a master of Arnis you probably couldn’t apply your skills to these longer, heavier weapons. The Adjan taught me a basic patter; strike to the left shoulder, strike to right shoulder, strike to the top of the head. When you swing the sword in Krabi Krabong, you have to get a real wind up swing, twisting your body and reaching far back behind you. Then you let it fly and the weapon cuts your opponent in half.   After doing the basic three strike combo on a tire for a while, I was permitted to practice with a live partner. I attacked, stepping forward with each strike. The opponent defended, stepping back at a forty-five degree angle, blocking as he went. Then he attacked, and I retreated and blocked. We practiced again and again, until we could do the patter at speed.  In rehearsing for movie fighting, we did the same, basic pattern. On film, however, you use a lot more energy and add in a great deal of shouting and snarling. It looks really mean in the cinema. But it was fake. Pedro’s Adjarn was the real deal. Pedro’s Adjard said.  

“In ancient times, when an enemy appeared out of the blue, they had to face off and see whose style was superior.”   “Bang! Boom! Pssshhh! The best and fastest one would win! This is the real fighting. Today, fighting is all a big show. It’s not real, only exercise and theatre. We must attempt, now, to preserve the old sword fighting methods, not just make a show of it, practice the real way.  You must be serious and not slap each other with the blades like if it were a game. You must practice with all your heart and devote your time to it like it was your life, as the old practitioners did.  If some one wants to come study with me, I must first examine their behavior and dedication. Otherwise, they will waste their time and mine.  This style is mostly one of defense and not offense.    “The sword is a weapon, but the fighter is the brain. The pain of loss could lead to your death.  I even fear for my life at times.”  

Antonio Graceffo is an adventure and martial arts author living in Asia. He is the Host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” The Pilot episode, shot in the Philippines, is running on youtube, click here.  The Monk From Brooklyn – Kuntaw in the Phillipines Antonio is the author of four books available on Contact him see his website