My first approach to martial arts dates back to my childhood. I was eight when I tasted a bit of Judo, but I did not feel comfortable in such a sport-like activity, competition-based, characterized by a narrow range of techniques mainly focused on projections and falls. I quit the classes after a couple of months. I was nine when I began to regularly practice Ju Tai Jutsu (an ancient Japanese martial art) at the Yoshin Ryu in Torino, for five years. There I learned the basics of a spiritual attitude towards a dynamic physical training and the respect for tradition, master and fellows in the practice. My master Alessandro Nepote encouraged me to go beyond the techniques and to develop my own personal ‘poetry’. Despite his wonderful personality and remarkable pedagogical skills, I felt that Ju Tai Jutsu itself was lacking in a deep knowledge about the human body and mind with their interrelated dynamics.
At the age of fifteen I met Sergio Volpiano, my present instructor of Kung Fu, from the Kung Fu Chang school of Torino. For over 19 years I have been studying and training with him in the classical Kung Fu of north China, as transmitted by the renowned Master Chang Dsu Yao (1918-1992). This meeting has deeply affected my life: Sergio’s teachings went much further than the mere practice of a martial discipline. Kung Fu has helped me to find a method to proceed with my school studies, to deal with life crises, to survive in the challenging period of the Theatre Academy in Italy.
At the present moment I have attained the 1st Chi of T’ai Chi and 1st Chi of Shaolin. I consider myself as a slow but committed student, and I am working hard to be a reliable and precise instructor. It is not easy to progress with my Kung Fu -learning by visiting my instructor in Italy only twice a year. Yet, the responsibility to properly teach the Art is a golden opportunity for me to keep my knowledge and skills in a good shape.
Kung Fu (功夫) means ‘exercise acted with ability’, ‘work executed with mastery’ or in a wider meaning ‘thing well done’. This term is also used to define the whole of traditional Chinese martial arts, together with Wu Shu (武術, martial technique). These disciplines are extremely wide and complex and in order to be mastered require the commitment of a whole lifetime. The curriculum of studies in Kung Fu Chang school includes both internal and external styles. The first category (Nei Chia, 內家) comprises all those ‘soft’ and ‘internal’ styles, so named because of the importance given in them to the development of the internal energy. The second group (Wai Chia, 外家) is composed of all the ‘hard’ or ‘external’ styles, so named because of the importance given in them to a vigorous practice, where ‘external’ characteristics of speed and power are put in evidence. The main Kung Fu’s external style is the classic Shaolin Ch’üan (少林拳) of the northern China and the best known internal styles are the T’ai Chi Ch’üan (太極拳), Pa Kua (八卦) and Hsing-I (形意).
In my classes, I teach the long form of T’ai Chi Ch’üan Yang-style, as transmitted by the renowned Master Chang Dsu Yao, composed of 108 techniques. Chang Dsu Yao (1918-1992) was one of the most skilled pupils of Liu Pao Chün (1892-1947?), who was a direct pupil of Yang Ch’en Fu (1883-1936): the greatest promulgator of the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’üan in China.
The Kung Fu -discipline that I teach is not agonistic and the main weight is on the health-side of practice. I combine together the practice with brief moments of theory about Traditional Chinese Medicine and History, stressing the aspects which are related to Kung Fu. The main goal of this discipline is to develop a bright mind in a healthy body, following the traditional idea that three important aspects are interrelated to each other: Kung fu is a strengthening training, a martial art and a dynamic meditation at the same time.