My journey in the martial arts begun when I was a little boy, in the early 70s where I was greatly influenced by the brilliance of the great Bruce Lee.
Being a son of Italian immigrants, we landed in the shores of Australia in late 1965, son of three children my father was a professional soccer player, he was captain of the A grade division team of Catania in Italy for many years before towards the end of his career he was offered an opportunity to develop soccer in Australia in Melbourne. We then later moved to Adelaide Australia where he concentrated his professional coaching career for the rest of his days.
It was ingrained into myself and my older brother Maurice to excel and succeed in sports and to always look at sports as a way of life and wellbeing as a form of high-level concentration. I will always be grateful to my father for having instilled this mindset into us from when we were born. It is without doubt one of the most powerful driving factors in our lives. Needless to say my father was an advocate for boxing and adored the great Ali, I still remember him taking me to an Aussie pub where we watched via Cable TV the fight between Foremen and Ali, the Rumble in the Jungle, I was 9 years old and I can still remember my fear that Ali was going to lose.
As a child I was very affected by the martial arts as was my older brother, mainly because at school there was always problems of racial integration and bullyism, the Italians along with the Greeks or the Vietnamese were never looked upon with great affection, so it was pretty normal to get into daily scraps even when going to primary school. So, it was in that period I was deeply affected seeing Bruce Lee. A powerful image that represented a sort of superhero image that would fix up thugs, bullies and the big guys. What an image!
So! In 1971 My brother started taking lessons from Sifu Jim Fung, a teacher who was connected to some master I had never heard of called Sigung Choy and apparently they both had contact with Yip Man who at the time was alive. Which to me was really exciting because I thought wow, these guys must be something really special cos they probably know or had some sort of training with Bruce Lee…Lol hey how does a 6 year old supposed to think?
At the time he was teaching at the Adelaide University and then I started after a while learning from my brother. In 1972 Sifu Jim had opened a school in Gouger Street Adelaide on the 3rd floor above a ballet school. And I had just turned 7 years old, I started going and I was really wide eyed and truly excited to be learning this art, I just gave it my everything to become really good.
It wasn’t until the year after in 1973 that Sifu Jim opened his official school next door which became the definite school for the remainder of the time.
So, in my formative years I would follow my brother religiously to all of Sifu Jim’s lessons and met many of the instructors there at the time and just trained really hard with my older brother who is quite a few years my senior. Almost like an older uncle lol… At the time I never understood or realised the importance of lineages or realised that maybe I should have taken selfies to prove I was there,lol, thank God a couple of photos were taken, and plus many of the old and most important instructors of the lineage still remember me. However What was the most important thing was the value we got out of it, the importance of what we studied, the people we met, meeting GM Tsui Shung Tin and so on.
I never would have thought especially in the 70s how the world would have viewed Wing Chun today through the eyes of this internet, which can be a wonderful tool as much as it can be equally destructive. All I can say about this tool is that if it is not used wisely it can take away the one thing we strived for and took for granted. The willingness, the sense of anticipation, the methodology of forcing your mind to remember instructions, the attitude of getting out to meet people especially new people from different parts of the world and more importantly, having fun and connect with others!
A lot of this with internet seems to be disappearing and Wing Chun is DEFINITELY NOT ABOUT THIS.
In any case, I will continue with my journey.
Many people will judge my journey as being incorrect, or not being faithful to the wing Chun principles but that’s fine, Wing Chun has always been my home regardless of where I have been and it’s easy to explain why.
People will also accuse me to have copied Bruce Lee but my response to that is Ni…in the sense I was greatly inspired by many many people who had the balls to do their own thing and stand on their own feet BUT I definitely took my own Path, and yes Bruce Lee was definitely a great if not my first inspiration. But so was Mohammad Ali, so was Joe Louis, so was Anderson Silva, so was Bas Rutten, GM Tsui Shung Tin, Mike Tyson, Wong SHong Leung, so was Ip Ching, Ip Chun, Marco Ruas,Leung Ting, Tim Witherspoon, Lyte Burley, my good friend Vince Palumbo and his Grand master Cacoy Canete, Emin Boztepe, Sifu Salih Avci, Fedor Emiliankov, Steven Seagal, the Stories of GGM Yip Man, my brother his colleagues, My pops, my friends and students who sacrifice their lives in the police and military forces constantly.
The list actually continues I have many more intimate friends I could include who are not well known to the public who are as equally important, but my point is that all these people have broadened my mind and helped me grow in different areas of COMBAT and especially in Street combat which cannot be denied. THIS Has helped me grow in over 5 decades of experience.
A lot of this knowledge I have cross trained over many years and trained it back against wing Chun. It has helped me greatly improve my Wing Chun.
More importantly it got me to my actual mission statement. Which was to broaden, expand and adapt my Chi Sao. This occurred after many many years when I had a much deeper understanding of Chi Sao, Long pole Chi Sao, my sword, and much deeper connecting factors which include internal work. When I then started cross training with people who did Tai Chi Pushing hands. I saw a much deeper connection of Wing Chun with many combat systems and the internal arts.
I connected this type of chi sao work and started globalising it with many forms of Combat, my first being Boxing which I started in the late 70s and then in the early 80s when I trained with the Fernet Branca organisation one of the most important European boxing group. Training with world level pros like Nino La Rocca, Russolillo Kalambay, Yawe Davis, which helped my combat experience a lot. Then it started to connect much of my students chi sao flow with weapons work, grappling, with what my Greek Roman wrestling teacher has taught me in the last few years, with my Clinching, elbow and Knee work, with security or police control work and close quarter combat work.
The work is very intensive and rewarding and you need to understand wing chun to progress.
I have a very structured system which follows the Wing Chun structure. Without Wing Chun you cannot progress that’s your starting point.
My system was founded in 2005, it always had the 3 Chinese Emblems called Wing Chun Dao, but initially alongside those emblems was the writing WingTchunDo, then eventually I discarded that and it retained its original name format. This is what I teach and have been teaching to my personal students for years.