Monday, July 29, 2013

News Flash! Karate and Kung Fu : Not So Different

Teaching Traditionally

Don't Teach : Teach How To Learn

Transcribed from an Audio Recording of Calasanz


I just finished with a student, [we will call him R for privacy].  R is a guy who comes and works out over here and has signed up on a 3 month commitment.  He comes here to work out several days a week.  I go giving him several techniques every other day or so.  He already has about 9 techniques on the 20 arm wooden dummy.  Today I went to teach him one of the techniques where you go into a front stance and block with the bong shou.  He has to get into a front stance and block using the bong shou block, the middle block.  In karate middle block is a bong shou.  In Chinese Wing Chun bong shou is a middle block.

Bruce Lee called it the intercepting fist.  You block the fist then you attack.  It's also known in Wing Chun as Lop Sau.  As I explain to him for about 2 minutes and repeat the movement for him he is looking directly at my eyes, and I am watching that.  When I told him to go ahead and replicate it I watched as he went and did something completely differently.  I mean, he went and did something really, very different.

Wing Chun : Bong Shou
Karate : Middle Block

I said, "R... How you could have gotten that, because you were watching straight to my eyes."  It's like Bruce Lee said, "Don't concentrate on the finger or you lose all the heavenly glory."  You have to look, visualize, observe and capture the entire person.

Now, I said to him as a joke, "You want to bet?  You know what, we're gonna bet.  I need 10 dollars, we're gonna bet 10 dollars because I need it for food."  So he laughed and then I said, "All you gonna do is that you're gonna go into a front stance.  Look and visualize me.  Now, bring the right hand to block the fist.  And that is all you're gonna do, in a front stance."  It took about 10 to 15 seconds.  He went to perform it again; this time it was perfectly done.


This is a little example about what traditional learning is except as you can see we are speeding up the process.  The Chinese Master would teach the student a technique.   If the student did it wrong he would not teach the student more and would order so many more iterations of the technique until the student became exhausted, gave up, or became proficient and got it right.  The master knowing all-the-while that even just spending that time has improved not only the student's ability to perform the technique & kept the student working out all day; but has also given the student a slew of physical benefits increasing endurance, balance, flexibility and coordination just to name a few.  Here we don't want to waste that time.  We have the best exercises and movements for these benefits and will teach them to you such that you learn it well enough to take it home with you.

Ancient Techniques with a Modern Approach at:

Calasanz Physical Arts
Norwalk, CT 06851
507 Westport Avenue

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Wing Chun Released Through Women; Later Adopted by Men

We now examine a video of two students willing to demonstrate what they know of the Wing Chun Wooden Dummy Form (Mook Jong) on film.  We teach this form here at Calasanz along with many other functional tools within the world of martial arts and self defense.  These are every day, regular people whom we have trained to this level and who continue to grow as martial artists.

The first student is Tom Barcello.  He is not only a law enforcement officer but also a good friend of Calasanz and the school.  Tom has helped us a lot over his time here at Calasanz Physical Arts, as has his enforcement partner Dee Hohn.  A quick thanks to you personally for all you have done for us.  We will never forget you and please, be safe at work.  Tom is somebody that Calasanz will never forget.  He remains one of the toughest, most natural and devoted fighters that has ever trained here and deserves to be listed among Peter Valis, Chris Mottola, Kevin Mcantyre, Darryl Dash, Roger Mayers, Rodney Louis, Mario Contacessi, and Robert Shapiro.

 They Can Also Be Seen Here Performing Karate Kata

                  Karate - Taikyoko Gedan 

   Taikyoko Jodan                                

Tom was once put to practice partner drills with another advanced Wing Chun student of ours, Rebecca Jane Lyon.  The good man that Tom Barcello is, he restrained himself and did not attack Rebecca as a girl.  He ended up on the ground defenseless and holding his knees.

The fact is that in China the men were forced to begin practicing Wing Chun because they were being embarrassed by their female counterparts who were practitioners of Wing Chun.  Tom's story plays testament to that fact.  Wing Chun through its principles is defined by its efficiency of motion and energy use which no other system has bested to date.  The male ego was deflated by the female martial artists and had to adapt.  In order to compete they had to admit superiority and start learning Wing Chun.

Originally Wing Chun was a female practice, but men have taken it from them.  Today, as a result, there are more male practitioners than female practitioners of Wing Chun.  As the system develops over time the philosophy and central concepts remain the same.  Control of the center line.  Parsimony.  Friction.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Calasanz Appears in Hollywood Movie : Only the Strong

Calasanz history and story is so unique, incredibly unique.  He has pursued
the true American Dream as fervently as any immigrant since his arrival.  Arriving here under pretense to go to college and instead became [and remains] a world renowned martial artist, coach, instructor and inspiration through unrelenting dedication and an unshakable vision.  His tale involves myriad and countless individuals; some unsavory and others the most magnanimous (and many more somewhere in between).

We take a look now at an unfortunate circumstance surrounding Calasanz in the early 90's and his experience with the Hollywood movie "Only the Strong".

The story as recounted by Calasanz



"I remember getting the part for the movie "Only the Strong" ... I was hired on the spot.  When I was doing my audition Sheldon Lettich [writer and director] and Luis Esteban, [writer] who had worked with Jean Claude Van Damme, stopped me and said, "Wait! Wait! Wait!"  And they stopped to look around for a camera.  They said, "I want this guy on camera!" and I will never forget them telling the people around, "This guy is hired.  This guy, I want him to be the 2nd or 3rd part in the movie."  And that was my audition for Sheldon Lettich and Luis Esteban.

"...Then later on it was another disaster. [read about the first incident here]  It cost me a fortune.  But those stories are coming up... those stories are coming up.  I know that Frank Dux today says that he did not do anything wrong and that's okay, after all we are all infallible in our own minds.

"You don't know what happened after that...

"I went back to Connecticut after the audition and was told to wait for them to call me.  That call never came, however, in that time I received a call from Frank Dux and he said, "You don't have to come, we will call you."  I was waiting for that call for 1 week.  After 2 weeks passed by I finally called to ask,

"What's going on?"

"Sheldon Lettich didn't even want to talk to me.  [and understandably so]  He said, "You didn't show up."  I replied, "But no, Frank Dux called me and told me I didn't have to go there."  Immediately I hung up the phone and got on the next flight from Bridgeport.  I got on a plane.  I hate planes, but I did something I am terrified of because I had to do it.  I got on the airplane and went.  I got there and once I arrived almost nobody wanted to talk to me because I had done so well at the auditions.  I did the incredible, nobody else could do what I did there; I was just doing the incredible.

[Check out at 50 seconds]

"So as I stayed down there I finally made it to the set and Mark Dacascos saw me and called to me, "Calasanz!"  Then he came to hug me.  It was very late, maybe 2 in the morning when they were filming.  You see, many people from Hollywood knew me.  At that point I had over 40 or 50 videos traveling and circulating around to people in Hollywood.  I sent videos to a lot of people there so many of them had seen me before.  Mark Dacascos, the star of the movie saw me that day and he knew me very well.

"That day he was filming his last fight with Paco Prieto.  I remember Sheldon Lettich looking at me as they were getting things in order and said "Calasanz, we will put you in the movie".

 [Final Fight Scene]

"Back then the producer would have his story board on a clothes line to organize the movie and the scenes.  Right then and there they made space and opened a new scene.  They made a new space on the clothes line to put me in a fight with Mark Dacascos.

"That fight, I know it didn't go too well, and I know they are supposed to put us in a unique fight but I couldn't perform to my full ability.  I was so tired and put-off already from what had happened that I couldn't act the way I needed to.  I was going in with a strange taste in my mouth.  So, if you see the movie "Only the Strong" you will see me going into the laundromat for the fight scene and then the escalation up to the fight as it is getting ready to start and maybe a few stunts.  This is all you will see of me.  I had gotten a fight on camera but the footage was deemed unusable.  The producer of 20th century FOX decided not to use it because there was no Capoeira in it.  He was right, it wasn't Capoeira, it was real.  Maybe too real.

"They gave me a special fight, and that fight I am sure it didn't look so good because I had to wear a big T-Shirt.  I looked good you know.  I had a body better than Bruce Lee at that time.  Paco Prieto, Sheldon Lettich and Luis Esteban talked with Mark Dacascos for over an hour trying to persuade him to let me fight without the shirt.   But no, he wouldn't agree.  He refused and I ended up on camera with a big shirt covering, and that was it.  If you watch the movie you see me with 3 people.  One in the middle, the guy from Miami Vice, and then the other two guys are on the right and left as we enter the landromat and that was pretty much it.

"But again, this is a long story with much more that can be discovered.  Frank Dux today denies his involvement and action when confronted.  But for Paco Prieto to make sure that I made it into the movie, that I had a chance to save some face despite that mishap, that misunderstanding.. I cannot thank him enough.  He must have felt that he had to make sure that I was in the movie.  I mean, we were advertising all over Connecticut, all over the newspaper, radio ect.  Calasanz in Norwalk was jumping and kicking all over the place and then somehow there he was having lost his part in the movie!" 


Paco did a lot to help Calasanz to get back on the producers, directors and writers good side, to try to help him get his break; unfortunately the premise and styles featured in "Only the Strong" just weren't quite right to allow for his fight to be featured in the movie.

What might have been had Calasanz not been so deceived or had he been faster to act himself.. the world may never know; but his story continues on and only the future can show his story will develop.

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Inspired by Calasanz

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Calasanz Hosts Charity Kick-a-thon : Frank Dux Runs Seminar

 Back since the school's foundation we have always been involved in charity towards the community and other community efforts.  Now we run a clothing and goods donation within the school where we send items big or small directly to Calasanz' sister (Cipri) in the Dominican Republic where she supplies them to the farmers and the [much] less fortunate.

(You Can Donate Monetarily Here : Every Dollar Helps)

In the past Calasanz Physical Art would hold charity events like the 'Kick-A'-Thon' or the 'Train Like a Fighter for LLS' events.  At one such event one of our main instructors at the time, Frank Dux, was scheduled to hold several seminars over the course of the weekend at our dojo, our school, for treatment of muscular dystrophy.

So the story goes that ...


A student and friend of Calasanz, Bill Smith, was helping to organize, plan, run and promote the event.  Bill, the great guy that he is, worked very hard on the event for us even knowing how Calasanz was, how Calasanz would just destroy money.  He would make money, but just destroyed it.  It came to a point that the school no longer had any money to destroy.  But Bill, Bill worked with the school anyways and he continued helping.

At that time Frank Dux was at our dojo regularly.  Calasanz says, "Remember, I was the guy who promoted Frank Dux.  He was looking for someone to promote him when he was very famous from the movie 'Blood Sport'.  Frank Dux knew that I was one of the biggest schools and had one of the most real schools of those times."  And it's true.  His name, Calasanz, was [and still is] recognized locally and internationally in the martial arts world long before Frank Dux came here.

It's not like today where you see a lot of real schools.  Now there are a lot of real schools all over the place since the UFC came out; but again my school is not just being real, its being complete.  Good Karate.  Good Kung Fu.  Good Energy.  Good Practical Approach.  You don't have to be a professional fighter over here.  It's the only school probably that has that, I don't know who else can do that.  We could do that and we've been doing that and we have many many names, we have hundreds of names of people coming through here who fought the pros, who could fight anyone, and many of them won."

And so... Frank Dux was here to do a seminar that we had promoted all over Connecticut.   There ended up being 70, 80, maybe 100 people here after spending over $50,000 dollars on promotion.  The school didn't even make 25% of the money back.  But again, that was Calasanz, destroying money.  How could he do something like that?  Well, at that time he was so into the passion and the love for Martial Art that the last thing he was doing was planning for anything, he just spent money.  He would tell his people, "Here, go to WeBe 108 with $10,000 dollars.  Make a deal for promotion." Sending them off with check in hand.

We were the first school to do the best commercials of martial arts without a doubt.  We even had commercials on Larry King Live.  We would spend for those commercials $7,000 or $8,000 to have the best martial arts commercials on television, if not the only martial arts commercials on television at the time.  So it came to the seminar, the event.  Jenifer Lee was there working with us.

But What Happened with Frank Dux?

"It's a long story, it's a story that Frank Dux denies today, but at that point everything went wrong.  I tried to keep everything quiet but what went wrong was beyond belief.  Nobody put it together but me.  Look, after taking thousands and thousands of dollars, writing checks all over the place and to believe I could make that money back out of signing people... only I would think something like that.  So that seminar it was a disaster on the fact that Frank Dux left.  The next day he came back in the afternoon, everybody had been waiting for 3 hours or more...

Everything went wrong over there.  But Paco Prieto and all of the people there were enjoying themselves and there was I, Calasanz, trying to keep faith, to keep a face, to do what I
could.  The day of the second seminar all I could do was run the seminar myself, to perform.  But since I could ... it's not the thing I like to talk about but that anyone knew I could do 10 times what Frank Dux could do.  Besides he had such a conflicting schedule everybody started asking, "Calasanz, why don't you do the seminar yourself?"  Because I wanted to keep faith, everybody had been waiting.  Everybody asked me that.

"I respect Frank Dux and he is the best.  He is a very good guy and he is for real.  I respect that.  But yeah.. that I had more to offer back then than even him?  Yeah... Because I am a guy born with a gift.  Because I am devoted 24 hours.  So the second and third days it was mostly me doing the seminar, giving techniques, exercises, doing all this stuff with the people.  The people were ready and excited when Frank Dux finally came.  So the experience there with Frank Dux was not a thing anybody wants to experience but we did it and we had the event."

The Above is transcribed and developed from an Audio Recording of Calasanz


While the intentions of the event were noble and high minded those most important and trust bearing duties were not fulfilled.  Although everybody involved put forward their best efforts, somehow the event fell to shreds. The relationship between Calasanz and Frank Dux is deeper than this and will be brought to light in due time in another entry.  Stay tuned.


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