My story starts like a lot of people's. I saw my first martial arts TV show Kung-Fu and was hooked. There was that way the martial arts moved and the way he fought that made me say, "I want to do that." That transitioned into an interest in Ninja's and with enough pestering of my parents, I signed up for my first Karate lesson at the Dipasquale school at my local community center. I liked it and it was fun enough. It did make me understand the true amount of work that one has to put in if they really want to succeed at martial arts. But there was something lacking for me. Learning to jump over blocks and learning a bunch of forms was fine and all, but I wanted to learn to fight. I just wasn't feeling what I was being taught would make me a better fighter. Looking back it was because it was sport Karate, and not the real art of fighting. I guess I wanted to learn to use a gun, but felt like I was only being taught how to use a squirt gun.

In high school I played football and wrestled a bit, but I knew I still wanted more. I knew there was an art out there if I looked hard enough. Well, like a lot of good things, they happen when you least expect it. I was standing in line for a movie and I saw an old friend from high school. We were catching up on things and he told me he was taking this martial art called Wing Chun. I never really heard about it. He told me it was the art that Bruce Lee took. I knew I had to go check this out. I went over to the school and new this was the art I had been looking for. The teacher, while a bit crude, was effective. I knew he had something to offer me. I signed up and loved every bit of it. I practiced all the time. I got a friend involved in it too. After some time there I was really feeling like I was learning how to fight. I knew this was the art for me. A martial art that made sense? Was it possible? Yes. My first sifu was a good teacher. I do credit him with helping build my aggressiveness and confidence to apply Wing Chun. He always encouraged me to seek out other martial arts. To be opened minded to other possibilities. He always said that he was no master. I always respected those virtues in him. It was at this school I would meet my future training partner Ed Cruz. I knew had skill right away. But, what really clicked was I knew he had the passion too. He wanted to take Wing Chun as far as it could go. We practiced together a good amount of time. But a funny thing started to happen. We wanted to get deeper into the art of Wing Chun. Going to different seminars of the elite of wing chun, I saw them all. None of them made me a believer that they were the one to take me to the next level of Wing Chun.

Ed had gone to a seminar with Sifu Fong. The next time he came back, he said I should go with him. I did and at that time a lot of things were over my head, but there was something there. Ed suggested we go down to Tucson for one of Sifu's week long seminars. By this time we had meet our other training partner Ed Basile. The three of use and another friend went down to check it out. WOW! Talk about blown away. At long last, I could honestly say I was being taught by a true master of martial arts.

At the age of 9 my dad would drive my brother and I every Friday to the local YMCA for Tae kwon do classes.  Pretty dedicated of my dad in doing so, since every journey has a beginning and he was the one who started it for me.  Not only was he the chauffeur, but 1-hour classes eventually turned to 3 hours.  Unlike today where everyone has the distractions of iphones, ipads, etc, he would patiently wait and watch me through every class.

Back then, I didn’t know any better, since stuff like breaking boards and belts were my main focus.   But, regardless I trained pretty hard and spent roughly 5 years with my first teacher David Duval.  But with youth comes stupidity and for some reason, name brand counted at the time.  Keep in mind, it was the 80’s and so Jordache, La Cross, Polo were the in things.  So, I felt that studying at the YMCA wasn’t so hip.  Eventually, I found a new teacher, Master Kim.  I spent most of my time training with his son Jae Kim who had won a World Championship in Tae Kwon Do.  I vaguely remember but I believe it was in 1983 and took place in the Philippines.  The styles were very different, since Jae was more geared towards tournament fighting.  But fortunately for me, he had experience of using it on the streets as well.  Till this day, I hold Jae’s kicking ability in high esteem, he was a mere 5’3” maybe 125, but I have yet seen anyone who could generate the amount of power he has in his kicks.   It was during this time that I eventually got into tournaments and trophies.   At first, just like everyone else, I enjoyed the competition and the winning.  But in the end, I really didn’t care so much for the trophies.  However, it was through the tournament events that things changed, for it was a match which i lost that got changed my way of thinking.  He was a stumpy bulldog looking guy, a bit shorter then me, and had ½ the kicking skill I did, but in the end I lost.  How?  He simply closed the gap, jammed up my kicks, and punched.  I had spent a good 10+ years or so, training in Tae Kwon Do, earned a 2nd degree black belt, but in the end, it was time to go and try to find some answers.

I tried briefly other styles like Judo, but realized I needed some skill in close counter situations.  So, I looked and looked, and decided to try a well known school Degeberg Academy.  The sell was good, basically a blend of every Martial Art you can imagine from Muy Thai, Jui jitsu, boxing, Wing Chun, etc, just to name a few.  Keep in mind, I was Bruce Lee influenced in the whole concept of  fusion fighting.  So, I signed a 1-year contract, and decided to give it a go. Now, when your 20 years old, 2nd degree black belt, use to teach, and are now asked to start from scratch.  Ego definitely kicks in.  And, I always felt, if your going to teach me, make sure your better then me.  Anyway, as I mentioned, I was taught very well in Tae Kwon Do, so on the first day of class, when we were asked to grab kicking shields, a thunderous Godzilla sound came at my area.  Who was this white belt bringing on the heat.  It was me, I knew I could kill them with my kicks, they new it as well, and literally I was a terror for a good 6 months at the academy mainly to the instructors.   So after 6 months, I decided to look, while still locked in to my one year contract.

Back in the days, the internet was running at a blazing 1200 baud rate, PRODIGY was king, and the bulls were about to capture their first championship, so the yellow pages was the in thing (1990 or 91 I believe).   So, I finally found a Wing Chun school, like many, i didn’t really know much about the art other then it was Bruce Lee’s original style.  So, luck was on my side since I found a Wing Chun school in the Northwest suburb. While, I’m not going into the specifics of the school or my teacher, for the mere fact that if you don’t know Wing Chun it is riddled with tremendous politics, it ain’t gonna take the CSI crew to figure this out.  I’ll simply say, my former teacher helped me with one simple thing, he never claimed to be a master, and said keep seeking one out.

And, fortunately for me, that’s when things started to change, when luck shined on me and Sifu Augustine Fong ended up doing a Chicago seminar for the first time in 95 and guess where at of all places, Degeberg Academy….hehehehe.  For the next 4 years, I continued to train and seek out other well known teachers, you name it I’ve seen them… Boztepe, Leung Ting, William Chueng, Yip Ching, Steve LEE SWIFT, etc.  however, I always looked forward to seeing Sifu come at least once a year to do Chicago seminars, which were held in Southport.   Eventually, my way of thinking started changing, taking something from everyone and keeping only what’s good.  Well, what happens when one of them is always right, all the time.  maybe being a jack of all trades and a master of none wasn’t the route for me.  So, in December 1999, I found out Sifu Fong, had been hosting seminars in Arizona.  I gathered a group of Wing Chun buddies, and headed down there.  Everything changed, In that instant. there was no going back and i could literall pinpoint that pivotal moment in life.  anyway in 2000, we started hosting Seminars for Sifu Fong in Chicago, and continue to do so till this day.



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your path is always your choice, my voice is simply to tell you there’s more out there.

things today don’t require any discipline to attain.  you read or watch videos of what others have done, and you basically think you take the next step.  you didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it.  you stand on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you can and think that’s all it takes.

we spend our time obsessed with perfecting the stance.  we hold doing forms with such great importance.  the skills that one develops from doing chi sao can not even be measured. And, we also believe developing the skills first to fight instead of just jumping in and fighitng while it maybe the slower route, leads to a more solid foundation that will pay of greater dividends in the long run.

people question this, doubt it, mock this as old fashioned way of thinking.  it can never work.  it is threatening the way that they do things. it is a problem you think we need to explain to ourselves, and i believe i don’t to anyone. the question you should be asking, do i believe in this thing or not.  and the answer is, i do.  and that’s all that matters.

its hard not to romantisize about martial arts.  all the fancy moves, kicking and screaming.   that way of thinking is ingrained from us in the start, from tv and movies.  these kind of thing it’s fun for the fans of the art.  but it doesn’t mean anything when it comes down to real fighting.  i’ve been doing martial arts for a long time.  i’m not in it for the belts, trophies, or the money.  what i want to do is change the game, expose people to the greater possibilities that it has to offer.   and that’s what i want. i want it to mean something.

Over the last 40 years, there has been a shift on what martial artist and martial arts is, and that trend continues.  Now, while change is a necessary thing, there is an epidemic failure to understand what is really happening.   and this leads people who get into martial arts to misjudge and misunderstand what they truly are learning.

people who get into martial arts, they think in terms now a days to be a bigger, better, faster, stronger martial artist.  your aim shouldn’t be to become that athlete.  martial arts in the beginning was conceived so that an everyday man or woman can use this on an opponent who is physically superior. when you think in terms of an athlete you limit your vision, you limit your time frame, and you miss the bigger picture that one can achieve.

your goal should be to develop a skill that literally last you a life time.  and in order to develop this skill, you need to earn it, and nurture this  ability.   when you think of muslce, i see only structure, if your awed by speed, i’m more impressed by timing.  these are but a handful of things that aren’t constrained by the limitation of just the physical alone.   if you take the average joe, and you want to mold him into a physical specimen like lebron james  and you can’t.  even if you spent 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year training him, he will never be bigger, faster, stronger, etc, then lebron.  its an unfair game and you cannot play the same game of your opponent who  is vastly superior, and expect to win out there.  its not fortune cookie wisdom but just common sense logic.

when i see lebron, i see someone who is physically gifted, but also, someone whose on borrowed time.  even if his body can withstand the riggers of nba life, at 26 at best case scenario he probably has less then 10 years left to play in the league.    so the question is then what?

it is the laws of diminishing returns, when the physical peek hits and everything after that is but a shadow of what you once were no matter how  much you keep pushing the physical body.  if you think you want to be dominate physically, there will always be someone out there whose bigger.  instead you should be thinking domination because of skill, so what you do today, you can do when your 80 years old or more.

you have to step back and  look around first and see the world we live in.   its a google world out there, with google mentalitty, and by that i mean, people look for and expect instant answers to everything.  and all at the expense of quality, the faster, the better.   we are cutting corners and where we thinking this is progress, this is evolution, this is better.  to me its not.

black belts and new mma fighters are being dispensed faster then your typical drive through fast food joint.  today you can get a full meal for under 5 bucks in less then 2 minutes.   efficient and fast, right?  martial arts thinking has evolved to reflect the world around us. they are asking all the wrong questions.  And if i say it to anybody, i’m ostracized. i’m a leper. people are trying to find happiness in quantity and not quality. i want you to step back from the madness and to learn  to dig deeper .  i want you to personally think outside the box and not how the masses think.  there’s something to be said about time, patience, skill, and looking at the bigger picture of things, instead of the instant quick fix.  once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.